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Managing tips to remember during your championship week

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The pressure is higher than ever right now if you’ve made it this far. Just avoid changing things up too much!

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Arizona Diamondbacks Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

We’re down to the final two weeks of fantasy baseball. The season’s gone by so fast, right? Remember when Eric Thames was declared the greatest hitter way back in April? Or how Lance McCullers posted a 0.99 ERA in May, seemed healthy and was primed for an AL Cy Young?

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve done a few things right, so first off, congratulations. You successfully navigated the apocalyptic DL minefield, possibly snagged yourself a breakout 1B and maybe even benefitted from some record-breaking rookies along the way. You’re either in the semifinals or about to begin your championships. Here are some tips that may seem obvious, but sometimes can be forgotten when you’re really in the weeds in your matchup.

Don’t Bench Your Studs

Yours studs, whether it’s Joey Votto or Rhys Hoskins, got you here. Let them earn their keep. Don’t bench Manny Machado just because he might face Chris Sale later this week. I know it’s tempting, but your elite players are elite for a reason. Conversely, Sale has only two quality starts in his last six. But you’re not seriously thinking about benching him @BAL, right?

Be Wary of Small Sample Sizes

So what if Giancarlo Stanton is 2-for-17 in his career against Matt Harvey and is on a cold streak? You play him over David Peralta who’s 5-for-8 against Luis Perdomo. Does it matter that Pitcher X is better in day games vs. night games? Why are you even looking at things like that?

Look for Good Streams Ahead of Time

In my leagues, there are vultures waiting for 3 a.m. EST to make moves for streamers. If you can live that life, go for it. If you can’t, keep a three-day radar of good pitchers to pick up. Hyun-Jin Ryu vs. SF, Jhoulys Chachin vs. COL , Happ vs. KC are all favorable streams this week that you don’t need to wait until the day before to pick up.

Don’t Be Afraid To Cut Bait*

Whether it’s a big bat that carried you for a few months, or a recent hot one that had been scorching in the first half of September, if a player cools down now, it’s time to let go. Albert Pujols was wonderful at the start of the month. He has a .217 OBP in the last week. Cut him. Hanley Ramirez isn’t going to recreate his 2016 second-half magic. Cut him. Jason Vargas was your hero in the first half. Why in the world is he still on your team? Cut him.

*Obviously this is league dependent. Maybe don’t cut Pujols if you’re in a 16-team AL-only league. Also, you’re a masochist for playing in such a league.

Assess Your Matchup on Thursday

Thursday is the halfway point in one-week matchups. Are you out of it in stolen bases but can win HR? Drop any expendable speedsters on your team and pick up big bats. Have you lost ratios but are close in pitching counting stats? Drop a bench bat or even a closer if you’re also out of it in saves and stream your life away. Do not fret about the negative effects of dropping a player for next week. There won’t be a next week if you don’t make a move to win now.

Check Your Teams at 6:45p.m. EST

I manage multiple teams and you’d be surprised at how many times I’ve obsessively checked my leagues but failed to actually look at my team to make sure my starters were in. Now’s not the time to forget to play your ace. Set an alarm on your phone to be extra sure your lineup is in order. My favorite lineup resource is baseballpress.com. They’ll have lineups over an hour before a game.

Pro Tip: For any late-game starters, put them in your UTIL spot(s). That way, if they don’t start, you can swap them out with someone else on your bench that doesn’t play the same position.

In Next-Day Transaction Leagues, Wait Until Night to Make a Move

This is more for move-limit leagues, but if you want to pick up a hot bat for the next day or a streamer, wait until late evening if possible. That way you can A) See how your potential pick up performed B) Avoid any injuries that may require immediate attention on your team C) See if any new, last-minute streamers get added to the pool.

There are certainly other tips to take into consideration, but those are the big ones. Feel free to add your own in the comments below. Good luck, I’ll be rooting for you.