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Juan Lagares, OF, New York Mets
September fantasy baseball is all about positioning. And it seems only fitting that a player who is so great at it in the field has made himself awfully useful to those looking to make a push in stolen bases over the last two-and-a-half weeks of the season. Lagares has been better than anticipated all season at the plate and as good as advertised in the field—leading to a ridiculous season per some stats (he’s been worth 3.6 WARP and 5.6 rWAR). He’s been making it count down the stretch, though, as he’s hit safely in 15 of his last 17 games, hitting .338/.370/.456 with only eight strikeouts in 73 plate appearances in that time frame. However, the most interesting aspect of his performance has been how many liberties he’s been taking on the base paths. After only stealing four bases over the first four-and-a-half months, Lagares has heisted eight since the start of his hitting streak. With the Mets going nowhere, despite what math may say, Lagares may find himself with the green light as often as he wants it throughout September. That would turn him into a mixed-league play nearly across the board. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Lorenzo Cain

Drew Storen, RP, Washington Nationals
Despite Rafael Soriano finally being demoted and Storen being the second-most-valuable relief pitcher in mixed leagues over the last two weeks, the newly minted Nationals’ closer finds himself owned in only 34 percent of Yahoo leagues and just 26 percent in ESPN formats. That’s just unacceptable. Storen has not allowed an earned run since August 5 and has not allowed a single baserunner in his last four appearances (including three saves in three days between Sunday and Tuesday. With Washington staring down a division title and gearing up for what they hope to be a deep playoff run, the odds of them going back to Soriano get slimmer and slimmer with each dominant performance that Storen puts together. After all, despite having a seemingly solid statistical season, Soriano has been terrible since the All-Star break, putting up a 6.98 ERA, blowing five saves in 14 chances and allowing opposing batters to hit .325/.387/.530. For the former closer of the future, it appears the future may finally be now. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Mark Melancon


Jose Ramirez, SS/2B, Cleveland Indians
As I have been saying in this space for the last few weeks, pickups in many leagues have shifted from targets that get 25-30 at-bats a week to specific category targets. Ramirez is sort of a hybrid of both. He hasn’t done much with the bat so far as a major leaguer, but he is getting consistent playing time and— with this—a fair amount of runs and RBI. Ramirez’s value, though, goes beyond AL-only and straddles the line into deep mixed because of his modest stolen base potential. He isn’t Dee Gordon, but Ramirez has been running at a 20-25 full season steal pace, which is nothing to dismiss lightly. If you’re in a tight steals race, Ramirez is a sneaky source. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Enrique Hernandez

Jeff Locke, LHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
I never thought I’d be recommending Locke as a player to target, but it’s week 24 of the fantasy season, and here we are. Locke closes the season with the Cubs tomorrow, the Brewers next week at home, and the Braves on the road. I dig him a lot more at home than I do on the road, but the Pirates are moving in the right direction, while the Cubs are out of it and the Brewers and the Braves are not. This type of “analysis” is as faulty as circumstances can change quickly, but Locke has been a solid, dependable option all year long and at the very least should be a decent wins gamble the rest of the way. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Tommy Milone


Ryan Flaherty, 2B/SS/3B, Baltimore Orioles
It’s been another uneventful and uninspiring season from Flaherty in Baltimore, who has now managed to play in 248 games over the past three years despite a 74 OPS+ and exactly 0.0 FRAA in that time frame. Yay positional flexibility. However, he’s bought himself a little extra playing time recently by hitting .296/.321/.556 over his last 10 games—and that was before his four-hit performance on Wednesday night. With J.J. Hardy out for at least another few games and Manny Machado done for the season, the extra bump in Flaherty’s playing time makes him AL-only worth for right now, even if his true performance level is somewhere between bad and awful. Of course, it isn’t the only time Flaherty has done this either. In 2012, his September OPS was .848 and he followed that up with a 1.002 mark in the final month of 2013. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Jordy Mercer, if you really squint

Kevin Jepsen, RHP, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
We don’t talk much about leagues that use holds here at Baseball Prospectus, so why not bury it in a free agent article in mid-September? If you do use the category, Jepsen’s considerable deep league value gets an additional boost; his 20 holds put him in an eighth-place tie in the American League in the category. Add Jepsen’s considerable strikeouts and it doesn’t matter that doesn’t save or win games. He’s still valuable in standard 5×5 deep leagues, but if you’re lucky enough to own Jepsen in a 6×6, there is a good chance that he is as important to your title run as almost any starting pitcher on your staff. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Jerry Blevins

Cory Spangenberg, 2B, San Diego Padres
When you think of the stacked first round of the 2011 draft, it’s rare for the 10th-overall pick to come to mind. However, Spangenberg is doing his best to make a name for himself and make Padres fans forget that he was selected one spot ahead of George Springer and four spots ahead of Jose Fernandez (see, it works for teams other than the Mets). And while that certainly won’t happen, the versatile hitter with a .761 OPS over four minor league seasons is going to be worth picking up to finish out the stretch in 2014. In the first seven games of his major league career, he’s hitting .364/.391/.682—and while that will in no way continue, it should lead to him getting three or four starts a week. For a guy who is at least capable of stealing a few bags and possibly knocking one or two more over the wall, that’s all you really need in the depths of this format. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Alexi Amarista

Tyler Matzek, LHP, Colorado Rockies
Matzek is a deep league special only, and at a glance he isn’t even worth starting in NL-only, with two starts at home against the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks followed by a start on the road against the Dodgers. However, I dig that nearly 50 percent ground-ball rate (which is sustainable) and a wacky reverse home/road split (which is not). Matzek is a gamble, and with the Dodgers on the schedule is not a particularly safe wins gamble, but I like him better than most of the free agents left in the thin gruel that is the National League free-agent pool. The strikeouts are also good enough to keep Matzek valuable in deeper formats. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: T.J. House

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One word about Locke: I haven't checked his splits but the Braves and Brewers are both very right-handed and might not be great matchups even if they're scuffling.
His splits are radical, although some of that is that he simply takes LHBs lunch. Surprisingly, the Brewers are a middle-of-the-pack offense against LHP. The Braves are Top 10 this season, but seem to be scuffling against both LHP and RHP right now.

Something I'm hoping to add to this column next year is context. I use a real 15-team expert league's free agent pool to write up the deep mixed pitchers. I'm wary of Locke for the reasons you stated, but the other choices are worse IMO.
Mike, what about Terrance Gore? Will he play (pinch run) enough to wipe a handful of bags?
Seems doubtful unless the Royals run away with it or fall out of the race.
Given the Jeff Locke and Tyler Matzek mentions; in a 16 team league where IP, K and Wins are a tight race (ERA and WHIP hard to move at this point) would you consider Vance Worley vs a depleted BOS team at and MIL, both in PIT?
I would, especially at home. He's probably a better option than either one of those guys.
TJ House has been looking good lately too. Was hot and cold, but last 3 starts have been great. Facing HOU, MIN and TBR to close out year.
Yep. I profiled him a week or two ago.
Vance Worley bumped to bullpen for Charlie Morton...
One of the reasons I was looking at Tyler Matzek and Vance Worley for next week; next week Wade Miley starts at home vs. SF and at COL. His home/road ERA splits this year? Away-2.77, Home-6.08 (16/14 games started)
i owned miley for a while in one league until i traded him for hitting. i noticed that.