September Schedule


Stock Watch: The Last Chance or the Bitter End?

Can you believe it’s the last Stock Watch of the year? Me Neither. And yet, here we are, at another end-of-the-season frenetic pennant race. And at the end of the season, all the old rules are gone.

You might have noticed things getting a little weird on your waiver wire. If you didn’t, check out my post from yesterday. See, I told you things have gotten weird. 

Things like this move I made this morning: I dropped the perfectly good Charlie Blackmon for the perfectly terrible Emilio Bonifacio. Yeah. Why? Because Blackmon has only four games left (instead of five), one in San Diego and three in Los Angeles against the Dodgers and I need steals. Injured and disappointing players are finally getting tossed back into the free agent pool, giving you the possibility of seeing Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez on the wire, along with Joey Votto and Jacoby Elsbury. Don't get excited. That’s just a sample from my leagues; where it really gets strange is in just how much our waiver wires will begin to differ in the final days of the season, especially after ace pitchers throw their last regular season games. (I predict some Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale drops in the near future, among others.)

So there’s a lot to sort out. Especially when you remember to check in on any starter you pick up and see who he’s facing and in what park. Case in point: Derek Holland (39% owned in Yahoo! leagues) is pretty widely available. He’s got a 1.31 ERA in 34.1 IP on the season and a history of talented pitching.  A good pickup. But his last start will be in Texas against an Oakland A’s squad that isn’t as bad as their “historic” collapse—and that seems to be un-collapsing. Not so good. I’m still on the fence with Holland, but I’m inclined to let him go at this point. 

Let’s check out some high-potential hitters the usual way, and then check out some starters, with extra emphasis on who they’re playing and where. 

Shallow Leagues (30-50% Owned)

Adam Eaton (47%) continues to play well, does a little of everything.

Javier Baez (45%) does everything but batting average…at which he is very, very bad. But the Cubs are committed to him.

Steve Pearce (44%) is on such fire that I can’t not recommend him. Maybe only 44% of leagues are still going on?

Nori Aoki (41%) is hitting over .380 over the last month. Sustainable? Obviously not. A good predictor of his talent? Certainly, no. Worth using? Yeah. Also, didn’t his name used to be longer?

Chase Headley (39%) has been a pretty good, quiet producer for New York. Especially in runs scored.

Kennys Vargas (39%) might be the best source of power on the waiver wire. Well, him and Pearce.

Jed Lowrie (39%) has had a rough year, but some games in Texas could be just what he needs.

Dioner Navarro (34%) is still playing at home, and the Blue Jays are scoring tons of runs.

Domonic Brown (33%) is back from his hand injury, and he’d finally been hitting before. He’s got to be desperate to earn next year’s playing time, so take a chance if you’re desperate too.

You know I want you to pick up Kolten Wong (32%).

Medium Leagues (20-30% Owned)

Adam Lind (30%) has been pretty much on fire lately, batting over .340 in the past month.

Adam Dunn (30%) will be playing in Texas. How is that a combination to leave on the waiver wire. Pick him up!

A.J. Pollock (29%) offers good speed…and actual hitting ability. Not common at this stage of the game, not at all.

Lorenzo Cain (29%) offers even more speed…and he’s been hitting well too. Definitely useful as the season winds down.

James Loney (27%). Batting average. You already know.

Jordy Mercer (26%) has had a nicely productive little month. Remember, he’s a shortstop—it doesn’t take much.

Luis Valbuena (23%) defied my prediction and kept hitting. Thanks a lot, Luis.

Avisail Garcia (22%) is making the most of his mostly-missed season.

Justin Turner (20%) has got to get an award for most valuable part-timer or something.

Deep Leagues (Under 20% Owned)

Chris Coghlan (18%) is batting .320 in the last month.

Oswaldo Arcia (15%) is a relatively promising power source.

Wilmer Flores (14%) is making me want to hit up a Mets game before the season ends. Because he’s hitting so well, just so that’s actually clear.

Jake Marisnick (13%) has offered a little bit of everything this month.

Tyler Flowers (10%) has been on this list so much that I’m inclined to think he’s actually good. Maybe I'll draft him next year.

Arismendy Alcantara (10%) is yet another all-power, sub-Mendoza young Cub. I guess it’s just the two of them, but it seems like a lot.

Speaking of power, Dayan Viciedo (8%) can’t hit for average either, but he’s smacked five homers this month.

Daniel Nava (5%) has been playing well enough to use lately.

Jarrod Dyson (5%) has not, but he’s your guy if you lost two points in steals in the last two days—like me! 

Jose Ramirez (5%) is a lot better, just because he plays short. Also a speed source.

Rougned Odor (4%) not only has the coolest name in baseball, but he’s playing at home and on a nice hot streak.

Welington Castillo (3%) is contributing across the board for deep leaguers in need of a catcher.

Freddy Galvis (3%) has been a pretty hot hitter since returning to the Majors last month. And he plays pretty much every position.

Some Pitchers to Go For

Masahiro Tanaka is scheduled to pitch against Boston this week, so if someone gave up on him, scoop him up. Or just don’t forget to take him out of that DL slot.

Mike Fiers gets the Cubs on the last day of the season, so that’s pretty nice.

Jake Peavy should enjoy facing the Padres, even though the game will be in San Francisco.

C.J. Wilson just got rocked for a 54.00 ERA, but his final start will be against the deflated Mariners, in Seattle. Good chance of a bounceback.

I’m picking up Bartolo Colon right now for his final start: at home against the Astros. Who could ask for more? I’m picking up Jon Niese too, for the exact same reason. You know what, I’m just gonna give in and become a Mets fan.

Aaron Harang recommends himself by facing the Phillies.

Tsuyoshi Wada gets to face Milwaukee, which seems like a pretty good opportunity, given their play. It looked like a terrible matchup when I first looked at the schedule over a month ago, but hey, things change.

I kept thinking Cory Rasmus was the knockoff Colby Rasmus or something. Turns out he pitches for the Angels, is off to a really strong start, and gets to face the Mariners.

Two guys for today: Yusmeiro Petit (against the Padres) and Edinson Volquez (against the Braves). Good enough pitchers, fantastic matchups. And then you can drop ‘em, because their regular seasons will be done.



RotoAuthority Unscripted: Your Guide to the End of the World

Okay, maybe “end of the world” is too dramatic. Technically we still have the playoffs to look forward to, and I guess some of you probably have those new “fantasy football” teams to manage in the fall. But for us at RotoAuthority (or, at least me, I actually didn’t think to ask the other guys) fantasy baseball has been life since January and the nail-biting end-of-the-season pennant races carry with them an air of finality. Win or lose, the game will be over soon. 

Well, that’s kind of depressing. Fortunately, it gets worse. 

That’s right, just like in the times before the real end of the world (as depicted in the movies), a time of anarchy and social breakdown is upon us in the fantasy baseball realm. Check out your league’s transaction pages. Seriously, tab over to your league home and scroll through your league’s transactions. They’re crazy.

Proof that the World is Ending

My personal favorites are the ones where somebody picks up an injured star like David Wright or Starlin Castro…and then drops them in their next waiver move.

But some are more illustrative: one team picked up Mike Zunino and dropped Jacoby Ellsbury.  The latter might be back this week, but who can take a chance on his return for injury? And given the choice of pickup, I’m willing to bet this owner needed power anyway.

