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Hello? Is it me you’re looking for? I see you caressing a butter sculpture of my face. It’s not weird, just a little…out of place. I mean, I thought our relationship was me being the whiffonator, and you being a feasting fantasy baseballer who can’t get enough whiffs. Supply and demand. Basic economics.

Which is the long way of saying: we’re down to, like, 14ish games left in the season. From a writer’s standpoint, we are in meaningless territory. A player slumps, and it’s nothing more than variance. Unpredictable downtime. A player surges, and how can we tell whether it’s playoff adrenaline or they’re just flipping the coin lucky-side first? For the most part, we can’t.

This is the part where I say: your top starters have, at most, 3 starts left. Like, do you need me to tell you to start Pablo Lopez against the Athletics? Or Spencer Strider against the Nationals. Maybe you do. It’s OK, we all need a little handholding once in a while. Grey once held my hand as we watched the premier of Ted Lasso in a movie theater. He said he was being a supportive coach or something like that.

But for the rest of y’all — it’s time to start your studs if they’re still standing. If you’re out of players, then I’ll list some potential pickups below.

As I always say and y’all always disagree: if you can’t find a starter you like, then pick up a Roleless Rob. “But what about Wins!” you shout into the ether. Since August, Alexis Diaz — closer for the Reds — is 4th place on the Wins chart. Justin Topa, Tanner Scott, and Colin Poche and Kevin Ginkel are all tied with Gerrit Cole and Max Scherzer and a bunch of others for Wins.

Put another way: a team with Blake Snell, Luis Castillo, and Freddy Peralta notched 18 Wins since August. Seems tough to beat, right? Well, a team of the relievers listed above put up 22 Wins in the same time frame. And all you had to do was look at the Waiver Wire.

Let’s hit some news and notes and see if we can’t help you slide through this next round of the playoffs.

Shohei Ohtani unceremoniously cleaned out his Angels locker and disappeared into the night. Imagine being the Angels and trying to get anybody to sign with the team after this year’s fiascos. Y’all already knew Ohtani wasn’t pitching the rest of the year, but what we’re learning is more when Ohtani will be available to hit in 2024 and pitch in 2025. Ohtani still hasn’t undergone his Tommy John surgery, meaning that — at earliest — he’ll be available to pitch in spring training 2025. Per ESPN report, Ohtani’s agent says he’s going to two-way play again, and that he plans to hit out of the gate in 2024. That’s marketing for you. Redraft managers can now drop Ohtani in all formats. Dynasty managers can figure out what you want to do — between the TJ and the oblique and the new team, Ohtani will probably be DH’ing in April. How valuable is a DH-only player? Generally 2nd/3rd round, at most. As I noted earlier, very few pitchers go through two TJ surgeries and come back in a meaningful way for fantasy. Hope you enjoyed the ride.

Max Scherzer is also done for the year with a teres major strain. Scherzer’s less of a worry for dynasty managers, what with him being 39 years old. Scherzer’s able to return to the Rangers next year, which might be his farewell tour. In this age, few MLB pitchers remain in the big leagues in a meaningful way beyond the age of 40. Some names that come to mind? Bartolo Colon, J.A. Happ, Rich Hill. Hmm. Justin Verlander struggled on the Mets before getting reborn after his mid-season trade to the Astros. Scherzer is probably a SP3/4 on your fantasy teams next year.

Taj Bradley is available in about 20% of leagues and faces off against the Angels (start!) and twice against the Blue Jays (up to you!) for the rest of the year. The Blue Jays are locked into a Wild Card race (and technically, the Rays are a part of that as well), so the Jays starts are risky. If you’re needy for starts to cover a loss of a guy like Scherzer, Bradley’s going to be one of your best bets.

Recommending an Athletics pitcher is nothing I want to do, but JP Sears has gone 3/3 for Wins in his past three games with two quality starts in there. His xFIP is also nearly twice as high as his ERA, but, we don’t have time to wait for regression. He matches up against the Mariners (sit) and then the Tigers (start!) this week. His last start of the season is against the Angels, who are in disarray. I’ll take that start.

Our weekly friend Alex Faedo doesn’t seem to be breaking into the rotation, despite every major site stating that he’s in the rotation. He put up a solid 3IP Roleless Rob performance this week, but we’re just not seeing him getting used enough to keep risking it. I’ve got two sites reporting that he’s starting against the Athletics at the end of this week. How we long for that! You can always grab Faedo and let him do his Roleless Rob thing — he’s got an 11.5 K/9 and a 1.04 ERA through September — and if he gets a start vs the Athletics, that’s just gravy.

Kenta Maeda is absolutely buried on the Streamonator (below Alex Faedo, fwiw), but he’s available in a couple leagues and is slated to finish the season vs CIN, OAK, and COL. I mean, you could stream me as your pitcher against those teams and get a positive result. Over his past three starts, Maeda has a 3.63 ERA and 2 Wins, which is perfectly fine for you desperate managers.

If you’re desperate and looking for quick regression, Nick Pivetta is back in the rotation and available in a bunch of leagues. He’s got 13.5 K/9 over his last two starts…and a 5.40 ERA. But his xFIP is 3.12. He gets a favorable matchup vs the White Sox this week, and I’d take that if you’re decimated by injuries.

Sawyer Gipson-Long is getting his cup of coffee. Usually, I recommend against rookie pitchers, but the Tigers aren’t afraid of giving their rookies playing time. SGL has ready logged 10 IP in 2 starts and has dominated the competition with a 14.5 K/9. He’s available in every league and has matchups against the Athletics and the Royals coming up. Rewards require risk, and if you’re looking for upside, grab yourself a Tigers rookie and see what happens.

This will probably be my second-to-last article of the season, depending on how many comments I get. We’ll recap the year next week and see if there are any meaningful streamers to hook you up with. Best of luck to all those managers remaining in the playoffs!