Labor Day weekend fantasy baseball help behind the plate in Arizona, Houston and Washington

Aug 16, 2023; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Nationals catcher Keibert Ruiz (20) reacts after hitting a three run home run against the Boston Red Sox during the eighth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 16, 2023; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Nationals catcher Keibert Ruiz (20) reacts after hitting a three run home run against the Boston Red Sox during the eighth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /

With the dog days of summer coming to a close, Major League Baseball gears up for the last month of the season. Players are tired, some even playing through injuries as teams look to close out the season with a strong September. Postseason berths are on the line, jobs for next season are on the line, flat out pride is on the line and for fantasy baseball owners a piece of your league’s prize pool is on the line.

The long season bares down hard on everyone, but no position on the field feels the long summer days more than the catcher. You may have had a stud catcher all season who is just not putting up the numbers in late August like he did in late June. A number of big-time catchers around the league like Jonah Heim are working their way back from injury. The point being, as we enter the last month of the season, you’re going to need some help behind the plate. I got you.

As Labor Day weekend is in full swing, let’s peep some catchers who can help your fantasy baseball team.

Gabriel Moreno, Arizona Diamondbacks

To those who don’t live in Phoenix or aren’t complete seamheads, Gabriel Moreno is probably a complete unknown. Totally understandable. A sports fan in the northeast or Midwest probably doesn’t follow the Arizona Diamondbacks too closely, and odds are most are not tracking catchers. Moreno is one who we all may know more about in the seasons to come. The second-year catcher from Venezuela has quietly put himself in the Gold Glove race and stabilized the position for a Diamondbacks team still fighting for a playoff spot.

Traded from Toronto over the winter and thought to be gradually brought along in Phoenix, Moreno has taken charge behind the plate and secured himself a spot in the daily lineup. On the season, the young catcher is batting .280 with six homers and 40 RBI. After only batting .190 in June, Moreno heated up in July to the tune of a .348 batting average, but ended up sitting out for a few weeks due to shoulder inflammation he had been dealing with since before the All-Star break. He hasn’t missed a beat since his return on August 13, batting .327 over 13 games in August with three home runs and 13 RBI. Moreno is a good bottom of the order hitter with nice all-around splits. Moreno hits lefties to the tune of a .341 average opposed to righties where he’s a .251 hitter. His splits are just as different in his home/away splits where he’s a .311 hitter in Phoenix and hitting .250 on the road.

Arizona rolled into the holiday weekend in third place in the NL West and just a half-game behind division rival San Francisco for the final Wild Card spot. The Diamondbacks host Baltimore this weekend then welcomes the Rockies to Phoenix before heading out to Wrigley next weekend.

Yainer Diaz, Houston Astros

Like Moreno, catcher Yainer Diaz had a strong August, batting .302 with an .895 OPS adding six home runs and 18 RBI. For the season, the rookie catcher is hitting .280 with 19 homers and 49 RBI. The 19 homers just happen to be a rookie record for Astros catchers. Making the home run feat all the more impressive is that Diaz isn’t Houston’s everyday catcher as he’s been the second guy to Martin Maldonado. Manager Dusty Baker has done all he can to get the Dominican rookie at bats by playing him at first base and plugging him in at the designated hitter spot. Diaz shines at the plate when he’s catching (.319, 10 home runs) and playing first base (.393 average), but only hits at a .213 clip when in the DH spot. Baker will have to step up his roster juggling game to keep Diaz’s bat in the lineup as outfielder/DH Michael Brantley has returned from the 60-day IL.

Much like Moreno, but totally opposite, Diaz’s righty versus lefty splits are wild. Against righties, the young catcher is hitting .309 with a .930 OPS while slugging it at a .601 clip, but versus lefties those numbers drop to a .198 batting average, a .554 OPS and his slugging plummets to .321.

Houston hosts the sinking/sunken Yankees this weekend then head upstate to play the Rangers before returning home for a series against the Padres and Oakland.

Keibert Ruiz, Washington Nationals

As a fifth-year veteran, Keibert Ruiz is the “old guy” of this group. Ruiz has thrived in his second year as the Nationals regular catcher, batting .260 with 16 home runs and 55 RBI. Like Diaz and Moreno, Ruiz has been a solid .300 hitter in August to the tune of a .326 average, a .954 OPS with five home runs and 16 RBI. Ruiz also closed out the month strong with a .294 average with a homer and three RBI gutting it out as he’s missed a few games over the last 10 days while clearing his head from a foul tip to the catcher’s mask last week and hasn’t missed a beat at the plate.

Ruiz has been a solid bat in the middle of Washington’s lineup as he’s combined to hit .299 and cracked 10 of his 16 dingers hitting out of the clean-up and fifth spot. When Ruiz gets a break from working behind the plate, he’s been the Nationals’ DH where he’s been really solid, hitting .378 with a .907 OPS in 45 at-bats. Ruiz’s lefty/righty splits are as wild as Diaz’s and Moreno’s. The Nationals’ catcher is a .314 hitter versus lefties while only batting .237 against righties, but Ruiz has 15 of his 16 homers against those troublesome righties. Go figure!

Another intriguing split for Ruiz is that he’s definitely not a night owl at the plate. This season, he’s a .333 hitter in day games while only hitting .216 at night. As odd as his lefty/right split is as it relates to his batting average to home run ratio, even though Ruiz has struggled at the plate during night games, he’s hit 11 of his 16 home runs at night, so he’s not completely void of some night moves (cue Bob Seger).

Although the Nationals are pretty much out of the playoff picture, they’ve rallied of late in effort to finish the season respectively, winning 11 of their last 16 games and climbing past the Mets in the bottom of the NL East standings (insert your own homemade Mets jokes here) heading into the weekend. Washington began a nine-game homestand this weekend as they welcomed the Marlins, Mets and Dodgers to the nation’s capital, which is good news for Ruiz owners. Ruiz is a .262 hitter at home and a combined .282 hitter collectively against all three teams coming to town. Ruiz is rostered in roughly 60 percent of leagues so, if you’re adding some depth to the catcher position, he should be available.

Good luck out there and have a winning Labor Day Weekend!

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