10 Fantasy Baseball Players to Buy and Sell for Week 18
In many season-long, head-to-head fantasy leagues, the playoffs are fast approaching, with some taking place in a few weeks. Hopefully, you've made all the right moves and are in a position to play some postseason fantasy baseball this year.
But there is still time to make some changes and tweaks to your rosters ahead of the playoffs. Here are 10 players who should be of interest -- 5 you should buy and 5 others you should sell.
Buy Lourdes Gurriel
Toronto Blue Jays infielder Lourdes Gurriel has quietly flown under the radar this season, but he is having a magnificent rookie campaign. After tallying another three singles on Sunday against the Chicago White Sox, Gurriel now has multiple hits in 11 straight games, raising his overall numbers this season to .322/.340/.503 with 7 home runs in 147 plate appearances and a weighted runs created (wRC+) of 129. During this 11-game stretch, Gurriel is batting .500 (25-for-50) with a slugging percentage of .740.
Unfortunately, Gurriel left Sunday's game with a bruised knee during a slide into second base, and it's reported he is "likely" to hit the disabled list, so fantasy owners will have to monitor his progress. Lourdes doesn't walk much (2.0% walk rate this season), but the rookie puts the bat on the ball, making him a valuable commodity in terms of batting average while also possessing some pop. Even if he does go on the shelf for 10 days, he can still help during the stretch run and is especially valuable in dynasty formats.
Buy Gary Sanchez
Gary Sanchez' 2018 season has been one he would probably rather forget. After missing 20 games earlier this year with a groin injury, Sanchez returned briefly and made news for failing to hustle during a recent game. As it turns out, Sanchez re-injured that groin and is currently on the disabled list again, where he is expected to miss a couple weeks. When he's been on the field, Sanchez has struggled, hitting .188/.283/.416 with 14 home runs and 42 RBIs in 66 games, with a wRC+ of 89.
For owners preparing to play in the postseason, making an offer for Sanchez would strictly be a roll of the dice on the chance he's ready to come back before your playoffs start. If you can land Sanchez and he's able to return in time for the postseason, you could potentially have a star offensive catcher anchoring your lineup for something like half of what it would normally cost to get him.
Don't give up the farm for Sanchez, but he's worth pursuing as a stash possibility for the playoffs.
Buy Kyle Gibson
Helluva start by Kyle Gibson.
Eight innings of one-run ball at Fenway Park against the highest-scoring lineup in baseball. He started the eighth inning with 105 pitches and finished it with a career-high 120 pitches. Seven strikeouts, 12 ground-ball outs, 17 swinging strikes.
— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) July 27, 2018
Gibson has turned in a career year for Minnesota in 2018. The man who had identical 5.07 ERAs each of the last two seasons has a 3.42 ERA and 3.78 FIP in 21 starts (129.0 innings), and he has watched his strikeout totals jump. His strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) is up from a career clip of 6.62 to 8.79 this year, by far a career high, while his strikeout rate of 23.6% is much higher than his career mark of 17.1%.
The last two seasons, opponents hit .295 and .290 against him. This year, they've batted .220. The biggest reason is an improved fastball, averaging 93.4 miles per hour (MPH), the highest of his career (it was 92.9 MPH last year and 91.9 MPH the year before), and according to Fangraphs' pitch values, his fastball has gone from costing him a ton of runs (wFB of -10.9 runs last year and -19.7 in 2016) to actually saving his team runs this season (wFB of 3.1 in 2018).
This is legit, and he's worth buying high.
Buy Miguel Sano
The fall of former All-Star Miguel Sano was startling earlier this season as the team sent him to High-A ball to get himself right about a month ago. After hitting .328/.442/.453 in 19 games there, he was promoted to Triple-A, where he batted .267/.389/.500 in nine games. He was recalled by the Twins this week and has two hits, including a double, over three games.
This might signal the perfect time to buy Sano as a speculative add for your bench in the hopes he gets hot. Last year, he hit 28 bombs in 114 games with a wRC+ of 124, and he slammed 25 dingers the season before in 116 games. He has great power potential and would likely cost very, very little in terms of trade value.
He'd be a high-upside stash that, in the end, you may never use. But there is star potential there, and you can't buy any lower on Miguel Sano than you can right now.
Buy Eugenio Suarez
If Cincinnati Reds infielder Eugenio Suarez was playing for a contender, he'd be a legitimate MVP candidate right now. Suarez has been outstanding for a couple seasons now, hitting 21 and 26 homers, respectively, in 2016 and 2017, but this year, he's taken his offensive game to a new level. Last week, he hit a bomb in five straight games.
