I fielded a few questions on the Twitter last week about stolen bases. For many, as you get into late August, you’re preparing to make that last push in roto leagues. Astute owners perform a little mental math and figure out “what categories are safe” and “what categories can I make up ground in?” This is/was important at the trade deadline. Owners were not huge fans of me trading Edward Mujica and Joe Nathan for Anthony Rizzo as I search for homers — but (as a Bullpen Report author) I have a 25 save lead with two other closers still rostered. But even with the deadline past, understanding when and where you can or cannot make up ground in roto categories is critically important in mixing and managing your daily lineups heading into the last month of the year.
Guys like Jarrod Dyson, Rajai Davis, and Emilio Bonafacio are essentially one-category contributors, but have considerable upside in those categories. The problem? They don’t play every day, so you can’t just stick them in your lineup every day and run? How to solve that problem? Well, I owned Davis (LF, CF, RF eligible) and decided having Jarrod Dyson (CF eligible) to platoon with him at my weakest position (that being CF, of course) was a good idea. I had to cut a more traditional (although struggling) contributor in Todd Frazier to do so, which probably raised some eyebrows given the depth of the league (18 teams).
However, raising eyebrows is irrelevant to me. Frazier doesn’t even really help me all that as a fantasy guy, but I still would have cut even better players (in a league where theoretically the top 360 players are gone) if they looked like they were blocked and/or not helping me a category I was crushing (or getting crushed). Don’t be beholden to “integrated” value over these last few weeks in redrafts. What’s done is done. Even the best player is giving you 15-20% of what he can over a full season. Now I can wait until right before game time and stitch a Davis/Dyson combo together that could next me 10-12 stolen bases over the next month if I’m lucky. I project that to be 4 points in my roto standings, and as someone 7 out in 3rd place — that’s kind of a big deal.
(The same idea holds true for DraftStreet. Guys who don’t play everyday are cheap. Wait until 6:45 and you’ll know which of these guys who don’t play every day are playing today. Arbitrage. Profit. Yay.)
The Daily Five
Ricky Nolasco – $13,494
Is Nolasco finally, finally pitching to match his peripherals? If the season were to end today, this would be only his second full big-league season where his xFIP was higher than his ERA. He’s actually been a similar pitcher since coming over to the Dodgers, but a suppressed BABIP and higher GB% have helped him to a 2.53 ERA. Regardless of how much his new digs are helping that, he’s pitching for the suddenly juggernaut (I guess not so suddenly anymore) Dodgers at home versus the usually-floundering Cubbies.
Stephen Strasburg – $19,970
I normally don’t recommend a top-3 pitcher by cost but Miami is back to looking like a Quad-A team again. Over the last month they are dead last in the majors in runs scored with 415. That’s not terribly shocking, but what is shocking is how far they are behind the next team. 77 runs. That’s over 15% worse in the tally marks that count. Ouch.
Carlos Beltran – $8,895
It is going to be hot, hot, hot at Busch tonight (90 at game time, but also humid). Balls fly in that weather. Beltran is squaring off with Homer Bailey, which probably knocked his cost down a few bucks but he’s still been one of the best DraftStreet “bang for the buck” guys this year. He’s aging well (at least, right now — which is all you should care about).
Kevin Pillar – $2,983
An “if he plays and you need to save some money somewhere” special, Pillar has actually hit pretty terrible since his callup a few weeks ago. So why on Earth am I recommending him? Well, if his minor league ISO (.194 this year) has anything to say about it, he can occasionally run into one. His BABIP is a bit too low, his K% (SSS) in the majors is 10% above his AAA rate, and he has a set of wheels. Maybe not the most compelling argument of all-time, but hey, if you want Miguel Cabrera manning the hot corner for you, you have to cut cost somewhere.
Matt Joyce – $8,042
Mike Podhorzer and I talked about playing platoon guys in daily leagues on Sunday’s recording of “The Sleeper and the Bust” (you should add it to your RSS/iTunes/Downcast/whatever, ASAP!) so here’s a perfect opportunity to pimp a righty-masher against a northpaw with pretty sizable career platoon splits (82/115 oOPS+ versus RHH/LHH).
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