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With just a few weeks left in the season, most fantasy managers are done looking for Mr. Right and are instead focused on Mr. Right Now. One way to do this for this week is by zeroing in on Mariners pitchers and the Giants hitters for some short-term help.
First, I need to highlight just how bad the Rangers' offense has been in the one month of action since the All-Star break. Texas owns a second-half OPS of .560, which is nearly 100 points lower than that of any other team. In batting average and on-base percentage, the Rangers are miles behind everyone else. And they haven’t been much better in the power department.
Simply put, any pitcher facing Texas is worth a shot right now. Luckily, we have three widely available Seattle hurlers for you to consider.
Seattle Mariners Pitchers
Tyler Anderson (19 percent rostered) faces the Rangers tonight. The left-hander hasn’t been outstanding this season (4.24 ERA), but he has maintained a solid 1.20 WHIP. Anderson has also been quite consistent during his time with the Pirates and the Mariners. I’m not expecting miracles, but he should limit Texas to a couple of runs over 5-6 innings.
Marco Gonzales (59 percent rostered) is a player with a misleading roster rate. The starter was drafted in virtually every league before struggling for the first half of the season. My guess is that Gonzales is widely available in the most active leagues and stashed on a dead roster in leagues whose managers are not reading August articles. The southpaw has been great since the All-Star break (1.67 ERA, 0.90 WHIP) and could have an outstanding start against Texas this week.
Chris Flexen (41 percent rostered) has been quietly effective this year. The resurgent veteran does not boast a high strikeout rate, but he has posted an ERA under 3.60 in every month except May. Flexen has logged a 2.33 ERA in three previous starts against the Rangers this season and could lower that stellar ratio when he faces Texas on Thursday.
The starters aren’t the only ones who could find success during the Mariners three-game series with Texas:
Paul Sewald (29 percent rostered) recently came off the paternity list and resumed his role as a versatile late-inning reliever. He has accumulated seven wins and four saves this year, while also posting outstanding ratios (2.84 ERA, 0.92 WHIP) and an eye-popping 64 strikeouts in 38 innings. Sewald could earn a save or victory while silencing the weak Texas offense.
Drew Steckenrider (4 percent rostered) is another widely available Mariners reliever to consider for the coming series in Texas. The right-hander has been stellar this season (2.15 ERA, 1.02 WHIP) while collecting five wins and four saves. He should combine with Sewald and Diego Castillo to work the late innings.
And now let’s look at some immediate hitting help. Those who have liberal lineup moves in daily leagues should look no further than the Giants. San Francisco ranks fifth in the Majors in OPS, but unlike other top lineups, most of their players are sitting on waivers in Yahoo! leagues. Manager Gabe Kapler makes effective use of platoons, which limits the overall counting stats from each player but also makes their usefulness easy to predict.
If you have room to add some San Francisco hitters, here are the ones to consider.
San Francisco Giants Hitters
Brandon Belt (1B, 38 percent rostered) has been consistently effective this season, logging an .896 OPS overall and a mark of at least .785 in every month. The left-handed hitter starts mainly against righties but has been effective this year when given chances vs. southpaws.
Evan Longoria (3B, 19 percent) had a comeback year interrupted by a shoulder injury but recently returned to the lineup. The 35-year-old owns an .877 OPS, has dominated lefties (1.218 OPS), and held his own vs. righties (.734 OPS).
Lamont Wade Jr. (1B/OF, 14 percent) is perhaps the most underrated member of the Giants offense. The southpaw slugger often hits leadoff against right-handers and deserves a lineup spot in most leagues on days when those situations arise. After all, he owns a .920 OPS vs. righties this year.
Wilmer Flores (1B/2B/3B, 12 percent) is a bench option for teams of all sizes, as he is regularly in the Giants lineup and can be slotted into a fantasy lineup at three different positions. The right-handed hitter has played often against both southpaws and righties, but the return of Longoria and Tommy La Stella could limit Flores in the future.
Alex Dickerson (OF, 8 percent) could be the poster boy for a predictable Giants platoon player. The outfielder starts against virtually all right-handers and sits vs. lefties. He should provide cheap power for those who use him wisely in daily lineups.
Darin Ruf (1B/OF, 4 percent) is an underrated option for those with daily moves. The right-handed slugger starts most games against southpaws, and he has dominated those matchups this season to the tune of a 1.003 OPS. He has also held his own vs. same-sided pitchers (.862 OPS).
As you can see, a little bit of extra effort from fantasy managers could allow them to grind plenty of extra statistics out of this productive, but underrated, Giants offense.