By Sam McPherson
It happens to every fantasy baseball owner eventually: At the end of the season, you miss out on a league prize by one measly home run or one stolen base. With a few extra stats here or there, you’re celebrating instead of complaining about injuries, luck and whatnot. However, there’s an easy way to avoid that kind of October misery: Don’t ever give up.
Those near-winning finishes almost always are the result of negligence. A smart fantasy baseball team owner will keep her/his eye on the rules and the standings to make sure they’ve maximized every opportunity for the entire six-month season. Yes, that’s no easy feat when we have families, jobs and other things going on. But it’s the price to pay for fielding a winning team most of the time.
With just 40 or so games left on the Major League Baseball schedule over the next six weeks, there is still time to win your league. Keep an eye on your position maximums if your league has them, and make sure you aren’t being shortchanged by your roster. Make daily moves if you can to get more plate appearances for your hitters and more innings/starts for your pitchers. Leave no stone unturned in these final six weeks, and you will find yourself much more content at the end of the season than if you did not do so.
Players to Get Onto Your Roster Now
1. Trevor Bauer, SP, Cleveland Indians: The overall numbers are ugly (4.50 ERA, 1.418 WHIP), but focus instead on what he’s done lately (1.51 ERA, 1.206 WHIP since late July). For some reason, Bauer is still hittable despite posting great strikeout rates (38 Ks in his last 35 2/3 innings pitched). Grab him while he’s hot and ride it out for some wins and Ks. He may revert to his ugly side at any time, so keep an eye on him.
2. Dinelson Lamet, SP, San Diego Padres: At this point in the season, it’s about grabbing the hot hand, and like Bauer above, Lamet is hot right now. Since the All-Star break, he is 4-1 with a 3.41 and 37 Ks in 34 1/3 innings. He is doing this on one of the worst teams in baseball, as well. The 1.019 WHIP since mid-July is a bonus.
3. Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins: Back on April 17, we suggested dropping him, and it was well deserved then. Now, if you need cheap steals, he’s yours to be had. Since the start of July, Buxton is hitting .356 in 28 games, with eight SBs. You can ignore his overall numbers (which are ugly, due to that slow start), and enjoy the hot streak he is on right now.
4. Cory Spangenberg, UTL, San Diego Padres: He may have eligibility at second, third and the outfield, depending on your league rules. Along with a .278 average, 12 HRs and eight SBs, though, Spangenberg can be a good fill-in guy for your roster that has a hole in it somewhere due to injury, etc. But he’s hitting over .300 since the start of June, and that’s consistency any team can use right now, especially at second base.
Players to Sit/Drop This Week
1. Trevor Rosenthal, RP, St. Louis Cardinals: Looks like bad injury news for the Cards closer and his elbow. If you were able to snag him earlier this year, you enjoyed a handful of saves he earned plus those stunning 76 Ks in just 47 2/3 innings. But the 2017 ride could be over for Rosenthal, since getting a “second opinion” on an injury to your throwing arm is never a good sign.
2. Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates: After a mediocre first half (just eight HRs and eight SBs), fantasy owners were hoping he would turn it around in the second half. Nope. Polanco hit just .125 this month and is now injured. His 2016 season (22 HRs, 86 RBI, 17 SBs) seems like a distant memory, and if you kept him in your lineup this long, you’re probably in the lower half of the league standings.
3. Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Boston Red Sox: It’s hard to remember, but this guy was the 2007 American League Rookie of the Year and the 2008 AL Most Valuable Player. Oh, how the mighty have fallen! Pedroia hasn’t even been an All-Star selection since 2013, and this season his power is near an all-time low for his career (.406 slugging percentage). Pedroia’s speed is gone now, too (just four SBs). He’s hurt now, as well, so the team will protect him for postseason play. You don’t have that same luxury.
4. Brent Suter, SP, Milwaukee Brewers: He was the flavor of the month in July when he posted a 1.50 ERA over five starts. Now, after three terrible starts (8.16 ERA) in August, he’s on the disabled list with rotator cuff trouble. Uh oh. Hopefully, he’s not still on your roster, but if he is, it’s time to let him go and be thankful for what you did get out of him this summer.