Back by popular demand in 2015... RotoBaller has brought back for the MLB season our Ultimate 2015 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers & Waiver Wire Pickups List.
Our team of MLB enthusiasts and fantasy baseball analysts follow baseball all day, during the offseason and especially during the season. We recommend players for you to consider as 2015 draft sleepers, ADP values, or hot pickups off the waiver wire once the season starts - every single day of the fantasy baseball preseason and season. Drafting the right undervalued player or adding the right guys off the waiver wire can be a huge difference maker in fantasy leagues. Last year, players like J.D. Martinez, Jake Arrieta or Jacob deGrom went undrafted in most leagues, and players like that helped win a ton of fantasy championships.
What's better than snagging that big time sleeper or hot player off the waiver wire before your league does? Well, not much really. Each day we will update this list, so be sure to check back to see who we've added and read the latest analysis about each player. If you aren't sure who to drop, we'll help you decide - just ask us in our chat room. Now let's win some leagues!
Fantasy Baseball Sleepers & Waiver Wire by MLB Position
Free agent starting pitcher Johnny Cueto is looking for a contract in the $140-160 million range, according to ESPN.com. The Arizona Diamondbacks were believed to be at the top of the sweepstakes. They offered Cueto a six-year, $120 million offer that was turned down, according to MLB.com. The right-hander has been one of the better starting pitchers in the game over the last five seasons. Unfortunately for him, he was not that good after he was traded from the Cincinnati Reds to the Kansas City Royals around the trade deadline. Cueto had a 2.62 ERA with Cincy but fished the regular season with a 4.76 ERA, 1.45 WHIP over 81 1/3 innings with the Royals. His postseason resume might not affect his new contract. He made two good and bad starts. Fortunately for him, one of those good starts came in the World Series when he pitched a complete game, one-run victory over the New York Mets.
MLB general managers might look at the previous four seasons when they contemplate giving Cueto a contract within the $140-160 million range. The former All-Star racked up a 19 and 20-win season through 2011-2014. The 29-year-old had a 2.31, 2.78, 2.82 and 2.25 ERA in those four seasons, which was among the tops in the entire league. Besides the Diamondbacks, the Giants, Dodgers, Red Sox, Cardinals and Cubs are willing to spend a significant amount of money on a starting pitcher, according to ESPN.com. The San Francisco Giants have won three World Series over the last five seasons. Madison Bumgarner is one of the best pitchers in MLB. He needs somebody to join him at the top of the rotation and if the team can’t sign Zack Greinke to a major deal, they might settle for Cueto as a backup plan. The Los Angeles Dodgers could very well lose Greinke to free agency. They would need an immediate replacement and Cueto be wearing a Dodgers uniform next season. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Cardinals won 100 games yet they feel that they need more help to get to the World Series. A healthy Adam Wainwright will dramatically improve their rotation. If they sign Cueto, they might have one of the top pitching staffs in the NL. The Chicago Cubs were swept in the NLCS this season one of the reasons it happened was because of their starting rotation. Cueto would add depth alongside Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester. The Boston Red Sox are always willing to spend on free agents and want to improve on being the second-worst pitching staff in the AL last season. If any of these teams are willing to make the offer he wants, they’d likely be the team that signs him.
Clubs in the Johnny Cueto market believe he's looking for a $140-160M payout. That's Cole Hamels-Jon Lester territory.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) November 30, 2015
BALLER MOVE: Add in 10+ team roto and points leagues OWNED IN: 13.3% of ESPN leagues ANALYSIS: Ketel Marte is hot, hot, hot. As you may have noticed by now, that’s been a recurring theme for a lot of these waiver wire blurbs. He’s hit .396 over his last 15 games, and is striking out at a very low rate. He’s also swiped a couple of bags in that time frame, giving him seven in just 182 at-bats. He absolutely won’t help you out in the power categories, but if you’re looking for a guy who won’t hurt you and will boost your squad’s batting average, Marte is your guy.
BALLER MOVE: Add in Deeper Leagues OWNED IN: 12.1% of ESPN Leagues ANALYSIS: I’ve been talking him up since March, and here’s my last-ditch effort. Lowrie has above-average power for a shortstop, and he is still hitting in the thick of a potent Astros lineup. He had a modest six-game hitting streak prior to going 0-5 the other day, and he likely isn’t going to kill your average or strike out a bunch. He has nine home runs in just 212 at-bats this season,. If you’re desperate, I’d toss the dice and hope for a big fly or two.
BALLER MOVE: Add in points leagues with 10+ teams/add in roto leagues with 10+ teams OWNED IN: 15.0% of ESPN leagues ANALYSIS: Another guy eligible at two spots (2B, OF), Rosario is very similar to a player like Steve Pearce in regards to Hail Mary potential. If you’re not in a keeper or dynasty league, perhaps you ditch one of your big-name guys for a player like Rosario, who is hot at the moment. He’s hit three homers in his last eight games, and he has some speed to consider as well. You’re looking for this kind of player in championship week—pull the trigger.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12 Team Leagues OWNED IN: 38 Percent of Leagues ANALYSIS: Plouffe has run hot and cold all season, with 200+ point swings in his OPS each month. Fortunately for owners looking for a bat to stream, he's on the hot side of the pendulum these days. Over the last two weeks, Plouffe has hit three homers while accruing 17 R+RBI to go along with an excellent .307/.368/.558 line. His potent bat has helped the Twins stay alive in the race for the second AL wild card spot, and it can do the same for your fantasy squad. That is, providing you're in one of the nearly two-thirds of Yahoo leagues in which Plouffe is still sitting on the wire.
BALLER MOVE: Add in Deeper Leagues OWNED IN: 28 Percent of Leagues ANALYSIS: A brutal early-summer swoon has dragged down Semien's overall numbers, but he's still proven useful to those in deeper and AL-only leagues. After all, he can be plugged in at three infield spots (including both MI positions) and has managed double-digit homers and steals. Thankfully his subpar defense doesn't count against most fantasy owners either. Semien has also recovered nicely from that aforementioned rough patch, with an .819 OPS since August 1. We've talked before about how useful multi-position players can be down the stretch - here's a textbook example. Turn that versatility into a championship trophy.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 14 Team Leagues or Deeper OWNED IN: 1 Percent of Leagues ANALYSIS: Aaron Altherr recently became the first player to record an inside-the-park grand slam since Randy Winn in 1999. He's hit five homers and stolen six bases in just over a month of major league action. Despite the sorry state of the Phillies' lineup, he has also totaled 38 R+RBI. Philadelphia is all but assured of finishing with the league's worst record, but Altherr is part of an increasingly bright future. The future is now though for those of you in championship matchups, and Altherr has the potential to help owners with his brand of speed and power. He's essentially a better version of Steven Souza Jr. right now, and will fill up that stat sheet.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 14 Team Leagues or Deeper OWNED IN: 6 Percent of Leagues ANALYSIS: With the news that Ryan Braun will be shut down for the remainder of the season, Santana should start every game for the Brewers as they finish a difficult 2015. He was a key piece of the Carlos Gomez trade, and has performed well since joining Milwaukee. He's compiled an .841 OPS with half a dozen homers in 32 games. The near 40 percent whiff rate is certainly far from ideal, but Santana has also managed a double-digit walk rate. And after striking out 14 times in 17 at-bats last season, this year's production represents a giant leap forward.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 19 Percent of Leagues ANALYSIS: Pagan's overall numbers don't inspire much confidence, but he's been quite valuable as of late. The veteran is hitting .307/.378/.489 with three homers and five steals since returning from the disabled list on September 1. The Giants are out of the race, of course, since it's an odd-numbered year. Still, you have to think their front office is pleased to see Pagan playing well down the stretch since he's signed for next season at a cool $10 million. Also, just because the Giants are out of the playoff race, it doesn't mean Pagan can't help you win your leagues with his little burst of speed and power.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 40 Percent of Leagues ANALYSIS: The Blue Jays rookie has been up and down at the plate all season, with 200+ point swings in his monthly OPS marks. He's had an excellent September, posting a .288/.330/.488 line with three homers and eight steals. Pillar is overshadowed by the star-studded lineup around him, but he's quietly put together a 12/25 season and figures to generate some sleeper buzz next season. Toronto clinched their first playoff berth in 22 years on Saturday and will look to wrap up the AL East title in the next few days. Pillar can likewise help your fantasy team lock down a championship this week.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 25 Percent of Leagues ANALYSIS: Pearce's breakout last season had some fantasy owners betting on a repeat performance this time around. I wasn't among them, and Pearce struggled enough in the first two months that he was played sparingly even before suffering an oblique injury. In recent days, however, he's flashed that elusive 2014 form. Over the past two weeks, he sports a .268/.348/.659 line with four homers and 18 R+RBI. The Orioles may not have anything to play for, but nobody seems to have told this guy. Not only that, but if you're reading this you have a championship game on the line so ride the wave to a fantasy title.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 9 Percent of Leagues ANALYSIS: A rare bright spot in what's been a challenging season for the Red Sox, Shaw has hit .288/.354/.522 with 11 homers in 184 at-bats since being promoted to the Show. He's knocked in 10 runs in the last two weeks while posting a .943 OPS. A degree of skepticism is understandable given his unspectacular minor league numbers, but the guy's tearing it up right now. There's no reason he should still be floating around the waiver wire in over 90 percent of leagues. Any team still playing can use numbers like that.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 7 Percent of Leagues ANALYSIS: Justin Bour is another guy with a Quad-A profile whose solid year is an outlier on a disappointing team. Bour has totaled eight homers and 25 RBI in the past month of action, and half of those bombs were hit in the last nine games. He's emerged as a potential solution for the Marlins' persistent black hole at first base, but, more importantly, he's a potential solution for those in need of a power boost for Championship Week.
While holds are even tougher to predict than saves, the players we’ll highlight today include some elite setup men to target off the waiver wire for Week 26 of the fantasy baseball season. The more likely an MLB team is to win, the more likely these pitchers will be eligible to earn the holds that could be the difference between winning or losing in your fantasy league. Editor’s Note: to read about even more waiver wire options for relief pitchers, be sure to check out our famous waiver wire pickups list which is a running list that is updated daily.
Justin Grimm, Chicago Cubs14 holds, 2.09 ERA, 47.1 innings, 65 strikeouts, 1.14 WHIP The Chicago Cubs remain in contention for the Wild Card spot but the Central is still in range. If the Cubs can stay within range of wins, reliever Justin Grimm will be the first line of defense in carrying over the win. His ERA is just north of 2.00 but opponents are hitting .179 against Grimm. The 27-year-old Grimm is a power pitcher that keeps the ball down. Utilizing a fastball and a curveball, Grimm generates 44.8% ground balls and averages well over a strikeout per inning. He usually enters the game in the sixth or seventh inning so he is a part of the first steps towards the end of the game. That placement in the game ensures that he will notch a hold with a usual solid outing on the mound.
Will Harris, Houston Astros11 holds, 1.89 ERA, 66.2 innings, 64 strikeouts, 0.93 WHIP The Houston Astros have hit a rough patch at the wrong time. They are fighting to maintain a hold on one of the Wild Card spots so each win they have within their grasps cannot be let go. 30-year-old Will Harris is having a great season and he will continue to do so as a setup reliever. Opponents are hitting a measly .174 against Harris. Nearly half of all batted balls against Harris are on the ground, a good quality to have in the very hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park. He is not an overpowering pitcher, averaging just shy of 92 MPH but the sub-1.00 WHIP and sub-2.00 ERA indicates he is a good pitcher that the Astros need to get the ball to when the game gets near the end this year.
