One half down, one half to go in what has been a truly exciting 2023 MLB season. The play on the field has been great. Everyone by now has adjusted splendidly to the new rules, fans are filling up the seats (even in Oakland occasionally) and the off-field distractions have been few and far between. After a few days of rest for most, it’s time to take on the rest of the season as teams jockey for position in hopes of postseason play.
With the trade deadline just a few weeks away, now is the time for fantasy baseball players to bulk up their rosters for the rest of the month and find some real gems to catapult you up the standings.
Let’s take a peek at some truly valuable players that will make your second half of the fantasy baseball season a success.
James Paxton, Boston Red Sox
Miraculously it’s taken this deep into the season for me to profile a player from my hometown team, the Red Sox. Hopefully this adds some credibility to my fantasy baseball coverage, yet it’s Boston starter James Paxton who is adding credibility to the Red Sox season as they surged into the All-Star break on an 8-2 run in hopes of capturing a Wild Card spot this fall.
Aside from the Atlanta Braves, who also rolled into the break winning eight of 10 games, the Red Sox are the hottest team in the league. Sitting 9.0 games behind the Rays in the AL East and still in the basement of the division, the recent surge has Boston just two games out of third place in the East and two games out of the final Wild Card spot.
Boston’s offense has been there all season but it’s the pitching that has kept them as an afterthought most of the season. Well, that has changed thanks to efforts from starters like Paxton. Over the last nine games, Red Sox pitching has only given up 3.22 runs per game. Heading into the break, Boston swept the A’s at home, the Blue Jays in Toronto and impressed in winning two of three in a series at Fenway against one of the top teams in the American League in the Texas Rangers. For his part, Paxton has excelled since coming back from a spring training hamstring injury that set his season debut back about six weeks to the tune of a 5-1 record with a 2.73 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. Just before the break and fresh off paternity leave, Paxton picked up his fifth win of the season against Oakland at Fenway in a six inning, two earned run, three strikeout effort.
Oh, I forgot to mention that Paxton was the AL Pitcher of the Month in June! The BoSox hurler had three wins, a 1.74 ERA and gave up six total runs over 31.0 innings pitched. Additionally, in four of his five starts last month, Paxton had seven or more strikeouts. Since his season debut on May 12, Paxton only has two starts where he’s given up more than two earned runs, one of those starts he gave up three earned runs to the Twins in Minnesota.
Paxton has been great on the road boasting a 4-1 record while holding batters to a .192 average. Paxton’s next start is at Wrigley this Saturday.
Unbelievably, Paxton is only rostered on 55.5% of teams in ESPN Fantasy leagues so go grab him if he’s still available in your league. Not only has Paxton been solid for the Red Sox, but he’s also a viable option for Comeback Player of The Year after missing the entire 2022 season due to Tommy John surgery in 2021.