By Sam McPherson
Every September, it’s the same story in fantasy baseball: Starting lineups change daily for almost every Major League Baseball team, and keeping track of who is playing today and who is not is a very tough challenge for a fantasy team owner. However, if you want to win your league, you have to stay on top of the daily action right up until the last day of the season.
Teams chasing a playoff spot still can rest starters more often, and teams way out of the postseason chase are shuffling lineups regularly to see what kind of talent they have on hand for 2018. It makes it hard to ensure you have a full roster of hitters every day going to bat for your team, and in terms of pitching, it can affect starting rotations in the same way. Even the studs don’t play all the time in September.
It may seem like a pain, but hovering over your roster like a micromanaging boss is the surefire way to give your team its best chance at winning the league. For every game missed by a player in your active lineup, that’s fewer runs, hits, RBI, home runs and stolen bases your team is earning. The same for pitchers, strikeouts, wins and saves. Micromanaging your team now is essential.
Players to Get Onto Your Roster Now
1. Kyle Gibson, SP, Minnesota Twins: His overall numbers are ugly (5.19 ERA, 1.596 WHIP), but since the All-Star break, he is 4-3 with a 3.50 ERA. In his last four starts spanning 26 2/3 innings, Gibson has allowed just five earned runs. That’s the kind of roll you want for a starting pitcher in September.
2. José Martínez, OF, St. Louis Cardinals: In 90 games this year, he is hitting .309 with 13 HRs and 36 RBI. Martínez is hitting .348 since the All-Star break, however, in 40 games, although he’s started only 22 of those contests for the Cardinals. As of Sunday, he had started nine games straight. St. Louis may be getting used to the idea of him in its daily lineup.
3. Matt Olson, 1B/OF, Oakland Athletics: With 16 HRs in just 46 games this year, Olson is hitting pretty well. He still strikes out three times as much as he walks, but the A’s rookie is only 23 years old. He has a bright future, and his .267 batting average is fine for now. It’s those homers you want at the end of the season that matter most.
4. Jake Junis, SP, Kansas City Royals: In his last four starts, Junis has given up just seven earned runs over 22 1/3 innings. He’s 5-0 in the second half with a 3.18 ERA, and Junis’ birthday is this week as well. He hasn’t lost a decision since June 29, so riding his hot arm into October is a good idea for your fantasy team.
Players to Sit/Drop This Week
1. Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds: He stole 58 bases this year, so if you drafted him in the early rounds, you got what you wanted from Hamilton. With a fractured thumb, though, and the Reds buried at the bottom of the standings, his season is over. You have to find steals elsewhere down the stretch.
2. Mike Fiers, SP, Houston Astros: With just one win since late July, Fiers is getting tired. He has a 6.59 ERA since the All-Star break after posting a tolerable 3.84 ERA in the first half of the season. His career high is 180 1/3 innings, and he’s not near that right now at 149 2/3 innings. He could be hurt, but regardless, you don’t want him hurting your team’s numbers now.
3. Josh Harrison, UTL, Pittsburgh Pirates: A fractured hand last week has ended his season, and Harrison’s second All-Star campaign comes to an end with a career-high 16 HRs. If you had him in your lineup all season, you also got 12 SBs out of him, which was a bonus. His .771 OPS this year was the second-best mark of his career.
4. Carlos Rodón, SP, Chicago White Sox: If you had him on your roster still, his shoulder problems have ended his season. With 76 strikeouts in less than 70 innings, he was a popular under-the-radar addition in early August. In five starts from July 30 to August 21, he coughed up just nine earned runs in 36 innings while striking out 37 hitters. That’s as good as it gets for Rodón.