By Sam McPherson
September is an exciting month in Major League Baseball, as every team can expand its roster to include more players for the final weeks of the season. This often means rookies coming up to take starts and plate appearances away from veteran producers on your fantasy team.
Realistically, there are 10 American League teams still chasing playoff spots, and in the National League, there are six more teams pursuing the pennant. That means 14 other teams are trying out different players in what amounts to auditions for 2017 and beyond. It's hard to make sure the guys on your fantasy team are playing every day.
Smart fantasy baseball owners keep looking every day to make sure their players actually are playing that day. If not, they make transactions daily in leagues that allow it in order to make sure the active lineup is producing as many statistics as possible. In the end, it could come down to a few stolen bases or runs scored: It's a shame to lose by such small margins out of neglect and ignorance.
Players to Get On Your Roster Now
- Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers: He's not playing every day again (yet), but you can bet the Dodgers want Puig in the lineup as much as possible now that the division title is in plain view. He's hitting .308 this month, and Puig clearly learned some humility and focus while in the minor leagues this summer.
- Andrew Bailey, RP, Los Angeles Angels: He's stepped in this month for the Halos and closed three games for L.A. in three chances. The former All-Star closer for the Oakland Athletics may be a stopgap solution for the Angels, but he represents a great way to pick up some extra saves for fantasy baseball owners.
- Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins: Another young star that needed some time in the minors this year, Buxton is back and banging the ball this month. He's hitting .394 with five home runs and 12 RBI in September alone. This puts Buxton on the map for 2017 drafts, but you can still ride his hot streak right now in 2016.
- Luke Weaver, SP, St. Louis Cardinals: His numbers aren't super right now (3.96 ERA, 1.36 WHIP), but starting for the Cards down the stretch should get Weaver some wins this month. He has 39 strikeouts in just 31 innings, and Weaver has yet to give up more than three runs in any start. Grab him while you can and watch him win your league for you.
Players to Sit/Drop This Week
- Matt Shoemaker, SP, Los Angeles Angels: This goes without saying, as Shoemaker suffered a horrific experience on the mound recently, taking a batted ball off the head and being hospitalized as a result. He's done for the year, and we only can hope Shoemaker has a full recovery and is ready for 2017 sooner rather than later.
- Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds: The team has no reason to hurry Hamilton back from an oblique injury, especially with the Reds so far out of playoff contention. If you have him, be thankful he probably won you the steals title in your league. However, Hamilton isn't going to be doing much of anything in the final three weeks of the season, so you can release him.
- Denard Span, OF, San Francisco Giants: Like most of his teammates, Span has run out of gas in the second half of the season. He is hitting just .063 this month, and until Sunday, he had no HRs, no RBI and no steals this September. That's not the kind of player you want in your starting lineup when you are fighting for the fantasy league championship.
- Robbie Ray, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks: An up-and-down season has become a downer for Ray, as his last three starts have featured 26 base runners in just 15 ⅓ innings. That's not the kind of WHIP you're looking for in September, so look for more effective options on the waiver wire if you're still chasing wins and strikeouts.
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf and fantasy sports for CBS Local. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach. Follow him on Twitter @sxmcp, because he's quite prolific despite also being a college English professor and a certified copy editor.
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