Fernando Salas, Los Angeles Angels18 holds, 4.15 ERA, 60.2 innings, 71 strikeouts, 1.12 WHIP The Los Angeles Angels are currently on the outside looking in of the postseason picture. With the wild card within reach, each win they have will need a solid effort from the bullpen to bridge it from starter to closer. In the bullpen, Fernando Salas is having a good season despite the elevated ERA. The 30-year-old Salas keeps opponents to a .245 average and uses three pitches. Primarily with a low 90s fastball and secondary pitches in a slider and changeup. He may want to minimize his 42.9% fly ball rate a little but he does generate a respectable 36.0% ground ball rate. The Angels are hanging onto the slimmest of hopes to find themselves playing October baseball and if Fernando Salas can help it, he will contribute solid bullpen work to help notch wins for the team.
Justin Wilson, New York Yankees26 holds, 3.04 ERA, 56.1 innings, 62 strikeouts, 1.15 WHIP When the New York Yankees have a win in their grasps, they generally turn to three experienced and reliable arms. The big two at the back end have been spoken with great praise but reliever Justin Wilson can go under the radar. The 28-year-old Wilson is a power arm and the Yankees generally use him in the seventh inning, bridging a win to Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller. While he has been used in left-on-left specialist roles, the reverse splits justify him handling a full inning of work. Left-handed batters are hitting .242 and right-handed batters are hitting .219 so he is more effective against his opposite. Early in his career, he had a curveball in his bag of tricks but lately he abandoned the curveball to rely strictly on his fastball-cutter combination in favor of higher strikeout totals. The Yankees are still in the thick of numerous races so when the win is in sight, expect Wilson to see time on the mound.
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BALLER MOVE: Add in 10+ Leagues OWNED IN: 9% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: Quality relievers are hard to come by this late in the season but Tom Wilhelmsen finds himself in a pretty good spot for fantasy owners to take advantage. Any chance Wilhelmsen has gotten a chance to close with any consistency he has thrived. In the past month Wilhelmsen has converted all of his 10 SV opportunities and racked up 10 K in 12.2 IP with a .79 WHIP and a 0.00 ERA. He also only issued 2 BB during that time as well. The Mariners have not been known to win a ton of close games this season but Wilhelmsen has made sure that when they find themselves in a close game the team wins. Wilhelmsen has lowered his ERA to 3.14 and an FIP of 3.27 from his disastrous start. The Mariners had given several other contenders a chance to be the closer during 2015. But now that they have tabbed Wilhelmsen with the job he has shown that he is definitively the option for the rest of this year and should be the favorite for 2016. He is a must add and can help any fantasy team win multiple pitching categories and help advance to the next round of the playoffs.
BALLER MOVE: Add in all SVHLD Leagues OWNED IN: 14% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: The Mets have seemed to figure out their hitting issues they had earlier this year and they also have a firm grip on the strength that is their rotation. But who would have ever thought that Addison Reed would be a true solution to the team's bullpen issues? That is exactly what Reed has become in his short time in New York. Reed has transformed into the 7th inning option for New York and he has not disappointed thusfar. As the bridge between the rotation and the late inning combo of Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia, Reed has been the rock solid reliever that he was back in Chicago. His ERA over the past month is below 1.50 but he compiled 6 HLD along with a K/BB ratio of 7.50 and a K/9 of 9.88. Even though the K are down overall his HR/9 are also down by .6 on the season and his GB% is near 43% which is 8% above his career average. The FIP of 2.76 shows that Reed simply had some control issues and kept leaving the ball up too much and it cost him his late inning gig. Reed has found a home and in leagues where HLD are counted Reed is an asset. But if you are looking for someone to help you in ERA, WHIP and get you a cheap SV here and there, Reed is a must have.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 10+ Leagues OWNED IN: 14% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: Angel Pagan is healthy right now and even though that seems like a rarity he is a must play while he is sitting atop the San Francisco Giants lineup. Pagan has shown off his health by stealing bases like fantasy owners knew he could. He has 3 SB in the past few weeks to go along with a .283 BA, .744 OPS, 4 BB and 8 R. For whatever reason Pagan has always shown more patience as a leadoff hitter in the minors while he tries to hit for contact in the majors. It is not a bad way to live given that his career OBP is .330 but it should be higher and he should be more of a threat on the base paths and take more walks. Expect Pagan to keep the SB and R coming for the rest of the season and if he can prove that he can stay healthy for the rest of the season, owners in fantasy leagues will want to possibly keep him in mind for next year even at the age of 34. Grab Pagan now and get a cheap source of speed.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Leagues OWNED IN: 43% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: Segura has had an overall disappointing campaign that makes his seemingly breakout work in 2013 seem like a distant memory. But the 2015 season is basically over and September surges are just what fantasy owners need this time of year! While hitting behind Adam Lind, Kris Davis, and Domingo Santana he should be getting plenty of opportunities to do just that for Milwaukee and your roster. Believe it or not Segura has better numbers than 2014 across the board with the exception of an uptick in his K% which rose from 12 to 15 percent. Segura's 2015 numbers seem like the norm going forward as his BA of .264 and and BABIP of .305 are at more natural levels. Segura has had a rough patch this past week but his numbers are going to even out with the Brewers going with the youth movement and a favorable schedule most of the rest of the way. The Brewers have done quite well against the rest of the NL Central and Segura has done very nicely within the division. If you are looking for SS,MI, or UTIL help and players such as Corey Seager and Ketel Marte are gone, Segura should be plugged in as a nice option. For those of you looking for options after injuries to Hanley Ramirez and Jung-ho Kang, Segura should be added comfortably.
BALLER MOVE: Add in All Leagues OWNED IN: 15% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: It appears that the brother of Seattle 3B Kyle Seager may just be proving the critics right when they said he would be an instant star as soon as he made the majors. Seager has been nothing short of spectacular since his callup hitting .379 with 2 HR, 10 RBI and a 1.25 BB/K rate. His BABIP is at .432 and his ISO is at .222 in just 15 games with the Dodgers. His SLG% is on the cusp of .600 and his stellar .492 OBP makse him an immediate threat no matter where the Dodgers place him in their lineup. He has been relegated to mainly hitting 6th in the order and that has suited him quite well. The Dodgers were very careful to not rush him and their timing and assessment of the situation seems to be right on point. These are the dog days of the fantasy playoffs and making additions such as Seager to fill a gap at SS,MI or at UTIL would be a smart move.
While holds are even tougher to predict than saves, the players we’ll highlight today include some elite setup men to target off the waiver wire for Week 25 of the fantasy baseball season. The more likely an MLB team is to win, the more likely these pitchers will be eligible to earn the holds that could be the difference between winning or losing in your fantasy league. Editor’s Note: to read about even more waiver wire options for relief pitchers, be sure to check out our famous waiver wire pickups list which is a running list that is updated daily.
Blake Treinen, Washington Nationals7 holds, 3.79 ERA, 59.1 innings, 58 strikeouts, 1.37 WHIP The Washington Nationals are on the outside looking in but the door has not closed yet. Reliever Drew Storen is gone for the rest of the season so a reliever like Blake Treinen will step up into an important role during the most important part of the season. The 27-year-old Treinen has had a good season and will see more opportunities for holds as long as he pitches well. Sporting a fastball around 96 MPH and a slider around 86 MPH, Treinen is generating ground balls at a great rate. The right-handed reliever generates 64.1% ground balls while restricting batted balls to a 14.1% fly ball rate. The Nationals have a steep mountain to climb and time is running out but Treinen and the rest of the Nationals will continue making the effort for as long as they can.
Addison Reed, New York Mets11 holds, 3.44 ERA, 49.2 innings, 45 strikeouts, 1.39 WHIP The New York Mets are leading the East and they revamped their bullpen with a pair of experienced former closers. Reliever Addison Reed is not an option for closing but in his nine innings with the Mets, he has been a shut down setup pitcher. He hasn't allowed a run during his brief tenure with the Mets and is striking out more than a batter per inning. Overall, opponents are hitting .266 against Reed but since he joined the Mets, opponents have a .182 batting average. The Mets have a sizable lead in the East and when they have an opportunity to win, Addison Reed has proven to be a reliable reliever to hold leads and pass it along the line to its finish.
Trevor May, Minnesota Twins6 holds, 4.14 ERA, 111.0 innings, 104 strikeouts, 1.35 WHIP The Minnesota Twins are right on the border of the Wild Card and the pitching they have is not lights out, but they are getting the job done. Starter turned reliever Trevor May has been very strong out of the Twins' bullpen. The innings are primarily from his time as a starting pitcher (83.1 innings) with 27.2 as a relief pitcher. As a reliever, opponents have a slightly lower batting average and he averages a little more than a strikeout per inning. Lucky for May that he is on the Twins because he has a tendency to give up fly balls at 40.1%, his highest batted ball rate. Being a former starting pitcher, the 25-year-old May will throw three pitches, fastball, curve and changeup, with effectiveness. In the long-term, he will be a starter but for this year, and potentially your team, he is a strong part of the Twins' bullpen.
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BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 19% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: Rick Porcello was supposed to be a big part of the Boston Red Sox plans this season and he has fallen short of those expectations. However, Porcello lately has found his way, increasing his K/9 and limiting his ER drastically from even a month ago. Porcello has 25 K in his last 22.1 IP and has also only given up 7 ER and 6 BB. His 1.29 GB/FB rate is a bit concerning as it is almost .60 below his average, and has contributed in part to a problematic 1.5 HR/9. For now though, Porcello is on a nice run for himself and is making a case as a strong play the rest of the way.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 42% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: Who would have thought, after all of the injuries and disappointments and letdowns that Carl Crawford has provided to owners over the past few years, that he would be a viable option for a fantasy baseball playoff run in 2015 for any owner? But here we are and there he is, waiting to be utilized. Crawford's latest run has shown us signs of his previous All-Star form, hitting for power and average while also stealing bases. He has 3 SB, 2 HR and 2 2B in the past few weeks and has been able to provide the Dodgers with some relief from their depleted and under performing OF this season. Crawford's health has always been the issue though. The latest hamstring injury is a bit concerning especially since Scott Schebler is hitting the ball so well. Once Crawford returns he is going to be an important piece for LA and should be on notice for owners particularly in deep leagues.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 10+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 16% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: Mark Canha is the type of player you just can't seem to dislike no matter the slump. He goes out and just works hard and the results have seemed to come for him in 2015. His recent numbers have been nothing short of fantastic and should be looked at more closely for these last few weeks. Over the past few weeks he is hitting .250 with 4 HR, 9 RBI, 9 1B, 5 BB and even 2 SB. Canha had been lost in the Marlins farm system for four years before Oakland gave him a shot to really make something out of himself. He does not appear to be shaking his near 20% K rate any time soon but the power is going to be there given the chance to play every day. His career ISO of .184 should make his less comparable power stats seem promising going forward. Canha is a safe option for a guy who can do a little bit of everything without hurting you too much.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 6% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: If someone were to tell you that a veteran journeyman who has struggled to hold down a regular job could help win you your fantasy championship, you'd probably call them crazy. Then entertain the name Kelly Johnson and you might admit yourself to that same ward that your so-called crazy friend was sent to. Johnson has been as big of a part of the Mets' post-trade deadline success as anyone and he continues to rake as the season turned to September. Johnson is hitting .435 with an OPS nearing 1.300 and 4 XBH to add fuel to the fire. Johnson has the infield covered as well as the outfield when it comes to position eligibility and has helped transform a formerly inept offense. Johnson's 112 wRC+, .436 SLG and .270 average are all the best they have been since 2010. He is the perfect answer to a fantasy team in search of a stop gap across the board that can be more than a plug and play. He will rarely be the answer in a DFS setting, but for daily and weekly leagues Johnson's value could not be any higher right now.
