By Sam McPherson
The moment of truth is here for fantasy baseball owners, as the Major League Baseball regular season winds down with its final games this week. Forget those pesky wild-card races in both the American and National leagues. It’s all about your fantasy baseball standings chase right now!
So many changes come in the final weeks of the season, as players on non-competitive teams often take extra days off or even sit to preserve their health. The smart fantasy baseball owner is watching these kinds of details every day down the stretch in order to make sure no roster spot is wasted in September.
A tricky move to pull off this week is identifying hot starting pitchers that will get two starts in the final week and use that to your advantage. While the big boys may be getting an extra day off in order to set them up for playoff starts, look for the good starters on mediocre teams that have low September ERAs and are scheduled to pitch twice this week.
Also, when it comes to hitters, a fantasy baseball owner is wise to look for the younger players getting extra playing time as the season winds down and veterans with bruises take a seat to start healing for the 2017 season. These sneaky pickups can make the difference in the final standings on Sunday evening.
Players to Get On Your Roster Now
- Sean Rodriguez, UTL, Pittsburgh Pirates: He is playing every day as the season winds down, and Rodriguez is eligible at every position except catcher in most leagues at this point of the year. Throw in the bat (.864 OPS), and you’re looking at the next Ben Zobrist, basically. He can start for you all week as the Pirates still have an outside shot at the postseason and/or a .500 season.
- Sergio Romo, RP, San Francisco Giants: The one-time closer who saved the 2012 World Series games for the Giants has the role back now as his team fights for a wild-card spot. He saved three games in five days last week, and even though S.F. hasn’t won many games in the second half of the season, the Giants’ postseason fate could now be in Romo’s hands.
- Alex Reyes, SP, St. Louis Cardinals: Another NL team fighting for the playoffs, the Cards have been riding Reyes’ young arm for awhile now. He has a 2.38 ERA in four starts for St. Louis, and while he only will have one more scheduled start, Reyes could be used in relief, too, where he’s posted a 0.52 ERA in seven appearances already this season.
- Carlos Gomez, OF, Texas Rangers: He was a disaster in Houston earlier this year, posting a .594 OPS in 85 games with the Astros. But in 27 games with the Rangers, Gomez has upped his OPS into the mid-.800s. To wit, he had five homers with Houston, and he has six with Texas. The Rangers have already clinched the division title, but they still are fighting for the best record in the AL.
Players to Sit/Drop This Week
- Jose Fernandez, SP, Miami Marlins: We hate to even recommend this, but Fernandez will not be making two starts in the final week of the season due to a tragic boat accident over the weekend that claimed his life. With 16 wins and 253 strikeouts this year, Fernandez’ final season was a stellar, All-Star campaign, and the 24-year-old star will be sorely missed in the South Florida community and beyond.
- Starling Marte, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates: With a .311 average and 47 steals this year, he’s probably been a key reason why your team is near the top of the league standings. But Marte’s played just two games (as a pinch hitter, no less) in the last two weeks with a back injury. The Pirates won’t risk starting him again in the final week of the season.
- Lorenzo Cain, OF, Kansas City Royals: He hasn’t played in awhile, and the Royals are not going to be in the postseason this October. Thus, there is no point in holding out hope for Cain to return this week. He’s just taking up a roster spot that could be used by a player that is actually on the field producing stats for your team when it needs it most.
- Jacob deGrom, SP, New York Mets: Here is a starter that is out for the rest of the year, despite his team being in prime playoff position. deGrom only won seven games this season, but his 3.04 ERA and 8.7 Ks per nine innings surely kept him rostered on your team all year long. He can’t help you in the final week, though, so cut him loose.
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf and fantasy sports for CBS Local. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach. Follow him on Twitter @sxmcp, because he’s quite prolific despite also being a college English professor and a certified copy editor.