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Stock Watch: One Last Wild Stab in the Dark

There's only one week of the season in which I'll seriously suggest picking up Bruce Chen.

Yep, this is the one. When a guy's only got two starts left, might just get both while his team claws towards a wild card slot, and he's scheduled against the Mariners and White Sox, who cares what his peripherals look like. Chen's KC teammate, the newly called up Yordano Ventura (whom I'll admit, I'd never even heard of before this morning, which either reflects his status as a prospect or mine as a prospect watcher) gets the same matchups and should draw at least as much interest.

How confident am I in a journeyman who's put up suspiciously average numbers this season and guy who's made exactly one Major League start will have a good final week. Confident enough to make them my top free agent choices in my head-to-head World Series matchup league with a couple hundred bucks on the line.

So...not confident at all.

But there's upside, and when the safety of the long season is gone, upside is really all that's left. Well, and a little common sense, I suppose: technically, Mike Pelfrey could beat both the Tigers and Indians next week--but that's a bet I'd rather not make.

So, with this rather terrifying thought experiment nearly ready to play out in real life, let's take a look at a few more players who can be added in the next week. 

But First, a Few Quick Rules about Whom to Drop

By this time, you've either given up, shed all your dead weight, or play in a league that restricts your transactions. If either the first or third of those choices are true, you've still got several obvious players to cut ties with. Me, I'm cutting Chris Capuano, aka Mr. Really Good for a Month Before You Pick Me Up and Tell Everyone Else to Do the Same, but Then Awful and Injured. But, with only a week to go, there's a lot of hidden dead weight on everyone's roster.

Those in weekly formats have it easiest: anyone injured or probably injured for even half the week (like Allen Craig, to pick another instance from my own life) and any player that you don't intend to stick into your lineup, for any reason whatsoever. Since nobody will have a chance to pick up whomever you drop, you can ditch elite players if their contributions are in categories you aren't fighting for. Don't need homers, but desperate for batting average? I won't stop you from dropping Chris Davis. Got saves wrapped up, but you're way behind in innings? Drop your closers and stream.

Even outside of weekly formats, though, there are probably plenty of guys you don't need anymore. While you shouldn't drop superstars and give them to your competition, you can take the schedule into careful consideration. Is your shortstop scheduled for all seven games? Then drop his backup. Does your first baseman have Monday and Thursday off? Make sure you add a backup. 

Pitchers are the easiest: if their talent and matchup don't combine to be better than what you can get off the waiver wire, then make a change. In one league, I've got Marco Estrada set to face Atlanta; in another I've got James Shields against Texas. I'm not thrilled about either matchup and might make a change. If your Arizona pitcher is unlucky enough to have his last start at Colorado, I'd probably let him go, but the particulars of what your team needs and what's available on your waiver wire are not known to me, so I won't get too specific with the advice.

Adds -- Pitchers

While granting that many teams have run up against their innings limits, pitchers like Sonny Gray, Ivan Nova, and Andy Pettitte far more leagues: they have upcoming games against Minnesota and San Francisco. Zack Wheeler, Jorge De La Rosa, and Ryan Dempster look (sort of) tempting, but all have unfavorable matchups.

Michael Wacha is tempting, but the Nationals are pretty hot lately--that one's your call. Tanner Roark has been hot and has two starts--but they're against St. Louis and Arizona. 

Alex Wood and Paul Maholm look pretty good against the Brewers. Kyle Kendrick could be a last-week hero, as he draws the hapless Marlins. Danny Salazar and Rick Porcello should look pretty good against the White Sox, while Corey Kluber and Scott Kazmir should look even better against the Astros. 

Keep in mind that pitching situations are highly fluid next week, as contending teams do whatever it takes to punch their ticket for the playoffs, while teams that have everything locked up (or locked out) take the opportunity to look at rookies, rest veterans, and set playoff lineups.

Adds -- Hitters

Here's a pair I never thought I'd be mentioning in the same sentence: Alex Rodriguez and Brian Dozier. Both are available in more than half of Yahoo! leagues and both have been hitting some homers with bad batting averages. Also, they both play hard-to-fill infield positions. Evan Gattis has hit for power too, but with even less average.

If you don't like those guys, that's okay, because Jedd Gyorko, Adam Lind, Matt Adams, Darin Ruf, and Chris Carter have been even better and are even more widely available. Sometimes life is nice like that.

Omar Infante has brought the batting average, Alcides Escobar has finally remembered how to steal bases, and Denard Span has been a flat out boss. There is no league in which he should remain unowned. Really. Angel Pagan has been really good too.

Adam Eaton, Zack Cozart, Carlos Ruiz, Raul Ibanez, and Christian Yelich have all done enough to catch a little attention lately. Trevor Plouffe, Kole Calhoun, Dustin Ackley, and Scooter Gennett each raise half an eyebrow or so. In less playing time, Josh Rutledge has looked pretty good. Matt Dominguez, Junior Lake, Dayan Viciedo, Yan Gomes, Khris Davis, and Brad Miller are all kind of interesting.

Actually, there are a lot of potentially decent pickups. With only a week to go, we don't need to bother with things like sustainable production or realistic expectations. Those in weekly leagues should consider the full schedule of games, for their current players and for any they might pick up. In daily leagues, all you really need to care about is what's happening next: if the matchup looks good, you need the category or help at the position, go for it.

Good luck, and Stock Watch will see you next year.


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