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At this point in the season you're looking for different things depending on your league type and position in the standings.
In a Roto league you're probably looking for categories more than players. It's time to make a move wherever you can. In points leagues, you're either looking for someone who's hot and can push your team into the playoffs, or you're locked into a playoff spot and looking for league-winners who could dominate the playoffs. Carlos Rodon and Michael Conforto could be your guys.
Rodon completed his third consecutive quality start Tuesday, striking out eight Angels over 7.2 innings. He didn't give up a hit until the seventh inning and didn't allow a run until he'd already left the game in the eighth. He's now gone at least six innings in five of his past six starts, and the swinging strikes are starting to come back as well, with double-digits in the past two starts.
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There are still small reasons to be concerned with Rodon. He had three more walks on Tuesday and this stretch has been aided by a low BABIP against. But he's starting to look a lot like the pitcher who has finished strong the past two seasons. In his final six starts of 2017, Rodon had a 3.29 ERA and nearly a strikeout per inning. He finished 2016 with an 11-start stretch where he struck out 70 batters in 66 innings and had a 3.11 ERA. Rodon has made 26 starts after July 31 in his career and he has a 2.85 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP.
As a relatively young pitcher who is red hot and has a history of finishing strong, he should be universally owned.
Conforto has had an absolutely dreadful season, but we've seen signs of life. The Mets' lefty has played four games since the All-Star break and has seven hits, including two home runs and a double. He's only struck out once. In fact, he's only struck out three times in his past 33 plate appearances and has a 1.254 OPS since July 12.
Is this the awakening we've all been waiting for? We can't be sure, but it's worth remembering that Conforto's upside is one of the best hitters in baseball. He had a .939 OPS in 440 plate appearances last year.
With all of the issues surrounding the Mets' general health, as a team it doesn't seem farfetched at all that Conforto came back too soon from his shoulder injury and is just now himself. After having a sub-30 percent hard-contact rate in the first two months of the season, he's been over 40 percent in June and July. Maybe more important, his soft contact has plummeted over the same stretch.
I'm not saying it's time to get Conforto back in your starting lineup, but you need to make sure yours isn't one of the 36 percent of leagues where he's available.
Brad Brach is the latest trade-deadline winner after the Yankees traded for Zach Britton. Brach picked up his 11th save on Tuesday and looks like the most likely closer down the stretch for the Orioles, assuming he isn't traded as well.
Brach did allow a run during Tuesday's save, and that's not really out of character for him so far in 2018. He has a 4.85 ERA and a 1.77 WHIP. Those numbers are disgusting. But those numbers are really out of character. Batters have a .371 BABIP against him this season (career .283), and his strikeout rate has been uninspiring despite a pretty stable swinging strike rate.
That's not to say Brach will be an elite closer down the stretch. The Orioles won't be good enough to allow that. But I do suspect he'll be serviceable, and should certainly be added in any categories league where you're scavenging for saves.
If you're in a deeper league you need to go see if Yonny Chirinos is available right now. The Rays righty returned from the DL on Tuesday and held the Yankees to three runs over 6.2 innings. Chirinos has now thrown 33.1 innings on the year and has a 3.78 ERA with a 3.49 FIP. He has elite control (career 1.5 BB/9 in the minor leagues) and gets a fair amount of ground balls. Pitching half of his games in a pitcher's park only helps. Finally, he has SPARP eligibility, which makes him useful in a standard points league.