It’s the final day of the regular season. This could be a weird one. All 15 games are starting at roughly 3:00 p.m. EDT, save for Detroit and Kansas City which got pushed up two hours to 1 p.m. Most teams have nothing to play for, as they are either out of the playoff race or locked into their spot. Teams are setting up their rotations for the postseason. Lineups could be strange. I just want to warn you up front. One last time during the regular season, here are my picks.
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Tampa has a good offense – even with a .237 batting average – but I’m still going with Aaron Nola ($54) because, well, there aren’t many notable pitchers scheduled to start Sunday. Nola has posted a 3.06 ERA and has struck out nearly 12 batters per nine innings. On a day like today, bet on skill, and Nola is the most skilled pitcher scheduled to start at the moment.
It’s kind of surprising the Reds made the playoffs, given they are going to finish in the bottom-five in runs scored and the league’s worst batting average. Rich Hill’s ($36) strikeouts were down this year, but so were his homers allowed and he’s produced a 2.84 ERA over his last five starts.
One last time, let’s target the Pirates. Unfortunately, there isn’t a definitive starter for Cleveland at the moment. Currently, the projection is for Cal Quantrill ($37) – who mostly pitched out of the bullpen – to be on the mound to start. Across 29 innings, he’s managed a 2.17 ERA while the Pirates truly do have a terrible offense. If Quantrill goes five innings, I would bet on him getting a win.
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J.T. Realmuto ($15) has returned to try and help the Phillies make the playoffs, even if he’s been playing some first base to try and keep his bat in the lineup. He’s the rare catcher who deserves that, as he’s impressed with an .840 OPS. Realmuto has also looked better versus lefties the last two seasons, and southpaw Josh Fleming has a 4.92 FIP while allowing 1.71 homers per nine innings.
Even though the Rockies are ending the season on the road, I’m still all in on Trevor Story ($20). What really excites me is his 1.015 OPS versus lefties since 2018, and he’s one of the best base stealers in baseball. I tried to target Madison Bumgarner earlier this week, but his start got pushed. That doesn’t alter the fact he’s posted a 7.83 FIP and has allowed 3.19 homers per nine innings.
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Maikel Franco ($15) didn’t pan out based on the hopes people had for him as a prospect, but he’s a solid player and is enjoying a solid year for the Royals. He doesn’t walk, but still has a .282 average with a .464 slugging percentage. Franco has also performed better at home and against lefties in his first year with Kansas City. Rookie southpaw Tarik Skubal – who will pitch after opener Jordan Zimmermann – struggled against righties and carries a 7.88 road ERA.
A lot of Cubs endured disappointing seasons, so naturally Jason Heyward ($16) produced his best campaign in years. The lefty has naturally been worse against southpaws, but he carries a .984 OPS in 2020 versus righties. You might think Reynaldo Lopez improved this year as his ERA went from 5.38 to 4.68, but his FIP actually rose from 5.03 to 6.69.
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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Astros vs. Jordan Lyles: Alex Bregman ($16), Michael Brantley ($16), Kyle Tucker ($19)” data-reactid=”35″>Astros vs. Jordan Lyles: Alex Bregman ($16), Michael Brantley ($16), Kyle Tucker ($19)
Lyles began his MLB career with the Astros, and it didn’t go well. To be fair, his entire career hasn’t exactly gone well. The 29-year-old has posted a career 5.22 ERA and this year – his first with the Rangers – he’s at 7.08. Lyles also has an issue with giving up homers over the last few years, and the Astros can take advantage of that. It’s been a down year for Bregman – injuries played a part – but he still has produced a .354 OBP and .463 slugging percentage. Let’s not forget his 1.015 OPS from 2019. I’m also going with two lefties against the righty Lyles. Brantley has managed a .298 average – in line with his career .297 – and has a .366 OBP over the last three seasons. Tucker is seeing his first real MLB action and doesn’t walk a lot, but does boast a .517 slugging percentage with nine homers and eight steals.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Mets vs. Austin Voth: Dominic Smith ($17), Jeff McNeil ($18), Pete Alonso ($13)” data-reactid=”37″>Mets vs. Austin Voth: Dominic Smith ($17), Jeff McNeil ($18), Pete Alonso ($13)
Voth looked like a solid starter in limited action last season, but this year has not gone as planned with a 6.35 FIP in 10 starts. The problem? He’s allowed 2.42 home runs per nine innings and has given up 1.71 homers per nine over his career. Smith has been raking this year, as he’s slashed .316/.377/.616 with 10 homers. McNeil doesn’t offer quite as much power, but he’s produced a .321 career batting average and a .385 career OBP. Alonso took a big step down from his rookie campaign of 53 homers, but he’s still gone yard 14 times in 56 games.
Roark will not be part of any playoff rotation, but he can be a sacrificial lamb to let the Blue Jays line up their rotation. He comes in with a 7.13 FIP and a 7.79 ERA at home, and righties have somehow hit .384 against him this year. It’s been a season to forget for Roark, but I remembered that fact to be sure I recommended stacking Orioles. Nunez is a little banged up – I would swap Ryan Mountcastle in if he can’t play – but he hit 31 homers last year and crushed 12 this year to go along with a .487 slugging percentage. Alberto hit .305 last year and is at .288 while also hitting three homers and stealing three bases. While Roark has struggled against righties, I wanted to get one lefty in here in Stewart and his .962 OPS versus right-handed pitchers.