Final two-start pitchers take mound
With the season likely ending Sunday (or possibly Monday for roto-style leagues if there is a one-game playoff in the National League), this is the last chance to grab a two-start pitcher. Unfortunately, the Tuesday schedule is loaded with aces that a) will not be available on any waiver wires and b) severely limit the chances for opposing pitchers to earn wins. But there are always a few diamonds in the rough worth playing, and Tuesday is no exception.
Starting pitcher rankings for September 28
• Must Start: Jonathan Sanchez loves facing the Arizona Diamondbacks, who likely will be without two of their better hitters, Justin Upton and Mark Reynolds. Sanchez is 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA in his past seven starts against Arizona. Max Scherzer is 5-1 with a 1.98 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in his past eight starts and has a very favorable opponent in the Cleveland Indians. Dan Haren has 40 strikeouts in 41 innings spanning his past six starts. He is 2-0 with a 1.32 ERA and 1.05 WHIP over this six-start span.
• Strong Play: Wandy Rodriguez is 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in his past six starts, but is not higher on the list due to his poor numbers in three outings versus the Cincinnati Reds this year (6.06 ERA, 1.35 WHIP). Rodriguez's opponent, Edinson Volquez, is also a great play based on his past success against the Houston Astros. In four career starts against the Astros, Volquez is a perfect 4-0 with a 0.98 ERA and 0.90 WHIP. John Lackey has been serviceable in his 14 starts versus the White Sox (3.86 ERA, 1.24 WHIP) and his Tuesday mound opponent is Edwin Jackson, who hates facing Boston. Jackson is 0-3 with a 7.65 ERA and 2.10 WHIP in his past four starts against the Boston Red Sox, giving Lackey strong win potential.
• Worth Considering: Randy Wolf is 12-5 with a 3.29 ERA in 31 career starts against the New York Mets. The Wolf-man is also finishing the season strong with great numbers in his past 10 starts: 6-2, 2.56 ERA, 1.19 WHIP. Nick Blackburn has a 1.86 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in his past four starts, but he also carries some baggage with a 6.99 road ERA this season. Only Brian Bannister (7.91) has a higher ERA among pitchers with a dozen or more road starts in 2010, but Minnesota Twins at Kansas City Royals usually equals a win. For fantasy owners even more desperate for wins, Jeff Suppan is a great candidate against a Pittsburgh Pirates team that Suppan has beaten 16 times in 19 career decisions (26 career starts).
• Stay Away: Sean O'Sullivan sports an outrageous 9.13 ERA and 1.94 WHIP in his past five starts. Jason Marquis has a 7.18 ERA on the season, which is the third-worst mark among major league pitchers with double-digit starts this year. He is also 0-4 with a 12.51 ERA and 2.49 WHIP in four starts versus the Philadelphia Phillies this season. Mitch Talbot has the highest home ERA (6.31) of any pitcher with 10-plus starts this season. Talbot also carries a 10.80 ERA and 2.20 WHIP in his past two outings.
Hitter matchup ratings for September 28
Jayson Werth, RF, Philadelphia Phillies: He is 8-for-15 with two homers, four RBIs and four walks in his career against Jason Marquis. Werth has also had a solid September with seven homers, 16 RBIs and 19 runs.
Carlos Quentin, RF, Chicago White Sox: His post-All-Star break numbers are hardly memorable (.235 BA/.330 OBP/.404 SLG), but Quentin will be champing at the bit to face John Lackey again. Quentin is 7-for-11 with three homers and five RBIs in his career against Lackey.
Mike Napoli, C, Los Angeles Angels: Not many fantasy owners are afforded the luxury of having a catcher with 26 homers on their bench, but just in case you have a stronger catcher option and are weak at utility, go ahead and put in Napoli on Tuesday. He is 7-for-17 with two doubles and a homer against Dallas Braden.
Chris Snyder, C, Pittsburgh Pirates: For all you NL-only owners still paying attention, go ahead and start Snyder on Tuesday, since he is 8-for-14 with a homer and two RBIs against Jeff Suppan.
Orlando Cabrera, SS, Cincinnati Reds: The combination of his oblique acting up again and his futility against Wandy Rodriguez (1-for-11) warrants a benching.
Jay Bruce, RF, Cincinnati Reds: Ditto for Bruce. He has also been bothered by his oblique and has been even worse than Cabrera against the Astros left-hander. The lefty Bruce is 1-for-17 with 10 strikeouts and no walks against Rodriguez.
Ian Kinsler, 2B, Texas Rangers: I don't make it a regular habit to sit superstar players, but Kinsler is unlikely to play Tuesday as the Rangers get ready for the playoffs. And even if Kinsler's name is on the lineup card, his opponent is Felix Hernandez. Kinsler is 8-for-46 with eight whiffs when facing King Felix in his career.
Mark Reynolds, 3B, Arizona Diamondbacks: Word out of Arizona is that Reynolds will be shut down for the rest of the season with his sore right hand. If that is the case, Reynolds will finish the season as the only player in major league history with a higher strikeout total (206) than batting average (.199). But if Reynolds winds up playing Tuesday, his chances for success against Jonathan Sanchez are very slim, considering his 4-for-25, 14-strikeout career versus Sanchez.
Baseball Challenge Pick of the Day
Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies: Utley is currently riding an eight-game hitting streak and will likely have his double-play partner Jimmy Rollins back in the lineup. Like most of the Phillies' roster, Utley has loved facing Jason Marquis, going 12-for-25 with seven RBIs, four walks and a hefty 1.192 OPS against the Nationals right-hander.
Josh Hamilton, RF, Texas Rangers (hopes to return this week, ribs)
Mark Reynolds, 3B, Arizona Diamondbacks (likely done for season, sore right hand)
Justin Upton, RF, Arizona Diamondbacks (could be done for season, shoulder)
Orlando Cabrera, SS, Cincinnati Reds (day-to-day, sore left side)
Jay Bruce, RF, Cincinnati Reds (day-to-day, oblique)
Andres Torres, CF, San Francisco Giants (day-to-day, appendectomy)
John Bowker, RF, Pittsburgh Pirates (day-to-day, sore right knee)
Michael Bourn, CF, Houston Astros (likely will not bat anymore this season, lower oblique strain)
Gavin Floyd, P, Chicago White Sox (likely out for season, shoulder)
Weatherproof games: Yankee-Blue Jays and Orioles-Rays. Rain threatens East Coast games again on Tuesday. Brewers-Mets have an 80 percent chance of thunderstorms, while both the Phillies-Nationals and Tigers-Indians have a 70 percent chance of rain on Tuesday. The rest of the schedule should be sunny and dry.
Brian Gramling is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com.
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