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>> Read even MORE of RotoBaller's original 2013 fantasy baseball articles and analysis Fantasy Analysis

>> Read even MORE of RotoBaller's original fantasy baseball advice articles released recently Waiver Wire & Daily Leagues


Start/Sit Matchups - Starting Pitchers (9/24 - 9/30)

Welcome back, RotoBallers. For those of you still playing - we're here to try and help with your  lineup decisions, and of course bring him those championship trophies! I'm filling in for the regular @Roto_Dubs this week, as he has "real life" stuff to attend to. For those who aren't familiar, this is our fifth year now writing this weekly column, helping fantasy baseball managers pick the best pitchers weekly. Below are the projected starting pitching matchups for Week 26 (9/24 through 9/30) as they currently stand, and our recommendations on whether to start or sit each pitcher. We'll be updating these throughout the week as rotations are inevitably tweaked. If you've got any questions about which pitchers can capitalize on a juicy matchup and which ones might be worth putting on the pine against a fierce offense, this is the weekly piece for you. For every week of the fantasy baseball season, we look to analyze all of the projected starting pitcher matchups and put together our optimal lineups. It's late enough in the season where we need to dig a little deeper -- those looking to make up ground in the standings may need to take some more risks to try and make up ground on their opponents. Those leading the pack need to make sure they don't roll out too many duds, so benching to right dud can be a ratio saver. And as we approach September, more pitchers will be emerging on the waiver wire, so stay stuned! Now let's get those optimal lineups set for the upcoming week!  

