I was too young to have watched Tom Seaver ever pitch a game, even in the latter part of his career. But he was still present in my experience as a Mets fan. Of course he was. You couldn't miss it if you tried. He was the best player in franchise history and one of the best pitchers in the history of the sport. For someone who fell in love with baseball during some rough years for the Mets, Seaver and the 1969 Mets represented hope and excellence. I absorbed anything I could about them. Seaver’s trademark drop-and-drive delivery became as recognizable to me as the Jerry West silhouette logo. The ideal for what a power pitcher should look like.
Like any other Mets fan, I’m sad today. But Seaver’s passing is also a reminder to appreciate excellence when its in your midst. Sit back and enjoy it. It’s easy to get lost in the numbers or just the competition of a league for our purposes, but remember that we’re all here because we love this game.
Have specific questions about your roster? Ask @djshort on Twitter.
(Players rostered in under 50 percent of leagues)
Note: Percentages are from the morning of Thursday, September 3rd
Dane Dunning SP, White Sox (Yahoo: 22 percent rostered)
I’m of the opinion that Dunning should have never been sent down in the first place after his debut against the Tigers last month, but I can let it slide if the White Sox let him stay this time. Please? Dunning looked plenty worthy in his return on Sunday against the Royals, tossing five no-hit innings with seven strikeouts and just one walk. He got pulled at 79 pitches, which is understandable given the unique nature of this season and that Dunning is returning from Tommy John surgery. The White Sox have a lot riding on his future. There’s a lot to like so far, obviously, especially in regard to his command/control and excellent slider. He gets the Royals again on Friday, which is a gimme matchup in all formats.
Jonathan Schoop 2B, Tigers (Yahoo: 45 percent rostered)
Chances are Schoop was one of those names who came up toward the end of a mixed league draft and you passed on him in favor of someone with more upside. Signing with Detroit probably didn’t help matters and I can only assume that’s part of the reason why he’s so widely-available. Still, that shouldn’t be the case. Schoop’s approach still leaves a lot to be desired, but he’s making contact more regularly than ever before while slashing .310/.355/.524 with eight homers, 20 RBI, and 20 runs scored through 33 games. It would be unfair to expect this batting average to stick (he’s sporting a .341 BABIP) right now, but we know we can count on the power.
Victor Reyes OF, Tigers (Yahoo: 13 percent rostered)
Reyes is also rostered in a strangely-low number of leagues relative to the numbers he’s put up so far. Dating back to last year, the former Rule 5 pick is batting .303/.333/.444 with 36 extra-base hits (including six homers) and 14 steals in 411 plate appearances through 102 games. He’s an aggressive hitter, as only six hitters (min. 100 PA) have a higher swing percentage so far this season, but that hasn’t stopped him from taking over the leadoff spot in Detroit. That’s where he’s made each of his last 10 starts while bouncing around the Tigers’ outfield. Reyes is getting volume at the top of the lineup and offers speed in a year where it has been hard to find.
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Tyler Mahle SP, Reds (Yahoo: 20 percent rostered)
Mahle was mentioned as part of my “Stream Team” a couple of weeks back, but now he’s getting a blanket recommendation. While Mahle only notched three strikeouts in his start against the Cardinals on Wednesday, he still managed to throw seven innings with three runs allowed as part of a no-decision. The 25-year-old induced 12 swinging strikes in his 97 pitches and his slider was effective yet again. He now holds a solid 3.90 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 35/12 K/BB ratio over five starts and one relief appearance this season. You are going to have to accept the risk of the home run ball, especially with another start against the Cubs coming up next. But there’s no doubt he’s earned his standing in the Reds’ rotation and mixed leagues in general.
Austin Slater 1B/OF, Giants (Yahoo: 29 percent rostered)
It’s easy to tell you to go pick up Alex Dickerson after his historic game in Coors Field the other night, but I don’t really think you need my help there. However, don’t lose sight of Slater in this outfield. The 27-year-old has been out since August 21 with elbow and groin injuries, but he was on quite a roll prior to that, hitting .347/.458/.653 with four homers and six steals over just 19 games. He found himself among some impressive company in barrel percentage during that small sample. Last we heard, the Giants were hopeful Slater would be able to return this weekend, so feel free to stash him in an IL spot if he’s out there.
