Sunday's baseball slate will be the last one that doesn't have to compete with football, and that means the season is drawing ever closer to an end. But that doesn't mean we're going to stop providing daily notes with the best and worst matchups of each day of fantasy baseball. Whether you're trying to chase down a season-long title or post a big score in daily fantasy, we've got rankings and analysis to guide you to the best options for the first Sunday in September.
It has been a tale of two halves for Chris Archer. The Tampa Bay Rays' ace registered a 4.76 ERA during the first half of the season as compared to a 3.16 since. His strikeout rate is virtually identical before and after July 1. The major improvements are a marked drop in walks from a 3.9 BB/9 to 2.1 BB/9 in tandem with fewer homers allowed. Archer will look to continue his strong second half, but it won't be easy as the Toronto Blue Jays close out a set at Tropicana Field. However, if Archer can manage to keep the ball in the yard, he could be in for a big day, as there's above average swing-and-miss in the Toronto lineup. Consider Archer a high-upside GPP candidate.
After a trio of very short and subpar efforts following time on the disabled list because of elbow soreness, Danny Salazar struck out 10 in 5 1/3 innings last time out, giving hope he has finally recovered. The fact he was recently on paternity leave suggests he might have had something else on his mind as well, though there's currently no metric to quantify that. The Cleveland Indians right-hander's combination of dominance and inconsistency is better suited for GPP action as opposed to cash play. That said, Sunday's interleague affair with the Miami Marlins doesn't set up favorably as they whiff at a below-average rate versus righties and are able to use a designated hitter as the contest is hosted by the Tribe.
The day's marquee matchup features John Lackey and the Chicago Cubs hosting Johnny Cueto and the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field for the finale of a weekend series. Lackey is making his first start since a short disabled-list stint, and Cueto is coming off of his only start this season in which he failed to toss at least five innings. Normally, they each profile well for cash play, but considering both opposing offenses are dangerous, consider this game for entertainment purposes to watch while rooting for your fantasy players on other teams.
J.A. Happ has to be considered one of the season's biggest surprises. While it's true the lefty pitched well last season, he pitched in a couple of favorable venues in Seattle and Pittsburgh. The move to the AL East and Rogers Centre had many, as it turns out, unnecessarily worried. On Saturday, Happ will work in another pitcher's park as the Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays meet up in Tropicana Feld, setting the southpaw up for all forms of DFS play.
Mat Latos won five games in April, one more than Julio Teheran has won all season. I'm calling it, Teheran will notch his fifth victory in the City of Brotherly Love as the Atlanta Braves close out a set at Citizens Bank Park. For the past month, the Philadelphia Phillies are among the weakest teams in the game with a righty on the hill, sporting a meek .313 weighted on base average (wOBA) along with a bloated 25 percent strikeout rate. If you're concerned about run support, the Braves are in the upper half in the league in terms of runs per game since the All-Star break and get to face rookie Jake Thompson. Teheran is one of the top options for all DFS formats.
If the St. Louis Cardinals hold onto a wild-card berth, it probably will be because of a strong September from Carlos Martinez. The 24-year old righty looks to start the month off strong with a date in the Great American Ballpark against the Cincinnati Reds. It won't be as easy as it appears, considering the home team has hit right-handed pitching to the tune of a .340 wOBA over the past month. That said, Martinez has been sharp lately, giving up only one run in each of his last three outings, featuring 25 whiffs to only six walks in those 21 innings. There's more risk than perceived, but Martinez still profiles favorably for DFS purposes.
Let's highlight another hurler looking good for tournament play as Yu Darvish and the Texas Rangers wrap up their Lone Star State set with the Houston Astros in Arlington. The visitors continue to post a strong lineup with high strikeout upside. The 30-year old righty enjoys the platoon edge over the better Astros hitters, putting him and his 11.3 K/9 in play for GPPs.
With Jacob deGrom joining the growing list of Mets hurlers with worrisome arm woes, Seth Lugo grabs at least one more start. It's a tough draw against Scherzer, but in his three outings since joining he rotation, Lugo has fared well, giving up only five earned runs in 17 2/3 innings. Grabbing the win will be a tall order, but if you need some innings, Lugo's in play.
After being teased several times throughout the season, Los Angeles Dodgers prized prospect Jose De Leon is set to make his first career start Sunday at home against the San Diego Padres. It's a great spot for the rookie as the Friars tote the second worst wOBA versus righties for the past month along with being the easiest team for right-handers to punch out over that span. De Leon worked seven frames in each of his last three starts with Triple-A Oklahoma City, so there should be no concern with pitch counts.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have summoned Steven Brault to help fill the rotation void until Gerrit Cole or Tyler Glasnow are ready to go. The 24-year old southpaw is enjoying a solid season at Triple-A Indianapolis tempered somewhat by a high walk rate that has carried over in his three starts with the big club, issuing seven free passes in only 14 innings. However, with a date in pitcher-friendly PNC Park against the strikeout-happy Milwaukee Brewers, Brault's a viable fantasy spot-starter.
Head-to-head leagues are likely in the playoffs at this point, while seasonal leagues are knee-deep in balancing wins and strikeouts with protecting ratios. This usually means needs and risk tolerance indicate whether to use a pitcher as opposed to the usual analytic means. One potentially usable option near the bottom of the chart is Kendall Graveman, who has pitched well over the second half but runs into the productive Boston Red Sox.
Whenever there's a game in Denver, the question whether to embrace or fade Coors Field is front and center for daily fantasy. Sunday is a day when you'll want exposure on both sides. Beginning with the visiting Diamondbacks facing Jon Gray, the Snakes probably will run a bunch of righties up there since only Jake Lamb can take advantage of the platoon edge, but that's fine. Don't hesitate to deploy Jean Segura, A.J. Pollock, Paul Goldschmidt or Yasmany Tomas.
The new-look New York Yankees are set up for a big day against southpaw Wade Miley in Camden Yards. Rookie phenom Gary Sanchez gets top billing, followed by Starlin Castro and Aaron Judge. It wouldn't be surprising to see Tyler Austin pick up a start, in which case, add him to the list.
The Braves might be the least mentioned club in this space, as they're last in the league in runs per game. However, since the break they're in the upper half. With Jake Thompson on the hill, the Braves could be in for a productive day, which usually means Freddie Freeman is in the middle of things. Others with the platoon advantage include Ender Inciarte and Nick Markakis but don't sleep on Adonis Garcia or Matt Kemp.
Most likely to hit a home run: You know David Ortiz wants to do something special in his last appearance in Oakland, and against Kendall Graveman he has a good chance to do just that. Graveman is crafty, not dominating so expect Big Papi to be swinging from the heels.
Most likely to steal a base: Starling Marte might have disappointed in the power department, but his running as made up for it. There's no reason for it to stop against a Brewers club that hasn't stopped anyone all season.