Here we are, for the final time this season. Since you are reading this article, you certainly don’t have to be sold on the art of maximizing your starts each week and targeting those pitchers who are slated to the take the mound twice. Of course there is risk involved as well, but when it comes to the last week of the season, all bets are off. In the scramble to secure the highest possible finish, you do whatever you can, and make decisions regarding pitchers that you might not have made even a few weeks earlier.
We also need to note, that the pitchers scheduled to take the mound twice on Saturday afternoon, could very well change multiple times over the next eight days. Trying to figure out what teams are going to do in the last week of the season is often tricky, and you need to stay nimble.
With this mind, here is how our current options rank along with some thoughts regarding a few of those pitchers:
- Gerrit Cole – Houston Astros – at Seattle; at LA Angels
- Max Scherzer – Washington Nationals – vs. Philadelphia; vs. Cleveland
- Aaron Nola – Philadelphia Phillies – at Washington; vs. Miami
- Patrick Corbin – Washington Nationals – vs. Philadelphia; vs. Cleveland
- Noah Syndergaard – NY Mets – vs. Miami; vs. Atlanta
- Eduardo Rodriguez – Boston Red Sox – at Texas; vs. Baltimore
- Sonny Gray – Cincinnati Reds – vs. Milwaukee; at Pittsburgh
- Jake Odorizzi – Minnesota Twins – at Detroit; at Kansas City
- Blake Snell – Tampa Bay Rays – vs. Boston; at Toronto
- Jeff Samardzjia – San Francisco Giants – vs. Colorado; vs. LA Dodgers
- Caleb Smith – Miami Marlins – at NY Mets; at Philadelphia
- Steven Matz – NY Mets – vs. Miami; vs. Atlanta
- Aaron Civale – Cleveland Indians – at Chicago White Sox; at Washington
- Zach Eflin – Philadelphia Phillies – at Washington; vs. Miami
- Adam Wainwright – St. Louis Cardinals – at Arizona; vs. Chicago Cubs
- Ross Stripling – LA Dodgers – at San Diego; at San Francisco
- Sandy Alcantara – Miami Marlins – at NY Mets; at Philadelphia
- Jon Lester – Chicago Cubs – at Pittsburgh; at St. Louis
- Alex Young – vs. St. Louis; vs. San Diego
- Brett Anderson – Oakland A’s – at LA Angels; at Seattle
- Kolby Allard – Texas Rangers – vs. Boston; vs. NY Yankees
- Jhoulys Chacin – Boston Red Sox – at Tampa Bay; vs. Baltimore
- Daniel Norris – Detroit Tigers – vs. Minnesota; at Chicago White Sox
- Adrian Houser – Milwaukee Brewers – at Cincinnati; at Colorado
- Spencer Turnbull – Detroit Tigers – vs. Minnesota; at Chicago White Sox
- Clay Buchholz – Toronto Blue Jays – vs. Baltimore; vs. Tampa Bay
- Justin Dunn – Seattle Mariners – vs. Houston; vs. Oakland
- Dillon Peters – LA Angels – vs. Oakland; vs. Houston
- Tim Melville – Colorado Rockies – at San Francisco; vs. Milwaukee
- Dario Agrazal – Pittsburgh Pirates – vs. Chicago Cubs; vs. Cincinnati
- Ross Detwiler – Chicago White Sox – vs. Cleveland; vs. Detroit
- Chandler Shepherd – Baltimore Orioles – at Toronto; at Boston
- He reached the 300 strikeout mark for the season in his last start, but Gerrit Cole is still slated to the mound two more times. The Astros are still in a fight with the Yankees and Dodgers for home field advantage in the playoffs, but they care more about entering the playoffs healthy than anything else. With that being said, Houston is going to be careful with Cole’s workload as they prepare him to start Game 2 of the ALDS, but he doesn’t need much to make an impact for your fantasy team as he fights with his teammate (Justin Verlander) for the Cy Young award. If Cole is victorious in each of his last two starts, he will reach the 20 win milestone, and with 302 strikeouts in 200.1 innings, he has been one of the best pitchers in the league this season. And if you needed any more proof of that, just take a look at his 2.61 ERA and 0.91 WHIP.
- Is there a pitcher more frustrating that Noah Syndergaard? In fact, the right-hander does bare somewhat of a resemblance to Cole before he was traded to the Astros; well at least from a performance standpoint. The right-hander can be better, but he needs to focus more on the mound, fine tune his command, and stop worrying about which catcher is behind the plate. As of now, the Mets have an outside chance at the playoffs, and Syndergaard is a pretty big bet to take the mound twice this week. He just needs to pitch to his talent instead of a 6.89 ERA in his last three starts. The strikeouts will be there, and the ratios should be, but its unclear what version of Syndergaard we will get. With a possible change of scenery this winter, he could emerge as a solid buy-low candidate in 2020.
- In the relatively unknown but solid performance category, we have Aaron Civale. As the Indians fight to the end for a Wild Card berth, they will need all hands on deck, and that includes the rookie who has a 1.53 ERA in his last three starts. Overall, Civale has a 1.82 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in nine starts (54.1 innings) with the Indians so far this season. In fact, even though Civale wasn’t on many radars as a prospect entering the year, he has been successful throughout his minor league career. The one concerning thing, is the fact that he strikes out just 6.96 batters per nine innings, and we need to bank on him continuing to pitch above his FIP (2.92) and xFIP (4.53) as Civale has consistently done. But with two starts left in the season, it is one of the better chances worth taking.
- Blake Snell has left fantasy owners high and dry for a good part of the season, but the left-hander is looking to finish the season strong. The Red Sox, although they should be respected, aren’t what they used to be, and Snell should be able to dispatch the Blue Jays. Over his last three starts, the left-hander has a 0.69 ERA, as he looks to continue bringing his ERA down (currently 4.19). We have to note though, that due to the time Snell missed, Tampa Bay is taking things very conservatively with their ace, and even though he is taking the mound twice this week, I wouldn’t expect to see him throw more than eight or nine innings at most. That takes him out of the running, most likely, for victories, so it’s very possible Snell doesn’t have much value for you to close out the season.
- Another pitcher for who innings might be a question, is Ross Stripling. Unlike Snell, he isn’t coming off an injury, and the Dodgers aren’t looking to use the right-hander as a starting pitcher in the playoffs. Stripling has appeared in 30 games so far this season, 14 starts, and with a 3.32 ERA and 1.13 WHIP, he has also proven to be a valuable member of Los Angeles’ staff. In facing the Padres and Giants this week, the opponents couldn’t really get much better for Stripling, and with a strikeout per inning so far this season, he is in good shape entering the last week of the season.
- Zach Elfin is also looking to continue his late season success and finish 2019 on a high note. The left-hander starts the week off in Washington, but then things get better as he finishes things off by facing the Marlins. With 121 strikeouts in 150.2 innings, Eflin isn’t going to overpower anyone, but with a 4.00 ERA, he has been able to limit the damage. After allowing six runs in 2.2 innings against the Braves, Eflin, while spending some time in the bullpen, has lowered his ERA from 4.63 to 4.00. If it is victories you are looking for, Eflin might be your man, and there is less risk involved here than with a lot of other options.