By Sam McPherson It happens to every fantasy baseball owner eventually: At the end of the season, you miss out on a league prize by one measly home run or one stolen base. With a few extra stats here or there, you’re celebrating instead of complaining about injuries, luck and whatnot. However, there’s an easy way to avoid that kind of October misery: Don’t ever give up. Those near-winning finishes almost always are the result of negligence. A smart fantasy baseball team owner will keep her/his eye on the rules and the standings to make sure they’ve maximized every opportunity for the entire six-month season. Yes, that’s no easy feat when we have families, jobs and other things going on. But it’s the price to pay for fielding a winning team most of the time. With just 40 or so games left on the Major League Baseball schedule over the next six weeks, there is still time to win your league. Keep an eye on your position maximums if your league has them, and make sure you aren’t being shortchanged by your roster. Make daily moves if you can to get more plate appearances for your hitters and more innings/starts for your pitchers. Leave no stone unturned in these final six weeks, and you will find yourself much more content at the end of the season than if you did not do so. Players to Get Onto Your Roster Now 1. Trevor Bauer, SP, Cleveland Indians: The overall numbers are ugly (4.50 ERA, 1.418 WHIP), but focus instead on what he’s done lately (1.51 ERA, 1.206 WHIP since late July). For some reason, Bauer is still hittable despite posting great strikeout rates (38 Ks in his last 35 2/3 innings pitched). Grab him while he’s hot and ride it out for some wins and Ks. He may revert to his ugly side at any time, so keep an eye on him. 2. Dinelson Lamet, SP, San Diego Padres: At this point in the season, it’s about grabbing the hot hand, and like Bauer above, Lamet is hot right now. Since the All-Star break, he is 4-1 with a 3.41 and 37 Ks in 34 1/3 innings. He is doing this on one of the worst teams in baseball, as well. The 1.019 WHIP since mid-July is a bonus. 3. Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins: Back on April 17, we suggested dropping him, and it was well deserved then. Now, if you need cheap steals, he’s yours to be had. Since the start of July, Buxton is hitting .356 in 28 games, with eight SBs. You can ignore his overall numbers (which are ugly, due to that slow start), and enjoy the hot streak he is on right now. 4. Cory Spangenberg, UTL, San Diego Padres: He may have eligibility at second, third and the outfield, depending on your league rules. Along with a .278 average, 12 HRs and eight SBs, though, Spangenberg can be a good fill-in guy for your roster that has a hole in it somewhere due to injury, etc. But he’s hitting over .300 since the start of June, and that’s consistency any team can use right now, especially at second base. Players to Sit/Drop This Week 1. Trevor Rosenthal, RP, St. Louis Cardinals: Looks like bad injury news for the Cards closer and his elbow. If you were able to snag him earlier this year, you enjoyed a handful of saves he earned plus those stunning 76 Ks in just 47 2/3 innings. But the 2017 ride could be over for Rosenthal, since getting a “second opinion” on an injury to your throwing arm is never a good sign. 2. Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates: After a mediocre first half (just eight HRs and eight SBs), fantasy owners were hoping he would turn it around in the second half. Nope. Polanco hit just .125 this month and is now injured. His 2016 season (22 HRs, 86 RBI, 17 SBs) seems like a distant memory, and if you kept him in your lineup this long, you’re probably in the lower half of the league standings. 3. Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Boston Red Sox: It’s hard to remember, but this guy was the 2007 American League Rookie of the Year and the 2008 AL Most Valuable Player. Oh, how the mighty have fallen! Pedroia hasn’t even been an All-Star selection since 2013, and this season his power is near an all-time low for his career (.406 slugging percentage). Pedroia’s speed is gone now, too (just four SBs). He’s hurt now, as well, so the team will protect him for postseason play. You don’t have that same luxury. 4. Brent Suter, SP, Milwaukee Brewers: He was the flavor of the month in July when he posted a 1.50 ERA over five starts. Now, after three terrible starts (8.16 ERA) in August, he’s on the disabled list with rotator cuff trouble. Uh oh. Hopefully, he’s not still on your roster, but if he is, it’s time to let him go and be thankful for what you did get out of him this summer.