SP Matchups & Start/Sit Recommendations

This weekly piece considers the pitcher’s opponents, their career stats against the opponent, some ballpark factors and historical splits. With all of this information, we then provide our start/sit recommendations for each starting pitcher matchup for the approaching week of fantasy baseball. As we near towards the end of the season, and many teams stream heavily, my start recommendations become more aggressive. Ya gotta be in it to win it. Last updated: Saturday, September 29 at 6:00 pm ET
BAL@BOS Dylan Bundy SP | BAL SIT Nathan Eovaldi SP | BOS START
CLE@CHW Corey Kluber SP | CLE START Dylan Covey SP | CHW SIT
HOU@TOR Dallas Keuchel SP | HOU START Marco Estrada SP | TOR SIT
LAD@ARI Clayton Kershaw SP | LAD START Robbie Ray SP | ARI START
MIA@WAS Sandy Alcantara RP | MIA SIT Stephen Strasburg SP | WAS START
MIL@STL Dan Jennings SP | MIL SIT Jack Flaherty SP | STL START
NYY@TB Jonathan Holder SP | NYY SIT Diego Castillo RP | TB SIT
OAK@SEA Daniel Mengden SP | OAK START James Paxton SP | SEA START
PIT@CHC Jameson Taillon SP | PIT START Cole Hamels SP | CHC START
SD@SF Bryan Mitchell RP | SD SIT Derek Holland SP | SF START
TEX@LAA Adrian Sampson SP | TEX SIT Felix Pena RP | LAA SIT
ATL@NYM Touki Toussaint SP | ATL START Noah Syndergaard SP | NYM START
CLE@CHW Trevor Bauer SP | CLE START James Shields SP | CHW SIT
DET@MIN Spencer Turnbull SP | DET SIT Gabriel Moya SP | MIN SIT
HOU@TOR Josh James SP | HOU START Sam Gaviglio SP | TOR SIT
KC@CIN Eric Skoglund SP | KC SIT Matt Harvey SP | CIN SIT
LAD@ARI Walker Buehler RP | LAD START Matt Koch RP | ARI SIT
MIA@WAS Jeff Brigham RP | MIA SIT Max Scherzer SP | WAS START
MIL@STL Gio Gonzalez SP | MIL START Austin Gomber SP | STL START
NYY@TB Luis Severino SP | NYY START Jake Faria SP | TB SIT
OAK@SEA Brett Anderson SP | OAK SIT Mike Leake SP | SEA START
PHI@COL Vince Velasquez SP | PHI SIT Chad Bettis SP | COL SIT
PIT@CHC Chris Archer SP | PIT START Mike Montgomery RP | CHC START
SD@SF Robbie Erlin SP | SD SIT Chris Stratton SP | SF START
TEX@LAA Yovani Gallardo SP | TEX SIT Matt Shoemaker SP | LAA SIT
ATL@NYM Sean Newcomb SP | ATL START Jacob deGrom SP | NYM START
BAL@BOS Ryan Meisinger RP | BAL SIT David Price SP | BOS START
BAL@BOS Jimmy Yacabonis RP | BAL SIT Chris Sale SP | BOS START
CLE@CHW Shane Bieber SP | CLE START Jace Fry RP | CHW SIT
DET@MIN Matthew Boyd SP | DET START Jake Odorizzi SP | MIN START
HOU@TOR Chris Devenski RP | HOU START Sean Reid-Foley SP | TOR SIT
KC@CIN Heath Fillmyer SP | KC SIT Cody Reed RP | CIN START
LAD@ARI Ross Stripling RP | LAD START Zack Greinke SP | ARI START
MIA@WAS Wei-Yin Chen SP | MIA START Kyle McGowin SP | WAS SIT
MIL@STL Jhoulys Chacin SP | MIL START John Gant RP | STL START
NYY@TB Masahiro Tanaka SP | NYY START Ryne Stanek RP | TB SIT
OAK@SEA Edwn Jackson SP | OAK START Felix Hernandez SP | SEA SIT
PHI@COL Nick Pivetta SP | PHI START German Marquez SP | COL START
PIT@CHC Ivan Nova SP | PIT START Jose Quintana SP | CHC START
SD@SF Luis Perdomo SP | SD SIT Casey Kelley SP | SF SIT
TEX@LAA Yohander Mendez RP | TEX SIT Andrew Heaney SP | LAA START
