Injuries can change everything. If you remember last week, I wasn’t overly optimistic about prospects like Gavin Lux, Luis Robert, and Kyle Tucker paying off for those who stashed them in recent weeks. My bad. White Sox general manager Rick Hahn confirmed this week that Robert isn’t getting a call-up this season, but changing circumstances have pushed Lux and Tucker into the realm of short-term relevance.
Coming off a monster season in the minors, Lux is holding down second base duties as Max Muncy works his way back from a right wrist fracture. The good news for the Dodgers is that it’s considered minor and Muncy could be back by mid-September. The window could be small for Lux to make an impact, but this is a week-to-week scenario for many fantasy owners right now. I don’t need to tell you what to do here.
Tucker is also on the radar now that George Springer is sidelined with a concussion after hitting his head on the outfield wall following a catch. It’s unclear how often Tucker will be in the lineup, as he hasn’t played much center field over the past two years in the minors. While Jake Marisnick is flawed with the bat, he’s a skilled defender and could easily get the nod. Still, Tucker is a lot more interesting today than he was upon his call-up. I’d advocate a stash if you have the roster flexibility.
By the way, be sure to click through to the second page of this week's column to see recommended streamers for the weekend.
Have specific questions about your roster? Ask @djshort on Twitter.
(Players rostered in under 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Note: Percentages are from the morning of Thursday, September 5
Anthony Santander OF, Orioles (Yahoo: 37 percent rostered)
The Orioles have a negative run differential of 245 this season, but they have actually had some useful fantasy contributors in their lineup. Jonathan Villar has been one of the most valuable position players over the past month, but Santander has been the real surprise. A former Rule 5 draft pick, the 24-year-old switch-hitter has put together a .292/.327/.522 batting line with 17 homers and 48 RBI through 78 games. The bulk of his power production has come since the All-Star break and he’s currently riding a nine-game hitting streak. He’s been a fixture in the No. 3 spot since late July and plays half of his games in one of the best environments for a hitter. I love his swing and his name is just a lot of fun to say. Just try it. Fantasy owners only need a few more good weeks, but Santander has definitely played his way into a role with rebuilding Baltimore for 2020 and beyond.
Jordan Lyles SP/RP, Brewers (Yahoo: 35 percent rostered)
While it didn’t grab many headlines at the time, Lyles has been one of the best pickups from the trade deadline, with a 2.56 ERA over seven starts since coming over from the Pirates. The secondary numbers aren’t completely backing this up, but he’s allowed two earned runs or fewer in six of those starts and has held some pretty good teams in check (Astros, Cardinals, and Diamondbacks) with his last three starts. So he’s a gimme as a two-start pitcher next week against the Marlins and Cardinals, both on the road.
Robinson Cano 2B/1B, Mets (Yahoo: 30 percent rostered)
Cano sure hustled back from the injured list, huh? It looked like a season-ender when the 36-year-old suffered a hamstring tear back on August 4, but here he is trying to redeem himself for the final month. Cano was on fire prior to hitting the injured list and picked up from where he left off in his return on Wednesday against the Nationals, going 3-for-3 with a homer, two RBI, a walk, and two runs scored. Including his hot stretch prior to the injury, he now has 12 hits in his last 18 at-bats. That has pulled his batting average up from .235 all the way to .259 for the year. It looks like the Mets plan to lean on him down the stretch, so he makes sense as a flier in most formats.
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Adam Frazier 2B/OF, Pirates (Yahoo: 26 percent rostered)
Frazier was a favorite of mine in deeper leagues this spring, but there just wasn’t there over the first two months of the season. That has changed since the start of June, as he’s hitting .303/.360/.477 with 31 extra-base hits (including six homers), 28 RBI, and 42 runs scored over his last 79 games. He’s hitting .426 (23-for-54) over his last 14 games, including four straight multi-hit games. He’s found himself in the leadoff spot over the past three games, boosting his appeal, though that will change soon whenever Kevin Newman is ready to go again. Still, Frazier is a viable option in deeper formats much like we hoped in the spring.
