It’s the rite of September. After Labor Day Weekend, a chunk of fantasy baseball managers decide that they’ve had enough of baseball and take their foot off the pedal. If they’re not in the race to win, they’ll let their fantasy baseball teams slide out of contention while they let their attention veer toward fantasy football. This is the time to pounce.
If you’re reading this, you’re in that percentage of diehards who are fully engaged in baseball and in the fight. Keep hitting the waiver wire. In one of my leagues, I found a closer as a free agent. He even got the save the first day I picked him up. And my team didn’t really need saves to move up in the standings.
So keep managing your team like it’s April with a lot of season left. Though do so with the gift of perspective to know if you need more starting pitching, saves, power or speed. That’s the fun part of September.
What’s not so fun are some of the high-pitch softball games we’re seeing. Plenty of pitching staffs are beyond tired. Doesn’t matter if it’s starters or relievers. Watch the game logs to see how pitchers are performing of late. Especially young pitchers who have not pitched much, if at all, in September. There may be days where it makes sense to sit a pitcher to protect ERA & WHIP instead of trying for some of the counting categories.
Before we get into the heart of this feature, quick shoutout to New York, which suffered a couple big tears to the Big Apple. Jasson Dominguez of the Yankees tore the UCL of his elbow and Aaron Rodgers of the NFL’s Jets famously tore his Achilles four plays into 2023. Wishing both speedy recoveries. Not just for their fanbases, but also the sports themselves that are better with those players actually playing.
OK, time for some Deep Sleepers.
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Fantasy Baseball Deep Sleepers & Waiver Wire Pickups
Francisco Alvarez (C/DH – NYM) Rostered: 26%
A catcher with 23-home run power to be available in 74% of leagues is rare. Alvarez has a pair of home runs in his last six games. To get any pop at this position could be the difference in a fantasy pennant race late in the season. The Mets may be out of playoff contention, but they need to know if Alvarez is their catcher of the future. So he’ll get at-bats.
Tommy Pham (OF/DH – ARI) Rostered: 24%
It being September, it begs the question how many fantasy football leagues Pham is playing in. OK, that was gratuitous. Pham is 9-for-23 with a home run, three runs, three RBI and two stolen bases in his last six games. He’ll help in all categories as he helps the Diamondbacks make a playoff push.
Willi Castro (2B/3B/SS/OF – MIN) Rostered: 20%
In his last nine games, Castro is hitting .355 with a 1.077 OPS with two home runs, eight runs, four RBI and a pair of stolen bases. He has 31 steals on the season and can impact fantasy standings in that category. Castro’s position flexibility is also extremely valuable.
Mike Yastrzemski (OF – SF) Rostered: 12%
Since Sept. 5, Yastrzemski is 9-for-21 with six runs, five RBI and two round-trippers while primarily hitting leadoff against right-handers. The Giants are in a four-team dogfight with the Reds, Marlins and Diamondbacks for the final wild card spot, and can use a big closing kick from the younger Yaz.
Pete Crow-Armstrong (OF – CHC) Rostered: 10%
A top prospect getting dropped into a pennant race is not unprecedented. After dominating two levels of the minors to the tune of 20 home runs, 37 steals, a batting average of .283 and OPS of .876, there’s not much else for the Cubs’ top prospect to accomplish in the minor leagues. Sometimes young players can give a team a jolt at the most important point of the season.
Julian Merryweather (RP – CHC) Rostered: 17%
With closer Adbert Alzolay going on the IL with a forearm strain, Merryweather got a save his first game on Sept. 10. With 90 strikeouts in 65 innings, Merryweather has the swing-and-miss stuff that teams look for in the ninth inning. Merryweather could close for the rest of the season.