ATL@NYM Julio Teheran SP | ATL START Jason Vargas SP | NYM START
CLE@KC Josh Tomlin SP | CLE SIT Glenn Sparkman RP | KC SIT
DET@MIN Francisco Liriano RP | DET START Gabriel Moya RP | MIN SIT
HOU@BAL Gerrit Cole SP | HOU START David Hess P | BAL SIT
NYY@TB CC Sabathia SP | NYY START Jaime Schultz SP | TB SIT
PHI@COL Jake Arrieta SP | PHI START Antonio Senzatela SP | COL SIT
PIT@CHC Trevor Williams SP | PIT START Jon Lester SP | CHC START
TEX@SEA Ariel Jurado SP | TEX SIT Marco Gonzales SP | SEA START
ARI@SD Patrick Corbin SP | ARI START Eric Lauer SP | SD START
ATL@PHI Mike Foltynewicz SP | ATL START Jerad Eickhoff SP | PHI SIT
CHW@MIN Reynaldo Lopez SP | CHW START Jose Berrios SP | MIN START
CHW@MIN Lucas Giolito SP | CHW START Chase De Jong SP | MIN SIT
CLE@KC Mike Clevinger SP | CLE START Ian Kennedy SP | KC START
DET@MIL Jordan Zimmermann SP | DET SIT Zach Davies SP | MIL START
HOU@BAL Gerrit Cole SP | HOU START David Hess SP | BAL SIT
LAD@SF Hyun-Jin Ryu SP | LAD START Madison Bumgarner SP | SF START
MIA@NYM Jose Urena SP | MIA START Corey Oswalt P | NYM SIT
NYY@BOS J.A. Happ SP | NYY START Brian Johnson SP | BOS SIT
OAK@LAA Mike Fiers SP | OAK START Jaime Barria SP | LAA SIT
PIT@CIN Nick Kingham SP | PIT START Anthony DeSclafani SP | CIN START
STL@CHC Adam Wainwright SP | STL START Kyle Hendricks SP | CHC START
TEX@SEA Martin Perez SP | TEX SIT Wade LeBlanc RP | SEA START
TOR@TB Thomas Pannone P | TOR START Tyler Glasnow SP | TB START
WAS@COL Joe Ross SP | WAS SIT Kyle Freeland SP | COL START
ARI@SD Zack Godley SP | ARI START Jacob Nix SP | SD SIT
ATL@PHI Anibal Sanchez SP | ATL START Aaron Nola SP | PHI START
CHW@MIN Carlos Rodon SP | CHW START Kyle Gibson SP | MIN START
CLE@KC Corey Kluber SP | CLE START Jake Junis SP | KC SIT
DET@MIL Daniel Norris SP | DET SIT Wade Miley SP | MIL START
HOU@BAL Justin Verlander SP | HOU START Dylan Bundy SP | BAL SIT
HOU@BAL Dallas Keuchel SP | HOU START Yefry Ramirez SP | BAL SIT
LAD@SF Clayton Kershaw SP | LAD START Dereck Rodriguez SP | SF START
MIA@NYM Trevor Richards SP | MIA SIT Steven Matz SP | NYM START
NYY@BOS Domingo German SP | NYY SIT Nathan Eovaldi SP | BOS START
OAK@LAA Liam Hendriks SP | OAK SIT Tyler Skaggs SP | LAA SIT
PIT@CIN Jameson Taillon SP | PIT START Michael Lorenzen SP | CIN SIT
STL@CHC Miles Mikolas SP | STL START Cole Hamels SP | CHC START
TEX@SEA Adrian Sampson RP | TEX SIT James Paxton SP | SEA START
TOR@TB Ryan Borucki RP | TOR START Blake Snell SP | TB START
WAS@COL Stephen Strasburg SP | WAS START Jon Gray SP | COL START
ARI@SD Robbie Ray SP | ARI START Joey Lucchesi RP | SD START
ATL@PHI Kevin Gausman SP | ATL START Roger Suarez SP | PHI SIT
CHW@MIN Dylan Covey SP | CHW SIT Zack Littell SP | MIN SIT
CLE@KC Carlos Carrasco SP | CLE START Eric Skoglund SP | KC SIT
DET@MIL Spencer Turnbull SP | DET SIT TBD TBD
LAD@SF Walker Buehler SP | LAD START Andrew Suarez SP | SF START
MIA@NYM Sandy Alcantara RP | MIA START Noah Syndergaard SP | NYM START
STL@CHC Jack Flaherty SP | STL START Mike Montgomery RP | CHC START
TEX@SEA Yovani Gallardo SP | TEX SIT Roenis Elias SP | SEA START

[jiffyNews category_include='698' headline='More Weekly Lineup Prep']