Garrett Cooper 1B/OF, Marlins (Yahoo: 4 percent rostered)
Cooper was one of the Marlins’ players impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak in their clubhouse, but he’s been very productive since returning, going 8-for-25 (.320) with two homers, three doubles, seven RBI, and three runs scored over six games. The 29-year-old been absolutely smoking the ball, so hitting metrics (barrel percentage, hard-hit percentage, average exit velocity) back it all up. You’d rather see that than not, even with this small sample. And it’s not like he’s coming out of nowhere, as he was a perfectly respectable hitter for the Marlins last year. Cooper has split time between first base and the DH spot and that’s pretty much what we should expect down the stretch, as well.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa C/3B/SS, Rangers (Yahoo: 49 percent rostered)
I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical about the love Kiner-Falefa was getting out of spring training and summer camp. Even with catcher-eligibility, it was tough to buy in on someone who just hasn’t enjoyed much success in the majors. However, he’s starting to make me a believer. Kiner-Falefa has popped two homers with a .333/.362/.489 batting line over his last 12 games. He already has six steals on the year and has taken over the No. 2 spot in the Rangers’ batting order in recent days. While he was playing shortstop while Elvis Andrus on the shelf, he’ll now head back to third base to finish the season. Kiner-Falefa’s average launch angle is actually lower now than it was last year, but he’s made major strides with his contact rate and the speed is excellent. If you are beginning to run out of patience with catchers like Wilson Ramos and Christian Vazquez, Kiner-Falefa is a worthy alternative.
Ty France 2B/3B, Mariners (Yahoo: 3 percent rostered)
Set free from the Padres as part of the Austin Nola deal over the weekend, France has landed in a good situation with the rebuilding Mariners. In fact, manager Scott Servais said following the trade that France is going to see “a ton of at bats.” That just wasn’t going to happen in San Diego, even after he posted video game numbers (.399 BA, 27 HR, 1.247 OPS in 76 games) in Triple-A last year. Granted, that was in the Pacific Coast League with the super-charged baseball, but it makes sense that the Mariners want to see what they have. Fantasy players should go along for the ride, especially in deeper formats. It helps that France can be plugged in at multiple spots in your lineup.
Jason Heyward OF, Cubs (Yahoo: 18 percent rostered)
I’m just as surprised as you are to be putting Heyward into a Waiver Wired column in the year 2020, but here we are. The fact is, he’s earned it. The 31-year-old has three straight two-hit games to his name and is now slashing .299/.411/.563 with five homers, 17 RBI, and 16 runs scored through 30 games on the year. His plate discipline has been out of this world, piling up more walks (17) than strikeouts (16) so far. He suddenly has one of the lowest chase rates in the game, so it makes sense that he’s having success by swinging at better pitches. His place in the lineup could be better and he’s mostly an option against right-handed pitching, but there’s still room for him in a lot of leagues.
Blue Jays hitters against the Red Sox this weekend:
The Blue Jays begin a five-game series against the Red Sox on Thursday, including a doubleheader on Friday. Boston’s pitching is unfathomably bad and Toronto (or Buffalo, for the purposes of this year) should be able to clean up. Tellez and Shaw might not have much relevant beyond this weekend in a lot of mixed leagues, but let’s worry about that later. Take advantage of these matchups if you have some replaceable roster parts. Keep in mind that Lourdes Gurriel is still available in about 35 percent of Yahoo leagues, so he could be out there in shallow formats.
Deivi Garcia SP, Yankees (Yahoo: 27 percent rostered) at Orioles in doubleheader
Josh Fleming SP, Rays (Yahoo: 15 percent rostered) vs. Marlins
Tony Gonsolin SP, Dodgers (Yahoo: 43 percent rostered) vs. Rockies
Chase Anderson SP, Blue Jays (Yahoo: 6 percent rostered) at Red Sox
Dakota Hudson SP, Cardinals (Yahoo: 43 percent rostered) at Cubs
And Because We Have To, Here Are Some Relievers:
Hunter Harvey RP, Orioles (Yahoo: 18 percent rostered)
Yoshihisa Hirano RP, Mariners (Yahoo: 8 percent rostered)
Richard Rodriguez RP, Pirates (Yahoo: 12 percent rostered)
Greg Holland RP, Royals (Yahoo: 38 percent rostered)
Scott Barlow RP, Royals (Yahoo: 5 percent rostered)
The Orioles traded both Mychal Givens and Miguel Castro before Monday’s trade deadline, which leaves the closer situation in Baltimore murky with Cole Sulser recently being moved back into lower-leverage spots. Odds are we see a committee, but Harvey is the most exciting name even with the limited experience in the majors. Hirano has been eased back into action since his return from a COVID-19 diagnosis, but he’s the mostly likely pitcher to take over the closer role now that Taylor Williams has been traded to the Padres. Rodriguez is here mostly by default, as he’s the last man standing in the Pirates’ bullpen. Holland wasn’t moved at the trade deadline, so now he’s the favorite for saves with Trevor Rosenthal in San Diego. Barlow isn’t a bad darkhorse in this situation, though.