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It's crunch time! It's the second-to-last week in Roto leagues and either the semifinals or finals in head-to-head formats. Every start/sit decision is being put under a microscope and rightfully so. We discussed a bunch of polarizing starting pitchers on the podcast today but perhaps none more than Yu Darvish. Somebody tweeted Scott White and me over the weekend asking if they should stream Darvish in his start at the Cardinals on Saturday. I responded that I wouldn't, which means he will throw seven shutout innings... and that's exactly what he did. Whether due to foreign substances or multiple stints on the Injured List, Darvish has been flat out bad since the start of June. He's projecting for a home matchup against the Braves this week and I currently have him on my bench in favor of Logan Gilbert who's thrown two quality starts in a row and faces the lowly Angels offense Friday.

Shout out to the St. Louis Cardinals who are on an eight-game winning streak and specifically Tyler O'Neill who is red hot. In 18 September games, O'Neill is batting .333 with seven home runs and three steals. He's been quite streaky this year, which makes sense given his high strikeout rate. He's currently 79% rostered and could be available in shallower leagues so be sure to check for him. You probably don't need me to tell you this but if you have O'Neill on your team, make sure to get him in the lineup regardless of format.

Of course, as always, you can follow to make sure you get the latest episodes of Fantasy Baseball Today right when they drop on Apple and Spotify.

Baz gets the call after a dominant minors stretch

Rays SP Shane Baz has been one of the elite starters down in the minors this season and he finally got the call-up from Tampa with just two weeks to go. In 17 starts between Double-A and Triple-A, here's what his dominant stretch looks like: 2.06 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 113 K over 78.2 IP. He's just 26% rostered at the moment with starts likely coming against Toronto and Miami. Baz has the makings of a Fantasy ace at some point, but is now too soon?

Scott White took a deeper dive into Baz's profile for the now after setting out to answer if adding and starting him is even worth it at this point.

"There's no overstating the caliber of prospect he is. You see the numbers he's put up this year, gaining control of his already electric stuff to make him arguably the top pitching prospect in baseball. I might instead give the nod to the OriolesGrayson Rodriguez, but this isn't about him. The point is it's close.

"The issue with picking up Baz isn't a matter of ability but rather timing. He's arriving for his first stint in the majors during the second-to-last week of the season ... at the position with the most potential for harm ... for the team most known for handling up-and-coming pitchers with kid gloves.

"There's a small chance he could throw a seven-inning gem (even though he only once lasted even six innings in the minors this year), but he more realistic possibility is that they cut him off at 4-5 innings -- and that's if he's pitching well.

"Of course, there's no predicting whether he's up to the task given that he has yet to be tested at the highest level. It's especially true given that he'll be facing the Blue Jays in his first outing, who you may be aware are rather stacked offensively. If he navigates their lineup well enough, he'll face the Astros next time out, who present an even tougher matchup. Weighing all of those factors, how could you possibly have the confidence to start Baz, whether this week or next?

"Granted, it's not as simple as even that. If the Rays decide to remove someone from the rotation with the arrival of Baz -- which I'm not counting on, but it's possible -- then he'll line up for two starts this week, with the second coming against the Marlins. And in that scenario, he would face the Yankees next week rather than the Astros. It would make the risk a more rewarding one, but of course, you can't count on him having that second start this week.

"Ultimately, it's too big of a gamble to take with so much on the line. If Baz had arrived a month ago, it would be a different story."

Kelenic starting to show serious signs

Jared Kelenic Seattle Mariners
Getty Images

It hasn't been a storybook first season for Mariners OF Jared Kelenic, but he's starting to catch fire at the perfect time for those Fantasy managers who were patient. In his last four games, Kelenic has seven hits, three homers, one stolen base and six runs scored to go along with seven RBI. Most importantly, he's dropped his strikeout rate with only three strikeouts during that four-game stretch. 

He's 63% rostered and here's what Scott White had to say about the talented young OF in his latest waiver column:

"Another high-profile Mariners rookie who's finally delivering on all his potential, Jarred Kelenic is still batting just .178 for the year, but you see what he's done in September. He's putting the ball in the air a ton and not getting beaten by strikeouts as much, though it would still be a stretch at this point to say that plate discipline is his strong suit. The Mariners have middling matchups the rest of the way, but the pitchers on the slate this week are particularly prone to fly balls."

Rosario hits for the cycle

Braves OF Eddie Rosario has found himself regular playing time again and is starting to mash the baseball, again. He hit for the cycle on Sunday. Rosario has now started in five of the last six games and has three homers over that span. He's 62% rostered with seven games next week and it looks as of now like there's only one left-handed starting pitcher slated to go up against him. If you're seeking OF help in deeper leagues that start five, Rosario makes for a nice scoop for this final stretch run.

News and notes

  • Shane Bieber made another rehab start at Double-A Sunday, allowed three runs (two home runs) over 3.1 innings. He got his pitch count up to 57. 
  • Cody Bellinger missed Saturday and Sunday with a non-displaced rib fracture. He shouldn't be on your team anyway.
  • According to Ken Rosenthal, The A's are targeting Thursday for Chris Bassitt's return. Bassitt is 74% rostered and that game would come against the Mariners.
  • The Padres don't expect Blake Snell to pitch again until the postseason… if they make it. 
  • Manager Bud Black said Friday that he's not sure if Connor Joe will be able to return this season. He's on the IL with a hamstring injury.
  • Jameson Taillon could make a minor-league rehab start during the coming week. He's on the IL with an ankle injury.
  • Framber Valdez is confirmed as the starter Monday and will make two starts this week. 
  • Joe Ryan was pushed back from Sunday to start Wednesday this week against the Cubs
  • Same thing with Carlos Hernandez who was pushed back to Wednesday. 
  • Brady Singer will be activated to start the first game of their doubleheader Monday. 
  • Nico Hoerner was activated Sunday and was batting fifth in their lineup.
  • Tanner Houck has been shifted to the Red Sox bullpen.
  • Luis Gil was optioned back to Triple-A after Saturday's start where he allowed three runs over 4.1 innings.
  • Chris Paddack played catch from 75 feet Saturday but isn't expected to pitch again this season.
  • The Yankees could activate Luis Severino Monday but remember he's going to pitch out of the bullpen.
  • Miguel Andujar reported to Triple-A Sunday to begin a rehab assignment. He's been on the IL since July with a wrist injury.
  • To the IL this weekend:
  • Jesse Winker reinjured his intercostal strain.
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu with a neck strain.
  • Jake McGee with a right oblique strain.
  • Gregory Soto with a fractured finger.
  • Seth Beer finally went on the IL with that dislocated shoulder.
  • Tyler Naquin with bruised ribs.
  • Bryse Wilson with a left hamstring strain.
  • Daulton Jefferies with right elbow ulnar neuritis.
  • Kevin Kiermaier to the COVID IL.

Lower-rostered shortstops to consider

  • Rockies SS Brendan Rodgers collected six hits with two homers this weekend. This Scott White favorite is only 57% rostered.
  • Rangers SS Isiah Kiner-Falefa three straight multi-hit games, including two steals on Sunday. He's 67% rostered with seven road games at NYY, at BAL this week and still has C eligibility on Yahoo.
  • Royals SS/2B Nicky Lopez has had a big September batting .342 with one homer and two steals. He's 52% rostered with seven road games this week.
  • Dodgers SS/2B Gavin Lux went 3-for-4 with a homer on Sunday. He has started eight of their last nine games and is 35% rostered.