With crunch time here, there is no time to wait two weeks to give you guys pertinent info on the AL and NL West divisions. I will be combining the divisions the rest of the way to give you guys the tools you need to take out your competition and bring home the all important bragging rights.
Now that drafts, Opening Day, and the All-Star break are behind us, the next step is the trading deadline. Many fantasy leagues will have a trading deadline close to, or mirroring, the MLB July 31st deadline, making this your last chance to make a splash. It is almost August as we are heading into the stretch run and crunch time, depending on league formats.
The West can be a dangerous place. As a matter of fact, there are A Million Ways to Die in the West. Follow my lead and your fantasy team will not die in any of these horrible deaths…
How many times have you heard this one? “My team is starting to come around.”
I see this year after year. Guys say this in late April, and are still saying it into August. YOUR TEAM IS NOT COMING AROUND UNLESS YOU DO SOMETHING, DOPE! Let’s talk about some strategies to close out your league, either staying on top until the end or making that epic, heartbreaking for your nemesis, comeback.
Head-to-Head leagues can be tricky because the challenge changes weekly. One week you play a team that your pitching clearly dominates, then the next week your pitching gets dominated and your hitting carries you. A lot of people will not agree with me, but thats what makes my strategy interesting.
In a head-to-head at this point, I like to pinpoint my team’s strengths, and get more of it! If I consistently win HR, SV, and OBP every week, I will attempt to add a high OBP power bat and a closer. If I am getting crushed in W, SB, and K every week…you guessed it, those are the stats I am moving. I like to strengthen my team to ensure I stay great where I am great. If I trade some of my HR, SV, and OBP to try and get W, SB, and K, I end up being mediocre in all of them, and battling tooth and nail in each category weekly. I would rather be dominant in three, and compete on a wing and prayer in the other three each week. At this point, I will rely on my baseball acumen to manage my way to win the other categories. If I can improve in other stats through trade, I go for it, but mainly rely on the wire to attack potential wins weekly based on opponents weaknesses and MLB matchups.
If you are rocking the standings, do not create a hole to fill a hole. If you need a SS, do not trade your starting 2B. If you need a SS and a better one can be had for one of your bench players, thats the move you make. You could even trade some leftovers from stats you are punting.
Unfortunately, for teams too far behind, head-to-head regular seasons end early. If you are mathematically still alive, you need to play each day like it is your last. Play it like a daily league, dropping and adding daily. Play it day-by-day to try and win the week. Do not have allegiances to players, there is no tomorrow. If you do find yourself mathematically eliminated, please do your best to play spoiler. Do not give freebies to borderline playoff teams or teams jockeying for position.
If you are in a rotisserie league, there is still plenty of time for the standings to be swayed one way or another with 1/3 of the season remaining. If you are in first place or last place, take stock in your team and come to some harsh realities. Reality check; It is too late in the season to make a huge impact on ratios. If you are grouped together closely with multiple teams in ERA, WHIP, BA, OBP, or any other ratio, by all means go for those points. On the opposite side of the coin, if there are huge gaps in your favor or against you, unload those ratios and accumulate some counting stats. If you are next to last or leading the pack in ERA and WHIP with 0.20 and 0.10 separating you from your next point gained or lost, why not trade a stud SP for a pitcher with more Ks and Ws, but a not so attractive ERA and WHIP? You might be able to get a closer, holds guy, or even steals specialist tossed in. In addition, if you are at the bottom, that stud hasn’t helped you anyway up to this point.
Start streaming pitchers from good teams vs bad teams with total disregard for ratios. This can be tricky and do more harm than good if not done right, but you are going to lose anyway, so go for it. Get those counting stats going. The same theory applies to hitting ratios, they can be even harder to move the needle on at this point in the season.
If you are a first place team, be careful trading from your “strengths”. Trading away a heavy HR hitter or a closer because you have the most points possible is not smart. You will likely lose some of those points. Why would you give up points that have put you in 1st place? Instead, you should be trading from positional depth to fill lineup holes, basically giving up only what you are not using to improve your starting lineup. If this deal does not exist, and you are trading away from a team “strength”, you better be damn sure you have a cushion to fall back on.
If you are floundering, start managing your team like it is a daily league. Work the wire daily looking for the right matchups, and do not worry about holding onto your mediocre players. Those mediocre players have done squat for you, and will continue to do so. It’s all or nothing heading into August.
Dynasty and Keeper Leagues
Take a long, hard, honest look in the mirror. If you think you can win, do not worry about next year (reference the Nationals shutting down Strasburg). In leagues that allow trading of picks, trade them to beef up your roster. If you are out of it, trade your non-keepers for picks (if you are in the leagues like this that I am, everyone is still alive, making this hard). The same can be said for young players.
