By Sam McPherson
At this point in the fantasy baseball season, serious owners have a decision to make. With less than 60 games left in the Major League Baseball regular season, it is crucial to make the changes necessary to the fantasy roster in order to move up the standings before it is too late.
This is hard to do, since two thirds of the season is already in the bank, statistically speaking. That makes it harder to charge to the top of the league, especially in the “average” categories that are aggregate, like ERA and WHIP on the pitching side and batting average on the hitting side.
If you make major roster changes, it’s best to grab players on hot streaks if you can and ride them until they burn out—if they do. Sometimes, players have very good second halves, and smart fantasy owners can ride those statistical supernovas until the end of the season.
Even if a player just has a hot month, that bulge in a statistical pattern can make the difference between a fourth-place finish in your league and a Top 3 finish that comes with some bragging rights. Keep an eye on those players making sudden surges this time of year and grab them if you can, whether they are rookies or veterans.
Players to Get On Your Roster Now
1. Jedd Gyorko, UTL, St. Louis Cardinals: After hitting 23 home runs as a rookie in 2013, Gyorko disappeared off fantasy radars with a loss of his power and a big drop in his batting average. But he’s been hot lately, and overall, he has 14 HRs and 32 RBI in just 73 games this season. Depending on your league, Gyorko could have eligibility at all four infield positions, too.
2. Jeremy Hellickson, SP, Philadelphia Phillies: He may get traded to a playoff contender by the time you read this, making his value even higher. With eight wins and a 3.70 ERA, though, Hellickson can help a fantasy team—especially with his 7.5 strikeouts per nine innings. That’s not great, but his overall numbers can improve with a trade to a better team.
3. David Dahl, OF, Colorado Rockies: Just 22, Dahl was the 12th overall pick in the 2012 draft, and he’s finally arrived at Coors Field. He collected 10 hits in his first seven MLB games, all on the road, and that bodes well for his future with the Rockies if he can hit away from home. Dahl also has two HRs already. Grab him before pitchers adjust to his tendencies.
4. Tyler Skaggs, SP, Los Angeles Angels: He’s back from an injury, and in two starts recently, Skaggs has compiled 13 Ks in 12 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run. He’s probably good to pitch through the end of the season, in terms of fatigue, but keep an eye on Skaggs. The Angels have enough offensive prowess to get him some wins down the stretch.
Players to Sit/Drop This Week
1. Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers: Oh, how the mighty have fallen! After two seasons of star-level play in 2013 and 2014, Puig has struggled for two seasons now with hamstring problems and performance issues. Rumor is the Dodgers want to trade him, so bench him for now until he experienced a change of scenery—which may or may not re-launch his career.
2. Melvin Upton, Jr., OF, Toronto Blue Jays: With his trade from the San Diego Padres, Upton has lost a lot of playing time. He’s on the wrong side of a platoon right now, and there are too many veterans already needing DH duties now and then in Toronto. If you can afford the bench slot with your roster, keep him and spot start him in daily-move leagues against left-handed pitchers.
3. Jonathan Papelbon, RP, Washington Nationals: With a 4.41 ERA and 1.469 WHIP, he lost his closer’s job to newly acquired Mark Melancon. A six-time All-Star selection with 368 career saves, Papelbon is 35 years old this season, and this may be the end of his fantasy relevance.
4. Hector Rondon, RP, Chicago Cubs: With the acquisition of Aroldis Chapman, the Cubs relegated Rondon to set-up duty in the bullpen. It seems harsh for a guy with 77 saves since 2014 for the team, but those are the breaks—both in real life and in fantasy baseball. Short of another suspension for Chapman, Rondon has little fantasy value now.
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.