Three Up:

1. Toronto Blue Jays Starting Pitcher Robbie Ray — The 29-year-old is going to make a lot of money this offseason thanks to an amazing 2021 season. The left-hander is having a career year, as he’s pitching to a 2.60 ERA with a 0.99 WHIP along with 212 strikeouts. Ray is firmly in the American League Cy Young Award conversation and is helping fantasy owners in a big way.

Ray has always had immense strikeout potential, but walks have been an issue in his career. The veteran has limited the walks while continuing to pile on the strikeouts and has become an elite pitcher as a result. Ray has only allowed more than three earned runs three times this season, and fantasy owners are hoping for a few more dominant starts before the end of the year.

2. San Diego Padres Starting Pitcher Blake Snell — I have been very critical of Snell, as I think he is often overhyped compared to the actual results on the field. However, when he pitches well, I will acknowledge it and that’s exactly what happened in the month of August. After posting a 6.00 ERA in July, he lefty bounced back in a big way by pitching to a 1.72 ERA in August.

Even more impressive, Snell pitched at least seven innings in three of his August starts. Snell failed to pitch seven innings in any of his starts prior to last month in 2021. In fact, we have to go back to April 2019 to find the last time Snell pitched seven innings. For him to have done that now three times in his last six starts is a great accomplishment. Snell has a 4.31 ERA this year but is helping fantasy owners down the stretch.

3. Toronto Blue Jays First Baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. — Unfortunately, Guerrero is playing in the same league as Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani. If that wasn’t the case, Guerrero would be the frontrunner to win American League MVP. It’s been an impressive season for the 22-year-old, as he’s batting .321 with 40 home runs and 98 RBIs. Guerrero will be a surefire first-round pick next year as he’s just scratching the surface of how good he will be.

Three Down:

1. New York Yankees Outfielder Joey Gallo — A familiar name throughout the years, as Gallo is one of the streakiest hitters in baseball. The 27-year-old is hitting .196 and was only able to collect one hit during the last week. Gallo does have 31 home runs and his power is the only thing keeping him relevant. It’s tough to win in fantasy or in real life baseball with a player who doesn’t do much other than hit home runs every now and then.

2. Atlanta Braves Shortstop Dansby Swanson — The Braves are barely holding on to the National League East and if they want to find a way to win the division, they will need players like Swanson to have a big final few weeks. Swanson had a disappointing series in a hitter’s paradise, as he was unable to collect a hit in four games in Colorado. It has still been a strong season for Swanson, as he’s batting .256 with 26 home runs and 80 RBIs.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers Outfielder Mookie Betts — We’re still waiting for that stretch from Betts when he carries a team for a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, that may happen in October, which doesn’t help us fantasy players. Betts has been fine this season, with a .266 batting average to go along with 19 home runs and 47 RBIs. Injuries have certainly played a part. Betts will finish with a career low in games, outside of the shortened 2020 season.

It should be noted that Betts does have a modest three-game hit streak, so maybe we’re about to see a monster September. It’s amazing the Dodgers are still as good as they are with starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw injured, starting pitcher Trevor Bauer on paid leave, Betts not having a huge season and outfielder Cody Bellinger having one of the worst seasons that we have seen from a fantasy contributor in a long time.

Phil Backert

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