- Brian Gramling, Fantasy
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For the final Monday of the season (barring any one-game playoff scenarios), there are still some quality pitchers likely on your waiver wire.
In fact, 18 Monday starters are owned in fewer than 70 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues. Granted, not all of them are worth using, but at least a handful of them are. Keep reading to find out which pitchers are worth scooping up and which pitchers should be left on the scrap heap.
Starting pitcher rankings for September 27
Rk.: The author's ranking of that pitcher for that day only. T: Pitcher throws left-handed or right-handed. Opp: The pitcher's opponent for the day. Rating: The starting pitcher's matchup rating -- separate from the author's ranking -- which accounts for past history (three years' worth as well as past 21 days), opponent and ballpark. Ratings range from 1-10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. W-L: Pitcher's win-loss record. ERA: Pitcher's earned run average. WHIP: Pitcher's average number of walks plus hits surrendered per inning.
Must start: Carlos Zambrano is 6-0 with a 1.42 ERA and 50 K's in 57 innings (nine starts) since returning to the Cubs' rotation. And yet he's still available in 32 percent of ESPN standard leagues. Brett Anderson has also been great recently (3-0 record, 1.61 ERA, 0.96 WHIP in his past four starts), which has improved his September career numbers to 7-1 with a 1.87 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in nine starts. Anderson's mound opponent, Ervin Santana has also pitched lights-out this month, going 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA and .187 opponents' batting average in four September starts.
Strong play: Mike Pelfrey is 5-3 with a 2.85 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in his past nine starts and has pitched well at Citi Field this year (10-3, 2.87 ERA). Also, he threw 7 2/3 innings of shutout ball with six strikeouts the last time he faced Milwaukee (in 2009). Kevin Slowey is 5-1 with a 2.47 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in his past six starts. He has 38 K's and just nine walks during this span. Wade Davis is owned in just more than half of ESPN fantasy leagues despite being 6-0 with a 3.26 ERA in his past 10 starts. Davis is also a perfect 3-0 with a 1.86 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in four career starts versus Baltimore.
Worth considering: Ted Lilly is low on this list because of his recent struggles (6.61 ERA, 1.53 WHIP in past three starts), and because his mound opponent is Ubaldo Jimenez. The matchup at Tampa Bay is not favorable, but Brian Matusz continues to improve in the second half, posting a 5-1 record, 3.27 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in his past 10 starts. Alex Sanabia also has an unfavorable matchup at Atlanta, but his three straight quality road starts (3-0, 1.31 ERA, 0.73 WHIP) makes him worth starting in NL-only leagues.
Stay away: Marc Rzepczynski has a 6.48 ERA, 2.01 WHIP and an awful 23 walks (with just 23 K's) in his past seven starts. Kyle Davies is 2-4 with a 5.46 ERA in his past three seasons (six starts) facing Minnesota and has been roughed up for 15 hits and nine runs in 13 innings over his past two starts. Kyle Lohse's 7.18 ERA this year is the second-worst in the majors among pitchers with 10 or more starts. The only pitcher with an ERA worse than Lohse is Charlie Morton (8.11 ERA), who coincidentally is his opponent Monday.
Hitter matchup ratings for September 27
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. "LHB" and "RHB" ratings account only for left- and right-handed batters, respectively.
Raul Ibanez, LF, Philadelphia Phillies: He is finishing the season strong, with a .389 average, nine RBIs and eight runs in his past nine games. Expect the hot streak to continue Monday; Ibanez is 8-for-12 with two homers and a 2.048 OPS in his career against John Lannan.
Jason Kubel, LF, Minnesota Twins: Now that his wrist is fully healed, it's time to make sure Kubel is back in your lineup. He is 9-for-20 with four doubles and five RBIs against Kyle Davies in his career.
Jose Tabata, LF, Pittsburgh Pirates: Despite his quality numbers this year (.304 average, 17 steals), Tabata is owned in less than half of ESPN leagues. He is currently riding an eight-game hitting streak and is 16-for-34 against the Cardinals this year, including 3-for-4 against plus-seven-ERA hurler Kyle Lohse.
Marcus Thames, LF, New York Yankees: The fourth left fielder in this section loves facing Toronto. Thames is 12-for-25 with three homers, seven RBIs and a 1.380 OPS against Blue Jays pitching this season, and will most likely be in the starting lineup against lefty Marc Rzepczynski on Monday.
Melvin Mora, 2B, Colorado Rockies: Mora returned to the Rockies' lineup Saturday after missing time because of an illness, but I wouldn't blame him for calling in sick on Monday. He is 3-for-31 lifetime versus Ted Lilly, and might not even swing the bat considering he has nine strikeouts and 12 walks when facing the lefty.
Kurt Suzuki, C, Oakland Athletics: With his home run drought now at 50 games, Suzuki has become a very unattractive fantasy player, hitting just .211 since he last went deep on July 28. And he goes from unattractive to downright hideous against Ervin Santana, considering he is 3-for-26 with six strikeouts against the Angels hurler.
Adam Lind, LF, Toronto Blue Jays: It's probably best you bench Lind for the entire series against the Yankees, considering he is 9-for-50 with 19 strikeouts versus Yankees pitching this year. He is a combined 6-for-34 (.176 average) with 16 strikeouts in his career against the three scheduled New York starters: A.J. Burnett, CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes.
Baseball Challenge Pick of the Day
Matt Holliday, LF, St. Louis Cardinals: His hitting streak ended at 16 games on Saturday, but Holliday batted .431 with 12 RBIs over that span. Expect the hits to start up again Monday, as he is 26-for-64 (.406 average) with four homers and 12 RBIs in the past two seasons against the Pirates. And in case you missed it earlier, Pittsburgh trots Charlie Morton and his 8.11 ERA to the mound Monday.
Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies (could return Monday, hamstring)
Josh Hamilton, RF, Rangers (hopes to return this week, ribs)
Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins (season may be over, elbow)
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals (season may be over, strained intercostal)
Evan Longoria, 3B, Rays (day-to-day, strained left quad)
David Aardsma, P, Mariners (day-to-day, left oblique strain)
Mike Lowell, 3B, Red Sox (day-to-day, hit in head by bad-hop grounder)
Freddy Sanchez, 2B, Giants (day-to-day, right shoulder strain)
Andres Torres, CF, Giants (day-to-day, appendectomy)
Miguel Tejada, 3B, Padres (day-to-day, hamstring)
Michael Bourn, CF, Astros (day-to-day, lower oblique strain)
Eric Young Jr., LF, Rockies (day-to-day, bruised neck)
John Bowker, RF, Pirates (day-to-day, sore right knee)
Michael Brantley, LF, Indians (day-to-day, hamstring>
Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals (likely out for season, sore knee)
Weatherproof games: Yankee-Blue Jays and Orioles-Rays. East Coast games are in serious jeopardy of rainouts on Monday. Phillies-Nationals and Marlins-Braves both have an 80 percent chance of rain in the forecast. Brewers-Mets and Tigers-Indians are looking at 40-50 percent chance of precipitation. The rest of the schedule appears sunny and dry for Midwest, Southwest and West Coast games.
Brian Gramling is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com.
Daily notes for fantasy baseball lineups for Monday, Sept. 27.