DOUBLE DIPPIN': September 23-29

It has been a grind over the past six months, but we have reached the final week of the season.The projected starters are sure to change quite a bit over the next several days as teams shut pitchers down, and even the pitchers that stay on schedule, many of them will have shorter outings than usual. Keep a close eye on the news and our 8-day scan in order to help maximize your lineup decisions, and best of luck in bringing home titles this week.

Strong two-start options

  SP Rating1 Opp1 Rating2 Opp2 Week Rating
  Gerrit Cole 5.3 @SEA 4.74 @LAA 5.02
  Max Scherzer 2.9 vPHI 3.38 vCLE 3.14
  Patrick Corbin 2.3 vPHI 1.78 vCLE 2.04
  Eduardo Rodriguez 1.83 @TEX 1.37 vBAL 1.60
  Sonny Gray 1.61 vMIL 1.46 @PIT 1.54
  Aaron Nola 1.11 @WAS 1.71 vMIA 1.41
  Blake Snell 1.53 vBOS 1.28 @TOR 1.41
  Jake Odorizzi 1.49 @DET 1.26 @KC 1.38
  Madison Bumgarner 1.6 vCOL 1.00 vLA 1.30
  Dinelson Lamet 1.16 vLA 1.41 @ARI 1.29
  Noah Syndergaard 1.53 vMIA 0.63 vATL 1.08
  Adrian Houser 0.44 @CIN 1.33 @COL 0.89
  Rich Hill 0.58 @SD 0.79 @SF 0.69
  Steven Matz 0.98 vMIA 0.39 vATL 0.69
  Mitch Keller 0.57 vCHC 0.55 vCIN 0.56

Blake Snell (LHP, TAM) had a successful return from a nearly two-month absence, tossing two perfect innings while recording four strikeouts against the Dodgers. He'll next take on a Boston lineup that is 15th in wRC+ vs lefties on the year, followed by a Toronto team that is 21st in the category. Snell has allowed just 3 ER in 18 IP this season in three starts against the two teams (1 vs BOS, 2 vs TOR), with a 21/4 K/BB ratio, and should again provide strong ratios. But after tossing just 26 pitches last time out, it's unlikely he'll get stretched out enough to get to five innings in either start.

Adrian Houser (RHP, MIL) has shown strong skills lately, with a 3.44 ERA, 55 K, and 15 BB in 10 starts since rejoining the rotation. But his workload has been managed carefully, as he's lasted five innings just once in his last four starts, and averaged just 72 pitches in his last three. A matchup against the Cincinnati offense isn't too bad to open the week, but squaring off against Sonny Gray will make it challenging to earn a win even if he makes it through five. A weekend trip to Colorado could send Houser out on a bad note, and owners in tight ratio battles will likely want to look elsewhere for a pitcher this week, but if you're seeking strikeouts, he remains firmly in play.

Mitch Keller (RHP, PIT) didn't get the weekend start we expected him to make last week, but he at least delivered seven strikeouts in his one start, and now tentatively lines up for two this week. The first will be against the Cubs, who Keller allowed 6 ER in 4.1 IP against in mid-August, and a team that is 6th in wRC+ and 2nd in runs in September. He'll then get a Cincinnati offense that is sporting the 4th lowest wRC+ in September, and who he has one good start (6 IP, 1 ER, 9 K) and one bad one (4 IP, 6 ER, 7 K) against so far. While his sub-4.00 xERA shows he deserves much better than his 7.74 ERA, he can't be counted on to help your ERA and WHIP, but Keller could easily come through with 15-plus strikeouts if he makes two starts.


