Brad Evans is launching a new brand of cologne Saturday and is unavailable for Weekly Rundown duty, so yours truly steps in. My path will be a little different, but the aim is the same - we want you to crush everything in your path during Week 24. Lace up the cleats, put on the eye black and let's get to it.
September is baseball's silly season. MLB clubs go into experiment mode and add players en masse to the roster. Player shut-downs get announced on a daily basis. Postponed games between also-rans don't always get made up. And of course 72 percent of the fantasy crowd leaves the room, captivated by the machine that is the NFL.
I'm glad you're still with us, though. You're either in the hunt for end-of-year glory or too competitive to settle for your current standing, and I like that. I'm wired the same way. Let's run by some people on the final lap.
Here's what you need to know about Week 24, starting Monday:
It's a very unbalanced schedule, that's the big story off the top. The Blue Jays and Indians get eight games to work with, while the Mets and Nationals play just five. The bigger names from the Mets and Nationals still have to be used in most formats, I suppose, but the game count becomes very important with lesser options. Say yes to Joe Inglett and Shin-Soo Choo, and think twice about Willie Harris and the Mets bullpen. (Maybe a harder sell on Choo is appropriate; look at his zesty numbers over the last month or so.)
Teams With Eight Games Next Week (Sept. 8-14):
Blue Jays (at Chicago 4, at Boston 4)
Indians (at Baltimore 4, Kansas City 4).
It's not always clear which players will get double-dip treatment when a doubleheader comes, but nonetheless it's hard to ignore the siren's call of an eight-game week.
Teams With Seven Games (AL clubs listed first):
Angels (New York 3, Seattle 4)
Athletics (at Detroit 3, Texas 4)
Orioles (Cleveland 4, Minnesota 3)
Red Sox (Tampa Bay 3, Toronto 4, good week to be Hub-invested)
Royals (at Minnesota 3, at Cleveland 4)
White Sox (Toronto 4, Detroit 3)
Astros (Pittsburgh 4, Chicago 3)
Brewers (Cincinnati 3, at Philadelphia 4, bat-friendly)
Giants (Arizona 3, at San Diego 4, pitcher-friendly all the way)
Padres (Los Angeles 3, San Francisco 4, another pitcher's delight)
Phillies (Florida 3, Milwaukee 4, all in a bandbox)
Pirates (at Houston 4, St. Louis 3)
Teams With Six Games:
Mariners (Texas 2, at Los Angeles 4)
Rangers (at Seattle 2, at Oakland 4)
Rays (at Boston 3, at New York 3)
Tigers (Oakland 3, at Chicago 3)
Twins (Kansas City 3, at Baltimore 3)
Yankees (at Los Angeles 3, Tampa Bay 3)
Braves (Colorado 3, at New York 3)
Cardinals (Chicago 3, at Pittsburgh 3)
Cubs (at St. Louis 3, at Houston 3)
Diamondbacks (at San Francisco 3, Cincinnati 3)
Dodgers (at San Diego 3, at Colorado 3, interesting contrast)
Marlins (at Philadelphia 3, Washington 3)
Reds (at Milwaukee 3, at Arizona 3)
Rockies (at Atlanta 3, Los Angeles 3)
Teams With Five Games:
Mets (Washington 2, Atlanta 3)
Nationals (at New York 2, at Florida 3)
Now let's get to the double dippers on the mound, with one caveat. The second start in any week is something you write in pencil; you never know when weather, injury, or a manager's whim could change things. Stay alert.
AL Two-Start Pitchers
A.J. Burnett (at Chi, at Bos): AL's top strikeout guy in second half, and don't sweat Fenway, he's done well there.
Felix Hernandez (Tex, LA): Useful in six of last seven turns.
Javier Vazquez (Tor, Det): He's pitched better in second half than surface stats indicate.
Jon Lester (TB, Tor): Does his best work at Fenway (8-1, 2.87).
Jered Weaver (NY, Sea): Makes return after finger injury from "dugout mishap."
Nick Blackburn (KC, at Bal): Orioles haven't seen him yet, which helps.
Fausto Carmona (at Bal, KC): Results inching forward but command hasn't really returned yet.
Edwin Jackson (at NY, at Bos): The AL East, tough place to make your living.
Dana Eveland (at Det, Tex): Two tough assignments in an up-and-down year.
Jesse Litsch (at Chi, at Bos): Pitching-to-contact a risky game in those parks.
Jeremy Guthrie (Cle, Min): Back into prove-it mode after dead arm period.
Jon Garland (NY, Sea): No strikeout support, at the mercy of where those ground-balls shoot to.
Dustin Nippert (at Sea, at Oak): Off two good turns and he does work in friendly locales.
Zach Miner (Oak, at Chi): Peripherals don't support the ERA, be careful here.
Brian Bannister (at Min, at Cle): He'll be on my deep sleeper list next year.
Gio Gonzalez (at Det, Tex): Still learning to crawl.
Jeremy Sowers (at Bal, KC): Stream your hitters against him.
Carl Pavano (at LA, TB): Not anywhere near my circle of trust yet.
NL Two-Start Pitchers
Ryan Dempster (at Stl, at Hou): Funky second half, ERA dip despite rising WHIP.
Edinson Volquez (at Mil, at Ari): Tricky slate and it's been a trick-or-treat second half.
Oliver Perez (Was, Atl): Wildness has returned but that's a good draw.
Aaron Cook (at Atl, LA): Mechanics have collapsed in second half.
Joe Blanton (Fla, Mil): He's been solid in Philly but don't get cocky.
Jeff Suppan (Cin, at Phi): He's been useful of late, but I never trust long-term here.
Greg Maddux (at SD, at Col): Too risky for the thin air these days.
Anibal Sanchez (at Phi, Was): He's been knocked around in three straight (21 hits, 14 runs).
Dave Bush (Cin, at Phi): Lately he's been ERA-fortunate, reserving a career trend to the contrary.
Barry Zito (Ari, at SD): This ain't no party, this ain't no disco, this ain't no fooling around.
Doug Davis (at SF, Cin): Best hope seems to be 6 IP, 3 ER.
Kyle Kendrick (Fla, Mil): Gets the most he can out of modest stuff.
Jorge Campillo (Col, at NY): Running out of steam, and I don't trust his offense.
Ian Snell (at Hou, Stl): Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.
Cha Seung Baek (LA, SF): Not even the park can't save him.
Vera, Pick Up!
Guys to consider adding, if they're out there to grab:
Good luck with those weekly decisions, friends; point straight, click true. Need some help in daily leagues? Closing Time has you covered.