The footballing narrative that continues to sketch its motif upon the Spanish La Liga further embedded itself, once again this weekend, into the absolute highest stations of global football. Whilst the traditionally combustive and sometimes brutally enthralling fixture of Manchester United and Liverpool in the EPL did at least offer a probable goal of the season with Benteke's over head kick, the mediocre standard of football, overall, made the games in Spain, oft times, look like a different sport. When it comes to differences and superlatives La Liga remains saturated and when it comes to tasting the absolute fiber of football and skill saturation, La Liga remains superlative. Editor’s Note: Be sure to check out all of our articles, and read more about the EPL and Spanish La Liga at;http://www.rotoballer.com/category/premier-league-bpl-epl-soccer
Atletico Madrid Vs. BarcelonaThe marquee game in Spain this weekend was undoubtedly Atletico Madrid hosting the Blaugrana, otherwise known as FCB Barcelona, at the Vicente Calderon Stadium. The fidgety fever of expectation before this one was palpable as neither team had conceded a goal thus far in the season, Atletico hadn't beaten Barce since February of 2010 and Messi was on the bench. Atletico chieftain, Diego Simeone, had never beaten Barcelona as a manager and given the Catalan's squad relatively benign start to the season, the team from Madrid quietly fancied their chances. Atletico began the game with a marked offensive tone but the first real chance fell to Barce's Rakitic who, upon receiving a clairvoyant pass from Iniesta, drew a superb save from Oblak on goal. In the twenty second minute Suarez hit the crossbar from a corner and it felt that Barcelona was, almost inevitably, beginning to turn the screw. Atletico however had a probable plausible shout for a penalty when a Torres' cross hit Mascherano on the hand but it was in the fifty second minute that Torres broke the dead lock. A slide rule pass from Tiago put el nino through and he slid the ball home to notch up his first goal of the season and give Atletico the lead. It didn't last long. Three minutes later Neymar was fouled by Griezmann and standing over the free kick, about thirty yards from goal, a breeze of ordination wafted through his unique hair style. Curling the ball over the wall and into the top corner, the Brazilian's first goal of the season, leveled the score in operatic fashion. Not long thereafter, to add to Atletico's pain, a certain Argentinean came off the bench. Messi's impact wasn't immediate but as the game opened up he sauntered and roamed about as Atletico's game plan became a little one dimensional and they seemed to look for Mathieu every time they got the ball. And then he struck. An Alba pass into the area cushioned exquisitely by Suarez into his path was succinctly dispatched to give Lionel his first goal of the season and Barcelona their third win. Thereafter the result never seemed in doubt as the visitors continued to pry for number three but, ultimately, two goals would prove enough. Atletico, arguably, played as well as they could have but only had thirty percent of possession and Barcelona's superior ball movement and idea generation was a statement of intent to the rest of the league. Although it's early days, Luis Enrique's men are beginning to provide footballing theater with swagger of real menace and mastery that, at its best, is footballing finesse.
Real Madrid Et Al.The international break and the De Gea goalkeeping debacle, which was honestly an embarrassment to all concerned, might have bobbled through the minds of Los Blancos before their game at Espanyol but if it did, they didn't show it. Their 6-0 annihilation of their hosts was as historic as it was clinical and by the time the game was over, there was only one thing bobbling through anyones minds - the name of Cristiano Ronaldo. Real were coming off an impressive 5-0 win against Betis and with James Rodriguez picking up an injury on international duty it would be up to Ronaldo, Bale and Benzema to create the headlines. They did. Espanyol started off positively enough but after seven minutes Modric played Ronaldo through and the onslaught began. Ten minutes later a penalty gave Ronaldo his second and only three minutes later a captivating cross from Bale allowed Ronaldo to poke home his third. Game over. It certainly was, but nobody told Real. Just before the half hour mark Benzema made it four as Bale and Ronaldo combined to put the Frenchman in. In the second half Ronaldo got his fourth, put on a plate once again by Bale and the Portuguese star claimed his fifth flowing a mazy run by Lucas Vazquez with ten minutes left. History had been made. Ronaldo's goal haul means that he surpassed Raul as Madrid's all time highest scorer as he now has 230 goals and he achieved that in only 204 league games. It took Raul 550 games to reach his tally of 228 goals. Quite simply, a breathtaking accomplishment. The fairytale that is Eibar continues its allegorical journey in La Liga and although the team from the Basque region played out a rather listless 0-0 draw with Malaga, they should have taken all three points. Malaga who were looking for their first goal and their first win of the season couldn't break down the stubborn defensive line of their guests and arguably the best chance of the game fell to Eibar's Baston who should have scored a tap in in the final minutes of the game. However, the minnows from the north remain unbeaten and their next game will be at home to Atletico Madrid. Given Atletico's loss this weekend, this game will be as alluring as it will be fascinating as Eibar will face their first serious challenge against Simeone's men who will be looking to rectify their loss against Barcelona. Athletic Bilbao are of the mark as they finally secured their first victory of the season with a 3-1 victory over Getafe. New man Raul Garcia scored his team's second with Aduriz notching a brace leaving Getafe the only team in the 20 team La Liga without a point so far this season. Las Palmas retrieved a two goal deficit to save a point at Celta Vigo in an entertaining 3-3 game which leaves the team from Vigo, Galicia in third spot in the league. Given the standard of football that was served up this past weekend it's little surprise that Spain will have five teams representing in the Champions League. Viva Espana indeed!
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BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Leagues OWNED IN: 14% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: Eduardo Escobar has been part of the glue that has kept the Twins playoff hopes alive as a jack-of-all-trades. He gets the little things done for the club to help them win. As a fantasy asset, his multiple eligibility is a definite plus, but he is turning into much more than just a plug and play for many fantasy rosters these days. Over the past two weeks, Escobar is hitting .317 with 7 RBI and 5 doubles with an OPS near .900 and a nice 7:5 K/BB ratio to top it all off. His .188 ISO and 9 HR this season have come as a big surprise since he has never shown off the long ball in any of the previous six seasons prior to 2015. His .307 BABIP, .263 BA, and .307 OBP should be higher given his increased SLG% and improved wOBA and wRC+ stats. But this year has been a huge improvement towards his growth as a full time utility player. He is still relatively young at 26, but his time to prove he can remain more than just a fill in guy may be running out. Escobar relies on being a run-of-the-mill type of player which does no excite most fantasy owners. At this point in the season, owners have to buy into upside for the future or players who are simply getting the job done. Escobar fills both of those quotas and is in the heat of a playoff race in Minnesota.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Leagues OWNED IN: 35% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: Kevin Pillar has been an afterthought in the Toronto Blue Jays success, but that doesn't mean he isn't fantasy relevant. His speed/power combination has been overshadowed by the Jays entire lineup full of stars and highly touted prospects. There sits Pillar just chugging away near the bottom of the lineup. He helps the team win every night. Pillar slowed down a bit in the summer but has charged back recently with a .290 BA 3 HR and 3 SB over the past month. He's slowed down his approach to keep his strikeouts in check. Pillar has shown 20 SB potential and has even reached 35 in the minors. Given the opportunity to continue to be a thief on the basepaths, he should prove to be valuable in the near future. Pillar represents sneaky value in deeper leagues based on the amount of runs the Blue Jays score. With the clubhouse in full playoff mode, a high caliber player such as Pillar can thrive upon the positivity. If he is to take the next step in his growth, his 4% BB rate must go up and his 43.2 Pull% must come down so that pitchers don't adjust to him. Pillar is another player that just hits and helps rosters out with several categories in small bunches.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 10+ Leagues OWNED IN: 24% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: The Reds aren't mathematically eliminated from the NL playoffs quite yet, and that has not stopped the Reds from becoming a scrappy team. Their pitching staff has been the biggest reason for that with Anthony DeSclafani leading the charge. His 7 K/9 is right on course with his career numbers, and in his past few starts he has 13 K in 13 IP while giving up 4 ER. The ERA of 3.75 and FIP of 3.81 are about what owners should expect for the rest of the season. He's a breakout candidate next year. His GB% is up to 44.3%, making the development of his slider one of the most important factors for his future.. The biggest difference for DeSclafani has been the use of his improved two-seam fastball which has been used at a 28% clip this season compared to a 8.4% rate in 2014 in Miami. The eyeball test for DeSclafani shows that his confidence is growing with every start. His development will hinge on Cincinnati keeping him motivated and fine tuning his mechanics. Even on a losing team, DeSclafani should be a more than serviceable option going forward.
BALLER MOVE: Add in most leagues OWNED IN: 41% of fleaflicker leagues ANALYSIS: The knock on Adam Eaton used to be his lack of power. Eaton has since put that to bed by adding some slugging to his speedy repertoire. On the season he has 83 runs (tied for 14th in the league), eight triples, a .276 batting average, a .773 OPS, 12 HR, and 13 SB. In just his last 46 AB he has accumulated ten runs, two home runs, one stolen bases, a .391 batting average, and a 1.029 OPS. In 189 AB in the season's second half, Eaton has a .328 batting average, a .908 OPS, six home runs, and eight stolen bases. If you need to accumulate runs for your team, Adam Eaton is one of the top 14 players in MLB to own. Now that he has added some HR power to his triple hitting, base stealing speed; there are no more draw backs to having Adam Eaton on your roster. If you are a fantasy baseball manager, ride the second half hot hand and foot through the playoffs.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 10+ Leagues OWNED IN: 18% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: Josh Tomlin's career numbers have been nothing short of abysmal and yet owners should truly take a look at what Tomlin has done to keep Cleveland and his career afloat. Tomlin has been on fire as of late spinning 16 innings with only three earned runs, 14 punchouts, one walk and 10 hits in his past two starts. The impressiveness does not stop at his recent success. Tomlin's LOB% is at a staggering 98.7% with a BABIP of .170 and an ERA of 2.55. The FIP of 4.16 is a bit concerning for long term success but for now Tomlin has been a pleasant sight for the Indians. The BB/9 of 0.76 to go along with his 8.15 K/9 is equally impressive as well and should be taken as a sign to strike while the iron is hot. Tomlin is going to have some favorable matchups coming up and owners should jump at the chance that he is still sitting on the waiver wire ripe for the taking. Unless streaming pitching is the norm in your fantasy league acquiring reliable pitching for the postseason is key to success. Much like in any fantasy arena, working the waiver wire when you want to and not when you have to is a symbol of an owner with lots of trophies to show off. Make Tomlin help you get another one.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 10+ Leagues OWNED IN: 10% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: The thought of picking up a Rockies pitcher is typically discarded immediately by most owners without so much as a second thought. However, in Jorge De La Rosa's case, a closer look is highly recommended. The walks have been way down in his past two starts vs Pittsburgh and San Francisco and his strikeouts have been a welcome sight as well during that same stretch. His 14:1 K/BB ratio has been a far cry from his 2:1 rate that he had consistently put together throughout the season. The ERA of 0.69 against such talented teams is also impressive given what the Rockies offense has done since the trade of Troy Tulowitzki. His ERA and FIP this season are slightly down from his career averages and given his most recent success, De La Rosa is playing for a higher cause than 2015 and should since the Rockies are out of it. At 34, De La Rosa might get one more contract after his current deal runs out in 2017 and he needs to prove that he can still be a strong veteran presence for either the Rockies or someone else. His GB/FB rate is the highest it has ever been at 1.87 and his velocity is still in great shape given his age with a hige uptick in his slider velocity up to 85 MPH from the previous average of around 80 MPH. As his confidence grows so should yours that he can keep up this pace. The Rockies have nothing to really play for, but sometimes those can be the scrappiest and most pesky teams to face. Grab De La Rosa and grab a guy who is not going through the motions.
