By Sam McPherson
As the Major League Baseball season moves into its final stages this month and next, all teams are making lineup adjustments after the non-waiver trade deadline. After all, with all the trade activity that went down at the last minute on August 1, pretty much every team had to shuffle its lineup last week to either accommodate new players—or replace traded players. That’s just the nature of MLB’s economic model and its impact on the playoff race every summer.
Fantasy baseball owners have to be focused on identifying which new starters can help the roster this late in the season, especially if a key player has just been replaced in a real MLB lineup by a recently acquired player. There are so many fantasy ramifications to every real MLB trade that a fantasy baseball team can really be decimated if its owner isn’t paying attention to what’s going on right now in the sport.
That’s the rough part: Fantasy baseball team owners can lose productive players through no fault of their own. However, instead of looking at the situation negatively, fantasy baseball owners also can gain productive players through careful attention and quick action once the trade dust settles. That’s where winning owners make decisive roster moves that help them emerge victorious in that first week of October when the season ends.
Pore through the plethora of new MLB starters this week and find the ones that can plug some holes in your roster. You won’t regret the short amount of time it takes to do so, and you’ll always appreciate the results—especially if you finish high in the standings after the regular season ends on October 2.
Players to Get Onto Your Roster Now
1. Max Kepler, OF, Minnesota Twins: He’s only hitting .255 right now, but in just 200 at-bats, Kepler has 15 home runs and 48 RBI. That is some serious pop if you need it in your starting lineup, and Kepler is probably available in your league since he plays for one of the worst teams in baseball. Sometimes, that’s the best place to find underrated players.
2. Edwin Diaz, RP, Seattle Mariners: Steve Cishek is out as the closer in the Emerald City, and Diaz is in. He has 56 strikeouts in just 29 innings, and Diaz also sports a shiny 7:1 ratio when it comes to Ks and walks. That’s what you want statistically in a fantasy baseball closer. The Mariners could make a late run to the American League Wild Card slots, so grab Diaz and enjoy watching the stats pile up in your favor.
3. Hernan Perez, UTL, Milwaukee Brewers: He has played six positions this season, so depending on your league rules, Perez could help you in a variety of places. With 19 stolen bases so far, he has been a surprising source of speed this season. Yet Perez also has some pop (eight HRs in 72 games this year) to go along with it. That’s versatility in all phases for your roster.
4. Ken Giles, RP, Houston Astros: As we suggested back in April, Giles eventually would find his way back into the closer role in Houston—and now he has. Giles had a career 1.56 ERA coming into this season, and since June 1, he has a 1.27 ERA this season. Just forget that April and May ever happened to him this season and reap the rewards now as the Astros close in on a postseason berth.
Players to Sit/Drop This Week
1. Trevor Story, SS, Colorado Rockies: This one really hurts, as Story was one of the best fantasy baseball stories of the year. With 27 HRs and 72 RBI this year, he was one of the best-hitting shortstops in baseball from the first week of the season. Now he’s out with an injury for the rest of the year, and it’s hard to replace numbers like that in your lineup.
2. Jeremy Jeffress, RP, Texas Rangers: While he had a great run as the Milwaukee closer this year, the trade to Texas has diminished his value entirely. Th Rangers have a great bullpen, and Jeffress is just one cog in the wheel now for Texas. He likely won’t see many save chances for the rest of the season, so Jeffress is now just taking up a roster spot.
3. Will Harris, RP, Houston Astros: We wouldn’t drop him, since his numbers are so good. But his tenure as Houston’s closer lasted less than two months. Harris still should get an occasional save, and his 6:1 K:BB ratio is going to help any fantasy team, even if he’s just throwing in the eighth inning. If your league counts holds, definitely keep him in the lineup.
4. Randal Grichuk, OF, St. Louis Cardinals: After he hit .276 with 17 HRs in just 103 games last year, Grichuk had sleeper potential this season. However, he just never really got on track in 2016. The Cards sent him down to the minors last week, so if you were holding on to him in hopes of a rebound second half, it’s time to let go of that dream. His .216 average in 84 games this year doomed Grichuk to fantasy wasteland.
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf and fantasy sports for CBS Local. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach. Follow him on Twitter @sxmcp, because he’s quite prolific despite also being a college English professor and a certified copy editor.