By Sam McPherson
The fantasy baseball season is a grind. About six months long, it can wear you down like no other fantasy sport can, and the last week of the season is coming up for all of us. The key now is to not over-manage your team in the final week, making a bunch of moves out of panic and fear. You have to keep calm.
A lot of fantasy baseball owners freak out in this last week, and they make daily moves to change over their entire rosters. That can be disastrous. You have to look carefully to see where you can gain—and lose—points in this final week, and then focus your roster changes in those areas.
If you’re clinging to a slim lead in ERA and WHIP categories, streaming a bunch of starting pitchers for a few extra wins may not help you. It can literally do the opposite if those pitchers get bombed on the diamond. Be careful and deliberate in the moves you make now, so you don’t regret anything come October 5.
Players to Get Onto Your Roster Now
1. Greg Bird, 1B, New York Yankees: He’s playing every day basically for a team headed to the playoffs and still in the hunt for a division title. Bird is a rookie, so his batting average (.256) isn’t stellar—but it’s not going to hurt you, either, and that’s huge. The home runs (10) and the RBI (28) will help you in this final week, though.
2. Josh Tomlin, SP, Cleveland Indians: This veteran starter has come back from injury and looks better than he ever has before in his career. Tomlin is 6-2 with a 2.43 ERA, and he’s striking out almost a batter per inning. If you can get a few starts out of him in the final week of the season, you’re lucky.
3. Patrick Corbin, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks: He missed all of 2014, but like Tomlin, he is back and better than ever now. With a 6-4 record and a 2.99 ERA, Corbin is also a strikeout machine suddenly (70 Ks in 75 1/3 IP). He still gives up a lot of hits, but his walks are down now. He’s worth a look if you need wins and Ks late.
4. Tommy Pham, OF, St. Louis Cardinals: He’s swinging the hot bat for the Cardinals right now, to the tune of .347 and four HRs. That’s the kind of hitting you want in your lineup right now. Pham isn’t a star, but you don’t need stars. You just need stats, and Pham is supplying them.
Players to Sit/Drop This Week
1. Jung Ho Kang, IF, Pittsburgh Pirates: This one is obvious, as his injury will keep him out of the National League playoffs, sadly. Hopefully, you were able to get a lot of productivity out of Kang this season, because he certainly was one of the best players to have in the middle-infielder spot on your roster.
2. Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds: Those 57 stolen bases should have you atop your league in that category, but Hamilton is done for the season. Drop him now and pick up Pham to get some extra offense in the last week of the season. Hopefully, Hamilton’s low batting average didn’t hurt you too badly this year.
3. Greg Holland, RP, Kansas City Royals: Overall, Holland has to be considered one of the more disappointing performers this year, as his ERA ballooned from 1.44 last year to 3.83 this year. He’s been replaced (finally!) as the K.C. closer, and there’s no point in keeping him for the last week of the season with that ERA.
4. Mike Leake, SP, San Francisco Giants: On May 23, we told you to drop him. On August 1, we told you to pick him up again. Now, we’re telling you to drop Leake once more. His trade to the Giants didn’t pan out, as San Francisco faded from the playoff race and Leake is just 1-4 with a 4.69 ERA with the Giants. Perhaps the magic elixir in the water at AT&T Park finally has run out. Either way, Leake is a prime example of just how crazy fantasy baseball really has become, because you just never know what a player is going to do once he’s on your roster.
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf, hockey and fantasy sports for CBS, AXS and Examiner. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach.