Can you believe it's mid-August? We're in the dog days, and this is when leagues are won and lost. You have to stay diligent even with football creeping up on us. Players will be more widely available as fewer managers will be paying full attention so your diligence will be rewarded.
Hopefully articles like this one tip you off to some players who will bring those titles.
Aaron Sanchez (R), rostered in 32% of ESPN leagues, Houston Astros vs. Detroit Tigers: Sanchez came back to earth a bit with a 6 ER at Oakland, but we knew he wasn't going to just turn into a Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, and Zack Greinke hybrid just by osmosis. Four homers sunk him against the A's so getting a Tigers team that has the third-fewest homers against righties is a great way to rebound. Sanchez also gets the Angels this weekend and then returns to Toronto to face his old club next week. Consider holding him beyond Tuesday's start.
Brad Keller (R), 21%, Kansas City Royals at Baltimore Orioles: How fortunate are we to get widely available pitchers against two of the most inept offenses in the league? Keller has a 3.06 ERA and 1.21 WHIP since July 1 with at least five strikeouts in six of the outings. Baltimore is 25th in weighted on-base average (wOBA) with just a .304 mark and they give Keller a good opportunity to stay strong.
Cal Quantrill (R), 18%, San Diego Padres at Cincinnati Reds: Have you been following Quantrill's second-half ascent? He's returned the rotation since the break and quietly put together a 1.31 ERA and 0.82 WHIP in 34 1/3 innings with 25 strikeouts and just six walks. The 24-year-old right-hander lost some of his prospect sheen after a rough 2018 in Double- and Triple-A, but he was twice a Top 100 propsect for the Padres, including a peak of 40 at one outlet. Quantrill has had his surge against a strong slate of opponents, too, including the Braves, Cubs, Dodgers, and Rays, all four currently in the playoffs if the season ended today.
Catcher -- Will Smith (R), 46%, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Sean Reid-Foley): Look, I know not every league uses two catchers and some leagues don't have a full allotment of active managers, but this is still a criminally low roster rate for Smith. He's been absolutely out of his mind in his debut, hitting .325/.398/.800 with 10 HR in 93 PA, including an insane 1.367 OPS against righties. In any other year, he would be surging up the Rookie of Year list, but Pete Alonso and Mike Soroka will be battling that out with the now-injured Fernando Tatis Jr. likely still finishing in the top 3. Smith is a must-roster in all formats so if he's still available in your league, go get him!
First Base - Wilmer Flores (R), 10%, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Colorado Rockies (LHP Kyle Freeland): This one is easy, Flores against lefties is money in the bank. He has a .338/.369/.638 line against them with all six of his homers on the season. He's been surging of late with a 1.403 OPS in the last two weeks. Meanwhile, Freeland is getting tattooed by righties to the tune of a .301/.367/.599 line with 21 HR allowed.
Second Base -- Josh VanMeter (L), 23%, Cincinnati Reds vs. San Diego Padres (RHP Cal Quantrill): JVM has slowed a bit after an excellent July, but I like spot starting him against righty, even a righty I recommended starting for the day. VanMeter has a healthy .865 OPS against righties with all four of his season homers and three of his four stolen bases. While I did recommend Quantrill, I will point out that he has a 209-point platoon split favoring lefty hitters (.749 OPS).
Third Base -- Kyle Seager (L), 28%, Seattle Mariners at Tampa Bay Rays (Undecided): Seager hit his 16th HR on Sunday. He's now hitting .357/.419/.786 with 10 HR, 21 RBI, and 18 R since July 22, an impressive return to prominence for the 31-year old. He will likely face Jalen Beeks after an opener, but that's fine as Seager is has an .892 OPS with 8 HR against lefties this year.
Shortstop -- Hanser Alberto (R), 8%, Baltimore Orioles vs. Kansas City Royals (RHP Brad Keller): Our SS and MI picks this Tuesday will be batting average focused, so if that's a stat you are looking to improve upon, I've got you! Alberto is quietly hitting .319 on the season, good for 4th in the American League. He's hitting a cool .345 since the break and while his .252 AVG against righties for the season doesn't look good, he's up to .300 since the break.
Corner Infield -- Brian Anderson (R), 49%, Miami Marlins at Atlanta Braves (LHP Dallas Keuchel): Anderson has quietly been on fire since June 1. He had just a .663 OPS through May, but has soared to a .926 in 276 PA since then, including a big turnaround against lefties. He's hitting .278/.328/.593 with 5 HR in 58 PA against southpaws during this run.
Middle Infield -- Luis Arraez (L), 14%, Minnesota Twins vs. Chicago White Sox (RHP Reynaldo Lopez): I recommended Arraez last week and I'm back again looking for some batting average upside. He's hitting a cool .342 on the year, which is an AL-best among hitters with at least 220 PA. He hasn't played enough to qualify for a batting title, but his batting average is legit. He has struck out just 7% of the time, also an AL-best, and he hit .331 in 1585 minor league PA.
Outfield -- Mike Tauchman (L), 42%, New York Yankees at Oakland Athletics (RHP Homer Bailey): How did Tauchman's roster rate drop from last week when I recommended him?! He went 2-for-3 with a 2B and RBI for us last Tuesday. He's still playing every day yet dropped three points in roster rate, but OK, that's just more opportunity for us. The surprise star has hit .371/.441/.705 with 8 HR, 28 RBI, and 25 R since July 4.
Outfield -- Willie Calhoun (L), 15%, Texas Rangers vs. Los Angeles Angels (LHP Andrew Heaney): Calhoun was a popular sleeper pick last year, but ended up having a bust of a season, spent primarily in Triple-A. The 24-year-old finally appears to be up for good and he's been incredible since his latest recall on July 26, hitting .292/.354/.625 with 6 HR in 79 PA. He has regularly been hitting fourth lately, too. Calhoun is going to be a key pickup for some championship teams, don't let him linger out there much longer.
Outfield -- Ian Happ (S), 11%, Chicago Cubs vs. San Francisco Giants (RHP Tyler Beede): Speaking of 2018 busts, Happ fell well short of expectations, though unlike Calhoun he played the bulk of the season, logging 462 PA of .761 OPS. He spent the first half in Triple-A this year, but was finally recalled on July 26 and has looked pretty sharp with a .918 OPS and 4 HR in 62 PA. He has started eight of the last 11 games, during which he's hit 3 of his 4 HR.
Hitter matchup ratings
Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's history (three years' worth) as well as ballpark factors. "LH" and "RH" ratings account only for left- and right-handed batters, respectively.
Weighted on-base average (wOBA) is the primary statistic used in the calculation. Ratings range from 1 to 10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. For example, a 10 is a must-start rating, while a 1 should be avoided (if possible).