It’s September! The MLB regular season rolls into its final month. Fantasy baseball takes a backseat to the its football counterpart.
The division races are starting to separate themselves. The teams way up in their pennant races will likely rest their starters, unless the debacle in the NL West continues. The bottom dwellers could play more prospects due to the September call-ups.
These moves may not seem like they’d factor into fantasy, but they may mean more than expected.
With roughly 30 games left in the regular season, the playoff picture is becoming much clearer. In the NL East, the teams that aren’t in the nation’s capital have fallen 18 games back of first place. In fact, the Washington Nationals are the only team in the East with a winning record. Out in the NL West, the LA Dodgers are up by 11.5 games, but for different reasons.
Their record-setting stretch in August almost guaranteed their spot in the playoffs. They’re up by a fairly comfortable margin, but LA is 1-9 in their last 10, and the D-Backs are riding an 11 game win streak. For a few weeks, the single-season win record of 116 games looked approachable, but it seems pretty safe for now, unless the Dodgers win out for the rest of the season. There is still a decent chance that Arizona gives a run at the division crown. If not, prepare for the Dodgers, Nats, and likely the Houston Astros to sit key players down the stretch.
How many home runs will Giancarlo Stanton end up with? This storyline, although only one of many, is one of the most intriguing around the MLB going into the home stretch. The Marlins are currently 67-72 (second place in the NL East, mind you), but Stanton could very reasonably reach 60 home runs, as he stands with 53 now.
Less likely, although it’s being talked about, is Barry Bonds’ single season record for regular season home runs with 73. Some simple math will tell you that Stanton is about 20 home runs short with about 30 games remaining, so 2 home runs every 3 days might have Stanton eclipse that record. That sort of pace seems a little steep, even for a guy like Stanton. It would be hard for anyone to keep up the pace of Stanton’s last month, in which he hit 18 home runs, but I think a lot of people will be rooting for him to pass his current hitting coach. No matter if the record is broken or not, fantasy owners are loving life with Stanton and his top 5 WAR.
The Trade Deadline – The Sequel.
The trade period via the waiver made headlines almost all of Thursday, and even into Friday morning. The three major trades of the day, including a whirlwind around Justin Verlander, are as follows:
Justin Verlander didn’t seem to miss a beat in his first game with the Astros, striking out 7 Mariners in 6 full innings, picking up his 11th win in the process. Verlander should definitely continue to shine in Houston, and the wins should pile up behind him. The 34-year-old has always been dominant down the stretch – last year, he didn’t have a monthly ERA above 3 from July on; this season, his ERA was 2.36 in 6 appearances in August. He will be key to the Astros come October.
The Los Angeles Angels added two pieces vital to their run for a wildcard spot. They brought in Justin Upton from Detroit to play alongside Mike Trout in Anaheim, along with Brandon Phillips from Atlanta to play with Andrelton Simmons up the middle.
Upton and Phillips aren’t very similar players, but they both have fantasy value. With a WAR close to 5, Upton is top-20 in that category and has middle-of-the-lineup type power, sitting with 28 home runs this year. Phillips, on the other hand, has only 11 home runs but is batting a respectable .288 and has scored 73 runs. Phillips is considered more of a run scorer than a run producer at the plate. He is only owned in around 50% of leagues, so he could be a valuable pick up at either 3rd or 2nd base.