How many of y’all are in the fantasy playoffs now? 10% of you? Stellar. I hope the rest of you are here for my excellent witticisms and occasional story about how Grey licks every pack of Pokemon cards while waiting in line at Target.

Let’s get the formalities out of the way: Shohei Ohtani still hasn’t decided on Tommy John surgery. USA Today reports that the Angels have a homestand coming up, which will serve as Ohtani’s farewell tour before announcing his intention to have surgery and miss the rest of the season. If that timeline remains intact, SP Ohtani would be on track to return as early as spring training 2025, although it would be more likely that he’d be pitching meaningful innings more towards June of that year.

Per my article last week, it’s my hope that Ohtani pulls a Bryce Harperand gets TJ surgery quickly here so that he can be ready to bat in April / May next year. I’m on board with Ohtani giving up his pitching duties and becoming a full-time DH or outfielder — people forget that he’s got 70 games of OF to his name. Ohtani at first base would also make sense. We won’t know what will happen for sure — that’s for Ohtani and his new team to figure out in the off-season.

Most important for fantasy managers: redraft managers appear to be on track for another week of DH Ohtani, and dynasty managers are likely to get SP Ohtani back in early to mid 2025 (assuming he remains status quo). Best of luck to our beloved two-way star as he heads into the sunset of 2023.

Max Scherzer effectively pulled himself from his start this week, indicating that he felt unnatural forearm tightness. These things can happen late in the season, and Scherzer’s a veteran with every ability to know what to do when his arm doesn’t feel right. That said, Scherzer will likely see limited action going forward while he lowers the stress on his arm. The Rangers have quickly fallen out of the lead of the AL West, to the point that they’re only 1.5 games ahead of the Blue Jays in the Wild Card standings. How the mighty have fallen. The Rangers aren’t short on spot starter arms, and it’s feasible they either give Scherzer a quick visit to the IL to rest up for the playoffs or limit him to 5IP going forward. That said, Scherzer’s also on his own planet of durability, and this may have just been an instance of over-precaution. Temper expectations for Mad Max going forward.

Lucas Giolito found a new home on the Guardians after being released by the Angels this week. Giolito was a mainstay of fantasy rosters for years before running into trouble the past couple go-rounds of the sun. Giolito could find some help with the Guardians pitching coaches, and that would be welcomed. Giolito’s time in California was a mess, and he’s got only 2 quality starts over his last 9 outings. From a fantasy perspective, that’s a disaster. I’d continue to avoid Giolito unless you’re in a desperate position. For you desperate managers, Giolito has an interesting upside to close out the year: he returns to the AL Central, home of some of the worst offenses in the league. The Guardians have won 6 out of their last 8 and are trying to get into the AL Central lead behind the ho-hum Minnesota Twins. Giolito does project for a matchup against the Angels coming up, and with any luck he might face the Royals as well. Don’t expect miracles, but desperate managers could easily get their waiver wire’s worth out of Giolito in the final stages of the season.

Looking at upcoming streamers, I see the following trends:

  • I’d move Brandon Pfaadt (#10 overall) and Reid Detmers (#11 overall) way lower than Rudy has them on the Streamonator. Everybody loves a two-start week, but you could get 4 starts out of these guys this week and not break 10IP or get a Win.
  • Carlos Rodon has finally warmed up in terms of innings, but his true skill stats look miserable and are over twice as high as his ERA. The Yankees are basically out of the playoff hunt and they just want Rodon to get stretched out and acclimatized to the team, so don’t expect any improvement in Rodon’s outings for the rest of the year. I’d be fine with Rodon vs DET this week, but bench him after that.
  • Another week, another pass on Chris Sale. If you’re in an IP limited league, he’s fine for his K/9 ratio, but he’s barely getting into the fifth (he’s done it once since his return from the IL) and batters are getting ahold of everything he’s throwing.
  • Alex Faedo of the Tigers has a cakewalk of matchups coming up. Faedo is a first round draft pick that has extended beyond his cup of coffee and looks to be either in the rotation or in a Roleless Rob role going forward. He’s available everywhere, and has the Yankees, White Sox, Angels (probably without Ohtani), Athletics, and Royals on the schedule. Could be a nice ratios saver in the fantasy playoffs.
  • Brandon Williamson has quietly put up a great month for fantasy managers, with 4 out of his last 9 starts resulting in Quality Starts, and notching 3 Wins. He just hit the Covid-19 IL, which will take him out for a week or so, but will also lower his rostership rate. Available in about half of leagues at the time of writing, he could be a great low-cost streamer for teams needing help down the stretch.

Happy Labor Day to all my American readers! As holidays are wont to do, I’ll do my best to get to comments on the day of posting, although I’m not guaranteeing anything. I’m also sick as a dog and my wife’s wondering why I’m even posting this. Because, constant reader, I am here to overtake Kerry Klug as the 18th all-time most prolific baseball writer, and I’ll do that next week if I run according to schedule. Here we go fam!