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Stock Watch: What Have You Done for Me Lately?

A roto-style fantasy season is won over the course of six long months, and most of those are mostly wrapped up. First-place owners drafted well, watched the waiver wire, traded shrewdly, and got more good luck than bad; now they're ready to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Head-to-head owners, however, and anyone else in a playoff format still have everything left to be decided in the next two weeks. Winning it all, or out of the money, who can say what will happen? This is equally true, by the way (or nearly so), of roto leagues in which everyone's place is not yet determined. In fantasy, all is vanity.

Or close enough to it, anyway. More accurate, though, would be to say that all is hot streaks and good timing. Last year, Chris Davis's September carried me to a championship...this year some other player will carry some other teams to their championships. Well, hopefully it will be some other player, anyway, because I don't own Davis this season.

As we wind down Stock Watch, we'll continue to look at players worth picking up for that final push...as well as those worth trimming from your team as their play and schedules demand it.

Pick Up

Right out of the gate, let's look at some pitchers who could help in this coming week. If your adds and drops are limited at all, then you know how important two-start weeks are. Ditto if you're under your innings limit and want to make up ground in Wins and Strikeouts.

Yusmeiro Petit gets two spins in New York City, one against the Mets and the other against the Yankees. The Mets game is unsurprisingly favorable, but the Yankees don't hit like they used to.

Scott Kazmir is always a high-risk guy, but against Kansas City and Houston, he could deliver high rewards. Teammate Corey Kluber gets to face the same teams. Got to love that Cleveland schedule.

Tanner Roark has to face Atlanta...but he also gets Miami. The nice thing about him is how widely available he is. Wily Peralta has the same story, with the Cubs and Cardinals; unfortunately for Peralta, his team is rather less likely to bring home the win than Roark's Nationals.

Freddy Garcia isn't a two-start guy, but he's filling in very well for the Braves. Will the magic last long? Probably not. But it doesn't have to.

If you need a catcher and forgot about Miguel Montero, maybe it's time to remember him. He's been hitting well (especially in average) since returning from the DL. Maybe he can't redeem his disaster season, but it's worth it to own him while he tries.

Matt Dominguez and Denard Span have been crushing the ball in the last month, and Baltimore's Danny Valencia has been killing the ball in part-time play, with a .489 average and three homers in 45 AB. Andy Dirks has been very good as well, and he gets to take advantage of Detroit's soft schedule.

In a shorter time frame of just the last two weeks, Alex Presley has been hitting the ball well for his new team. The other Minnesota beneficiary of the Justin Morneau trade, Chris Colabello has three homers in the last couple weeks. Juan Uribe (remember him) has four. Houston shortstop Jonathan Villar is strictly a ride-the-hot hand type of guy, but he's been the waiver wire star of the last two weeks, with an average over .330 and six stolen bases.

Grant Green, Freddy Galvis, and Angel Pagan are three more potential hot hands.

Colby Rasmus is back from the DL. With his Friday home run, he's suggested that he'll just keep on hitting. Will his good luck continue into 2014? Who knows? Who cares?

Josh Fields appears to be closing in Houston. Might as well pick him up. I guess.

Stay Away

Some of the most intriguing pitchers on most waiver wires should actually be avoided based on their next matchups: Esmil Rogers (faces Boston), Erasmo Ramirez (Angels), James Paxton (Tigers). Those interested in Henderson Alvarez should remember that facing the Nationals (his next opponent) is not the same as shutting out the Mets. Daisuke Matsuzaka came back from the (mostly) dead to collect a win, and his next start is against the Phillies...so good news? I guess, except he gets to face Cole Hamels. Plus, there's the inherent risk in rolling with Dice-K....

While there are hot pitchers I'll stay away from right now, there are almost no hitters I won't try. The reason is this: waiver wire pitchers have about the same values to their risk and reward right now—a bad game will set you back a lot, while a great one can push you over the top. There's a lot at stake on the pitcher's mound. In the batter's box, the story is different: hitters can only help and hurt you incrementally. By the time a hitter can suck value for your team with too many consecutive oh-fer's, you've probably already dropped him. And if he keeps hitting (or stealing), you keep him in the lineup. (Obviously, weekly leaguers need to be more careful than this, so they should take upcoming matchups into particular consideration.)

Drop

Owners might be excited that Dexter Fowler is back from injury, but he still isn't starting, and who knows how long it might take to get him back up to speed. On top of that, the out-of-contention Rockies will have no incentive to rush him or risk re-injury. You can let him go.

Phil Hughes has been banished to the bullpen, so that's it for him. For completely different reasons, Jose Fernandez can be let go too.

At this point, there isn't a lot of downside left to giving up on disappointing players like B.J. Upton, Alcides Escobar, David Freese, Paul Konerko, Starlin Castro. Unfortunately, that list sounds a lot like my fantasy bench right now.

Adam Dunn is on the low side of his playing pendulum, and I don't know if there's enough time left for it to matter if he turns things around again. Really, though, any marginal player in a slump can probably be let go in favor of another player on a hot streak. The differences in real player talent will have less to the results of the next two weeks than many other factors (some of which are nonrandom, but nevertheless chalked up to “luck”). The cycle of success and failure is one of those factors.

Even good injured players like Allen Craig might be appropriate to toss overboard—I mean, is one week (if that) of Craig really better than two of Alex Presley or Colby Rasmus? (Okay, maybe it is, but it's worth thinking about.) Joe Mauer might be rejoining the Twins soon, but if your fill-in has done well enough, I might just drop Mauer, as concussion recoveries are hard to predict, and, well, two more weeks just isn't that much time. Jacoby Ellsbury has a foot injury, but the strategy of letting him go so he isn't wasting space on your roster while he gets the feel of playing again remains the same.

CC Sabathia has been flat-out awful lately, so drop him....wait a minute. Yes, I will take a chance on Sabathia against the Giants. After that, I'll consider letting him loose. For other struggling pitchers, we should follow the same model: who are they scheduled to start against? Lance Lynn, for instance, gets to pitch at Colorado. Drop him. The better the pitcher, the more benefit of the doubt you should leave. I wouldn't drop Felix Hernandez, but I wouldn't pitch him against Detroit, either.


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