If you play in a H2H league, this is what it all comes down to. You’ve played for 5 months, fought your way into the playoffs and survived the first (and in some leagues second) round. Some leagues will start their championship game this week while others will begin the following week. Regardless of when your championship week is, the next two weeks are the payoff. One wrong pitching match-up, one 0-4 or off night by a key hitter can make the difference between going for the gold and going home.
Throughout the year I’ve tried to provided you with some of the best possible options on waivers, and for the most part I’ve done a fairly good job. The players I have recommended were not only solid plays, they were players that I would have owned myself. The way I see it, if I’m not willing to roster a player, why recommend them. OK, there have been a few I wouldn’t touch, but I stated that each time so I don’t count those. This week will be no different. I have 2 teams playing their first round after a week one bye, a third H2H team whose fate will be determined on Sunday and a roto league that is on cruise control and I’m just rubbing salt in my opponents wounds by continuing to pick up players. I’m right there with you guys and know how important this all is.
Since Will Emerson will be giving you some of the best streaming options on Sunday and Tommy Landseadel will outline a half-dozen additional pitchers on Monday, I’m going to stick to the hitters this week. With the rosters expanded to 40, some of those slumping stars will be taking a seat. Other stars such as David Wright & Dustin Pedroia will be taking the rest of the year off. Over these next two weeks, some of your big name players will continue to help you. It’s those lesser known quantities though, that will fill in the rest of the puzzle and help you bring home the gold. What ever players you have on your bench that have not done much and you do not plan on playing the next two weeks, they are expendable. Even the named players that may be in your lineup (Carlos Beltran comes to mind) should be jettisoned if there is a better option on waivers. Remember, the names no longer matter at this point, only the numbers a player can produce. Some of the names may have been previously recommended; while I usually like to keep things fresh, only the hot bats count now. With that said, on to the waivers.
C Dioner Navarro (Blue Jays): Over the past 2 week (and the past month), Navarro has been the second best catcher in the league behind Buster Posey. For the past week, only Devin Mesoraco has had more value. I recommended Navarro before and I will do so again. If you need runs, you might want to look elsewhere as Navarro doesn’t score that many, but he will produce in the other three categories and may surprise you with a stolen base.
Players to drop for Navarro: Yadier Molina, Yan Gomes, Salvador Perez, Miguel Montero, Wilin Rosario.
OF Gregor Blanco (Giants): His career has been “ho-hum” and this season has been no different, but since the calendar has flipped to September, Blanco has been the polar opposite of his last name. Over the past 14 days, Blanco is batting .372 with a pair of home runs and stolen bases, 9 RBIs and 12 runs scored. Talk about filling up the stat sheet. I would not get to excited by the RBI totals or sudden power burst, but the average could hold up as well as the run production. He also has better than average speed so he could be in line for a stolen base or two. Angel Pagan is back in the leadoff spot so Blanco has been moved down to the six hole, but that has not slowed his bat down. If you need someone better for your fourth outfield spot, look no further.
OF Juan Lagares (Mets): Lagares makes the list for 1 simple reason, stolen bases. He leads the league in stolen bases for the past two weeks with 8 in 9 attempts. 3 of those steals were against the Marlins who are the Mets opponents in the first half of next week (Lagares also went 7-14 against the Marlins pitchers). He’s not much for average, runs are a crap shoot and you shouldn’t expect much in the home run and RBI department, but if you feel the need…the need, for speed, Lagares is your man.
2B/SS Jordy Mercer (Pirates): It’s been an average season for Mercer, but he has saved the best for last. For the month of September, Mercer is hitting .314 with 3 home runs, 7 RBIs and a stolen base. Not bad for a guy buried in the bottom half of the Pirates batting order. The average isn’t a fluke either, he hit .319 in July and .284 in August, but those numbers are hidden behind that .262 he has posted for the season. Mercer has been the hottest shortstop this month being bested only by Mookie Betts (who is also recommended further down) and is third among second basemen behind Howie Kendrick and Jose Altuve. Time to compare your current shortstop/second baseman/middle infielder to Mercer and see who is better suited to bring you home the gold.
2B/3B Luis Valbuena (Cubs): This is a risky pick as there is no rhyme or reason to Valbuena’s hot and cold streaks. He has been useful in fantasy if you get him at the right time, and his eligibility at second makes for a solid play as a middle infielder. Over the past two weeks, Valbuena has 3 home runs, 5 RBIs and 10 runs scored with a .292 average. He has tailed off for a few games but then went 2-4 against Toronto on Wednesday. The Cubs are home next week against the Reds and Dodgers so Cueto & Kershaw could be on tap, but if the wind is blowing right on the other nights, the risk could pay off. I would explore other options, but if pickings are slim, beggars can’t be choosers.
3B Juan Uribe (Giants): Not exactly the name you think of when looking for a savior on waivers. Since coming off the disable list, Uribe is batting .382 with 2 home runs and 8 RBIs. For the season he holds a .302 batting average so even if you don’t buy the September outburst, he can still hit (who saw that coming). Hitting in the bottom half of the order means lower run totals, but with all the talent in front of him he will have ample RBI opportunities. Remember what I said, you’re playing the numbers here, not the name, and Uribe is giving you the numbers right now.
