5 Things to Know for Week 23 (Fantasy Baseball)
It’s that time. It’s playoff time for fantasy baseball managers who are in any sort of head-to-head leagues.
That being said, it’s time to limit the risks in your lineup to put yourself in the best position possible. As we mentioned in the two-start column this week, it’s rough out there trying to find pitchers who can return value for you this week, but there are a few guys who can help you with fantastic matchups who are worth rolling the dice on.
Like I did last week when I filled in for Bobby, I’ll be looking at topics to help you in Week 23, as well as looking ahead to 2020.
1. September call-ups
Finally, we will see some of the guys who we have waited on all season starting Sunday. Guys like Yordan Alvarez, Aristides Aquino, Keston Hiura, and more have helped you get to this point in their rookie season, but there are top prospects who have been stuck in Triple-A or Double-A who could make a difference for you, too.
Here are the top five I want to help my team the rest of the year:
- Gavin Lux (LAD): Lux, like he was in Double-A, is just destroying Triple-A. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the Dodgers were considering bringing him up to the big-league team to finish the season, but with the injury to Max Muncy, the Dodgers are reportedly going to be “more aggressive” with their prospects in September. If Lux is somehow available in your league still, grab him. He could be a league-winner.
- Jesus Luzardo (OAK): When Luzardo gets into the A’s rotation, he’s instantly going to be their best pitcher and a true ace. It gets interesting, though, because Sean Manaea is on his way back, too. Luzardo, along with Mackenzie Gore, is the top pitching prospect in baseball. With pitchers getting shut down, Luzardo will be fresh down the stretch as long as the A’s are in it.
- Kyle Tucker (HOU): Alvarez took the shine away from Tucker and got the call ahead of him, but Tucker went 30/30 this season in the minors. Manager A.J. Hinch doesn’t seem to be much of a Tucker guy, but Josh Reddick has done absolutely nothing to deserve to play every day over him at this point.
- Carter Kieboom (WAS): This looked better earlier in the year when the Nationals were searching for an answer at second base with Brian Dozier‘s lack of performance. Unfortunately for Kieboom, veterans like Asdrubal Cabrera and Howie Kendrick have performed well enough to stunt any real value he will offer down the stretch.
- Bobby Dalbec (BOS): The Red Sox won’t make the playoffs this year, so it’s worth giving Dalbec some run as they assess their 2020 roster, which features an opening at first base. Dalbec’s power is real, and if you are looking to make up some ground in homers, he could help you with four to five in the month.
2. End in August
On the flip side of the previous section, trying to evaluate what is going to happen in September absolutely sucks. It’s not quite a parallel to playing in Week 17 in fantasy football, but it’s the closest thing you can get in fantasy baseball. From players being shut down, the pitchers being skipped, to minor leaguers running amok, it’s just a headache and sucks to have all the work you’ve done all season come down to a more luck-driven finale.
Going forward, in my home leagues, I’m ending the season in the final week of August. It takes away the luck factor more, and it also allows you to just relax and watch the final month of playoff baseball without any stress over your fantasy team.
3. Sophomore slump surge
There’s a lot to dig into during the offseason to prepare for 2020. There is one thing that I know, though, and that’s that I will have all of the shares of Eloy Jimenez in 2020. I don’t think you heard what I said. I will have ALL of the shares of Eloy.
His rookie season, besides a small stretch prior to his pre-All-Star Game injury, has been disappointing. Jimenez was surpassed in rookie value by Fernando Tatis, Keston Hiura, Yordan Alvarez, and other players who were rated below him coming into the season. He was right behind Vlad Guerrero, who, after a slow start, has put together a fine rookie season.
The comparison that I’ve read a lot lately for Jimenez was Jorge Soler. Soler had video game numbers in the minors, but it took until 2019 for him to finally put it together as a stud fantasy player.
I don’t think it will take that long for Jimenez, who will come at a nice value next year. There’s a lot of Miguel Cabrera in his all-around game, and a rough rookie year doesn’t change his long-term outlook at all.
4. Unique skills
Home run. Strikeout. Swinging strike.
Those seem to be the three key things that all fantasy analysts are talking about, which makes sense in this current environment. With the similar results across the league, it’s worth finding those who do something to distinguish themselves with unique skills going forward.
That could be players who steal bases and aren’t empty in other categories (Keston Hiura, Starling Marte), those who stand out in points-based leagues (Carlos Santana, Bryce Harper), and those who excel at generating groundballs (Brad Keller, Adrian Houser).
Mining through those players with unique skills can help set your team apart from the competition. We’ll do a deep dive on this during the offseason to highlight some of these players.
5. Maximize games played
For Week 23, getting that extra game or two in your lineup for the playoffs can make or break you. Here are the numbers of games each team is playing next week:
- Seven games: BAL, CHW, CIN, CLE, DET, MIN, PHI, STL, SF, TB, TEX, WAS
- Six games: ARI, ATL, BOS, CHC, COL, HOU, KC, LAA, LAD, MIA, MIL, NYM, NYY, OAK, PIT, SD, SEA, TOR
For fantasy managers, it’s great with zero five-game weeks on the schedule. It’s a great week, too, to stream against Colorado (on the road all week).