Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve written about a few of the specific hitters and starting pitchers who I felt might be useful as well as a few who might struggle during the remainder of the 2015 MLB regular season. With just over two weeks remaining until our fantasy fates are determined, I’d like to focus on the types of players who are worth targeting and avoiding down the stretch, aka the final bears and bulls of the season. As Judge Alvin Valkenheiser would say, it’s “last chance saloon” to make a few key moves and take home your league titles, so let’s get to work.
Here are the types of players that I’m bearish on over the next couple of weeks:
• Pitchers with innings limits – This is the time of year when teams utilize the expanded rosters to preserve their young starting pitchers by going to six-man rotations or skipping scheduled starts in order to limit workloads. Teams that aren’t in contention for postseason spots sometimes even shut down their young arms completely with a week or two left in the season. Here are ten fantasy-relevant starting pitchers who could be at risk of seeing reduced workloads over the next couple of weeks:
|Player||Age||2014 IP||2015 IP||Difference|
C-Mart and Wacha have already exceeded their respective ’14 IP totals by significant margins, and the Cardinals are certainly going to want their top two healthy SPs to be ready to roll in October. Look for one or both of these pitchers to have their workload scaled back in the coming weeks.
Harvey and Syndergaard are in a similar situation for the Mets. There has been plenty of talk recently about the “hard 180 cap” imposed by agent Scott Boras for Harvey due to his recent Tommy John surgery, which brings to mind the early shutdown of Stephen Strasburg a few years ago. Syndergaard has nearly reached his planned IP limit at the beginning of the season, so to ensure his postseason availability, the Mets are likely to ease him along in the near future.
Walker, E-Rod, Rodon, and Iglesias all pitch for teams who are out of the playoff picture, so shutdowns could be imminent, particularly for Walker and Rodriguez. Rodon was just recently skipped and seems likely to be allowed to throw 15-20 more innings, or 2-3 more starts. It has been rumored that Nola will make one more start before being shut down.
Severino is the youngest player on this list, and he’s already seen a 29 inning jump from last season. The Yankees are fighting for a playoff spot right now though and their rotation needs him desperately, so it’ll be interesting to see what they decide to do with him. Iglesias essentially didn’t pitch at all last season, and threw just 83 IP in Cuba the year before, so it’s anybody’s guess as to what the Reds plan on doing with him. Since they’re already looking toward 2016 and beyond, the smart money is on an Iglesias shutdown though.
• Injured players – Carlos Gomez, Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez, and Giancarlo Stanton were drafted by fantasy owners as franchise cornerstones in the pre-season, but they’re all ailing at the moment, and some (like Giancarlo and Hanley) might not even return at all this season. In shallow redraft leagues, these players can safely be cut loose if you need the roster space as long as there hasn’t been a concrete return date reported within the next few days.
Who should those injured players be dropped for? I’m so glad I asked! Let’s take a look at some players who I’m bullish on:
• Hot hitters – This is the time of year when production trumps name value. While this is also true for pitchers, matchups are more important for them. If a hitter is raking, grab him while he’s hot. Here are a few widely-available players who have been putting up strong offensive numbers over the past week:
Drop Hanley for Schoop? Hell yeah! Giancarlo for Cron? Sure, go for it. A few homers or steals might make a huge difference down the stretch, which brings me to my last point…
• Play the standings – Carlos Gonzalez has been a monster during the 2nd half of this season, but if you’re running away with homers and RBIs and need batting average and steals, start Ender Inciarte instead. Have impeccable ratios on the pitching side but are in a tight race for strikeouts? Make sure that Ian Kennedy is in your lineup.