Week 27 MLB Closers and Saves Report

Well, this is it. The Fantasy Finals! Some leagues are already done, having crowned their champions last week. Others will bring it down to the bitter end, leading right up to the "real" playoffs. Here's hoping you're either still alive or have already been crowned champion. Thanks for coming along for another ride this season with Rotoballer's Closers and Saves Report! The Angels got a rookie to close some games near the end of the season, but he'll make an early exit. The Braves found a power lefty to close for them, but mechanical issues caught up to him and they need him right for their playoffs. The Twins have had a hard time in the ninth inning all season, and this week was no exception. A closer started a game for Chicago, as the concept of the Opener spreads. All that and more in this week's Closers and Saves Report, so let's dive into the news, the best performers, and any suggested moves for your fantasy team this week:  

Bullpen News for Week 27

Los Angeles Angels The Angels shifted things around a ton in the bullpen this season, with nine different pitchers earning saves. Blake Parker's 14 was the highest total in the pen. Rookie Ty Buttrey seemed to settle into the role nicely over the past couple of weeks, but he was shut down due to bursitis in his knee and veteran Jim Johnson actually earned a save this week. Assuming no trades or free agent signings, Buttrey might be the favorite for saves next season, but that all depends on Keynan Middleton's recovery from Tommy John Surgery. Atlanta Braves A.J. Minter was doing a pretty solid job as Atlanta's closer for a while, but some recent mechanical issues have led the Braves to use Arodys Vizcaino in the ninth inning again. Meanwhile, Minter is working on "getting right" before the Braves begin postseason play. Vizcaino could be sticking in the ninth inning for the playoffs, but assuming Minter can work things out in time, he should play a vital role in the late innings as well. Minnesota Twins The Twins had a hard time closing games out since making some deals around the July 31 trade deadline. Trevor Hildenberger had some good flashes, but he's had a very rough month of September. Manager Paul Molitor said he would be using this final week of the season to try different pitchers in different roles, presumably to do some early research for next season. Taylor Rogers or Trevor May will likely get any save chances the Twins have in these last few days.  

Roster Moves of the Week

Adds Arodys Vizcaino, Atlanta Braves - Vizcaino was dropped in a lot of leagues when he was overtaken by A.J. Minter and then in even more leagues when he ended up on the disabled list for a while. He's back, and he looks to be back in the closer's role as well. Anyone looking for a quick save or two on this final weekend might do well with "Viz." Trevor May/Taylor Rogers, Minnesota Twins - One of Trevor May or Taylor Rogers will likely get any save chances this weekend for the Twins. Owners desperate for just one more save can flip a coin and choose one of these two. Blake Parker, Los Angeles Angels - With Ty Buttrey's season over and Jim Johnson being 2018 Jim Johnson, Blake Parker seems like the logical choice if the Angels need to save a game this weekend. Drops A.J. Minter, Atlanta Braves - Minter is working things out with his delivery and mechanics and likely won't pitch another significant inning until the playoffs. Ty Buttrey, Los Angeles Angels - Buttrey kind of came out of nowhere in the Angels bullpen and looked solid. He's an exciting arm to watch for next year, but he's been shut down this season due to bursitis in his knee.  

Best of the Season

Given that this will be this season's final Closers and Saves Report, let's take a look at the best performers this season, instead of just this week: Blake Treinen, Oakland Athletics - 79 1/3 IP, 98 K, 37 SV, 0.79 ERA, 0.83 WHIP Seven runs. That's all that Blake Treinen has allowed this season. Seven runs. Many starting pitchers will have at least one start per season where they blow up and give up seven runs. Blake Treinen gave up that many in a whole season. He also saved 37 games and struck out 98 batters while walking just 21. It was an elite season from a guy who has to now be considered one of the elite closers in baseball. Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners - 72 1/3 IP, 121 K, 56 SV, 1.99 ERA, 0.79 WHIP Edwin Diaz had a chance to save 60 games this season, but it just didn't wind up that way. Still, 56 saves and 121 strikeouts in just over 72 innings of work is amazing. He walked just 17 batters and allowed 16 runs on 40 hits. He's another elite closer and was arguably the most valuable reliever in standard leagues this season. Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox - 61 1/3 IP, 93 K, 42 SV, 2.79 ERA, 1.01 WHIP Craig Kimbrel helped lead the Red Sox to the best record in baseball, contributing 93 strikeouts and 42 saves in just over 61 innings of work. He looked like vintage Craig Kimbrel for most of the season and should be another strength on a team full of them heading into the postseason. Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers - 79 IP, 140 K, 11 SV (21 HD), 2.28 ERA, 0.80 WHIP Josh Hader had a ridiculous 140 strikeouts in just 79 innings of work. He only walked 29 in the process of racking up his 140 Ks. Hader was a top relief option in holds leagues, but even in standard leagues that only counted saves, his strikeout total and strong ratios were good enough to give him legitimate value even when he wasn't closing games. [jiffyNews category_include='6916' headline='More Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers']

Holds Leagues - Waiver Wire Pickups and Adds for Week 27

Happy end of the baseball season! While holds are even tougher to predict than saves, the players we’ll highlight today include some elite setup men to target off the waiver wire in Week 27. One-inning middle relievers are the constant sources for holds and specialists can manage to secure a hold even with one out. However, while specialists can get many holds, their fantasy value is limited to how effective they are in their specific role. Long relievers are not a strong source of holds, they are often used in emergency or mop-up roles; reducing their likelihood to enter a game with the lead. The strongest setup relievers can even be eligible for saves on occasion. Bottom line: the more likely an MLB team is to win, the more likely these pitchers will be eligible to earn the holds that could be the difference between winning or losing in your fantasy league. Let's get to it.  