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There Is Still Time To Win Your Fantasy Baseball League
CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Alvin Kamara ran for a 50-yard touchdown and the New Orleans Saints beat the Los Angeles Chargers 13-7 on Sunday night. Safety Dexter McCoil intercepted Ryan Nassib’s fourth-quarter pass and returned it 99 yards for the Chargers’ lone touchdown. With just a six-day turnaround to the all-important third preseason game, both the Chargers and Saints gave their starting quarterbacks the day off. The only competitive passes fans at StubHub Center saw Philip Rivers and Drew Brees throw were prerecorded, as the former San Diego teammates staged a throwing contest reminiscent of the old Quarterback Challenge after practice during two days of joint workouts between the Chargers and Saints earlier in the week. Instead, the Saints’ cautious approach gave Kamara another chance to shine. Kamara burst off the left side for a touchdown on New Orleans’ first play from scrimmage. The third-round pick from Tennessee finished with 61 yards on five carries and added a 22-yard catch-and-run coming out of the backfield. Kamara is averaging 10.7 yards per carry in the preseason, adding another asset to a position group that already includes Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram. Chase Daniel was 7 of 12 for 80 yards in place of Brees, finding Michael Thomas for a 28-yard reception to help set up Wil Lutz’s 53-yard field goal midway through the first quarter. Lutz added a 26-yard field goal with 2:11 remaining. The Chargers played without their starting tackles, as Russell Okung was held out because of a minor ankle injury and Joe Barksdale stood on the sideline with his right foot in a walking boot. The drop-off to backups Tyreek Burwell on the left side and Chris Hairston on the right was evident, as the Chargers only gained 31 yards on 15 plays in the first quarter. When the Chargers finally reached midfield on their third possession, Burwell and left guard Kenny Wiggins gave up sacks on consecutive plays to end the drive. Linebacker Manti Te’o, who played his first four seasons with the Chargers, had one of four first-half sacks for the Saints. Chargers running back Melvin Gordon rushed for 8 yards on five carries and had a catch for 7 yards in the first quarter. Kellen Clemens was 10 of 17 for 99 yards and added 26 yards rushing on three carries. TROUBLE IN TINSELTOWN? There was plenty of grumbling and rumblings around the NFL when the Chargers had a crowd of only 21,054 for their preseason opener, failing to outdraw the LA Galaxy’s MLS match the previous night. It could only intensify after the Chargers pulled in 21,197 fans at their 27,000-seat temporary home Sunday. That total was again bolstered by a significant number of visiting fans. Some of the loudest cheers and even some “Who Dat” chants came when the Saints defense had the Chargers backed up on their own goal line to end the first half. INJURIES Saints: Rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore, a first-round pick from Ohio State, made his preseason debut after missing most of training camp because of a sprained knee. Chargers: Burwell left the game after the third drive with a right hand injury and did not return. Burwell emerged from the locker room in the first half in a cast that covered his whole hand. Hairston slid over to left tackle, with rookie Sam Tevi handling duties at right tackle. (© Copyright 201 7 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
NEW YORK (AP) — Jonathan Lewis scored in stoppage time to help New York City FC beat the New England Revolution 2-1 on Sunday for its third straight victory. The 20-year-old rookie has scored his only two MLS goals in back-to-back games. Villa trapped a long cross from RJ Allen on the left side and dropped it to Ben Sweat, who first-timed a left footer to Lewis at the top of the 6-yard box for the finish in the fourth minute of injury time. Teal Bunbury put away a rebound to open the scoring for New England (8-11-5) in the 57th minute. Andrew Farrell’s shot from distance backed up goalkeeper Sean Johnson against the goal line, where he spilled the stop and Bunbury scored from point-blank range. It was his fifth goal in the last five games. Villa tied it for NYC (14-7-4) in the 77th with his MLS-leading 19th goal. The Revolution are winless in their last 14 road games, a franchise record. (Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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Lewis Scores In Stoppage Time As NYCFC Beats New England
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — What trade deadline? The Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday claimed right-handed pitcher Jordan Jankowski from the Houston Astros. Meanwhile, they sent minor league right-hander Jacob Rhame to the Mets to complete the Curtis Granderson trade. Jankowski, 28, was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Jankowski has gone 24-16 with a 3.46 ERA in 233 games (28 starts) in six minor league seasons in the Houston organization. He’s struck out an eye-raising 509 in 421.0 innings and limited opponents to a .228 batting average. He made his Major League debut on May 24 against the Tigers. In three major league games this year, Jankowski allowed six runs in 4.1 innings before being designated for assignment on Monday. The Pennsylvania native spent the majority of the 2017 season with Houston’s Triple-A Fresno, going 2-3 with a 5.13 ERA in 37 games. He was originally selected by the Astros in the 34th round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of Catawba (NC) College. Rhame, 24, went 0-2 with two saves and 4.31 ERA in 41 games this year with Triple-A Oklahoma City. He has posted a 10-18 record with 29 saves and a 3.11 ERA in 210 minor league games in the Dodger organization after being selected in the sixth round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.
