Working the schedule is always a major part of roto success, and it might even be more important down the stretch. Let's examine the period from Monday-Sunday (that's 9/3 to 9/9) and underscore some important things for Week 22.
• You always want to know what extreme parks are in play. The Rockies, sadly, are on the road for all seven of their games (four in Atlanta, three in Philly), and the same goes for Texas (four in KC, three in Tampa). We'll miss you, Colorado and Arlington. The Rangers have six home games the following week.
On the cushy side, Seattle has six home games, three with Boston and three with Oakland (home-friendly Jason Vargas becomes a two-start streamer). The A's get six games of pitcher-friendly goodness, as they also host the Angels for three (does Travis Blackley interest you in a deeper league?). The Padres are in LA for three games, then host the Diamondbacks on the weekend (this puts Andrew Werner in the deep-league discussion). Good pitching work if you can get it.
• A seven-game week is a big thing in the world of weekly moves. Here are the clubs going the distance: Washington (hosting the Cubs and Marlins, good draw), the Yankees (at Tampa, at Baltimore), Milwaukee (at Miami, at St. Louis), Miami, Kansas City, the Cubs (all on the road), Baltimore, Atlanta and the earlier-mentioned Rockies and Rangers. The other 20 clubs are set for six games.
• The handedness of opponents can be a good tie-breaker, especially when there's an extreme bias on the way for the next week. The Brewers and Cardinals won't face a lefty starter next week, at least how things stand on paper. Meanwhile, the Yankees, Dodgers, Padres, Pirates and Mariners will see four lefties.
• Picking on a weak opponent is always a preferred roto assignment, and any team (or pitcher) looks pretty good against the Astros. Here are the current probables against Houston this week: Jeff Locke, Wandy Rodriguez, Kevin Correia (probable), Homer Bailey, Bronson Arroyo and Johnny Cueto. Make your streaming plans in advance.
• It's hard to be excited about the Cubs for anything in 2012, but they might be in line for some stolen bases this week. Chicago draws Washington and Pittsburgh for Week 22, the two biggest base-running gifts in the game right now. The Nats have only thrown out 3-for-48 base stealers in the second half, a shade in front of the Bucs (5-for-50). Other clubs having trouble shutting down the running game: Minnesota (but your hair looks really great), Cleveland, Texas, San Diego, Houston and the White Sox.
In other roto happenings:
• Ronald Belisario and Brandon League continue to pile up outs in the Los Angeles bullpen, making things tricky for fantasy owners. Belisario picked up a five-out save on Wednesday and backed it up with two scoreless innings Friday, though he worked around three base runners in that appearance. League has been even sharper, recording a save Saturday and stringing together seven straight scoreless appearances (7 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 10 K). It looks like Don Mattingly is making good on his statement that both pitchers will see late-inning work and save chances. Belisario likely needed a day off after Friday's two innings, and League might be in line for a rest after working three straight games, so it remains a fluid situation — and both pitchers might actually hold fantasy value, depending on your format.
• Bud Black says the Padres will go to a six-man rotation for the final month, with Andrew Cashner joining the mix at some point in the coming week. Cashner has a big arm and a lofty upside for future seasons, but he's also coming off a lat injury and hasn't pitched since early July. I'm not going to expect a deep outing from his first appearance.
The Yahoo! Fantasy Minute, featuring Brandon Funston
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