The season is winding down and in the ottoneu leagues where I am still competitive, I find myself looking to fill a few extra games and a few extra innings. There isn’t much you can do at this point to make up ground in games played, but leaving positions open when a starter gets an off day is no longer such a good option. And adding a viable SP for a game or two could be a difference maker.
With that in mind, here are two players that have been tearing up ottoneu leagues for the past 30 days – but are still available in most.
Travis Wood – Over the last 30 days, Travis Wood has put up more points than all but six other pitchers. Gio Gonzalez? Not as many points. Justin Verlander? Not even close. Cole Hamels and David Price? Not in Wood’s class. Wood has shown signs before. I was high on him before the season, even trading for him down the stretch last year with an eye towards keeping him for 2012. But 2012 has been not so pretty for the Cub. He has posted a 4.23 ERA with 2.86 BB/9 and 7.03 K/9. Not terrible, but it is no surprise that he is almost universally unowned, even in the extra deep ottoneu player pool. But since the calendar turned to September, he has been lights out. Nearly a strikeout per inning, under 2.5 BB/9, and a 2.40 ERA that is actually HIGHER than his 2.17 FIP. He is benefiting from some long ball luck (in that he has given up none in that time) and that is bound to change, I have learned my lesson about counting on Wood full time, and I might be hesitant to trust him Friday at Arizona, but he should be in line to take the hill on closing night against Houston, and there is no reason to think he can’t provide a solid line to help you with the race to the finish.
Chris Nelson – Nelson has been written up numerous times, and there is always a question of playing time around the MI in Colorado, but Nelson just keeps poking his head up towards fantasy relevance. On the season he has given owners 453.7 points, 4.32 per game – not world beating, but not half bad either. His 9 HR and 44 R combined with a sweet .350 OBP and .463 SLG from a MI is no joke and the last 30 days have been even better, as he has put up 180 points over 27 games, for an average of 6.67 points per game, well above average for most teams. Yet despite this, Nelson finds himself on the free agent list of almost 2/3rds of ottoneu leagues. With his multi-position eligibility (2B/SS/3B) added to the mix, Nelson is an ideal candidate to jump in here or there over the final seven days of the season, replacing any starters who get a day off and possibly providing some value in the process. As long as he keeps playing, he is worth owning. And he very well may be worth keeping if he has a job heading into 2013.
One final note – Don’t forget that starting random pitchers or position players can be detrimental to your team and make sure you check where you are in the standings before deploying a replacement level guy. In points leagues, the average game is going to be a positive, so you are probably better off using up games than not, but in roto leagues? Most guys you can grab off the wire are a risk to hurt you in the rate stats. If you need a couple HR or SB and have solid leads in the AVG or OBP/SLG, grab someone and go for it. If, on the other hand, you have no chance to make up ground in the counting stats, you may actually want bench guys who are likely to hurt your rate stats. A couple more HR from J.J. Hardy won’t matter if you are 20 HR away from getting (or losing) any more points, but his weak OBP could cost you there.