Continuing with the September theme of finding “Mr. Right Now," here is a handful of players who could turn the tides of head-to-head matchups or provide crucial roto points in the coming days.
Gavin Lux, Los Angeles Dodgers (46 percent rostered)
The rostership rate for Lux has taken off in recent days, but there is still room for it to grow. The 21 year old is almost assuredly the best prospect who will debut during September, meaning that those in FAAB leagues can get very aggressive in bidding on him. Lux hit .347 with 26 homers, 76 RBI, 99 runs scored and 10 steals in 113 Minor League games this year, and he’s joining possibly the highest-scoring lineup in the National League.
Sam Hilliard, Colorado Rockies (3% rostered)
Gamers who miss out on Lux and seek a power-speed threat should give Hilliard some consideration. After all, the 25 year old needed just 126 Triple-A games this season to compile 35 long balls and 22 swipes. He strikes out too often to be counted on for a high average, but he could catch some batted-ball breaks when he works at Coors Field. Speaking of Colorado’s offense-inducing venue, Hilliard and friends will play nine games at home from September 10-18. Gamers should load up on Rockies bats now in anticipation of some high-scoring games next week.
Tommy Edman, St. Louis Cardinals (26%)
Edman has hit well of late (.324 average since August 18), and he has some speed (11 steals across 243 at-bats this season). And with four eligible positions in Yahoo leagues, the utility-man shouldn’t be hard to fit into a lineup. Gamers who have been toying with the idea of adding Edman should pounce now, as his next two series come against the Pirates (5.06 team-ERA) and at hitter-friendly Coors Field. Gamers can also consider other Cardinals, such as Harrison Bader (18%) and Dexter Fowler (10%).
Players on losing teams are sometimes overlooked down the stretch, and such is the case with Santander. The outfielder is enjoying a productive rookie season, batting .291 with 17 homers and 48 RBI across 316 at-bats. Sure, he rarely takes a walk, but free passes are of little concern to those who play in standard roto leagues. The best news on Santander is that he is set to play 12 of his next 16 games at hitter-friendly Camden Yards, where he has logged a .904 OPS this season (.792 OPS on the road). And his next four road contests are against an ineffective Tigers pitching staff.
Josh Rojas, Arizona Diamondbacks (8%)
Almost universally available, Rojas put up an eye-popping .332/.418/.606 slash line in the Minors this year. He is currently listed atop the D-backs depth chart in left field and has had plenty of success of late (2 HR, .391 BA in past six games). He is also part of a surprisingly productive lineup, as Arizona ranks among the top-10 in baseball in runs scored since the All-Star break. Rojas should be rostered in 15-team leagues and some 12-team formats.
Trevor May, Minnesota Twins (16%)
Each year, we see many starting pitcher options disappear in September. Some pitchers hit innings limits, others sustain season-ending injuries and a few simply run out of gas. The lack of stretch-run starter options makes setup men more valuable than usual, and May has been one of the best at his position of late. Since the beginning of August, the right-hander has logged a 22:3 K:BB ratio, a 1.13 ERA and a 0.56 WHIP across 16 innings. May also routinely works high-leverage situations, which has enabled him to collect five wins so far this year.
John Means, Baltimore Orioles (42%)
Among pitchers who are available in more than 50% of leagues, Means is by far the best two-start option next week in terms of season-long numbers (3.55 ERA, 1.16 WHIP) and recent numbers (19 IP, 5 ER in past three starts). And making the southpaw even more desirable is a late-week matchup against a hapless Tigers lineup. So, what’s holding me back on going all-in on Means? His first start of the week comes at his hitter-friendly home park against the mighty Dodgers. Gamers will need to hold their breath during that one.
Sean Manaea, Oakland A’s (45%)
Manaea returned to the Majors in fine fashion when he held the Yankees to one hit across five scoreless innings on September 1. And the southpaw tore up the Minors at the end of his rehab assignment, striking out 36 batters while allowing five earned runs across 23.2 frames. With a lifetime 3.90 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP, the 27 year old has certainly built enough of a reputation to get a roster spot in shallow leagues for an upcoming matchup against a lowly Tigers lineup.