Here are our rankings and analysis to help you set lineups for the second-to-last Sunday of the regular season.
Since the All-Star break, Jon Lester is sporting a nifty 1.46 ERA and 0.91 WHIP with 76 whiffs in 80⅓ innings. This second-half surge has thrust the veteran lefty in contention for his first Cy Young award. Sunday might be the last chance Lester has to make his case in full, since he's likely to be lifted early from his final outing of the season next week. Opposing the Cubs' southpaw will be the St. Louis Cardinals in the finale of a weekend set at Wrigley Field. The Redbirds hit lefties hard, but they are extremely strikeout prone in this scenario, making Lester an upside GPP option.
While the Cubs are biding their time until the postseason, the Cardinals are fighting tooth and nail to get there. Their de facto ace, Carlos Martinez, is tasked with keeping the vaunted Cubs' offense in check while his teammates try to scratch out a few tallies against Lester. As his ownership is apt to be low, there's ample strikeout upside to use Martinez as a contrarian option, especially if the NL Central winners give some regulars the day off.
Robert Gsellman might only have two wins, but the job the 22-year-old has done for an injury-riddled New York Mets staff is integral to their wild-card push. The rookie right-hander takes the hill at Citi Field, closing out a weekend set with the Philadelphia Phillies. Gsellman faces a lineup with an above-average strikeout rate against righties, putting him in play both cash and GPP contests.
The Jekyll and Hyde nature of Michael Pineda has been discussed quite often in this space over the second half of the season. Sunday's date with the Toronto Blue Jays north of the border is the ultimate meeting of high risk with high reward. Of the top offenses, the Jays offer the highest strikeout potential. The upside puts Pineda in play for GPP; just beware that his outing, and your sweat, could be cut short if he struggles.
It might be surprising to learn that the Dodgers are the weakest team in the league facing southpaws, at least in terms of weighted on base average (wOBA). This puts the Rockies' Tyler Anderson in a good spot, as he'll take the hill in Dodger Stadium. Consider Anderson viable in all DFS formats.
Taijuan Walker has been tinkering with his mechanics with mixed results. After a complete-game blanking of the Angels, the Blue Jays picked up three runs in 5⅓ innings against the Mariners' righty. Since Toronto does at least that to most hurlers, let's call Walker a work in progress. Next up for Walker are the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. The hosts have been scuffling lately, adding Walker to the list of intriguing GPP picks.
Even on the high-profile Boston Red Sox, Eduardo Rodriguez is only owned in 19 percent of ESPN leagues. Granted, it's late in the season, which impacts ownership, but still, that's low. Rodriguez is battling Clay Buchholz and Drew Pomeranz for a spot in the playoff rotation and is in a great position to improve his chances against the Tampa Bay Rays. In fact, the combination of low wOBA and high whiff rate against southpaws for Tampa Bay not only makes Rodriguez a great streamer but also puts him in play for DFS.
Despite rumors of an innings cap for Brandon Finnegan, the Cincinnati Reds' young southpaw will get the ball one more time. If this is Finnegan's last start of the season, there's a good chance he will go out on a high note in squaring off with the Milwaukee Brewers. Just be aware that he's not likely to pitch more than five or maybe six frames.
Similarly, Josh Tomlin and the Cleveland Indians host the underdog Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field. Despite losing a couple of their top starters, the Indians are in the thick of things for home field advantage throughout the American League playoffs.
Matt Boyd is coming off of his best outing of the season after shutting down the Twins for eight innings, allowing just one run with seven strikeouts. The Detroit Tigers' southpaw is in a good spot for another strong outing with the Kansas City Royals in town. The guests have been whiffing versus southpaws, putting Boyd in DFS consideration.
In what could be the most important day in head-to-head leagues, everyone is in play, depending on the scenario. That said, the three hurlers landing in the avoid range -- Colby Lewis, Braden Shipley and Wily Peralta -- are all huge risks to ratios. Of the three, Lewis in Oakland is the safest.
The Astros grab the top spot with a prime matchup against Daniel Wright and the Angels. The clash is at homer-friendly Minute Maid Park. In 27 frames, Wright has allowed five homers after surrendering 10 in 83 innings before being summoned by the Halos. The Astros are dangerous versus righties, even without the platoon edge, so don't be shy about building around George Springer, Yulieski Gurriel, Carlos Correa and Evan Gattis.
Another hurler with a penchant for allowing the long ball is Braden Shipley, who draws the unenviable task of keeping the Baltimore Orioles under wraps at Camden Yards. Shipley's 1.8 HR/9 does not match up well with the club that's bashed more homers versus righties than anyone. Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Manny Machado, Mark Trumbo, Pedro Alvarez and Jonathan Schoop are all power threats.
The Mets draw rookie righty Jake Thompson at Citi Field. The hosts vary their lefty hitters, so be sure to check lineups. The top four is very likely to be Jose Reyes, Asdrubal Cabrera, Yoenis Cespedes and Curtis Granderson, all of whom are in play. Some combination of Kelly Johnson, Michael Conforto, Lucas Duda, James Loney and Alejandro De Aza comprise the better ancillary parts.
Wily Peralta has been throwing well for the past month, so a full-on Reds stack is ill-advised. That said, lefties Joey Votto and Scott Schebler are an intriguing ministack or useful as stand-alone options.
Similarly, piling on Colby Lewis isn't the most efficient use of resources as the Athletics, as a team, don't have the punch to take full advantage of Lewis's fly ball offerings. However, catcher Stephen Vogt and slugger Khris Davis are in play.
Most likely to hit a homer: Sometimes we get fancy and look for an under-the-radar option to feature, but with Shipley being very susceptible to left-handed power, Chris Davis is the chalk play.
Most likely to steal a base: Trea Turner has nine pilfers in September and is in a great place to hit double digits, facing a Pirates club that is one of the easiest to run on in the league.