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
Carlos Martinez 23 104 172 +68
Michael Wacha 24 109 167 +58
Taijuan Walker 23 129 169 +40
Eduardo Rodriguez 22 120 158 +38
Luis Severino 21 113 142 +29
Noah Syndergaard 23 133 159 +26
Carlos Rodon 22 123 135 +12
Aaron Nola 22 172 175 +3
Raisel Iglesias 25 124  —
Matt Harvey 26 171  —

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 playersCarlos 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:

Name Team G PA HR R RBI SB BB SO AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
Nolan Reimold Orioles 5 24 2 7 6 0 5 4 0.368 0.5 0.684 0.499 224
C.J. Cron Angels 6 22 3 4 3 0 2 4 0.316 0.409 0.789 0.497 230
Alex Rios Royals 6 23 2 4 4 0 1 3 0.381 0.391 0.762 0.472 207
Jonathan Schoop Orioles 6 28 2 4 2 0 2 10 0.346 0.393 0.615 0.43 177
Angel Pagan Giants 6 29 1 6 3 3 2 4 0.296 0.345 0.444 0.344 124

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 standingsCarlos 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.

  1. Birdmann says:
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    Yeah loving it made some big jumps this last week by starting four of the five hitters Schoop, Cron, Rios and Nolan. No Tulo, no Burns, Ozuna dead weight… gone it is time to ride the hot hand a win. I have had Schoop since the all-star break, he wasn’t a recent add, but 9 hrs 27 RBIs and a .297 BA was more than I was getting out of the guys I ran out before him.

    • Birdmann says:
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      @Birdmann: hell just checked my team log he has had better counting numbers than Tulo post all-star break, never thought that would happen.

      • Big Magoo

        Big Magoo says:
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        @Birdmann: Nice! Schoop and Cron are players that I’ve liked for a while now. Those guys are legit, they just needed regular playing time. Durability has been the biggest issue for Rios and Pagan; playing time and consistency for Reimold. But yeah, gotta cut the dead weight loose at this point of the season and rely on the hot hands if you need to make up ground.

  2. james says:
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    standard h2h dynasty, not gonna carry more than 1 catcher, and the FA pool is way better that I expected. OF these guys, who would you take the rest of season, and in the future.

    Sal Perez, Blake Swihart, JT Realmunto, Wellington Castillo (there are lots of lower guys as you would expect, that that looks like the cream of the crtop)

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @james: Castillo is intriguing, though I don’t think you can count on him to maintain the power that he’s shown this season. Swihart looks like he could be a prime Yadier Molina – type offensively (+ avg, decent power, 5-7 steals) over the next few seasons, but he still has a lot to prove. Perez has proven that he can consistently push 20 homers while hitting for a decent average though, so I’d probably go with him.

  3. Roll of SAGNOF, Hear my Cry says:
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    Semifinals of playoffs….

    looking to stream Fiers tomorrow against Oakland

    would you drop Carlos Santana at this point? I can put either Xander Bogaerts or Eduardo Escobar at third. Or pick up Valencia or Lamb

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Roll of SAGNOF, Hear my Cry: It depends who you’d be dropping him for. Bogaerts would be a solid fill-in, but he hasn’t hit for much power this season. If Santana’s your most expendable player though, go for it.

  4. LadyScorpio says:
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    Hey Magoo! I’m managing 2 teams this year. I’m in 1st in 1 league (ahead by 6 points) and 1 point away from 1st in the other. For the team in 2nd place, I have the following offensive lineup, please let me know if you think I should jettison any of these guys for some of the ones you mentioned…

    C – Arencibia
    1B – Morales
    2B – LeMahieu
    3B – E. Escobar
    SS – Correa
    CI – Bautista
    MI – Gregorius
    OFs – Harper, Cain, K. Davis & Inciarte
    U – Colabello & Bogaerts

    Please advise.

    Thanks,
    LadyScorpio
    (1 of 5 Razzball readers and proud of it!!!)

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @LadyScorpio: Hey LadyScorpio! It depends on your format and who’s available in FA, but that OF looks strong (start 3 or 4?), Bautista and Correa are obviously must-starts, and there are plenty of hot schmotatos (Arencibia, Escobar, Gregorius) mixed in there as well. Very nice.

      The one player who sticks out for me is Colabello since his playing time has been inconsistent. Who’s available on the bench/wire?

      • LadyScorpio says:
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        @Big Magoo:

        The format is roto, 6×6. Sorry, I forgot to mention that. ALL of the guys in the grid that you mentioned (Reimold – Pagan) are available. Plus, M. Duffy, Para, Kipnis, D. Wright, K. Wong, Maybin, C. Coughlin &

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          @LadyScorpio: Duffy, Wright, and Wong are all interesting options there. Wong is just coming off of a calf issue though, and Duffy hasn’t hit for much power recently (0 HR, .325 SLG in last 30 days). Wright plays 7 games next week, including 4 in Cincinnati, and has played pretty well recently. I’d take him over Colabello.

