Though normally in Fantasy Baseball, you'd start your best players every week regardless of matchups, in those weeks when you do need a fill-in, whether because of injuries or the total collapse of a trusted starter, Scott White is here to help.
At each position, he'll list the players who are "too obvious" for the upcoming week, meaning the ones you wouldn't consider sitting for anyone off the list, and then suggest a start and a sit based on a variety of short-term factors.
All stats are updated through Wednesday, Sept. 17.
At long last, we have an explanation for why Evan Gattis' recovery from strep throat is taking so long. He has a kidney stone as well, and the former may have actually contributed to the latter. Most likely, he's having a tougher week than you are. Now that the Braves have the full diagnosis, they seem even more convinced he's just a day or two away, so don't sleep on him for the final week if you're short on power.
Of course, Gattis isn't the only player suffering from a non-sports ailment. Nolan Arenado's chest contusion and early onset pneumonia make him highly risky for the season's final week. Manager Walt Weiss thinks we'll see the third baseman again this season, but this is uncharted territory as far as lineup decisions go. Barring an unexpected return this weekend, I'd steer clear of him.
As is typically the case in the season's final week, you can expect a little more rest for every player as managers experiment with their September callups. That's especially true for the teams that have already clinched (which as of now includes the Nationals, Orioles and Angels) and have the luxury of resting up for the playoffs, but the line between rested and rusted is finer for baseball than any other sport. Don't go overboard and bench Mike Trout or anything. He'll still play enough to matter.
And with that, on to the position-by-position breakdown ...
|1.||Torii Hunter, OF, Tigers||84/67|
|2.||Mookie Betts, 2B/OF, Red Sox||67/55|
|3.||Jorge Soler, OF, Cubs||83/64|
|4.||Justin Morneau, 1B, Rockies||94/69|
|5.||Xander Bogaerts, 3B/SS, Red Sox||77/56|
|6.||Ryan Zimmerman, 3B/OF, Nationals||70/6|
|7.||A.J. Pollock, OF, Diamondbacks||41/28|
|8.||Eric Hosmer, 1B, Royals||72/36|
|9.||Dioner Navarro, C, Cubs||23/15|
|10.||Norichika Aoki, OF, Royals||47/33|
Start: Dioner Navarro, Blue Jays
For as much as Navarro has improved since the All-Star break, batting .318 with seven home runs and an .857 OPS in 173 at-bats, his ownership percentage has hardly changed. It's at a still-underwhelming 59 percent, meaning there's a good chance he's slipped through the cracks in your league. He's been great at home all year, batting .305 with an .808 OPS compared to .257 and .654 on the road, and that's where the Blue Jays happen to play all seven of their games this week.
Instead of: Kurt Suzuki, Travis d'Arnaud, Jason Castro
Sit: Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks
It's not that the matchups are especially unfavorable for Montero this week. It's just that he's been really bad for a really long time now. To be more specific, since May 14 -- or all but the first six weeks of the season -- he's batting .226 with a .653 OPS. Since the All-Star break, he's batting .209 with a .603 OPS, and since Aug. 19, he's batting .153 with a .478 OPS. He may still be started in 71 percent of leagues, but seriously, you can do better.
Instead of: Navarro, Wilson Ramos, Yadier Molina
Too obvious: Miguel Cabrera, Jose Abreu, Victor Martinez, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, Albert Pujols, Freddie Freeman, Buster Posey, Anthony Rizzo, Todd Frazier, Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Santana, Adrian Gonzalez, Chris Carter, Adam LaRoche, Lucas Duda, Joe Mauer
Start: Justin Morneau, Rockies
Though Morneau, like just about every Rockies hitter, is better at home, which has no doubt contributed to his strong return from an intercostal injury over the last few days, he's still a .308 hitter with an .827 OPS on the road, which means he's well equipped to take advantage of the Rockies' favorable matchups at San Diego and Los Angeles this week, two normally hitter-friendly parks. More the anything, the way he's hit lately shows he's healthy, and when he's healthy, he's basically must-start.
Instead of: Matt Adams, Brandon Moss, Ryan Howard
Sit: Kennys Vargas, Twins
Vargas was a nice find off the waiver wire in early August, providing cheap power right out of the gate. But while the home runs haven't dried up completely -- he hit one as recently as Tuesday -- he's batting just .220 over his last 10 games. Chances are that 51-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio is beginning to catch up to him, and the Twins close the season against a Tigers team with a deep rotation and plenty more to play for. They're also scheduled to face two lefties, against whom Vargas is batting just .231.
Instead of: Morneau, Eric Hosmer, Michael Cuddyer
Start: Mookie Betts, Red Sox
Even with Rusney Castillo getting the call from the minors, Betts has a secure role at second base with Dustin Pedroia (wrist) and Brock Holt (concussion) both sidelined by injury. Of course, with the way he's been hitting since his latest stint in the minors, the Red Sox would have found a spot for him somewhere. He's batting .319 (29 for 91) with three homers, four steals and, my personal favorite, 13 walks to 16 strikeouts in his last 24 games. That's the kind of player he profiles to be, so I wouldn't anticipate anything different with middle-of-the-road matchups for the Red Sox this week.
