By Sam McPherson
With each passing week, it’s getting closer and closer to the end of the Major League Baseball regular season. That means there’s less time left on the fantasy baseball clock, of course, and as players get hurt, they need to be replaced in your fantasy baseball lineup. There are a lot of rookies getting the call right now in MLB, but if you want to win your fantasy baseball league, it’s best to avoid that kind of risk.
A lot of fantasy baseball owners like going after those flashy rookies, the ones with name recognition. However, what every team needs right now with about 45 games left in the MLB regular season is steady production. Right now, the best place to find that steady fantasy baseball production is from veteran players providing reliable statistics for your team and its advancement in the league standings.
These veteran pickups won’t impress your fellow league owners, but who cares about that? When the end of the season comes, those same owners will be scratching their heads wondering just how you did it with a bunch of no-name veterans in your lineup. That is what they do not understand: Veteran production is always better than rookie risk in August and September.
Players to Get On Your Roster Now
1. Matt Moore, SP, San Francisco Giants: Earlier this season when Moore still was pitching for Tampa Bay, we suggested letting him go for some other owner to chance. Well, now Moore is pitching with the Giants, and most of his numbers look pretty good there. Moore is walking too many batters, but his pitches are getting better placement overall, and the S.F. defense behind him makes him a better fantasy option.
2. Fernando Rodney, RP, Miami Marlins: He’s closing again, after his earlier trade from San Diego to Miami relegated him to a set-up role. But with A.J. Ramos on the shelf, Rodney becomes the go-to guy in the ninth inning for the playoff-contending Marlins. Remember, he was an All-Star selection earlier this year, and his numbers (2.25 ERA, 1.083 WHIP, 9.9 Ks per nine innings) are good for a closer.
3. Devon Travis, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays: Now that he’s healthy and playing regularly, Travis is a guy to pick up. In two half seasons combined, he’s totaled 18 home runs and 69 RBI while hitting .302 over 124 games since the start of the 2015 season. He doesn’t walk a lot, and he doesn’t steal bases. But Travis swings the bat well at a position where his stats can help most teams in the standings right now.
4. Brad Miller, SS/OF, Tampa Bay Rays: Like Moore above, we suggested awhile ago to cut bait on Miller. However, since then, he’s recovered to post some good overall numbers (.260 average, 22 HRs). Those stats can help anyone’s team from the SS or MIF positions, and even if you want to use him in the outfield, those numbers are solid there, too.
Players to Sit/Drop This Week
1. Michael Wacha, SP, St. Louis Cardinals: He was once the shining star of promise for the St. Louis rotation, but Wacha has had an injury-filled season which is now probably over after his latest shoulder setback. The Cards need starters down the stretch if they want to make the playoffs, but Wacha can’t help them—or you, for that matter. Let him go.
2. A.J. Ramos, RP, Miami Marlins: It’s a broken finger that cost him the closer’s job in Miami (see above), and it’s hard for a pitcher to regain a good grip on the ball while coming back from a broken digit. With Rodney in place, the Marlins aren’t going to rush back Ramos right now and risk putting him on the mound at less than 100 percent.
3. Nick Castellanos, 3B, Detroit Tigers: His hand injury landed him on the injury squad, and hitters always have a tough time coming back from hand injuries. Castellanos is a big part of the Tigers’ lineup when he’s healthy, and the Detroit front office may rush him back sooner than it should since the team is in playoff contention. Don’t feel the same pressure with your fantasy lineup.
4. Junior Guerra, SP, Milwaukee Brewers: Any pitcher that lands on the disabled list with elbow problems is scary. Toss in the fact the Brewers are way out of postseason contention, and there’s little motivation for Milwaukee to risk his arm this late in a lost season. Let someone else take a chance on Guerra down the stretch, because there are more reliable options on the waiver wire.
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf and fantasy sports for CBS Local. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach. Follow him on Twitter @sxmcp, because he’s quite prolific despite also being a college English professor and a certified copy editor.