  5. LadyScorpio says:
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    I meant 1 of 5 female Razzball readers!! Darn!!

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @LadyScorpio: I thought that you were just referring to my posts. They probably just have 5 readers at this point of the season, haha.

  6. Ante GALIC says:
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    Magoo!!!!!

    It’s a shame that this it’s fantasy football in full throttle mode AND others are practicing with basketball mock drafts. Gonna run with a few of the picks for next week (finals) and see what happens.

    Had a question for next week in my finals. Have the following 4 that I’m also certain to start for next week. The fifth pitcher is my question. Would you drop anybody to pick up the following pitchers on waivers. Then would you start any of them over my bench or 5th pitcher? To recapitulate, need to start 5 SPs. Which 5 would you start?

    1. Colon at home versus ATL Williams Perez

    Could see Colon dominate the Braves and don’t consider Perez as a threat.

    2. Fernandez at home versus ATL Ryan Weber

    JoFer at home has been unbeatable, don’t know Weber but can’t imagine JoFer not winning.

    3. Richards at home versus SEA Vidal Nuno

    With the Mariners out of it and LAA hopefully still in it by then could see that game meaning a lot.

    4. Ross for two at home versus SF (Heston) and versus AZ (Robbie Ray)

    I like the matchups, Ross has been brutal to own this year but could see him winning both games.

    5. Tomlin at MIN versus Phil Hughes

    I originally thought Tomlin would get two starts next week.

    Bench

    1. Holland at Houston versus Colin McHugh

    Not sure on Holland at Houston. He could strike them all out, but he may implode too.

    2. Iwakuma at KC versus Yordano Ventura

    ‘Kuma on the road against KC, but KC may clinch by then and start resting starters.

    3. Odorizzi at Toronto versus R.A. Dickey

    Not starting Odorizzi at Toronto, even if it’s a day game with the roof open.

    4. Salazar at MIN versus Ervin Santana

    Have been thinking about using him instead of Tomlin after he lost his 2-start status.

    5. Smyly at BOS versus Henry Owens

    Could see Smyly racking up the Ks, but Boston is hitting well of late.

    Available on the Wire

    1. Liriano (not sure, but I think he lines up for a start in Coors)

    Have moved away from Liriano because I put him on the WW. Liriano at Coors is not a good option.

    2. Fiers at home versus LAA (Andrew Heaney)

    Could be a good one for Fiers at home, although I could see Heaney getting 10+Ks.

    3. Matz at Cincinnati versus Josh Smith

    Not a fan of Matz in Cinci, though Smith is a complete unknown which could be good or bad.

    4. Leake at Oakland versus Sonny Gray

    Leake in a pitcher’s park could be good, but Gray has stuff to prove.

    5. Medlen (not sure, but looks like a start against Cleveland at home is shaping up)

    Not sure if they shut him down if KC clinches.

    6. Porcello at home versus TB (Erasmo Ramirez)

    Could be a good start and I could see Erasmo get lit up in Fenway park. Will see how he does tonight against Toronto.

    Cheers,
    Ante

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Ante GALIC: Ante! I’d stick with your top 4 (Colon, Fernandez, Richards, and Ross) for sure. Tomlin, Salazar, Iwakuma, and Fiers appear to be the best options remaining. I wouldn’t touch Odorizzi at Toronto like you mentioned, and Smyly at Boston is a bit risky as well. As a matchup play, I’d probably go with Fiers vs the Angels, but Salazar might be in line for two starts next week. I’d take that chance, especially since his matchup at Minnesota isn’t bad if he only ends up pitching once.

  7. crabman says:
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    C.j. cron or travis shaw in a keeper league?

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @crabman: Cron for sure. I don’t think that Shaw has much keeper value outside of deeper formats.

  8. Walter Collins says:
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    You guys just keep kicking ass. Appreciate the commitment till the bitter end. I’m in a 10 team H2H points league where I’m sweating out the bye week looking forward to the semi finals.

    As I gaze over my offense I am thinking I should cut some duds and pick up some hot hands. I’m in a 1C, 3OF league and here are my possible drop candidates: Springer, Longoria, and D. Wright.

    What do ya think? Pick up Cahna, Cron, AND Reddick? I’M FREAKING OUT.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Walter Collins: We’re here til the bitter end! I’d hold there. Springer and Longo are scheduled to face 5 lefties each next week, and Wright has a favorable schedule as well (3 vs Atl, 4 @ Cin). I’d stick with the studs.

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