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Fantasy Baseball Risers, Fallers: Sept. 18, 2017

September 18, 2017
There are only two weeks remaining in the fantasy baseball season, and judging by responses I have received, it will be stressful for many. At this point, owners just need to hope their studs can carry them to the finish line.

Three Up:

1. Toronto Blue Jays Third Baseman Josh Donaldson -- It was an extremely frustrating first half for Donaldson and fantasy owners who had the veteran on their roster. He was hampered by injuries and only hit nine home runs and drove in 25 runs during the first half. However, Donaldson has rebounded in a significant way in the second half, as he has slugged 21 home runs with 46 RBIs and a .274 batting average. If fantasy owners were able to stay afloat during the first half with Donaldson, they have been rewarded greatly the past two months.

2. Houston Astros Starting Pitcher Justin Verlander -- The veteran right-hander had a 4.96 ERA at the beginning of July, but outside of a couple of instances, he has pitched like the pitcher we have known him to be since he was traded to the Astros from the Detroit Tigers Aug. 31. Even though Verlander has remained in the American League, there was still some question as to how a change in teams would go. However, he has been lights out in his three starts with the Astros, allowing two earned runs while striking out 26. Verlander now has a 3.50 ERA for the season and is helping fantasy owners down the stretch.

3. Colorado Rockies Starting Pitcher Jon Gray -- The right-hander has quietly been one of the more consistent pitchers in fantasy baseball during the past two months. Gray has battled injuries this season and, unfortunately, pitches a lot of his games in Colorado. The talent is there, but it's difficult to have confidence in a pitcher that makes most of his appearances in a hitter-friendly environment. Gray has not allowed more than three earned runs in a start since July 19. 

Three Down:

1. Chicago Cubs Outfielder Ian Happ -- It has been an overall successful rookie campaign for the 23-year-old. However, September has been a struggle for Happ, as he has struck out in nearly half of his at-bats and hit .167 this past week. Happ has a bright future and fantasy owners who acquired the youngster off the waiver wire have benefited. Hopefully, Happ can snap out of this funk over the final couple weeks of the season.

2. Washington Nationals Starting Pitcher Max Scherzer -- Scherzer has been rock steady all season long, but he put up a dud at the worst possible time. Scherzer allowed seven earned runs in his last start and has now allowed 11 earned runs in his past two starts. The right-hander had a 2.19 ERA after his start Sept. 2, but that has risen to 2.59. 

3. St. Louis Cardinals Starting Pitcher Carlos Martinez -- I'm holding these top fantasy performers to a higher standard at this point in the season than I would if this was June. Martinez was pitching at an extremely high level during the past couple months, but he allowed seven earned runs in his last start. With only two weeks in the season left, we can't afford blow-ups like this, as every little stat matters in the overall standings. The hope is Martinez shakes this off and in his final few starts he is able to get back to the guy that has helped fantasy owners out in a big way.   
  
Photo Credit: Mitch Stringer/PressBox