Instead of: Daniel Murphy, Dustin Ackley, Scooter Gennett
Sit: Howie Kendrick, Angels
Kendrick was one of the hottest hitters in baseball just five days ago, but in four games since, he's 2 for 12. Maybe that wouldn't count for much on its own -- teeny tiny sample that it is -- but the Angels also have the toughest matchups of any team this week, going against Jeff Samardzija, Sonny Gray, Jason Hammel, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton and Felix Hernandez. Worse yet, Kendrick seems like a prime candidate to sit every other game now that the Angels have clinched, especially since they have a ready-made replacement in Gordon Beckham.
Instead of: Betts, Murphy, Jedd Gyorko
Start: Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals
Yes, starting Zimmerman in his first week back from a two-month absence is risky, especially since he no longer has a position all to himself, but for all the disappointment over the time he's missed this season, let's not lose sight of the fact that when he has played, he's hit as well as ever. He recovered nicely from an earlier two-month absence in June, and the timing of his return, with the division title already in hand, gives the Nationals all the incentive in the world to play him. They want to know if they can count on him in the postseason, after all. Obviously, if you're already secure at third base, don't chance it, but if you're not, he's a gamble who could pay off big time.
Instead of: Daniel Murphy, Trevor Plouffe, David Freese
Sit: Casey McGehee, Marlins
Granted, there's been a couple nice stretches in there, but that second-half regression so many predicted for McGehee has come to fruition with a .249 batting average and .645 OPS in 56 games. He's not having one of those nice stretches right now, batting .219 (7 for 32) with zero extra-base hits in his last eight games, and he has the joy of facing Cole Hamels, Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg and Tanner Roark this week. Good times.
Instead of: Zimmerman, Aramis Ramirez, Xander Bogaerts
Start: Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox
Yep, another case of a "start" who doesn't have especially favorable matchups or splits. Bogaerts has simply been too productive to pass up among the players who fall short of the "too obvious" threshold. It's concealed by his overall numbers, which are still underwhelming, but in his last 10 games, he's batting .366 (15 for 41) with three home runs. He certainly has the pedigree to do something like that, and frankly, your alternatives at shortstop are limited.
Instead of: Javier Baez, Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores
Sit: Erick Aybar, Angels
Aybar, like double-play partner Kendrick, has only recently come out of an extended hot streak, going 0 for 10 in his last four games. It's so recent you may not feel compelled to make a change at a position where, if you own Aybar, you've likely been making changes all season. But understand he's more likely to continue down that path than reverse course against pitchers like Jeff Samardzija, Sonny Gray, Jason Hammel, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton and Felix Hernandez. And of course, he's likely to rest some now that the Angels have clinched.
Instead of: Bogaerts, Alcides Escobar, Yangervis Solarte
OutfieldToo obvious: Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Jose Bautista, Carlos Gomez, Michael Brantley, Adam Jones, Justin Upton, Jacoby Ellsbury, Hunter Pence, Nelson Cruz, Alex Gordon, Jayson Werth, Matt Holliday, Ben Zobrist, Bryce Harper, Yoenis Cespedes, Matt Kemp, Corey Dickerson, Josh Harrison, Yasiel Puig, J.D. Martinez, Chris Carter, Christian Yelich, Denard Span, Charlie Blackmon, Kole Calhoun, Lucas Duda, Starling Marte, Danny Santana, Billy Hamilton
Start: Torii Hunter, Tigers
Hunter probably hasn't gotten the credit he deserves in Fantasy this year, his starting percentage continually rising and falling with the latest trends. He's trending the right way now, though, batting .395 (17 for 43) in his last 10 games, and while the Angels have the worst matchups of any team this week, the Tigers have the best, facing bottom-feeders like Chris Bassitt, Scott Carroll, Logan Darnell, Trevor May and Anthony Swarzak in their seven games. Plus, their battle for either the AL Central title or the wild card should go down to the wire.
Instead of: Marcell Ozuna, Curtis Granderson, Carl Crawford
Sit: Leonys Martin, Rangers
Martin may look like a trendy waiver wire pickup with the news he'll be starting against left-handed pitchers down the stretch, but at least in the near term, that may not be the best thing for his Fantasy value. He has a batting average about 50 points lower and an OPS about 200 points lower against lefties than righties. Between the three on the schedule this week and the fact he closes the season against Jon Lester, Scott Kazmir, Jeff Samardzija and Sonny Gray, his .362 (17 for 47) batting average over his last 11 games likely won't continue.
Instead of: Hunter, Jorge Soler, A.J. Pollock
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