This is it! The last article of the year, the end of the baseball season. 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. Although I’m going to try my best to recommend some players and teams that I like today, one general piece of advice I can give is to focus on the teams that still have something to play for – the Red Sox, Brewers, Rockies, and arguably the Indians and Astros. The first three are the only teams we can be fully sure will play their guys as normal. To be honest – if someone showed me a cash lineup today that featured mostly players from the Brewers and Rockies (the Red Sox have a marginally tougher matchup than the other three teams), with only a value or punt play here or there from other teams, I wouldn’t talk that person out of that lineup. I’m not saying for sure it will be the way to go, but both the Brewers and the Rockies have good enough matchups (the Rockies are in Coors too), and both have something to play for, something you can’t say about pretty much every other team.
On to the picks as soon as we start the playoffs…
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Zack Greinke, SP: $9,500 – This is Greinke’s last start before the play-in game and thus shouldn’t be longer than 6 innings. But, his skills this year have been pretty solid with a 27% strikeout rate and a 5.5% walk rate. The Royals aren’t the best matchup, but of the 2 aces going to day, Greinke’s price is better than Strasburg.
Trevor Bauer, SP: $9,000 – Bauer is cheaper than Greinke and while I don’t expect him go past 6 innings, we all know how bad the White Sox can be vs decent righties. Bauer is a decent righty, so he’ll likely be OK to run out there.
Chase Anderson, SP: $8,300 – With teams starting the elimination day lineup, I expect the Cardinals to roll out a sub-optimal lineup (although, how would you be able to tell this one apart from Matheney’s normal lineups?) which would give Chase a big leg up in that he’s an actual real life Major League Pitcher facing borderline and AAA guys.
Dan Straily, SP: $7,400 – Straily’s biggest problem is giving up bombs (1.46 per 9 this year), but at home, he’s only at 1.03 per 9 and this Braves team just don’t have a lot of punch. He’s average to slightly above at striking guys out and is average or slightly above at walking guys.
Philadelphia Phillies – The Phillies get to face Matt Harvey, who is a threat to be the worst pitcher on any given slate (he’s been -.7 fWAR this year). He doesn’t strike anyone out (15.6%) and walks guys (10.7%). Even in his terribleness this year, he has been not ridiculously bad vs righties (8.7 K-BB%), thus, we want to really target lefties vs Harvey. Even given that you want to target Harvey with lefties, Rhys Hoskins is the top play because Rhys Hoskins is the GOAT with a .437 wOBA vs righties. Everyone else is in play no matter who they play because of the aforementioned Matt Harvey is pitching.
Dee Gordon, 2B: $3,500 – Even though Dee is facing a lefty, if he gets on, he’s going to steal a bag or 3, since it’s September and stealing bases in meaningless games is what Dee Gordon does best. Those potential steals give him a decent floor, you know, if he gets on. And remember, you can get on via a force out or fielders choice.
Giancarlo Stanton, OF: $4,200 – Stanton is 1 homer shy of 60 and he’s definitely going to want to drop some more bombs this weekend. Lucky for us he gets to face a lefty who gives up fly balls (35.9% ground ball rate) and Stanton kills lefties to the tune of a .468 wOBA.
Los Angeles Dodgers – The Dodgers probably aren’t going to let their starters play more than 6 or so innings, but because they are in Coors and facing Chad Bettis, they could still put up some massive numbers. Plus, the Dodgers may throw out some bonkers lineup where you can get some super cheap top of the order exposure at Coors. Andre Ethier is $3,000, Chase Utley is $3,4000 and Curtis Granderson is $3,100, and any of them could be in the starting lineup.
Colorado Rockies – As mentioned in the introduction, the Rockies are one of only three teams (on the main slate) who are playing for something, and since the Red Sox are only playing for positioning, the Rockies are one of only two playing for their playoff lives. In other words – this is one of the only teams where we can feel comfortable we’ll get a full game of them. While Hyun-jin Ryu is a solid pitcher, he’s nothing to be afraid of in Coors and you should be willing to roll Nolan Arenado (.524 wOBA vs lefties) as one of the top plays of the day, along with DJ Lemahieu (.407 wOBA vs lefties), Trevor Story (.432 wOBA vs lefties), Mark Reynolds (.343 wOBA vs lefties in his career)and Ian Desmond (.334 wOBA vs lefties in his career).
Milwaukee Brewers – This would be the other team playing for their playoff lives. John Gant’s unfortunately not the most targetable pitcher out there – he was fairly decent in the minors this year and looks fairly competent. But we can’t overlook the fact that they’re playing for something and almost every other team is not. So my advice here is to focus on the value plays, and save the big money choices for the Rockies. Eric Sogard’s a $2,000 second baseman who may bat leadoff. Stephen Vogt is a great choice for catcher as he’s $2,200, has platoon advantage, and has pop. Travis Shaw ($3,400) and Neil Walker ($3,300) aren’t quite punt-price, but they’re still relatively affordable and both have fairly good numbers and platoon advantage. You can certainly do far worse than to plug Orlando Arcia in at SS for $2,300 as well. If Eric Thames is playing, he’s a legit 1B play. There are solid plays all over the lineup, but I wouldn’t rush to put Brewers in your lineup, but once you have chosen whatever else you, plugging in Brewers is a solid idea.
Brian Dozier, 2B: $4,500 – Matt Boyd has an 18.1 K%, 8.6 BB% and a 38% ground ball rate, all below average. He’s roughly the same vs righties and vs lefties except for one big difference, his ground ball rate vs lefties is 50% and his ground ball rate vs righties is 35.7%. Dozier destroys lefties with a .425 wOBA and a .282 ISO, lucky for him the Twins can also roll out a right handed heavy lineup given him an extra at bat before he gets removed.
Arizona Diamondbacks – If Arizona throws out their normal lineup, you can roll the top 5 like normal. Ian Kennedy gives up mega bombs (1.99 HR/9) and the Dbacks hit mega bombs. JD Martinez is a man possessed (.405 wOBA and .356 ISO), meanwhile everyone has forgotten how good Paul Goldschmidt is (.403 wOBA and .265 ISO). Jake Lamb (.385 wOBA and .266 ISO) and David Peralta (.351 wOBA and .465 slugging) are tremendous plays if you can’t afford the top 2.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Marco Gonzales is another guy who has trouble keeping the ball on the ground vs righties without swing and miss stuff (18% career strikeout rate). Obviously Mike Trout is the best play, on account of him being the best player in baseball, but if you need stats, he’s had a career .400 wOBA with a .231 ISO vs lefties. Justin Upton is next with a .381 wOBA and a .244 ISO. CJ Cron is perfectly acceptable with a .335 wOBA and a .284 ISO this year.
I’m Only Happy When It Rains
Should be pretty clear
Doing Lines In Vegas
Who knows? Seriously, we don’t have lineups and that’s going to change so much. But if both teams are at full strength, Dbacks at -140 seems like a tasty bet.
The Dodgers, only at -107, vs a team loyal readers will know I think isn’t good, is another tasty bet.