By Sam McPherson
Last Monday in this space, we recommended fantasy baseball team owners drop catcher/first baseman Alex Avila after his trade from the Detroit Tigers to the Chicago Cubs. Then, the defending World Series champions suddenly lose their top catcher to an injury a few days later, and Avila suddenly has fantasy relevancy once again. It’s a tough world to stay on top of for six months straight, isn’t it?
The Avila example above is an extreme case, but it’s not just injuries and trades you have to keep an eye on at this point in the season if you want to win your league. The time is drawing near when a lot of MLB teams that don’t have postseason aspirations in 2017 are going to be bringing up rookie players for a quick look so they know what they have for 2018.
How can this affect your team? You could have a productive player in your lineup that is suddenly displaced because of a rookie promotion. We see this happen every season in fantasy baseball, because for teams with no shot at the Fall Classic, it’s more important to see what the rookie has to offer than it is for the club to win meaningless games with fringe veterans—even if those vets are producing for your fantasy team.
Players to Get Onto Your Roster Now
1. Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers: Of course, any Dodgers regular you can add to your roster probably will help you win the league title. But Ryu looks like he’s finally healthy now after missing the entire 2015 season and most of 2016 with an injury. He is striking out batters at a career-high rate (8.8 strikeouts per nine innings pitched), and since the All-Star break, Ryu has a 1.88 ERA.
2. Eddie Rosario, OF, Minnesota Twins: He’s not a rookie, but he has put together a nice season very quietly. If you need OF help, Rosario could be your guy. At age 25, he’s having his best season. Through 106 games, he’s hit 16 home runs, driven in 46 runs and hitting .293 overall. Those are solid numbers for a fifth OF on your roster. He currently is hitting .311 in the second half.
3. Tim Beckham, 2B/SS, Baltimore Orioles: The word is that he will only be starting until the Os regular shortstop returns from a wrist injury, but we’re not buying that. First off, wrist injuries are notoriously hard to recover from, and Beckham is currently hitting .531 with a 1.488 OPS since Baltimore traded for him. The Orioles would be stupid to take him out of the lineup. Pick him up if you can and never fear.
4. Edwin Jackson, SP, Washington Nationals: Bear with us here. Since joining the Nats, the 33-year-old journeyman has three wins and a 3.30 ERA in five starts. Washington has a good lineup behind him, and Jackson is experienced enough to not get into too much trouble. If you need wins, he could help your team. Also, Jackson’s 7.5 Ks/9 IP rate with the Nationals isn’t going to hurt you, nor will his 1.067 WHIP with the team, either.
Players to Sit/Drop This Week
1. Bud Norris, RP, Los Angeles Angels: On May 1, we recommended picking him up for some cheap saves. Eighteen of those cheap saves later, Norris has reverted to the mediocre pitcher he has been throughout his career, and he’s no longer closing games for the Halos after two big blown chances in a row. With an 11.2 Ks/9 IP rate, he still could work his way back into the closer spot, but we doubt it. Let him go.
2. Johnny Cueto, SP, San Francisco Giants: A month after hitting the disabled list, Cueto barely is throwing the ball right now, reportedly. If he was healthier, the Giants probably would have traded him by now. You can drop him and approach with caution next year in the draft after his disappointing 31-year-old season (4.59 ERA, 1.401 WHIP).
3. Jonathan Villar, UTL, Milwaukee Brewers: He’s been a one-trick pony this year with 21 steals and a .222 average, and now Villar will be out of a job soon thanks to the Brewers’ acquisition of Neil Walker via trade with the New York Mets on Saturday. This was a disappointing campaign after he stole 62 bases last year while hitting .285 overall.
4. Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Toronto Blue Jays: He will be 33 this October, and this could be the end for the five-time All-Star selection. Since being traded from Colorado to Toronto in 2015, he’s been extremely mediocre. He is out for the year now with an ankle injury, and that might help the Blue Jays since his bat (.678 OPS in 66 games) hasn’t been very good. You may want to avoid him in next year’s draft, sadly.