Welcome to the newest edition of the Weekly MLB Preview!

GAME BREAKDOWN GRID FOR WEEK 25 (9/19 to 9/25)

TEAM # GAMES HOME AWAY VS LEFT VS RIGHT
Orioles 7 7 0 3 4
Yankees 6 0 6 3 3
Red Sox 7 0 7 0 7
Blue Jays 6 3 3 1 5
Rays 6 6 0 2 4
Tigers 6 3 3 2 4
Royals 7 1 6 3 4
White Sox 6 0 6 0 6
Indians 6 6 0 2 4
Twins 6 6 0 2 4
Angels 7 0 7 3 4
Mariners 6 3 3 1 5
Athletics 6 6 0 1 5
Rangers 6 3 3 1 5
Astros 7 4 3 1 6
Nationals 6 0 6 1 5
Marlins 7 7 0 0 7
Mets 7 7 0 1 6
Braves 7 0 7 0 7
Phillies 6 2 4 1 5
Cardinals 6 0 6 2 4
Pirates 6 3 3 1 5
Brewers 6 6 0 1 5
Reds 6 0 6 2 4
Cubs 6 6 0 1 5
Dodgers 7 7 0 3 4
Giants 7 0 7 4 3
Padres 7 7 0 1 6
Rockies 7 3 4 1 6
Diamondbacks 6 0 6 2 4

Analysis: Looking for statistics which will influence your upcoming lineup? Check out these tidbits:

  • With only two weeks remaining during the regular season, fantasy baseball owners who are still in contention (or currently in the playoffs, for head to head formats) are scrambling to assemble the best lineup possible. In non-keeper/dynasty formats, loyalty can be thrown to the wind, as several struggling players can sink a season. So which teams currently have the hottest hitters and best pitching staffs in mid-September? Since the beginning of the month, four teams currently have an AVG higher than .300 – the Boston Red Sox (.306), Seattle Mariners (.305), Chicago White Sox (.305) and Cincinnati Reds (.300). There are several low-owned hitters who have been performing well since the calendar turned, such as Boston’s catcher Sandy Leon (.375), Seattle’s outfielder Leonys Martin (.326), Chicago shortstop Trevor Saladino (.357) and Cincinnati outfielder Scott Schebler (.359). None of these are particularly “sexy” names to be sure, but ones who might put an owner over the AVG/OBP hump.
  • In terms of pitching, the Los Angeles Dodgers (2.25), Chicago Cubs (2.46), Boston Red Sox (2.72) and Milwaukee Brewers (3.03) staffs have the best ERA during September. Small sample-sizes to be sure, but keep in mind, the focus here is players who are currently riding high. For the Brewers, both Zach Davies (1.93) and Matt Garza (1.64) have posted sub-2.00 ERA’s over their past two starts. Davies takes on the Cincinnati Reds and Garza faces a struggling Pittsburgh Pirates team in their next outings. Julio Urias being moved to the Dodgers bullpen opens up the door for other options in the rotation, such as Ross Stripling or Jose De Leon. For the Red Sox, although he still boasts an unsightly 4.70 ERA and 1.28 WHIP for the season, Eduardo Rodriguez has allowed just two earned runs over his past 14 innings pitched, while striking out 10 batters during that time span. All five of the Cubs top starters are likely owned, but don’t forget about Mike Montgomery – he will receive elite run support in front of that ridiculous lineup.

INTERLEAGUE OUTLOOK

AWAY TEAM HOME TEAM # GAMES DH? PLAYER(S) IMPACTED
White Sox Phillies 2 No (2) Justin Morneau
Diamondbacks Orioles 3 Yes (3) Peter O'Brien, Rickie Weeks

Analysis: Once again, not much to report on the Interleague front as the season finally comes to a close. There are only two matchups during Week 25, with the Chicago White Sox on the road at the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Arizona Diamondbacks traveling to face the Baltimore Orioles. Justin Morneau will sit for the White Sox, and owners can expect either Peter O’Brien or Rickie Weeks to see additional at bats for the Diamondbacks.

