The end of the season is upon us, and with just three series left for each team, I figure it’s a good time to switch to a bit of an experimental format that focuses on each team’s final slate of matchups and highlights the guys you must start, the guys to consider starting under certain circumstances, and the desperation plays based on who they’ll face and where we expect them to hit in the lineup on any given night. I’ll then refresh this article on Wednesday as we head into the final series of the season.
Let’s get some basics out of the way regarding how to interpret these rankings. None of this stuff should come as any major surprise, but it never hurts to provide background:
- Ronald Acuña Jr. – I bet he gets another day off (my guess would be on Sunday).
- Ozzie Albies – Still the hottest hitter on the squad, but expect a day off this week.
- Austin Riley
- Matt Olson – Atlanta’s all-time single-season home run king, surpassing Andruw Jones, Hank Aaron, and Eddie Mathews. That’s the kind of season he’s having.
- Michael Harris II – We’ve seen him hit sixth twice in the last five games, and he even led off once when Acuña was out. Hitting sixth would be a big plus for his RBI totals.
- Marcell Ozuna – He plays every day and hits in a good spot in this juggernaut offense.
- Orlando Arcia – It’s not exciting and he’ll likely sit once or twice, but he has multiple hits in three of his last four with zero strikeouts and remains a part of this offense somehow.
Do Not Start
- Eddie Rosario – He’s sat in three of the last four contests due to his ice cold bat.
- Sean Murphy – Plays every other day.
- Travis d’Arnaud – Plays every other day.
- Gunnar Henderson – Strikeouts are a little better of late, and he continues to pile up hits.
- Adley Rutschman – Extended his on-base streak to nine games, hitting .412/.488/.706 over that span with more walks than strikeouts. I like his chances to hit his 20th home run of the season as well.
- Anthony Santander – Heating up at just the right time, with four doubles in his last seven games. Santander shouldn’t have an issue pounding a few more extra base hits off of Red Sox pitching.
- Cedric Mullins – He’s playing more, but he’s not hitting well.
- Ryan O’Hearn – I don’t like him for this series against the Guardians, but seven home games against the Nationals and Red Sox should help him close out the season nicely. He might sit against Sale, but that’s about it for next week.
- Aaron Hicks – When he plays, Hicks hits near the heart of the order. He’ll sit at least once, if not twice, over these last few games though.
Do Not Start
- Austin Hays – Hays just isn’t seeing the ball well right now, posting a .150/.227/.300 like with a 34.1% strikeout rate over his last 13 games.
- Heston Kjerstad – Interesting prospect, but now is not the time to roll these dice.
- Jordan Westburg – The playing time just isn’t there.
- Rafael Devers (3B) – Slumped last week, but I can’t imagine a better option on the wire.
- Wilyer Abreu (OF) – Hit the ground running in the two games back from the IL. He’s got just enough thump and speed to be interesting as a deeper outfield play.
- Masataka Yoshida (OF) – Hitting a little better lately, but the matchups aren’t that good and he’s best deployed in points leagues or where you strictly need ratios.
- Alex Verdugo (OF) – He still hits first or fourth and plays most days, if that’s something you’re desperate for.
- Adam Duvall (OF) – Home run desperation play.
- Ceddanne Rafaela (SS/OF) – He leads off when Verdugo doesn’t, so deeper leagues might find a use for him.
- Enmanuel Valdez (2B) – He’s got a little bit of pop and hit well last week, but he should get benched at least one more time against the lefty John Means.
Do Not Start
- Triston Casas (1B) – Injuries are dumb.
- Bobby Dalbec (1B) – 34.2% strikeout rate in the minors will not translate well in the majors.
- Trevor Story (2B) – Not really playing much.
- Spencer Steer (1B/2B/3B/OF) – He’s hitting well in September and can fill in at every position except shortstop. He’s not the best hitter on this team, but he’s probably the most useful in fantasy right now.
- TJ Friedl (OF) – Scorching hot and the matchup against St. Louis is pretty favorable.
- Elly De La Cruz – The floor is super low, but he could pop off two home runs or two steals in any given game (including three of his last four starts).
- Jonathan India (2B) – Leads off and the last three games have been encouraging, if you want to roll the dice a bit.
- Christian Encarnacion-Strand (1B/3B) – Sits too often, but could do something nice when he does play, particularly against St. Louis.
Do Not Start
- Noelvi Marte (3B) – Looks pretty comfortable at the dish lately despite the lack of home runs and steals, and the schedule isn’t so bad for a righty.
- Jake Fraley (OF) – Sitting against some righties now, too.
- Tyler Stephenson (C) – There are better streamers.
- Will Benson (OF) – Too many lefties, and hits at the bottom of the order.
(v STL, v CHC)
- Marcus Semien (2B) – Second base is brutal so be glad you’ve got a good one.
- Corey Seager (SS) – 2022 was an anomaly caused slightly by the shift and mostly by horrible luck.
- Adolis García (OF) – The strikeouts are WAY up in September, but the overall talent is too much to ignore.
- Josh Jung (3B) – He’s striking out quite a bit, but the power is definitely there still and he has a hit in each of his first three games since coming off the IL.
- Evan Carter (OF) – Fairly tough schedule, but he’s hitting too well to bench, even at the bottom of the order.
- Jonah Heim (C) – He’s playing more and we’ve seen flashes of Heim finding his mojo again, but the ratios are still lagging.
- Mitch Garver (C) – He’s heating back up, but the matchups don’t appeal to me much.
- Nathaniel Lowe (1B) – He doesn’t hit the ball very hard right now and he hits it on the ground far too often.
Do Not Start
- Anyone else.
- Bo Bichette (SS) – He’s too good to sit, though the abrupt red light on the base paths has been frustrating. Just three stolen bases on the year will force me to deeply reevaluate his overall fantasy upside.
- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (1B) – Healthy and hitting well.
- George Springer (OF) – The matchups aren’t ideal but he continues to lead off, plus Bichette and Vladito are heating back up.
Do Not Start
- Davis Schneider (2B/OF) – A complete non-factor for this offense at this point.
- Cavan Biggio (2B) – He’s hitting fourth, but he’s not doing a terribly good job of it lately.
- Matt Chapman (3B) – He just looks hopeless out there right now. He’s on my bench in my finals in a 16-team league.
- Daulton Varsho (C/OF) – His fantasy relevance is completely gone now.
- CJ Abrams (SS/OF) – A few steals were nice, as were the doubles.
- Joey Meneses (1B/OF) – Matchups for righties aren’t great, but he’s been sort of hot I guess.
- Lane Thomas (OF) – More of a 15-team play for volume.
- Luis Garcia (2B/SS) – He’s a slap-hitting middle infielder with limited pop and speed. Not exactly a unique skill set, but he’s hot and the matchups are fine in deeper leagues.
Do Not Start
- Keibert Ruiz – There are better options right now.
- Dominic Smith (1B) – Empty ratios if you need them, I guess.
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