Relief Pitcher Waiver Wire - Week 27 Pickups

Pedro Baez, Los Angeles Dodgers 7 Holds, 2.95 ERA, 55.0 IP, 60 K, 1.22 WHIP The Los Angeles Dodgers are looking for reliable bridges to closer Kenley Jansen and a solid month by Pedro Baez puts him in the conversation. In nine September appearances, Baez pitches to a 1.04 ERA. He is striking batters out at just over a batter per inning. Baez has touched the eighth inning on occasion but frequently is used in the seventh or earlier. He may have pitched well enough to justify a spot on the postseason roster but these crucial last games of the season could decide this. Seunghwan Oh, Colorado Rockies 3 Saves, 20 Holds, 2.69 ERA, 67.0 IP, 77 K, 1.02 WHIP The Colorado Rockies are on the best timed hot streaks and Seunghwan Oh is a contributor in their bullpen. Using a 91.6 mph fastball and 84.0 mph slider, the veteran Oh is striking out more than a batter per inning. Once Oh joined the Rockies, he was pushed right into seventh and eighth inning appearances. The Rockies will need a strong stable series of appearances to wrap up this season if they want to play in the postseason. Lou Trivino, Oakland Athletics 4 Saves, 23 Holds, 3.00 ERA, 72.0 IP, 80 K, 1.17 WHIP The Oakland Athletics field one of the best, deep bullpens and Lou Trivino is having a great rookie campaign. Trivino has been struggling of late but opponents are still hitting just .205 against him. He strikes out more than a batter per inning with a powerful 97.6 mph fastball and 92.4 mph cutter. He has rare bouts of wildness so he will not hurt you with excessive baserunners. He is more than likely a part of the A's postseason roster but his role will be determined by how he finishes the season. Justin Wilson, Chicago Cubs 16 Holds, 3.13 ERA, 54.2 IP, 69 K, 1.39 WHIP The Chicago Cubs are still fighting for their division and the unfortunate timing of injuries to the bullpen could be an opportunity for Justin Wilson to showcase what he has been capable of in the past. Relying on a 94.7 mph fastball and 91.1 mph cutter, Wilson is striking out well over a batter per inning. Opponents are hitting .215 against Wilson and he frequently finds himself pitching in the seventh or eighth inning. The bullpen could see Pedro Strop return before season's end but Justin Wilson is a safe veteran presence that can be relied on. Corbin Burnes, Milwaukee Brewers 1 Save, 3 Holds, 2.50 ERA, 36.0 IP, 33 K, 1.00 WHIP The Milwaukee Brewers are already postseason bound but reliever Corbin Burnes needs to continue vying for his spot on the roster. The 23-year-old rookie is having a solid debut year. Generating a ground ball on 47.9 percent of batted balls, opponents are hitting .203 against Burnes. With a 95.2 mph fastball and 86.7 mph slider, Burnes is not striking out a batter per inning but his above league average swing rate matches well with his below league average contact rate. The Brewers are going into the postseason with one of the best bullpens and Burnes appears to be a part of it.   [jiffyNews category_include='6916' headline='More Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers']

Power Risers/Fallers for Week 26: Buy or Sell?

Welcome to Week 26 of the 2018 MLB season and a new week of our investigation into the steepest power trenders in baseball, whether those trends are positive or negative. It has blown by insanely fast, but believe it or not, the final week of the 2018 MLB regular season has officially arrived. Most fantasy baseball leagues have already had their trade deadlines come and go, and the only decisions left for managers to make in terms of personnel are whether players are worth the AB they are receiving and whether a player is worth adding for a postseason push. Getting the jump on identifying the catalytic variables and telling trends in these player's recent offensive performances could be the key factor in the management of your roster in the season's final months. To do this, we'll be taking a look at the batting metrics that influence a hitter's power (Fly-Ball%, Pull%, Hard-Hit%, Exit Velocity) and determining whether you should buy or sell respectively on these surgers and strugglers. Since it's always best to wait and trudge through with the power play from players like Bryce Harper, Charlie Blackmon, Joey Votto, and Mookie Betts, we are going to be focusing on players who have seen a change in their power profile due to a change in batting metrics and has either warranted greater attention for waiver wire pickups or for a potential trade to cash in on what's left before it's too late.  