 

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STARTING PITCHER RANKINGS

PITCHER MATCHUP 1 RATING MATCHUP 2 RATING 2 AVG
Noah Syndergaard Braves (Wisler) 8.25 Phillies (Asher) 8.5 8.375
Clayton Kershaw Giants (Bumgarner) 7.75 Rockies (Bettis) 8.25 8
Jose Fernandez Nationals (Roark) 7.5 Braves (Teheran) 8.5 8
Johnny Cueto @Dodgers (Hill) 7.25 @Padres (Richard) 7.75 7.5
Rich Hill Giants (Cueto) 7.75 Rockies (Anderson) 7.25 7.5
Julio Teheran @Mets (Gsellman) 6.75 @Marlins (Fernandez) 7.5 7.125
Carlos Rodon @Royals (Ventura) 7.25 @Indians (Tomlin) 6.75 7
Madison Bumgarner @Dodgers (Kershaw) 6.75 @Padres (Clemens) 7.25 7
Rick Porcello @Orioles (Bundy) 6.5 @Rays (Andriese) 7.25 6.875
Eduardo Rodriguez @Orioles (Gausman) 6.5 @Rays (Odorizzi) 7.25 6.875
Robert Gsellman Braves (Teheran) 6.5 Phillies (Thompson) 7.25 6.875
Anibal Sanchez @Twins (Duffey) 6.25 Royals (Volquez) 7 6.625
Yordano Ventura White Sox (Rodon) 5.75 @Tigers (Boyd) 6.25 6
Carlos Martinez @Rockies (Anderson) 6 @Cubs (Hendricks) 6 6
Taijuan Walker Blue Jays (Estrada) 5.75 @Twins (Duffey) 6.25 6
Michael Pineda @Rays (Smyly) 6.25 @Blue Jays (Estrada) 5.75 6
Dan Straily @Cubs (Hammel) 5.5 @Brewers (Peralta) 6.25 5.875
Clayton Richard Diamondbacks (Bradley) 6.25 Giants (Cueto) 5.5 5.875
Dylan Bundy Red Sox (Porcello) 5.5 Diamondbacks (De La Rosa) 6 5.75
A.J. Griffin Angels (Skaggs) 5.5 @Athletics (Cotton) 6 5.75
Tyler Anderson Cardinals (Martinez) 6 @Dodgers (Hill) 5.5 5.75
Marco Estrada @Mariners (Walker) 6 Yankees (Pineda) 5.5 5.75
Edinson Volquez @Indians (Tomlin) 5.5 @Tigers (Sanchez) 6 5.75

Analysis: Due to a very light slate of games on Monday, the total list of two-start pitchers is relatively small for Week 24. That being said, there are still some elite options to choose from in terms of talent. Syndergaard, Kershaw and Fernandez are all no-brainer options, especially considering that each has a very easy matchup (and in Syndergaard’s case, two).

Johnny Cueto still boasts an ERA under 3.00, and he faces the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres in Week 24. Owners grew increasingly concerned with Cueto entering September, as his ERA had increased each month since May (2.03, 2.67 in June, 3.38 in July, 4.38 in August). While his numbers haven’t been nearly as good since the All-Star break ended, he is still striking out nearly a batter per inning, and his WHIP is barely over 1.00 over his last 30 starts. I’m confident that Cueto will end the season on a high note.

Rich Hill has finally gotten over the blister issue which plagued him for the past two months, and has continued to be lights out for the Dodgers. Sure, he’s only made six starts since the end of May, but that isn’t entirely unsurprising, given Hill’s track record. So just how good has Hill been? He hasn’t allowed an earned run since July 7th, and he has 17 strikeouts over his last 13 innings pitched. While Hill has to face Colorado Rockies in his second start, he has almost approached SP1 territory at this point and is matchup-proof.