Here’s another: this owner dropped suddenly-awesome pitcher Carlos Carrasco for Jake Marisnick. Not only is the speedy outfielder surging in popularity, but Carrasco won’t pitch again until the last day of the season…and you really never know what will happen on the season’s final day. For this owner, the possibility of one last Carrasco start in five days wasn’t enough to keep them from getting almost a week’s worth of Marisnick. Plus, maybe Carrasco will still be on the waiver wire in a couple days....

How about this: Alejandro De Aza added, Michael Morse dropped. This owner is riding De Aza’s hot streak (which is getting him playing time) and enjoying De Aza’s speed. As for Morse? How well will his power play in the last week? Probably not too good, as he gets to fight for the NL Wild Card on the California coast.

One owner added Steve Pearce and dropped Juan Lagares. This one interests me because it would be totally reasonable the other way around. Clearly, this owner doesn’t need speed and does need power—if someone needs speed, I’d expect Lagares to find his way onto another team pretty quick.

Jay Bruce got picked up and Josh Hamilton dropped. Bruce actually stuck around on the waiver wire for a long time—it wasn’t until now that someone was willing to take the batting average risk. 

Closers (especially of the newly-minted variety) are showing up in a lot of transactions too, as owners sort out who can actually use a few more saves from the likes of Ken Giles, Zach Putnam, and Edward Mujica.

Owners who are coming close to their innings cap are shedding starters like…well, like stuff you shed. I was gonna say flies, but that didn’t make sense and it was gross. Many of those with daylight between their team’s IP total and the league cap are streaming starters to gain ground in wins and strikeouts. If you’ve got a shallow league, you might even be able to target nothing but the next day’s best matchups and help your ERA and WHIP too.

How to Thrive in the Apocalypse

When I was in college, I had some friends that, I think, actually would have welcomed a zombie apocalypse for its survival challenge. Maybe this feeling wasn’t so uncommon given how many movies and TV shows are out there on exactly this topic, but thriving in the fantasy baseball apocalypse was never really on anyone’s radar. Until now.

Step One: Take stock of the situation. There are no actual zombies here, so take the opportunity to check your place in the standings of each category carefully. Where can you move up in less than a week? Where might you lose ground? Or, if you’re playing for your life in the playoffs, what are your opponents’ strengths?

Do they have Billy Hamilton and Dee Gordon? Forget about steals. Do they have seven closers? Maybe toss yours and concentrate on starts. Where will your squad be playing? Your Colorado guys might have killed it for you last week (I know that I enjoyed the five combined homers from Michael Cuddyer and Wilin Rosario)…but the Rockies are on the road for the rest of the season, and in extreme California pitchers’ parks, so you know how I repaid ‘em? By sending them to the waiver wire, of course. Hey, the end of the world is a cutthroat place.

Step Two: Think Short-Term. Very short term. You aren’t trying to build a new civilization underground—you’re just trying to go out with the biggest bang you can. That might well mean having an unconventional-looking team. Maybe you need to make up ten steals, so you pick up Lagares, Marisnick, Jarrod Dyson, Jordan Schaeffer, Emilio Bonifacio, and Lorenzo Cain. Maybe you can snag a couple points in homers an RBI, so you go after Pearce, Arismendy Alcantara, Tyler Flowers, Wilmer Flores, and Kennys Vargas. Or maybe you actually need to take care of your batting average, so you don’t do either of those things.

Short-term thinking is most important with your pitchers, however. With just one or two starts left, none of these pitchers will be throwing at their true talent level; instead they’ll be rooted in particular parks and against particular opposing hitters. Some of those situations will be a lot better than others. Sure Taijuan Walker is an electric arm and a great strikeout generator…but do you really want him against Toronto? Sonny Gray has had an excellent year…but his last two games are against the Angels and in Texas. Maybe that’s not so good. Danny Salazar’s got his last game today against the Royals—that’s not bad. Derek Holland has just one more start, at home, against Oakland. That’s pretty bad. Yusmeiro Petit will face the Padres. Got to love that, even if it’s in San Francisco.

You get the idea. Good pitchers may be a bad idea. If you’d leave them on your bench, it’s time to drop them. Lesser pitchers with good matchups may be a good idea. There is a tomorrow, but there’s no next week. Go get ‘em.



Stock Watch: Late September Hope

I was thinking to myself that the end of the season is truly the mirror image of its beginning. 

Then I realized how obvious that idea is and I felt kinda dumb.

I guess breaking it down won’t do it much good, but maybe it’ll help a little. We’ve got about two weeks of games left at this point (more like 11 or 12 games actually), and instead of making our waiver wire picks based on a small sample size we hope to extrapolate into a large one, we’re making picks based on a nice, large sample…and hoping they work out over a stretch of 12 games.

And I thought the era of two Wild Cards was supposed to give us hope in late September.

The good news, though, is that there are things we can know about and can predict: things like quality of opponents and tendencies of parks. The sorts of things that help fuel those epic late-year drives…and the collapses that are their all-too-frequent corollaries. Stock Watch won’t be a perfectly exact science this week…but it ought to do you better than random guessing.

But no promises.

Shallow Leagues (30-50% Owned in Yahoo! Leagues)

Javier Baez (47%) will wreak havoc on your batting average—but that power is here to play. Consider him a situational pickup for those who’ve give up average or who are so good they can handle his sub-Mendoza line.

Adam Eaton (46%) is playing good and stealing bases. His schedule is pretty mixed, but those games in Detroit don’t look as bad as they used to.

Russell Martin (46%) is way better in real baseball, but he’s got plenty of fantasy value. The Brewers’ and Reds’ pitching staffs should see to that. Jordy Mercer (31%) is another Pirate who could have a good end to the year.

Lonnie Chisenhall (42%) doesn’t have any schedule-related extremes that should keep you from picking him up if you need 3B help. He’s not as good as the beginning of the season, but he’s not useless either.

Kennys Vargas (40%) has too many games in Minnesota (which should help his team score runs but depress his homers), so if you’re looking for homers look elsewhere—but, then again, Vargas has a lot of power and isn’t facing any pitching that still scares me. Call him a maybe, I guess.

Dioner Navarro (40%) is a great potential source of homers. All the rest of his games are at home, at Yankee Stadium, or in Baltimore. But mostly at home. Pick him up. Adam Lind (31%) should also enjoy the last couple weeks of the season.

Kolten Wong (34%) is a must for anyone interested in speed or second base. Why do I keep talking this guy up? Because he’s playing the Brewers and Reds at home (hitters’ park, bad opposing pitchers) and finishes the season in Arizona (extreme hitters’ park, terrible opposing pitchers). You don't have to be good to hit with a schedule like that! Pick up any Cardinals you see.

By the way, why is Steve Pearce (34%) still on the waiver wire? Seriously.

James Paxton (47%) should be owned just about everywhere—he’s picked up right where he left off at the beginning of the season. He should rise above some relatively tough matchups.

Brandon McCarthy (41%) has been great and should also get two more starts after today’s: at home against a (probably) resting-the-veterans Orioles and then against the Red Sox.

Henderson Alvarez (40%) is another guy starting today who should get two more starts: his are against the hapless Phillies and against the, again, probably resting-the-stars Nationals at the very end of the season. Jarred Cosart (30%) gets those same matchups.

Bartolo Colon (38%) should be pitching the last game of the year against the Astros. At home. Got to like that. 

