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Most Favorable Schedules for the Stretch Run

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. fantasy baseball rankings MLB news sleepers DFS lineup picks

We are ramping up for playoff time in fantasy baseball land. Chances are if you're reading this that you're locked into a playoff spot or well in the hunt for one.

With so little time left, it can be a benefit to look at your player's schedules to see what you'll be dealing with in that short week or two that you're in a playoff matchup for. I went ahead performed some analysis here to find the teams with the most and least favorable schedules.

Let's show the results!

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I took each team, listed the teams they play the rest of the year, and then merged in those team's slugging percentages for the year. So if a team has 40 games left, there was a list of 40 slugging percentages, lots of which were duplicates obviously because of the series nature of baseball. I averaged out these slugging percentages to get one final number. I did this twice, looking at the full rest of the schedule for each team (from August 23rd through the rest of the year), and then again just looking at the final three weeks of the season - figuring this was when most leagues have their playoffs.

Here's the table:



Toughest Pitching Schedules

San Diego Padres - Brutal stuff here. They play the Giants ten times, the Dodgers nine times, and then they also have series against the Astros, Cardinals, and Braves. They only play two below-average offenses for the rest of the year, being the Angels and the Diamondbacks. Not good news for guys like Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, Blake Snell, and Chris Paddack.

Tampa Bay Rays - Two series remaining against both Boston and Toronto, and also series against the Astros and Yankees. There are some big breaks between these tough opponents, as they do face the Orioles, Twins, Marlins, and Tigers for 16 games.

Baltimore Orioles - John Means is the only Orioles starter that might be rostered in your league, so this doesn't matter much. Regardless, it's notable that they face the Blue Jays for three more series and also the Red Sox twice and Yankees once. These are tough times to pitch in that AL East division, especially if you don't get to face the Orioles as part of it.

Others: The Diamondbacks, Twins, and Rockies also have very tough pitching schedules over the final three weeks of the season, however, I didn't find it really worthwhile to go into specifics because there are very few pitchers on those teams that you'll be depending on if you happened to make the playoffs. Give the schedules a look for yourself if you are in that unfortunate position.


Easiest Pitching Schedules

Philadelphia Phillies - Over the last three weeks of the year, the Phillies face the Cubs, Mets, Orioles, Pirates, Braves, and Marlins. That's easy street, and very good news for Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and whatever other Phillies pitchers you might want to try out.

Houston Astros - Rangers, Diamondbacks, Angels, Athletics, Rays, and Athletics again – those are the last 20 games for an Astros pitching staff that has plenty of roster-worthy names in their rotation. The times should be good down the stretch for Lance McCullers, Luis Garcia, Framber Valdez, Jose Urquidy, Zack Greinke, and Jake Odorizzi - whoever of those names stays in the rotation at least!

Cincinnati Reds - They do have three games against the Dodgers from September 17-19, but surrounding that are nine games against the Pirates and a four-game series against the Nationals. Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Wade Miley, and Tyler Mahle have some extra upside for your playoffs.

Boston Red Sox - Over the final three weeks Boston will face the Mariners (3). the Orioles (6), the Nationals (3), and the Mets (2). There are only three games of concern, and that's a series from 9/24-9/26 with the Yankees.



I don't have a data table for you on this one because it's hard to drill down pitching to a single stat. I'll just highlight some teams that stand out by a few categories and then my eye test.


Toughest Schedules

San Diego Padres - The Padres have it tough on this side of the ball as well. We've already mentioned all the games they have against the Giants and Dodgers, two of the best pitching staffs in the league this year. The good news is that they will only see the Dodgers three times (one series) in the final three weeks, that's from September 28-30.

St. Louis Cardinals - Things are pretty easy in the immediate future, but over the last few weeks they see the Reds, Padres, and Brewers (for two series). That means a lot of Luis Castillo, Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Joe Musgrove, Yu Darvish, and Blake Snell. They do have six games with the Cubs in their final nine games, so if your championship is the very final week of the season that could work out well. However, it might be a little tougher to get there with these tough matchups working up to it.


Easiest Schedules

Boston Red Sox - Mariners, Orioles, Mets, Yankees, and Nationals make up the final 17 games for the Red Sox. There are not many high-caliber starters to speak of with those teams, so there's elevated opportunity there for the loaded Red Sox lineup when it matters most.

Toronto Blue Jays - This offensive juggernaut does have to face the White Sox (three games) and Rays (six games), but their final three weeks also has the Orioles (six games), Twins, and Yankees in there. Not many scary arms to speak of in those three pitching staffs.

Now, I wouldn't overreact to any of this. A tough schedule is no reason to drop a capable player or trade for a lesser player, but if you want to take a closer look and make some slight tweaks because of it. That could end up helping you.

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