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Dodgers Claim Pitcher From Astros, Ship Another Off To Mets
DETROIT (AP) — Justin Verlander approached this start like a postseason game, fully aware of how tough the Los Angeles Dodgers are to beat right now. After five innings, Verlander had a no-hitter going — but so did Kenta Maeda. Then Detroit broke through for four runs in the sixth, giving Verlander a little more margin for error. “It’s impossible to really create a playoff atmosphere without being in the playoffs, but I tried my best to do that,” Verlander said. “There was that much more focus and intensity in every pitch.” Verlander allowed two hits in eight innings, and the Tigers beat the Dodgers 6-1 on Sunday, snapping their six-game skid and halting a six-game winning streak by Los Angeles. The Tigers star allowed a home run to Curtis Granderson in the sixth, but shortly after his no-hit bid ended, Detroit broke up Maeda’s and took the lead in the bottom of the inning. Verlander (9-8) walked one and struck out nine. “Verlander certainly showed today that he’s still an ace,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He hasn’t had the career he’s had by accident. He’s a great pitcher.” Maeda (11-5) retired the first 15 Detroit batters before allowing five hits in the sixth. He was pulled after that inning and lost for the first time in seven starts. Verlander has pitched two no-hitters in his career. He retired the first 13 Los Angeles hitters, taming the team with by far the best record in the major leagues. “If Justin Verlander’s pitching well, it doesn’t matter. It could be the ’27 Yankees,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “The numbers are going to look pretty good for Ver at the end of the game if he’s pitching like he did today.” Verlander walked Yasiel Puig on a full count in the fifth, and Granderson’s drive to right field an inning later hit the pole for a homer. The only other hitter to reach base against Verlander was Austin Barnes, who singled in the eighth. John Hicks lined a clean single to left-center to lead off the bottom of the sixth and break up Maeda’s perfect game. Andrew Romine followed with a double, and Dixon Machado hit a two-run double that put the Tigers up 2-1. Justin Upton added a two-run homer later in the inning. “It all happened very quickly. He gave up that first double on a curveball, and then they got a couple more,” Roberts said. “He looked like he was going to get through it, but he hung a slider in Justin’s turbo zone. You can’t do that right now.” It was Upton’s 26th home run of the year. Verlander, who has been the subject of trade speculation for several weeks, waved to the crowd as he entered the dugout after the top of the eighth. Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run double in the eighth to make it 6-1. BORDERLINE Verlander was hoping he’d struck out Granderson with a pitch immediately before his home run — but the fastball was just off the plate. Verlander later conceded that plate umpire Chris Segal had made the right call and said he told the ump that toward the end of the game. “I think if you ask almost any umpire, I’m kind of one of those guys that’s pretty fiery out there,” Verlander said. “Then I’ll go look at it and try to give an objective opinion. If it’s a ball, I try to come back and say, ‘Hey, you were right.’” Umpires wore white wristbands during Saturday’s games after Detroit’s Ian Kinsler was fined but not suspended for a recent tirade against ump Angel Hernandez. The protest of what umpires called “abusive player behavior” ended after Commissioner Rob Manfred offered to meet with their union’s governing board. TRAINER’S ROOM Dodgers: LHP Clayton Kershaw (lower back strain) is expected to pitch a three-inning simulated game Monday. … 1B Cody Bellinger sat out after spraining his right ankle Saturday. UP NEXT Dodgers: LHP Alex Wood (14-1) takes the mound at Pittsburgh on Monday night against RHP Gerrit Cole (10-8) of the Pirates. Tigers: Detroit has Monday off before hosting the New York Yankees on Tuesday night. LHP Matthew Boyd (5-6) starts the opener of that series against RHP Masahiro Tanaka (8-10). (@Copyright 2017. The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may bot be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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Granderson Breaks Up No-Hitter With Solo Homer, Dodgers Lose 6-1
