By Sam McPherson
We’ve all seen that one fantasy baseball owner on Draft Day who goes after every hot rookie name on the list, thinking her/his roster will shock everyone else as it dominates the league on the way to the title. It rarely works out that way, as time after time, the inexperience rears its ugly head with those big-name rookies failing to stick in the majors for long.
Then there’s the other kind of owner, the one who simply picks the “proven” veterans that have been around Major League Baseball forever, buying into that philosophy of experience matters most. But eventually, these “old guys” break down, and suddenly, the aging roster has crumbled to dust.
The best strategy is have a healthy blend of both established players and young players with potential: With this approach, fantasy baseball owners minimize risk and maximize reward.
Players to Get Onto Your Roster Now
1. Dan Straily, SP, Miami Marlins: With a 4-3 record, a 3.56 ERA and a 1.121 WHIP, his 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings pitched are just icing on the cake. Straily has bounced around since 2012, now with his fifth team, but he’s a reliable starter at this point who can provide a lot of Ks for your roster. This could be his best season yet at age 28.
2. Lucas Duda, 1B, New York Mets: The 31-year-old slugger hit a career-worst .229 last year, so he wasn’t on the radar this year for a lot of owners. Duda should be now, however, with 10 home runs and a .278 batting average. The Mets may be having a tough season, but it’s not the fault of their first baseman. If New York trades him, though, it could affect his value.
3. Sean Manaea, SP, Oakland Athletics: Through 33 career starts in the major leagues, Manaea now has an 11-12 record with a 3.87 ERA and 8.3 Ks/9 IP. What’s even better is that his strikeout ratio has risen this year to a whopping 10.1 Ks per nine. Manaea’s stuff is hard to hit, so look for him to keep succeeding well into his second MLB season.
4. Steven Souza, Jr., OF, Tampa Bay Rays: Now in his third full MLB season, Souza’s batting average is climbing again, and his on-base percentage has jumped a lot as well. That’s a good sign of things to come, and his power (10 HRs) is more valuable when attached to a decent average (.266 currently).
Players to Sit/Drop This Week
1. Ian Happ, OF, Chicago Cubs: The defending champions are struggling this year, and Happ’s .222 average over 19 games hasn’t been impressive enough for you to keep the rookie in your starting lineup. It seems, too, like the Cubs have a lot of depth, so Happ is going to have to kick it up seven notches in order to get serious playing time this year.
2. Odúbel Herrera, OF, Philadelphia Phillies: After hitting close to .300 in his first two MLB seasons, Herrera is now hitting just .223 in his third. His power numbers are down across the board, and his speed isn’t paying off this year, either. He has too much talent to struggle like this, so we think it might be in his head. Will he snap out of it? Let someone else find out.
3. Danny Duffy, SP, Kansas City Royals: After a career year last year, Duffy’s numbers are down all across the board, and now he’s on the disabled list with an oblique strain. His strikeouts are down, his walks are up, and his hits allowed are on the rise, too. All these signs point to “disaster”, so don’t wait for him to come off the DL.
4. Ty Blach, SP, San Francisco Giants: Don’t be fooled by the 3.24 ERA and the 1.114 WHIP, because you can’t sustain those numbers when you only strikeout 3.5 batters per nine innings. Blach doesn’t have dynamic stuff, so it’s just a matter of time before MLB hitters start hitting him harder and harder.