This is it! The last baseball article (for me) of the year, which means the end of the baseball regular season is near. I want to thank you, loyal readers for taking time out of your day to read this article every week and hopefully helping you win some contests. There are going to be a lot of players who wind up sitting and there’s going to be a lot of value opening up throughout the day so you must pay attention to all the released lineups. Additionally, many teams, both those with nothing to play for, and those who playoff-bound but are entirely set in terms of playoff positioning, will look to pull their players (both pitchers and position players) at the earliest opportunity. In short, there will be a lot of randomness and it won’t be easy to predict. To be quite honest, you shouldn’t be playing cash games on this slate with all the randomness. But, as I’ve stressed throughout the year, I’m a professional at cash game picks columns. If some of those ridiculous three or four game slates earlier in the year on Thursdays didn’t stop me, then the randomness of one of the final days of the season can’t stop me either. One general piece of advice I can give is to focus on the teams that still have something to play for – and while there are still a bunch of teams that have something to play for, most of them are either not playing today or playing in the early slate. There is exactly one team on the main slate that has something to play for – the Chicago Cubs. And while Trevor Williams is not the juiciest of matchups, the fact that the Cubs have something to play and no other team has anything to play for means I would target them first and foremost in cash games. Period. Then fill out with the values that will open up because teams are playing some of their rookies and call-ups at this point. Or just don’t play cash. On to the picks…

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PITCHERS

Gerrit Cole, P – $11,400: But cinthree, I hear you asking – I thought you said focus on the guys who have something to play for? Yeah, but the problem is that when it comes to pitching, particularly non-ace starting pitching, managers like Joe Maddon may actually be willing to be even more aggressive with the hook. Thus, it’s entirely possible (and in fact quite likely) that Jon Lester gets the hook at the very first sign of trouble. The Cubs need these games – the Brewers have been on absolute fire and can easily overtake them for the division, sending the Cubs to the wild card game. So yeah, Lester’s out. Thus, we turn to Gerrit Cole. He’s the best pitcher on the slate, by far, and facing an Orioles lineup that, quite frankly, mentally checked out two months ago. This would be an easy no-doubt cash lock, except for the fact that it’s supposed to rain all day (75% to rain throughout the day). Since the game no longer matters in terms of post-season standings, the Orioles could easily call the game. And even if they don’t, do you really think the Astros are going to take any chances with Gerrit Cole here? The first delay, he’s out. If they’re playing through sloppy rain conditions, he’s out, some random reliever will take over and pitch all the innings that don’t matter. The Astros are not going to risk Cole getting hurt. However, on the off chance the rain isn’t an issue, Cole’s the clear best play – which again is why cash games in the last week of September are just silly – you have so much variance and randomness coming into play. If you’re playing GPPs, Cole’s definitely a good choice. But I don’t think you can go there in cash. So where does that leave us?

Marco Gonzales, P – $6,300: I cannot believe that he is the cash pitcher today. But sure enough, he is. I’m not even going to get into the analysis here because frankly, it’s so absurd that the cash pitcher here is Marco Gonzales, but that’s what we get with the last week of the season. The short of it is, the Rangers aren’t good and are on the road in a park that hurts offense.

HITTERS

Chicago Cubs – I don’t even have to break down the matchup here. They’re playing for something, no one else is, that makes them far safer than any other team in cash. Since they’re facing Trevor Wiliams, I’d focus on the lefties – Anthony Rizzo and Daniel Murphy being the two most obvious. That said, I wouldn’t blame you for working in Javier Baez instead of Jason Heyward, for example.

Kansas City Royals – Unfortunately, Josh Tomlin only pitches around 4 innings a start these days, but he’s almost guaranteed to give up a bomb and always has the chance for multiples. Also unfortunately, he’s facing the Kansas City Royals, who think home runs = porn (and in the it is evil and has destroyed and will continue to destroy American Society way). Salvador Perez (21 homers in 360 at bats) and Ryan O’Hearn (10 homers in 99 at bats) are the 2 Royals who like porn, and thus hit home runs.

Houston Astros – This is the best matchup of the day. David Hess is a Grade A jabroni and the Astros should tattoo him and blow this game out. Unfortunately, this late in the season, that means they might only get 3 at bats, which makes them a bit riskier than normal. Also, it’s supposed to pour all day in Baltimore and they might not even play this game. I think they are worth it, but YMMV on whether or not you want to play them if the weather clears up. Anyone is obviously playable but I’d stick with the top guys in cash.

Logan Forsythe, 2B: $2,400 – Forsythe is still really cheap, has the platoon advantage and Liriano doesn’t throw strikes (12.8% walk rate vs righties), giving him a floor (as long as he is willing to take the walk, I’m looking at you Gary DiScarcina). You could also play any Twins righty since Liriano really struggles vs righties and this is going to be a righty heavy lineup.

Seattle MarinersAriel Jurado has an 8.6% strikeout rate this year, which would be good if this was in the late 1800’s, but seeing as how we’re in 2018 where pitchers believe strikeouts are good and hitters don’t care, that 8.6% is top of the line jabroni. Even though he’s got a well above average 50% ground ball rate, that 8.6% means balls still fly out of the park at a good rate. Mitch Haniger is the best play, considering price and likely leadoff spot, but Cano and Cruz are right there in terms of pure points. All 3 of them are very fine plays. Jean Segura and Ben Gamel are also good plays and if Kyle Seager didn’t forget how to hit this year, I’d say he was a fine play (although he may have aged fast, career low walk rate, career high strikeout rate, swing rate jumped, he’s 30, all the signs are there, of course this being baseball, he’ll come out next year and lead the league in wRC+). Basically what I’m saying is the Mariners are a great play and fire them up with confidence since Jurado is a jabroni.

I’m Only Happy When It Rains

Baltimore’s pretty nasty. And as I said before, with neither team playing for anything, a PPD is certainly in play.

Doing Lines In Vegas

There aren’t lines as of now for some of these games, so I’ll pick one from the earlier slate and say, go with Phillies over Rockies. People underrate Arrieta, so this seems a bit high to me.

This may be the last article of the year for baseball, but, I’m writing an article every Saturday for Football DFS, which you should check out.