Jake Odorizzi (37%) is really good. But that’s tempered by the fact that his last couple starts are nothing exciting.

Derek Holland (35%) not only looks good for this year, but I’d be getting ready to draft him for next year.

Medium Leagues (20-30% Owned)

James Loney (28%) shouldn’t be prevented by his schedule to keep doing what he does.

Juan Lagares (27%) looks like he’s emerging as a steals threat. Also, most of the rest of the Mets’ games are on the road. Not that he’s a power guy, but it should help. Travis d’Arnaud (25%) should also be happy to be playing on the road for a while.

A.J. Pollock (23%) has just been great since coming back. Arizona’s got a hitting-favorable schedule, but I’d have been recommending Pollock anyway. 

Drew Stubbs (22%) is just the guy for your team…through Sunday. This series at home against Arizona is just the time to use Stubbs. Then let him go, because the Rockies finish the year on the road in San Diego and Los Angeles.

Lorenzo Cain (22%) keeps on stealing…when he plays.

Oscar Taveras (21%) is another Cardinal to take advantage of.

Yusmeiro Petit (29%) doesn’t seem to have much left to prove. Roll him out there.

Don’t use Jorge De La Rosa (23%) tonight, but his next start will be in San Diego; then he should get the season’s last game in LA, against a Dodgers team that will (presumably) be preparing itself for the playoffs. A sneaky-good pickup, if you ask me.

Deep Leagues (Under 20% Owned)

Guess who Jon Jay (17%) plays for. Yeah, the Cardinals. Go for it.

Avisail Garcia (17%) is an interesting see-what-you-have kind of play.

Conor Gillaspie (15%) doesn’t have the time to help your batting average, but if you’re needing a third baseman to do no harm, he’s your guy.

Mike Zunino (14%) and Mark Reynolds (13%) offer power-at-all-costs. Same as always.

Oswaldo Arcia (11%) has been relatively productive lately; home games could cost him homers but help in other areas.

Gerardo Parra (9%) and the Brewers have a pretty good hitting schedule for the rest of the year. I wouldn’t be surprised if they produced decently—which is usually a lot to ask at this level of ownership.

Jose Ramirez (6%) is finding favor with the Indians, plays both middle infield positions and steals some bases. Cool.

Chris Owings (6%) should benefit from Arizona’s favorable schedule for hitters.

If Jarrod Dyson (5%) can steal bases off the bench for Kansas City, he probably can for you too, if you’re desperate for speed.

Trevor Bauer (14%) has a couple of okay starts left…I guess I’m not that excited, but this is the level at which excitement is usually unwarranted.

Shane Greene (12%) should have three starts left. So if you need quantity, he could be your guy. The Blue Jays, Orioles, and Red Sox could be easier opponents, though.

Jeremy Hellickson (10%) gets the White Sox and Indians. Could be worse.

Odrisamer Despaigne (7%) has two starts left, both against the Giants. His next one is at home, so he’s worth using for that. See how hard the Giants are fighting for the Wild Card before making a decision to use Despaigne in the less-friendly game at San Francisco next week.

Drew Pomeranz (5%) is supposed to get a spot start against the Phillies on Saturday. That’s the sort of thing to watch for and take advantage of.

Run Away (Seriously, Don’t Pick These Guys Up)

Brandon Belt, Michael Morse, and Angel Pagan all look like they could help a shallow league team…but they can’t. After today’s Arizona game, the Giants will be doing nothing but play in pitchers’ parks in San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Stay away from Giants hitters.

For the same reason we like the Blue Jays’ hitters, we have to stay away from their pitchers—even the highly talented ones like Marcus Stroman. Save Blue Jays pitchers for next year.



Stock Watch: September Values

Today on Stock Watch, we’re going to do something a little different. No, really. Just a little different this time, instead of wildly different, like usual. In the last few weeks, I’ve been talking about September schedules. We just finished the NL Central and both West Divisions yesterday. Last week, we hit up the NL East, the AL Central, and the first half of the NL Central. Before that, we got the AL East and a particularly long intro. For each team, I mentioned whether or not you should speculate on their pitchers, hitters or both, or if you should stay away altogether. What I didn’t do was mention any particular players that might actually be on your waiver wire and able to enjoy those favorable schedules and perform for your fantasy team. 

So that’s what we’ll do today.

Hitters

Red Sox
Brock Holt (40% owned) has slumped lately, but some hitters’ parks and easy opponents could see him bounce back in September.

Will Middlebrooks (17%) isn’t someone easy to recommend, but if anything can resuscitate his season, it might be a diet of Orioles, Blue Jays, and Pirates pitching. Be careful, though, because this schedule is more good than great.

Mookie Betts (9%) could flash some power and speed, plus he plays shortstop and outfield, which tends to be a useful bench combination.

Daniel Nava (4%) could take advantage of Boston’s friendly schedule.

Rays
James Loney (24%) should be able to continue producing good average with the helpful schedule he’s got. 

Matt Joyce (9%) is an option for deeper leagues, as the Rays get some bad pitching opponents.

Kevin Kiermaier (4%) could be a nice little producer for the Rays down the stretch.

Marlins
I’ll finally plug Casey McGehee (48%), who I don’t think I’ve suggested at any point. Well, the schedule the Fish hitters get for the next month ought to give this fluky player a nice boost. 

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (22%) could be a good power source at catcher in the last month, as he prepares to tee off against some bottom-dwelling pitching.

Garrett Jones (13%) could show some nice pop in the last month.

Adeiny Hechavarria (5%) hits for a little average and steals a little. And has a friendly schedule. Go for it.

Tigers
Nick Castellanos (32%) hasn’t been super-impressive, but the Tigers’ schedule could allow him to finish strong. 

Twins
Kennys Vargas (34%) is hitting the ball a little and could continue, with a ton of games in hitters’ havens. Don’t get too excited about power—as his Minnesota home does suppress that aspect of the game. 

Kurt Suzuki (33%) could also benefit, especially since he’s already a batting average guy.

Trevor Plouffe (20%) should be able to help you out, with nearly all his games coming in helpful parks. Plus, did you know: the Twins hitting is overall near the middle of the pack—not way in the bottom like I’d expected before doing this research.

Oswaldo Arcia (15%) could use some help with his average. He might get it.

Eduardo Escobar (5%) plays three positions and isn’t hitting badly.

Cubs
Jorge Soler (28%) was worth your attention anyway, but the Cubs get to enjoy some weak pitching in the final month, making all their young players all the more interesting. 

Chris Coghlan (13%) is reminding people that he was once Rookie of the Year (it was a pretty weak year). But he’s hitting the ball and gets to face some truly lousy pitching, so take a chance on him.

Arismendy Alcantara (8%) is pretty thinly owned for a guy who’s shown power and speed. With so many Pirates/Brewers/Reds/Blue Jays games, I even like his odds of improving on that average.

Luis Valbuena (4%) will get a chance to show off the little bit of pop in his bat.

Cardinals
Kolten Wong (34%) has had an up-and-down season but September looks like it could be an up. 

Oscar Taveras (24%) has yet to live up to his potential, but he too can take advantage of teams with pitching problems.

Jon Jay (20%) may not be the most exciting addition to a fantasy roster, but with 23 games against bottom-third pitching staffs, he doesn’t have to be.

