It's the final Tuesday! We've got a handful of a frontline arms atop the slate, but it's wide open if you choose not to spend on a stud. Offensively, there aren't many obvious stack options, but plenty of platoon options to exploit as you build your lineup.
How is Max Scherzer not getting more attention for his season? Are we just used to his excellence? Some might have even forgotten that he was toting a 4.05 ERA through the first two months of the season. Home runs were a big issue, something we'd seen him deal with in August of last year. Through those first 11 starts, he had a 1.8 HR/9 rate. Given a rate that high, his 4.05 ERA was actually kind of impressive, but still not very Scherzer-like. Since June 1 he's posted a 2.19 ERA with just a 0.8 HR/9 rate in 144 innings. The strikeouts have been consistently strong throughout; in fact it's at exactly 11.1 K/9 in both samples.
Seeing Noah Syndergaard sputter through a start against Atlanta is unquestionably annoying because the bottom-feeding Braves are supposed to be rolled by studs like Thor, but they've quietly been hitting very well in the second half. They are sixth in OPS against righties at .778 and while we still expect Syndergaard to succeed against opponent, this is at least understandable when you acknowledge what the Braves are doing down the stretch. Thor had one other five earned run outing earlier this year and he bounced back with a 7 IP/1 ER gem against the Cubs. The Marlins are 28th in OPS against righties during the second half.
Chris Sale and Justin Verlander are among the AL Cy Young frontrunners this year so they'll both be looking for big starts here, but it won't be easy for either. Sale gets a Tampa Bay Rays team that is second to only Sale's own White Sox in OPS against lefties over the last month with an .843 mark. They are still striking out 24 percent of the time, though, and Sale's strikeout rate has surged to 27 percent in the second half. He did toss a two-hit shutout against the Rays back in mid-April, too.
Verlander draws a Cleveland team that is only middle of the pack against righties over the last month (14th with a .743 OPS), but one that has had his number on the whole this year. He has a 6.46 ERA against them in 23.7 innings across four starts, including starts with seven and eight earned runs back in May and June, respectively. However, his best start against them was just 10 days ago when he put up seven one-hit innings in a game the Tigers would eventually lose 1-0 in 10 innings. Verlander hasn't allowed more than 3 ER in a start since the eight runs against Cleveland in late-June, yielding a 2.16 ERA and 0.91 WHIP with 127 strikeouts in 108.3 innings.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have flip-flopped Kenta Maeda and Jose De Leon. By starting Maeda on Tuesday, he'll be on regular rest just in case the club needs him on Sunday. The righty has a prime matchup, facing the strikeout-prone San Diego Padres in Petco Park. However, as has been the case all season, Maeda's upside is tempered due to usually only tossing five or six innings. There's no reason for the Dodgers to change that pattern now, so while the matchup warrants some exposure, keep expectations in check.
David Price is in between tiers for Tuesday. He has a great projected Game Score of 59, but it's hard to ignore the 3.91 season ERA. He has seven starts of at least 5 ER after just two all of last year. In other words, the implosion potential has been much higher for Price this year which certainly adds some risk on the DFS side of things. Plus, he draws a Yankees team that has given him fits all year with a 7.71 ERA and 1.71 WHIP over four starts with just 15 strikeouts in the 23.3 innings. With a full Tuesday slate, you likely needn't take the unnecessary risk with Price.
Aaron Sanchez has experienced some volatility down the stretch with his Game Score bouncing around since the start of August: 62, 40, 62, 40, 59, 57, 25, and 62. Those eight starts have yielded a 4.24 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 46.7 innings. I imagine a big part of his 51 projected Game Score is due to facing a difficult Orioles offense, but he has faced the O's twice in these last eight with Scores of 62 and 59.
The surging Braves offense has been a boon for Julio Teheran as he's netted three of his six wins over his last five starts (2.87 ERA in 31.3 IP). He has a couple duds in his 10 starts since the break, but he's allowed 3 or fewer ER in the other eight. The anemic Phillies offense sits 29th in OPS during the second half. Teheran has allowed 3 ER against them in 11 innings, both starts coming since July 30.
The perception of Baltimore's starting pitching means you might've missed Kevin Gausman's big second half. His 2.94 ERA and 9.5 K/9 are both 14th-best among qualified starters. He will be dueling against Sanchez so the win won't come easy for either and Gausman had one of his worst starts all year in Toronto back on July 29th (3 IP/6 ER), but he's been great since with a 2.57 ERA in 63 innings over 10 starts. He did allow 5 ER to Boston his last time out, but it was one of those where might've been left in a little too long. Three of the five runs came off of a homer to David Ortiz in the seventh inning.
