I realize this season was going to be a sprint, but this is ridiculous. Believe it not, there’s only 17 days remaining in the 2020 regular season. It’s getting late early. If you have been waffling on keeping an underperforming veteran, now is the time to act. Obviously you don’t want to do anything rash, but for the most part, it’s time to throw out preseason rankings and even how you might value a specific player going into 2020. This is about the next two and a half weeks. Many times, matchups take precedence, so it’s more difficult to be one-size-fits-all with this column than it normally is.
This week’s column fits a similar format to what I’ve done for the bulk of this shortened season, but things will look different for the upcoming weeks. As I’ve done in previous seasons, I’m going to focus more on categories while still providing some streaming recommendations. Good luck out there.
Have specific questions about your roster? Ask @djshort on Twitter.
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(Players rostered in under 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Note: Percentages are from the morning of Thursday, September 10th
Kevin Gausman SP, Giants (Yahoo: 38 percent rostered)
After what Gausman has done recently, he’s earned a blanket recommendation in mixed leagues, even with a matchup against the Padres this weekend. I’m just not going to overthink things. Gausman’s strikeout upside is just too great. Coming off six innings of one-run ball against the D-Backs last time out, he now holds a 4.05 ERA with 62 strikeouts and just 12 walks through 46 2/3 innings. He probably deserves a little better than we’ve seen so far in the ERA department. Either way, he’s earned his standing here.
Randy Arozarena OF, Rays (Yahoo: 22 percent rostered)
Acquired as part of the Matthew Liberatore deal with the Cardinals over the winter, Arozarena missed all of summer camp for undisclosed reasons before beginning the year at the Rays’ alternate training site, but he’s made an instant impact since his debut on August 30. Through eight games, he’s 8-for-20 (.400) with four home runs, five RBI, one stolen base, and six runs scored. The 25-year-old had a brief cup of coffee with the Cardinals last year after breaking out with a .344/.431/.571 batting line along with 15 home runs and 17 steals over 92 games between Double- and Triple-A. There’s been some question about the power in the past, but he packed on 15 pounds of muscle coming into 2020 after eating nothing but chicken and rice while doing 300 pushups a day. He’s a deeper league option as long as playing time questions linger, but he’s exciting nonetheless.
Jeimer Candelario 1B/3B, Tigers (Yahoo: 31 percent rostered)
Candelario might be the hottest hitter in the game that nobody is talking about. One thing’s for sure, if he was on a team like the Yankees, Dodgers, or even the Padres, he’d be rostered just about everywhere. Candelario was 0-for-17 with nine strikeouts through five games to begin the season, but he’s hitting .355/.405/.603 with 17 extra-base hits (including five homers), 23 RBI, and 23 runs scored over 33 games since the start of August. He’s sporting a .432 BABIP in that time, so there’s surely some good fortune at play here, but he’s also seen some encouraging growth in terms of barrel percentage, hard-hit percentage, and average exit velocity. According to Baseball Savant, he already has 11 “barrels” in 101 batted balls this season after having just 14 in 237 batted balls all of last season. His xBA sits at .294, which suggests that he’s earning his success. He’s worth a pickup everywhere. By the way, the same goes for his teammate Victor Reyes, who is now rostered in 51 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Andres Gimenez 2B/SS, Mets (Yahoo: 11 percent rostered)
Gimenez was a surprise inclusion on the Mets’ Opening Day roster and he’s impressed to the point where he’s threatening to push Amed Rosario aside as the primary shortstop. Along with some fantastic defense, the 22-year-old has held his own at the plate by batting .292/.340/.427 with six extra-base hits (including two home runs), nine RBI, and 17 runs scored through 36 games. Most importantly for fantasy players, he’s 7-for-8 in stolen base attempts. He made a start at second base on Tuesday while Amed Rosario played shortstop against a left-hander, but the important thing is that Gimenez is playing regularly. Anything on the power front is a nice bonus, but his speed and multi-position eligibility should come in handy in competitive formats down the stretch.
Adam Duvall OF, Braves (Yahoo: 41 percent rostered)
I mean, Duvall has to be included here, right? He smashed three homers and drove in nine runs in the Braves’ 29-9 rout of the Marlins on Wednesday night and now has a pair of three-homer games in his last seven games. Pretty amazing when you consider that Duvall was so far down on the Braves’ depth chart last season that he actually played 101 games in Triple-A. Still, Duvall had a pair of 30-homer seasons with the Reds, so it’s not like this is coming out of nowhere. There’s a number of disappointing outfielders in fantasy leagues this season, so keep riding this train to the finish line.
