By Sam McPherson
Every so often, we all end up in a fantasy baseball league with an owner that drafts a team, doesn’t make a single move all season and ends up winning the league in absentia. Meanwhile, our own rosters have a multitude of injuries and other problems, so we scramble every day just to finish in fourth place. Some people have all the luck.
The reality of fantasy baseball is that the above scenario is a fluke—not the norm. If you just let your roster go, chances are you won’t finish very high in your league. Even if you micromanage your team, that doesn’t guarantee you a finish in the top third of the league standings. Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Lefty Gomez often quipped, “I’d rather be lucky than good,” and in fantasy baseball, you need to be both.
Check the waiver wire every day to see if there is a better player out there than the ones on your roster right now. If you can make daily moves in a standard league without limitation, go for it. There are always alternatives out there, and the plucky fantasy managers find them first—and finish higher in the standings come late September.
Players to Get Onto Your Roster Now
1. Brad Ziegler, RP, Miami Marlins: For some reason, he’s still available in a lot of online fantasy leagues, despite closing for one of the hottest teams in MLB right now. His overall numbers are scary (4.73 ERA, 1.575 WHIP), but Ziegler hasn’t given up a run in the last four weeks, while nailing down nine saves in the process. This is the definition of a cheap closer.
2. Luke Weaver, SP, St. Louis Cardinals: He’s a 24-year-old rookie, but Weaver looks good through his first three major-league starts (2-1, 2.95 ERA, 0.982 WHIP). He probably won’t keep those numbers for the rest of the season, but on the Cards, Weaver will get chances to start and compile strikeouts. So far, he has 26 Ks in just 23 1/3 innings pitched. That’s great stuff.
3. Kevin Kiermaier, OF, Tampa Bay Rays: Back from a hip injury, he’s firmly entrenched at the top of the Rays’ lineup now. In eight games back so far, Kiermaier is hitting .314 with three home runs and eight RBI. He has 11 steals on the season, too, but only one in the last eight games. He may not run as much as usual, but Kiermaier’s bat is still potent.
4. Rhys Hoskins, OF/1B, Philadelphia Phillies: With ten HRs in his first 17 MLB games, Hoskins set an all-time record on Saturday. He’s hitting .300 while drawing 11 walks and only striking out 12 times in those 17 games. Those are positive signs that the hitting prowess isn’t going to fade too much once pitchers get used to the rookie’s swing.
Players to Sit/Drop This Week
1. Michael Conforto, OF, New York Mets: We hope you grabbed him on May 8 like we suggested. But with a shoulder injury and his team going nowhere fast in the standings, the Mets might take a very cautious approach with one of their best players in terms of just prepping for 2018. If you were able to enjoy most of his All-Star season, consider yourself ahead of the game.
2. Michael Wacha, SP, St. Louis Cardinals: He was an All-Star pitcher in 2015, but Wacha has been on a slow decent since then. He’s issuing more walks than ever in his career now, and Wacha has lost three straight starts while surrendering 17 earned runs in his last 18 1/3 innings. Proceed with caution if you must, but there are probably some better starters out there to grab instead.
3. Andrew Miller, RP, Cleveland Indians: Here’s the deal. Miller is a real-life stud, and depending on your league rules, he might be a fantasy stud, too. But his knee injury is going to force the Cleveland organization to play it safe with him for the rest of the regular season, because the Tribe needs Miller at 100 percent for the postseason. Do the math, because real-life baseball trumps fantasy baseball every time.
4. Joey Gallo, UTL, Texas Rangers: The price you’ve paid for his 35 HRs this year is his .205 batting average, although his three-position eligibility (1B, 3B, OF) can be considered a nice bonus. But Gallo suffered a concussion recently, and he’s not that great of a hitter to begin with when his head isn’t concussed. Let some other fantasy owner eat his low average for the rest of the season.