Power Risers

Yasiel Puig - (OF, LAD) Gut-wrenching home burglaries aside, Yasiel Puig is having himself a great month of September. With seven HR and a 1.199 OPS in 48 AB to this point, his strong finish is a big reason that the Dodgers are currently atop the NL West and at the very least are in a strong position to see October. A look at Puig's offensive metrics makes it clear to how he has accomplished his best month at the plate in an already successful 2018 campaign. His plate discipline has been fantastic with a season-best strikeout rate of 14.8% and an 11.1% walk rate which has allowed him plenty of opportunities to make contact and reach base to grab stolen bases. In terms of quality of contact on batted-balls, Puig has particularly exploded this month. Though he has only hit fly balls at a 35% frequency so far in September he has been cranking balls yard with a 52.5% pull rate, just 12.5% soft contact, and a significant hard contact rate of 50%, ultimately culminating in an ISO of .458. With impressive displays of strength like an 89.6 mph exit velocity and a 414-foot average HR-distance (not to mention outfield assists that defy the laws of physics), it is no secret that he is an extremely dangerous and talented hitter, so now that the pieces have all come together in September, the devastation he has dealt to opposing pitchers should come as no surprise. It may come as a shock but Yasiel Puig is 27-years old now, and the strong finish to his strong season establishes him once again as dangerous power/speed combo outfielder for 2019. Now flip a bat to that. Ketel Marte - (SS/2B, ARI) Few players have had power-hitting performances as surprising throughout the year as Ketel Marte. The first note of surprise comes in the middle-infielder's above-average exit velocity of 88.8 mph and fantastic average HR-distance of 406-feet (assisted by such behemoths as a 465-foot dinger). This month has been another solid showing from Marte: with an .869 OPS, three homers, and an ISO of .268 in 56 AB, this month has gone a long way in proving to all watching that his work at the plate in 2018 has been no joke. There have been some drawbacks to his offensive results thus far into September. His strikeout rate of 18.8% is his highest of the year for an individual month, his fly ball rate of 33.3% leaves a little to be desired for hitting deep, and he has produced a less-than-ideal soft contact rate of 19.6%. Despite these apparent cons, it's all a part of the process. His hard contact rate of 37% is solid, his pull rate of 52.2% is his highest of the year for a month by a margin of 12.2%, and his GB/FB ratio has actually reached a season-low 1.13 despite his low frequency of flyers due to a very high rate of line drives (28.9%). This influx of extra-base hitting has wreaked a little havoc on Marte's stolen-base figures (though he has still stolen six bases in seven attempts), but this high-quality batted ball contact mixed with his speed and line drive tendencies has led to a great well-rounded year at the plate and very well may culminate in him being MLB's 2018 triples champion. Still being just 24-years old, the skill set that Ketel Marte has demonstrated throughout the entirety of this season bodes well for his continued play and progression in coming years. Joc Pederson - (OF, LAD) Speaking of the young Dodgers propelling the squad to the postseason, Joc Pederson has so far slugged his way to five HR and a .953 OPS in 57 September AB. It has definitely been an up and down year for him, he is even striking out at an astounding rate of 32.3% during this, his excellent month to close out the regular season. However, despite a strikeout rate that is even higher than his already-high season average and his soft contact rate reaching 18.9% this month (his highest since May) everything else about Pederson's work at the plate during September aligns extraordinarily with successful power-hitting. He possesses natural power, but it more translates into homers of the "laser" variety than the "bomb" variety, as evidenced by his below-average HR-distance of 393-feet and his well-above-average exit velocity of 91.6 mph. His GB/FB ratio this month has hit the abyss at 0.61 off of 48.6% fly balls and just 29.7% grounders, and while his pull rate has dropped it still remains at a trustworthy 43.2%. In conjunction with the tremendous hard contact he has managed this month of 51.4%, Pederson has produced an ISO of .333 which is his highest since his ten-homer month of June. He should probably stop trying to steal bases (he has successfully nabbed just one base in six attempts this year), but at 26-years old he has set the tone for himself as a yearly albeit streaky candidate for 25+ dingers.

Power Fallers

Eugenio Suarez - (3B, CIN) There is no doubt about it that 2018 has been Eugenio Suarez's big arrival, complete with 32 homers, 101 RBI, and his first selection to the All-Star game. However, he has so far limped through this month of September to the tune of just two dingers and a mediocre .621 OPS in 75 AB. The issue is that, as far as how these results came to be, it is hard to nitpick with Suarez. His walk rate has been great all season but his strikeout rate this month has ballooned to 29.1%, while his respective rates for grounders and fly balls of 44% and 32% have netted a season-high GB/FB ratio of 1.38. His pull rate still sits well above the league norm at 46%, and although his September hard contact rate is his worst of the season and his soft contact rate hasn't been as high as it is now since May, both figures still stand as highly competent at 38% and 10% respectively. His hard contact contains plenty of pop too as evidenced by his 399-foot average HR-distance and 91 mph exit velocity. As there have been few problems with his quality of contact on batted-balls or plate discipline as a whole on the year, the driving force behind Suarez's September slump is likely the increase in strikeouts and a higher rate of batted-balls hitting dirt, because if he had hit them for line drives or fly balls, we would likely be discussing his triumphant end to an emergent campaign. Don't feel trepidation in trusting 27-year-old Eugenio Suarez in future seasons, this 32-HR season could be the tip of the iceberg. Max Muncy - (3B/1B/2B, LAD) Hold up, there is indeed one young Dodger putting the breaks on a bit as the regular season dwindles down, and it's Max Muncy. Fortunately, though he has slowed down, it hasn't been in his overall game but just in the power department as he has hit just three HR but has still managed an impressive .892 OPS in 51 AB. His plate discipline has been extremely polar this month with a still-concerning strikeout rate of 29.4% yet a stratospheric walk rate of 23.5%. It is also encouraging to assess that very few components are out of place for Muncy at the moment. His GB/FB ratio remains at a homer-friendly 0.62 off of 41.9% fly balls and just 25.8% grounders, his pull rate provides a moderate assist at 45.2%, and his hard contact rate is still high-quality at 41.9% (though this is incredibly his lowest figure since April!). Though, one peripheral that seems to be leaking through the month has been his soft contact rate which sits at 19.4%, his highest of the season by a 3.8% margin. Overall though, a slight slow-down, when combined with what is still a very successful well-rounded month at the plate, shouldn't inspire any concern. The 28-year-old's breakout campaign of 2018 has been stacked with month after month of hard contact being applied to a high-volume of fly balls, resulting in 33 balls-gone-yard for Los Angeles. His plate discipline may waver on occasion, but he possesses enough raw power (90.4 mph exit velocity and 401-foot average HR-distance) to accrue an ISO of .196 even in his worst offensive month since the start of the regular season. Breakout seasons from emergent Dodgers have been a staple of the last few years, and while they come and go, Max Muncy's demonstrated consistency in producing elite power peripherals projects favorably for the last week until the postseason and 2019. Anthony Rizzo - (1B, CHC) Despite an .840 OPS, 24 homers and 96 RBI this season for the NL Central-leading Cubs, 2018 has quite easily been Anthony Rizzo's worst offensive season since 2013. In 75 AB so far in September, he has smacked just two homers with an unusually pedestrian .786 OPS, and like his counterparts being discussed today, the issue he is having in going deep this month appears relatively easy to diagnose. His strikeout rate of 13.6% and walk rate of 11.4% are both superb, his pull rate of 46% lends a considerable helping hand within hitter-friendly Wrigley Field, and his power metrics remain above-average and active with a 90 mph exit velocity and 403-foot average HR-distance (not to mention that his bat comes in one of baseball's most dangerous run-scoring orders). In contrast, he has been hitting a lot of grounders (41.3%) as compared to his 33.3% fly ball rate which has translated into a 1.24 GB/FB ratio. Most concerning, his batted-ball contact has regressed significantly this month with a hard contact rate of just 28.6% and a high soft contact rate of 19.1% that are both highly uncharacteristic of the seasoned slugger. This explains his September ISO of .120, while his superior plate discipline combined with his high frequency of line drives and medium contact explain how his BA and OBP have yet to suffer. Anthony Rizzo has been good for so long that it is hard to believe that has yet to turn 30, and while his September power outage is a bit concerning, he will have a chance to work that out in the postseason for the Cubbies so that the issues need not resurface come April of 2019. [jiffyNews tags_include='20164' headline='More Risers and Fallers']