A.J. Pierzynski (19%) may not be a replacement for Yadier Molina, but he should enjoy facing the likes of the Pirates, Reds, and Brewers pitching staffs.

Rockies
Drew Stubbs (26%) has benefitted from Colorado’s injuries and should keep on playing. September features a ton of games at Coors Field, so be prepared to take advantage of Stubbs.

DJ LeMahieu (8%) has position flexibility, speed, and, oh, 14 September games in Coors Field.

So does Josh Rutledge (8%), though he’s pretty tough to justify rostering.

Pitching

Braves
Remember when we were all excited about Aaron Harang (42%) at the beginning of the season? Well, get excited again, because the Braves pitchers get to beat up on some weak lineups, especially in the second half of September.

Marlins
Nathan Eovaldi (18%) ,Tom Koehler (17%), and Jarrod Cosart (9%) get to pitch on the only team that has managed to have a favorable schedule on both sides of the ball. It could be a good month in Miami. Keep an eye out for Andrew Heaney (5%) in case he comes back up.

Mets
Jacob deGrom and Bartolo Colon (both 43%) have been bright spots for a terrible Mets pitching staff, but they should enjoy the chance to pitch against some of baseball’s weaker lineups in one of baseball’s friendliest home parks. If Colon stays a Met, that is. Dillon Gee and Jon Niese (both 21%) could also benefit from the Mets’ schedule.

Brewers
Jimmy Nelson (12%) should benefit from a schedule that’s at least mildly helpful, with a bunch of soft Cubs and Reds games.

Astros
Collin McHugh (40%) would be underowned anyway, but he’ll be pitching against bad offenses and in good pitchers’ parks for most of September, making him all the more valuable. Scott Feldman (8%) hasn’t been nearly as good, but should still enjoy the schedule.

Angels
Hector Santiago (17%) is always a potential powder keg, but he could be very valuable as a strikeout guy with a great offense pitching against bad offenses in hitting-friendly parks.

A’s
Jason Hammel (47%)has been just a little overshadowed lately, but he’ll enjoy his games against weak opponents and in pitchers’ parks.

Dodgers
Roberto Hernandez (10%) should enjoy pitching in Dodger Stadium. In fact, the Dodgers have only three games in all of September outside of pitchers’ parks.

Padres
Odrisamer Despaigne (7%) and Eric Stults (3%) get 14 games at home, plus seven more in Los Angeles and San Francisco. It’s a pitcher’s dream.



September Schedules Part 3: NL Central, AL West, NL West

This is our last installment of the September Schedules miniseries; we’ll evaluate half the teams of the NL Central, and both leagues’ West Divisions. Last week we hit up the NL East, the AL Central, and the first half of the NL Central. Before that, I introduced the series and discussed the AL East. Check out both the previous parts if you missed ‘em. It’s worth mentioning again that I’m using Fangraphs WAR to grade team pitching and wOBA for hitting, and ESPN’s 2014 Park Factors, but you’ll have to follow the links if you want more recap. 

Milwaukee Brewers
Home: 14 (0.951, 19th, pitching favorable) | Road: 12
Opponents: Cardinals (7), Cubs (6), Reds (6), Marlins (4), Pirates (3)

With a pretty even pitching/hitting split in away park factors, and a pitching-friendly home park, grade this one grades out as relatively good for Milwaukee pitchers, though none of the park effects are particularly extreme. It’s the opposing batters that Brewer pitchers will really like though: only the three games against the Pirates are against quality offenses, and they get 12 games against two of the worst lineups in baseball: the Cubs and Reds. It could be a nice month for Milwaukee hurlers.

Things aren’t quite as helpful for the Brew Crew’s lineup. While the Pirates and Reds present nice targets for the Brewer bats, they have more games against the average-or-better Marlins, Cardinals, and Cubs. While the Cubs were depleted by a trade, the Cards were bolstered. Including the park effects, this is a bad but not terrible schedule for Brewer hitters. 

Final Grade: Things could end up very nice for Milwaukee pitchers, with friendly lineups and parks. Pick up their fringier guys. It could be rough for hitters, but not truly horrible.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Home: 9 (1.025, 12th, mildly hitting favorable) | Road: 17
Opponents: Cubs (6), Phillies (4), Braves (4), Brewers (3), Cardinals (3), Reds (3), Red Sox (3)

The Pirates get three games in St. Louis’s hitter-friendly stadium, but all their other road games are in pitcher-friendly parks. Actually, with Pittsburgh’s park close to neutral and the St. Louis games coming in the first three games of the month, most of September looks to be a little bit pitcher friendly. Their opponents will help too: only the Brewers and Cardinals out outside of the bottom 10 lineups in baseball. Maybe this will be enough to get Pittsburgh hurlers out of last in baseball in WAR….

Things aren’t quite as favorable for Pirate hitters, but they should enjoy playing against the Phillies, Brewers, and Reds, and the Cubs and Red Sox ought to be worse than their rank by WAR thanks to trading their best pitchers in July. The Braves, Cardinals, and park factors keep it from being a great schedule, but it’s still pretty good.

Final Grade: If you dare to pick up Pirates pitchers, at least they’ll get to face some of baseball’s weakest hitting teams in some of the friendlier parks. Hitters will be hampered by park effects, but ought to perform pretty well given the quality of their opposition.

St. Louis Cardinals
Home: 12 (1.098, 4th, very hitting favorable)| Road: 14
Opponents: Brewers (7), Reds (7), Cubs (3), Pirates (3), Rockies (3), Diamondbacks (3)

Continue reading "September Schedules Part 3: NL Central, AL West, NL West" »



September Schedules Part 2: NL East, AL Central, NL Central

Last Friday we kicked off our September Schedules preview with an introduction of purpose and methodology, then evaluated the upside-down AL East. If you missed it check it out. All I’ll recap here is that I’m using Fangraphs WAR to grade team pitching and wOBA for hitting, and ESPN’s 2014 Park Factors. If I make recommendations based on other stats, factors, or extenuating circumstances, I’ll let you know.

Today we'll hit the NL East, the AL Central, and get halfway done with the NL Central. Next week, we'll finish it all off. This is a long one, so watch for the page break.

Atlanta Braves
Home: 13 (0.947—19th—pitching favorable) | Road: 12
Opponents: Phillies (6), Nationals (6), Pirates (4), Mets (3), Marlins (3), Rangers, (3)

Most of the Braves’ road games are in parks that have favored hitters this year—Texas and Washington, and, surprisingly enough, Pittsburgh and Miami. However, all those games are in the first half of the month: after the 15th every game will be in Atlanta or Philadelphia, which have both played pitcher-friendly. So if you can grab Atlanta pitchers off the wire in the second half of September, go for it. It helps that the Braves get nine games against two of the three worst offenses in baseball (Phillies and Mets), and six more against the below-average Rangers and Marlins. I like Braves pitchers in September.

The hitters won’t enjoy the park effects, so consider dropping fringy Atlanta guys for the second half of September. Plus, they get six games against Washington, the best pitching staff in baseball by WAR so far. Braves hitters do get to beat up on the Mets and Phillies, who are bad on both sides of the ball, and the Pirates, who are the worst pitchers in the game. So, there are pluses and minuses for the hitters.

Final Grade: Good news for Braves pitchers, with great matchups loaded into the second half of the month. Pick them up! Hitters get easy opponents but tough parks—it probably evens out.

