10 Fantasy Baseball Players to Buy and Sell for Week 19
In some season-long fantasy leagues, the trade deadline has come and gone, but in many, the date to cut off trades is coming in the middle of next week. So there is precious little time to make upgrades to your rosters ahead of the playoffs.
Happily, if you are looking to swing a few deals between now and then, we are here to help you decide which players are worth investing in, and which are ones you should be looking to deal away.
Here are 10 players to buy and sell ahead of this week's MLB fantasy action.
Buy Daniel Murphy
When Daniel Murphy was out of the Washington Nationals' lineup with a knee injury for the first half of the season, his absence was felt. After all, Murphy has been one of the best offensive players in the game over the last three years.
And when he came off the disabled list, it was clear he wasn't 100%. In his first 21 games, Murphy batted .188/.230/.261 with 1 home run and 2 doubles in 74 plate appearances. However, since July 8 (20 games), Murphy has been on fire, hitting .413/.472/.635 for a 1.107 OPS and, more importantly, the power has returned.
Come for Daniel Murphy's 2nd inning HR.
Stay for Daniel Murphy's 3rd inning HR. pic.twitter.com/EHkGSTTVli
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 1, 2018
Murphy has produced 3 bombs and 5 doubles in his last 20 games, and he is once again looking like the best-hitting second baseman in the National League.
Buy Vince Velasquez
On June 8, Philadelphia Phillies starter Vince Velasquez gave up 10 earned runs to the Milwaukee Brewers in 3.2 innings, raising his ERA to 4.95 on the season. However, that ERA belied how good he had been in 2018, as he entered that game with a 3.82 ERA.
In the eight starts since that outing, Velasquez has been one of the best pitchers in baseball, with a 2.14 ERA and allowing opponents to slash .155/.256/.252 in 46.1 innings during that stretch.
ERA leaders since June 9:
Chris Sale- 0.69
Trevor Bauer- 2.00
Blake Snell- 2.11
Vince Velasquez- 2.12
Jacob deGrom- 2.18
Zack Greinke- 2.26
Clayton Kershaw- 2.33
Aaron Nola- 2.34
— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) August 4, 2018
Velasquez has always had electric stuff, and now he appears to be harnessing it for a Phils team that is steaming toward a playoff berth. Be sure to snatch him up if and when the price is right.
Buy Cole Hamels
In his first outing for the Chicago Cubs last week, Hamels went five innings, giving up just three hits with no runs and nine strikeouts, which made for a terrific debut. But this should have come as no surprise, as Hamels has pitched quite well outside of Arlington, both this year and in his career. This season, he had a home ERA of 6.41 in 10 starts and a 2.69 ERA in 11 starts away from Texas.
A change of scenery was desperately needed, and Chicago will be the beneficiary of a pitcher who thrives in pennant races and the postseason. He may not be 2008 Cole Hamels, but he'll be a dependable starter with the ability to flash top-of-the-rotation stuff on any given day.
Buy Kevin Gausman
The Atlanta Braves made a move to improve their starting rotation just before the Trade Deadline, and the acquisition of Kevin Gausman should help them. Gausman can be a frustrating pitcher to watch, because he can dominate teams with ace-type stuff one night and get knocked around the next.
But in his first start for Atlanta, he was solid, going five innings against the New York Mets and giving up three runs on six hits with two strikeouts and two walks, lowering his ERA to 4.47. Like Hamels, Gausman could also be a change-of-scenery guy, moving to a team with a better lineup and a different coaching staff, as well as getting out of the American League East and into the NL, where lineups aren't nearly as strong.
Buy Christian Yelich
When the Milwaukee Brewers traded for Christian Yelich last winter, they knew they were getting a good, young player under team control for a number of years. But what they couldn't have known was that they were getting an NL MVP candidate.
Yelich currently leads the National League in batting average (.326) and has a slugging percentage (.544) that is almost 100 points higher than his career mark (.447). He has 17 homers this season, 1 short of last year's 18, with 25 doubles, and he also gives you some speed on the bases, with 13 steals.
In 16 games since the All-Star Break, he's been unstoppable, hitting .485/.507/.955 with 6 dingers, 9 doubles and 2 triples in 69 plate appearances. If you can trade for him, go for it, but it's hard to see any fantasy owner letting him go at this point.