Judgment calls

  SP Rating1 Opp1 Rating2 Opp2 Week Rating
  Dylan Bundy 0.93 @TOR -0.04 @BOS 0.45
  Alex Young 0.27 vSTL 0.35 vSD 0.31
  Jon Lester 0.26 @PIT 0.28 @STL 0.27
  Spencer Turnbull -0.23 vMIN 0.69 @CHW 0.23
  Adam Wainwright 0.56 @ARI -0.13 vCHC 0.22
  Caleb Smith -0.22 @NYM 0.12 @PHI -0.05
  Brett Anderson -0.15 @LAA -0.22 @SEA -0.19
  Zach Eflin -0.89 @WAS 0.28 vMIA -0.31
  Aaron Civale 0.43 @CHW -1.20 @WAS -0.39

You usually know what you're getting into with Dylan Bundy (RHP, BAL), who is a strong source of strikeouts, but has an inflated ERA due to his propensity to serve up homers. He has actually done a good job keeping the ball in the park lately, though, having allowed just four home runs in his last eight starts. This week, Bundy will take on a Toronto team that is 18th in wRC+ vs RHP, with the 7th highest K%, and who he has allowed 3 ER in 12 IP against, with 13 K and 3 BB. His weekend start would be against a Boston team that is 5th in wRC+ vs RHP, and who he has only faced once, allowing 10 base runners but just 2 ER with 8 K across 5 IP. Bottom line, he's not the best option if ratios are your primary focus, but should come through with double digit strikeouts and maybe even a win.

Alex Young (LHP, ARI) has been pretty fortunate to have a 3.27 ERA that is well below his 4.45 xERA, but despite a fastball that is averaging just 89.3 MPH, he's missing a lot of bats, especially lately. He has recorded a 15.5% SwK over his last four starts, with 24 K and 7 BB in 20 IP during that time. This week, Young gets a St. Louis team that is 20th in wRC+ vs LHP, followed by a Padre squad that is 11th in the category, but with the 6th highest K%. All told, he looks like a pretty solid start for the season's final week.

Jon Lester (LHP, CHC) has struggled to the tune of a 5.21 ERA and 1.73 WHIP across 14 second half starts, and has become pretty difficult for fantasy owners to trust. The Pirates are dead last in both wRC+ and BB% vs lefties, and Lester has already faced them three times in the second half, compiling 17.2 IP with 7 ER, 11 K, and 7 BB. His second start will be against a St. Louis offense that is just 20th in wRC+ vs LHP, but they've touched Lester up for 9 ER in 11 IP this season. The start against a weak Pittsburgh lineup that is missing key pieces would probably be enough to sway me towards starting Lester in most situations, but he clearly carries some ratio risk.

The results have been erratic for Spencer Turnbull (RHP, DET) lately, but he's been missing a lot of bats, generating a 15 percent SwK over his past four starts, and racking up eight strikeouts in each of his last two. The Twins got to him for 6 ER in 4.2 IP, earlier this month, while he recorded 4 K, and he'll open this week with another start against them. Turnbull's second start will be against the White Sox, who are surprisingly 4th in wRC+ in September, but for the year, they own the 6th lowest wRC+ and 3rd highest K% vs RHP. Turnbull should help with a healthy dose of strikeouts this week, but expect some ratio damage.

Adam Wainwright (RHP, STL) has won all four of his September starts, while allowing a total of just 1 ER in 27 IP, despite the fact he has recorded only 14 K and a six percent SwK. He'll start this week off against an Arizona team that owns the 4th lowest wRC+ and 5th lowest OPS over the past month. Next up is a Cub team Wainwright has already faced four times this season, where he's compiled a 3.91 ERA in 23 IP, with an unimpressive 17/13 K/BB ratio. Wainwright's recent success looks pretty fluky, but he looks like a decent bet for success in the first start of the week, and if wins are your top priority, he would definitely be worth rolling with.

The extreme fly ball tendencies have caught up to Caleb Smith (LHP, MIA), as he's allowed 12 homers in 42.1 IP across his last eight starts. He has made two starts against each of this week's opponents, though three of the four came back in April, and he allowed a total of 5 ER in 23 IP, with 28 K against 10 BB, and just 1 HR allowed. The Mets present a big challenge for Smith, as they rank 6th in wRC+ vs lefties on the season and 3rd in wRC+ so far in September. The Phillies, meanwhile, rank 14th and 16th, respectively, in the categories, and own the 7th highest September K%. Smith carries some ratio risk, and pitching for the Marlins doesn't allow for many wins, but assuming he makes both starts, he's a good bet for 10-12 strikeouts.

