Fantasy Baseball Category Analysis: Marcell Ozuna, TJ Friedl, Nick Lodolo (2022)
We’re down to the final month of the season. Every game from here on out takes on added significance. Not only in real life but in fantasy leagues as well. Many categories are often won by a very small margin, but with a few savvy moves down the stretch, you could find yourself holding the crown.
Some players are fighting for playoff spots while others are battling for future contracts. Whatever the case may be, all the stats count the same, so it’s up to you to make the right decisions. With just four weeks to go, take a glance at your league’s standings and figure out where you’re likely to make up the most ground. Concentrate on boosting those numbers and you’ll increase your chances of winning.
These next 13 guys are broken down into categories where they’re most likely to assist you. Many of them will help out in multiple ways, but their primary contributions should come in the category under which they are listed. All players highlighted are rostered in 50% or less of Yahoo leagues.
Ozuna got in trouble with the law again and missed half of August because of it. Dropped in many leagues, he now qualifies for this list for the first time this season. The Braves outfielder/DH hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations this season, but 21 homers aren’t anything to scoff at.
He returned to the lineup on Sept. 2 and has gone 7-for-16 since, with a home run and four RBIs. Batting anywhere in the Braves’ lineup offers plenty of RBI opportunities, and with Ozuna back healthy and playing every day again, (despite what you may feel about him) he can be a useful asset down the stretch.
Andrus took it personally when his playing time diminished in Oakland. Now a part of the Chicago White Sox, Andrus has been on a tear while filling in for the injured Tim Anderson. Since joining the Southsiders, the 15-year veteran has registered a .291/.325/.494 slash line with four homers, four doubles, 15 RBIs, and 12 runs scored in 19 games. He’s registered seven multi-hit games over the last two weeks and has been a catalyst atop the White Sox’s lineup (something they’ve been missing badly since Anderson went down).
Anderson has yet to be cleared for a rehab assignment, so expect Andrus to continue leading off for at least the next two weeks. He could cool down at any moment, but I think Andrus is out to prove he can still play and hopefully earn another starting role next season.
TJ Friedl (OF – CIN): 14%
Mr. Friedl has been en fuego since returning from the minor leagues in mid-August. Over those 17 games, the speedy grass-roamer has scored 13 runs while collecting 24 hits. He also clubbed six home runs in that span to go along with 13 RBIs. Plus, he has six stolen bases on the season.
The power barrage comes as a bit of a surprise, but the OBP and runs scored should not. Friedl has become the everyday leadoff hitter for the Reds this past month and will likely continue to score early and often.
Taylor is also someone to consider when scouring for runs. He’s been so good at the dish lately, that he’s been moved up to fifth in the batting order. With seven runs, three homers, 10 RBIs, a steal, and 15 hits to his credit since Aug. 28, the veteran center fielder has been a five-category stud for the Royals and fantasy managers alike. He’s been raking in the dog days of summer and should be added in most league types while he’s hot.
Margot and Thomas are also candidates for runs with similar skill sets. They’ll both do a bit of everything similar to Friedl and Taylor. Margot may have the highest ceiling of them all, but he doesn’t hit for much power and rarely hits atop the order (Friedl and Thomas do).
Thompson’s sprint speed ranks in the top 1% of all major leaguers this season. It comes as no surprise then that the fleet-of-foot center fielder has stolen 10 bases on 11 attempts. He’s averaging nearly one swipe per 10 plate appearances and has already swiped two this month. Thompson’s average has hovered around .280 this season with an OBP near .340. He offers very little power but can steal bags with ease. Add the Rangers rookie now if you’re lacking in stolen bases.
The Red Sox have finally handed over the reins at first base to their top prospect, Triston Casas. The 22-year-old was given a 50/60 game-power grade and a 60/60 raw-power grade by Prospects Report to begin the year (20/80 scale).
Despite a powerful uppercut swing and massive body frame, the former first-rounder only hit 11 home runs over 72 games in Triple-A this season. Still, with all the upside that comes with a power-hitting youngster like Casas, the reward outweighs the risk in most formats. He already has one dinger to his name and is a strong candidate to continue to mash. With less than a month left to go in the season, Casas may not have enough time to completely settle in and could hurt your average a bit, but if you’re desperate for homers, he may just pay off handsomely.
Wade Miley is back and he’s up to his old tricks. The 35-year-old southpaw lasted four innings in his return, allowing two earned runs on two hits, with two walks, while striking out six (with a fantastic 41% CSW). The crafty left-hander has produced a 3.13 ERA with a 1.17 WHIP this year in limited playing time. His quality production is on par with his last three full seasons where he registered a cumulative 3.46 ERA. The Ks won’t be a regular thing, but with four weeks left in the season, Miley could go on a nice run and help lower your ERA a bit while snagging you a couple of wins.
Suarez is the gift that keeps on giving. After putting together a 2.51 ERA in August, the changeup specialist kicked off this month with a stellar seven-shutout-inning performance against Detroit. He only allowed three hits and one walk in the outing, while striking out seven. Suarez was exemplary to close out last season as well, and with the way he’s pitching, he can be safely relied upon to lower your WHIP.
Lodolo’s starts have been tumultuous, to say the least, but the Ks have remained consistent. The young lefty is now up to 101 strikeouts in just 80.2 innings. He’s been miraculous over his last two starts, totaling a whopping 20 Ks over 14 innings. His WHIP hasn’t reached 1.00 in any of his last five outings, and he has lasted into the seventh inning in four of his last five.
Lodolo’s starting to look like the pitcher the Reds believed they were getting when they selected him seventh overall in the 2019 draft. He can really help your strikeout totals over the remainder of this season and could be a highly sought-after pick in next year’s redrafts.
With four quality starts in a row and five out of the last six, it’s surprising German doesn’t have more wins. Always a threat to pitch deep into games, German won 18 games back in 2019 in just 24 starts. He only has two this year, but while he continues to limit base runners (1.15 WHIP), you have to believe the victories will begin to mount. His K-rate isn’t as high as it’s been in past seasons, but as long as he keeps putting up zeros, fantasy managers will take it. Take a chance on German as the Yankees battle it out for a first-round bye and possibly home-field advantage.
Herget has taken over as the Angels’ closer and for good reason. The 6-foot-3 righty has allowed less than a base runner per inning (0.96 WHIP) and just four home runs over 56.1 innings. The third-year player has been consistent all season, maintaining an ERA below 3.00 (currently down to 2.56) while averaging around a K/inning. He racked up three saves to close out August and should be in line for more this month. Add Herget in deeper leagues and some shallow ones, too, where you need saves.
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Austin Lowell is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Austin, check out his archive.