FIVE straight games with a homer for the @Reds' Eugenio Suarez!
via @FOXSportsOH pic.twitter.com/D4BBIETeJl
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) July 27, 2018
In 89 games (389 plate appearances), he's batting .298/.383/.574 with 24 homers, 80 RBIs and 56 runs scored with a wRC+ of 152 that is tied for eighth-best in Major League Baseball. However, because he plays for the Reds, he gets almost no notoriety. His current fantasy owners will know how good he is, however, so it would take a lot to get him. You may have to deal a top-tier pitcher in order to land him, but if you're pitching-rich and a Suarez owner needs some arms, make a play. Suarez is the real deal.
Sell Rafael Devers
Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers was supposed to take off in his first full season in the Majors after an exciting cup of coffee last year in which he posted a wRC+ of 111 in 58 games. But 2018 has been a constant struggle, as he's batted .245/.295/.425 in 96 games, and now he was placed on the disabled list with a strained hamstring.
There is a lot of talent inside Devers' bat, but it doesn't appear as if 2018 is the season he is going to unlock it. If you play in a dynasty league, you're probably holding onto the third baseman, but in season-long leagues, if you find an owner tantalized by his talent and situation in a loaded lineup (he does have 15 homers and 52 RBIs this year), try to move him before your trade deadline hits.
Sell Tyler Skaggs
Los Angeles Angels starter Tyler Skaggs is having a very nice season in 2018. Beset by injuries throughout his career, Skaggs has logged 110 innings, just 3 shy of his career high, posting a 2.62 ERA and 2.95 FIP, with a strikeout rate of 25.5% and an opponents' batting average allowed of .240.
Tyler Skaggs has allowed two or fewer runs in 15 of his 19 starts. He has a 9.41 K/9 and his 2.62 ERA ranks 9th.
— Chris Meaney (@chrismeaney) July 26, 2018
Skaggs has always had this kind of ability, it's just that his health has always gotten in the way. And therein lies the problem -- his health. While Skaggs is not hurt right now, one would expect he will approach an innings limit of some kind in late August or early September. The Angels will want to manage his workload, as Skaggs has not pitched more than 85 innings in any of the last three seasons.
If you can find an owner who needs another starter to make the postseason and you're already set on the mound, moving Skaggs for a starter with no innings cap (even if he is not quite as good), would be a smart play.
Sell Nick Pivetta
In March and April, Philadelphia Phillies starter Nick Pivetta had a 3.27 ERA, and in May, it was 3.24. He struck out 67 people and walked 14 in 58 innings of work and looked like one of the best young starters in the National League. He was a truly valuable fantasy commodity, as well.
Things have not been good since then. Pivetta struggled greatly in June, with a 7.71 ERA, and he has a 5.40 ERA in July. He's still striking out a bunch of guys, with a 32.6% strikeout rate this month, and his BABIP the last two months (.390 in June and .389 in July) are certainly outliers, but he's also about ready to surpass an innings load he's never reached before at the Major League level.
It might be wise to find a starter with a bit more of a track record for the stretch run, and you can Pivetta's strikeout rate and BABIP numbers to sell him to another owner.
Sell Robbie Ray
Coming into 2018, Arizona Diamondbacks starter Robbie Ray had emerged as one of the more dominant strikeout artists in the National League. Last year, he had a 2.89 ERA in 28 starts with a 3.72 FIP and a strikeout rate of 32.8%. He was a dominant left-handed arm for the D-Backs, and great things were expected of him this season.
But it hasn't gone as planned.
Ray has seen a dip in his velocity that has helped lead to a 5.05 ERA in 13 starts this season, with a 4.72 FIP and a big increase in his home run rate, up from 1.28 per nine innings last year to 1.77 this season. He's still striking out 30.5% of hitters he faces, but he is also walking 11.6%, and his average velocity of 93.4 MPH is almost a full tick lower than last year's 94.3 clip.
I don't think 2017 Robbie Ray is walking through that door over the last two months, so sell the strikeouts to someone and see if you can't get a better pitcher on the waiver wire or in a deal somehow.
Sell Jordan Zimmerman
It looked for a few minutes like Detroit Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann may have been on the comeback trail, and he could have helped an MLB contender in the second half of the season. In four starts (small sample size, I know) from June 16 to July 6, Zimmermann went at least five innings in each game, pitching seven and eight innings in the last two, with an ERA of 1.80. In that final start, he struck out 11 and walked no one.
Unfortunately, he couldn't keep it going. In his last three starts, he's given up at least four earned runs in each, and his ERA on the season stands at 4.44 with a FIP of 4.02. Now, that's way better than last year's 6.08 ERA and the 4.87 ERA he put up in 2016, and if you're able to sell Zimmermann to an owner who may be dealing with a rash of pitching injuries, you can sell him on those improvements. His strikeout rate is also up from 14.7% and 14.5% the last two seasons to 22.6% this year.
Dangle the line in the water and see what you get.