Waiver-wire wisdom for the fantasy stretch run
The final week of the regular season is nearly upon us, and fantasy owners will be looking for specific skills in order to boost their standing in tight categories. With the time of year in mind, here are some options who could provide valuable points in the final standings.
Catcher: Kurt Suzuki, Twins
Owners who need help with homers can find some catchers on waivers, but there are few backstops who can tip the scales in a tight batting-average race. Suzuki's six-game hitting streak has boosted his batting average to .292. He could collect many hits in the Twins' seven games next week.
First base: Steve Pearce, Orioles
There are several powerful options at this position, but no one is hotter than Pearce. The 31-year-old has smacked 20 homers in 323 at-bats, and four of those dingers have come in his past five games. The O's will play seven games in hitter-friendly venues next week.
Second base: Jose Ramirez, Indians
Ramirez does not have favorable matchups next week, as he will face the talented pitching staffs on Kansas City and Tampa Bay. But the rookie could offer owners a valuable stolen base, as he has eight swipes in 59 games.
Third base: Trevor Plouffe, Twins
Plouffe is exactly the type of streaking slugger that fantasy owners who are in second or third place should take a chance on. He homered twice last week, so he could pick up a couple more dingers in next week's seven-game stanza.
Shortstop: Wilmer Flores, Mets
Flores has been inconsistent in his first Major League season, but he is finishing strong, with nine hits, three homers and 10 RBIs in his past five games. He will likely be motivated in the final week to prove that he should get a chance at a starting job next season.
Outfielder: Nori Aoki, Royals
The 32-year-old did not have a memorable first season with Kansas City, but Aoki is now fueling their postseason push. He has racked up five multihit efforts in his past nine games, and he has 11 hits in his past three. He could help with batting average and chip in a steal in the final week.
Outfield: Alejandro De Aza, Orioles
The Orioles are pretty much locked in as the second seed in the American League, so some of their players could get extra rest next week. De Aza may be the exception, as he is still getting used to his new team. The 30-year-old offers an intriguing blend of five-category production when he is playing well, and his move to Baltimore seems to have sparked his bat.
Starting pitcher: Aaron Harang, Braves
Fantasy owners who need to make a move in strikeouts or wins will be hard-pressed to find two-start hurlers for the final week. Some teams have moved to six-man rotations, and others will limit their starters' innings as they get set for the postseason. Harang should make a pair of starts, and he has struck out 17 batters in his past two outings.
Starting pitcher: Danny Duffy, Royals
If he was healthy, Duffy would be a lock for all fantasy lineups, but he is not cemented into a scheduled start on Monday. If he gets through his bullpen sessions this week, he could make two key outings for the postseason-hungry Royals next week, and provide solid ratios with plenty of strikeouts.
Starting pitcher: Jorge De La Rosa, Rockies
De La Rosa handles Coors Field well, but he will not need that skill next week, when he makes starts in a pair of pitcher-friendly parks. He should be able to handle the Padres in San Diego, and then he will face a Dodgers team on the final day of the season that could be looking ahead to the postseason.
Starting pitcher: Henderson Alvarez, Marlins
The 24-year-old Alvarez has shown that he is past an oblique strain by limiting opponents to three runs over his past two starts. He will work at home against the Phillies before hitting the road to face a Nationals team that has locked up a division title.
Starting pitcher: James Paxton, Mariners
The 25-year-old has done his part to help keep the Mariners in the race by pitching extremely well down the stretch. Paxton will face a Blue Jays lineup that fares poorly against southpaws before making a start against an Angels squad that will likely be looking ahead to October.
Starting pitcher: Derek Holland, Rangers
Owners who waited for Holland have been rewarded with a 0.99 ERA in 27 1/3 innings since he came off the disabled list at the beginning of September. The lefty will face the strikeout-prone Astros next week before tangling with an A's lineup that has not hit well this month.
Starting pitcher: Bartolo Colon, Mets
Colon has not pitched especially well recently, as he has been tagged for 14 earned runs with just 13 strikeouts in his past four starts. His season-long numbers are respectable, so owners who are stuck for starters in the final week could give the 41-year-old a chance and get his starts against the Nationals and Astros.
Reliever: Drew Storen, Nationals
Storen has looked great in the ninth inning since taking over the role from Rafael Soriano earlier in the month. The 27-year-old should be locked in during the final week, as he hopes to show his manager that he can close out games in the postseason.
Reliever: Wade Davis, Royals
Owners who are looking to protect narrow leads in ERA and WHIP should seek out top setup men such as Davis and Yankees fireballer Dellin Betances. Davis could be heavily used in the final week, as the Royals try to win their division during a seven-game stanza.