Just two weeks left! With that in mind, I've made some recommendations with the rest of the season in mind, highlighting their schedule beyond Tuesday when it's favorable. The pitching slate is tough with a lot of studs going and some really rough arms among those available.
As we wind down, attack your categories even if that means playing a lesser overall talent. This is particularly true with stolen bases, so keep that in mind.
Alex Young (L), rostered in 19% of ESPN leagues, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Miami Marlins: The rookie lefty is one bad month (5.26 ERA in August) from an excellent rookie campaign and even that was essentially two bad starts. He's been a little up and down of late but was fortunate enough to have just two earned in his last start during which he allowed six runs. He threw eight shutout innings the start before that, though, and I'd trust far lesser pitchers against Miami so this was automatic.
Nathan Eovaldi (R), 36%, Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants: The emergence of closer Brandon Workman, along with the need for starting pitching, funneled Eovaldi back to the Red Sox rotation. He's not stretched out enough to go deep into the ballgame, but five or six innings is more than enough for him to be in play facing the offensively-challenged Giants. The first at-bat could be awkward as the Fenway Faithful will likely give a warm reception to Mike Yastrzemski, but after that it should be smooth sailing.
Marco Gonzales (L), 64%, Seattle Mariners at Pittsburgh Pirates: Gonzales breaks our normal 50% threshold by a good bit but I made an executive decision to include him because a) it's slim pickings this Tuesday and b) he was available in my two 10-team leagues and so I think there's a decent number of active leagues that have him out on the wire. The soft-tossing lefty was on track to build on a solid 2018, but a disastrous seven-start run that spanned all of May and his first start in June saw him post a 7.79 ERA and essentially sink his chances to improve on his 4.00 ERA from last year. He has quietly put together a 3.87 ERA over 17 starts since the 10-earned-run dud to open June and has allowed more than four earned just twice. He's also won three of his last five starts, which is quite a feat on the bottom-feeding Mariners. The Pirates are a paltry 21-39 since the All-Star break and should be picked on where possible throughout these last two weeks.
Brandon Woodruff is returning from a lengthy absence for the Milwaukee Brewers. It's unclear how many innings he'll work, but since he's only thrown bullpen sessions and not rehab games, it shouldn't be many. Gio Gonzalez will be tabbed to throw the middle innings, putting him in play if you're in need of a win. Since he won't be required to toss five frames, coming in second benefits Gonzalez in that regard.
Catcher -- Sean Murphy (R), 9%, Oakland Athletics vs. Kansas City Royals (RHP Jorge Lopez): Murphy entered 2019 with substantial prospect hype as not only one of Oakland's best, but also a clear Top 100 guy in baseball. Health has plagued his ascent and undercut him yet again this year, but he posted a 1.011 OPS in 140 PA at Triple-A to earn the call. He has hit the ground running with a blistering 1.503 OPS and 4 HR in his first 28 PA, including three multi-hit games in his last four. If you're dealing with injury or have been streaming catcher all year, Murphy is a great target as the A's close with a schedule that includes four sub-.500 clubs the rest of the way, including three major bottom-feeders (KC, LAA, and SEA).
First Base -- Ryan McMahon (L), 23%, Colorado Rockies vs. New York Mets (RHP Marcus Stroman): The hype train was in full swing with McMahon coming into the season, but he was toting a mid-.600s OPS as late as mid-May meaning he was turning up on a lot of waiver wires around then. However, those same team managers were likely hoping to re-acquire him shortly thereafter as he has rebounded nicely. In his last 100 games, he has a .260/.337/.472 line with 17 HR and 4 SB over 380 PA. With 62 RBI and 49 R in that span, his full season pace in the five main categories is 28 HR, 7 SB, 101 RBI, and 80 R. He gets this Mets series at home to open the week and then closes with one against the Brewers next week.