Week 26 Waiver Wire - Starting Pitchers

Welcome to the last week of September, everyone! The insane marathon that is the fantasy baseball season is truly in its home stretch, and there’s nothing more indicative of the championship week of fantasy baseball than everyone scrambling to get pitchers. Whether it’s for your head-to-head matchup or streaming in order to max out your rotisserie innings, we all need arms. Heck, maybe you’re out of innings and just want to block your opponents -- I respect that. As always, you can find me on Twitter @NMariano53 and ask any follow-up questions or about other pitchers not touched on here. In the interest of my being exhausted and there being plenty of names worth touching on, these blurbs will be short and sweet. Using Yahoo ownership and cutting off around 30%, here are my starting pitcher waiver wire targets for Week 26.  

Starting Pitcher Waiver Wire Targets

Nathan Eovaldi (BOS - SP): 30% owned Eovaldi shut down the Yankees on Sept. 18 with six scoreless frames and then followed that up with a season-high 10 strikeouts over five innings of one-run ball against the Orioles. Unfortunately, he has to do battle with the Yanks once again in his final start of the regular season on Sept. 30, but at least he’s shown the ability to handle his former team. Plus, 23 strikeouts in 18 September innings with a paltry .206 slugging percentage allowed isn't half bad either. Ryan Borucki (TOR - SP): 26% owned Borucki now has four consecutive quality starts and has collected a QS in 11 of his 16 Major League outings so far. I'd have preferred he didn't force himself to work around four walks in his latest appearance against Tampa Bay, but he struck out seven for the second straight time and has yielded just four hits apiece in each of his last four times on the bump. It's never ideal when a pitcher has to face the same lineup in back-to-back starts -- he's set to finish out against the Rays again -- but he's been solid in each appearance against an improved Tampa squad so I shan't fear them. Adam Wainwright (STL - SP): 23% owned Waino will face the Cubs in Wrigley on Sept. 28 for his last start of the regular season. Scoreboard-watchers won’t feel as confidently about him as those who saw his start against the Giants, as he was solid through six innings before a string of four singles bounced him in the seventh and inflated his numbers. He'd walked none and scattered four hits through six frames, so let's hope he either stays strong through the end or his coaches recognize a late fade when it occurs. Cody Reed (CIN - SP/RP): 16% owned Those of you who specifically like getting SP/RP eligible starters to shoehorn into your lineup should be all over Reed, who faces the Royals at home as he looks for his third straight strong outing. Reed struck out 10 Cubs over five shutout innings on Sept. 15 before holding the Marlins scoreless over six frames on the 20th, as the 25-year-old Red may just have figured something out down the stretch. Zach Davies (MIL - SP): 15% owned Some of you simply need wins, and while Davies has taken two straight losses at the hands of the Pirates, he and the Brewers take on the Tigers at home on Sept. 28 in their quest for the NL Central title. Davies has maxed out at five innings since returning to action earlier this month but has a 3.32 ERA/1.11 WHIP with 15 strikeouts in those 19 innings. In other words, perfectly reasonable stats that should yield a W against a Detroit ballclub whose team wOBA of .291 against righties is tied with the Padres for worst in 2018. Felix Pena (LAA - SP/RP): 12% owned Pena burned some of you ( by getting hit for six runs over four innings in Oakland on the 19th, but he rebounded with a quality start against Texas at home and will get to redeem himself against an A’s squad that may be looking over the Angels at their Wild Card matchup come Sept. 30. He has a 3.49 ERA/3.44 FIP/3.73 xFIP with a 45/11 K/BB ratio over his last eight starts with six quality starts mixed in. If you want to take Oakland’s side of that game, have a look at the mustachio’d Daniel Mengden (6% owned), who is slated to oppose Pena after allowing three runs on five hits across five innings to Seattle on Sept. 24. Thomas Pannone (TOR - SP/RP): 9% owned Pannone is now 4-1 with four quality starts in five starts for Toronto in ‘18, with a particularly impressive stretch of limiting the Indians, Yankees and Rays to just two runs each in recent weeks. It’d be nice if he could face someone other than the Rays for his final start considering they’re a top-five offense in the last 14 days, but Pannone has dialed up a spectacular 35.6% soft-contact rate as a starter in September. That’s the best out of any American League starting pitcher with at least 20 innings in the month (Anibal Sanchez’s 40.7% in the NL bests him, while Walker Buehler and Jacob deGrom just come up short). That’s good, yeah? Trevor Richards (MIA - SP): 5% owned Richards will face the Mets in New York for his final performance of the 2018 season, and while the Mets have shown more life in the second half, they’re still batting .228 as a team with an above-average 22.8% strikeout rate over the last two weeks. Richards hasn’t been the sharpest with command in September, but his latest trip to the rubber saw him dominate Cincinnati with nine strikeouts over seven shutout innings. There are worse gambles you could make. Antonio Senzatela (COL - SP/RP): 5% owned Senzatela is another doozy for the SP/RP crowd, as the young Rockie will face the Phillies on Sept. 27 as Colorado fights for its playoff life. He’s won his past two starts with two combined runs allowed over 12 innings, though they were both away from Coors Field. But the Phillies’ collective 23.4% strikeout rate and .218 batting average over the past 14 days are worse than the Mets if you need a 5% pivot.    

More Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers

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NL-Only Waiver Wire Team of the Week: MLB Week 26

Every week in baseball, a significant player will hit the disabled list, slip into a slump, or get traded out of a good spot. How fantasy owners adapt to these situations can make or break the season as a whole. One lousy add might not hurt the long-term standing of a team, but failing to take advantage of breakouts or impact bats before others sure can. The primary challenge of playing in an NL or AL-only league is often the lack of options regarding adding and subtracting players when needed. In mixed leagues, the players on the waiver wire are usually starting for an NL-only staff. So then how does one wade through the names of players that even regular fantasy players have never heard of, and that often will not even start for their teams, to begin with? That is where this series comes in. Instead of owners spending time digging the waiver wire of 0% owned players, this article will give owners a player at each position to fill the gap, or at the least, keep an eye on to add or stash. Not all of these players will replace that injury, but offer the best option off the scrap heap. Often the players advocated for here are long shots due to the nature of shallow leagues. No quick fixes, but some upside that could turn into much more.  With that onto the island of misfit fantasy toys.

NL-Only Team of the Week

C - Elias Diaz (C, PIT) - 4% owned The first of the Pirates this week, Diaz offers good value at the position built on a better than expected batting line this campaign. Through 79 games he is slashing .285/.340/.448 with nine homers and 30 RBI. That OBP alone will keep him in most fantasy catching conversations. Even more, the walk rate is tipping up a few points showing the underlying skills are there to sustain this change. Also, if Diaz were not playing behind the plate he would be starting at first or CI for most teams adding to the value based on the positional context. The other good news has been a six-point drop in his K rate, adding another hint at a breakout for next year. After some time away with a bum hamstring, Diaz looks to be a safe bet this last week. Diaz should also top draft boards for mid-round backstops next year.   1B - Aramis Garcia (1B/C, SFG) - 2% owned This name was a surprise to see make the cut, as he might fit better as a fantasy catcher, but in the short term, looks to be a hot bat that teams looking for a last minute play can add. In only 13 games he is slashing .341/.341/.585 with three homers and seven runs scored. The park limits the long-term power upside, but the minor league numbers put him on a 20 a year pace. Ignore the 46% K line, as he has only played in 13 games, and in the minors, he seemed to be a bit more selective as he got promoted up the chain. This is a dart plain and simple, as most adds this week will be, but this seems to be an option with the Giants needing to cover for Brandon Belt and others over the final few games. If owners need catching depth, and Diaz is gone, Garcia is the next in line. 2B - Kolten Wong (2B, STL) - 1% owned Wong is another regular on this list due to the low ownership rates, and to be fair, 2018 has not had a season to remember. Through 122 games he is slashing .251/.333/.391 with nine homers and six steals. Even with the slumping bat, and some injuries limiting his time this campaign, the fact that he has played in close to a full season shows the value that he offers to his team. With that, and the team being in a playoff race, expect Wong to get more chances to produce. The one hedge is that he missed some games over the weekend with a knock, and could be a better fit with daily rosters this week. Owners can expect the .250 average this week, but the 41 runs are there to be had. While a risk with playing time, when Wong is only owned in 1% of leagues, this should be an easy add. 3B - Colin Moran (3B, PIT) - 3% owned And Moran is back on the list for the same reasons as he has all season: a good floor with the bat and playing time makes him fantasy worthy. (Insert usual rant on why 3% ownership is absurd.) In 138 games this year, with the Pirates, Moran is slashing .278/.340/.400 with 10 homers and 55 RBI. Both counting numbers are low for the starting spot, but with the batting average, will offer production at a steady rate. Moran walks enough at 8.7% and only strikes out 17.4%, again adding to the reasonable profile for owners. A key player into the future, expect Motan to keep it up this week, and add him to sleeper lists for next year. At the very least, roto owners looking to save the batting average category should add Moran now. SS - Jordy Mercer (SS, PIT) - 1% owned Keeping the run on Pirates going, Mercer might be on his way out of town but still offers the best option at short on the wire this week. In 115 games he is slashing .250/.315/.381 with six homers and two steals. While only posting an 86 wRC+, the production is hidden by the position, and in some cases, any output at the MI spot is worth the look. Overall this year, he is swinging at four percent more pitches, and this has helped boost the batting line to close to career average. While the numbers overall are down, the fact that he is still in the same range shows the skill set that remains in the late stages of his career. For owners looking to hedge at the shortstop position, Mercer is safe and offers upside that no other options can match. OF - Gerardo Parra (OF, COL) - 5% owned Parra is back on the list, and with the Rockies still in the playoff hunt will get the same playing time he has been. With most of his final games at Coors as well, this seems to be a play for those park factors at the very least. Hitting at Coors should give Parra a higher production baseline versus others on the wire. In 136 games so far, he is slashing .281/.338/.363 with five homers and 11 steals. The speed has been the selling point so far, as he has never run that much in his career. If Parra was stealing at a 20 pace he would be owned everywhere, so take that discount and add him for free. While not something to rely on moving into next year, the final weeks should give him even more of a catalyst to steal. Parra is a good offensive player, with a good park, and the other factors needed to have a big final week. OF - Curtis Granderson (OF, MIL) - 3% owned Granderson is one of the darlings of the deep league with a decent line for the fantasy circuit, but also has enough supporting factors to keep his ownership low. Admittingly, he has struggled since moving to Milwaukee with only a .212 average but has chipped in three homers in close to 30 games so far. The play here is the offensive upside with a good park to add that bump to the numbers. Also adding in late-inning chances, this looks to be a match-up option as well for daily owners. It looks as if he has not attempted a steal since moving teams, so that does take away another area to rely on for fantasy categories. All is not lost, as the team context alone should be worth the risk. With a good track record, this seems to be a legitimate add for owners hoping for a hot final week. OF - Austin Slater (1B/OF, SFG) - 1% owned Back in the outfield on the list after a stop at first a few weeks back, Slater might never be a top fantasy asset but still offers some upside that should excite owners nonetheless. In 70 games he is slashing .255/.336/.313 with one homer and six steals. While not a burner, the speed does allow him to add a few extra points with doubles to the gap, making up for the overall lack of power. The K rate is up this year to 30.4% from 2017’s 22.8% when he posted his best batting line. While 2018 might be the best he offers moving forward, owners will take what they can get for a player with time. The .381 BABIP is also not great, but might play up with the park, and should not be a red flag on its own. For owners looking for some speed and a fill-in, Slater is the option. P - David Hernandez (RP, CIN) - 1% owned While playing on the Reds is not typically encouraging for a reliever, Hernandez has been one of the top bullpen options this year. In 54 innings he has posted an ERA of 2.67 with 8.9 K/9. Five wins are also nice, but with the team, not a regular category for Cincinnati owners. The other exciting number has been the homer rate at 0.89 HR/9, which is low for the park and shows the approach that Hernandez offers. Not a closer yet, but next year could see him move into a role even with the age playing a factor. For owners needing ratio support this week, Hernandez looks to the option. Expect him to keep getting innings due to the lack of other true options even for a cup of coffee with the Reds. P - Caleb Ferguson (SP/RP, LAD) - 1% owned A few reasons that Ferguson is on the list this week. First, the Dodgers will clinch a spot in the playoffs soon, and expect Dave Roberts to begin to rest some of the starters. This means a chance for a spot start that can add one last outing for fantasy teams. This does assume that Ferguson is not close to the playoff roster. Second, even without the spot start upside, Ferguson has been quite good in his limited time. In 27 games, with two starts mixed in, he has posted a 3.45 ERA with seven wins. The ERA is a bit higher with a rough spot this weekend and should be closer to three than it is. The real selling point for the pitcher has been the stuff, with 11.11 K/9 this year. Even the walks are manageable for a starter with 2.30 BB/9 so far. Finally, Ferguson offers length in a potential bullpen game, and all of this will add value in roto leagues. For owners needing to make a flash, take the young arm with gas. P - Kyle Crick (RP, PIT) - 1% owned Crick has been the quiet success story of the offseason trades for Pittsburgh, and that should not ignore how much we love Moran. In 62 appearances he has posted a 2.47 ERA with a FIP of 3.27. Add to that three wins and two saves, and Crick should be one of the top non-closers to be drafted next year. The stuff is there with a 9.41 K/9, but the control is still a question with 3.55 BB/9. Even better, he does not give up homers with only 0.46 HR/9 so far. All of this makes Crick look like a versatile option with multiple category contributions for fantasy owners. There has been no real change in the pitch mix, and this means that the park might factor in a bit more than expected. All in all, Crick offers upside in the final week of the fantasy season that few others in the pen can match. [jiffyNews category_include='6916' headline='More Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers']


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