BALLER MOVE: Add in all leagues OWNED IN: 42% of fleaflicker leagues ANALYSIS: 42% ownership? For a guy like Adam Lind who has 18 HR, 79 RBI, a .290 batting average, and a .861 OPS in 428 AB this season? Adam Lind has been on fire in his last 29 AB, hitting one HR, 12 RBI, while producing a .414 batting average, and a 1.242 OPS. Lind also produces phenomenal splits with a .915 OPS vs. RHP, and a .966 OPS at home in Milwaukee. Lind has been the picture of power consistency throughout the season. He has yet to have a month OPS under .737; with OPS of .975 in April, .737 in May, .878 in June, .760 in July, .811 in August, and 1.507 to start September. If you are a fantasy baseball manager in the playoffs and aren't looking to spin the roulette wheel in a flash in the pan gamble, Adam Lind has proven himself month after month as a dependable power option who hits for a good batting average.
BALLER MOVE: Add in most leagues OWNED IN: 30% of fleaflicker leagues ANALYSIS: Billy Burns has one of the most fitting last names in baseball. It's like if Barry Bonds was named Barry Bombs. It is no secret that if you are looking into Billy Burns as a roster addition, you need stolen bases. On the season, Burns has a .295 batting average and 63 runs scored to accompany his impressive 26 stolen bases. The issue with him is that his other batting statistics can sometimes drown the upside of his base running. Burns has struggled in September, but that is largely due to a .273 BABIP. Burns relies and indeed, can depend on a high BABIP because he has such a low K% of 14.6%. Burns has had BABIP of .374 for May, .350 for June, .305 for July, and .352 for August. The only other month besides this month of September in which Burns has had an OPS lower than .726 was July when he had his second lowest BABIP of the season at .305 contributing to his .607 OPS. He is one of the safest bets in the league to accumulate stolen bases, and when BABIP gets back on his side, he will be much more rewarding for fantasy baseball managers.
BALLER MOVE: Add in most leagues OWNED IN: 28% of fleaflicker leagues ANALYSIS: Is there a New York Met you can't depend on for production these days?...(maybe that isn't the best question to ask right now). Travis d'Arnaud has struggled with injuries for the last two seasons, but since returning from the DL, he has been on fire. In just 170 AB this season he has a .288 batting average, a .913 OPS, and ten home runs. In just his last 69 AB, he has a .304 batting average, a 1.033 OPS, and five home runs. There are few situations that d'Arnaud has struggled in this year. He has a .831 OPS against RHP, and a whopping 1.312 OPS vs. LHP. He has a .871 home OPS, and a surprising .957 OPS away from New York. For fantasy baseball managers in any and all situations, Travis d'Arnaud is playing too well to pass up. On the resurgent Met offense, he is a must own catcher.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 10+ Leagues OWNED IN: 61% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: Even though Jayson Werth has reverted back to his 2012 ways, he is still a viable option for anyone in need of outfield help especially with the Nationals needing any and all help they can get. Yes, his season numbers have not been up to par even for career averages, but he has been on a tear the past few weeks and owners should take notice. Werth has a .317 batting average with an OPS near 1.000 with four home runs, nine runs batted in, and six doubles over the past few weeks. Also during that time, his 1.83 BB/K ratio has been a vast improvement over his season average .45 BB/K ratio showing his recent improved discipline. The ISO of .147 still shows that Werth has the ability to have a solid last few weeks of the year, but a lot will depend on if the Nationals stay competitive down the stretch. If the team stays in it and his bat can stay hot Werth is going to be a sneaky play for teams vying for the playoffs or making a late move to boost them deeper into the playoffs.
BALLER MOVE: Add in All Saves Leagues
OWNED IN: 39% of Fleaflicker Leagues
ANALYSIS: Jepsen has been getting the save opportunities for the Twins and at only 39% owned in fantasy leagues, is a nice waiver wire option to end the season. While he's not completely lights out, he does average close to a strikeout per inning and hasn't blown a save since July 3rd. Jepsen is a steady closer and definitely someone to add if you're in need of Saves at this point in the season.
BALLER MOVE: Add in All leagues OWNED IN: 45% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: The Texas Rangers have clawed their way to the second Wild Card spot and their pitching staff deserves a fair share of the credit, from Cole Hamels to Yovanni Gallardo to Derek Holland. Holland can't seem to stay healthy for full campaigns, but when he pitches he sure is useful. Holland is fresh off an eight-inning masterpiece at LAA, allowing one run and a 5/2 K/BB ratio. He's now working with a 2.37 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and a 25/3 K/BB ratio over 30.1 innings. He's no stranger to coming up huge near the end of the season. In 2014 he came back for September and recorded a 1.46 ERA and was a huge asset to championship clubs (including my own). It's troublesome that Holland can't put together a full season, but that's not an issue for us now. Holland gets a road outing at Seattle, a team he's faced this season with success (6.1 IP, W, 2 ER, 6/o K/BB) and who has struggled as a whole versus LHP. Even better news is Holland's 1.65 ERA during day games. Use Holland with confidence.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 14+ Team Leagues / Matchup Streamer OWNED IN: 50% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: In case you were curious if I am picking on the Braves, you are right. They have become the new Padres - the team you'd be willing to throw just about any pitcher out there. Good news for us is Bartolo Colon has been doing just fine without the benefit of facing Atlanta. Colon is fresh off a complete game shutout at Miami and is now working on a 24 inning scoreless streak, although facing the Marlins and the Phillies twice isn't exactly a gauntlet. Since the start of his August he's had a 32/7 K/BB ratio. Colon will work to continue that streak versus Atlanta, a team he owns a career 2.53 ERA and 1.08 WHIP against in nine starts (7-2). I see no reason not to give him a spin in this crucial week. Ride the hot hands!
BALLER MOVE: Add in All leagues OWNED IN: 54% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANAL:YSIS:It's likely Steven Matz is already scooped up in your league or was sitting in an owner's DL slot. If, for some reason, he's still out there you need to move fast. His ownership has already spiked 10% in the past 24 hours and I expect that number to grow rapidly. In case you forgot, Matz is another dominant rookie among the plethora of options at the Mets disposal. A lat injury had him out since late July but he came back strong on Sunday, recording 5.1 innings with two earned runs and a 6/2 K/BB ratio at Miami. That leaves his ERA for the year at a cool 1.89 over 19 innings. The main benefit to using Matz is his schedule. This week he's lined up for one start at Atlanta, easily the worst team since the All-Star Break with a putrid 2.93 runs per game. The one downside is he left his last outing with a blister, and it has yet to be confirmed if he will make his next start. If he's sitting out there in FA, I'd be willing to take that risk and drop him if the news turns sour. Make the move.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues
OWNED IN: 9% of Fleaflicker Leagues
ANALYSIS: Fantasy owners have overlooked Coghlan all season, but it's time for that to end. Since the break, the former Rookie of the Year has compiled an .812 OPS with seven homers, four steals, and 39 R+RBI in 42 games for the Cubs. He has an outside shot at finishing with a 20/15 season, a feat only eight players accomplished last season. Coghlan also retains eligibility at second base, giving you added flexibility in roster management. There's no reason his ownership rate should be in the single digits.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues
OWNED IN: 11% of Fleaflicker Leagues
ANALYSIS: The Athletics have had a historically unlucky campaign, but Canha is certainly finishing strong. Over the last month, he's hit .327/.367/.574 with five homers, 18 runs, and 22 RBI. He's been a streaky hitter all season, but the thing about streaky hitters is that they can carry your team when hot. At this time of year, that could be the difference between a championship and another season amongst the also-rans.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 10+ Team Leagues
OWNED IN: 41% of Fleaflicker Leagues
ANALYSIS: Though he's gone hitless in his last two games, the Cardinals rookie had hit safely in a dozen straight games before that. Half of those were multi-hit efforts. Piscotty has done nothing but hit since getting promoted to the majors in July, producing a .327/.359/.516 line with four homers and 46 R+RBI in his 43 games. With Matt Holliday still a couple of weeks away from returning from a nagging quad injury, Piscotty should continue to get regular playing time.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues
OWNED IN: 44% of Fleaflicker Leagues
ANALYSIS: It's been a difficult season for Werth - and for many of his teammates - but he's shown signs of life in recent weeks. Thanks in part to a nine-game hitting streak that includes three homers, Werth has an .872 OPS over the last month of action. The Nationals are five games behind the Mets in the NL East race, and they'll need Werth to continue his resurgence to have any chance of erasing that deficit.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 47% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: While Garcia is a player I've always been more bearish on than most, production is production. The White Sox right fielder has bounced back from a midsummer swoon and filled up the box score over the past month. He's posted a solid .274 average and .761 OPS with 18 runs, 18 RBI, three homers, and two steals over that span. Still just 24, Garcia can generate some 2016 sleeper buzz for himself with a strong finish to the year.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 26% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: After going through a season where he had to prove to himself to the organization, Javier Baez has finally ascended to the Cubs MLB roster. This time, it may be for good. Baez's career 40.2% K rate has been disturbingly well documented and simply cannot be ignored by anyone. The ISO of .162 shows obvious raw power and his BABIP, BB%, SLG% and wOBA are all trending upward. Baez is a guy that finally might be figuring things out. His small sample size shows that his K/BB ratio is evening out while his already impressive ISO OBP and wRC+ are all off the charts right now. He is batting in the lower third of the lineup to take some pressure off of him. Baez has been dangerous early in the count, hitting all three of his HR at 0-2 or earlier. Some would say he is still being too anxious at the plate and trying to crush the ball early in the count will direct his K% back into the stratosphere of futility. Baez is going to get a shot down the stretch. With his multiple position eligibility, he can be of great use to deeper leagues and injury-riddled teams looking for answers.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 10+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 11% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: There was much speculation when Kris Medlen finally came back to full time SP duties again after so much time went by. Some thought he would never attain that status again. His 14:3 K/BB ratio has been a welcome sign of things to come moving forward, but he has yet to give up fewer than 3 ER in any start. He has also only made it through the 6th inning once in those three starts. Some rust is to be expected since he truly hasn't pitched at this capacity since 2013 with Atlanta. His current BABIP of .306 aligns well with his career .296 and his K/9 has been higher than expected. His BB/9 has also been lower than expected. The one thing that is evident is that he is still elevating his pitches too much and in the process helping his HR/9 go up by almost double his average. Some of that may be rust but his command of his changeup and curveball have simply not been there forcing his FB% to rise up to 61% which in turns makes him more hittable. Medlen is on a very good team in Kansas City and will have time to work out his flaws. In the meantime fantasy owners will want to monitor his progress and use him as a guy who can get an owner wins and strikeouts at the expense of ERA and WHIP. The most shallow leagues can probably afford to stay away but if he is available in your league go ahead and give him a closer look.
