Fri Sep 22 4:26pm ET
By MIKE BARNER
Week 27 brings the final week of the regular season. That makes two-start pitching options a little tricky. With some teams having nothing left to play for, they could alter their rotations as the week moves along. As things currently stand, here are five pitchers who are projected to take the mounds twice each.
Kenta Maeda, Minnesota Twins: vs. OAK, at COL
Maeda dominated the Reds in his last start, allowing just two base runners and recording eight strikeouts over five scoreless innings. His 4.28 ERA for the season doesn’t look great, but most of the damage done against him came in one bad start early in the season when he gave up 10 runs over three innings against the Yankees. Since then, he has given up three or fewer runs in 15 of 16 starts.
Maeda’s first start of the week is a great one against the Athletics, who have the worst OPS in baseball and have struck out the seventh-most times. His second one against the Rockies at Coors Field is not ideal. However, that would be on the final day of the regular season, so the Rockies’ lineup could include a lot of young hitters. The Twins could also bypass Maeda to rest him for the playoffs. Either way, the start against the Athletics alone makes Maeda worth deploying in fantasy.
Braxton Garrett, Miami Marlins: at NYM, at PIT
Garrett has been a reliable member of the Marlins’ starting rotation, compiling a 3.53 ERA that is supported by a 3.52 FIP. While he doesn’t miss a ton of bats, his 24.0 percent strikeout rate isn’t a killer in fantasy. He also has a 4.2 percent walk rate that has helped him produce a 1.14 WHIP.
The Marlins are battling for a Wild Card spot in the National League, so they should deploy their players as normal during the final week. Braxton just faced the Mets in his last outing, holding them to an unearned run across six innings. The Pirates have scored the eighth-fewest runs in baseball, setting up Garrett with another favorable start that makes him a great option in most leagues.
Jon Gray, Texas Rangers: at LAA, at SEA
Gray was excellent to begin the season, posting a 2.32 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP over his first 12 starts. However, everything started to unravel after that. Over 16 starts since, he has a 6.03 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP. He has been especially poor as the postseason approaches, logging fewer than four innings in each of his last three starts. That’s even more of a concern when factoring in two of his opponents were the Athletics and Guardians. They have scored the fewest and fourth-fewest runs in baseball, respectively.
The Rangers are still battling to make the playoffs, so Gray’s struggles couldn’t have come at a worse time. The Angels are out of it and their lineup is a shell of what it looked like at the beginning of the season. The Mariners are competing with the Rangers for a playoff spot, so their lineup should remain at full strength. With a potential fantasy baseball title on the line, don’t take a chance on Gray turning things around.
Michael King, New York Yankees: at TOR, at KC
King began the season in the bullpen for the Yankees, a role that he had come to thrive in. However, injuries left plenty of holes within their starting rotation. King was a starter in the minors and jumped at the opportunity to start again in the majors. To say the move has worked out well would be an understatement. Over his last four outings, he has a 1.66 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and has recorded 34 strikeouts over 21 2/3 innings.
It has been a disappointing season for the Yankees in which they have been out of the playoff hunt for a while. That has resulted in them turning to their young players for added playing time down the stretch. With King likely to make these two scheduled starts, he could provide a significant windfall for fantasy managers. He just faced the Blue Jays in his last outing, recording 13 strikeouts and allowing one run over seven innings. The Royals have been playing out the string for a while and have the sixth-worst OPS in baseball.
Reese Olson, Detroit Tigers: vs. KC, vs. CLE
If there is one good thing that came out of yet another losing season for the Tigers, it’s that they have some promising young starting pitchers. Given his first opportunity in the majors, Olson has posted a 4.13 ERA and a 4.14 FIP over 98 innings. He has really come into his own as the season comes to a close, posting a 1.50 ERA and a 0.80 WHIP over his last five outings. During that span, he struck out 28 batters over 30 innings.
Expect Olson to make both of these starts against two other teams that won’t be in the playoffs. As previously mentioned, both the Royals and Guardians also have among the worst lineups in baseball. Olson could be an unlikely hero for some fantasy managers pursuing a championship.
Mike Barner has been covering fantasy sports since 2007. His work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Yahoo, SportsLine and RotoWire. Mike was also a finalist for the 2018 FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year award. Follow Mike on Twitter @rotomikebarner.
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