Miami Marlins
Home: 13 (1.032—11th—moderately favorable for hitters)| Road: 14
Opponents: Nationals (8), Mets (6), Phillies (6), Brewers (4), Braves (3) 

The Marlins’ road games are a mix that looks like it should help pitchers a little, doing a bit to neutralize Miami’s hitter-friendly home park factor. Only their last four games of the season at Washington are in hitter-friendly road parks…but the Nationals’ league-leading pitching staff should more than balance that out. The good news for Miami hitters is that only the Nationals and Braves offer not-terrible pitching opponents. With so many games against the Mets, Phillies, and Brewers, Marlins hitters get a

Continue reading "September Schedules Part 2: NL East, AL Central, NL Central" »



September Schedules Part 1: AL East

Mark has the day off today, and I can’t do what he does…so I’ll just get a head start on what I do. September is approaching faster than it looks. Seriously, I was walking on brown leaves all the way to the coffee shop where I’m writing this, and that means it’s time to start planning for the Most Important Month of the Year.*

*Tied with all the others in roto-style fantasy leagues and in real baseball, technically.

Your roto league has split into the haves and the have-nots and you’ve just got to keep it together for one more month if you’re on top (like I am), or make one last push for semi-respectability (also like me).  Of course, you might be playing in a head-to-head league, in which case we’re rolling into the playoffs and forgetting all that went on before for a last-month roll of the dice 

It’s time to load those dice in your favor.

The league I’ve played in longest is a highly non-standard head-to-head, multiple-opponents, points-counting, weekly-changes, one-free-agent-per-week type of league. It’s intense and it involves a lot of planning ahead. For years, it seemed like my uncle was killing us all with good luck in September, and then we figured out his trick: he was loading up on pitchers with extra two-start weeks in September by trading for them and picking them up off the waiver wire weeks in advance. Well played, Uncle Steve.

Of course, now that everyone has the Internet (seriously, the league is that old), that trick is a little harder to pull. But you know what? It’s still worth doing and now is the time to get started. Since most of us aren’t in weekly-change points leagues, two-start pitchers aren’t quite our targets. Who can we target instead for 5x5 purposes (or points purposes, those will work too)? Players with favorable schedules.

Over the next few articles on RotoAuthority Unscripted, we’ll be, well, working with a script. Team-by-team, we’ll see who has favorable schedules throughout September, for hitters and for pitchers, looking into opponents’ strengths and weaknesses, as well as home and away park factors. Over the course of the whole season these issues don’t matter all that much, and when they do matter, they’re factored into draft slot or auction value. But over the course of a single month, things can be very skewed. This is your shot to skew them in your favor. 

To keep my evaluations more uniform and less subjective, I’ll be using Fangraphs WAR to grade team pitching and wOBA for hitting, and ESPN’s 2014 Park Factors. If I make a suggestion based on something else—like the fact that a team has changed their players significantly during the season, a la the Oakland pitching staff--I’ll let you know where I’m coming from. 

So that’s more than enough introduction for one article…which is why I’ll be trying to post this in relatively bite-sized chunks. But here’s the first installment anyway. And don’t forget: these figures are all for the month of September—you’re on your own for the last two weeks of August.

Let’s get rolling with the AL East.

Baltimore Orioles
Home: 14 (0.863 park factor—30th—very pitching favorable) | Road: 13
Opponents: Yankees (8), Blue Jays (6), Red Sox (6), Reds (3), Rays (3), Twins (1) 

First of all, I wouldn’t get too excited over the fact that Camden Yards has been the most pitcher-friendly in baseball this year, as it played as a hitters’ haven in ’13, ’12, an ’10, and neutral in ’11. They also get four games at Yankee Stadium, which has played as the second-best pitchers’ park this year—but again, I suspect that to be a bit of an outlier. With other away games in Tampa Bay, Toronto, and Boston, the park factors combine to be pretty neutral.

The O’s have six games against the heavy-hitting (third in baseball) Blue Jays and the rest are from mid-pack teams when it comes to hitting. If you believe the park factors for Baltimore and New York are sustainable, then you might want to target Orioles pitchers.

At bat, the O’s play three of the top pitching clubs in baseball: the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays...but all three of those teams have lost significant pitchers to trades and injuries. Unfortunately, their hitters don’t get to exploit any true bottom feeders either.

Final Grade: Neutral for hitters and pitchers

Boston Red Sox
Home: 12 (1.034 park factor—10th—hitting favorable) | Road: 14
Opponents: Yankees (6), Orioles (6), Rays (4), Royals (4), Blue Jays (3), Pirates (3)

A lot depends on if you really believe that the Orioles and Yankees parks really deserve their slots as the best pitchers’ parks in baseball. If you do, that will partially even things out…but if you don’t, this could be a pretty hitter-friendly schedule as far as the parks go. I’d play it safe and not get too excited about the Sox’s waiver wire pitchers—especially since nearly half of Boston’s games (12) come against top-six offences (Baltimore, Toronto, and Pittsburgh). Yeah, I’d avoid Boston pitchers next month.

Hitters should have a medium-favorable schedule on the parks (again, unless you really buy the Yanks and O’s as the two hardest parks to hit in—which would make it closer to neutral). Sox hitters will face plenty of bottom-half opponents, but only the Pirates have truly weak pitching. 

Final Grade: Boston hitters should have a good month, but stay away from their pitchers.

New York Yankees
Home: 17 (0.877—29th—very pitching favorable) | Road: 10
Opponents: Orioles (8), Red Sox (6), Rays (6), Blue Jays (4), Royals (3)

With all those Yankee Stadium and Camden Yards games—a huge majority—the entire park factor grade comes down to what you think of those teams’ yearly park factors. It’s worth keeping in mind that New York has played neutral once in the last four years and as a hitters’ park in the other three. So no, I do not think those factors are sustainable. But that's how the parks have played so far and you can't just write it off either. I wouldn’t bet heavily either way on Yankees players based on park factors. 

Their opponents, however, are a different story. The Orioles, Blue Jays, and Rays can all hit; while the Red Sox and Royals aren’t intimidating, that’s not enough for me to recommend Yankee pitchers.

The hitters will get to face weaker Baltimore and Toronto pitchers—as well as the depleted Boston and Rays staffs, leaving the Royals as the top pitching opponents. (Though the Rays might still be better even without David Price). I’d still go ahead and snag Yankee hitters off the waiver wire or put them in your lineup.

Final Grade: Yankee hitters are neutral to favorable, but their pitchers look risky.

Tampa Bay Rays
Home: 13 (1.049—7th—hitting favorable) | Road: 12
Opponents: Yankees (6), Blue Jays (6), Red Sox (4), Indians (3), Orioles (3), White Sox (3)

Most of Tampa Bay’s games are in hitters’ parks this year, at home and in Toronto, Boston, and Chicago. For pitchers, that’s exacerbated by the fact that most of their opponents are decent or better at the plate: only the Red Sox are below average. Of course, Tampa Bay has pretty good pitchers, but this will cut into their numbers.

Hitters get better news though: the Orioles, White Sox, and Blue Jays are bottom-third pitching staffs, while the Yankees and Red Sox are (as mentioned above) pretty significantly depleted. I’d feel comfortable picking up Rays hitters that are on the fringe.

