By Sam McPherson
This is it, fantasy baseball owners: The last week of the Major League Baseball season has arrived, which means it’s no time to give up if your league championship is on the line. Hopefully, you followed advice given here all season, and you’re about to be rewarded for your due diligence. After all, that’s what it takes to win a six-month fantasy sports season. Believe it or not, because MLB plays 162 games over six months, this really is the “easiest” fantasy sport to win.
Injuries always impact everyone’s rosters, but in fantasy baseball, you have the chance—on a daily or weekly basis, depending on your league rules—to overcome injuries. Yes, it’s very possible that Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper’s injury that cost him the final two months of the season also hurt your chances to win; some players are irreplaceable. But fantasy baseball is the most forgiving when it comes to surviving injuries to star players, and if you’ve stayed on top of your roster every day and every week, you’re going to be happy next Sunday night.
Players to Get Onto Your Roster Now
1. Jon Gray, SP, Colorado Rockies: A Colorado starter? Yes! He is 6-2 with a 2.24 ERA since the start of August, and the Rockies are pushing for a playoff spot in the final week of the season. Did we mention the 61 strikeouts in 60 1/3 innings, too? Gray has very good stuff, and it’s clear he can pitch in Coors Field or in Wrigley Field. He has at least one start left this season, so it could be yours for the taking.
2. Mike Minor, RP, Kansas City Royals: Once upon a time, he was a promising young starter for the Atlanta Braves, but after missing two full seasons with injury, Minor resurfaced this year in the Royals bullpen. He is now the closer, and cheap saves can be had in the final week of the season. Minor has posted a career-best mark of 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings pitched in 2017.
3. Daniel Mengden, SP, Oakland Athletics: In his three September starts, the A’s pitcher has given up just two earned runs in 22 innings, while striking out 15 batters. One of those starts came against the Houston Astros, too. Mengden could get two starts in the final week of the season, so he’s worth a look in your league if you need quality starts late in the year.
4. Nicholas Castellanos, 3B/OF, Detroit Tigers: He will be one of the team’s building blocks going forward, and Castellanos has put together his best MLB season yet this year. He had 69 extra-base hits coming into Sunday’s action, and he also had established career-high marks in doubles, triples, home runs, RBI, stolen bases and walks. Grab him for the final week if you need some instant offense.
Players to Sit/Drop This Week
1. Jose Martinez, OF, St. Louis Cardinals: We recommended picking him up a few weeks ago, but now he has a sprained thumb, and that means iffy hitting for the final week of the season. The Cards are chasing the Rockies for a playoff berth, and they can’t afford any sub-par plate appearances. Martinez may not play well or effectively over the final week of the season now.
2. Doug Fister, SP, Boston Red Sox: He has given up 14 earned runs in his last 11 1/3 innings pitched, which is never a good sign for a 33-year-old pitcher. The Red Sox have clinched a playoff spot already, but they may not want to chance giving Fister the ball one last time anyway. There are better pitchers out there on waivers if you need a spot start this week.
3. Matt Kemp, OF, Atlanta Braves: The team states Kemp will only pinch hit for the rest of the year, so you can drop him now after he missed eight straight starts with a hamstring problem. The Braves have nothing to play for, and Kemp is owed close to $44 million through 2019 still. There is no need to push him back into the startling lineup.
4. Zach Britton, RP, Baltimore Orioles: It’s been an uneven year for Britton, the Baltimore closer. His hits allowed are up, and his strikeout rate is down. His knee has been problematic all season, and the Orioles have a solution for replacing him. Drop him and find some last-week saves somewhere else (see above).