By Sam McPherson
With just five weeks left in the Major League Baseball regular season, fantasy baseball owners face the final stretch of their long season. If you’re playing in a head-to-head league, only one match-up remains before the playoffs begin, and in standard Rotisserie leagues, every one of those five weeks left will matter in the league standings. Even if your team is low in the standings, it’s no time to give up on your roster.
Other owners inevitably will give up on their rosters, which means you can take advantage of that. In Rotisserie leagues, some owners also will be out of starts for their position players, and your team can jump dramatically in the standings. In head-to-head leagues, if you’re close to the top playoff tier, this last week can mean a lot to your team’s final finish.
The point is that the season is a long grind, whether you’re really playing baseball in the majors or just playing fantasy baseball on your keyboard. As noted earlier in the season, constant vigilance is what it takes to win your league, and that means staying on top of roster moves right up until the final day of the MLB season (October 2).
Players to Get On Your Roster Now
1. A.J. Pollock, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks: Many fantasy owners that drafted early got burned when Pollock hurt his elbow before the season even started. He’s finally back healthy, and now Pollock can really help a team with his speed in September. He stole two bases in Sunday’s game, and he will steal more in the final five weeks of the season. He can help every roster.
2. Carlos Rodon, SP, Chicago White Sox: In the month of August, he gave up just five earned runs in 30 2/3 innings, while winning three of his five starts for the Pale Hose. Toss in 26 strikeouts, and Rodon becomes a nice option for your pitching staff in September if he can keep up this kind of effort. He’s had location problems in the past, but with just seven walks in August, maybe Rodon has it together finally.
3. Alex Bregman, SS, Houston Astros: He’s just 22, but Bregman is holding his own against MLB pitching right now as the Astros try to make the postseason. With five home runs in 30 games, he has the power to hit 30 HRs over a full season. You don’t need him to do that over the last five weeks of the season, but another 5-10 jacks off his bat will help you in the standings, for sure.
4. David Phelps, P, Miami Marlins: He was used in relief for most of the season, until the playoff-contending Marlins thrust him into a starting role earlier this month. If you need starts and strikeouts down the stretch, perhaps Phelps can help your team out. As a starter, he is posting a 2.22 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings. Phelps isn’t pitching deep into games (yet), but his arm is certainly live enough to help you pile up the Ks.
Players to Sit/Drop This Week
1. Josh Reddick, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers: Since joining L.A. right before the trade deadline, Reddick hasn’t driven in a single run for the Dodgers. He posted an .816 OPS in 68 games with Oakland before the trade, but Reddick has been an absolute zero for Los Angeles in August. There are plenty of better hitters on the waiver wire right now.
2. Joe Musgrove, SP, Houston Astros: If you jumped on his bandwagon in early August, it’s time to get off before the wheels break down. After giving up just three earned runs in his first three starts, Musgrove’s last two outings have seen him surrender 13 earned runs combined. At this point, he’s also given up more hits than innings pitched, and that’s never a good sign for a rookie. Cut bait quickly.
3. Vince Velasquez, SP, Philadelphia Phillies: He was a great source of Ks this season, with 137 strikeouts in just 119 innings so far. But he hasn’t won a game since July 8, and his second-half ERA (6.25 ERA) is almost twice as high as his first-half ERA (3.32). The 24-year-old, second-year hurler has potential for the future, but Velasquez has shot his wad for 2016 already.
4. Michael Saunders, OF, Toronto Blue Jays: His overall numbers look good, but after Saunders hit .298 in the first half of the season, he’s hitting just .177 in the second half. This has caused him to lose some playing time as well, but with just nine RBI since the middle of July, Saunders isn’t making a good case for more starts in Toronto. That makes his fantasy value to you suffer, of course.
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.