Final Grade: Rays pitchers are good enough not to avoid, but their schedule won’t do them any favors. Rays hitters make good waiver wire targets and should be picked up.

Toronto Blue Jays
Home: 13 (1.092—5th—very hitting favorable) | Road: 13
Opponents: Orioles (6), Rays (6), Yankees (4), Mariners (4), Red Sox (3), Cubs (3)

Toronto’s home games aren’t quite balanced out by playing in pitchers’ parks on the road, but Seattle, Chicago, and whatever is happening in Baltimore and New York could take some of the shine off Blue Jay hitters and save their pitchers from a couple beatings. Actually, the Orioles are the only top-third offense that Toronto hurlers have to face, giving their pitchers a pretty neutral schedule altogether. 

The Blue Jays hitters should be a little better off: their opponents look mostly mid-pack in pitching quality, but remember the pitchers dealt away by (or injured on) the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, and Cubs. These aren’t the pitching staffs who put up those numbers. And the Orioles are still pretty marginal. Sit your hitters for those four games in Seattle, though. 

Final Grade: Toronto looks pretty neutral on both sides of the ball: maybe a little unfavorable for their pitchers, but a little helpful for their hitters.



Stock Watch: Strength of Schedule (Part 2)

Welcome to a very special crossover edition of Stock Watch Just days ago on RotoAuthority Unscripted, we examined the September schedules of the first fifteen MLB teams, on the premise that within such a small section of the season, the strength (or weakness) of any team’s opponents can have a huge impact on all its players.

We left off with the Milwaukee Brewers, so any team before them in the alphabet (by location, not nickname) can be found in Thursday’s post.

 Note that I'm taking 2013 park factors from ESPN and team pitching (sorted by xFIP) and hitting (sorted by wOBA) stats from Fangraphs.com. Each team’s name is a link to their schedule, so you can see for yourself if my suggestions are good.

 Minnesota Twins

Total: 28 games (17 home) Athletics 7(3), Indians 4(4), Blue Jays 3(3), Tigers 3(3), Rays 3(3),White Sox 3, Astros 3, Rangers 1, Angels 1

Home park factor: 1.075

Pitching: Fourteen games against top-third lineups, with only 6 against bottom-third hitting.

Hitting: Only 6 games against top-tier pitching (Rays and Tigers), but 10 against bottom-third pitching staffs (Blue Jays, Astros, Angels, Athletics)

Analysis: If you have any Twins pitchers (besides Glen Perkins), now is the perfect time to let them go. The hitters, however, have a mildly favorable schedule, and play a lot of games in their run-increasing (though homer killing) home park.

New York Mets

Total: 27 games (15 home) Nationals 5(4), Brewers 4, Marlins 4, Braves 3, Indians 3, Giants 3(3), Reds 3, Phillies 3

Home park factor: 0.878

Pitching: Six games against top-tier offenses (Braves and Indians), which all come in the first week of the month; after that 10 games against bottom-third offenses.

Hitting: Eleven games against top-third pitching; only the 3 Phillies games are against bottom-tier pitching staffs.

Analysis: Wait a week before picking up or starting Mets pitchers, but after that, they should encounter a mostly favorable schedule. Their hitters aren’t so lucky—cut ties with any fringy hitter you can spare.

New York Yankees

Total: 27 games (14 home) Red Sox 7(4), Orioles 5(1), White Sox 3(3), Blue Jays 3, Giants 3(3), Rays 3(3), Astros 3

Home park factor: 1.034

Pitching: The Yankees draw 12 games against the second and third best hitting teams in baseball (Red Sox and Orioles), plus 6 more against top-third lineups; they do have 9 games against lower-third teams.

Hitting: Three Rays games are the only top-third pitchers the Yanks will face, and they have 11 against bottom third pitchers.

Analysis: Pitching has been New York’s brightest spot, but this is a bad month to be a non-ace Yankee—if you can find similarly talented pitchers on other teams on the waiver wire, trade in your Yankee arms. The hitters, however, enjoy a very favorable month.

Oakland Athletics

Total: 27 games (15 home) Twins 7(4), Rangers 6(3), Angels 6(3), Astros 4(4), Mariners 3, Rays 1(1)

Home park factor: 0.881—with the 3 Seattle games and one in Tampa Bay, the A’s have 19 games in very pitcher-friendly parks.

Pitching: Thirteen games against top-third hitting, with only 4 against bottom-third hitters.

Hitting: Only 4 games against top-third pitching (Mariners, Rays), with 17 against bottom-third pitching.

Analysis: Though not helped by the parks they’ll be playing in, the Athletics’ hitters have extremely good matchups. The pitching staff will need the help from those park factors and are not recommended.

Philadelphia Phillies

Total: 26 games (15 home) Braves 7(3), Nationals 6(3), Marlins 6(3), Padres 3, Mets 3, Cubs 1

Home park factor: 1.117

Pitching: The 7 Braves games are the only top-third matchups, while they play 13 against bottom-third teams.

Hitting: Phillies hitters face 13 games against top-quality pitching, and only 4 against bottom-third teams.

Analysis: Thanks to the park factor, Phillies pitchers come out more or less neutral with their schedule (maybe a little negative), but it’s probably not enough to recommend their hitters against tough opposition.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Total: 27 games (11 home) Cubs 7(4), Reds 6(3), Cardinals 4(1), Padres 4(4), Rangers 3, Brewers 3

Home park factor: 0.927

Pitching: Seven games against top-third lineups (Cardinals and Rangers), but 11 games against bottom-third hitters.

Hitting: Seven games against top-tier pitching staffs, but 11 against lower-tier pitchers (Padres and Cubs).

Analysis: Pittsburgh’s schedule is pretty balanced.

San Diego Padres

Total: 27 games (13 home) Giants 6(3), Dodgers 4(3), D-Backs 4(4), Pirates 4, Braves 3, Rockies 3(3), Phillies 3

Home park factor: 0.830. With the 13 games of lowest park factor in baseball, plus 7 more in strong pitchers’ parks (Giants, Dodgers, Pirates), Padre pitching should benefit at the expense of their hitters.

Pitching: Only 6 games against top-third offenses, with 9 against bottom-third clubs.

Hitting: Eleven games against top pitching staffs, with only 6 against bottom-third teams.

Analysis: Padre pitchers are in for a good month, but feel free to drop your Padre hitters.

San Francisco Giants

Total: 27 games (13 home) Dodgers 7(3), Padres 6(3), D-Backs 5(4), Rockies 3(3), Mets 3, Yankees 3

Home park factor: 0.848 The Giants play 23 games in the four strongest pitchers’ parks in baseball. That should tell you more than the matchups will.

Pitching: Only the 3 Rockies games are against top-third hitting, but 9 games are against bottom-third lineups.

Hitting: The Giants get 10 games against top-third pitching, and 9 against lower-tier pitching.

Analysis: The Giants’ schedule is dominated by their September park factor. Drop their hitters and pick up any of their pitchers you can.

Seattle Mariners

Total: 27 games (12 home) Royals 7(3), Astros 4(3), Tigers 4, Rays 3(3), Cardinals 3, Angels 3, Athletics 3(3)

Home park factor: 0.936

Pitching: Seattle pitchers have 13 games against top-flight hitting 11 against bottom-tier hitters (Astros and Royals).

Hitting: The M’s have 10 games against high-quality pitching, and 14 against lower-third pitchers.

