I can't believe it is already September and we are entering the home stretch of the baseball season. It should be a fascinating September with a lot of close races that look like they will come down to the final week.
Week 23 looks like a very tough week in terms of games played. Only six teams have a seven game week and six teams actually only have five games this week. We certainly will have to at least consider some six gamers this week. The D-Backs, Reds, Dodgers, Mariners, Rays and Blue Jays are the five-game teams this week, so make sure to get any of those players out of your lineup. Taking a look at the seven game teams, the Rockies are one of the teams, but they get five of their seven games away from Coors Field. The Brewers have a lot of pop in their offense, but they also get five of their seven games on the road. The trip to St Louis should not be too bad though as at least they miss Adam Wainwright and Jamie Garcia.
Catcher: Wilin Rosario is the hottest catcher in baseball the last 3 weeks. How good has this guy been this year? Rosario was not even the starter at the beginning of the season and comes into this week trailing only AJ Pierzynski in home runs among catchers. How about the only three catchers with over 20 home runs so far? Pierzynski, Rosario and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Yea, we all called that one pretty well. Rosario has seven games this week, as does Jonathan Lucroy who has been hitting well recently after a long stint on the DL. Both Rosario and Lucroy are also cheap. Among the six game guys who could be solid this week are the usual suspects: Buster Posey, Joe Mauer and Carlos Santana. A nice bonus for Posey that may put him over the top in that group is that he gets his last two games of the week in Coors Field.
First Base: Adrian Gonzalez has struggled for me and with the Dodgers playing five games this week, I look forward to taking him out. Believe it or not, the best first baseman the last three weeks has easily been Garrett Jones. Jones is hitting nearly .350 the last three weeks with six homers and 19 RBI. The other hot 1B have been Albert Pujols (a scalding .382 the last three weeks), Adam Dunn (seven bombs in the last three weeks) and Ryan Howard. All of those are playable six game options this week, especially Dunn who gets all six of his games in the friendly confines of US Cellular. Among the few teams with seven games, Freddie Freeman could be an option, but he has been quite cold lately, hitting under .225 the last three weeks. If you wanted to go cheaper, Anthony Rizzo has seven games, but he has cooled off in the power categories recently. Rizzo only has one homer in the last three weeks, but is still hitting for some average. The only other seven gamer to consider is Adam LaRoche, but he has been ice cold in both average and power.
Second Base: Dustin Pedroia and Aaron Hill remain the two best options at 2B over the last three weeks. However, charging hard after a downright brutal first half is Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks. Weeks is streaky to say the least and still strikes out too much, but if you think he can stay hot, he does have seven games this week. Rounding out the top 2B over the last three weeks is Ben Zobrist, who has been very solid across the board. The other seven-gamer to consider is Danny Espinosa, who has been pretty strong recently, hitting over .300 the last three weeks along with some pop with four homers in that span.
Third Base: Adrian Beltre continues to be the class of third base. Beltre is hitting nearly .400 the last three weeks with eight homers and 19 RBI. The Rangers only get two of their six games at home, but Beltre is so hot that he is not only a play on thee road, but also with only six games. I have been a sucker for Aramis Ramirez for years and he is finally repaying my love recently. A Ram continues to rake and with seven games this week, I am leaning towards just leaving him in my lineup. The other seven-gamer to consider is Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman is still hitting for average, but his power surge we enjoyed earlier this summer has waned a bit recently. He is still a rock solid play though and with so few teams with seven games this week, Zimmerman should be considered at 3B, but if you prefer Aramis, Zimm could even be a flex play this week. If you wanted to save some money at 3B, Pedro Alvarez has been on a big power surge of late and is the type of guy that you ride when he is hot and get off quickly once he cools down as his cold streaks tend to last a while.
