As you’re enjoying life, smack dab in the middle of your long Fourth of July weekend, set aside some time to evaluate your roster and plan for the stretch run of your fantasy baseball season. Many of your league mates will be shifting their attention away from their baseball squads as fantasy football season approaches. True fantasy baseball players need to take advantage of this. In celebration of the 4th let’s evaluate some players who’ve been trending downward. Let’s try to figure out if it’s time to declare our independence from them or if they have a chance to bounce back and help us rally for our cause. What’s our cause? Winning a fantasy baseball championship of course! All stats quoted in this article are current as of Thursday morning, July 4th.

José Ramírez , Indians

Ramirez had a phenomenal 2018 season. He posted a .270/.387/.552 triple slash and hit 39 HR while stealing 34 bases. Taking a closer look at that season we find that since August 29, 2018 Ramirez’s overall batting average is .202. Prior to that date Ramirez had a career BAA fastballs of .301. Since then he’s had just a .163 BAA fastballs. Ramirez has also had a hard time with breaking balls during that time period but his inability to hit a fastball is baffling. Is it a bat speed issue? Ramirez has just five home runs in his first 82 games, but he’s stolen 18 bases. As a first round pick in drafts this preseason, Ramirez owners are stuck and won’t be able to get significant value back for him in a trade. Declare your independence from this impostor! Keep him out of your lineup. His rest of season outlook seems bleak, but continue stashing him just in case a bolt of lightning strikes his bat and he miraculously regains some of his old hitting skills.

P.S. Did anyone hear of any lightning striking bats in Kansas City last night? Ramirez went 2-for-5 against the Royals yesterday and hit two home runs…

Rougned Odor , Rangers

As per preseason NFBC ADP,Odor was being selected in the 13th round of 12 team fantasy baseball leagues. He’s batting .186 with a .255 OBP. A .212 batting average with a .276 OBP in his last 51 games constitutes a hot streak for Odor these days. Odor’s fantasy appeal has been his power and speed combo. This season he’s hit 10 HR and stolen seven bases. He’s still getting regular ABs, but is the occasional home run and stolen base worth the drag on your fantasy team’s batting average and is there hope that he’ll snap out of this funk? From the 2014 to 2016 season, Odor batted .265. He couldn’t hit a slider to save his life. Take away his BAA sliders and that .265 batting average jumps to .284. Since the 2017 season he’s batting .218. He still can’t hit a slider. Take away his ABs against the slider and he’s batting .234 for that time period. However, the fact that he can’t get around on a fastball (.206 BAA since 2017) is very concerning. It’s OK to keep Odor on your watch list in case he inexplicably goes on a hot streak, but if can there’s someone on your league’s waiver who can help your fantasy team in the near future, by all means drop him.

P.S. Of course after all of the negative stats we quoted in this piece the guy goes and has a 2-for-4 night with two home runs and five RBI. Go figure!

Matt Carpenter , Cardinals

Carpenter is batting. 216 with 10 HR in 77 games this season, and that comes on the heels of a career high 36 home run 2018 campaign. He is currently on the IL with a lower-back strain and he’s been dealing with several back related injuries all season. His MLB Statcast numbers paint a picture of a player whose performance has been compromised due to those injuries. Last season, Carpenter had a 44.7-percent hard hit rate, an average exit velocity of 89.6 and an 8.3 Brls/PA%. All of those numbers have taken a big hit this season. His hard hit rate is 34.7-percent, average exit velocity is 87.4 and his Brls/PA% is 4.9. Unfortunately back related injuries are tricky and can unexpectedly resurface and wreak havoc with a player’s production. Last season he hit 28 home runs between June and August, and then proceeded to bat .170 with just one home run in September. His potential inconsistency due to the intermittent issues he’s been having with his back are concerning. Depending on his health, there’s probably an equal chance of him going off on a hot streak, or a prolonged slump. If you’re able to swing a trade valuing him as the guy who went off in the middle of last summer perhaps it may be worth your while to move him.

Brian Dozier , Nationals

Dozier is another middle infielder drafted for his power and speed potential. Overall he’s batting .234 which in reality is just 11 points less than his career average. He’s got 13 home runs, which puts him on pace for 25 plus home runs, but most of his ABs have come from the sixth and seventh slot in the lineup and he’s stolen just one base. His bat has been showing some signs of life. Since May 8th he’s posted a triple slash of .275/.329/.523. However, at this stage of his career his biggest value may come in DFS lineups or season long leagues with daily lineup changes so that you can take advantage of his .338/.408/.662 triple slash and 1.070 OPS against left-handed pitching.

Yu Darvish , Cubs

After missing most of the 2018 season due to an elbow injury, Darvish has had a rough time of it in 2019. Darvish has given up four runs or more in seven of his 18 starts and he’s pitching to a 5.01 ERA. His biggest issue has been the fact that he’s giving up the long ball at the highest rate of his career. He has the misfortune of leading the league with the 20 home runs he has allowed. Another issue is the fact that he’s walking just about one more batter per nine innings compared to his career rate. If you’re putting guys on base and allowing home runs, your stats are going to suffer. Can we squeeze any fantasy value from Darvish this season? Well, we could use him when he pitches on the road. He has a 6.23 ERA when he pitches at Wrigley Field this season and a much better ERA of 3.83 in his nine road starts. Unfortunately he’s spent a career getting smacked around at Wrigley. In 13 overall starts he’s posted a 5.91 ERA with a 1.57 WHIP.

Jack Flaherty , Cardinals

So much for Flaherty developing into the Cardinals ace this season. It still might happen eventually, but with a 4.90 overall ERA and an even worse 7.82 ERA in his last five starts it may take a while. Like Darvish, Flaherty’s issue has been the long ball. He’s given up 19 of them in 17 starts this season. His 40.7 hard hit rate is the 14th highest in baseball. Unlike Darvish, Flaherty loves pitching at home (3.48 ERA). Avoid starting him on the road if at all possible (6.81 ERA).

Joe Musgrove , Pirates

Musgrove’s season has been a series of ups and downs. He pitched to a 1.54 ERA in April, an 8.10 ERA in May and a 3.14 ERA since June 1st. Left-handed bats have given him the most trouble (.295 BAA) and he gives up almost a run more when he pitches at home (4.63 ERA) as opposed to when he pitches on the road (3.67 ERA). Set your lineups accordingly.

When all is said and done the three players whose long term outlook we’re most concerned with are José Ramírez , Rougned Odor and Matt Carpenter .

Your first round investment in José Ramírez basically has you handcuffed. If you try to trade him you’ll get just a fraction of the value of your initial investment, and you certainly can’t cut him. His 18 stolen bases are huge, but if he continues to slump, he’s just a one trick pony.

Odor’s been struggling for a long time now and despite his two home runs yesterday, the guy just can’t seem to hit a fastball.

We’re still confident in Carpenter’s skillset, but we’re concerned with his ability to stay in the lineup with that cranky back of his.

As far as the rest of the players we’ve examined in this article, they can still help your season long, and in some cases your DFS fantasy seasons. You just need to manage them carefully and take advantage of favorable matchups as they present themselves.