If fantasy baseball has a home stretch, this is it. With just over five weeks remaining in the regular season, we are looking for “Mr. Right Now” rather than “Mr. Right.” With that in mind, here is a large group of players who can help gamers by providing plentiful production in the coming days.
Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners (43 percent rostered)
Gamers have been slow to add Seager, who is one of nine players (and the only one available in more than 20 percent of leagues) to hit at least 10 homers the past 30 days. And it’s not as though a power surge from this veteran is surprising, as he has topped the 20-homer mark in each of the past seven seasons. Even with power sources in abundance, it is hard to believe that teams have a roster full of players who are hotter than Seager of late.
Raimel Tapia, Colorado Rockies (14% rostered)
With seven home contests next week, the Rockies are set for the juiciest of schedules. And with a .357 average through 75 at-bats in August, Tapia is well-positioned to take advantage of his offense-inducing home park during the coming days. The 25 year old with an .882 OPS at home this season (.648 on the road) should be active in nearly every five-outfielder league. While we are at it, those in shallow leagues can take a look at Ian Desmond (38% rostered; .917 OPS at home) and Ryan McMahon (57% rostered; .940 OPS at home).
Kevin Newman, Pittsburgh Pirates (16%)
Although Newman has not been on fire of late, he has fared well overall this season (.298 average, 11 steals). His strong contact skills (12.3% strikeout rate) should help him to consistently hit for average, and his swipes are very valuable to those in roto formats. But Newman is mostly on this list due to a friendly schedule next week that includes seven contests at hitter-friendly parks (three in Philly, four in Colorado). In general, any Pirates hitters who are on your upcoming lineup bubble should get the benefit of the doubt.
Jake Fraley, Seattle Mariners (3%)
Beyond instantly having one of baseball’s best beards, Fraley should have an immediate fantasy impact. The 24 year old hit .298 in the Minors this season while also showing the power-speed combo (19 homers, 22 steals) that fantasy gamers covet. With the Mariners having fallen out of the race, they will give Fraley many chances to show his skillset down the stretch.
Andrew Heaney, Los Angeles Angels (50%)
Heaney made enough of a statement last time out (8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 14 SO) to warrant a roster spot in virtually every league. And the southpaw was fooling batters long before his memorable outing, as his 14.2% swinging-strike rate would rank among the top-10 in baseball if he had enough innings to qualify. Heaney has long-term durability concerns but gamers are concerned with short-term results right now, and he has the strikeout skills to make a major impact.
Alex Wood, Cincinnati Reds (34%)
You’ll notice a matchups-based theme in the upcoming pitcher recommendations, as I try to give each gamer some streaming options for a pivotal week. Wood has struggled badly with homers across five starts since returning from the IL, but his 21:4 K:BB ratio looks good. Next week, the southpaw faces a Marlins lineup that ranks 29th in total runs scored this year — and he gets to face them at their pitcher-friendly park.
Aaron Civale (47%), Zach Plesac (43%), Adam Plutko, Cleveland Indians (8%)
The Tigers are the juiciest matchup of late, ranking last in total runs scored in the second half and striking out more often than any other team. This trio of Indians hurlers starts off next week with juicy matchups against Detroit, making them each streaming options in various league sizes. Civale (1.82 ERA, 0.91 WHIP) is a long-term option who should be rostered in virtually every league. Plesac (3.53 ERA, 5.33 FIP) and Plutko (4.54 ERA, 5.78 FIP) are fool’s gold for the long run but recommended for use next time out.
Michael Pineda, Minnesota Twins (47%)
Pineda is arguably the best two-start option for next week who is under 50% rostered. The right-hander with plus control skills is a WHIP asset (1.18) who is picking up his share of wins on a contending Twins squad. Next week he faces lineups (White Sox, Tigers) who are the two worst in second-half strikeouts and among the bottom-10 teams in runs scored.
Nick Anderson, Tampa Bay Rays (20%)
Finally, for those who are looking for a reliever, Anderson has been on fire since joining the Rays. The right-hander has tossed 9.2 scoreless innings, dominating opponents to the tune of a 18:0 K:BB ratio and allowing just four hits. He has even picked up a couple of vulture wins this month. There are few better setup men to have right now.