BALLER MOVE: Add in All Leagues OWNED IN: 8% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: The ace that Toronto thought it would have all season is back. Marcus Stroman is finally ready to come back from the torn ACL that he suffered in Spring Training and he is firing on all cylinders. His throwing sessions and rehab starts have all looked unbelievable and Toronto believes he is ready to come back to the starting rotation just in time for the stretch run. For fantasy owners who have been holding him or looking for a late season spark plug, Stroman is definitely the answer. His career ERA of 3.65 and FIP of 2.84 should make owners rush to get him now based on his work as of late and his determination to get back and help his team. The .48 HR/9 suggests that his control is going to be impeccable and loss of command or control should not be a worry. Owners will be wondering which of his pitches he is going to rely on early. His 5 pitch deception should keep even the best and most disciplined hitters off balance. The .249 BAA and 1.17 WHIP should be expected as well as long as his confidence doesn't wane with a misstep on the mound or in the clubhouse. Stroman is good to go and you should grab him for this season and perhaps a keeper slot for 2016.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 10+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 16% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: Carlos Rodon has been such a glimmer of hope in Chicago that people tend to forget another lost season on the South Side. Rodon's early control struggles have not completely subsided but his ERA and his overall pitching prowess have turned around significantly. Rodon has not allowed more than 4 ER since August 5th and his ERA is down to 4.10 with a 33:14 K/BB ratio and 5 QS. Rodon's 4.85 BB/9 must come down soon if he wants to last as a pitcher at the MLB level and his .324 BABIP also needs to get under control if any further success is to be attained. His arsenal does not allow him to improve much on his 1.72 GB/FB rate but his overall command of his fastball, slider, and changeup combination should not be too hard to accomplish given the proper time against big league hitting. Most owners outside of shallow leagues really should consider Rodon's sample size since early August and have confidence using him going forward. Outside of Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, Rodon has been the team's best pitcher and will be counted on for the foreseeable future to take the steps necessary to be Sale's pitching ace partner. Grab him now while he is still cheap and have that same glimmer of hope that the team clearly sees in him.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 32% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: From a counting stats perspective, Martin Prado has been disappointing in 2015. When you really think about it though, he’s pretty much done as much as possible given his lineup. The Marlins have been without Giancarlo Stanton for quite some time, limiting Prado’s run-scoring and driving-in abilities. Stanton should be back within the next week or two, which should provide a nice boost for Prado for the fantasy playoffs. He’s been especially hot lately too, hitting .327 with 10 RBIs and three homers in his last 15 games. He’ll be on the field every day, and he won’t strike out much. Prado is the unspectacular mainstay that might give you the edge.
BALLER MOVE: Matchup Streamer OWNED IN: 6% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: I know what you're thinking. You want me to trust a Rockie in a win-or-go-home scenario!? Well what if I told you that a) the game is not at Coors and b) the pitcher of interest has a 3.22 ERA and a .227 BAA in 72.2 innings. Throw in the fact that Jorge De La Rosa has been pitching well and we have ourselves an option most leagues can jump on. De La Rosa has recorded a quality start in six of his past seven outings, posting a 2.62 ERA in that span. That includes his previous two outing at Pittsburgh and versus San Francisco in which he's allowed just one run with a 14/1 K/BB ratio. Even more impressive is the fact that he only allowed one run in his last two Coors outings, illustrating that it's not just been the absence of altitude. The walks remain an issue for De La Rosa - 4.02 BB/9 - and he was roughed up earlier this year by the Padres at Coors, his opponent for Week 23. Good news for us is he owns a 3.02 ERA at PETCO Park in his career. If you're digging this deep for pitching, he has my vote of confidence for stream material.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 14+ Team Leagues / Matchup Streamer OWNED IN: 18% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: It's always interesting to see how players react after joining a playoff contender. In J.A. Happ's case, he's found a groove that's padding the Pirates lead as the top Wild Card. Since joining the Pirates from Seattle, Happ has started four games and compiled a 2.08 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and a 22/6 K/BB ratio. If you remove a rough debut versus the Cubs, Happ has a 0.52 ERA over 17.1 innings. This is a complete 180 from his disastrous campaign with the Mariners (4.64 ERA, 1.41 WHIP). Perhaps the added incentive of pitching in meaningful games in the dog days of summer has motivated Happ to step up his game. He's limited his walks significantly, and his .265 BAA during his recent run is in line with his season and career numbers. Do I trust Happ for shallow leagues? Only for streaming purposes. But owners starved for pitching should check and see if Happ is hanging around the wire. Next week he has an outing at St. Louis, a team that finds itself in the latter half of NL clubs vs LHP. I'd stream Happ in shallow leagues and grab a share in 14-teamers or NL-Only.
BALLER MOVE: Add in All Leagues OWNED IN: 41% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: Raisel Iglesias has been covered plenty here at Rotoballer. How is his ownership still only 41%? Has everyone shifted their focus to football already? We have a month of baseball left people, don't give up now! He's been on a roll since the All-Star Break, accruing a 2.81 ERA while limiting hitters to a .176 BAA and a .256 wOBA. Iglesias has been fantastic for the Reds recently, compiling six straight quality starts in the month of August. In that span he owns a 2.27 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, and a 10.21 K/9 rate. He is working on consecutive games with 10+ strikeouts. In the past month, his 45 K is behind only Madison Bumgarner, Chris Sale, and Clayton Kershaw. That's what I call some solid company. He has a road outing on tap versus the Cubs, a team that he limited to two runs with eight strikeouts over 5.2 innings. The Cubs are a formidable opponent at home, but Iglesias is too hot to let him ride the pine. Throw him in your lineups and keep him there for the two-start week (vs PIT, vs STL) in week 23.
BALLER MOVE: Add in All Leagues OWNED IN: 31% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: I'm officially baffled. Yes, the Nationals have indicated Joe Ross will be shut down in the next 2-3 weeks. But why in the world would you not use him until that point? Ross saw his ownership take a dip after a rough West Coast trip (8.2 IP, 9 ER) and perhaps from the looming shutdown. Still, there is no reason he should sitting on your waiver wire. Ross now owns a 3.24 ERA and 1.01 WHIP to go along with a shiny 65/11 K/BB ratio. He has been excellent in his most recent appearances, firing 13 innings with only one earned run and an 11/2 K/BB split while collecting two wins. Ross has been magnificent all year for Washington, limiting hitters to a .225 BAA. The team made the right call by inserting Ross over Doug Fister. The Nationals find themselves on the outside looking in despite Ross's run. This is a name to keep an eye on for 2016, as he has the potential to break the top 25 SP. The Nationals deserve kudos for acquiring him and Trea Turner in exchange for Steven Souza. The downside here is you're only getting two or three more starts, and if you're in a league with a cap on additions I can empathize with letting him float. There's no excuse for the rest of you. He has a road test at St Louis followed by a tasty home outing versus Atlanta. Act accordingly.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 11% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: With 27 homers in 653 career at-bats (including 10 dingers in just 184 turns this season), Schoop’s power has always been readily apparent. His atrocious plate discipline, on the other hand, raised serious concerns about his ability to stick with the Orioles. He’s still barely walking, but has cut down on the whiffs and is making a lot of quality contact. If he can continue to hit for a solid average, the 23-year-old could be a serious asset down the stretch in almost any format. Even if not, his power will play from either second or third base in your lineup.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 11% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: In and out of the lineup for most of the season, Canha’s gotten more consistent playing time in August and has taken advantage. He’s posted an excellent .325/.350/.532 slash line. Though he’s only hit two homers in that span, he does have eight doubles as well. Canha’s knocked in 15 runs and scored a dozen of his own this month, making him a solid three category contributor. Keep a close eye on his playing time as rosters expand next week, but it’ll be hard to keep him off the lineup card if he keeps hitting this well.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 21% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: After back to back months of sub-.600 OPS hitting in the first half, Solarte was essentially forgotten in all formats. Since the calendar turned to July, however, he’s been among the most productive hitters in baseball. The Padresinfielder is hitting .291/.346/.514 with eight homers and 53 R+RBI over the last eight weeks and is starting to draw some overdue attention from fantasy owners. That said, he’s still available in four of every five leagues, so chances are you can grab him in yours.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 10+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 48% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: I’ve stumped hard for Jung Ho Kang in this space lately, and he’d still be my preferred add in the under 50% crowd (he’s at the very edge with a 49% ownership rate). But in the interest of not sounding like a broken record, let’s talk about another guy hovering around the cutoff point that can be plugged into the middle infield when needed. In his first season with the Athletics, Lawrie’s managed to avoid the disabled list for the first time since his rookie year. Overall, he has had a useful, if not particularly exciting, season. He’s sporting a .729 OPS with a dozen homers, five steals, and 95 R+RBI. He did miss a few games last week with a balky back, but since returning he’s hit a blistering .478/.538/.739.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 6% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: Ughhhhh, Jedd Gyorko. I have to address him here because he has regained control over the starting second base job and has actually been fairly useful of late. In his last 30 games, he’s hitting .298 with five homers and a very solid 19 RBIs. That’s what you’re going to get with Gyorko—power, power, and more power. The batting average is a pleasant surprise, although I don’t expect it to stay this high. His high K-rate makes him a little less valuable in points league versus roto. If you’re desperate for middle infield help you could do much worse.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 5% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: Boy howdy is Escobar thriving atop the Twins lineup. In his last 15 games, he’s slugging an absurd .732 while hitting .341 over that span with seven RBIs, 13 runs scored, and four big flies. Another well-rounded player eligible at multiple positions (SS, 3B, and OF), Escobar has quietly put up a pretty decent campaign for Minnesota. On the season he’s hitting .256 with 40 RBIs and 32 runs scored. While those numbers aren’t particularly impressive, much of his production has come in the last month. He’s red-hot right now, and given that he can fill in at four positions, he’s worth rostering in any format.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 6% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: Ketel Marte has been a revelation for the Mariners in a mostly lost season, as he is hitting .307 in the 88 at-bats he’s had with the big club. He doesn’t have a homer yet, but that’s to be expected from a light-hitting middle infielder. He has been racking up extra-base hits lately, and he has exceptional plate discipline for a rookie. I trust he can maintain a high batting average and on-base percentage for the rest of the season and in years to come. Marte is the shortstop of the future for Seattle, and from the looks of things, the future is now.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 7% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: Blanco has emerged as the semi-regular third baseman for the Phillies, but he’s eligible for second base on almost every platform. He’s been particularly hot of late, hitting .341 over his last 15 games. In that same time frame, he’s scored eight runs and knocked in four. He should continue to have opportunities to drive in runs hitting behind the Phillies’ boppers (such as they are). He’s not completely without power, and his multi-positional eligibility makes him worthy of consideration in any format, particularly if you’re struggling with injuries.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 10+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 31% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: The San Diego Padres made a ton of moves this year including bringing over Derek Norris from Oakland to replace Yasmani Grandal who went to Los Angeles. Norris was brought it to get everyday playing time and be a hitting presence behind the plate. Norris’ first season in San Diego has seen a noticeable dip in BA down to .246, his OBP down to .291 and his OPS hovering around the .700 mark. However Norris has shown improvement in his .414 SLG% and his ISO of .167. He has also posted a new career high in doubles this year and will also set a new career best in the RBI department in 2015. Over the past few weeks Norris has a .324 BA with 6 XBH and an OPS over .900. Norris also has 1B eligibility and is a sneaky add to those in need of a CI or UTIL if they already have a solid C option.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 19% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: Ramos possesses a true power threat from the C position on a team such as the Nationals with loads of offensive talent up and down the lineup. The issue with Ramos is staying healthy as he has not eclipsed the 100 games played mark as a professional since 2011 where he appeared in 113 games. The BABIP of .266 has been disappointing for Ramos this year and his K% and BB% are not trending positively in either case. But Ramos brings a bat who hits in the middle of the lineup with protection around him. Recently Ramos is hitting .265 with 2 HR and 4 RBI with a 9% BB rate which doubles his season average to date. The Nationals will need Ramos and the rest of their lineup to start backing up their pitching staff in order to make a late season push after giving the division lead away to the surging Mets. You could do a lot worse for your fantasy team.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 10+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 15% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: Talk about a guy who is hitting the cover off of the ball. Miguel Montero has come alive! Over the past few weeks Montero has hit 4 HR, collected 10 RBI, hit over .300 and has an OPS near 1.200. Montero’s first season on the North side of Chicago has not been the rosiest of situations for him but he seems to just get enough done to warrant consideration as a solid backstop. Even though his BA, BABIP and K% have all taken negative dips Montero has enjoyed a solid year statistically in many other areas that he has previously been historically known for struggling with. Firs,t Montero’s BB% has needed to get higher but without much success until this year. His BB% is up near 13% which is the highest it has ever been. Next, Montero’s OBP of .345 is also the highest it has been since 2012. And finally his SLG% of .436, his wOBA of .338 and his wRC+ of 114 are all at its highest since 2011. The writing is on the wall for Montero to be a highly productive catcher for the rest of the season and provide some security in Chicago that they have indeed found their guy for years to come. That is unless Kyle Schwarberdecides he wants to master the craft of catching…
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 10% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: Travis Shaw is just another example of a guy being in the right place at the right time to seize an opportunity to prove how good he can really be. The Red Sox have been quite frankly a mess all season and giving young players a chance to show what they have to offer has been a mainstay for most of the year. Shaw came into this season as a player with modest power, a low batting average and subpar power stats. However since taking over the 1B gig back in early August, Shaw has opened a lot of eyes as to if he should be the future of the position right now. Shaw has compiled a .329 BA with 6 HR and 13 RBI while slashing a .376 OBP, a .600 SLG% and a .355 BABIP to go with it. His ISO is up around .270 despite the increase in K% and the slight decrease in BB%. His wRC+ of 165 will shatter any of his previous marks in the minors by season's end and his wOBA of .414 is also approaching career levels as well. Shaw deserves a ton of attention in deeper leagues but even in 10+ leagues Shaw brings more value to the table than a lot of talent who have fallen off as the season is approaching the fall. He could be the missing piece to a championship run or could give hope to a rebuilding fantasy team as well.
