Pitching Primer: Week 25

Fri Sep 16 2:15pm ET
Contributing Writer

The end is near. Less than three weeks are left during the regular season, and we already saw our first team clinch the division with the Dodgers wrapping up the NL West. It’s crunch time in fantasy baseball, with every start coming under the microscope. As we turn our attention towards Week 25, let’s highlight five projected two-starts pitchers, and what to expect based on their respective matchups.

Luis Castillo, Seattle Mariners: at OAK, at KC

Castillo mowed down the Padres in his last outing, racking up nine strikeouts over six scoreless innings. He’s having the best season of his career, posting a 2.68 ERA and a 2.99 FIP over 22 starts. His strikeout rate has also bounced back up to 27.4 percent, compared to his disappointing 23.9 percent mark last season.

As far as matchups go, it doesn’t get much better than what Castillo is set to face. The Athletics have scored the second-fewest runs in baseball, and the Royals haven’t been much better by scoring the seventh-fewest runs. You’re starting Castillo regardless of his matchups, but this week in particular, he has the potential to dominate for his fantasy managers.

Kyle Wright, Atlanta Braves: vs. WAS, at PHI

With pitchers throwing fewer innings and teams turning more often to their bullpen, we don’t see many 20-game winners anymore. Wright has a chance to achieve that feat this season, entering Week 25 with 18 victories already. The Braves’ loaded lineup has certainly aided his cause, and he’s pitched well with a 3.18 ERA and 3.67 FIP.

These are two teams that Wright is familiar with. In two starts against the Phillies this season, he’s allowed four runs over 13 2/3 innings. In his two matchups with the Nationals, he allowed five runs across 14 innings. With his offense giving him plenty of support, Wright has a favorable opportunity to come away with another win, or two, this week.

Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals: at SD, at LAD

The veteran Wainwright continues to be a valuable member of the Cardinals’ starting rotation. Through his 29 starts, he has a 3.29 ERA and a 3.49 FIP. Although strikeouts aren’t hit forte, he’s been successful by allowing only 0.7 HR/9.

If there is a concern with Wainwright, it’s that he hasn’t been as successful on the road. While he has a 2.61 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP at home, he has a 4.31 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP on the road. Both of these games not only come on the road, but they are against two dangerous lineups, especially the Dodgers. Add in his lack of strikeout upside and starting Wainwright this week might not be worth the potential limited reward.

Sonny Gray, Minnesota Twins: at CLE, vs. LAA

Gray was as good as it gets in his last start, posting eight strikeouts over seven scoreless innings against the Royals. It actually marked just the third time all season that he threw at least seven innings in a start. He’s proven to be a huge addition for the Twins, posting a 2.91 ERA and a 3.29 FIP. For fantasy purposes, though, his 24.3 percent strikeout rate is a disappointment. Over his last three seasons with the Reds, he never finished with a strikeout rate below 27.0 percent.

In terms of strikeout potential for his two-start week, Gray is looking at both ends of the spectrum. The Guardians have struck out the fewest times in baseball, while the Angels have struck out the most times. Neither lineup is overly productive, considering they both rank inside the bottom-10 in baseball in OPS. Facing the duo of Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout is daunting, but you still want to be sure to lock Gray into your starting lineups.

Adrian Sampson, Chicago Cubs: at MIA, at PIT

Sampson is making a case to be a regular member of the Cubs starting rotation next season. Of his 17 appearances this season, 15 of them have been starts. The end result has been him posting a 3.48 ERA and a 3.84 FIP. The problem is, his meager 16.9 percent strikeout rate makes him more of a streaming option in fantasy.

As good as Castillo’s two matchups are this week, Sampson’s might be even better. The Marlins and Pirates have scored the third-fewest and fourth-fewest runs in baseball, respectively. When he previously faced the Marlins, he allowed three runs over six innings. In a prior matchup with the Pirates, he allowed two runs across seven innings. If you need a streamer this week, Sampson might be your man.

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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