This is the time of year that can be the trickiest to navigate as a fantasy baseball owner. Things start to change quickly over the coming weeks as contenders make moves and set things up for the playoff run and other teams start to shuffle their lineup to see what younger players may have to contribute. All of that motion can result in some major instability as role players get more playing time and some regular find themselves on the bench more often.
It’s a great opportunity if you find yourself in need of change at one of your positions. There’s plenty of options out there and you can find the best highlighted in our daily Sleeper Central post. Each day you can find a whole lineup’s worth of contributing players that are still owned in less than half of ESPN leagues.
Even with just nine games on the slate last night, there were still plenty of underowned players who stepped up. Here’s the highlights:
Jon Jay- OF – St. Louis Cardinals: Jay has been streaky all year which is why he’s owned in just 18.9% of ESPN leagues coming into today. He’s been hot lately and hit from the leadoff spot last night for St. Louis. In his last four games he’s 10-15 with a double and a walk. He also added two stolen bases last night giving him 13 in 15 attempts. His OBP is .383 and if he stays in the top spot in the potent Cardinals offense he’ll have huge upside as a run-scorer. On the year he’s played 68 games and has three home runs, 22 RBI, 40 runs scored, a .308 batting average, and a .789 OPS. He doesn’t offer tons of power, but he does make a solid addition if you need outfield depth and a boost in average and runs scored.
Sleeper Starting Lineup
C- Jose Lobaton – TB: (0.0% ownership in ESPN leagues) 2-4, 3 RBI. Lobaton isn’t known for his bat but he’s been picking it up a bit as of late. He’s in a platoon behind the plate but has hit .264 in 19 games since the All-Star break with a .350 OBP, three doubles, a home run, and nine RBI.
1B- Gaby Sanchez – Pit: (17.3%) 3-4, R. Sanchez continued to hit in his newfound home in Pittsburgh with his third multi-hit game in his last four starts. He’s 7-20 since coming from Miami but has yet to collect an extra-base hit. He’s starting to be someone worth keeping an eye on and maybe adding if you need average from 1B without a desperate need for power.
2B- Stephen Lombardozzi – Was: (6.0%) 2-5. Lombardozzi continues to start everyday at 2B while Ian Desmond is out but hasn’t hit well lately. This was his first mult-hit game in August and he’s still just 8-41 in nine games this month.
3B- Eric Chavez – NYY: (0.4%) 2-4, 2 R, RBI, HR. No Yankee fan could have dreamed this up, but Chavez is actually fillin in for A-Rod quite nicely. He has four consecutive multi-hit games and is hitting.458 so far in August with a 1.397 OPS, three home runs, and seven RBI in just seven games. On the year his average is up to .289 and he has 12 home runs and 29 RBI in just 194 at-bats. If you need a stop-gap measure at the hot corner, Chevez has turned into a solid option.
SS- Zack Cozart – Cin: (27.8%) 1-4, R, RBI, BB, HR. Cozart isn’t a typical leadoff, high-OBP guy, but at a SS position he can offer some value if you can trade some average for some long balls. Cozart has 13 home runs on the year, two in the last three games, and three in his last eight. He doesn’t produce particularly well in any other category, but his home runs instantly make him an option at a shallow SS position. Also in his defense, his average has been better lately with a .324 mark in his first eight games of August.
OF- Jon Jay – Stl: (19.4%) 2-3, R, 2B, BB, 2 SB. See above.
OF- Roger Bernadina – Was: (0.5%) 3-4, R, BB, 2 SB. Bernadina now has 13 steals on the year to go with a .287 average. He’s been the hot hand recently in the Nats outfield with Bryce Harper struggling and has taken more of the playing time. See how the situation plays out since he can help your steals and average if he’s in the daily lineup.
OF- Andres Torres – NYM: (0.8%) 3-3, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2B, 3B, HR. After an injury-plagued and disappointing first season with the Mets, Torres may be coming around a bit after a huge game against Miami. Since the break, he’s improved in every major offensive category hitting. In 24 games since the All-Star break he’s hitting .338 (as opposed to .201 pre-break) and has a home run, nine RBI, and a steal. If you need a fleet-footed outfielder with a hot bat, Torres is worth a look.
AL Starting Pitcher- Will Smith – KC: (0.1%) 7 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 3 BB, 5 K, W. Smith has his third solid road start in a row with a total of 20 innings against the Angels, Mariners, and Orioles in which he gave up six total earned runs and has gone 2-0. He’s still a risky pick depending on the opponent but has shown some promise and will stay in the Royals rotation for the rest of the season most likely.
NL Starting Pitcher- Joe Saunders – Ari: (0.4%) 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 H, 0 BB, 3 K, W. Saunders has been steady if not spectacular for most of this season. He has a 3.52 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. He doesn’t secure many wins (6-8) or strike out many (81 in 120.0 innings) but he makes a solid spot starter if you need a solid start to lower WHIP and ERA.