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Put down that Fantasy Football magazine!! (Do they even make fantasy sports magazines any more? Man, I miss walking to the mailbox in late February and seeing my beautiful new fantasy baseball magazine sitting there.  Damn interweb!  Wait, if it weren’t for reading about fantasy sports on the internet, I wouldn’t be writing this right now.  Hmm, may need to rethink my position on this).  Anyway, I know it’s hard to pay attention to fantasy baseball at this time of year, even if your teams are hanging in there, and it’s emotionally and mentally grueling to follow along if your teams have already crashed and burned. I get it… another weekend of one step forward (Colin McHugh) and two steps back (Jake Odorizzi and Roberto Osuna – thanks, guys!) had me so frustrated in a deep AL-only league where my team is fading fast, that I barely remembered to set my lineup this week. I’ll also admit that when I sat down to write this article, I was almost immediately distracted by all of the pretty pictures of NFL players, and spent about twelve minutes thinking about whether to rank Bilal Powell or Carlos Hyde higher in a football draft that isn’t happening for another week and a half.

But even if it’s only a few minutes each week, check in on your poor, neglected friend, your old pal fantasy baseball. Even if you don’t have a team vying for a money spot, keep your head in the game. Do it for your league-mates, and do it for yourself… even if it doesn’t make a difference this year, maybe it will impact your 2018. You may uncover a hidden gem of a player, or a piece of information that will percolate in your brain over the winter, and turn into a late-round steal or early waiver wire pick up next year.  Those of us who missed the Ryan Zimmermans, Justin Smoaks, and Scooter Gennetts, of the world in 2017 know just how big a difference a couple of these fellas can make.

For now, though, we remain in 2017… with another handful of players who may be available in your NL or AL-only league to assist you in getting through the season’s remaining weeks:

NL

Brandon Nimmo. Nimmo didn’t do much to impress in his last shot in the majors, but we’ll see what this go around brings. He should get a decent amount of playing time over the next few weeks in a suddenly un-crowded Mets outfield to prove whether or not he can survive at the major league level. If he can somehow manage get hot, he’s the kind of guy who could help an NL-only team that’s doing well but needs a few reinforcements to keep it afloat over the coming weeks.

Jeurys Familia. He is supposedly pitching in back-to-back games in his rehab assignment this week and should be activated soon. I don’t suspect Familia will supplant A.J. Ramos in the ninth for the Mets right away, or maybe at all, this season — but he might be worth keeping an eye on, especially in keeper leagues, if (big if?) he looks healthy and effective.

Tyler Lyons/John Brebbia. How do the bullpen situations keep getting messier and messier every week? And I liked Seung-Hwan Oh going into the season as a relatively “safe” NL-only closer choice – ha! After months of pedestrian numbers (1.36 WHIP on the year? No thanks) and losing his gig to Trevor Rosenthal, Oh seems to be the guy in the ninth again after Rosenthal’s rather alarming-sounding elbow issues cropped up, but it doesn’t seem like anyone’s too excited about it.  I’ve picked up Lyons (14 BB/46 K in 39 innings, 2.77 ERA/1.10 WHIP) and Brebbia (5 BB/29 K in 35 innings, 2.04/0.76 WHIP) in a couple leagues because, why not, and also because they’ve both been pitching damn well.

Chris Stratton. He’s 27, and there’s no reason he should be succeeding in the major leagues right now, based on his downright ugly past numbers (his AAA ERA this year is 5.11/1.46 WHIP, his career minor league numbers: 4.07 ERA/1.35 WHIP over 623 innings). But, many things happen in baseball that can’t be explained, and that includes that fact that Stratton’s last two starts have been absolute gems, against two of the tougher offenses in the league. (6 2/3 scoreless with 1 walk and a scrumptious 10 Ks against the Nats, and 6 scoreless against the Brewers — okay, only 1 strikeout, and he walked 2 in that one, but still). His next start is in Arizona, which seems like an obvious disaster waiting to happen, and I think he has a turn coming up at Coors as well (insert Edvard Munch Scream emoji).  But at this point I don’t feel any worse about having Stratton in my lineup than I do about bums like Julio Teheran and Mike Foltynewicz, ie. guys that have been clogging my deep NL-only rosters all year and making me cry on a regular basis lately.

David Wright. Has “begun his road back to the big leagues.” Sorry, big guy, but that’s a road I will not be taking. Man, did I love me some shares of David Wright back in the day, though. And now that I’ve publicly announced that he’ll never be fantasy-relevant again, watch him turn into the 2018 version of Zimmerman.

AL

Kennys Vargas. I’m not keeping track, but when it comes to leading the league in promotions to the big club/demotions to AAA, Vargas has to be up there. He’s back with the Twins for now (and was red hot in the week and half he spent at Rochester before being recalled, for what it’s worth) and went yard on Tuesday. One would think he’ll get a healthy number of DH at bats with Miguel Sano and Robbie Grossman both down.