Sell Chris Taylor
When Justin Turner is ready to come off the disabled list for the Los Angeles Dodgers, it's going to be really hard for Chris Taylor to find playing time. The addition of Manny Machado at shortstop will likely leave Taylor as a bench player who may rotate himself into the lineup at various positions a couple times a week, but likely won't be an everyday player.
That's a shame, because Turner has had a productive season -- perhaps more productive in real world baseball than fantasy -- with a WAR of 3.2 and a slash line of .257/.332/.451, including 12 bombs, 50 RBI, 27 doubles and 8 triples in 2018. However, Taylor owners will probably have to grab someone else to replace him, and will have to do so just as the playoffs are approaching.
Sell Jose Bautista
Between his time with the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets, Jose Bautista has had a very weird season, and if you're an owner who has him in a league that uses on-base percentage rather than batting average, then you've likely been pleased with your pickup.
In 254 plate appearances, Bautista has hit .203, but with a .346 OBP, and since coming to the Mets, his OBP is .364. He's hit 6 home runs in 62 games with New York, and although he is no longer the power threat he used to be, he's been a decent plug-and-play. But it appears as if even those modest numbers are starting to wane.
Jose Bautista, who has started 12 of the Mets' last 13 games, is in an 0-for-23 slump with 12 strikeouts.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) August 5, 2018
If the Mets were holding out hope that they might be able to deal Bautista to a contender this month, that is likely out the window. That may be true for fantasy owners as well, but give it your best shot.
Sell Marcell Ozuna
It appears as though Marcell Ozuna is going to be an enigma year in and year out.
In 2014, his first full season in the Majors, Ozuna was a star for the Miami Marlins, with an OPS of .772 and an OPS+ of 114. The following year, that OPS dropped to .691, he hit just 10 bombs and spent part of the season demoted in Triple-A. In 2016, he had an OPS of .773 with 23 homers and then exploded last year, his final season in Miami, with a 37-homer season and an OPS+ of 148, finishing 15th in the NL MVP voting.
But in 2018, it's back to middling Ozuna, with an OPS of .699 and an OPS+ of 90, with a mere 13 dingers. His walk rate has dropped from 9.4% to 5.9%, but other than that, his peripherals look good. He's not hitting more grounders, he doesn't have bad luck on balls in play (.298 BABIP), he hits the ball "hard" 44.6% of the time (according to Fangraphs), and he's chasing fewer pitches out of the zone than he did last year (33.1% in '17 to 31.9% this year).
Whatever the reason, Ozuna is not getting back to last year's levels of production, so if you can find an upgrade, now's the time to do it.
Sell Jorge Alfaro
If you have been starting Jorge Alfaro this season, it's either because you play in a very deep league, an NL-only league, or a league in which you start two catchers. And Alfaro has not been terrible if you've had to start him, as he's slashed .257/.314/.399 with 7 home runs, although his wRC+ of 88 indicates he's been below average offensively.
But even that production is likely to cease in a week or two when newly-acquired Wilson Ramos is off the disabled list with a hamstring injury. He says he'll be back this month, although the Phillies say it could be September 1 before he returns to the lineup. Whenever he does, Ramos will take over the majority of the starting duties, with Alfaro reduced to a backup role. He likely won't be worth much in any fantasy format after that happens.
Sell Nathan Eovaldi
Folks, we all need to pump the brakes on Nathan Eovaldi. Yes, since being traded to the Boston Red Sox, he has been terrific, with 15 scoreless innings through 2 starts. He's piled up nine strikeouts and just one walk in those outings, and has definitely looked the part.
Nathan Eovaldi is making hitters look quite dumb right now pic.twitter.com/qRT94GHsqZ
— Sox Lunch (@Soxlunch) August 4, 2018
But bear in mind that, despite having a blazing fastball his entire career, he hasn't been able to establish himself as one of the game's great pitchers. He had a 4.26 ERA in 10 starts with the Tampa Bay Rays this season, averaging a disappointing 7.8 strikeouts per 9, and for his career, he's posted even fewer (6.7) punchouts on average.
His career 4.14 ERA is fine, with a FIP of 3.85 that tells us he's been better. But to think he's suddenly become an ace-level starting pitcher in two starts is putting the cart before the horse. If you picked up Eovaldi on the waiver wire, now is a great time to look to deal him while his value is at its peak, because history has proven that low strikeout guys don't remain this dominant.