We’re two weeks away from Memorial Day, which marks the first time we really need to decide what to do with the players who have struggled. We’re always tweaking our rosters, but the players we invested in heavily usually get the benefit of the doubt for the first two months.

Once the month of June begins, the excuses of a slow start are out the window so there’s no doubt this is a critical stretch for many players on fantasy rosters.

Three Up:

1. New York Yankees Outfielder Giancarlo Stanton — The Yankees continue to roll and a big reason for their success this season is Stanton. The slugger hit four home runs, drove in 12 runs and finished with a .417 batting average this past week. For the season, Stanton is batting .290 with 10 home runs and 31 RBIs. The duo of Aaron Judge and Stanton are living up to the hype this season, which is bad news for every other team in baseball.

2. New York Yankees Starting Pitcher Nestor Cortes — Offense can only take a team so far and in the end, pitching is what will lead a team to a championship. Cortes has been lights out all season and it continued this past week. The left-hander made two starts and allowed only one earned run while striking out 18. For the season, Cortes has a 1.35 ERA, 0.85 WHIP and a very impressive 11 strikeouts per nine innings. It’s hard to say that this success won’t continue as Cortes is working on two straight seasons of pitching well. Fantasy owners can continue to rely on the lefty moving forward.

3. Philadelphia Phillies Outfielder Bryce Harper — The reigning NL MVP has taken his game to another level, as he finished this past week hitting .609 with three home runs, eight RBIs, eight runs scored and three stolen bases. That is the definition of helping in every single offensive category. For the season, Harper is batting .305 with nine home runs, 27 RBIs, 29 runs scored and six stolen bases. However, Harper is dealing with a partially torn ligament in his elbow. The outfielder missed the Phillies’ May 15 game and will most likely miss his team’s upcoming series to get a PRP injection. The hope is Harper can continue to play through this injury. We’re going to stay positive and believe he can and be grateful there is now a designated hitter in the National League.

Three Down:

1. Los Angeles Dodgers Outfielder Cody Bellinger — The struggles continue for Bellinger. He will be one of the players fantasy owners will have to make a hard decision on in two weeks. Bellinger finished this past week striking out 13 times and only collecting four hits. He is batting .202 this season with five home runs. Bellinger is batting near the bottom of the order and is not making a fantasy impact at all. This one stings, as I believed Bellinger was in line for a bounce-back season, especially after a very strong playoff performance last year. If Bellinger were scoring runs, or hitting home runs, or doing anything, then I could say we ride it out. However, he’s not making a dent. He’s officially on the clock of being released from rosters.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers Infielder Max Muncy — How are the Dodgers in first place with two major holes in their lineup? It’s wild, but that’s exactly what is happening. Muncy has had a horrific start to the season, as he’s hitting .150 with only three home runs and 13 RBis. Manager Dave Roberts has hinted that Muncy could be dropped in the order due to his struggles. The positive is Muncy is drawing a lot of walks, so he’s still been slightly effective in on-base-percentage leagues. Muncy suffered a torn UCL in his left elbow on the last day of the regular season in 2021, and it took the entire offseason to heal. There’s no doubt this has led to his struggles, even if no one wants to admit that. Muncy will be another tough decision to make in a couple of weeks.

3. Philadelphia Phillies Outfielder Kyle Schwarber — Another slugger who is scuffling through the early part of the season is Schwarber. The outfielder collected only three hits while striking out 11 times this past week. For the season, Schwarber is batting .189, but he does have nine home runs. Schwarber will always struggle against left-handers and this season is no different, as he’s hitting .189 against southpaws. However, Schwarber is struggling against righties, too, with a .189 batting average. In his career, Schwarber is batting .241 against right-handers, so this will improve. Fantasy owners are at least getting the home runs, and we’ll hope the batting average starts to get better.

Phil Backert

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