Mitch Moreland 1B, Padres (Yahoo: 34 percent rostered)
Moreland is just 5-for-27 (.185) to begin his time with the Padres, but don’t led that lead you astray. He’s a perfectly respectable corner infielder in mixed formats, especially in leagues where you can make daily lineup changes. The 35-year-old mashes right-handed pitching, with a 1.078 OPS in 93 plate appearances against them this season after posting an .887 OPS in 275 plate appearances versus righties last season. Eric Hosmer fractured his left index finger trying to lay down a bunt on Monday for some reason, so Moreland’s playing time should be safe while he tries to get out of this recent funk. Sometimes it’s about finding the players *before* they go on the hot streak. This could be your chance with Moreland.
Angels hitters at Colorado:
It goes without saying, but matchups are what matter at this point. You’d probably be targeting hitters going to Colorado even under normal circumstances, but especially with a little over two weeks remaining in the season. Upton was going to be one of my top recommendations this week before being hit in the left hand twice on Tuesday against the Rangers. X-rays came back negative, but Upton was held out of the lineup on Wednesday. It’s a shame, as Upton was hitting .371/.476/.714 with three homers and 10 RBI over his last 11 games. He’s a must-pickup if he ends up playing this weekend. These other options are dart throws in deeper leagues, but could have some appeal depending on the replaceable parts of your roster.
Next week: Keep in mind that the Rockies will welcome the Athletics for two games and the Dodgers for four games.
Rays hitters vs. Boston:
Picking on Boston’s pitching staff is just too easy, but you have to take advantage. The Red Sox are dead-last in the majors in both ERA (6.17) and WHIP (1.68) while giving up an average of 1.78 HR/9, almost worst in the game. Pitching plans aren’t entirely clear for the Red Sox this weekend, but we know lefty Mike Kickham will start Thursday and fellow southpaw Martin Perez will go sometime this weekend. With that in mind, it’s worth having Brosseau and Margot rostered at the very least. Wendle and Lowe are more deeper league dice rolls, but again, worth a shot given the level of competition.
Next week: The Red Sox will play three at the Marlins before returning home for a three-game series against the Yankees.
Trevor Rogers (Yahoo: 11 percent rostered) vs. Phillies
Yusei Kikuchi (Yahoo: 11 percent rostered) at Diamondbacks
Chris Bassitt (Yahoo: 43 percent rostered) at Rangers
Justus Sheffield (Yahoo: 23 percent rostered) at Diamondbacks
Zach Eflin (Yahoo: 26 percent rostered) at Marlins
Tyler Mahle (Yahoo: 25 percent rostered) at Cardinals
Tejay Antone (Yahoo: 9 percent) likely to pitch in Monday’s doubleheader vs. Pirates
And Because We Have To, Here Are Some Relievers:
Rafael Dolis RP, Blue Jays (Yahoo: 25 percent rostered)
Greg Holland RP, Royals (Yahoo: 39 percent rostered)
Scott Barlow RP, Royals (Yahoo: 5 percent rostered)
Victor Gonzalez RP, Dodgers (Yahoo: 1 percent rostered)
Dolis hasn’t allowed an earned run in 12 appearances and basically finds himself sharing the closer role with Anthony Bass. The Blue Jays plan to ease Ken Giles back into things when he returns from the injured list, so this arrangement could continue as we reach the season’s end. Holland has been great in his return to Kansas City, but don’t overlook Barlow. He picked up a save the other day and holds a stingy 2.86 ERA and 28/7 K/BB ratio over 22 innings. With the way he’s being used (he’s tied for the MLB lead with 23 appearances), he can provide value even if he doesn’t get saves. I know the Royals aren’t a good team, but it’s surprising how little their roster percentages have changed over the past week. That’s why I’m mentioning them again this week. I should say there’s a host of closer situations I just don’t want any part of right now. That includes the likes of the Diamondbacks, Red Sox, and Giants. Do what you have to do, but there are probably better uses of a roster spot right now unless you are truly desperate for saves.
Gonzalez isn’t a saves candidate with the Dodgers, but he has been flat-out dominant in a limited sample during his first taste of big-league action. He’s also been asked to pitch more than one inning in the majority of his appearances. Something to consider if you want to maximize your roster for a couple of days down the stretch.