And then there were three -- three weeks, that is, as the first 23 weeks of the marathon season are in the books.
It's rare to see a full 15-game slate on a non-holiday Monday, but all 30 squads are in action. That said, we're looking at a rather weak pitching docket. But the upside to that is everyone is working with the same inventory -- everything is relative. Well, except that you have the edge of reading Monday's daily notes.
Lack of consistency continues to separate Carlos Carrasco from ace consideration. In terms of peripherals, the Cleveland Indians right-hander's walk and strikeout rates are already there; it's the above-average home run rate that leads to the rough outings mixed in with dominant efforts. Carrasco's cameo in the elite results from a date in the Windy City with the middling Chicago White Sox offense. Normally you'd like more reliability from a cash game anchor, but on this ledger, Carrasco checks in as one of the better options.
While Carrasco received a modest bump to reach the elite, Jeff Samardzija was catapulted to the tier with a home start against the San Diego Padres. The San Francisco Giants right-hander has been effective lately, including a Coors Field gem in his last time out. The Padres have been the worst road team vs. righties since the All-Star break, carrying the lowest weighted on-base average (wOBA) and the highest strikeout rate in that scenario. Samardzija joins Carrasco as a cash game candidate and is a better option for tournament play based on greater strikeout upside.
It's not hard to believe the Oakland Athletics have been the least productive team versus southpaws since the break. However, it's surprising -- if not shocking -- that the next poorest club is the Baltimore Orioles. David Price and the Boston Red Sox hope to take advantage of this as the AL East rivals meet in Fenway Park to open a series with major playoff implications. The veteran lefty projects to score the most DFS points on the slate and is in a great spot extend his personal six-game winning streak.
Barring a last-minute setback, Gerrit Cole is on target to come off the disabled list as the Pittsburgh Pirates head east to take on the Philadelphia Phillies. Cole hasn't worked since Aug. 24, and is coming off an inflamed elbow scare, so there's really not much in the way of analytics to guide us -- other than the Phillies offense is among the league's weakest and fans a ton. This makes Cole in GPP consideration for those playing multiple lineups.
Let's flip back to tournament talk with Francisco Liriano and the Toronto Blue Jays hosting the Tampa Bay Rays north of the border. The veteran southpaw's season has been a mixed bag, but considering the visitors are very strikeout prone vs. lefties while also exhibiting below-average plate patience, Liriano is a GPP option.
Rounding out the solid section is Mike Foltynewicz, taking the ball for the Atlanta Braves in a home tilt against the Miami Marlins. The 24-year-old right-hander has quietly registered a solid season, marred a bit by a high home run rate. The Marlins tote the worst home run rate vs. right-handers since the break, putting Foltynewicz in play as a lesser-priced option on all forms of DFS play.
The thought of using Ricky Nolasco as a spot starter doesn't emit a warm and fuzzy feeling. However, despite having a lineup laden with quality lefty swingers, the Seattle Mariners are one of the weaker teams in the league with a righty on the hill since the midseason hiatus. The Los Angeles Angels welcome their AL West brethren to Anaheim, putting Nolasco in play.
It's just not the Pittsburgh Pirates' season, and things aren't getting better down the stretch. The Bucs are third from the bottom in terms of wOBA against righties in the second half, rendering Jeremy Hellickson a streaming option in Citizens Bank Park.
Detroit Tigers left-hander Matt Boyd has acquitted himself well, bouncing in and out of the injury-depleted rotation. Keeping in mind that the white-hot Brian Dozier has done the bulk of his damage against right-handers, the Minnesota Twins have really struggled vs. southpaws lately. Boyd squares off with the Tigers on Monday, warranting a pick-up for those looking for an early-week boost.
Weird stat of the day: Andrew Cashner has yet to last more than six innings in a start this season. On the other hand, in a season featuring a historical number of homers, Cashner has surrendered multiple home runs just twice all year. The Atlanta Braves welcome Cashner and the Miami Marlins into Turner Field in a tussle of NL East also-rans. Cashner might not go deep into the game, but he should turn in five or six usable innings.
Ervin Santana is a sharp contrast of Cashner. The Minnesota Twins veteran has started 26 games, lasting at least six frames in 18, including nine of at least seven stanzas. Santana's matchup isn't ideal as he'll take the hill in Comerica Park against a solid Tigers attack, but if you think you'll need some extra punchouts, Santana is an option.
By convention, four starters sit in the automatic avoid range by virtue of a projected Game Score of 45 or below. Joining them is Wade Miley, who landed just above the threshold. The righty-heavy Boston Red Sox lineup is too risky to deploy against the Orioles' homer-prone southpaw in Beantown.
The Red Sox are back home after a long road trip, coming off a slugfest in Toronto. Their welcome-home gift is facing Wade Miley and his 1.5 HR/9, featuring 21 or 24 longs balls coming off a right-handed stick. Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, Hanley Ramirez, Mookie Betts and Aaron Hill are all capable of taking the southpaw deep.
Another left-hander tasked with quieting a potent offense is Martin Perez, who will lead the Texas Rangers into Minute Maid Park for a Lone Star affair with the Houston Astros. Perez does a good job keeping the ball in the yard, but on the flip-side, his 4.6 K/9 mitigates facing a team with a high strikeout rate. You don't want hitters such as George Springer, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Yulieski Gurriel and Evan Gattis making contact; good things usually happen.
The other side of the interstate battle features the Rangers squaring off with Doug Fister, another hurler who isn't dominant or homer-happy either. Left-handed bats fare better against the Astros righty, putting Nomar Mazara, Rougned Odor and Mitch Moreland in the best spots -- though, with the way new leadoff hitter Carlos Gomez is swinging, it makes sense to throw a tournament dart in his direction.
Wily Peralta's recent outings have been much better than his rotation stint earlier in the season. Even so, he has served up seven homers in his past four outings. A full-on Cincinnati Reds stack is aggressive considering the better alternatives. However, having some exposure via the likes of Joey Votto and Scott Schebler could pay GPP dividends.
Most likely to hit a home run: Perhaps we should rename this "Most likely to hit one in the Monster seats" for Monday. The honor goes to Hanley Ramirez, though when he's in a groove, like presently, he's as likely to take Miley into the Red Sox bullpen as he is over the wall.
Most likely to steal a base: Combine the fact Gerrit Cole is likely to be a little rusty in his control with him being easy to run on, and give the nod to Cesar Hernandez, hitting at the top of the Phillies' order.