Mitch Garver. I don’t know too much about him, except that he qualifies at catcher, has been getting some starts in the wake of the Twins just-mentioned recent injuries, and hit .291 with 17 homers in AAA this year. If you’re in a 2-catcher AL-only league and have a black hole at one of your spots, why not?

Delino DeShields. If he’s still sitting around on the waiver wire, now might be the time to pick him up. He was dropped in one of my AL-only leagues by an owner who has more steals than he knows what to do with, but one man’s trash is another’s treasure, as they say, which is why I scooped him up over the weekend (even though I’m not a man and don’t really care for trash). He should play regularly at least while Carlos Gomez is on the DL, and he’s hitting .333 (.467 OBP!) with seven runs scored and four five steals over his last five games.

Andrew Heaney. He’s been a popular AL-only pick up this week, as his CBS ownership has gone up 9%. In his return after Tommy John surgery, he was predictably less-than-meh (five earned on seven hits in five innings, though he didn’t walk anyone and did have five Ks). Given the sorry state of AL starting pitching right now, I don’t blame anyone in a really deep league who wants to take a flyer on Heaney to see how he looks between now and October.

Boog Powell. He’s been getting some time in the Oakland outfield and has put a few nice games together… he lead off on Sunday and got three hits, hit his first major league homer while pinch-hitting on Monday, and had two more hits on Tuesday. He has a grand total of 15 homers in 1,552 career minor league at bats, so don’t hold your breath for a power explosion, but he does have some speed and a minor league career average of .305. Plus, he’s evidently meeting the real Boog Powell, to whom he is not related, in Baltimore on Tuesday, so maybe that’ll keep the spark going.

   
  1. Ralph Lifshitz

    Ralph Lifshitz says:
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    Why even rank football players? You’ll have a brand new team by week 7 anyway.

    I’m excited to see if Heaney can get it back, and finally fulfill some of that promise.

    • Laura Holt

      Laura Holt says:
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      @Ralph Lifshitz: Ha!! Agreed on Heaney… I threw a couple FAAB bucks at him in my AL-only keeper league over the weekend, but he ended up going for a decent chunk of change. Unrelated: am I crazy to be ever-so-cautiously optimistic that Nick Williams could still turn into something? Every time I see that he’s drawn a walk (TWO yesterday!) it makes me tingly.

      • Ralph Lifshitz

        Ralph Lifshitz says:
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        @Laura Holt: Yeah it’s possible he’s got some confidence and he’s hitting. May not be the star I hoped for a few seasons ago, but he looks like he’s fantasy relevant in all leagues.

  2. Grey

    Grey says:
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    Looks like you got me another year in ol’ keeper! 2018 will be my revenge!

    • Laura Holt

      Laura Holt says:
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      @Grey: But just think of how unstoppable I’m going to be if I ever manage to draft a starting pitcher who doesn’t completely suck in that league! If I come in 1st or 2nd, I may have to write an article over the off-season about how to have a successful fantasy baseball team after you’ve drafted the lamest starting pitchers ever.

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        I’m doing the same with my Tout Wars team… I spent about $40 of 260 on SPs, and I’m walking away with that league on strength of pitching (and hitting kinda)

  3. Moon Shots says:
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    Sup Laura!

    This comment is better late than never. Maybe?

    Thanks as always for the deep league wire advice. One of the only things i got right in the draft this year (no, Trea Turner, Marte, Story, Desmond, etc did not quite pan out) was grabbing Conforto in like the gazillionth round. The thing that makes his loss bearable is not that i swooped in on Nimmo (which i did), but that i had been patiently keeping a Rhys Hoskins secreted away and now he is wreaking great havoc on baseballs everywhere. Anyway seems like Nimmo might be able to chip in here or there too.

    More generally, i am in the midst of a hail mary sort of last few weeks trying to make the big jump from the worthless 7th seed to the playoff bound 6th seed with a team mostly built on: Hoskins, Albies, Pirela, Suzuki/Flowers, Ketel Marte, Happ, Weaver, Godley, and hell even guys like Nimmo and Difo and La Stella are doing their part.

    Anyhow with collage of strange and eclectic deep league assets i managed to beat the guy ahead of me last week 14-4 (out of 18) and pull into a tie for that last coveted playoff spot. Just have to do better than him this week and im in. Thought you might appreciated hearing a (potential)(mild) success story based on just the sort of scrubs you’ve been columning about. Best~!

    • Laura Holt

      Laura Holt says:
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      @Moon Shots: Thanks for reading and thanks for the comment! Love it — that is a classic NL-only patchwork lineup that actually probably took a lot of work and shrewd moves to get together but is paying dividends at this time of year. Good luck this week, and if you have a minute at the end of the week, leave a comment on my next column and let me know how it went!

  4. Moon Shots says:
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    Will do!

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