BALLER MOVE: Add in All Leagues OWNED IN: 31% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: Nathan Eovaldi has been on an absolute tear as of late and for those fantasy owners looking for a huge boost in their pitching department they can look no further than the services of Eovaldi. Over his last 10 starts, Eovaldi has seen his ERA drop by 52 points while compiling a 47:21 K/BB while allowing 4+ ER just once and allowing only 2 HR. Throw in 4 QS and 6 W and the only thing keeping Eovaldi back from having an elite stat line is his ability to last in most of his games. Eovaldi has only reached past the 6th inning in 9 of his starts this year but still has a favorable 13-2 record with a 2.5 K/BB rate for the season. His LOB% is at 74% which is the highest it has ever been and 3 points higher than his career average as well. The FIP of 3.48 still needs to come down and his ERA of 4.00 has been mostly in part to a few blowup games he had earlier in the season. When the Yankees brought Eovaldi over they knew he would be a project player at first that they hoped would develop into the pitcher the Dodgers and Marlins knew he could become. He has been able to avoid the big blowup games and has managed his control and honed his craft thus far. He is a must add for any team in need of any kind of pitching help.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 29% of Fleaflicker leagues ANALYSIS: Sometimes a player is so consistent and reliable over a long period of time that fantasy baseball managers forget about him because he isn't a new hot commodity, this is possibly the case with Wei-Yin Chen. In total in 2015, Chen has a 3.13 ERA, 1.185 WHIP, a 4.35 FIP, and 7.3 K/9. Chen's biggest struggle is allowing home runs, with a figure of 1.4 HR/9 on the year, but he effectively limits damage and counter balances his long ball vulnerability by only allowing 2.0 BB/9. It is because he plays in such a homer friendly park that Chen tends to excel more on the road with a 2.90 ERA and 1.237 WHIP in games away from Camden Yards. Chen has been on fire lately and he has done it by attacking his weakness head on. In his last three starts, Chen has a 1.86 ERA, a 1.138 WHIP, and only two home runs allowed. Wei-Yin Chen is typically one of the safest widely available starting pitchers to add for fantasy baseball managers, but if he continues to limit home runs at this level, he is a must own starter.
BALLER MOVE: Add in All Leagues OWNED IN: 78% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: The man who has inhabited the hot corner for the Mets for the past decade is back with a vengeance. And to silence his critics he is already hitting well and hitting for power. David Wright had missed most of the 2015 season with spinal stenosis and has now returned at the height of the Mets playoff run. Good hitters can always regain their form based on their exceptional hand-eye coordination and overall patience at the plate and Wright showed no signs of rust in either department. Wright's career 10.1 BB% evens out the 18.4 K% to a certain extent and his career .339 BABIP and .299 BA should hold true if he continues to remain healthy for the rest of this season even in a smaller sample size. The Mets are not going to be afraid to put him right in the heart of the lineup that has been on an absolute tear as of late and put them in great position for a postseason berth. The one concern for an owner who has been stashing him or is picking him up from an owner who dropped him earlier in the year will be how much workload can he take on? Only time will tell, but Wright has already proven that he can be relied on to have a strong September for the Mets and for your fantasy team.
BALLER MOVE: Add in All Leagues OWNED IN: 40% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: Yes Yordano Ventura can be a wild and frustrating pitcher at times, but aren't the great ones just a little bit on the edgy side to begin with? Ventura and the Royals have seemingly been on cruise control for the better part of two months in the AL Central. But he seems to have finally settled in to being the young stud pitcher they hoped he would become. In his last three starts, Ventura has logged 19 IP, 3 ER, 21 K and 3 QS with 2 W. He also issued 6 BB in one of those games but his control issues and fluctuated up and down all season. Amazingly Ventura's BB/9 is down to a career best 2.99 this season giving hope that he truly has reigned in his control problems. The BABIP of .301 is higher than his owners are used to and his ERA has spiked to 4.64 this season which has added to the concern. The biggest change for Ventura has been his confidence to throw strikes and use his curveball to offset his electric fastball rather than his under developed cutter. Bright days are ahead for Ventura and with a winning team behind him there should be no reason that Ventura can't grow even more into a top of the rotation starter that he is being groomed to become.
BALLER MOVE: Monitor in 14 team leagues or deeper. OWNED IN: 1% of Yahoo leagues ANALYSIS: This guy can absolutely fly. Between AA and AAA this year, Trea Turner had a 322/.370/.458 batting line with eight homers, 54 RBI and 19 steals. That's the good. The bad is, he doesn't have a clear route to playing time. He's blocked at short by Ian Desmond, at third by Yunel Escobar and Anthony Rendon, and at second by Danny Espinosa. Obviously in dynasties and keeper leagues he has tremendous value, especially with shortstop eligibility. He does have some relevance this year though. There have been some whispers about Desmond losing out on playing time. A sudden injury could always open up some playing time too. Right now his main contribution will likely be speed off the bench. So if you're desperate for steals, this guy could help a bit, but don't expect Jarrod Dyson. Basically the message here is keep an eye on him, but he's not relevant this season in all but the deepest leagues.
BALLER MOVE: Add in deeper leagues OWNED IN: 25% of fleaflicker leagues ANALYSIS: When the Indians unloaded Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, and David Murphy in summer trades; it opened a window of opportunity for utility man Lonnie Chisenhall in Cleveland. In Chisenhall's last 58 AB he has hit two HR, ten RBI, scored eight R, stolen two bases, produced a .397 BA, and a 1.022 OPS. Chisenhall also hits at a solid pace when playing outside of Cleveland with a .297 BA and a .807 OPS away from home. Chisenhall really seems to have found a home in right field, and that, along with his double infield eligibility, makes him especially valuable to fantasy baseball managers looking for versatility. Although it is a little odd that Chisenhall is owned in 25% of leagues, he has really turned up his production at the plate since getting the call from the Indians. Chisenhall makes a great flexibility add for fantasy baseball managers in deep leagues.
BALLER MOVE: Add in AL-Only / Two-Catcher Leagues OWNED IN: 2% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: This is the wild card of this list simply because he enters it after Curt Casali went down to injury. Arencibia has been called up to fill in for Casali and shadow over Rene Rivera. That is precisely the reason he makes this list because have you seen Rivera’s numbers this year? They aren;t great! Arencibia’s career .196 ISO and .403 SLG% are much more enticing options that Rivera and with Tampa Bay still clinging to the .500 mark it may be time for the Rays to try something drastic. Yes Arencibia’s career .207 BA should make a ton of people nervous and his residuals across the board are not sparkling. But for those of you in deep leagues looking for a potential late sleeper to plug and play Arencibia could be just the answer you are looking for.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues/NL-only Leagues OWNED IN: 1% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: John Lamb was once considered to be one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, but Tommy John surgery and a slow recovery sidetracked Lamb’s career and his name slowly disappeared off of the radar. He was in the midst of arguably his best minor league season in 2015 when he was dealt to Cincinnati in the deal for Johnny Cueto. The Reds sent a struggling Michael Lorenzen to Triple-A and decided that it was time to reward John Lamb for his great work at Triple-A this year. Lamb has had two great starts, but a bad inning in each one has his ERA sitting at 6.35. In his debut against the Dodgers, Lamb was cruising along until the fifth inning. Lamb finished the day with 6 IP, five runs (four coming in the fifth), and seven punchouts. A similar scenario happened in his next start against Arizona when he went 5 1/3 IP and didn’t give up any runs until the fifth inning. Outside of a pair of rough innings, Lamb has been outstanding. He has a 3.30 FIP, a 2.52 xFIP, a 2.69 SIERA. His high ERA is currently scaring away fantasy owners as he is owned in only 1% of Fleaflicker leagues and 3% of Yahoo leagues. Take advantage of the low ownership numbers and pick up John Lamb as he will maintain a rotation spot for the rest of the year and six of his final eight starts will likely be against teams in the low half of teams in OPS.
BALLER MOVE: Add in Most Leagues OWNED IN: 30% of Fleaflicker leagues ANALYSIS: There seems to be a sentiment about Cameron Maybin that his season has been a product of luck and that he is simply a flash in the pan. However this is not what the statistics indicate. Maybin has a maintainable BABIP of .319 on a 26% LD%. This displays that he isn't reaching base on bloopers, but hard hit line drives. So far on the season Maybin has a .277 BA, a .737 OPS, ten HR, and 20 SB. Maybin had a rough month of July with a .647 OPS, but has rebounded well. In 76 August at bats he has a .303 BA and a .830 OPS. Maybin is at hist best when playing in Atlanta (.853 home OPS) and when batting against southpaws (.814 OPS vs. LHP). He is a widely available power-speed combo who is recovering well from a down month, and the underlying stats indicate his success is no fluke.