PITCHER MATCHUP 1 RATING
Aaron Sanchez @Mariners (Hernandez) 6.25
Felix Hernandez Blue Jays (Sanchez) 6.5
Clay Buchholz @Orioles (Gallardo) 5
Chris Sale @Phillies (Eickhoff) 8.25
Ian Kennedy @Indians (Clevinger) 6
Bartolo Colon Braves (Gant) 6.25
Max Scherzer @Marlins (Koehler) 8.5
Masahiro Tanaka @Rays (Cobb) 7.25
Alex Cobb Yankees (Tanaka) 5.75
Jered Weaver @Rangers (Hamels) 6.25
Cole Hamels Angels (Weaver) 6.5
Michael Fulmer @Twins (Santiago) 7.25
Hector Santiago Tigers (Fulmer) 6
Zack Greinke @Padres (Perdomo) 6.25
Matt Moore @Dodgers (Maeda) 5.75
Kenta Maeda Giants (Moore) 6
David Price @Orioles (Jiminez) 6.5
Corey Kluber Royals (Gee) 6.75
Luis Cessa @Rays (Snell) 6.25
Blake Snell Yankees (Cessa) 6.25
Justin Verlander @Twins (Berrios) 7.5
Jose Berrios Tigers (Verlander) 5.5
Jose De Leon Rockies (Chatwood) 6
Jeff Samardzija @Padres (Friedrich) 6.25
John Lackey Cardinals (Leake) 7.25
Chris Tillman Diamondbacks (Miller) 5.75
Francisco Liriano Yankees (Mitchell) 5.5
Carlos Carrasco White Sox (Gonzalez) 6.5
Danny Duffy @Tigers (Norris) 6.75
Daniel Norris Twins (Duffy) 6.5
Jeremy Hellickson @Mets (Montero) 6.75
Drew Pomeranz @Rays (Archer) 7
Chris Archer Red Sox (Pomeranz) 5.75
James Paxton @Twins (Santana) 6.25
Jon Gray @Dodgers (Undecided) 6.25
Jaime Garcia @Cubs (Arrieta) 5.5
Jake Arrieta Cardinals (Garcia) 7.75
CC Sabathia @Blue Jays (Stroman) 6.5
Marcus Stroman Yankees (Sabathia) 6.25
Ross Detwiler Rangers (Perez) 6
Wade Miley Diamondbacks (Ray) 6.25
Stephen Strasburg @Pirates (Nova) 7.75
Jose Quintana @Indians (Bauer) 7.5
Trevor Bauer White Sox (Quintana) 6.25
Anthony DeSclafani @Brewers (Davies) 7
Jake Odorizzi Red Sox (Odorizzi) 5.5
Wily Peralta Reds (Straily) 6
Kyle Hendricks Cardinals (Martinez) 7.5
Jason Hammel Reds (Straily) 5.75
Kevin Gausman Red Sox (Rodriguez) 6
James Shields @Phillies (Thompson) 5.75
Tanner Roark @Marlins (Fernandez) 6.75
Drew Smyly Yankees (Pineda) 6.25
Yu Darvish Angels (Wright) 6.5
Jon Lester Reds (Adleman) 7.75
Matt Garza Pirates (Brault) 6.25
Adam Wainwright @Rockies (De La Rosa) 6
Sean Manaea Astros (Musgrove) 6
J.A. Happ @Mariners (Iwakuma) 6.75
Hisashi Iwakuma Blue Jays (Happ) 6.5

Analysis: Similar to the two-start options listed above, there is a very clear first tier of one-start options, which should be evident in the table below. Some of the players who appear afterwards that managers should take note of are:

Jeremy Hellickson – While his last start against the New York Mets didn’t go particularly well (4.0 IP, 5 ER, 3 BBs), I have confidence based upon his last start against the Pittsburgh Pirates that he can turn things around and be the same pitcher that he was in April, May or July (3.81 ERA, 3.58, 2.39) instead of June or August (5.40, 4.37).

Daniel Norris – In his last outing Norris recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts against the hapless Minnesota Twins. Sure, he’s allowed two or three runs in each of his past five starts, but his strikeout totals have been steadily rising, while he has mitigated his Achilles heel – free passes. Norris faces the Twins yet again – owners should expect a similar level of success.

CC Sabathia – The ageless wonder has yo-yo’ed back and forth in his last five starts in terms of efficiency, but he has continued to pitch past the sixth inning in the majority of his games, and at this point the New York Yankees are content at letting his 36 year old arm fall-off to preserve their bullpen for a playoff run. Over his past six starts Sabathia has struck out seven or more batters four times, and has allowed three earned runs or less in five of them.