September baseball is almost here. It’s going to look different this time next year with call-ups being more limited, but we’ll have one final go-around with the old rules this year. Matthew Pouliot already went over some of the possible call-ups in his Strike Zone column this week, but if you are looking at any of them to help be a difference-maker in your league this year, you will probably be disappointed.
I’m certainly hoping to be surprised here. Stashing top prospects like Luis Robert, Gavin Lux, and Kyle Tucker makes sense if you have the roster flexibility, but it’s difficult to give a blanket statement to roster them knowing the machinations at work with trying to actually win a fantasy league. You can’t stash everyone. Having flexibility is especially valuable in leagues where you are streaming starting pitching, so it’s okay to be practical rather than stash an admittedly fun lottery ticket. Sorry for stomping on your hopes and dreams.
Speaking of streaming starting pitching, be sure to click on the second page for my weekend recommendations.
Have specific questions about your roster? Ask @djshort on Twitter.
(Players rostered in under 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Note: Percentages are from the morning of Thursday, August 29
Willie Calhoun OF, Rangers (Yahoo: 37 percent rostered)
Seriously, what is going on here? Calhoun is a former top prospect who has enjoyed plenty of success in the majors this year, with a .286/.326/.562 batting line and 15 homers over 215 plate appearances. Sure, many fantasy owners are asleep at the wheel at the wheel at this point in the season, but he really should be scooped up in more leagues. Going by at bats per home run, Calhoun has homered more frequently than the likes of Gleyber Torres, Josh Bell, Freddie Freeman, Alex Bregman, and Josh Donaldson. He might never be the most patient hitter, but he makes contact and finds himself in the cleanup spot in the Rangers’ lineup. Sign me up.
Mike Montgomery SP/RP, Royals (Yahoo: 18 percent rostered)
Montgomery has been respectable since joining the Royals, posting a 3.98 ERA and 36/11 K/BB ratio in 40 2/3 innings over his eight starts. The southpaw only has two wins to show for it and yes, he burned us in a matchup against the Orioles next week, but it’s well worth giving him another try. He’ll face the Tigers at home next Tuesday before a probable matchup against the White Sox one week later. Hard to beat that as a deep league option.
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Corey Dickerson OF, Phillies (Yahoo: 31 percent rostered)
When healthy this year, all Dickerson has done is hit. Between his time with the Pirates and the Phillies, he’s sporting a .304/.344/.559 batting line with 34 extra-base hits (including eight homers) in just 64 games. That’s quite a ratio. Dickerson has become a regular with Philadelphia while mostly seeing at-bats out of the cleanup spot and No. 5 spot in the lineup. He’s knocked in 23 runs this month, which places him among some impressive company. He’s been uber-aggressive with the Phillies, but he continues to hit the ball hard while increasing his launch angle. Like Calhoun, Dickerson is another outfielder who deserves more love for the stretch run.
Pablo Lopez SP, Marlins (Yahoo: 10 percent rostered)
Long time, no see. Lopez was showing promise as a mixed league option during the first half before hitting the injured list in mid-June due to a right shoulder injury. It’s been a long road back for him, including a couple of shaky rehab starts, but he finished on a high note before allowing four runs over five innings in his return against the Reds on Monday. The results didn’t really stand out, but he allowed one run over his first four innings before giving up a three-run homer to Freddy Galvis in the third. Still, he walked just one batter and his velocity was right in line with where he was prior to the shoulder injury. Maybe skip him against the Nationals on Saturday, but he gets the Royals at home next week.
Aledmys Diaz 1B/2B/3B/SS, Astros (Yahoo: 2 percent rostered)
Opportunity is knocking for Diaz, who returned from the injured list this week after missing 10 days due to lightheadedness and dizziness. He came off the bench to deliver an RBI single in his return on Tuesday against the Rays before coming through with a game-tying double on Wednesday. With Carlos Correa sidelined due to lower back stiffness, Diaz made the start at third base on Wednesday while Alex Bregman played shortstop. We could only be talking about several games here, but Diaz offers pop, position versatility, and finds himself in a great lineup. Those in deeper formats should consider a short-term move.
Tommy Edman 2B/3B/SS/OF, Cardinals (Yahoo: 26 percent rostered)
I’ve avoided mentioning Edman in this space until now, but he just keeps finding ways to stick around. The 24-year-old rookie has been red-hot of late, hitting a cool .351 over his last 18 games. He’s found his way back near the top of the order along the way, hitting either second or first in 15 out of his last 17 starts. That has helped him score 15 runs during this productive stretch. Edman has hit five homers in his limited time in the majors, but don’t bank on continued production there. His speed is interesting, though, and his place in the lineup with positional flexibility can justify a spot on deeper mixed league rosters over the final few weeks.
Matt Magill RP, Mariners (Yahoo: 30 percent rostered)
Get excited. Or as much as one can get excited about a team who owns the sixth-worst record in the majors. After parting with late-inning options Roenis Elias and Hunter Strickland at the trade deadline, Magill has taken ahold of the Mariners’ closer role with four saves over the past two weeks. He’s also taken a blown save in that time, but that’s the only time he’s been scored upon in his last nine appearances. With a 12/1 K/BB ratio over eight innings in that span, he’s the hot hand in this bullpen. We’re not necessarily looking for staying power here, but just a few good weeks to close out the season.
Kevin Newman 2B/SS, Pirates (Yahoo: 22 percent rostered)
I tried to think about some folks who might have lost Jose Ramirez to his broken hamate bone this week. Diaz and Edman also fit under this heading as far as third base options, but Newman is another name to keep in mind for second base and middle infield vacancies. The caveat here is that the most recent version of Ramirez is impossible to replace. We’re talking early-round material there. Newman doesn’t possess that sort of power potential, but he’s fast and he’s hitting .301 through 103 games this year. According to Baseball Savant, his xBA checks in at .290, largely backing up what he’s done this year. It helps that he’s only struck out in 11.7 percent of his plate appearances, tied for seventh-lowest among qualified hitters. Newman has the multi-position eligibility going for him, as well as a spot atop the Pirates’ lineup.
Mauricio Dubon SS, Giants (Yahoo: 0 percent rostered)
It was surprising to see that the Giants were able to snag Dubon from the Brewers for Drew Pomeranz at the trade deadline, but we aren’t complaining, now are we? Yes, hitting in Milwaukee over San Francisco would have been preferable. No doubt about that. But Dubon should have more of an opportunity with the Giants than he would have had with the Brewers. The club even cut ties with another deadline acquisition, Scooter Gennett, this week in order to make room for Dubon’s arrival. After missing most of 2018 with a torn ACL, Dubon batted .302/.345/.477 with 20 homers and 10 steals over 123 games at the Triple-A level this season. While power numbers in Triple-A are difficult to quantify this year, he’s always hit for average in the minors. The home ballpark hurts and Dubon will likely hit in the lower-third of the Giants’ lineup out of the gate, but there are worse fliers in deeper formats.