BALLER MOVE: Add in Most Leagues OWNED IN: 40% of Yahoo leagues ANALYSIS: Denard Span is a known commodity, and, though he's been made of glass this year, he can be a major asset down the stretch. During his rehab with High-A, Span hit .412 (7 for 17) with a homer and three runs scored. He helps you in average, runs scored, occasional pop and he can obviously steal bases. Span is more than worth the add. The only thing to bear in mind here is that he hits significantly better against righties than lefties. He sports a .341 average against righties, but a pedestrian .197 average against southpaws. It's not a bad idea to have a good alternative to sub him out for in daily leagues should he be playing a lefty. In weekly leagues it's also strongly advised to check out if he faces a lefty heavy rotation that week. Also be on the lookout for Michael A. Taylor as he could steal a bit of Span's playing time.
BALLER MOVE: Add in Deeper leagues. OWNED IN: 20% of Fleaflicker leagues ANALYSIS: When a player has duel infield eligibility, you take notice. When that player has been slugging well of late to add to their impressive base running like Chris Owings has, fantasy baseball managers in deep leagues should take very careful notice. In the last seven days, Chris Owings has started all six games (easier now that Cliff Pennington got traded to Toronto), and in 25 AB, has hit one HR, two doubles, and has produced a fantastic .400 BA, and a 1.023 OPS. Owings's season totals don't look that impressive, but that is mostly due to a very slow first half. In the first half of the season Owings had just a .570 OPS. So far in the second half of the season Owings has a .731 OPS. In 65 August at bats, Owings has a .292 BA and a .770 OPS. All of this hot hitting is even more enticing when it is noted that Owings has 14 SB on the season. If you are in a deep league and need an infielder with SS/2B position flexibility, positions where hot hitting is hard to come by, look to add Chris Owings.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 10+ Leagues OWNED IN: 9% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: Sean Doolittle is yet another case of Hamlet's famous words "To Be or Not To Be? That Is The Question." Will he be the closer in Oakland? Or will he just be another injured reliever who gets lost in the shuffle and out of fantasy relevance? Doolittle was a heralded RP coming into this season but injuries have plagued him and made him a complete afterthought. Even now since he has returned he has struggled and Drew Pomeranz seems to be the guy in line to close for the Oakland A's mired in their worst season since 2011. Of all of Oakland's options for the 9th inning though, Doolittle would seem to have the pedigree to be that guy. His 11.28 K/9 along with his FIP of 2.35 would suggest success going forward. Add on his .211 BAA and his 0.99 WHIP and you have yourself a closer with potential. Finally sprinkle in some 68% first pitch strike percentage and Doolittle is the guy without question. Right? The fact is the season is lost and he has a lot of rust to shake off. The A's are going to play with their options and might not rush Doolittle back to closing duties right away. But his history should show that he should reclaim his spot and provide good residuals to owners in leagues with holds or leagues where owners need an ERA and WHIP boost from the RP position.
BALLER MOVE: Add in NL-Only and Deep Mixed Leagues Ownership: 50% Fleaflicker ANALYSIS: Marcell Ozuna has been one of the biggest busts of the 2015 season to this point. After breaking out with a 23-homer season a year ago, he was bad enough that the woeful Marlins demoted him to the minors in early July. Since being recalled last week, he hasn’t set the world on the fire or anything, but he does have two homers in eight games after just four in the 80 games prior to his demotion. Ozuna’s talent remains obvious, and he could do a lot to soothe troubled waters with scorned owners by posting a big September.
BALLER MOVE: Add in NL-Only and Deep Mixed Leagues
Ownership: 9% Fleaflicker
ANALYSIS: Stephen Piscotty has been rock solid since his promotion a few weeks ago. He has helped the Cardinals weather the loss of Randal Grichuk, as well as some recent struggles by his comrades, and remain in control of the NL Central. He has smacked four homers to go with a .324/.354/.562 slash line. With both Grichuk and Matt Holliday on the shelf, Piscotty’s playing time is essentially guaranteed for the time being.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 17% of Fleaflicker leagues ANALYSIS: The young fireballer for the O's has started to put everything together of late. In his last 40 innings, he's only allowed 16 earned runs. Aside from the bomb he gave up to Miguel Sano on Sunday, he was lights out the rest of the afternoon. His home/road splits are interesting as he has an ERA of 2.19 at home and a WHIP of 0.89. Given that Camden Yards is a hitters' park, that's very impressive. On the road though, he has a 6.44 ERA with a 1.38 WHIP. Based on recent outings, I think those road numbers will improve a bit. His 4 to 1 K/BB ratio is very solid as well so he won't kill your WHIP and he can help rack up strikeouts for your team. He's only gotten one win in his last six starts. Given the fact that Baltimore has been hitting better of late, Gausman should receive much more run support. Now he just needs the bullpen to hold it down and he can be a pretty serviceable pitcher down the stretch.
BALLER MOVE: Add in AL-Only Leagues / Matchup Streamer OWNED IN: 2% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: We're digging deep here, so AL-Only owners listen up. Perhaps owners are scared off by the 4.60 ERA and 1.47 WHIP, but there's more to Duffey than meets the eye. Duffey debuted at Toronto and allowed five earned runs in just two innings before getting pulled. Not exactly what one would consider a cupcake outing. He's responded well though, allowing just two runs over 13.2 innings with a 15/5 K/BB ratio in two victories. Duffey put up solid numbers for the Twins minor league organization before the call-up too. In 138 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, Duffey produced a 2.54 ERA and 1.08 WHIP with a 122/30 K/BB ratio. He relies primarily on his four seam and curve combo while mixing a sinker, change, and cutter. His fastball has been his strongest pitch according to PITCHf/x and has limited hitters to a .188 AVG so far. He makes for a good play this week at Tampa, a team that has struggled vs RHP in 2015, followed by a home start vs the White Sox next week. In AL-Only leagues, the pickings are likely slim which makes Duffey an enticing play for week 21.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 14+ Team Leagues / Matchup Streamer OWNED IN: 29% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: One week after I discussed a player I was frightened of (Garza), it's only fitting I feature another play that makes my stomach turn. Jokes aside, Wade Miley has earned our attention. In the month of August, Miley has put together a 3.33 ERA and 1.07 WHIP over 27 innings against some formidable competition (vs TB, @ DET, vs SEA, vs KC). He's allowed two or fewer runs in five of his past seven outings. Safe to say those other two starts were not roto-friendly. The peripherals have supported the idea that he's not getting lucky, but I'm not ready to hitch my ride to this wagon just yet. These numbers are fairly close to Miley's career statistics, which is an average pitcher playing in a tough AL East. This seems like more of a stream watch to me. His next outing is a matchup at Chicago (A), a team that pummeled Miley earlier this year (5.2 IP, 7 ER). But the White Sox also have a .655 OPS vs LHP (14th in AL) and are struggling in the past week. I approve of running Miley out there. As for his weekend start vs NYY, you're on your own.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 22% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: As I predicted, Medlen has found his way back into the rotation after replacing Jeremy Guthrie for Kansas City. Medlen has a 2.51 ERA in seven relief appearances this year, but it needs to be noted that all of those runs were in his first appearance (3.1 IP, 4 ER). Since then it's been 11.0 scoreless innings with a 10/5 K/BB ratio. In case you need a refresher, Medlen was a top 25 SP in fantasy from 2012 to 2013, including being arguably the best SP in baseball for the 2012 stretch run. Two Tommy John surgeries altered his career, but he's finally found his way back into a starting role. The Royals are likely to be very cautious with Medlen, considering his health record and the Royals 13 game lead in the AL Central. But pitchers of Medlen's caliber and track record aren't usually lying around the waiver wire. He's in line for a two-start week (vs BAL, @ TB). The Orioles matchup is bothersome, and the Royals likely won't let him go past 80-90 pitches. Tampa has been a bottom five team vs RHP. This represents an excellent streaming opportunity. Expect that ownership level to rise in the coming week.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues / Matchup Streamer OWNED IN: 30% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: But Max, he isn’t playing in 7 games this week. Well guess what? My article, my rules! With Toronto now lined up to face three LHP (Holland, Perez, Boyd) I except Colabello to find his way back into the lineup after sitting three games last week. Keep in mind two of those were at an NL park, eliminating the DH spot. There were concerns with Colabello fading as the season went on, but he’s responded by batting .354 over his last 47 AB. If you’re looking for a power boost, he’s my favorite choice.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 14+ Team Leagues / Matchup Streamer OWNED IN: 5% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: Conforto hasn’t contributed too much to the Year of the Rookie, but most pundits expected him to struggle making the jump from Double-A. He’s currently hitting .224/.333/.448 with 3 HR and 11 RBI as part of a platoon in LF. He’s only had 5 AB vs LHP to this point. Good news for Conforto and rummaging fantasy owners is this week should be filled with playing time. The Mets currently have five RHP lined up (Williams, Eickhoff, Harang, Wright, Kelly). Combine that with Conforto’s .805 OPS vs RHP and we have a recipe for success. With him available in 95% of leagues, it’s likely this pick will help anyone out there.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues / Matchup Streamer OWNED IN: 19% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: Despite having an up and down season, Charlie Morton has hit quite a high the past few starts. After striking out nine Mets, he followed up with another eight over a combined 13 innings while only giving up two earned runs in that span. On the year, he is 8-4 with a 4.06 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and a 71/30 K/BB rate. Morton is nothing if not consistent when it comes to his Swinging Strike%. Since his rookie year in 2008, he has never gone higher than 8.1% or lower than 6.8%. He is on the high end this season at 7.9%. It’s no secret the Marlins have been possibly the biggest disappointment this season. Their .683 OPS at home is the worst in the National League this year, and the same can be said for their .116 ISO. Their .371 SLG% is second-worst only to Atlanta. It’s safe to say the Marlins miss their star hitter Giancarlo Stanton, who will not be ready to return until around September 1st. After trading away Troy Tulowitzki, the Rockies have clearly not been the same team offensively. Since August 1st, their 80 wRC+ is the third worst in baseball. Along with playing away from their home launching pad in Colorado, their .671 road OPS this year is a far cry from their home .841.I have total confidence in playing Morton knowing the Rockies are far less dangerous away from Coors Field.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 14+ Team / Two-Catcher Leagues OWNED IN: 14% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: This player has been such a pariah to many fantasy owners who thought he would be one of the best sleeper catchers in fantasy baseball. His amazingly slow start had owners dumping him fast and letting him figure out his hitting issues safely on the waiver wire or at the minimum the bench. The K% is at an out of control 34% which makes some owners absolutely refuse to keep reading any more about Zunino. In fact his numbers across the board have been dreadful to say the least. Would you believe me if I told you his BB% and Contact% were both higher than they were last year and his BABIP is on pace to also be higher than his 2014 campaign? It might sound like grasping at straws but Zunino is slowly becoming a better baseball player because he has to. Over the past week he is hitting .313 and has an OPS of .818 and even with his bad play he is still behind the dish for Seattle at least 80% of the time. Owners who held onto him can take a chance on him figuring things out but shallow leagues can probably avoid him for now until he really turns the corner.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team / Two-Catcher Leagues OWNED IN: 14% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: A few weeks back fellow Red Sox C Ryan Hanigan made this list and Blake Swihart seemed to be fading into the distance. This rookie has decided to turn around and sprint towards proving he deserves to belong. Recently Swihart has been playing 2 out of every 3 games and producing at a better clip than Hanigan. Swihart is hitting .333 and is the better option going forward as long as he gets the PT. Its not that Hanigan’s .294 BA is anything to complain about but Swihart produces more run scoring opportunities and is the more legit threat at the plate. Swihart must cut down his Pull% of 41% and keep creating solid contact instead of swinging for the fences so much. The OPS of .647 also must get significantly better but he has been improving on that slowly but surely. Early in the season Swihart’s BA had bottomed out at .091 but he has made huge strides having it back up to a respectable .259. He has the capability to have a grand finale in September as the Red Sox are looking forward to 2016 and should give him ample time to fine tune himself into the starting gig again.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 12+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 16% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: Chris Coghlan has put up a very respectable campaign in 2015, and he has been particularly hot of late. In his last 15 games, he’s hitting .297 with eight runs scored, 10 RBIs and three homers. He’s eligible at second base and in the outfield, meaning he gets his fair share of playing time one way or another. He’s particularly great against righties (.832 OPS on the season), and with the Cubs scheduled to face quite a few righties in the next week he could be a great streaming option.
