By Sam McPherson
It’s that time of year again, now that the 2017 regular season has kicked off for Major League Baseball. One week in, and most fantasy baseball owners are freaking out. After a draft where everything seemed to go right, the standings are telling a different story, and now most owners are going into panic mode. Never fear, as we are here to help you every week of the season with fantasy advice that can help anyone playing fantasy baseball in the standard, daily/weekly Rotisserie baseball format.
Assuming your league uses the 10 statistical categories most commonly employed—batting average, runs score home runs, runs batted in and stolen bases for hitters, joined with wins, saves, strikeouts, earned run average and baserunner ratio for pitchers—we have the answers for you every week on how to improve your roster and finish closer to the top of the standings than the bottom. We cannot guarantee you will win your league, because there are just too many variables to consider. After all, if this was an exact science, what would be the point of playing?
Check back every Monday until October for our thoughts on fantasy baseball; we wish you good fortune in the season ahead. Right now, you want players in your lineup and on your roster that are going to produce good statistics for you, so choose wisely when swapping out players during your transaction windows (whether daily or weekly). No roster is perfect, even if it is in first place, so here are the recommendations for the second week of the season.
Players to Get Onto Your Roster Now
1. Mark Reynolds, 1B, Colorado Rockies: He probably went undrafted in your league, even though he was scheduled to start the season as the starter in Coors Field. He is 33 years old, and yes, this is the same Mark Reynolds that led the majors in strikeouts four straight seasons (2008-2011). He also averaged 35-plus HRs in each of those seasons. In 118 games last season with the Rockies, he hit 14 HRs and posted 53 RBI with an .806 OPS. Reynolds may not stay in the lineup all season, but Colorado will find a place for all its good bats this year. He has hit three HRs and driven in eight runs already through the first six games of this season. That can help any team.
2. Kendall Graveman, SP, Oakland Athletics: After two mediocre seasons in 2015 and 2016, this is another player that was likely not drafted in your league, but Graveman has shown new capabilities in his first two starts this season. His strikeout rate is way up, and his hits-allowed ratio is way down despite facing two strong offensive teams (Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers) last week. He could be on his way to a stellar season, the kind that was predicted for him when the A’s acquired Graveman from Toronto in November 2014 as part of the package for Josh Donaldson. Don’t miss out on that opportunity.
3. Greg Holland, RP, Colorado Rockies: He was an All-Star selection in 2013 and 2014 with the Kansas City Royals, posting a 1.32 ERA over 129 1/3 innings, while saving 93 games and striking out 193 batters. Then, he got hurt. If he’s anywhere near that level for Colorado right now after missing all of 2016 in recovery from surgery, Holland is going to be amazing. He was a perfect 4-for-4 in save chances in the first week of the season, and Holland struck out six batters in his first four innings of 2017. He could be the Comeback Player of the Year as the Rockies should also surprise people this season.
4. Yangervis Solarte, 3B, San Diego Padres: Quite underrated considering the lack of depth at his position, Solarte has shown steady improvement since joining the Padres in 2014 via trade from the New York Yankees. He will be 30 years old this summer, but he is entering his prime. Depending on your league rules, Solarte also could have eligibility at second base and first base. He is settling in at second for San Diego this season, however, and his projected power (15-20 HRs this season) can be a nice addition to any middle-infield slot on the roster.
Players to Sit/Drop This Week
1. Julio Urias, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers: If you drafted him in hopes of a full season, that dream was dashed as the Dodgers sent him to the Triple-A club to start the season. Don’t panic; stash him on your bench, because it will be worth it in the second half of the season when he mows down MLB hitters on the way to another L.A. playoff run. As a 19-year-old rookie last year, he notched 84 Ks in just 77 innings. When the Dodgers need him, Urias will get the nod and make you look like a genius for stashing him on your bench.
2. Steven Matz, SP, New York Mets: In 168 career innings in 2015 and 2016, the lefty has struck out 163 batters. But he now has the “strained flexor tendon” diagnosis, and that could mean a lot of trouble. Yes, Matz is very talented, but unless you’re a diehard Mets fan and stubborn to the last, don’t risk a roster spot on a now-injured pitcher that may never seen the field in 2017. Let someone else in your league take up the roster spot for the high-risk, low-reward chance that Matz will pitch effectively this season. At most, stash him on your roster’s disabled list short term until the Mets know more about his situation.
3. Drew Smyly, SP, Seattle Mariners: Here we go again, as Smyly has roughly the same issue as Matz does, and he doesn’t have the potential Matz does, either. But Seattle was looking for a solid starter when they acquired Smyly from Tampa Bay in January, and now he’s on the 60-day DL for the Mariners. There is no need to stash him on your roster’s DL, however. While his career ERA (3.74) held promise for the Seattle rotation in 2017, it still would have been a nice bonus for Smyly to post that number over a full season. Since he was drafted in most leagues, you can just drop him and find a better pitcher on the waiver wire.
4. Jung Ho Kang, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates: Most hitters that get off to slow starts will recover eventually, so you want to hang on to them in order to maximize the hot streak to come. With Kang, however, the situation is entirely different. If you drafted him thinking he’d be back in the United States soon, don’t hold your breath. Kang has legal problems in South Korea, due to a DUI arrest in December, and even once the legal issues are cleared in regards to a work visa here, he’s going to need some time in the minors getting his timing back. How long can you stash him on your bench? That depends on the rest of your roster, but you should let it be someone else’s problem.