Oakland hasn't announced who will be starting Tuesday- if they stay on schedule, it would be Brett Anderson (LHP, OAK), though it wouldn't be surprising if they moved Homer Bailey up a day, given the way he's been pitching. Both are likely to face an Angel offense that owns the 5th lowest wRC+ in September, while scoring a league low 52 runs. The A's will get Seattle over the weekend, a team that ranks 8th in wRC+ in September. They are also 8th in wRC+ vs LHP, and in three starts against them, Anderson has held them to 7 ER in 18.2 IP, with 13 K and 5 BB. Whichever pitcher gets the two starts would have a good shot at earning a win or two, though Anderson may only deliver five or six strikeouts. 

Zach Eflin (RHP, PHI) has been on a little roll lately, allowing a total of just 5 ER over his last five starts, but he's mostly been doing it with smoke and mirrors, as his eight percent SwK, 25 percent hit rate, and 92 percent strand rate will attest. He'll start this week off against a Washington offense that ranks 8th in wRC+ and OPS in September, with the 3rd lowest K%. Eflin's second start will be against a Miami team that is actually 17th in wRC+ in September, but for the season, rank 29th in the category vs RHP. Despite his recent numbers, he's a fairly risky play if ratios are your primary focus, but he should come through with a decent amount of strikeouts and a good chance for a win, or perhaps even two if luck remains on his side.

Aaron Civale (RHP, CLE) has allowed just 1 ER in each of his last three starts, though his 12/7 K/BB ratio during that span hasn't quite supported the results. This week, he'll first take on a White Sox team against whom he started his run, and one that boasts the lowest BB% and 3rd highest K% vs RHP. Over the weekend, he'll get potent Washington offense, but they could be resting some starters by that point. Civale's 1.82 ERA is an aberration, but he looks like a prime target for wins this week. 


Weak two-start options

  SP Rating1 Opp1 Rating2 Opp2 Week Rating
  Clay Buchholz -0.32 vBAL -0.74 vTAM -0.53
  Sandy Alcantara -0.63 @NYM -0.49 @PHI -0.56
  Jhoulys Chacin -1.52 @TAM -1.23 vBAL -1.38
  Dillon Peters -0.84 vOAK -2.05 vHOU -1.45
  Ross Detwiler -2.33 vCLE -1.60 vDET -1.97
  Timothy Melville -3.18 @SF -3.86 vMIL -3.52
  Justin Dunn -4.24 vHOU -3.37 vOAK -3.81

Clay Buchholz (RHP, TOR) got roughed by by the Orioles in his last start, surrendering 7 ER in 3.2 IP, and he'll next get a rematch against them, this time at home. On a positive note, he has a solid 11/1 K/BB ratio over his past three starts, but has now served up 14 ER in 13.2 IP during that time, along with 11 K. The Orioles rank just 24th in wRC+ vs RHP and 27th on the road, while the Rays rank 7th in both categories. With a 6.48 ERA and 5.2 Dom in 10 starts, Buchholz appears to carry more downside than upside, but he still offers more potential for wins and strikeouts than many one-start options, so owners chasing those categories may still want to give him a look.

When we checked in on Sandy Alcantara (RHP, MIA) back in mid-August, we noted the problems he was having with his control. He has since shown improvement in that area, with just 11 BB in 41.2 IP over his last six starts, while also adding a little velocity, and recording double digit swinging strikes in each outing. As noted above, the Mets have been pretty hot lately, but are 11th in wRC+ vs RHP this season, while the Phillies check in at 19th in the category. The ratings are skeptical, but Alcantara has been better lately, and looks like a reasonable gamble this week to me, with 15 K upside.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.