Analysis: The best part of the Mariners’ schedule for pitchers is in the first two weeks—after that, the competition is brutal. The hitting schedule is pretty balanced.

St. Louis Cardinals

Total: 27 games (15 home) Brewers 6(3), Pirates 4(3), Reds 4, Rockies 4, Nationals 3(3), Cubs 3(3)

Home park factor: 0.904

Pitching: Cards pitchers face only 4 games (Rockies) against top-third hitting, and only 3 (Cubs) against bottom-third hitting.

Hitting: Eleven games against top-third pitching, 7 against bottom-third pitching.

Analysis: This schedule is mostly balanced—Cardinal players are recommendable.

Tampa Bay Rays

Total: 28 games (11 home) Rangers 4(4), Angels 4, Orioles 4(4), Mariners 3, Blue Jays 3, Red Sox 3(3), Twins 3, Yankees 3, Athletics 1

Home park factor: 0.921

Pitching: Rays pitchers have 18 games against top-quality hitting, with only 6 (Yankees and Twins) against bottom-third hitting.

Hitting: Six games against top-third pitching, with 15 against bottom-third pitching.

Analysis: It’s time to let go of those Rays pitchers who were so good all year long, but expect good things from Tampa Bay’s hitters.

Texas Rangers

Total: 27 games (14 home) Angels 7(4), Athletics 6(3), Rays 4, Pirates 3(3), Royals 3, Astros 3(3), Twins 1(1)

Home park factor: 0.985—yes, Ballpark at Arlington has been a slight pitchers’ park this season.

Pitching: Eleven games against top-third hitting, with 7 against bottom-third hitters.

Hitting: Seven matchups against top-level pitching staffs, with 14 bottom-third pitching.

Analysis: Mostly a balanced schedule, with some good news for the hitters.

Toronto Blue Jays

Total: 26 games (13 home) Orioles 6(3), Yankees 3(3), Red Sox 3, Rays 3(3), D-Backs 3, Twins 3, Angels 3(3), Royals 1(1), White Sox 1

Home park factor: 1.149

Pitching: Fifteen games against top-tier lineups, including 9 against the number two and three lineups (Red Sox and Orioles); 8 games against bottom-third lineups.

Hitting: Six games against top pitching, with 10 against low-level pitching.

Analysis: The pitching matchups spell big trouble for Toronto hurlers, but their hitters have a somewhat favorable month.

Washington Nationals

Total: 27 games (11 home) Marlins 7(4), Phillies 6(3), Mets 5(1), Braves 3(3), Cardinals 3, D-Backs 3

Home park factor: 0.981

Pitching: Six games against top-third lineups, 18 against bottom-tier hitters.

Hitting: The Nats have 6 games against top-level pitching staffs, and 6 against bottom-level staffs (all against the Phillies).

Analysis: Though the hitters have a very neutral schedule, the pitchers should look great facing the Marlins, Phillies, and Mets for so many games.

Final MatchupsOverview

Pitchers 

These teams have such favorable matchups that even thier mediocre pitchers are worth picking up off the waiver wire: the Nationals, Braves, Giants, Tigers, and Indians have the best schedules; next are the Padres, Reds, Dodgers, Marlins, Mets (wait a week into the month), and Mariners (drop after two weeks).

Avoid or even release pitchers from these teams: the Orioles, White Sox, Royals, and Blue Jays have the toughest schedules; the Red Sox, Cubs, Angels, Twins, Yankees, and Rays aren't far behind. Cut ties with any questionable pitcher on these squads.

Pitchers on unlisted teams can be selected or avoided the old-fashioned way: on their personal merit.

Hitters

Look for hitters on these teams when perusing the waiver wire: Yankees, A's, Rays, Braves, Reds, Indians, Tigers, and Angels.     

You can drop non-stars (and stay away from waiver bait) from these teams: Cubs, Royals, Marlins, Mets, Padres, and Giants.

Good luck navigating the playoffs. Next week, Stock Watch will be back to its regular format with specific advice for specific players.



RotoAuthority Unscripted: Strength of Schedule (Part 1)

I know. Strength of schedule is for football and basketball, and all those other, lesser sports. Baseball is pure, and played over 162 games that the quality of opponents balances out for everyone but those in the American League East. 

But there aren't 162 games in September, just 28. A great schedule might make a mid-rotation starter seem (and score) like an ace (preview: pick up some Nationals), while a terrible one may take a big bite out of a great pitcher's value. The same thing can be said for hitters, and since we enter our final stretch run or our playoffs when the calendar turns to September, this one small, skewed sample is what will make or break fantasy seasons.

It's happened to all of us before, for better or for worse. I remember once setting a league record for regular season wins, thanks to Chris Carpenter's 28 consecutive 2004 quality starts. Tanked in the playoffs because that streak ended in September. I've also ridden amazingly lucky final months all the way to the league championship, and if you don't like all your chips riding on all that luck...play roto style next year. For now, take advantage to the one part of luck we know in advance: the schedule.

Below, I summarize each team's upcoming schedule, and give a recommendation for their pitchers and hitters based on the parks they'll play in and the quality of their opponents. I'm taking 2013 park factors from ESPN and team pitching (sorted by xFIP) and hitting (sorted by wOBA) stats from Fangraphs.com. I especially recommend taking a look at that park factors list, because there are some surprises. Also, each team name is a link to their September schedule, in case you don't trust my report. Or want to buy tickets, I guess.

Small caveat: I am neither a statistician, nor a mathematician, so I didn't turn this research into a fancy and useful algorithm because I really don't know how.

Arizona Diamondbacks 

Total: 28 games (14 at home--shown in parentheses throughout this post), Dodgers 7(4), Rockies 6 (3), Giants 5, Padres 4, Blue Jays 3 (3), Nationals 3(3).

Home park factor: 0.952. A surprisingly neutral park.

Pitching: no games against baseball's best offenses, though the Blue Jays, Rockies and Dodgers are in the upper half (and the Dodgers are on the upswing). They have 9 games (Padres and Giants) against low-ranked offenses.

Hitting: they play 10 games against top-tier pitching staffs (Dodgers and Nationals), and 7 against bottom-tier staffs (Padres and Rockies).

Analysis: Balanced schedule

Atlanta Braves

Total: 28 games (14 home) Phillies 7(4), Marlins 5(1), Mets 3(3), Padres 3(3), Nationals 3, Cubs 3, Brewers 3(3).

Home park factor: 0.966

Pitching: Zero games against average or above-average offenses. Eight games against the worst two offenses in baseball, with 14 more against bottom-third offenses.

Hitting: Three games against a top-third pitching staff, 13 against bottom-third staffs.

Analysis: Pick up every unowned Braves pitcher you can. Even the relievers in some formats. Don't be afraid to keep your hitters in the lineup too.

Baltimore Orioles

Total: 28 games (14 home) Blue Jays 6(3), Red Sox 6(3), Yankees 5(4), White Sox 4(4), Rays 4, Indians 3

Home park factor: 1.017 

Pitching: Nineteen games against top-third offenses. Only the Yankees and White Sox (both in bottom-third) give any respite.

Hitting: Only 4 games agaisnt top-third pitching, and 6 against bottom-third.

Analysis: Stay away from O's pitchers, but their hitters have a balanced schedule.

