Each week, the NERDS will bring you three players who are trending up, and three who aren’t looking so good. A player’s presence in any of these lists will never be injury-related.
Bryce Harper, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
There may not be a hotter hitter in baseball than Bryce Harper right now. He has been getting on base more than 50 percent of the time in his last 15 games! Over that span, he is hitting .396/.531/.958 with seven home runs, 17 RBI, and 13 runs scored.
At this point, Harper should be the favorite to win the NL MVP award, and it may not be that close. For the year, the absurdly talented outfielder is hitting .311/.427/.620 with 33 bombs, 80 RBI, and 93 runs scored. He also has a sterling 1.047 OPS. It doesn’t matter if he gets the Phillies in the postseason or not: he’s your Most Valuable Player in the National League.
Advice: The most automatic of starts
Aaron Ashby, SP/RP, Milwaukee Brewers
Perhaps you didn’t expect to see a long reliever listed here, but hey, those are helpful too IF they are truly dominant. Ashby is the Brewers’ secret weapon, and he can be very useful in the fantasy world, too.
After being battered in his major league debut, Ashby has done nothing but dominate. Look at his numbers over the last seven games: 3-0, 1.54 ERA, four walks, 27 strikeouts, and a 0.73 WHIP in 23.1 innings.
He has pitched three frames in his last two appearances, with a 0.00 ERA and 10 punchouts. Take advantage of his length and potential for wins.
Advice: Plug into your starting lineup and don’t look back
Jarred Kelenic, OF, Seattle Mariners
Come in, Mr. Kelenic. Welcome! We were waiting for you. For months, the uber-prospect alternated disappointing performance in the majors with strong stretches in the minor leagues. But it was clear from the beginning that he had nothing left to prove in Triple-A. He needed time to develop in MLB, and it looks to be finally paying off.
He is still hitting a meager .176 with a .255 OBP and a .600 OPS for the season, but over his last seven contests, his slash line is a much improved .280/.357/.720 with three home runs and seven RBI.
Kelenic looks like a good option for your fantasy outfield in the last two weeks of the season, and an incredibly valuable asset for 2022.
Trent Grisham, OF, San Diego Padres
What happened to the dynamic power-speed combo with the excellent on-base percentage that came to San Diego from Milwaukee? His 2021 has been a bitter disappointment, with a .235/.324/.400 line and a poor .724 OPS.
For the season, Grisham has 14 homers and 10 steals, which is kind of meh. If you consider that he has been struggling in the last seven (.095/.192/.143) and 15 games (.135/.190/.212) there is no point in starting him unless you are really desperate.
Advice: Bench in dynasty leagues, drop in shallow redraft formats
Zack Greinke, Houston Astros
Zack Greinke is typically a reliable fantasy starter: not a SP1 or SP2, but a dependable mid-rotation anchor. For the year, he has a 4.11 ERA in 29 starts and 168.2 innings, with 117 strikeouts and a 1.17 WHIP. That reliability hasn’t been on display in recent times, though.
Over his last seven starts, the veteran right-hander has an ugly 5.68 ERA. The worst of it has come in his most recent three outings, in which he has conceded 18 earned runs in 13 frames. That’s a lot. The most worrisome thing about that is that two of those games were against Texas and the other one vs. Arizona, a couple of lousy offenses. That being the case, I don’t trust Greinke at all to close out the season.
Advice: Bench; drop in redraft leagues if you need the spot
Ryan Yarbrough, Tampa Bay Rays
With a career 4.34 ERA, a 1.19 WHIP, and the potential for wins playing in an awesome Tampa Bay offense, Ryan Yarbrough is usually a solid back-end option for your fake rotation. The 2021 season hasn’t been kind to him, though, as he has a 5.30 ERA.
His performance has been extremely poor in his last seven games, in which he has an 8.01 ERA in 30.1 frames. But what has happened in his most recent three appearances is nothing short of scandalous: he has conceded 18 earned runs (!) in 10.1 episodes.
You might want to avoid using Yarbrough in the stretch run, unless you are really desperate.
Advice: Bench, drop in redraft leagues if you need the spot