The point is if you can, WIN NOW!
Waiver Wire Rescue
Now is the time of the year to be very aggressive on the wire. If you are struggling, start swinging for the fences, a double isn’t going to help you.
Joey Gallo, 3B/OF, TEX – He stunk in his MLB debut after starting hot, and is stinking up the joint in AAA Round Rock. If you have room on the bench, stash him. A September call-up,
followed by a HR barrage could win you a league. Like I said, it’s time to get aggressive.
Chris Carter, 1B/DH, HOU – At .185, the BA stinks. 15 HR and 41 RBI from a guy who has not been hot yet…well, you better make sure he is on your team when he gets hot. This guy got white hot last summer and has yet to do so in 2015. He is capable of carrying your team for two-three weeks.
Mark Trumbo, 1B/OF, SEA – More power from a guy who has not had his annual HR barrage. As with the aforementioned power hitters, I want this guy on my team when he gets hot. Imagine these guys all getting hot in September and carrying you to a title?
Jared Weaver, SP, LAA – After struggling then getting injured, many owners dropped the often undervalued Weaver. If he is out there, pick him up. If he can recapture his old form, which he was so consistent with for so long, he can be a difference make for a fantasy pitching staff.
Matt Cain, SP, SF – Another veteran with a tremendous track record who just got healthy, Cain is still a FA in many leagues and is the perfect pitcher to round out a fantasy pitching staff for the stretch run.
Nori Aoki, OF, SF – He was batting .317 with 12 SB before going down in late June with a broken fibula. He is starting a rehab assignment this week, and if someone in your league dropped him when he got hurt, grab him.
Yu Darvish, SP, TEX – Before you run to the waiver wire thinking he is coming back, this is a keeper league special. After seeing Harvey and Fernandez come back from the Tommy John, if you have a free DL spot in a keeper or dynasty league, why not stash the striekout wizard who is expected to be ready for Opening Day 2016?
Corey Dickerson, OF, COL – I know I told you to drop him in my last NL west article, but he is rehabbing, and any Coors hitter with a history of production is a worth a gamble in these desperate times. He could be a difference make if he has shaken that plantar fasciitis.
Jed Lowrie, SS, HOU – He will be back in Houston soon, but his job is long gone to Carlos Correa. If you had him stashed, it’s time to cut bait.
George Springer, OF, HOU – In a re-draft league, I do not want a streaky hitter who will be out until late August with a broken wrist. By the time he gets his swing back, this fantasy thing will be all but over. Aside from keeper leagues, ditch this guy. I guarantee you someone will pick him up and waste a roster spot, leaving the waiver-wire pool one more player deeper for you.
Jesse Hahn, SP, OAK – One of the Godfather of MLFS’ favorites will not throw a baseball for a month. That doesn’t sound like he will not be back this season, time to cut bait. It’s too bad, he was having a fine season.
Chase Anderson, SP, AZ – The mediocre SP landed on the DL this week and is not worth waiting for. Go get someone who can help you now.
“And Boggs Never Walked Again”
Jared Weaver, SP, LAA – Hip, expected return next week.
Chris Carter, 1B/DH, HOU – Ankle, day-to-day.
George Springer, OF, HOU – Broken wrist, expected return late August.
Neftali Feliz, RP, TEX – Abscess, June 19th.
Adrian Beltre, 3B, TEX – Thumb, no timetable for return.
Delino DeShields, 2B/OF, TEX – Hamstring, expected return early July.
Derek Holland, SP, TEX – Shoulder, expected return early July.
Coco Crisp, OF, OAK – Neck, no timetable for return.
Chase Anderson, SP, AZ – Forearm, no timetable for return.
Justin Morneau, 1B, COL – Concussion, no timetable for return.
Corey Dickerson, OF, COL – Planter fasciitis, no timetable for return.
Wil Myers, OF, SD – Wrist, expected return mid-late August.
Nori Aoki, OF, SF – Fractured Fibula, expected return early August.
Remember to send questions to [twitter-follow screen_name=’theCiccone’] or firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured in future columns.
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Major League Fantasy Sports Radio: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday July 25th from 7-9pm EST for this week’s episode of Major League Fantasy Sports Radio sponsored by The Sports Palooza Radio Network. Call in at 646-915-8596. This week we will discuss some pitchers that may be laying around on the wire in some leagues, or undervalued that could make for a nice addition down the stretch.