Similar to previous years, this column will have a different look for the final two weeks of the regular season. The usual format simply doesn’t apply this late in the season, so we’re eschewing lengthy explanations for each player in favor of recommendations with specific groupings. There’s some overlap with some of these groupings, but I tried to put each player where they make the most sense, with an emphasis on recent relevancy and production.
Going beyond these groupings, you’ll find a host of starting pitcher recommendations for the weekend. Hopefully this will set you up nicely for the final week of the regular season. Until then, good luck in your league(s).
Have specific questions about your roster? Ask @djshort on Twitter.
MIXED LEAGUE PICKUPS
(Players rostered in under 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Note: Percentages are from the morning of Thursday, September 17th
Power: Jared Walsh, Sean Murphy, DJ Stewart, Clint Frazier, Kole Calhoun, Justin Upton, Brad Miller, Matt Carpenter, Alec Bohm, Brandon Belt, Daniel Vogelbach, Nate Lowe, Bobby Dalbec, Willie Calhoun, Jedd Gyorko, Jesus Aguilar, Maikel Franco, Jason Heyward, Ryan Braun
Jared Walsh is the big riser over the past week, quite possibly taking the mantle of the best Walsh since Brandon. The 27-year-old has homered five times in his last six games and is batting .467 (14-for-30) with 12 RBI and 10 runs scored over his last seven. He’s batted second in each of the Angels’ last five games. I put Walsh under my AL-only recommendations in last week's column, but obviously I didn’t see this one coming. Still, he’s interesting. Obvious caveats about the PCL and super-charged baseball aside, Walsh batted .325/.423/.686 with 36 homers over 98 games with Triple-A Salt Lake last year. If we were talking long-term, I would have my doubts. But this is all about the next week and a half. Roll with him in all formats as long as he’s hot.
As you make your roster decisions, keep in mind that the Cardinals still have 13 games remaining on the calendar as they make up games missed due to their COVID-19 outbreak. Clint Frazier should be rostered pretty much everywhere at this point, especially with a series against the Red Sox this weekend.
It took a while, but Shogo Akiyama might finally be getting comfortable in the majors. He’s hitting .346 with a .485 on-base percentage — including seven walks against six strikeouts — in 33 plate appearances over his last eight games. He’s found his way back to the leadoff spot for the Reds and remains a speed threat, even with his recent lack of success on the basepaths. Quinn, who just returned from a concussion, makes for a good sleeper for speed-focused players while Varsho brings some unique speed for a catcher-eligible player. Tapia is also interesting as we try to milk the last bit of value out of Coors Field this year.
Multi-position eligible guys: Chris Taylor, Andres Gimenez, Nick Solak, Ty France, Ryan McMahon, Tommy La Stella, Jurickson Profar, Austin Riley, Mike Brosseau, Brian Anderson, Colin Moran, Luis Arraez, Enrique Hernandez, Willi Castro, Nick Madrigal
The Dodgers will begin a four-game series against the Rockies on Thursday, so try to find a way to squeeze guys like Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez on your roster. They aren’t locks to play each game, obviously, so this is mostly advice for leagues with daily lineup changes. Ryan McMahon has had a bad year, but he has six homers and an .896 OPS at Coors Field this season. Ty France has a .903 OPS in 46 plate appearances since coming over to the Mariners, mostly hitting second or fifth in the lineup.
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Jordan Montgomery, Yankees (Yahoo: 18 percent rostered) at Red Sox
Carlos Martinez, Cardinals (Yahoo: 40 percent rostered) at Pirates
Rich Hill, Twins (Yahoo: 46 percent rostered) at Cubs
Danny Duffy, Royals (Yahoo: 21 percent rostered) at Brewers
Kevin Gausman, Giants (Yahoo: 32 percent rostered) at Athletics
Big streaming day here. Duffy was originally scheduled to pitch this week against the Tigers, but he was scratched for disciplinary reasons after missing the team charter to Detroit. He’ll make his return on Friday against the Brewers, which might be an even better matchup for him. Milwaukee’s offense just hasn’t been all that impressive this year. Gausman is here tentatively after missing his most recent start with an elbow scare, but fortunately an MRI came back negative and he didn’t have any issues during a recent throwing session. He’s a must-start if healthy.
Montgomery has been up-and-down this year, but he’s coming off one of his better starts and there’s strong win potential with this matchup. The same goes for Martinez against the Pirates. The veteran right-hander still holds a bloated 10.32 ERA, but I like the strikeout potential here. Hill hasn’t been the difference-maker many thought he would be this season, but I’ll still take my chances given the track record.
Pablo Lopez, Marlins (Yahoo: 39 percent rostered) vs. Nationals
Michael Pineda, Twins (Yahoo: 46 percent rostered) at Cubs
Kris Bubic, Royals (Yahoo: 5 percent rostered) at Brewers
Not as into Saturday matchup-wise. Still, it’s frankly confusing why Lopez isn’t over 50 percent rostered. Sure, he had that bad start in the Marlins’ 29-9 blowout loss to the Braves, but he’s allowed two earned runs or fewer in seven out of his nine starts overall this year. Take advantage. Pineda can’t avoid the home run ball forever, but he still appears to be flying under the radar a bit after his return from a PED suspension. Bubic was bumped to Saturday with Danny Duffy now scheduled for Friday. He’s had three straight solid starts and makes for a fine deeper league play.
Deivi Garcia, Yankees (Yahoo: 47 percent rostered) at Red Sox
Dane Dunning, White Sox (Yahoo: 34 percent rostered) at Reds
Joe Musgrove, Pirates (Yahoo: 38 percent rostered) vs. Cardinals
Taijuan Walker, Blue Jays (Yahoo: 42 percent rostered) at Phillies
Another good day. Garcia holds a 3.28 ERA and 24/4 K/BB ratio in 24 2/3 innings through his first four MLB starts and is pretty much a no-brainer play against the Red Sox. Odds are he’s already been scooped up in most competitive leagues. Dunning also deserves some attention, as he’s sporting a 2.33 ERA through his first five starts in the majors. He made his longest start thus far on Tuesday against the Twins, who are obviously no pushovers.
Musgrove is getting stretched out slowly after returning from the injured list, but he threw 87 pitches ls time out against the Red while striking out eight batters in five innings. There’s blow-up potential here, but worth a try if you need strikeouts. Walker had an ugly outing against the Yankees on Tuesday, but his defense didn’t do him any favors. Feel free to get back on the horse against a banged-up Phillies team.