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What you need to know for Sunday's MLB games
By Todd Zola
And then there was one. Depending on what transpires, the season may not be over until the completion of the suspended game between the Miami Marlins and New York Mets, but Sunday is the last day of the 2023 MLB season. All 15 games will start in the first quarter of the 3:00 PM ET hour, so contending teams won't already have their fate decided before their game commences.
Heading into Saturday's action, only the Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays and Minnesota Twins clinched a playoff berth in the American League. In the Senior Circuit, the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies have all punched a ticket to the dance. This is relevant for fantasy lineups since players on these clubs are likely to either sit out or be lifted from the game early. The Orioles, Dodgers and Braves all have Wild Card Series byes, so they are probably going to pull their starting pitchers early, giving them work to keep them sharp, but keeping them fresh for the Division Series.
The second and third National League wild cards are still up for grabs with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds in the mix. Their Sunday plans could change after Saturday's games are complete. The rankings and recommendations will be adjusted accordingly. Here are some roster suggestions for players most likely to be in action on Sunday, regardless of Saturday's results.
Jose Butto (4.7% rostered) will be on the hill for the New York Mets, facing the Philadelphia Phillies. With September rosters expanded to just 28 players, the playoff-bound Phillies can't rest everyone, but chances are their reserve batters get into the game. Butto has pitched well in September, compiling a 3.38 ERA and 1.08 WHIP, with an impressive 24 punch out in 21 1/3 innings.
Michael King (34.7%) and the New York Yankees, along with the Kansas City Royals, are playing for nothing but pride, so there's no reason for the Yankees to limit King's innings in Kauffman Stadium on Sunday. The opener-turned full-fledged starter is coming off a pair of quality home-and-home efforts against the Blue Jays. King surrendered only one run in 13 frames against the Blue Jays, fanning 18. The 28-year-old right-hander is in a favorable position to further make his case for a 2024 opening day rotation spot in the Bronx.
JP Sears (10.9%) is another hurler with a chance to make a statement for next season when the Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Angels wrap up their season in Anaheim. Sears has recorded a 2.93 ERA in five September starts, though that's misleading since he's only registered 22 strikeouts, while walking an excessive 14 in 27 2/3 frames over that span. However, the Angels aren't especially patient, and the strike zone is usually expanded in games of this nature.
Lucas Giolito registered a 6.66 ERA in five September starts. He struck out an impressive 35 batters in 25 1/3 stanzas, but he issued 12 walks and a generous 10 homers in that span. The Detroit Tigers draw Giolito in the last game, with Kerry Carpenter (20.5%), Matt Vierling (1.7%), Akil Baddoo (.4%), and Parker Meadows (1.6%) in the best spot to take advantage of Giolito's late season swoon.
Circling back to Anaheim, the Angels are likely to start a southpaw, putting Esteury Ruiz (21.9%), Zack Gelof (17.3%) and Brent Rooker (13.7%) in a favorable position for a productive last game of the season.
Bullpen usage watch for Sunday
By Todd Zola
The Seattle Mariners could be faced with a difficult decision if they're holding a late lead today against the Texas Rangers, with the division still on the line for the Rangers. Despite being eliminated, the Mariners are starting George Kirby for the integrity of the game. Closer Andres Munoz threw 21 pitches yesterday. Since he only tossed four last Thursday, the 25 over the last three days would probably not keep him out today. However, Munoz has a spotty health history, so it would be in Seattle's longterm interest to shut him down. Matt Brash threw 35 pitches on Saturday, so he's unavailable. Justin Topa also appeared yesterday, but he used only 15 pitches and was working with two days of rest, so Topa could close. Maybe Seattle announces their plans before the game, but otherwise, they'll probably go to Munoz and hope it doesn't backfire.
The Atlanta Braves also have a decision to make with Raisel Iglesias, but in their case it's all about them having no other considerations. Since September 20, Iglesias has pitched every other day, including yesterday. Today's tilt against the Washington Nationals means nothing, but the Braves won't play again until Saturday. Chances are, the Braves will avoid Iglesias today and have him throw some bullpen sessions throughout the week. Based upon recent workload, Kirby Yates is the best Braves reliever to fill in.
Best sub-50% rostered hitters for Sunday
Best and worst hitters from the day are generated by THE BAT X, a projection system created by Derek Carty using advanced methods like those used in MLB front offices, accounting for a variety of factors including player talent, ballparks, bullpens, weather, umpires, defense, catcher pitch-framing and lots more.
Donovan Solano (MIN, 1B -- 1%) at Anderson
Nolan Jones (COL, RF -- 43%) vs. Ober
Charlie Blackmon (COL, RF -- 19%) vs. Ober
Alex Kirilloff (MIN, LF -- 4%) at Anderson
Michael Taylor (MIN, CF -- 1%) at Anderson
Edouard Julien (MIN, 2B -- 4%) at Anderson
Max Kepler (MIN, RF -- 8%) at Anderson
Worst over-50% rostered hitters for Sunday
Adolis Garcia (TEX, RF -- 95%) at Kirby
Nathaniel Lowe (TEX, 1B -- 86%) at Kirby
Teoscar Hernandez (SEA, RF -- 64%) vs. Dunning
Prop of the Day
Bailey Ober, Twins, 4.5 strikeouts (-138/+108)
THE BAT X sees Ober putting up 4.1 strikeouts for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 38.2% of the time. THE BAT X believes there is positive value on the UNDER with an expected value of $28.46.
Note: Expected Value is a measure of how good a bet is, factoring the probability that it will win versus the odds the book is providing. If you were to wager $1.00 100 times on a bet with an Expected Value of $25, you would win some and you would lose some, but in the end you would expect to come away with $25 in profit on your $100 investment.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE OVER
Ober's changeup usage has risen by 11.9% from last year to this one (15.6% to 27.5%) .
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER
The No. 1 venue in the league for suppressing strikeouts, via THE BAT X, is Coors Field.
In terms of temperature and humidity, the weather forecast calls for for the second-most favorable hitting conditions of all games today.
The wind projects to be blowing out to right at 23 mph in this contest, the best of the day for batters.
Over his last three outings, Ober has seen a big drop-off in his fastball velocity: from 90.7 mph over the entire season to 89.7 mph in recent games.