Julio Urias SP/RP, Dodgers (Yahoo: 25 percent rostered)
We’ve reached the time of year where pretty much every pitcher with a modicum of upside is probably already rostered, but Urias could be an exception, at least in some leagues. After completing a 20-game domestic violence suspension, Urias returned on Tuesday against the Rockies and allowed one run over three innings while throwing 44 pitches. Working between the bullpen and the rotation, the 23-year-old holds a solid 2.55 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and 70/23 K/BB ratio over 70 2/3 innings this season. It’s unclear what the plan is at this point, but he lines up for a probable start against the Orioles next week and there’s the potential for other favorable matchups the rest of the way. Stash away.
Nate Lowe 1B, Rays (Yahoo: 14 percent rostered)
Lowe is one of my favorite September call-ups, keeping in mind all the caveats about the moving parts in the Rays’ lineup. The 24-year-old has already impressed in a small sample in the majors this year, with a .294/.366/.523 batting line over 32 games. He homered in his return on Sunday against the Orioles, making sure that we didn’t forget about him in fantasy leagues. And don’t worry, we’ve been waiting. Lowe doesn’t have anything left to prove in the minors at this point after hitting .289/.421/.508 with 16 homers over 93 games. Even taking the juiced baseball into account, he cut down on his strikeouts in Triple-A this year while hitting for power and getting on base at a monster clip. He’s a fine pickup as a corner infielder, but just know that he’s more useful in leagues which allow for daily lineup changes.
Scott Kingery 2B/3B/SS/OF, Phillies (Yahoo: 46 percent rostered)
I’ve made clear my affinity for versatility on fantasy rosters down the stretch, so it’s only natural that Kingery gets a mention here. In addition to qualifying at four different positions, he’s taken a big step forward from a disappointing rookie season by batting .273/.333/.503 with 17 homers and 10 steals through 105 games. Kingery is striking out more than you’d like to see, but he’s definitely been squaring the ball up better this year than he did as a rookie. According to FanGraphs, his hard-hit percentage is at 47.3 percent, up from 26.6 percent last year. That’s a huge jump. And helps explain the progress he’s made this year. Even hitting sixth or seventh on most nights, Kingery deserves consideration even in some shallow leagues.
Michael Lorenzen RP, Reds (Yahoo: 12 percent rostered)
Lorenzen had a remarkable day on Wednesday. In addition to getting the win (after blowing a lead) against the Phillies, he also hit his seventh career homer in addition to playing in the field. According to Stats Inc, he’s the first player to do those three things in the same game since some guy name Babe Ruth pulled off the feat in 1921. That’s a fun fact, but let’s focus on the closer situation with the Reds, as closer Raisel Iglesias has been very shaky for a good portion of the year. While Iglesias notched the save Wednesday, Lorenzen is a smart stash if you have the roster space. The 27-year-old holds a 3.04 ERA with 75 strikeouts and 27 walks in 74 innings. Even though he gave up a homer Wednesday, Lorenzen boasts a 1.91 ERA since the All-Star break. He actually made his first career start in center field on Thursday, but his hitting stats don’t count just yet in fantasy leagues. Someday, maybe.
Wilmer Flores 1B/2B/3B, Diamondbacks (Yahoo: 11 percent rostered)
Wilmer! Sorry, some habits never die. Flores lost a lot of the season due to a fractured foot, but he’s been on fire of late with the resurgent Diamondbacks, hitting an even .500 (20-for-40) with five homers, three doubles, 12 RBI, and nine runs scored over his last 13 games. He’s only started eight of those games, which is what makes this a tricky situation, but Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo indicated to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic on Wednesday that he could be making a push for a regular role. This would likely result in a diminished role for Jake Lamb, who has scuffled with a .200/.328/.367 batting line this season. Flores is most valuable against lefties, but he’s done decent enough against righties over the past two seasons and the multi-position eligibility is useful even if he’s not a great defender anywhere.
Brandon Nimmo OF, Mets (Yahoo: 17 percent rostered)
Nimmo really struggled prior to hitting the injured list in late May due to a bulging cervical disk, but he’s been making up for lost time right now, going 2-for-5 with a homer, a double, and six walks through four games off the IL. The Mets have some moving parts between their infield and outfield, so nothing is assured here, but Nimmo’s on-base ability is well-established at this point. He holds a .387 career on-base percentage through 288 games. Pay attention in five-outfielder formats and leagues which use on-base percentage as a category. He could really help in the coming days.