Cheers to you all out there in Razzland as we dive headfirst into the final week of the regular season! It’s been a mega weird year for pitching. Between the whole Opener/Primary Pitcher thing catching fire and fewer starters pitching deep into games, starting pitching is turning into a relatively fluid position. Looking towards 2019, it will be very interesting to see not only where the Primary Pitchers are drafted, but where the other uber-relievers are taken. Josh Hader is the most prominent name of the bunch, but there are plenty of other useful long relievers like Chad Green, Jeremy Jeffress, and Collin McHugh that are terrific for cheap K’s and ratio stabilization in deeper leagues. Heck, even in 10-12 team leagues with no move limits they make great fill-in options between streamers.

Anyway, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We’ve got one week left in front of us, and if you’re reading this you are probably still in the fight. There’s less movement than last week since I weighted our SP’s by skill and opponent last week and now basically there’s just 1-2 fewer starts left on the table. I’ll roll through some of the more notable options for the final week of the season. I also wanted to thank all of you for reading this year. I was truly impressed by the great commenters. Even if you disagreed pretty hard with something I wrote, you presented your case respectfully rather than getting all Twitter angry. I hope I’ve been able to help your season in some way with my analysis. Good luck in your final week, and I’ll catch you next year!

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Welcome folks, to the final 2018 version of Two Startapalooza! Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the format, and with any luck I’ve been able to help you out in some way with these posts. The best of times are probably in the past, sadly, because if you need two start pitcher help here in the final week of the season, you’re in tough shape. Not only are a solid chunk of these guys probably going to get shuffled out of their second start, most of the pitchers that are widely available with two starts this week are…not good. Tiers 1 and 2 are where the action is at, but those guys are already owned, so just smoke ’em if you got ’em. Tier 3 does have some names that could be lower owned, like Cole Hamels, Kevin Gausman, or Derek Holland. Tier 4 is about as bad as it’s been all season, and at this point I don’t have to describe Tier 5 other than just to say: mucky muck. As with last week, keep a keen eye on the rotations up until the final minute, because they are apt to change quite a bit. Good luck this week!!

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If Samuel L. Jackson were here – and how I wish he was – he would tell us all to hold on to our butts. This coming week is the final week of action for many head to head leagues, although the bulk of roto leagues keep rolling until the final day of the season. With such limited time left, I decided to switch things up a bit. While I updated the overall ranks per usual, I also factored in the remaining schedule. Names matter very little at this point in the season; what we need is production. There’s no time to worry about a struggling starter turning things around when he’s only got two or three starts left. Run with the guys who have been pitching well, and play the matchups. Start your studs. You know who they are by this point, and there aren’t many of them. With this altered ranking system in mind, there are some pretty huge rankings swings this week. Rather than do a deeper dive on a handful of risers and fallers like usual, I’m going to highlight a double handful of starters with interesting matchups and/or interesting second-half production.

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Brace for impact folks, this week could get ugly. For many of you, it’s your championship week. There are some nice options to be had, but between plain old rotation shuffling and some extreme weather conditions thanks to Hurricane Florence, you’ll need to keep a constant eye on your probable pitchers. I’ll be as responsive as possible in the comments to aid you in your championship quest as best as I can!

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Well it was fun while it lasted, wasn’t it Michael Kopech owners? We wait all year for the call up, he gets multiple starts interrupted by rain, gets blown up for seven runs, and now won’t pitch a meaningful inning until 2020 after undergoing Tommy John surgery to fix his torn UCL. ISN’T BASEBALL FUN. I AM HAVING A BALL. You know what else is fun? Trying to rank starting pitchers when multiple teams aren’t even using starting pitchers anymore. Now it’s “openers” and “primary pitchers”. What am I supposed to do with this?! Ranking a hundred damn starters is hard enough without this Opener business to deal with! Come on MLB managers, throw me a friggin bone here! Where did my bottle of gin get to…

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Like a fair portion of you out there in Razzland, I had my fantasy football draft over this past weekend. It’s easy to shift gears and pay more attention to the fooze at this point in the season, but we aren’t done here yet! We have matchups to win, standings points to gain, glory to achieve! I enjoyed a tasty chunk of smoked brisket over this past weekend, and it got me thinking…how many things in life do I enjoy more than this delicious meat? I didn’t come up with much – cats, Aubrey Plaza, the feeling you get when you have a four-alarm tummy grumbling emergency when you’re rolling down the highway and eventually find a rest stop to end your suffering. Those things, and the glory of winning a fantasy baseball league.

