We’re down to the final month of baseball, and that means it’s time to make one last splash in FAAB to win your league. At this point of the year, it’s even more important than usual to look at the standings and identify where you can make up ground and gain points on the squads you’re trying to catch (or hold off). Specialists are great, but be sure that they don’t crush you in other categories to the point that you lose ground in other places.
This time of year, my favorite categories to target are batting average and pitching ratios. As opposed to counting stats, those are the only categories in roto leagues where your opponents can come back toward you, making it easier to make up ground. Grabbing high-average bats and solid ratio pitchers at this point in the season could make a bigger difference than managers might think, so keep your eyes on the wire.
With rosters expanding on September 1st, there are a ton of names that could be potentially relevant available on the wire now. However, some of the fringe guys that were rostered previously may be losing playing time. Be aware of roster situations and keep an eye on playing time, especially for guys that were on the edge of being cut from fantasy squads before the expansion.
The Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Guardians, Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays each have a full slate of seven games this coming week, while the New York Mets and Washington Nationals each play just five times, so plan accordingly.
FIVE GAMES: NYM, WAS
SEVEN GAMES: ARZ, CHC, CLE, LAA, SEA, TB
Investment Rating System
Jasson Domínguez ($$$$): The Martian has made contact. LOUD contact. His first major league at-bat was a two-run home run off of Justin Verlander. I’m not sure if there’s a much more fitting way for the most hyped prospect since Bryce Harper to make his debut. Fantasy managers will likely be draining their FAAB accounts for this one. And for good reason.
Colton Cowser ($$): Back for a second try in the big leagues, Cowser is hoping to improve upon an abysmal first cameo plagued by poor contact numbers and a high strikeout rate (28.6%). His prospect pedigree suggests that he should be hitting better. Cowser graded as a 50 raw power prospect with a 45-hit tool, according to scouting reports, so he should catch on eventually. But with Heston Kjerstad looming in the minors and Aaron Hicks due to come back from injury at some point, he may not stick on the roster for the whole month.
Michael Brantley ($$$): I’ll coin an old phrase from an era long ago and call this one a “Fantasy Zombie”, as Brantley has returned from the proverbial dead (a very, VERY long stint on the IL) to join the Astros for the final month of the season. With his track record, Brantley could prop up batting average for fantasy teams if he is able to revert back to form. Could he be a late-season fantasy MVP?
Nick Martini ($): Martini has hit the ball hard in his small sample with the Reds, but may see his playing time eaten into by waiver claims Harrison Bader and Hunter Renfroe. Martini should be a strong-side platoon bat moving forward but just know that his at-bats will have a cap.
Ronny Mauricio ($$$): Well, it’s about time! I’ve been pushing Mauricio on FAAB bidders for a couple weeks now and he’s finally got the call-up. And would you look at that, four hits in his first five major league at-bats. If you missed the boat the past couple of weeks, he’s not going nearly as cheap anymore!
Carter Kieboom ($$): Remember him? A hyped-up prospect way back in 2020 who pretty much fell on his face in his first couple major league stints, Kieboom is back from a laundry list of injuries, including a Tommy John surgery that held him out of the entire 2022 campaign. Since rejoining the Nationals, he’s become the team’s everyday third baseman. With three home runs in his first eight games, Kieboom looks to have turned a corner. Though it’s a small sample, Kieboom’s Barrel rate has more than doubled from 2021, going from 3.8% to 8.3%. So far better contact has yielded better results. Time will tell if it’s a sustainable change.
Ceddanne Rafaela ($): Despite his name sounding like an auto-generated player in The Show, Rafaela has a chance to stick with the big league club the rest of the year as a utility man. Though he wasn’t hyped a ton coming into the year, he has picked up steam in the minors with 20 home runs and 36 stolen bases across Double-A and Triple-A combined. He could be a decent power-speed combo if he gets at-bats in the Boston lineup.
Yoán Moncada ($): Moncada is finally showing signs of life, enough that fantasy managers should be paying attention. Moncada batted .280 in August, albeit as part of a bad White Sox lineup so his counting stats weren’t great. The numbers could be sustainable, as he’s had a .331 BABIP over the course of the whole season. It could be worth a shot for those in need of a corner infielder.
