The regular season is over for most fantasy leagues and the playoffs have begun, meaning all of that long-term planning and patience kinda goes out the window. Here are two players — one pitcher, one hitter — who can help you during the postseason push these next few weeks…
Zach Britton | SP | Orioles | Owned: 30% Yahoo! and 36.9% ESPN
Britton, 24, returned from the DL earlier this season and needed a few weeks to settle in before really taking off. Prior to yesterday’s self-imposed meltdown against the Yankees — five walks in 3.1 innings — he had allowed just three runs in his previous four starts combined. That included seven walks, 29 strikeouts, and a 55%+ ground ball rate in 28.2 innings against the Tigers, White Sox, and Blue Jays (twice).
That kind of success isn’t unexpected. Britton was one of the game’s top prospects before breaking camp with the team last season and hurting his shoulder earlier this year. His fantasy value will be limited primary to ERA, because he’s a sinker baller (career 54.5% grounders) who doesn’t really strike anyone out (6.24 K/9 and 20.3 K%) and will hurt his WHIP with walks (3.71 BB/9 and 9.5 BB%). You’re essentially banking on Baltimore’s infield defense, which rates about average in DRS (-3) and UZR/150 (+0.7). Britton currently lines up to make his next two starts out on the West Coast, in Oakland and then Seattle. As good as the Athletics are, you couldn’t ask for two better ballparks for a late-season spot starter.
Jon Jay | OF | Cardinals | Owned: 28% Yahoo! and 56.9% ESPN
Of the 200 players to come to the plate at least 350 times this year, just eight have gotten on-base at a higher clip than the 27-year-old Jay. He missed a little more than a month with a shoulder issue earlier this summer, but has otherwise hit .319/.396/.417 with four homers and 16 steals (in 20 chances) in 397 plate appearances this year.
With Rafael Furcal now out for the remainder of the season, Jay has assumed the leadoff spot in the St. Louis lineup. That means guys like Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, and (the slumping) Carlos Beltran will have ample opportunity to drive him in given his on-base ability. Jay is a left-handed hitter without a platoon split — 124 wRC+ vs. LHP and 131 vs. RHP — so he’ll remain in the lineup as long as he stays healthy. He’s almost certainly already owned in OBP leagues, but the guy who made Colby Rasmus expendable figures to offer a high batting average, lots of runs scored, and a handful of steals down the stretch.