Boston Red Sox

Total: 25 games (13 home) Yankees 7(3), Orioles 6(3), Tigers 3(3), Blue Jays 3(3), Rays 3, Rockies 2, White Sox 1(1)

Home park factor:  1.048. Another park that hasn't played as hitter-friendly in the past.

Pitching: Fourteen games against top-hitting teams, including 9 against two of the top four offenses. Eight games against bottom-third offenses.

Hitting: Ten games against top pitching; nine against bottom-tier pitching.

Analysis: Expect streaky hitters (take it series by series in daily leagues), and reserve pitchers except when playing the Yankees and White Sox.

Chicago Cubs

Total: 27 games (13 home) Pirates 7(3), Brewers 7(3), Marlins 3(3), Reds 3, Braves 3(3), Cardinals 3, Phillies 1(1)

Home park factor: 1.160 (2nd highest in MLB)

Pitching: Six games against top-third hitting; 4 against bottom-third teams.

Hitting: Sixteen games against top-third pitching staffs; only one against bottom-third pitching.

Analysis: Drop your Cubs hitters, despite the extra-Friendly Confines. It's not like they were hitting anyway.

Chicago White Sox

Total: 28 games (15 home) Tigers 6 (3), Indians 6(4), Royals 4(4), Twins 3(3), Orioles 4, Yankees 3, Red Sox 1, Blue Jays 1

Home park factor: 1.042

Pitching: Eleven games against the top three offenses; seven against bottom-third opponents.

Hitting: Nine games against top-third pitching; 11 against bottom-third.

Analysis: Sox pitchers could be getting crushed in September. Avoid them, and even pick your spots with Chris Sale.

Cincinnati Reds

Total: 26 games (16 home) Pirates 6(3), Cardinals 4(4), Mets 3(3) Dodgers 3(3), Cubs 3(3), Brewers 3, Astros 3, Rockies 1

Home park factor: 1.102. 

Pitching: Five games against top offenses; 9 games against bottom-third teams.

Hitting: Ten games against tough pitching staffs, but 7 against low-quality pitching. 

Analysis: The number of home games and strong park factor should help Reds hitters, while the below average offenses they face should keep the park from hurting their pitching too much. Reds pitchers and hitters get favorable schedules.

Cleveland Indians

Total: 27 games (15 home) Royals 6(3), White Sox 6(2), Twins 4, Astros 4(4), Orioles 3(3), Mets 3(3), Tigers 1

Home park factor: 0.953

Pitching: Four games against top offenses, but 21 against bottom-third offenses.

Hitting: Only one game against top pitching, but 11 against bottom-third pitching staffs.

Analysis: Pick up Indians, as they have great schedules for pitching and hitting--the first four games of September are their only matchups against contenders.

Colorado Rockies

Total: 25 games (13 home) Dodgers 6(3), D-Backs 6(3), Cardinals 4(4), Padres 3, Giants 3, Red Sox 2(2), Reds 1(1)

Home park factor: 1.186--by far the highest factor in baseball (but you knew that).

Pitching: You know you don't want Coors starts, so we'll focus on their road matchups, where they have 6 games against low-quality opponents.

Hitting: Ten games against top pitching staffs.

Analysis: The park factor is so strong here that it takes a scheduling miracle for me to suggest picking up random Rox starters--no miracle here. 

Detroit Tigers

Total: 26 games (11 home) White Sox 6(3) Royals 6(3), Mariners 4(4), Red Sox 3, Twins 3, Marlins 3 Indians 1(1)

Home park factor: 1.104

Pitching: The 3 Red Sox games, and the one against the Indians are the only ones against good hitting. With 18 games against bottom-third teams, the Mariners' series will be one of the Tigers' biggest challenges.

Hitting: Those 4 Seattle games are the Tigers' only ones against top-third pitching, but they have nine against low-quality staffs.

Analysis: Even the back of the Tigers' rotation should shine in September, as should their whole lineup. 

Houston Astros

Total: 27 games (13 home) Indians 4, Mariners 4(1), Athletics 4, Angels 3(3), Reds 3(3), Rangers 3(3), Yankees 3, Twins 3(3)

Home park factor: 1.086

Pitching: Ten games against top-third lineups (Rangers, Angels, and Indians), but only 3 (Yankees) against bad lineups.

Hitting: Seven top-third pitching matchups (but none against elite pitchers); seven against bottom-third pitching (Athletics and Angels).

Analysis: Not nearly a good enough schedule to make up for the Astros players' weaknesses.

Kansas City Royals

Total: 27 games (13 home) Mariners 7(4), Tigers 6(3), Indians 6(3), White Sox 4, Rangers 3, Blue Jays 1

Home park factor: 1.046

Pitching: With 16 games against top-level offenses (including 6 against the league-best Tigers), KC pitchers will have a tough time of things.

Hitting: They'll play 13 games against top-ten pitching staffs, including 6 against those Tigers. At least one game against the Jays should be favorable.

Analysis: The Royals have terrible matchups on both sides of the ball. Drop or trade any KC players you can.

Los Angeles Angels

Total: 28 games (13 home) Rangers 7(3), Athletics 6(3), Rays 4(4), Mariners 3(3), Astros 3, Blue Jays 3, Twins 1, Brewers 1

Home park factor: 0.974

Pitching: Fourteen games against top-third offenses; only 4 against bottom-third teams.

Hitting: Seven games against top-quality pitching, but 10 games against the worst three pitching staffs.

Analysis: Angels hitters are fair game, but cut ties with any questionable Angels pitchers, even relievers.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Total: 27 games (11 home) D-Backs, 7(3), Rockies 6(3), Giants 6(3), Padres 4(1), Reds 3

Home park factor: 0.854

Pitching: Only the 6 Rockies games are against top-third lineups, but the Dodgers get to play 10 games against the bottom-third Padres and Giants.

Hitting: Only the 3 Reds games are against high-quality pitching, while the Padres and Rockies offer 10 games of bottom-third pitching.

Analysis: With an off-balance home/road split for the month, Dodger hitter should benefit from playing away from home...except that 6 of those road games are in San Francisco and San Diego. Parks aside, the Dodgers have great matchups on both sides of the ball.

Miami Marlins

Total: 28 games (13 home) Nationals 7(3), Phillies 6(3), Braves 5(4), Mets 4, Cubs 3, Tigers 3(3)

Home park factor: 1.081

Pitching: Eight games against top-quality offenses; 13 against bottom-third lineups.

Hitting: Fifteen games against top-third pitching is bad news for a bad lineup--3 games against the Cubs won't make up for that.

Analysis: Feel free to drop Marlins hitters not named Giancarlo. If you're desperate, the pitching has a pretty favorable schedule, provided you release the Fish from you net before their final series against Detroit.

Milwaukee Brewers

Total: 27 games (14 home) Cubs 7(4), Cardinals 6(3), Mets 4, Braves 3, Pirates 3(3), Reds 3(3), Angels 1(1)

Home park factor: 1.067

Pitching: The Brew Crew faces top-third offenses 7 times, but has 11 games against bottom-third clubs.

Hitting: With 15 games against top pitching staffs, and only 8 against low-quality staffs, the Brewers hitters could be in for trouble.

Analysis: The schedule is mostly balanced, but that isn't enough to recommend many players on this team.

Join us on Saturday for a very special episode of Stock Watch...in which we evaluate the schedules of the remaining fifteen teams and provide a quick summary of who to target, who to avoid, and who to drop.





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