Are we there yet?
We’ve got two more weeks to make up ground or distance our leads in the fantasy standings. There’s opportunities for improvement of every roster, managers just need to dig in and find it. Most teams that are out of contention are leaning on their youth to give them an opportunity to showcase their skills. Meanwhile, teams locked into a playoff spot might be resting their big horses for the stretch run, giving other less-used players more at-bats or innings to spell their studs. Spend wisely with what little you have left. We’re almost there.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are the only team in the league to play just five games this week, while 11 teams across the league will play seven games. Keep in mind that Cleveland, Cincinnati, Tampa Bay and Washington each play just five games in the final week of the season while Seattle and Texas have a full seven-game slate to end the year.
FIVE GAMES: ARZ
SEVEN GAMES: ATL, BAL, CLE, DET, LAD, MIL, NYM, OAK, PHI, STL, WAS
Investment Rating System
Jarred Kelenic ($$$): Finally back from an injury, Kelenic is hoping to make an impact for the upstart Mariners as they make a final push for an AL West title. There aren’t many bats on the waiver wire out there with this kind of ceiling at this time of year.
Wilyer Abreu ($$$): Abreu could be a huge pickup after serving as the Red Sox leadoff man for the past week or so. Abreu batted 6-for-16 in his last five games before the weekend and could be a catalyst for the Boston offense down the stretch. With Boston in full rebuild mode now with Chaim Bloom out of the front office, they’ll likely give the young Abreu all the looks he can get the rest of the way.
Jake Fraley ($$$): Available in most shallow leagues, Fraley has led off for the Reds against right handed pitching pretty regularly. He has struggled over his last handful of games, but with six home games this week against the Twins and Pirates, neither one with intimidating pitching matchups, Fraley could snap back into form just in time for managers who scooped him on waivers for the stretch run.
Heston Kjerstad ($$): The former second overall pick hit his first home run in his MLB debut on Friday night for the Orioles. The power plays, especially at Camden Yards, which is still a very favorable hitting palace for left-handed bats. If Kjerstad can hit his way into the every day lineup for the Orioles, he could be a very productive piece to pick up.
Matt Wallner ($$): Left-handed power bat who gets three games in Great American Ballpark against a Reds’ pitching staff that has been mostly mediocre. Yes, please.
Max Kepler ($$): See Wallner, Matt.
Robbie Grossman ($): It all comes full circle, doesn’t it? Grossman went 7-for-22 with a pair of home runs this past week and has made his way back to an every day player in Arlington. Maybe he can stay hot for another week or two.
Pete Crow-Armstrong ($): Called up more for his glove than his bat, Crow-Armstrong was hitless in three games entering the weekend. They don’t give fantasy points for amazing plays in the field, but that doesn’t mean he’s not worth a tiny bid, right?
Jonathan India ($$$): India returned from injury and Matt McClain went down with an oblique injury, clearing the way for everyday playing time. Second base hasn’t been the deepest this season, so locking in some solid at-bats from an everyday player, especially in a hitter’s park for all six contests sounds pretty enticing.
Chris Taylor ($$): With the Dodgers scheduled to face three lefties this upcoming week, there’s not a better bat in the lineup (that’s available on waivers) than Chris Taylor. With a .488 slugging percentage against left-handed pitching, including 10 home runs in just over 150 at-bats, Taylor will likely bat third in the Los Angeles order in those games that he starts. He may even get some run against righties this week too.
Joey Votto ($$): It’s the Reds’ last homestand of the season, it what could potentially be Votto’s last few games as a Cincinnati Red. The likelihood of the Reds picking up his 2024 team option for next season is minimal. The right thing to do would be to get him in the lineup as often as possible this week. And if he gets a grooved fastball or two out of respect from his opponents, it might be nice to have him in your lineup. Has he been good this year? No. But could he summon his old self for this final stretch? It’s worth a shot.
Elehuris Montero ($): Montero has been one of the best and most consistent bats in the Colorado lineup in the past few weeks and is pretty widely available. The Rockies are on the road for all six games this coming week but play six times at home in the final week of the season. Nothing like the crisp Denver air in late September, especially for power hitters.
Ryan O’Hearn ($): With Ryan Mountcastle out with a shoulder injury, O’Hearn is looking at every day playing time at first base, batting fourth in a dangerous Orioles’ lineup against every right-handed starter.
Luis Campusano ($$): Campusano has taken over as the San Diego starting catcher (at least until Ethan Salas is old enough to vote) and has done well in the role, maintaining a .300 batting average and hitting well in the middle of the Padres’ lineup. Catching in five out of seven games is enough to be rosterable in two-catcher leagues, and somehow Campusano is still pretty widely available.
Patrick Bailey ($$): Bailey is back from the IL and should be scooped in just about any two-catcher league. He’s a top-15 catcher, which could be enough for him to be picked up in one-catcher leagues as well.
Alec Marsh ($$$): Marsh shares a locker room with Cole Ragans. Hopefully, he’s snuck in there to grab a bottle of “Cole’s Secret Stuff.” Marsh has put together back-to-back good outings, allowing just two earned runs and six hits in has last 8.1 innings, while ringing up 11 strikeouts. Marsh projects to face Cleveland on Tuesday and then his rotation spot lines up for two starts over the final week of the year. He’s a target that I’m willing to gamble on down the stretch.
Jared Shuster ($$): Recalled by the Braves for the stretch run, Shuster might serve as a long reliever or might crack the rotation if the Braves keep a six-man thing going. His metrics aren’t great, but with the Atlanta lineup backing him, he could be in line for pitching wins, one of the most elusive categories in the game.
Zack Littell ($$): Littell has posted back-to-back starts with a sub-1.00 WHIP, with 12 strikeouts over his past 15 innings pitched. With two projected matchups against the Blue Jays down the stretch, the Rays will need him to perform just as much as fantasy managers will.
Mason Miller ($$): Used sparingly since his return from the IL, Miller has been more of an elite-level middle reliever than a starter. For teams in need of strikeouts and ratios, Miller could be invaluable down the stretch but don’t expect him to top 50 pitches in any of his outings over the final few weeks.
Chris Martin ($$$): With Kenley Jansen coming down with COVID, and no real reason for the Red Sox to put him back on the mound this season, Martin has become the de facto closer in Boston. It might not mean much because they’re out of contention, but at least he’s got the ninth inning role, more than you can say for most reliever pickups this time of year.
Taylor Clarke ($$): Clarke pitched the ninth and earned a save on Friday night as the Royals defeated the Astros, 4-2. Carlos Hernández came in to retire the heart of the order in the eighth inning and Clarke cleaned up the pieces in the ninth for his first save of the season. There’s no telling what the Royals will do the rest of the way, being this far out of contention. But if they decide to play spoiler, maybe Clarke gets a couple more save opportunities.
Abner Uribe ($): Electric stuff out of the Milwaukee bullpen has become pretty common, and Uribe is next in line. Since the start of September, Uribe has not allowed a single run and given up just one hit over 6.1 innings pitched. His consistency has him creeping toward the back end of the bullpen, and if fantasy managers are lucky he might even vulture a save at some point.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)