By Chris Cwik, CBSSports.com
Age eventually catches up to every baseball player. No matter how good they are, even the best players rarely go out on the top of their game. While it looked like Carlos Beltran was bound to suffer the same fate as many other great players early in the year, he’s been able to turn things around during the second half. Though he’s no longer an elite option, he’s still proving to be a useful asset for Fantasy owners. Putting your faith in a 37-year-old outfielder isn’t the safest option, but the track record is there with Beltran.
Carlos Beltran, OF, Yankees (54 percent started Week 22)
Week 23 schedule: Home against Red Sox, Royals
I know what you’re thinking. “Carlos Beltran is washed up,” right? You might get that impression by looking at his full season slash line, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Since the start of July, Beltran has hit .275/.337/.450 over 40 games. In the long run, that’s not a huge sample. But it does show that, despite his old age, Beltran is still a heck of a hitter. He won’t steal bases anymore, but could provide solid pop in the season’s last month.
Players I would start him over: Michael Morse, Alex Rios, Austin Jackson
Gerrit Cole, SP, Pirates (52 percent started Week 22)
Week 23 schedule: At Cardinals, Cubs
Cole has emerged from the disabled list looking rejuvenated. While any pitcher injury is always worrisome, Cole seems to be fully recovered from a lat issue. He was pumping his usual velocity in his first game back, and has put up some solid strikeout numbers in his two starts since his return. He had some control issues in his first start, but only walked one the second time out. Cole has the benefit of taking on two teams who haven’t hit much all season. He’s a much start.
Players I would start him over: Tim Hudson, Drew Smyly, Kyle Lohse (one start)
Yovani Gallardo, SP, Brewers (64 percent started Week 22)
Week 23 schedule: At Cubs, home against Cardinals
Coincidentally, Gallardo takes on the same opponents as Cole this week. That’s one of the reasons Gallardo becomes a strong start Week 23. Gallardo also deserves plenty of recognition for his performance this season. He’s traded increased control for strikeouts this year. On top of that, he’s kept the ball on the ground more often than in the past. It’s a different skill set, but it’s still effective. Not every pitcher can adjust like Gallardo has this season. He deserves a ton of credit for that.
Players I would start him over: Phil Hughes, Yordano Ventura, Chris Tillman (one start)
Wilson Ramos, C, Nationals (43 percent started Week 22)
Week 23 schedule: At Dodgers, home against Phillies
If Ramos could stay healthy for a full season, he would have a good chance to post a top-10 season among catchers. Ramos has always put up strong numbers when in the lineup, but seems to miss significant time every season. This year was no different, as Ramos has received fewer than 300 plate appearances thus far. Still, he’s healthy now, and should produce. On top of that, he’s belted four home runs in August. Ramos has been a sneaky home run hitter in the past, and could pay nice dividends down the stretch.
Players I would start him over: Derek Norris, Russell Martin, Kurt Suzuki
Adam Eaton, OF, White Sox (24 percent started Week 22)
Week 23 schedule: At Twins, Indians
Eaton is started to develop a bit of a reputation. He’s capable of putting up strong numbers when healthy, but his playing style probably makes him vulnerable to minor nicks and bruises. It’s unclear if he can hold up under a full season with his all-out style. But, when he plays, boy, he looks like a strong leadoff hitter. Eaton gets bonus points in on-base percentage leagues, and should score a lot of runs with Jose Abreu behind him.
Players I would start him over: Desmond Jennings, Yangervis Solarte, Marcell Ozuna
Tim Hudson, SP, Giants (55 percent started Week 22)
Week 23 schedule: At Rockies, Tigers
Tim Hudson is still a good pitcher. That can’t be debated. What can be debated is whether owners should start Hudson at Coors Field and against the Tigers. Coors Field is a graveyard for pitchers, even crafty veterans like Hudson. The Tigers have boasted a strong offense all season, making both of Hudson’s starts problematic Week 23. Get him back in your lineups the following week.
Players I would start instead: Gerrit Cole, Jason Hammel, C.J. Wilson (one start)
Phil Hughes, SP, Twins (70 percent started Week 22)
Week 23 schedule: At Orioles, home against Angels
Hughes falls into the same category as Hudson. He’s a good pitcher, but he has some tough opponents this week. Hughes has been much better at home all season. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Target Field is pretty friendly to fly ball pitchers like Hughes. On the road, he has a pedestrian 4.50 ERA. Playing his one road game at a hitter-friendly park like Camden Yards is a recipe for disaster. While he returns home for his second start, the Angels have been a strong offensive club all year.
Players I would start instead: Yovani Gallardo, Zack Wheeler, Jake Arrieta (one start)
Desmond Jennings, OF, Rays (54 percent started Week 22)
Week 23 schedule: Home against Red Sox, Orioles
It’s been a tough couple of months for Jennings. Since July, he’s hitting .254/.294/.379 over 42 games. On top of that, he’s stopped stealing bases. After swiping 12 bags over the first half of the year, Jennings has stolen just three bases since the start of the second half. He’s just not doing enough to justify a start in three outfielder leagues. There are other players who can give you a better skill-set at the position.
Players I would start instead: Adam Eaton, Rajai Davis, Brock Holt
Derek Norris, C, Athletics (50 percent started Week 22)
Week 23 schedule: Home against Mariners, Astros
Norris was listed as a start last week due to playing away from his large home park. This week, he returns home, and brings some troubling trends with him. After a blistering first half, Norris has cooled down considerably. Since July, he’s hitting just .237/.315/.336. Not surprisingly, his struggles have coincided with a jump in his strikeout rate. Norris isn’t actually this bad, but he’s going through a tough stretch. It’s okay to ride it out with someone else Week 23.
Players I would start instead: Wilson Ramos, John Jaso, Yan Gomes
Chris Archer, SP, Rays (69 percent started Week 22)
Week 23 schedule: Home against Blue Jays
The Blue Jays may be in a free-fall, but the offense is still threatening. That’s to be expected when the middle of the order consists of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. To Archer’s credit, he’s been pretty fantastic over the second half. In 44 innings, he’s posted an excellent 2.25 ERA. Those are ace-level numbers. Still, Archer has just one start Week 23, and it’s against a tough offensive club. Get him back in the lineup Week 24.
Players I would start instead: Alex Wood, Matt Shoemaker, Jimmy Nelson (two starts)
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