You don't want to hear this, but the time to trade Stephen Strasburg is now. And not like soon, but today. Right now.
Unlike many sudden injuries, breakdowns and just general stretch disappointments, we have been given a map on when Strasburg's season is going to end. Strasburg even gave you one last dominant start Sunday, pushing his innings total to 127 1/3. That means only 33-45 innings remain in his season -- about six starts, basically one last month of pitching.
Thanks for carrying fantasy teams to this point, Mr. Strasburg, we'll take it from here.
You can find a trade partner that is striving to make one last ditch run that needs that one-month shot in the arm. Strasburg also is fronting a contender many cannot believe will actually stick to their word and shut down their ace with a potential World Series run on tap.
Don't call the Nats' bluff. They are dead serious they will be shutting their ace down, no matter the circumstances.
But that shred of reasonable doubt they can give up a rare shot at the World Series at least offers enough firepower to do a respectable deal. This writer has already put his Strasburg where his words are Sunday, dealing him and teammate Bryce Harper for Aroldis Chapman and Adam Dunn in Tout Wars, a 15-team mixed rotisserie league. Second-to-last in saves and near the top in wins, ERA, WHIP and strikeouts, the deal made sense.
Yes, it is depressing to know you cannot count on Strasburg to go 5-2, 2.20 with 50 strikeouts here on out. But you also knew what you were getting into going into the season -- or when you made a deal for him earlier this year.
Strasburg even conveniently bounced back from being roughed up by the Phillies to post a great start Sunday. He showed his worst and then gave his best for last.
Despite the imminent end, he still has some legit trade value now that he won't have in a week or two, regardless of whether you don't believe he is going to hit a wall now that he is passing his career high in innings. All pitchers slow down when they take their shoulder to the point of the unknown. The Nationals conveniently give you an idea of when it is going to end, for this season at least.
1B Albert Pujols, Angels -- Your patience has been rewarded handsomely for the past two months. Since June 1, Pujols has hit .336 with 16 homers, 47 RBI, 40 runs, six steals, a .410 on-base percentage and .664 slugging percentage. Those are the Pujols numbers fantasy owners have come to know for the past decade. If you consider half of a season, from when he hit a season-low .192 May 11, Pujols has gone .332-23-65-52-8 (.401-.654). Well, 46 homers, 130 RBI and 104 runs are about what we expected. You just had to endure the six-week adjustment period transitioning to the Southern California lifestyle. Pujols and teammate Mike Trout might be the first two picks off the board next March.
SP Ryan Dempster, Rangers -- Dempster's hot streak had to end, but this suddenly after switching to a contender? Dempster was rocked for nine hits and eight runs in 4 2/3 innings in his Texas debut. It makes you wonder whether the wheels will completely come off for the 2012 renaissance veteran, but the Rangers can still make him a winner even if he pitches to a 4.34 ERA and 1.433 WHIP (his career levels). Don't sell now, but if he can put some smoke-and-mirror starts together, you might consider it.
1. SP Dan Straily, Athletics -- The minor-league strikeout leader had a solid debut and should remain in the A's and many fantasy rotations indefinitely.
2. RP Greg Holland, Royals -- He had a good first week replacing Jonathan Broxton as the Royals closer, but his WHIP suggests you should expect some hiccups.
3. OF Ryan Ludwick, Reds -- The streaky slugger has four homers in his past seven games and is just off the pace of a 30-homer revival. Cincy's ballpark suits him. He is viable in all leagues when going like this.
4. SP Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners -- That 13-strikeout game won't be replicated but his overall numbers and consistency in the M's rotation make him a streaming option for mixed leagues.
5. 3B Mike Olt, Rangers -- They didn't deal him, so they decided to bring him up from Double-A to help down the stretch. The way he's hitting right away, he might not leave the lineup the rest of the way, or for years.
1. SP Roy Oswalt, Rangers -- He didn't deserve the demotion, particularly since the Rangers were 4-2 in the games he started. Don't drop him, because he can still win games for fantasy owners once the Rangers need a starter again. They will.
2. 2B/OF Emilio Bonifacio, Marlins -- You might have cut him too soon. The versatile basestealer still has a place on rotisserie rosters with reserves and DL spots. He can still steal 10-plus bases upon his return, if he doesn't miss the rest of the season.
3. SP Mike Leake, Reds -- This 24-year old looks like he might have peaked too soon. He still has potential to help owners down the stretch, particularly because the Reds can make him a winner.
4. SP Homer Bailey, Reds -- He was due for some regression, but his development this year suggests he will be back contributing for fantasy owners in all formats before the year is through.
5. SP Travis Blackley, Athletics -- Staily has taken his rotation spot and it doesn't look like he will hand it back. Blackley is merely a middle reliever now.
Most viewed: Buy, sell, hold
1. 1B Albert Pujols, Angels -- His numbers since June 1 are right at the Pujols career levels. We should expect him to sustain this the rest of the way. HOLD
2. SP Dan Straily, A's -- His surprising 2012 has carried him to the majors and makes him look like an immediate fantasy ace. He's merely serviceable, so it is a good time to flip him. SELL
3. OF Travis Snider, Pirates -- It is telling the Blue Jays gave up on him, perhaps, but he fact he is just 24 suggests we shouldn't yet in fantasy. HOLD
4. SP Cliff Lee, Phillies -- Selling now would only compound the problems his season has caused you. We have said this for weeks, and months, but the best is still yet to come. BUY
5. SP Ryan Dempster -- His hot stretch and newfound contender getting him run support will keep him as a must-start in all fantasy leagues. We would say sell, but unfortunately, that awful Rangers debut makes it prohibitive to do so at a reasonable rate. HOLD
Eric Mack writes fantasy for SI.com. You find him on Twitter, where you can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice @EricMackFantasy. He reads all the messages there (guaranteed) and takes them very, very personally (not really).