As your fantasy team marches into the playoffs, weekly matchups and playing time considerations become more important. Players fighting for playing time or battling nagging injuries can hurt you chances of taking home a title if they are giving you nothing or only playing three times per week. Especially leagues with weekly lineup locks.
While some players are easy to let go, the pedigree and past performance of others can make fantasy owners hesitant to cut or bench players of a certain caliber, but given the time of year, here are some top-150 players that you might consider cutting or benching to give you the best shot at winning in 2018.
Since returning from a back injury in August, Carlos Correa has struggled mightily. The Astros’ shortstop is slashing .178/.256/.228 with just a 39 wRC+ and one home run.
Unlike the other hitters on this list, Correa has continued to receive regular playing time despite both the lack of production and his injury. The poor offensive results are almost certainly correlated to the back injury that kept him out for over a month midseason. Correa recently acknowledged himself that his back continues to be an issue, and given the amount of time left in the season, its unlikely that it will resolve itself in time to help fantasy owners.
Correa was a first or second round pick this season after a stellar 2017 campaign, but given he is playing through pain, it might be worth finding another option for your 2018 fantasy playoffs, despite his tremendous upside and potential.
The 2017 rookie of the year struggled in the first half, but has come on in the second, where he has slashed .299/.380/.465. Bellinger’s ability to contribute in what is likely one your leagues more tightly bunched categories – stolen bases (11 steals this season) also makes him an important player to consider. But with expanded September rosters and the acquisitions of Brian Dozier and Manny Machado, Bellinger is seeing his playing time cut against left-handed pitching.
Bellinger has only started six of the Dodgers’ last eleven games (although he has appeared in all eleven, coming off the bench as a pinch hitter). After a strong rookie campaign where he posted a .260/.352/.610 line against left-handers, Bellinger has struggled against lefties this season (.222/.309/.389) and Dave Roberts has begun sitting him in order for the Dodgers to take advantage of the platoon split.
Bellinger’s talent and positional flexibility, combined with Matt Kemp’s struggles and Max Muncy cooling off mean Bellinger can still be productive down the stretch.
But he will likely continue to see less than full playing time for the Dodgers, however.
Despite being the fifth most valuable catcher eligible player according to the ESPN player rater, Gattis has seen his playing time plummet since Tyler White’s call up in August. Gattis was in the middle of a cold streak when White was re-called from Triple-A, but should have been expected to rebound – just like he did after an atrocious month of April. To make things more crowded, Brian McCann was activated from the disabled list last week and should factor into the catching and designated hitter rotation as well.
Gattis should hit if he plays but the Astros have more players than they have positions to fill them. As long as they are trying to hold off Oakland, they’ll likely need to keep playing the hot hand at Gattis’ expense.
Gattis was a must-start catcher for most of 2018 but given the playing time crunch it may be more beneficial to cut the slugger in favor of a catcher who has a chance to play four times per week.
Given he missed over two months with a broken foot, Dahl won’t be found atop fantasy leaderboards this season. But Dahl has been a valuable contributor in rotisserie leagues when healthy, hitting ten home runs and stealing five bases in 195 plate appearances.
The twenty-four-year-old is one of the Rockies’ top outfield options but he has been losing playing time to Gerardo Para, the recently signed Matt Holliday and occasionally Ian Desmond. Dahl has sat five times in the Rockies’ last eleven games. This is despite hitting .261/.327/.534 since returning from the DL in early August.
Dahl should matter, but he might be limited by the Rockies’ desire to get some of their veteran players into the lineup.
Gregorius, who was recently activated from the disabled list after missing time with a heel bruise, appears to be slowly working his way back into action– with Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone suggesting that they are treating Gregorius’ current status with the team “like a rehab”. In the Yankees’ four games since returning from the DL, Gregorius has sat once and started twice. Between Gleyber Torres, Adeiny Hechavarria and Ronald Torres, the Yankees have plenty of options available to spell Gregorius while he works his way back to full health.
On top of his injury rehab, Gregorius has cooled significantly since a hot April, hitting .251/.303/.408 since May 1st making his presence in the lineup less significant than it was earlier this season. Gregorius is the still the Yankees’ best option at short and ranks in the top-80 overall on ESPN’s player rater, but the combination of his injury and more pedestrian production means he may be worth benching down the stretch.
Nick thinks running a Major League or fantasy baseball team is incredibly easy. Until he is handed one of those coveted GM positions, his writing at RotoGraphs will illustrate how to do it properly. Fantasy baseball trade consultations and anything else can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweeted to @nickdika.