It happens every year: We draft a reliable, veteran player with a demonstrable pattern of fantasy production, only to see him suddenly fall off a cliff statistically. The first time it happened to us, personally, was in 1993 when Roger Clemens—who had never posted an ERA higher than 3.13 in any full season from 1986 to 1992—suddenly posted a 4.46 ERA in his age-30 season.
This is bound to happen to a handful of productive players every season as they get older and slower, etc. Of course, there are some examples this year (see below) once again. The challenge is recognize when Father Time has caught up with these players and get them off your roster as soon as possible, before your team gets irrevocably buried in the league standings.
Look, it’s never easy to say goodbye, especially to our favorite players. But like a real-world GM, sentimentality will kill you in fantasy baseball, too. Don’t let your emotions keep you from cutting bait and replacing underperforming veterans on your roster.
Players to Get on Your Team Now
1. Jake Odorizzi, SP, Minnesota Twins: After a few sub-par years, Odorizzi is making a nice comeback in 2019. His strikeout rate is the highest it has been since 2014, and opposing batters are getting just 5.3 hits against him every nine innings. That number won’t last, but overall, the signs look good for him to post the best season of his career.
2. Franmil Reyes, OF, San Diego Padres: This kid is for real. He hit 16 home runs in 87 games last year, and now he already has ten HRs this year. Reyes is not a big RBI machine yet, but with a .276 career average, you get plenty of pop with him in your lineup without killing the team average. That’s a huge bonus.
3. Jerad Eickhoff, SP, Philadelphia Phillies: We’ve already noted that Philly SPs might be good to grab this year, and Eickhoff is another one flying under the radar still somehow. He has 31 Ks through his first 30 innings this season, and he’s coughed up just 18 hits in those 30 innings. Expect some leveling off there, but overall, this is a good grab.
4. Mitch Garver, C, Minnesota Twins: Everyone needs a good-hitting catcher, especially one that won’t hurt your team batting average. Garver is the solution right now. He hit .268 with 45 RBI last year in 102 games, and this year, he is lighting it up through his first 80 plate appearances with a .357 average and eight HRs already. That will never hurt.
Players to Drop to Waivers Now
1. Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds: He will be 36 in September, and it is showing. Last year, Votto had the worst full season (.837 OPS, just 12 home runs) of his storied career, and this year is even worse. With a mere .637 OPS and just seven RBI through 37 games, there is no point in keeping him on your roster. Stick a fork in him.
2. Kyle Freeland, SP, Colorado Rockies: It is always a risk to gamble on a Colorado pitcher. Freeland finished fourth in the Cy Young voting last year, although his peripherals weren’t that outstanding, giving up more hits than strikeouts. The long ball is killing him right now, and he’s surrendered the most earned runs in the league so far.
3. Carlos Rodón, SP, Chicago White Sox: Yes, he has struck out 46 batters in less than 35 innings pitched this season, but he leads the league in wild pitches and is now on the DL due to some elbow problems. That’s not a good sign. Don’t wait for the second opinion here. Waive him right now and find a pitcher who can stay healthy for the rest of 2019.
4. Travis Shaw, UTL, Milwaukee Brewers: After hitting 30-plus homers in both 2017 and 2018, Shaw has been dreadful in 2019 with just four dingers so far and a .168 batting average. You cannot sustain that kind of production in the fantasy world and expect to keep a job in the real world. Never a great hitter, Shaw isn’t worth rostering this year.