As the regular season enters the final stretch, the fantasy baseball playoff push is heating up. Today, we list the top pitching match ups in an effort to help you stream successfully if need be.
August 22nd – August 28th
The San Francisco Giants and Cleveland Indians rotations have very favorable match ups, and any available members of these staffs should be ratio gold this week. The Giants play all 6 of their games at the comforts of AT&T Park, a place where pitchers tend to thrive. Playing at home is a luxury, and things get even better when the Giant pitchers look into the opposing dugout. They play the Padres twice before the Astros come to town for a 4 game set. Strikeout pitchers like Jonathan Sanchez, assuming he recovers as expected from a rolled ankle, should thrive versus San Diego – the league leaders in strikeouts. The Padres and Astros struggle to get men on base, meaning they will rely heavily swinging for the fences. This works to the Giants favor as their 2 opponents have hit less homeruns than anyone else in the league. Giant pitchers are primed for a huge week; look to take advantage of these match ups by streaming any available starter.
While the Giants are known for their pitching, the Indians aren’t as high profile, but face just as favorable of a schedule in this week. Justin Masterson is the only Indian starter who is owned in most leagues, leaving the door open for savvy streamers. The Indians play at home 7 times, facing the weak hitting Mariners 4 times and the Royals 3 times. The Mariners have been a mess at the plate all year, ranking last in the MLB in total bases, runs, batting average, OBP, and slugging percentage. The only thing scary about spot starting against Seattle is the potential of having Felix Hernandez shut down the Indians offense and cost you a valuable win. King Felix doesn’t affect the Indians starter’s ratios though, so pitchers like Carmona, Tomlin, and Carrasco rank high as streamers that could help you advance. After the 4 game set with Seattle, the Indians host a young Royals team that has struggled on the road. As a team, Kansas City is a woeful 19-39 away from home, and their hitting stats reflect that. They rank in the bottom half of the league in runs and home runs on the road. The Royals have talent, but they have yet to display the patience that is required to win on the road. They rank 23rd in the league in number of pitches seen on the road, meaning they swing early and often. This fits the Indians starters just fine, as they lack the big strikeout pitcher, and as a staff, rely on pitching to contact. The Indians rank 28th in the league in strikeouts at home, so expect some quick innings and thus the potential to pitch deep into games.
August 29th – September 4th
Whether your playoffs are just beginning, or this is the second round, you will want to search the waiver wire for members of the Brewers and Cubs staffs. The BrewCrew opens the week with 3 games versus the Cardinals at Miller Park. This NL Central rivalry has been one sided of late, and revived Milwaukee pitching is a big reason why. The Brewers starters are 7-3 versus the Red Birds on the year, and are near unbeatable at home. The Brewers lead the league in home wins (47), and some interesting streamers have been a big part of that success. Randy Wolf and Chris Narveson have matching 6-2 records, making them a good bet this week. Wolf has a sparkling 3.18 ERA at home, a ratio that is tough to find when streaming this late in the season. The Cardinals also ground into a ton of double plays, 2nd most in all of baseball, meaning that even if the Brewers starters find themselves in trouble, they have a good chance of escaping on the next pitch. After they battle Saint Louis, the Brewers travel to Houston for a 3 game series. The “disAstros” have the league’s worst home record (20-41) as long as the league’s worst record versus divisional opponents (20-39). They have struggled getting men on base, a problem that has only gotten worse sense the departures of Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn. Carlos Lee is the only hitter to fear in this lineup now, and even he is on the decline. The Astros are a good bet to spot start against at any time, and with the recent domination of the Cardinals, look to the Brewers pitching staff to help guide you this week when streaming.
Here is a bit of a shocker, but the Chicago Cubs are a team worth looking at this week. Not normally known for dominate pitching, as they rank 28th in the majors in team ERA, but hear me out. The Cubbies are at San Francisco for 3 games, and then come back to Wrigley to face the Pirates for 3. Sure, San Fran has the pitching to beat Chicago, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t useful ratios to be had from the Cubs staff. The Giants play in a spacious ballpark and struggle to score there, averaging fewer than 3 runs per contest which ranks them next to last in the MLB. They are also in the bottom 6 in the league when it comes to batting average and total hits at their home ballpark. These games figure to be low scoring, and even if wins may be hard to come by, pitchers like Ryan Dempster and even Randy Wells could provide useful WHIP and ERA numbers. After facing the contending Giants, the pretending Pirates come to town. The Bucco’s are 5-17 over their last 22 games, scoring 3 runs or fewer in half of those games. On the season as a whole, including the hot start that Pittsburgh had, they rank in the bottom 5 in all of baseball in runs scored, hits, and batting average. The Pirates have gone downhill fast, and may very well be back to the lovable losers that we have come to know and love. Take advantage with Cubs starters this week, as very few if any are owned in your fantasy baseball league.
September 5th – September 11th
By now, it is likely that every league is in playoff mode, and spot starts are a hot commodity. For this week, look outside of the big names, and go for members of the Nationals and Royals rotations. The Nationals are at home 7 times, facing the Dodgers for 4 before getting the Astros for 3. The Dodgers have been the Matt Kemp show all year, and that is tough to rely on. He is not an easy out, but if the Nats pitchers can keep him in the park, the rest of the Dodgers lineup is far from fearful. Even with Kemp’s MVP type season, his Dodgers rank last in the bigs in extra base hits, as well as 25th in homers and slugging percentage. After that series, the Astros come to the nation’s capital with the league’s worst road record, 19-43. We have detailed the Astros struggles, and if you need even more reason to stream against them, here it is. When on the road, they have hit the fewest number of home runs, and rank in the bottom 4 in RBI, runs, and walks. Jordan Zimmerman is likely owned, but teammates Livan Hernandez and John Lannan get the green light.
The Kansas City Royals are another team that faces favorable foes this week, and likely has multiple pitchers available in your league. They are on the road 7 times, but the lineups they face don’t hit well anywhere. The Royals travel to Oakland for a 3 game set to start the week. The A’s lack an established major league hitter, and that has resulted in them ranking in the bottom third of the league in batting average, home runs, and runs. Yankee castoff Hideki Matsui is the leader of this lineup, not exactly an intimidating middle of the lineup. Next up is the Mariners, and we have already covered why you should spot start against them: they are the league’s worst offense, and it’s not very close. Ichiro is having a down year, and is still the best player on the team. Again, if possible, avoid starting against Felix, but that’s the only red flag when it comes to Seattle. Jeff Francis and Bruce Chen are two of the options that can provide helpful ratios for this important stretch.
Stream wisely my friends.