Kole Calhoun ($): Getting regular at-bats at first base behind José Ramírez, Calhoun has found a nice little home in the Guardians’ lineup. Calhoun has reverted to the exceptional plate discipline that made him fantasy-relevant in 2019, increasing his walk rate to 9.2% while his OBP has reached .356. With a decent hard-contact clip, Calhoun has made himself a feasible option in deeper leagues.
Brett Baty ($): Back from the minors and ready to live up to the hype this time, Baty will need to improve on his 27.7% K-rate in order to be relevant.
Korey Lee ($): Lee is a two-catcher league option only at this point. He will likely play behind the plate for the White Sox in the majority of games going forward but his bat is middling at best.
Austin Wells ($): Wells is going to play a good amount in New York but it’s difficult to expect much out of his bat.
Jordan Wicks ($$$): Wicks looked extremely good in his first outing, was serviceable in his second outing on Friday night and should get the ball again on Wednesday against the Giants. Wicks rung up nine strikeouts his first time out but managed just three punchouts with three walks on Friday against the Reds. He has allowed just two earned runs in 10 innings pitched and has been excellent at limiting hard contact. With a changeup that has generated a 33.3% swinging strike rate, Wicks has the potential to help in every pitching category except saves.
Kyle Harrison ($$$): Kyle Harrison is the real deal. His first two starts have made the Giants look foolish for not bringing him up sooner, posting a 16.5% swinging strike rate and 39.1% CSW in nine and two-thirds innings of work. It’s an extremely small sample size, but at this point, he looks like the next great Giants’ lefty. Pick him up anywhere that you can!
John Means ($$$): Means dazzled in his most recent rehab outing at Triple-A Norfolk, tossing five scoreless innings while allowing just one hit and two walks. He looks primed to join the Orioles rotation in the very near future, making him a strong FAAB candidate for win-needy teams. As good as Cole Irvin has been over the last two months, Means will likely replace him in the rotation upon his return. Though Irvin may still piggyback Means if the Orioles decide to limit his innings at first.
Ryan Pepiot ($$$): An outstanding outing his last time out, Pepiot is another guy who could stick around the Dodgers’ rotation for a while, and if he does he’s in line for increased win potential. If he can hold a spot in the rotation, be it five-man or six-man, Pepiot is an auto-add. Both his changeup and slider have generated an 18.0% swinging strike rate or better while the fastball notched a 12.2% swinging strike rate. The sample is small, but it’s outstanding. Buy now!
Andre Jackson ($$): A little bit of a flier, Jackson has broken into the Pirates’ rotation and figures to start again on Tuesday against the Brewers. Jackson was good in his last outing against an on-and-off Kansas City Royals lineup, going five and two-thirds innings and allowing just one earned run with seven strikeouts. With a big fastball and a swing-and-miss changeup (19.5% swinging strike rate), if Jackson could continue to develop his breaking pitches he could become a dangerous arm.
Dallas Keuchel ($): Yes, I’m mostly serious. Three of his four outings with the Twins this season have been good! The one thing that is a little intimidating (other than his name being synonymous with GAS CAN the past few years) is that against Keuchel, opponent BABIP is currently .313. There could be some regression coming. Be careful.
Emmet Sheehan ($): Sheehan is back with the Dodgers for the time being, and he should stick in the rotation at least until Walker Buehler comes back… IF Walker Buehler comes back. Sheehan was just okay in his last stint in the majors, but he did earn three pitching victories in his seven starts. Being backed by one of the top lineups in the league has its perks.
Ryan Helsley ($$$): The Cardinals closer is back from injury, and it’s not like anyone has claimed the throne while he was gone. A number of different Cardinals have gotten chances in the ninth inning, but nobody has run away with it. Helsley might as well have the role back for the rest of the year.
Hunter Harvey ($$): He’s got the best stuff in the Nationals bullpen, and they have put him to work in the ninth before. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him get save opportunities down the stretch as Kyle Finnegan is a known commodity.
Scott Barlow ($): Josh Hader has taken a pair of losses this week. If he stumbles in the way that he did late last year, Barlow would be the next man up. It’s speculative, but aren’t all closer adds at this point of the year?
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)