Similar to the postseason race in the National League, many fantasy leagues are set for fantastic finishes. And the following 15 players -- one from each Senior Circuit squad -- are poised to provide game-changing results between now and Oct. 1.Sean Doolittle, reliever, NationalsAfter four months of searching, the Nationals
Similar to the postseason race in the National League, many fantasy leagues are set for fantastic finishes. And the following 15 players -- one from each Senior Circuit squad -- are poised to provide game-changing results between now and Oct. 1.
Sean Doolittle, reliever, Nationals
After four months of searching, the Nationals have finally found their closer. And with impressive career stats (3.09 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 10.5 K/9 rate), Doolittle has the skills to concede the occasional save chance to Brandon Kintzler and still rank among the stretch-run saves leaders as the bullpen anchor on one of the winningest teams in baseball.
Matt Kemp, outfielder, Braves
A stellar early-season asset (.345/.381/.608 slash line during April and May), Kemp slumped at the dish in June and July (.237/.293/.350 slash line) before missing most of August in an effort to remedy a nagging hamstring injury. Now back to full health, the slugger could show the skills that led to an average of 28 homers and 99 RBIs per season from 2014-16.
Amed Rosario, shortstop, Mets
While Rosario is not yet showing the plate skills (2:28 BB:K ratio) to produce a high batting mark, he has already tallied four homers and four steals across 96 plate appearances. And by improving his .271 on-base percentage, the 21-year-old could give himself the necessary opportunities to rank among the September steals leaders.
Kyle Barraclough, reliever, Marlins
While Brad Ziegler has fared well since taking over the closer's role on Aug. 1, he does not possess the swing-and-miss skills (career 6.0 K/9 rate) of a typical stopper. But in Barraclough, the Marlins have a high-upside reliever (lifetime 12.2 K/9 rate) who could be a top-flight stopper by making improvements on his lifetime 5.6 BB/9 rate. With an eye on 2018, manager Don Mattingly could give Barraclough some chances to prove his ninth-inning mettle in September.
Aaron Nola, starter, Phillies
In a season with few reliable hurlers, Nola has posted a 2.70 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP across 13 starts since June 22. Now that he has reestablished his elite control of the strike zone (94:24 K:BB ratio since June 22), the right-hander should serve as a mixed-league ace through the end of the season.
Kyle Hendricks, starter, Cubs
After struggling at times during the first half, Hendricks has logged an impressive 2.48 ERA since returning from the disabled list on July 24. And even though the right-hander has earned just one win during that seven-start stretch, he could soon pile up victories with the support of a Cubs lineup that leads the Majors with 249 runs scored since the All-Star break.
Keon Broxton, outfielder, Brewers
Few fantasy assets swing their value as wildly as Broxton. And the power-speed asset is trending in the right direction in August, producing six homers, a pair of steals and an .853 OPS. Owners who need to make a splash in order to win their league should hope for one more hot stretch from someone who is one swipe away from being the second player in baseball to reach the 20-20 plateau this season.
Matt Carpenter, 1B/2B/3B, Cardinals
While he has not been a major bust, Carpenter has produced disappointing marks in batting average (.244) and home runs (17) across 426 at-bats this season. But on the bright side, his batting-average struggles have been impacted by a .278 BABIP and he has hit .275 with an .889 OPS across 299 plate appearances out of the leadoff spot. Now entrenched as the club's leadoff man, Carpenter could have his best month of the year in September.
Starling Marte, outfielder, Pirates
With 13 steals across 231 plate appearances, Marte has continued to flash his wheels during an otherwise disappointing season. And with 173 career swipes across 2,686 plate appearances, the outfielder is among the top candidates to lead the Majors in steals during September. He could also improve on his disappointing .259 batting average if his .311 BABIP moves towards his lifetime .355 mark.
Zack Cozart, shortstop, Reds
Despite enduring a pair of DL stints, Cozart has been one of the most productive shortstops on a per-game basis by hitting .308 with 17 homers across 341 at-bats. With excellent plate skills and a lineup spot in front of superstar Joey Votto, the 32-year-old could be an unsung hero for many fantasy teams in September.
Corey Seager, shortstop, Dodgers
A second-round pick in many 2017 drafts, Seager has not been a top-50 asset so far this season. Sure, the 23-year-old continues to be a .300 hitter, but he rarely swipes bases and is on pace to fall just short the 25-homer plateau. But with a career-best 33.9 percent fly-ball rate and a stellar 46.6 percent hard-hit rate, Seager could be on the verge of a powerful finish to the year.
Patrick Corbin, SP/RP, D-backs
Corbin has quietly become a stable starter, allowing no more than three earned runs in 14 of his past 15 starts. While the left-hander is unlikely to provide help in the WHIP category, his swing-and-miss skills (8.7 K/9 rate) and contending supporting cast make him a strong candidate to be a three-category asset down the stretch.
DJ LeMahieu, second baseman, Rockies
LeMahieu could be a premium stretch-run contributor for those who can live without a slugger at the keystone position. The 29-year-old has hit .326 since the beginning of May and is in a prime position to collect RBIs and runs scored while sandwiched between Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado in a high-scoring Rockies lineup.
Jeff Samardzija, starter, Giants
Although Samardzija is sporting an unimpressive 4.43 ERA, he has been an asset in the WHIP (1.17) and strikeout (175) categories while also owning a solid 3.45 FIP. By maintaining his stellar 1.3 BB/9 rate and experiencing better batted-ball luck (.317 BABIP), the right-hander could enjoy his best month of the season in September.
Manuel Margot, outfielder, Padres
Margot arrived to the Majors as a speedster before flipping the script and compiling eight homers across 188 at-bats since the beginning of July. The 22-year-old could be a five-category asset by combining his newfound power and the fleet feet that produced 238 steals across 471 games in his Minor League career.
Fred Zinkie is the lead fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FredZinkieMLB.