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Here we go, ladies and gents! It’s the home stretch! We’re into the last month of the season, and I moved some guys around on the list to reflect that. I don’t like to be super aggressive moving guys around for the most part. However, with just a couple weeks left, it’s more about “who do I trust now” than “who do I trust long-term”. More than ever it’s about immediate return and playing the matchups. This is the point where I’m a lot more apt to cut a fringy player for a matchup I like (shameless Streamonator plug here). We’re going to look at more risers and fallers this week as opposed to any new blood, since there isn’t much of interest. I imagine that will be quite different next week with September call ups flooding our rotations. We did have one last waiver trade of note (I guess) with Gio Gonzalez moving to Milwaukee. It’s a pretty lateral move for him, which is to say that his value will remain close to nil in mixed leagues. Perhaps the Brewers will be able to unlock something in him the way the Cubs have with Cole Hamels, but Milwaukee’s pitching coaches haven’t been known to work wonders, so I’m pessimistic on that potential outcome.

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And just like that, we enter the cluster**** that is September baseball. Rotations change early and often now with expanded rosters, moving rotation regulars around here and there for extra rest in lieu of spot starters. On top of that, we’ve still got the Rays working their Opener angle, which I’m pretty sure they’re doing just to give me gray hairs (but not Grey’s hairs). Expect to see fewer double dippers the rest of the way because of this. Even this first week is a bit light on two start action, but what we do have is surprisingly acceptable, like hitting on your supervisor after five shots of Jager at the company Christmas party.

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For the first time since I can remember (which isn’t that long really, thanks vodka) I added far more players back to the list than I took off. Huzzah! It felt good to not have to scrap for back-end-non-difference-makers. We even got Michael Kopech, finally! It even sounds like Eduardo Rodriguez should be back this week, although the same cannot be said about teammate Chris Sale or not-teammate James Paxton. Michael Fulmer returned after a lengthy absence and tossed 4.2 scoreless innings, which gives me hope that down the stretch he can pitch more like the player we expected back in March. Dylan Bundy, unfortunately, put up another dud and is completely off the list. You simply cannot deploy him right now. Here are some of the other notable starters from this past week of action.

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Well, let’s try this again, shall we? At this time last week we expected Stephen Strasburg to debut Tuesday and get two starts, but instead he got pushed back to Wednesday and blew up for five runs in four innings. What a treat! Like a bombsicle on the Fourth of July, I tell ya. So THIS week, supposedly, he lines up twice against the Phillies and Brewers. I’ve got him in Tier 3 as a non-must-start. If you have him you’re probably starting him, but he’s liable to give you a queasy feeling like when you hit the Taco Bell drive through at 3AM. Overall, the options are pretty sparse this week, which is rough news for those of you needing help in your H2H leagues. Some off days and back ends of the rotations turning twice make for a pretty thin group. Guys like Cole Hamels and Jon Gray make up the bulk of Tier 2, and Tier 3 is short and iffy. Tier 4 is where it’s at this week, with a thick, meaty array of guys that’ll make you shrug and go “Meh, it can’t be any worse than yesterday when Janet from accounting rejected my offer to take her to Red Lobster”. Guys like Lance Lynn and Sam Gaviglio inhabit that Tier with great matchups, but, you know, they’re Lance Lynn and Sam Gaviglio. You can’t expect too much. Tier 5 is about as short as it has been all season, and with some rotations in flux, it’s hard to nail down any more options right now. However, if you play in a reverse league or are for some reason actively trying to lose your matchup, James Shields against the Yankees and BoSox is just about as big a gas can as you can muster to throw on your team.

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