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Stock Watch: If You've Got Anything to Play For, Play These Guys

With the first week of September in the books, your fantasy season has either kicked into high gear…or stalled completely. Many of us, sadly, have little left to play for, while a few of you (also sadly, since I’m not among you) have your leagues wrapped up.

Fortunately, most of us are playing for something still, even if it’s no more than pride. This article is for you who are still playing…

Pick Up (Hitters)

If you’re in need of steals, Jarrod Dyson should be your guy (for the moment). KC has a tough schedule, but Dyson’s on fire on the bases and not yet killing you at the plate. Emilio Bonifacio and Eric Young remain options for the steals-thirsty.

James Loney and Neil Walker are good choices for anyone looking to stabilize their batting average.

If your average can’t be stabilized (or is so good it can afford a hit), Chris Carter will throw some power into your lineup. Darin Ruf keeps doing his power thing too, and at least his bad batting average isn’t a total certainty like Carter’s.

Jedd Gyorko and Josh Rutledge haven’t quite lived up to their preseason hype, but both provide nice position flexibility. Gyorko has hit well lately and Rutledge…is up from the minors, at least.

Adam Eaton isn’t the big steals threat we expected, but he’s having a quietly good and balanced month for anyone needing a fourth or fifth outfielder. Meanwhile Khris Davis keeps on hitting. Ride this hot streak.

Carlos Ruiz is hitting the ball better than most widely owned catchers.

Ryan Ludwick is my favorite pickup right now. I loved him before the season (that turned out well, I know), but now that he’s back, he’s hitting, and the Reds have a killer schedule for the month.

Will Middlebrooks was a popular sleeper (at least on my fantasy teams) before the season, and he might be living up to the potential he showed last year after his most recent callup. Or maybe he’s just having a random good month. Either way, snap him up, because a random good month is what we’re all looking for

Pick Up (Pitchers)

Brad Ziegler and LaTroy Hawkins are both closing. Why are they on any waiver wires? Even in shallow leagues, every save can count. Those in head-to-head formats really have no excuse to leave these closers available—they don’t have to be elite, only just good enough.

Jonathon Niese is over half owned, I know, but he looks totally back to form and should be owned in every league deep enough to have drafted him. His teammate Zack Wheeler ought to be better owned too; both get favorable schedules for the final month, so there are no excuses.

Yusmeiro Petit was once a prospect and he never panned out. I have no long-term prediction for him, but at the moment, he’s a lot better than Barry Zito and the Giants’ opponents and parks shape up to be quite friendly for the rest of the season.

Michael Wacha, or “Yo-Yo Wacha,” as I’ve taken to calling him in my head, is back up for the Cards. If he can keep his rotation residency, he’ll have value.

Sonny Gray keeps pitching well and striking people out. Leave him unowned at your own risk.

Ubaldo Jimenez, Scott Kazmir, and Corey Kluber are flawed, yes (walks by the truckload for Jimenez and Kazmir, just returning from injury for Kluber), but all three have talent, a deceptively good offense, and a soft September schedule. Zach McAllister is less flawed than his rotation-mates, but possesses less upside too. But he’s got the same offense and the same schedule; prefer him if your position in the standings recommends risk-avoidance.

Rick Porcello has had a rough couple turns of the rotation, but I still like his upcoming matchups. Charlie Morton and Tanner Roark should similarly benefit from friendly opposing lineups.

Stay Away (Hitters)

Billy Hamilton has a season line that reads like this on my fantasy roster screen: 2 0 0 2 --. That’s right: two runs, two steals, and no at-bats at all. This guy could lead the league in steals as a pure pinch runner. While that might actually be better than the MI options on your league waiver wire, it probably isn’t. Get someone allowed to swing the bat.

Mike Moustakas spent part of the second half of this season looking like a good pickup option (indeed, his name was mentioned in this space more than once), but that time is no more. With a brutal pitching schedule upcoming for his squad, let someone else eat the Moose Tacos.

Josh Willingham didn’t get that change of scenery I was hoping for when I picked him up a couple weeks ago. Who knows if that would have helped, but staying put doesn’t seem to be doing him any good. Jason Kubel did get a change of scenery and it hasn’t helped yet.

Stay Away (Pitchers)

Jorge de la Rosa is the subject of an interesting RotoGraphs article, but I’d avoid him for one very simple reason: Coors Field. The Rox don’t have a big home/road disparity, and I just don’t want to pick up any of their pitchers unless I can get a couple road starts in a row.

Jeremy Hellickson briefly looked interesting—just long enough for me to hop off my years-running anti-Hellickson train. Well, I’m back on, thanks in large part to the Rays’ upcoming schedule. Teammate Alex Torres is avoidable for the same reason.

Phil Hughes is always tempting, but don’t do it. The Yanks play a lot of the AL East, and those guys can hit.

Speaking of bad schedules, Hector Santiago and Danny Duffy look interesting (or, at least Duffy does), but I want nothing of the amount of times their teams get to play Detroit and Cleveland.

Jake Westbrook is back from the DL and pitches for the Cardinals, and Cardinal pitchers who aren’t injured are good, so you should pick him up…right? Yeah, no. He struggled mightily before his injury, and there are plenty of available players with less obvious risk and easier upcoming opponents.

Let Go

If you’re still holding onto these guys, cut ‘em loose: David Freese, Erick Aybar and Paul Konerko are killing anyone still starting them. Rajai Davis has competition from other base-stealing specialists that are hitting less badly. Roy Halladay doesn’t seem to have it any more than he did at the beginning of the season, and Mike Leake seems to be running out of gas or out of magic.

While you’re at it, cut those guys that are out for the season, or kicked out of their closing jobs. Owners of Albert Pujols, Everth Cabrera, and Brandon League, I’m looking at you.

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