As you steamroll or limp your way towards the end of the fantasy season, depending on how your teams are doing, why not remember that it’s never too late to keep an eye out for upgrades even in the deepest of leagues. Well, it may officially be too late if your team is mired at the bottom of the standings, but why not end the year on a positive note by trying to make improvements rather than thinking about how much better your life would be if you’d never heard of Trevor Bauer, Blake Snell, or Jose Ramirez? Here then, are some players who might be of interest to those of us in NL-only, AL-only, or other deep leagues.
Emmanuel Clase. Clase has already recorded a save for the Rangers, pitching when Jose LeClerc needed some rest, and could theoretically continue to be in the Rangers’ back-of-the-bullpen plans both over the next few weeks and possibly beyond. His career minor league numbers aren’t overly impressive (3.06 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 195 Ks in 191 innings) but he’s just 21 and he has an impressive fastball that should be a good place to start as he tries to make a successful transition to the big leagues.
Will Harris. Harris is another bullpen arm that may be of deep-league service, but he of course comes with a lengthy track record. He ‘s quietly put up stellar numbers in 2019 (1.71 ERA/1.01 WHIP, 52 Ks in 52.2 innings), which is starting to feel to me like the year of the bullpen implosion. With Roberto Osuna clearly needing to work out some kinks and possibly needing a little extra rest before playoff-time, and Ryan Pressly down with a bad knee, Harris may even see another save op or two.
Jordan Zimmerman. File Zimmerman under the category ‘what’s old is new again,’ for those who’ve been paying attention to fake baseball since Zimmerman was actually a fantasy-relevant starting pitcher. He’s not going to pile up Ks and ‘innings eater’ is probably the kindest description we can give him, but he has been pitching pretty well lately: in his last 4 starts for the Tigers, he’s gone at least five innings in each and allowed 2 or fewer runs. No, he’s not a game-changer, but he may be a guy who can fill out a deep-league rotation for a week or two, which is probably about all we can ask for of a guy who’s owned in fewer than 10% of CBS leagues.
Ryan O’Hearn. O’Hearn is nothing more than a lottery ticket for those looking for a little extra power, but he is hitting .312 with 4 homers for the Royals over the last couple of weeks, a stat line that beats what many of my corner infielders have been doing of late. The fact that his nice run at the plate has only raised his overall batting average on the year to .186 shows you just how low the bar is here, but he should continue to see at bats versus right-handed pitching if you are indeed looking for a little pop.
Ty France. France sure feels like one of those guys who will just never make the successful transition from an impressive minor league career to the bigs, but he has been hitting pretty well recently for the Padres. He has 3 homers and 8 RBI over the last 2 weeks, and might be better than a hole in your lineup (he qualifies at 2B and 3B in most leagues) for the rest of September.
Tim Locastro. He’s not playing much for the D-Backs, and didn’t really impress when he was getting more at bats. Yet he still might be the best zero-to-1%-owned option for those desperate for a steal or two in NL-only leagues. He has 13 on the year now in 78 games, so it’s certainly possible he swipes a few more before the 2019 season comes to a close.
Ronald Bolaños. Bolaños is officially 0% owned, so it would be surprising if more than a few people out there even realized he existed, let alone had a relatively successful MLB debut as a starting pitcher for the San Diego Padres a few days ago. Up from Double A, he got into trouble early against the Diamondbacks, but settled down and ended up giving up 2 runs in 6 innings with 5 hits, 2 walks, 4 Ks. We’ll see if he gets more starts as the year winds down, but he feels like a player worth at least keeping an eye on over the next 3 weeks and perhaps beyond. He’s 23 and pitched to a 3.66 ERA/1.24 WHIP with 142 Ks in 130 innings in the minors this year, and we all know how pitching in San Diego can still make a borderline fantasy relevant player just a bit more interesting.
And a couple ‘medium-deep league’ guys:
Brandon Nimmo (20% owned in CBS leagues). Other than his infectious enthusiasm for playing baseball, I’ve never found much to love about Nimmo outside of OBP leagues. But it should be noted for those that need a late-season boost that he is back from the IL and should play pretty regularly down the stretch for the Mets. He already has a homer and a steal in his first 3 games back, so he could be a source for some counting stats the rest of the way.
Nate Lowe (22% owned). Thanks to roster expansion, Lowe has finally made his way back up to the Rays and should see September starts against righties. His first two games back were a mixed bag (2 hits and a homer the first game, 0-4 with 3 Ks the second game), but if he gets on a tear he could be a nice asset to close out the season.