Shortstop: Jimmy Rollins and Derek Jeter are the two hottest SS in the last three weeks. J Roll has been running a lot recently which has added on to his value and Jeter has been scoring a ton of runs. I played Erick Aybar last week and he has actually been solid this week at a weak position. Ian Desmond gets seven games this week and has been pretty good since coming off the DL 12 games ago. Also with seven games this week is Starlin Castro, who remains nearly impossible to figure out. Castro has been solid recently and just signed a large contract extension, but he just hits for no power and his SB tend to be wildly streaky. Jose Reyes has seven games this week and while he has been slumping lately, even when he isn't hitting, he manages to find ways to get on base and score runs. I think Reyes just has more upside than Castro in any given week. If you want to go very cheap and you trust him to stay healthy, Josh Rutledge could be a very solid cheap play with seven games this week.
Outfield: Mike Trout has decided to become a bit more human lately. He has still been very productive for his price tag in H2H, but he has been striking out a bit more recently. At his price, I will just leave him in even with six games, but for the first time in a while, I am keeping an eye on him to see if I want to swap him out at some point. My other two outfielders last week were Allen Craig and Matt Kemp who have both been very disappointing. With so few teams having seven games, Ryan Braun looks like a slam-dunk play this week. He has been red hot lately and gets an extra game over most of the field this week. I don't see any reason not to throw Braun in the lineup this week.
The other hot outfielders recently are not necessarily the usual suspects. Coco Crisp has been contributing in almost every category recently for my red-hot A's. Angel Pagan has also been a beast lately, hitting over .360 for the last three weeks and scoring a ton of runs for the Giants. How about the season Tyler Colvin has had? Colvin has been on fire as of late and could be a solid play with seven this week, I just wish more than two of the games were in Coors Field. Jason Heyward also gets seven games this week and just keeps continuing his breakout year. I really like Heyward as an option this week. I also really like Corey Hart with the seven Brewers games. Hart has been very strong lately, hitting nearly .350 the last three weeks with solid runs and RBI.
We always discuss Carlos Gonzalez when the Rockies have seven, but he has been hitting for just about zero power lately and with most of his games on the road, I am likely to pass on him at his price this week. If you wanted to look at a cheaper guy with seven games, Bryce Harper has started to hit better as of late and is also hitting for some power. He may be making adjustments as the season goes on and could be a productive cap saver this week. A sneaky play with seven this week is Martin Prado. Prado flies under the radar a lot, but he usually just hits and has even flashed some power as of late with four homers in the last three weeks. Finally, don't sleep on Carlos Gomez. I know we have all had our time with Gomez on a fantasy team, but he has managed to stay hot and keeps hitting with some pop and he just went yard again as I write this on Monday morning. He is a nice for anyone looking to save some money for studs elsewhere.
Pitching: When the Nationals are one of the few teams with seven games, it can make our pitching decision easy, but let's still take a look and consider all options. As for the Nats, they face the Cubs, Marlins and Mets and feature two starts from Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmerman as well as the second to last start of the year from Stephen Strasburg. Yea, that is going to be very tough to top. The Braves also look pretty solid facing the Rockies and Mets in five of their seven games. Their two steps are from Mike Minor and Tim Hudson. In many weeks, that would be my play, but I can't take them over the Nats this week. I don't love the other seven game pitching staffs this week and while there are a couple of six gamers that look good, I can't see giving up a full game to the Nats. If you want to fade the Nats, go with the Braves, but I don't really see any options stronger than those two teams.
I finally ended up with this for Week 23, leaving some cap on the table. I left Posey in over Rosario just because of the cap I had left over. Hope that works out.
C: Buster Posey ($9.5)
1B: Albert Pujols ($10.5)
2B: Rickie Weeks ($6.2)
3B: Aramis Ramirez ($8.2)
SS: Jose Reyes ($7.9)
OF: Ryan Braun ($12.0)
OF: Jason Heyward ($8.9)
OF: Mike Trout ($7.0)
Flex: Corey Hart (9.0)