Over? Did you say over?
Nothing is over until we decide it is.
I want you to finish strong in your Fantasy Baseball league. Even if there isn’t time to turn a second-division team into a championship winner, there is plenty of time to improve on your current situation. And if you’re already in first, we certainly want to finish the job, get the engraving going, add to your trophy case.
Here are five themes to keep in mind as you navigate the final 15 percent of the season.
JUST SHOWING UP HAS A MAJOR VALUE NOW
September is the lowest fantasy-baseball engagement month, by far. It is what it is. People go back to school. The NFL comes over and obscures the sports world. Non-contending fantasy teams often decide to walk away, give up the grind.
Simply by showing up and doing your daily reps, good things can happen. Even in the competitive pools, you might be shocked at how easy it is to get the free agents you want. Pay extra-keen attention to your roster work on a Sunday; once football starts, this is the day most commonly punted. Don’t be that guy.
And if you’re one of those September-scattered types, that’s okay. Set your roster in advance, whenever possible. Don’t let an ace pitcher rot on the bench; don’t get caught shorthanded on a Monday or Thursday. Advance roster work won’t be as useful as day-of movement, but it’s better than forgetting altogether.
WORK THE CATEGORIES
This deep into the year, the rotisserie pools have a distinct shape and personality to them. You can easily deduce what category improvements can significantly improve you; conversely, it’s not that hard to see where improvement isn’t likely.
The Yahoo standings on your home page will update in real time, and I suggest you spend plenty of time sorting by each column and judging where your mobility-ops lie. At this point in the year, we know exactly what the shot is.
FOLLOW YOUR STREAMS, AND LOOK AHEAD IF NEEDED
Remember the burner cell phones on The Wire? Use briefly, then throw them away? You’ll be doing a lot of that in September, looking to click on a hot matchup, then move along. Hit it and quit it.
In some leagues, those looking to stream can jump on the website at any time of day. In more competitive leagues, you need to do it in the morning. In uber-competitive leagues, you might need to look ahead by a few days with your streaming calls. Also be proactive with schedules — know every Coors Field slate by heart, and also be on the lookout for doubleheaders.
Back to streaming for a second, keep close tabs on where you stand with innings maximums (if they apply). The goal in most leagues is to get close to your IP max, and then sail over it on your final accumulation day. To do this properly, to truly max out, you’ll need some scheduling in advance.
One final look ahead concept — if you’re sitting on a juicy bye in your head-to-head league, do not check out during the rest week. Keep working the wire; get your pitching lined up for the following week; give your roster a makeover if needed. This is especially critical if your league has a weekly transaction cap; take advantage of those extra moves the week before you’re actually competing.
ANONYMOUS NAMES ARE FINE; WE JUST WANT NUMBERS
With September roster expansion here, you’ll encounter plenty of new names, unfamiliar names. Don’t be swayed by this. We just want the stats. If someone is producing and in a good lineup or batting slot, I don’t care if I didn’t really know the guy a few weeks ago. We’re not in it for the long haul now, we just need a short-term fix. Appreciate that September silliness is dramatically different than baseball at other times. (You added Matt Olson, right? Good man.)
DECIPHER THE MOTIVATION
Most MLB clubs are putting their best foot forward for the majority of the summer, but plans shift in September. Some young pitchers will be shut down as innings pile up. Some early-clinch teams will be proactive with rest time (remember that the day after anyone clinches, the main starters almost always get a day off). The safest best for consistent playing time will come with the teams fighting for their lives, the clubs that need to win as much as possible to get into the playoffs.
And if there’s ever a time to run from injured players, it’s September. An injured player on a non-contender is a dangerous shutdown candidate; similarly, the dinged-up starters on a clinch team will probably get liberal rest as well.
We want you in the winner’s circle. We want you to drink your cocktails and fulfill your dreams. Let’s do this. Let’s crush September, together.