Very rarely does the roster you drafted in March stay intact all the way through October, without injury or slumps, on the way to a league in fantasy baseball. Basically, this never happens. If you think it is going to, you are dreaming. This is not fantasy football, after all, where that can actually happen.
In conjunction with injuries and waiver-wire diligence, it is imperative to identify which players are currently hot and grab them for the duration of a productive streak of incredible stats. This way, you replace average guys in your lineup with hot hands and reap the benefits in the standings for as long as you can.
The challenge always is to not worry about dropping someone playing solidly in order to get the hot player(s) on to your roster. Sure, some other owner may take that guy for his own team, but when the hot arm/bat cools off, you just go find the next hot guy. It’s a vicious cycle … but one you must respect and roll with if you want to win your league.
Players to Get on Your Team Now
1. Derek Dietrich, UTL, Cincinnati Reds: If he is still on waivers in your league, pick him up and ride the hot bat for as long as you can. It looks like Dietrich is still out there in half the leagues on the major fantasy sites, too, despite his 17 home runs, 36 RBI, multi-position eligibility, and a 1.073 OPS. Hurry!
2. Hunter Pence, OF, Texas Rangers: Speaking of hot hands, we thought Pence was washed up after his .701 OPS in 2017 and his .590 OPS in 2018 with the San Francisco Giants. At age 36 now, he has somehow found a fountain of youth in Texas, hitting .301 with 11 HRs and 39 RBI. The last time Pence hit 20-plus HRs in a season was 2014.
3. David Fletcher, UTL, Los Angeles Angels: Guys like this are great on your bench to fill in on off/rest days for your starters. His .808 OPS is good enough, and Fletcher might be eligible at up to four positions in your league depending on rules. He has a mere four HRs and four stolen bases, but Fletcher can get you valuable counting stats, anyway.
4. Max Kepler, OF, Minnesota Twins: After hitting just .224 last year, he probably went undrafted in your league. Plus, a slow start to the season surely kept him hovering on waivers. Now, however, Kepler is hitting, and you should grab him. With 12 HRs, 36 RBI, and an .855 OPS, his numbers are going up … and fast.
Players to Drop to Waivers Now
1. Robinson Canó, 1B/2B, New York Mets: The Mariners were smart to dump this guy on the Mets with $120M left on his contract that runs through 2023. He is hitting just .241 with three HRs and 13 RBI right now, and at any position, you can do better than this. His .845 OPS last year was probably due to the PED suspension that cost him 80 games.
2. Tyler Glasnow, SP, Tampa Bay Rays: He got off to a quick start in his first season with the Rays, after coming over in the Chris Archer trade. But a forearm injury is scary, and now the injury update is that he has been moved to the 60-day disabled list, never a good sign. You can stash him if you want or trade him, but better to let someone else risk it.
3. Marco Gonzales, SP, Seattle Mariners: This is what we don’t like here. He’s given up more hits than innings pitched, and his strikeout rate is relatively abysmal for fantasy baseball. This is a pitcher trending down right now, and as the dog days of summer approach, you need better starters in your lineup than this guy.
4. Yusei Kikuchi, SP, Seattle Mariners: What we said above about his rotation mate also applies to Kikuchi, and he’s been ordered to skip his next start, too. That often is a sign of fatigue, and if his numbers (4.43 ERA, plus the same peripheral issues as Gonzales) are already poor, they’re just going to get worse.