This is it. The final FAAB run of the season.
It’s been a long season. The grind of the MLB season has been challenging, tiring, a real gauntlet to get through. But in the same breath, it’s been rewarding — on a personal level and a professional one. Professionally, I made it through my first full season of creating fantasy baseball content. Hopefully, the majority of readers found the content I created helpful and were able to navigate through the waiver wire all season with a sense of confidence and acumen, snagging impactful arms and bats that benefitted your team while jettisoning the less useful players in a timely enough manner that they didn’t completely cripple you. Personally, even more has happened for me and my family. A new job in a new city — and as of this week, finally, a new home — have been blessings throughout the course of the baseball season. It’s been a blast to take this journey. Thanks for coming along for the ride.
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: CLE, CIN, TB, WAS
SEVEN GAMES: SEA, TEX
Investment Rating System
Nelson Velázquez ($$$): Since joining the Royals, Velázquez has put his power on full display, especially in the last month. In September, Velázquez is batting .254 with a .661 slugging percentage and an OPS over 1.000. Velázquez has hit 12 home runs in just 33 games in Kansas City, including seven in September. Regular at-bats have been a blessing, and have likely lifted his draft stock going into next year. Jump on the bandwagon a little early to bank a couple of home runs and RBI this week.
Edward Olivares ($$): Another Royals outfielder who has been hot recently. In his last 20 games, Olivares has batted .344 with four home runs and three stolen bases. Finally getting relatively regular playing time instead of being taxied back and forth from Kansas City to Triple-A Omaha, Olivares is blossoming into a viable fantasy option.
Alex Kirilloff/Matt Wallner ($$): The Twins play in Coors Field for a three-game series to end the season. With the division already in hand, Minnesota may rest some veterans and allow their young bats to swing away. For power-needy teams, the Twins’ left-handed bats are great options for the final week of action.
Jason Heyward ($$): Four games at Coors Field will do wonders for just about any bat, and Heyward is no exception. He can hit for power and has batted a career-high .275 this season with a .493 slug. He’s a fine plug-in outfielder for teams in need of RBI and home runs.
Jordan Luplow ($): The Twins face two lefties this week, including one at Coors Field. Luplow will be in the lineup for both, and could also make a couple of pinch-hit appearances if needed. He’s a solid power bat with limited opportunity.
Blake Perkins ($): With Christian Yelich and Tyrone Taylor both missing time recently, Perkins could get extended playing time as the Brewers work to clinch the NL Central. To be fair, there are probably better options in shallower leagues.
Nick Loftin ($): Basically Nick Madrigal in a Royals’ uniform, Loftin has batted .320 since his call-up with virtually no power and not a ton of speed to speak of either. He’ll prop up batting average for those looking for some help in the category.
Curtis Mead ($$): With Brandon Lowe on the mend, Isaac Paredes has moved to second base and the Rays have deployed Mead at third with regularity. With at least one hit in each of his last 11 starts, Mead has shown a solid hit tool with decent pop. He’s a fine addition to just about any team for the final week of the year. Bear in mind the Rays play just five times.
Mark Vientos ($$$): Part of the Mets youth movement, with nothing to play for they ought to run Vientos out there for as many at-bats as he can handle. And he’s handled them pretty well so far, with his 34.8% hard contact rate. Entering Saturday’s games, each of Vientos’ last three hits were home runs. But he’s also striking out at a 30.0% clip. Take the bad with the good, and fire him up if you need home runs or RBI.
Brett Baty ($$): Baty is another piece of the Mets’ rebuild, but he’s been slightly less inspiring at the plate. Baty has carried a four-game hitting streak into Saturday, including a pair of home runs, so maybe he’s figured things out at the major league level. Worth a shot, right?
Juan Yepez ($): We’ve seen Yepez be fantasy-relevant for short stints in the past. He’s struggled in the big leagues so far this year though, carrying a .196 batting average through limited at-bats. With Nolan Arenado and a handful of other Cardinals on the IL, Yepez should get an extended look in the final week of the season.
Ryan Jeffers ($$$): Twins are in Coors for three games. Jeffers has been their best catcher defensively and one of their most consistent hitters offensively as well. He should be rostered in just about every league.
Endy Rodríguez ($): He’s getting near everyday at-bats, meaning he should be rostered in all two-catcher leagues. Endy is a part of the Pirates’ future, so they really have no reason to sit him here.
Sawyer Gipson-Long ($$$$): In three starts against below-average lineups, Gipson-Long has been outstanding. He even popped off for 11 strikeouts against the Angels in his Sept. 16th start, showcasing his ceiling. With Gipson-Long scheduled to face the Royals in his final start of the season, he makes for an interesting pickup. With a good slider and an above-average swing-and-miss changeup, Gipson-Long might remind some of what Lucas Giolito once was (before the league started enforcing the sticky stuff rules), but potentially even better.
Kyle Wright ($$$): Scheduled to pitch against the Nationals later in the week, Wright projects for a pitching victory with the Braves lineup backing him.
Braxton Garrett ($$$): Though he’s likely rostered, if he is available, he will be extremely valuable in the final week of the season. Garrett is scheduled for a two-start week, projected for Tuesday against the Mets and Sunday against the Pirates.
Shane Bieber ($$$): Bieber is back off the IL and likely to get a start in the final week of the season, potentially at Detroit. Though his HR/9 was elevated this season and his strikeout rate depressed down to a career-low 19.6%, Bieber could still be an effective waiver wire pickup this week in one of the best pitcher’s parks in baseball. The Tigers lineup isn’t exactly inspiring either. Keep an eye on the news to see if Bieber will be kept on a pitch count in his first start off the IL, but don’t be afraid to pay up whatever budget you have left to get him.
Michael King ($$): A two-start pitcher for the Yankees this week, King will likely line up opposite the Blue Jays and Royals. The Yankees have leaned on King as their starters have dropped like flies over the final couple of months of the season. He’s been solid in his past few starts, allowing just one earned run in each of his last four outings. He’s arguably the second-most consistent Yankees starter left, behind Gerrit Cole.
Jack Flaherty ($$): Despite Flaherty being demoted to the bullpen, the Orioles will still need the hurler in the stretch run if they want to secure the AL East and a first-round bye in the playoffs. The Orioles’ bullpen has been overworked of late, and it’s shown in their performances over the last two weeks, with a handful of blown saves and close losses. Flaherty comes out of the bullpen with a chance to eat some innings for Baltimore and save their high-leverage arms some work. Think of Flaherty as a two-start pitcher as he’ll likely be used in multiple games over the final week of the season, and he could vulture a win or save if he pitches well.
Chris Martin ($$$): Though the Red Sox face the Rays and Orioles, they could play spoiler and snag a close win or two. Martin is the primary closer and should get any ninth-inning action that the Red Sox have. For save-needy teams, he’s probably one of the few solid options that are highly available.
Tyler Wells ($): Wells was called back up to the majors after developing in the minor leagues for the past few months. In his first outing since getting the call, Wells tossed a pair of scoreless innings against the Guardians to keep the Orioles in the game. Likely used as a long man out of the bullpen, Wells could also get a spot start over the final week, making him a potentially valuable asset for ratios while also a viable option for a win.
Matt Brash/Justin Topa ($): It’ll be all hands on deck for the Mariners as they make one final push for the playoffs. Topa and Brash will likely be deployed frequently this week, with Seattle playing seven games. Both could factor into late-game scenarios and even vulture a save if Andrés Muñoz is used in an earlier high-leverage situation or too fatigued to throw.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)