For some, Monday marks the beginning of head to head playoffs. For others, it means just four short weeks left to attack those roto-categories. Regardless of your format, the Daily Notes team will have your back until the final Sunday of the season.
The Labor Day schedule offers a full day of baseball will several games commencing in the 1 p.m. ET block so set lineups accordingly. Even though it's a holiday, several clubs have the day off, so you likely have some holes to fill. Here are some options to make sure you're playing at full strength, all available in at least 50% of ESPN leagues.
Aaron Civale (R), rostered in 33% of ESPN leagues, Cleveland Indians vs. Chicago White Sox: Certain organizations have a knack for developing young pitching. With Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber already excelling at the major league level, the Indians are earning that reputation. Civale's record is only 2-3 but he deserves better with a sparkling, albeit it luck-driven 1.96 ERA and 0.90 WHIP. It's not all good fortune as Civale has only walked six while allowing just one homer in 36 2/3 innings. He's in a good spot to even his ledger facing a second-division club with a middling offense.
Anthony DeSclafani (R), 17%, Cincinnati Reds vs. Philadelphia Phillies: Split tendencies are relevant for all matchups. When DeSclafani is on the hill, they're even more relevant as the righthander is more vulnerable than most to lefty power. Bryce Harper and Corey Dickerson pose a threat, but relative to other lineups, it's not as daunting.
Adam Wainwright (R), 14%, St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Francisco Giants: After a couple of rough outings, the Cardinals gave Wainwright extra rest, pushing him to Monday. For streaming purposes, instead of drawing the Red and the 20th ranked offense versus righthanders, Wainwright squares off with the Giants and their 27th ranked wOBA (weighted on base average) in that scenario.
Mike Leake (R), 14%, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Diego Padres: Don't expect a high strikeout game, even though there's a lot of swing and miss in the Padres lineup. However, he's in a good spot to fan a couple more than normal while being in play for a win facing rookie al Quantrill.
Bullpen: One of the keys to September roster management is thinking ahead, even in daily leagues. The Orioles and Rays play a doubleheader on Tuesday, as well as being in action on Monday. Tampa should be favored in each game, giving closer Emilio Pagan a good chance to build on his strong second half. If you need saves, Pagan is still available in three out of five ESPN leagues.
Projected game scores
Catcher -- Victor Caratini (S), 2%, Chicago Cubs vs. Seattle Mariners (LHP Justus Sheffield): Caratini has been playing a lot of first base with Anthony Rizzo in and out of the lineup lately. If Rizzo remains absent, Caratini will likely remain active but even if Rizzo returns, Joe Madden could shift Caratini back behind the plate, considering the switch hitter has been crushing lefties and ended August with a 1.545 OPS over the last week of the month.
First Base -- Christian Walker (R), 26%, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Diego Padres (RHP Cal Quantrill): Walker hits equally well with or without the platoon edge while sneaking in eight bags in nine attempts. He also ended the month on a heater, posting a .970 OPS the last seven days of August.
Second Base -- Nick Solak (R), 2%, Texas Rangers at New York Yankees (RHP Masahiro Tanaka): Truth be told, the original outline had Willie Calhoun and the Rangers representative but with a plethora of choices in the outfield and a sparse menu of keystone items, Solak gets the headline with the hat tip to Calhoun. The Rangers have been moving Solak around the diamond, and batting order, even hitting him clean up over the weekend.
Third Base -- Kyle Seager (L), 48%, Seattle Mariners at Chicago Cubs (RHP Kyle Hendricks): Apologies if this comes off as a humble-brag, it's not intended in that manner. It's the style of analysis necessary in today's climate, regardless what some say about advanced metrics. In July 4ths Daily notes, I wrote, "It's been slow going for Seager since returning to action, but he sports a career-best 40% hard-hit rate and a career-best 11.9% walk rate, suggesting things will turn around soon." Then, filling in for the Karablog a couple of weeks later, "Mixed-league stash: Kyle Seager's numbers are horrible. Other than a week in early June where he clubbed four homers, Seager has been useless. However, his Statcast metrics portend a strong finish. It may not manifest, but he's been hitting the ball with more authority this season than any since Statcast first started tracking exit velocity in 2015. In addition, Seager's average fly ball distance is a career high, suggesting more homers are on the way." All he's done since is slash .342/.425/.726 with 11 long balls.
Shortstop -- Eric Sogard (L), 24%, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Asher Wojciechowski): Batting leadoff is always a plus. Doing it against a pedestrian starter and a dumpster fire of a bullpen is even better. Somewhat lost in Sogard's surprise campaign is a perfect 8-for-8 on the basepaths.
Corner Infield -- Evan Longoria (R), 21%, San Francisco Giants at St. Louis Cardinals (RHP Adam Wainwright): Turn back the clock and this could have been an All-Star game matchup. Now, it's a pair of former stars in the twilight of their career but still getting it done. With playing time assured after Pablo Sandoval was diagnosed with needing Tommy John surgery, thus relegated to pinch-hitting duties, Longoria has been a run-producing machine lately, knocking in 10 while scoring six runs since August 20.
Middle Infield -- Tommy Edman (S), 44%, St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Francisco Giants (RHP Tyler Beede): Edman has received a lot of play in this space lately, and for good reason. He's eligible all around the infield and hits from both sides of the plate. In addition, he's been hitting at or neat the top of the Redbirds lineup. Finally, Edman has been producing, recording an .812 OPS with three pilfers the last three weeks.
Outfield -- Corey Dickerson (L), 49%, Philadelphia Phillies at Cincinnati Reds (RHP Anthony DeSclafani): As alluded to earlier, DeSclafani is vulnerable to lefty power, allowing a .380 wOBA to lefthanded batters compared to .254 to righties. Dickerson has swatted 44 of his 49 homers since 2017 with a righty on the hill.
Outfield -- Manuel Margot (R), 8%, San Diego Padres at Arizona Diamondbacks (RHP Mike Leake): Given Leake does a good job controlling the running game, it's worth noting Margot's running has picked up over the second half with four steals the last three weeks, a pair in the past seven games. He sat out Sunday, so he's almost assured of being back in there Monday.
Outfield -- Anthony Santander (S), 14%, Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays (LHP Ryan Yarbrough): I rarely beg, so consider this a strong plea. Pick Santander up. He's for real and has been for the second half. Since the break, Santander has slashed .300/.325/.563 with 11 homers, four the past week.
Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's past history (three years' worth as well as past 21 days) as well as ballpark factors. "LH" and "RH" ratings account only for left- and right-handed batters, respectively. Weighted on-base average (wOBA) is the primary statistic used in the calculation. Ratings range from 1-10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. So, for example, a 10 is a must-start rating, while a 1 should be avoided (if possible); a 1-2 is poor, 3-4 is fair, 5-6 is average, 7-8 is very good and 9-10 is excellent. A "*" means that the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate hitter rating; these are the author's ratings.