John Lackey and Ian Kennedy don't jump out as obvious picks, especially with a full slate, but both have been really strong options this year. The ERA difference (3.39 for Lackey, 3.64 for Kennedy) is essentially the difference between the leagues while they have identical 8.7 K/9 rates in 183 innings apiece. Kennedy has always struggled with homers and this year is no different at 1.5 HR/9, but he has really curbed the issue of late with a 0.7 mark in his last 10 starts.
Felix Hernandez has been extremely volatile lately. Check out these last six Game Scores: 61, 29, 32, 61, 23, and 74. So how lucky do you feel in Houston?
Matt Moore can end your night before it starts. He had three outings of at least 5 ER with San Francisco, including two where he didn't even finish three innings. You're not recovering from that. But he had a 2.51 ERA in 43 innings over his other seven starts as a Giant so while the 4.96 ERA with them might scare some off, the composition of it shows a better pitcher than you might expect, maybe even one worth gambling on at home against a Rockies team that sits 27th in OPS against lefties on the road.
Alex Cobb finally showed why I'm so weary of Tommy John returners as a general rule. Those returning from the surgery always seem to have at least one utter meltdown that comes virtually out of nowhere. Many pitchers have pointed out that they will just have a couple of these starts where nothing works in that first year back from Tommy John and they're usually out after a couple innings and a heap of runs. Cobb's was a nightmarish seven in just 1 1/3 innings. He'd looked solid to that point, but with just four starts, one that awful weighs heavily on his overall numbers. A further downside of a TJ returner is that they're always being closely managed so they live on that five- to six-inning cusp, which lowers their chances for a win, especially if they also play for a last-place team as Cobb does. He's only an SP2 if you even really want to take the gamble here.
The Diamondbacks are giving rookie Matt Koch a look. The 25-year old right-hander has made five appearances out of the bullpen since being called up after rosters expanded. Koch started at Triple-A Reno, sporting an impressive 3.09 ERA but with only 25 whiffs in 45 innings. The inability to miss bats along with not being filly stretched out render Koch a risk, despite facing a depleted Nationals lineup.
The Royals of all teams have the best rating on Tuesday, though that's mostly due to facing Jose Berrios. They actually have the worst OPS against righties in the second half at .669, but Berrios has been awful in 12 starts this year. There isn't a redeemable metric in the profile: 8.88 ERA, 1.99 WHIP, 5.7 BB/9, 2.2 HR/9, and 12.2 H/9. OK, maybe his 8.5 K/9 stands as the redeemable aspect of his season, but who cares when it's stacked up with the rest of that mess. Righties have especially decimated Berrios with a 1.062 OPS, but lefties are still getting theirs at .918. That said, I can't see a real stack for KC. I'd consider Kendrys Morales, Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez, and Jarrod Dyson. I rarely look at speed-only guys in DFS, but he does have a .292 AVG and 10 SBs over his last 97 PA so if he's starting, he might be a solid punt.
Dodgers righties are worth a look against Paul Clemens (.990 OPS), even as a righty himself. Justin Turner, Yasiel Puig, and Yasmani Grandal are my favorite options there. However, even with Clemens' .679 OPS against lefties, I might still consider Corey Seager (.970 v. RHP) and Adrian Gonzalez (.855) just because they've been so good against right-handers.
I'd be ready to stack the Brewers if they had more lefties. A.J. Griffin has allowed .984 OPS against them including 18 of his 26 homers, but there aren't a lot of great spots to take advantage of that with Milwaukee. Jonathan Villar is a switch-hitter with a passable .773 OPS against righties including 11 of his 16 homers, plus that game-changing speed means he doesn't really need to leave the yard to score big. The only other real consideration might be Kirk Nieuwenhuis on the cheap in hopes that he leaves the yard.
Maybe there is one stack: the Cardinals. Robert Stephenson actually has two good starts in his six, but the other four are so bad that he still has a 5.59 ERA and 2.2 HR/9 in his 29 innings. Matt Carpenter, Brandon Moss, and Matt Adams from the left side and Stephen Piscotty, Aledmys Diaz, Randal Grichuk, and Yadier Molina from the right side offer enough options to create a Cards stack.
Most likely to go yard: Kendrys Morales. He's been better against lefties for sure (.917 OPS), but he's no slouch against righties with a .197 ISO and Berrios is serving it up for everyone this year.
Most likely to swipe a bag: Jonathan Villar. Yes, I'm taking the easy way out for my final edition of Daily Notes of the year (the last day for the series this season will be Oct. 2). The MLB steals leader will notch his 60th of the year against his former teammate, Jonathan Lucroy.