BALTIMORE (AP) — The Los Angeles Angels have done a wonderful job of turning around a season that just two weeks ago seemed unsalvageable. Instead of basking in their accomplishment, they’re far more focused on what happens next. Pinch-hitter Cameron Maybin singled in the tiebreaking run in the eighth inning, Kole Calhoun and Andrelton Simmons homered and Los Angeles beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-4 Sunday. The Angels have won nine of 11 to gain a tie for the second AL wild card slot and move four games over .500 (64-60) for the first time since April 11. “We can look back, but it’s not going to serve much of a purpose,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’ve been playing better baseball for the past couple of weeks. We need to keep going.” The Angels took advantage of nine walks to win the deciding matchup of a three-game series in which they hit 11 home runs. “We walked, what, nine guys today?” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “That’s like turning the lineup over without earning it. You’re going to have a tough time winning those games, but we had a shot.” The Orioles still have a shot at the playoffs, too, but they’re going to need an LA-like surge. Baltimore has dropped eight of 12 and hasn’t won two in a row since Aug. 5-7. With the score 4-all in the eighth, Calhoun and Luis Valbuena drew walks from Brad Brach (3-4). With two outs, Maybin stepped in for Juan Graterol and delivered an opposite-field liner to right off Mychal Givens. Maybin missed the first two games of the series with a sore knee and was in a 5-for-27 funk since coming off the disabled list on Aug. 7. “I felt comfortable Cam was going to put the ball in play, and he had a big hit for us,” Scioscia said. Cam Bedrosian (3-2) worked one hitless inning and Bud Norris got three outs for his 19th save. Calhoun hit a solo shot in the second inning, walked three times and scored three runs. Simmons’ two-run homer put Los Angeles up 4-1 in the sixth. “Winning the series, it’s special against a team that’s fighting for the same thing we are,” Simmons said. “Once you are playing that good and you are seeing the light, you want to keep going. You want to keep winning all the game.” Making his first start since Aug. 3, Baltimore’s Chris Tillman allowed four runs, four hits and a career-high tying six walks in 5 1/3 innings. “You cut the walks in half that’s a different ball game,” Tillman said. “Other than that, I thought it was OK.” After going 16-6 last year, Tillman is now 1-7 with a 7.75 ERA. He was sent to the bullpen after a run of 14 straight winless starts. Facing his former team for the second time in 13 days, Parker Bridwell gave up four runs, two earned, and six hits in five-plus innings. Bridwell was traded to Los Angeles from Baltimore in April for cash and a player to be named. Bridwell took a three-run lead into the sixth, but a throwing error by second baseman Cliff Pennington led to a two-run single by Jonathan Schoop and an RBI double by Mark Trumbo. Adam Jones was forced to stop at third on the ground-rule double, and Keynan Middleton struck out Chris Davis to end the inning. “I think it’s kind of been the story of the whole year for us,” Davis said, lamenting the missed opportunity. “I think what’s going to define us this year is whether or not we can make that push and start winning some of those games.” ROSTER MOVE The Orioles placed RHP Miguel Castro on the bereavement list and recalled RHP Alec Asher from Triple-A Norfolk. TRAINER’S ROOM Angels: RHP JC Ramirez was feeling better after leaving Saturday’s game with a strained forearm. He will see a specialist on Monday and will likely miss his next start. Orioles: Davis returned after missing two games with the flu. He homered in the third inning. … SS J.J. Hardy (wrist) will begin a rehabilitation assignment Monday with Triple-A Norfolk. He hasn’t played since June 18. UP NEXT Angels: Tyler Skaggs (1-3, 3.63) returns from the bereavement list Monday to help Los Angeles launch a four-game series against the visiting Texas Rangers. Orioles: Wade Miley (6-10, 5.21 ERA) starts Monday night in the opener of a three-game series against the visiting Oakland Athletics. (© Copyright 201 7 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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Maybin’s Pinch-Hit RBI Single Lifts Angels Over Orioles 5-4