Fantasy Baseball Category Analysis: Nestor Cortes, Austin Hays, Jesus Sanchez
This is it. We’re down to the final few weeks of regular season baseball. For those of you who made it into your H2H league playoffs, congratulations, and for those in Roto, hopefully, you’re still fighting for position. At this point, there isn’t a whole lot of ground that can be made up, but a key add here, or there could push you over the top.
It’s time to make any necessary moves without hesitation. All bets are off when it comes to long-term production at this point, so I’m adding every hot hitter available and any starting pitcher with a favorable matchup. It’s safe to move on from any borderline players whose upcoming schedule is a daunting one. Also, players who are a bit banged up may sit more often than not down the stretch, allowing them to be dropped as well.
With just 17 days left in the season, these 11 players can aid you immediately in at least one of the major categories. Many of these studs are still flying under the radar for one reason or another and are all rostered in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues. As always, many of these guys will help you in more ways than one, with their primary contributions coming in the category under which they are listed. Don’t hesitate, or you’ll miss out, and you’ll be kicking yourself when your opponent narrowly squeaks out the win.
Jesus Sanchez (OF – MIA): 10%
Jesus Sanchez has lost his mind lately, crushing five home runs in his last six games. After destroying Triple-A pitching, Sanchez was a popular add just before his call-up. But after a mediocre start and a trip to the COVID-list, many fantasy managers forgot all about him or simply wrote him off. He got off to a slow start after his return but has absolutely turned it on lately (nine home runs in 94 at-bats since returning). The 6’3″, 222 pound Dominican should have no problem continuing his onslaught of opposing pitching as he’s scheduled to take on the Pirates and their 28th ranked, 5.05 team-ERA this weekend. Add Sanchez ASAP.
Austin Hays (OF – BAL): 34%
Austin Hays loves the month of September. Every year he turns it on down the stretch just to give false hope to fantasy drafters the following year. Ok, not every year because he’s only 26, but over the last three seasons, he’s crushed it during the last few weeks of the season. With Trey Mancini dealing with a nagging side injury, Hays has more than picked up the slack batting regularly in the middle of the lineup, where he’s successfully knocked in 14 runs in 13 games this month. Hays has also mashed six home runs in September already and is hitting a robust .302 for the month.
Once thought of as the top prospect in the Orioles’ system, Hays deserves a spot on your roster for the stretch run. Claim him now!
Evan Longoria (3B – SFG): 27%
Longoria has also been a steady run producer knocking in a ridiculous 15 runs over his last eight games. The veteran third baseman can be streaky at times and has a tough time staying healthy (and will also sit on occasion), but with so few games left in the season, he could be a solid addition if you’re lacking RBIs.
Nicky Lopez (2B/SS – KCR): 55%
Ok, this is a bit of a cheat because he was rostered in 50 percent of leagues yesterday but is currently up to 55. The way Nicky Lopez has been hitting, however, cannot go unmentioned! The Royals’ shortstop has been nothing short of electric since the end of May. Lopez’s monthly batting average breakdown since the beginning of summer looks like this:
- June .333
- July .338
- August .317
- September .367
He has been the Royals’ everyday hitter out of the two-hole, and while he doesn’t hit for power, he perpetually gets on base and scores runs. Lopez is also up to 20 stolen bases on the season. If you’re in one of the 45 percent of leagues where he remains on the waiver wire, bid on him immediately.
Garrett Hampson (2B/SS/OF): 33%
Hampson has been hitting well lately for the Rocks, but has only added one stolen base to his total of 17 since the beginning of September. Expect that to change, however, as Colorado is slated to take on the Washington Nationals this weekend in a three-game series. That is of note because the Nationals’ two young catchers have combined to allow 25 safely stolen bases on just 28 attempts. It doesn’t entirely fall on the pair of young arms behind the dish, but regardless, expect the Rockies to run and run often.
Combining the nice matchup and Hampton’s hot hitting of late – nine for his last 26 (with six of those hits coming on the road and three going for home runs), the Rockies utility player makes for a fine and immediate add. Plus, he qualifies at second base. Don’t hesitate, or you’ll miss out.
Lane Thomas (OF – WAS): 21%
I never like doing this, but I have no choice but to feature Lane Thomas again for this week’s top add in the runs scored category. Thomas has been incredible out of the leadoff spot for the Nats and continues to score regularly.
For the month, Thomas has averaged a run per game and has steadily hit above .300 since joining Washington. The outfielder also has four home runs in September and has an OBP of nearly .400 for the Nationals. There’s absolutely no reason for the Nats to move Thomas from atop the order, just as there’s no reason for him to be left on the waiver wire. Add the ex-Cardinal now.
Nick Pivetta (SP/RP – BOS): 38%
Nick Pivetta’s been meh for most of the season, but he’s scheduled to face Baltimore next, who he is 3-0 against this year. In 18 innings against the O’s, he has surrendered just seven runs with a .203 BAA and 1.17 WHIP. With the Red Sox in the playoff hunt, and Pivetta facing his favorite team to pitch against, you have to really like his chances at another victory. The 6’5″ righty is coming off an outstanding performance against the Chicago White Sox and is a prime candidate to do it again at home versus Baltimore. Add Pivetta now and start him on Saturday.
Jon Lester (SP – STL): 11%
Jon Lester!? I know. I can’t believe I’m featuring him either, but there’s no denying what he has accomplished over his last five starts. Dating back to August 25th, the veteran lefty has surrendered just seven earned runs in 29.2 innings while capturing two victories and keeping his WHIP down to nearly 1.00. With the Cardinals very much alive in the Wildcard race, look for Lester to continue to rise to the occasion, just as he has done many times throughout his career.
I know it isn’t easy to trust him after such an up and down season, especially over the final two weeks of the year. But with so few quality arms left available, and Lester performing like it’s 2016, I’m willing to roll the dice for a couple of more starts.
Nestor Cortes (SP/RP – NYY): 50%
Nestor Cortes has been filthy of late. In his last start, he struck out 11 batters in just 6 1/3 innings. He has given up a total of four runs over his previous three starts (18 innings), while striking out 23 batters. Cortes has been as steady as they come and is scheduled to take on Texas and their lineup full of guys you’ve never heard of for his next time out. Add Cortes now for nearly every pitching category.
Rowan Wick (RP – CHC): 23%
Rowan Wick is undoubtedly the closer in Chicago and has looked fantastic since returning from an abdominal injury that kept him out nearly all season. He has given up just one earned run in his last nine innings for the Cubs, and they’ve all come in high leverage situations. Wick has also impressively struck out 12 over his last eight innings while giving up only two hits and two walks. He has secured four saves since his return and will likely add a few more before the season’s end. Add Wick to boost your save total with a few helpful strikeouts thrown in.
Wily Peralta (SP/RP – DET): 6%
There were a few options I could have chosen for this category, but I decided to go with Peralta due to his vast availability. The Tigers’ pitcher has flown under the radar for most of the season despite maintaining a low ERA and not allowing more than three earned runs in a game over the last two months. He is coming off of a six-inning, two-hit shutout against the NL Central-leading Brewers and will look to do more of the same over the final two weeks of the season.
Peralta added a splitter to his arsenal this year, and it has made a world of difference in his performance. The 32-year-old, who once relied on velocity to strike hitters out, now leans heavily on the splitter that continually racks up whiffs and weak ground balls. Add Peralta to help lower your ERA as he’s scheduled to face the Wander Franco-less Rays for the first time this year.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy baseball, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you navigate your season. From our Lineup Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball season.
Austin Lowell is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Austin, check out his archive.