BALLER MOVE: Add in Deeper Saves Leagues OWNED IN: 2% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: In today's game versus the Chicago White Sox, the Mariners threw us a curveball regarding their closer situation and who may be getting the saves chances moving forward. Previous closer Carson Smith came on in the 7th inning, and stayed in for the 8th inning as well. Tom Wilhelmsen then came in for the save opportunity and nailed it down with a hitless inning in the 9th. It will be interesting to see if Wilhelmsen will be getting the bulk of the saves chances moving forward, but if you're looking to add more saves to your fantasy baseball team then he can be added as a closer flier off the waiver wire at the very least. If you recall, Wilhelmsen ricked up 29 saves in 2012 and 24 saves in 2013 for the Mariners. He very well may be the guy going forward. Stay tuned for more updates soon. You can see our full MLB closers & saves depth charts updated here, and follow further updates and waiver wire pickups/stashes as we continue through the home stretch of the fantasy baseball season.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 10+ Leagues OWNED IN: 10% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: The New York Yankees have had nothing short of a remarkable year. The return of Ivan Nova came just in time. Since Nova returned in late June, he has posted a 3.72 ERA with a 2:1 K/BB ratio and 4 QS. He's helped to stabilize a sometimes shaky rotation. Nova has not given up more than 4 ER in any start in 2015, but he has also only made it through to the 7th inning just once. His 4.12 FIP needs some work but his .270 BABIP is 30 points lower than his career average. He is holding opposing batters to a .240 BA while also shrinking his HR/9 to .78 over his two month stint. Nova is not going to be a flashy pitcher with great peripherals, but he can get the job done with plenty of run support. If he can show some consistency down the stretch, Nova can turn into a cheap buy low SP for the rest of this season. He may even be a draft sleeper or sneaky keeper for 2016.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 10+ Leagues. OWNED IN: 12% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: The Colorado Rockies have played the fun game of "Closer Carousel" for most of this season, seemingly using anyone who can muster up the strength to pitch in the 9th inning. John Axford had the job, lost it, and essentially won it back again by default earlier this month. He's...uh....not been the greatest. His 5.68 ERA with one save, one win, and two holds in the month of August are not inspiring. To put grease on the fire, Axford has 5.31 BB/9 and an elevated BABIP. The 4.10 FIP is slightly down and his 9.30 K/9 is merely fine. And yet the bottom line is this - most leagues count saves and Axford has the gig. In deeper leagues, Axford is as close to an immediate add as it gets. He did not get traded out of Colorado so unless come September 1st the Rockies decide to try someone else, Axford will keep the job for the rest of the season. With about a month to go in the season a safe bettor would be to count on Axford getting 5-10 saves the rest of the way. It's not much but it could tip the scales in a H2H weekly matchup.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 10+ Leagues OWNED IN: 44% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: Lets face it, the debut of Byron Buxton did not go as planned for all fantasy owners who were hoping for Mike Trout 2.0. Buxton exited stage left from Minnesota in late June after a four strikeout game that left him with a .189 BA and a .231 OBP. Now that Aaron Hicks is on the DL, Buxton was once again promoted after unsurprisingly tearing through the the minors with his five tool prowess. The potential and scary fantasy value are still there for Buxton. The Twins have already placed him atop the order to give them a spark for their power bats. Buxton already has five hits in his first three games back and while the speed is not present as of yet, Buxton has shown his ability swipe bags in the minors with 101 career SB. Buxton's 34% K rate is nothing short of awful this year, but his BABIP is still right around .330. It's likely his first stint in the Twin Cities was a case of too much too fast for the heralded prospect.
BALLER MOVE: Add in All Leagues. OWNED IN: 10% of Fleaflicker Leagues. ANALYSIS: How is this guy available in 90% of leagues right now? How is this possible? Raisel Iglesias has been on an absolute tear as of late, and he is pulling off the best Rodney Dangerfield impression going today. "I don't get no respect!" I get that his 3.49 FIP and his 4.21 ERA are not the sexiest stats out there. I could even agree that his 8.68 K/9 and his 2.44 BB/9 should not have people clamoring to add him before finishing their current meal. However in the month of August, Iglesias has 4 QS, 2 W, 22:5 K/BB ratio and is clearly the ace of this staff going forward. His 16.5 K-BB% and his .237 BAA have been staples for him all season. With his comfort to throw his sinker in any situation, he's a terrifying entity with the movement and velocity that he possesses. The guy simply is an ace pitcher on a bad team. What else do you need to know about him? Don't wait for a September callup to help bolster your rotation. There is a stud just sitting there right in front of your face. Raisel Iglesias. HE. IS. MONEY.
BALLER MOVE: Add in All Leagues OWNED IN: 45% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: What more does Kang have to do to get your attention? While his rate stats are down this month, he’s still providing plenty of juice in the counting numbers. Since the break, the Pirates‘ Korean import boasts a .959 OPS with a half-dozen homers and 33 R+RBI in 30 games. Overall, his line sits at .287/.361/.447. In a normal season, he’d likely be a serious contender for Rookie of the Year honors. As it stands, he’s not even the best rookie at his position in his division. Still, he ought to be owned in more leagues than he is right now, especially given his multi-position eligibility.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 10+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 3% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: The Red Sox have been in a state of turmoil at the back end of their rotation after losing Koji Uehara for the rest of the season due to a fractured wrist. The acquisition of Jean Machi seemed to be the answer until Machi saw his ERA spike to 5.73 and only accumulate 1 SV and 1 HLD in the entire month of August. Now, Boston is turning to their setup man Junichi Tazawa to get the job done and it seems like a success so far. Machi was recently placed into the eighth inning of a game and gave up a three-run home run which sent Boston looking for answers. Tazawa pitched a perfect ninth inning and gained a ton of confidence from the team as a result of it. The job seems very open ended but Tazawa should have the chance to take the reigns by pitching well going into September. Tazawa's FIP of 2.72 along with his 1.44 BB/9 rate should keep Boston plugging him in to the closer's role without batting much of an eye. Boston has been winning the high scoring affairs but grabbing a few close calls will make Tazawa worthy of a timely add.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 10+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 6% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: Glen Perkins neck issues have once again reared their ugly head at the worst possible time for fantasy owners counting on his stellar season to carry them to the finish line. Not all hope is lost! In the middle of the Twins extremely positive season, an underrated trade took place before the trade deadline that saw the Twins acquire Kevin Jepsen from Tampa Bay to help their bullpen. Jepsen had fallen out of favor in Tampa Bay after the Rays got back some of their injured bullpen members. Jepsen has compiled a 2.74 ERA with 24 Holds and a BABIP of .245 with 40 K in 49.1 IP. He was brought in to be the top setup man to Perkins ahead of the likes of Blaine Boyer, Brian Duensing and Casey Fien. Now that Perkins is sidelined, Jepsen is first in line for save chances in Minnesota. He hasn't been the best RP as his K/BB ratio sits at 5:3 and his FIP of 4.00 designates his ability to get blown up. Saves are not to be chased on draft day but in the clutches of the end of the season, owners should rush to grab a guy who could potentially close out the season as the team's closer. This would also stand to help prove that he can stay in high leverage situations. Go get him.
BALLER MOVE: Short-Term Add in 12+ Team Leagues OWNED IN: 36% of Fleaflicker leagues ANALYSIS: Utley has been on a roll of late and now he's on his way to LA. He gets a boost hitting in that lineup, but there are some caveats here. When Howie Kendrick comes back from his hamstring injury, Utley will likely be relegated to the bench. Even before this, he will have to compete with Kike Hernandez for playing time. For fantasy purposes, he would've been better off staying in Philadelphia. That's not the way real baseball works though, and as such the smart play here is to ride him while he's hot. He could also be a good injury replacement or sub for another player who has a tough matchup. His BABIP on the season is very low at a measly .227, which indicates this little outburst could be more of the "real Utley." His average is also 31 points higher against righties in 2015, so obviously playing him against them is a smart play.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 10+ Leagues. OWNED IN: 19% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: The super utility man has struck again for the Boston Red Sox and continues to prove how valuable he truly is and can be if given the chance. Brock Holt is an asset for both Boston and your fantasy lineup as he fills any position except catcher. Who knows - he might get pulled into that duty as well! If that is not value enough, Holt has been filling in mostly at 2B for the injured Dustin Pedroia and with his recent play the Red Sox really should keep him in the lineup wherever they can find a place to put him. Holt's recent success does not stop at his .346 BA and 10 RBI. His OPS is north of .900 and he always seems to get timely hits. Holt has also dropped his Pull% to under 35% and evened out his Cent% to 37.5% and his Oppo% to 27.6% leaving him an overall threat to hit to all parts of the field. His stats are not notably flashy but he does possess that "never say die" attitude and grit that gets him a ton of respect in the clubhouse. Fantasy owners can take ownership of Holt with a grain of salt but he can shore up most deficiencies a team might have sans HR or BB. He has doubles power and can drive in runs while giving you positive rate stats.
BALLER MOVE: Add in 10+ Team and AL-Only Leagues OWNED IN: 36% of Fleaflicker Leagues ANALYSIS: How is it that a player in the Top 25 in HR this season is still only 36% owned? Luis Valbuena defies logic and his stats clearly show why that number is so low. Sure, he has 21 HR this season but he also only has 43 RBI to go along with a putrid .211 BA. The fact is that his 21.8 K% isn't that great either and his .428 SLG should be much higher. His doubles are way down from last year in Chicago where he cranked out 33. Valbuena does have sneaky value when you dig even deeper into his stats. His ISO of .217 is the highest it has ever been and his wRC+ is right on track towards his best seasons as a major league talent. The Astros clubhouse is full of big power low residual players and normally stats like Valbuena's would drag a team down. However it has become the norm on a team that is still winning. Valbuena has eligibility at three positions and has been slowly but surely raising his BA. Over the past few weeks he is hitting over .300 with 3 XBH and an OPS over 1.000. If you can afford to take a hit in the BA department for some cheap power then Valbuena is your guy.
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