OF Alejandro De Aza (Orioles): Someone likes his new team very much. Since arriving in Baltimore, De Aza is 9 for 24 with 2 home runs, 2 stolen bases with 5 runs scored. He also has a BB/K ratio of 1/1, even if it doesn’t last we only need it to for two more weeks. For the season, De Aza has been a disappointment, but he has a chance to make it up to owners over the final 2 weeks. We’ve seen this little outbursts from him this season and they usually don’t last long, but sometimes a fresh start can rejuvenate a player so this could be a decent two-week investment. Just watch his daily numbers closely and be ready to bail at a moment’s notice.
2B Joe Panik (Giants): Batting average and runs, that’s what you pick up Panik for and nothing else. For the season he is hitting .316. Over the past month Panik is hitting .379 and .296 over the past 7 days. Yes he has lost a step after a hot start, but he is still hitting at or around .300 and still scoring runs. Panik is no longer hitting at the top of the order so you may get a few RBIs from him, but don’t count on them. You will get now power or speed here as that isn’t in his resume. Runs and average, plain and simple. If you need help in those two categories, or just a solid bat at second or MI that won’t kill your average, don’t panic and pick up Joe.
RP Drew Storen (Nationals): With Rafael Soriano trying to fix things, Storen is primed to take over the job. He closed out games on Sunday, Monday & Tuesday collecting 3 saves and has been phenomenal this season. Soriano on the other hand has been doing his best Joe Nathan impression, posting a 6.64 ERA, 1.77 WHIP and .330 BAA since the all-star break. While nothing has been made official, I wouldn’t wait if you are in a league where saves are hard to come by. The Nats play all NL East opponents from here on out so there should be some close games and plenty of save opportunities. If you have an extra spot on your bench, a preemptive strike is warranted here.
RP Jake Petricka (White Sox): Nothing speculative about this grab as Petricka is the closer, he just hasn’t received many chances of late. He had a brief hiccup near the end of August but has righted the ship over the past two weeks and is 2 for 2 in save opportunities in September. The White Sox are playing for pride and while he may only receive a few save opportunities over the next few weeks, those few saves could make the difference between first and second. This isn’t a must add or a strong one, but if you need saves don’t turn your nose up at this one. Petricka is a better option than Tony Sipp.
RP Edward Mujica (Red Sox): I recommended Mujica several weeks back. Despite his previous stint with St.Louis last season and his numbers as of late, his ownership is in the same ballpark as Jake Petricka above. I realize his ERA for the season is over 4.0, but he has improved throughout the season. He does give up a few too many hits, but he hasn’t given up a home run since July 2nd and limits his walks enough to avoid damage on the scoreboard. You’re not going to get a shiny ERA below 2.0 and his WHIP isn’t the best in the world, but he will get you saves if that is what you seek. I’m not totally on board with Mujica, but I’m not desperate for saves. Are you?
Deep League Special
1B C.J. Cron (Angels): Cron was a nice player to own in May and June, but for some unknown reason (Mike Scioscia hates him), he was sent back to the minors and has played sparingly since. Currently the Angels have a commanding lead in the AL West. Once they lock things up we should see some of the Angels regulars get some bench time and rest for the playoffs. When that happens, Cron could and should be one of the beneficiaries. This may not happen next week, but for the final week of the season and championship round in all H2H leagues it is a realistic possibility. Keep a close watch on the Angels and Cron’s playing time and act accordingly.
Since ownership levels are lower on Yahoo than on CBS and Fantrax,
some of these players may be available to all you Yahoo’s.
1B/3B Casey McGehee (Marlins): Third base has been a black hole for owners this season, and David Wright going down for the season is just another casualty for the position. With an availability of 51%, McGehee could be your answer. There really is no power or speed here, and his run production is average at best, but what McGehee does do well is hit and drive in runs. Other than the .252 average in August, he has hit .290 or higher in each month, and batting cleanup means plenty of RBI opportunities even for the lowly Marlins. Sometimes a guy that will hit for average is all you need, he may not help you with home runs and stolen bases, but he will not drag your average down.
The Marlins play the Mets and Nationals next week and the Phillies and Nationals the following week. Other than Stephen Strasburg and Cole Hamels, there isn’t much in the way of pitching to challenge him.
SS/OF Mookie Betts (Red Sox): Betts is under owned for Yahoo and is available in 52% of leagues, that is way too high for a guy on a hot streak that qualifies at shortstop. Over the past 14 days, Betts is batting .333 with 2 home runs, 8 RBIs and has scored 10 runs (oh, and he stole a base). That puts him above, well, everyone at the shortstop position. Maybe he was ignored in your league after his slow start, and maybe nobody noticed he hit .275 in August. It’s time to take notice and check your waiver wire, with Boston playing for next year Betts will be leading off every day for the Sox.
3B/SS Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox): Another Red Sox rookie that is being overlooked because his bottom line isn’t pretty enough. Bogaerts is batting .375 with 3 home runs and 7 RBIs this month. Bogaerts and Betts (the killer B’s) are a formidable duo at the top of the order, and in fantasy they occupy some prime real-estate when looking to fill your CI or MI slot. Bogaerts is available in just over half of Yahoo leagues and is someone who you should own. Even if you don’t need him, I’m sure your opponent does.
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