Second Base -- Josh VanMeter (L), 18%, Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs (RHP Yu Darvish): This is primarily a speed play and you'll take anything else as a bonus. We're at the point in the season where you are specifically attacking categories as opposed to just picking up the "best player available" and SBs are tight in most leagues where two to three down the stretch can be instrumental to climbing the standings. VanMeter had a 14-game stolen base lull in mid-August but has swiped four over his last 84 PA along with three homers, making it easier to stomach his otherwise awful production (.588 OPS). A .173 BABIP suggests he's been a bit unfortunate in that time, too. If your need is speed, consider JVM.
Third Base -- Starlin Castro (R), 41%, Miami Marlins at Arizona Diamondbacks (LHP Alex Young): Chances are, unless you have happened to pick up Castro at some point over the summer, you're unaware of what he's been up to in the second half. The 29-year-old actually got going just before the All-Star break so if you look at his numbers since July 1, you'll see a robust .314/.343/.553 line with 14 HR, 45 RBI, and 38 R in 271 PA. That paces out to 35 HR, 111 RBI, and 94 R in a full season and he's doing it on the lowly Marlins. The schedule isn't particularly favorable for the Marlins down the stretch with series against the Nationals, Mets, and Phillies after the one in Arizona, but he has done well against his division and they have just one off day so you'll get quality and quantity.
Shortstop -- Kevin Newman (R), 37%, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Seattle Mariners (LHP Marco Gonzales): Newman has delivered speed and batting average all year long with 15 stolen bases and a .318 AVG in 480 PA. He hasn't been a total zero in power, either, with 10 HR. Outside of the superstars who do everything, it's hard to find any punch with your steals, especially on the wire, so this is a playable combo and he fits at either shortstop or second base.
Corner Infield -- Marwin Gonzalez (S), 36%, Minnesota Twins vs. Chicago White Sox (LHP Ross Detwiler): With Lucas Giolito now out for the season, the White Sox have pivoted to Detwiler, shifting the focus to the right-handed Twins including Miguel Sano, C.J. Cron and the switch-hitting Gonzalez. Gonzalez just returned from an IL stint, so Minnesota is likely going to get him bountiful at-bats over the final two weeks so that he's sharp for the playoffs. Additionally, while his platoon splits are fairly even, Gonzalez has more power versus southpaw pitching.
Middle Infield -- Wilmer Flores (R), 10%, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Miami Marlins (LHP Caleb Smith): He's just an automatic when there's a lefty on the bump. He has thrashed them throughout his career and this year is no different with a tremendous .340/.374/.649 line and seven of his eight homers on the season against southpaws. Flores has also hit a solid .298 against righties this year (albeit with virtually no pop, as evidenced by his .376 SLG), so even if Smith is chased early and Flores gets some righty relievers, he can hang in there.
Outfield -- J.D. Davis (R), 32%, New York Mets at Colorado Rockies (RHP Tim Melville): Improvements against righties have fueled a breakout season for Davis. Once relegated to a lefty-masher role, Davis has a .303/.365/.508 line against righties on the season with 12 of his 19 HR. His StatCast power numbers are some of the best in the league, so putting him in Coors could create some fireworks.
Outfield -- Oscar Mercado (R), 21%, Cleveland Indians vs. Detroit Tigers (LHP Matthew Boyd): Mercado joins a couple others in a similar theme of tapping any and all speed where possible down the stretch. The 24-year-old rookie has gone 13-for-17 on the bases while hitting .281 and 11 HR in 433 PA. Like so many rookies, his production has had waves to it and after an August trough, he's cresting in September with a .939 OPS over 63 PA including a seven-game hitting streak. His .769 OPS on the season doesn't jump off the page, but I'm still a bit surprised by his low roster rate given the speed component that comes with some punch.
Outfield -- Kyle Tucker (L), 9%, Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers (RHP Lance Lynn): Tucker languished in Triple-A for virtually the entire season and put up a gaudy 34 HR/30 SB campaign in 536 PA before finally getting the call back to the majors. He has shown why so many fantasy managers were begging Houston to bring him up sooner as he's hit .325/.357/.550 with 2 HR and 4 SB in his 42 PA. The Astros have just five games on the week, but in keeping with the loose theme of chasing speed, even the light schedule isn't enough to deter me from Tucker. Plus, the Astros have a cushy schedule in the final week with six against the Mariners and Angels to close the season.