We're halfway through September. As for this Sunday, the MLB regular season is all but over. Basically, every team knows their future in terms of whether or not they are going to make the playoffs. Some of the games are being played with marginal enthusiasm. The cure to that? A little bit of daily fantasy baseball. There are the usual 15 MLB games Sunday, 14 of which are in the afternoon. Here are a few lineup recommendations to try and give you a little more excitement before the playoffs begin.
I'm going to be honest. This is an awful day for pitching. There are a few good pitchers but no aces, and the better hurlers on the mound don't enjoy favorable matchups. Part of me just wants to throw up my hands, shrug my shoulders, and tell you you're on your own. I won't do that, though. Just know that you should curb your enthusiasm right now.
The pitcher I'm most interested in - and it's weird to type this in 2019 - is Johnny Cueto ($37). He was a great pitcher once upon a time, but last year only pitched in nine games before undergoing Tommy John surgery in August. He just made his return on Sep. 10, but did go five innings and allowed no runs and only one hit. His second start will be at home against the Marlins, who rank 29th in runs scored. It's a great way to ease Cueto back into action, and maybe help your DFS lineup out.
Ryan Yarbrough ($47) has quietly become a solid number-two starter behind Charlie Morton for the Rays. In addition to posting an 11-3 record, he has recorded a 3.51 ERA and 3.23 FIP. Yarbrough has also starred on the road with a 2.55 ERA. He's on the road against the Angels on Sunday, a team now without Shohei Ohtani and probably missing Mike Trout.
OK, let's just get to the part where I recommend the pitcher who is going against the Tigers. Asher Wojciechowski ($29) has endured an awful season, as his 5.51 ERA will show. However, the Tigers rank last in runs scored and own a .295 team OBP as their lineup is bereft of talent and power. If you just want to bet against Detroit, then obviously Wojciechowski represents a low-price option that could really pay off.
Zac Gallen ($41) has posted a 2.66 ERA and 3.04 FIP in his rookie season. Since he started his year with the Marlins, you might be thinking his numbers are being bolstered from his time in Miami and that his numbers have jumped since moving to Arizona. However, Gallen actually has maintained a 2.78 FIP with the Diamondbacks while striking out 11.37 batters per nine innings. As such, there's little reason for hesitation about the 23-year-old facing the Reds and their 22nd-place ranking in runs scored.
The Rockies and Padres are squaring off at Coors Field and - spoiler alert - I'll be coming back to this game later. But for now, I'm starting off by recommending Manny Machado ($16). Though playing his home games at Petco Park have hurt his numbers a bit, he just clinched hitting 30 homers for the fifth season in a row. In addition to where this game is being playing, Colorado's starter Chi Chi Gonzalez has struggled with a 6.56 ERA.
With the playoffs on the line, Paul Goldschmidt ($19) has started to look like the hitter we remember. Over his last 20 games, he has registered a .966 OPS and ended a home run drought with two dingers Friday. Milwaukee's Chase Anderson has really struggled away from home with a 5.77 road ERA. Additionally, he has compiled an interesting history of being better against lefties than righties despite being right-handed. In fact, Anderson has posted a .195 BAA versus southpaws, but a .292 BAA against righties like Goldschmidt.
Hunter Dozier ($18) remade himself as a hitter out of nowhere this year. Granted, the 28-year-old has probably taken advantage of the uptick in offense and home runs, but his .289/.362/.548 slash line with 26 homers can't all be because of a new baseball or whatever. I don't want to read too much into just two starts, especially because of how well Wade Miley had been pitching. However, it is funny to be able to say he has a 324.00 ERA over the last two weeks. He's allowed 12 runs while making only one out. That's remarkable, small sample size or not.
Eloy Jimenez ($19) began the season as one of the top prospects in baseball, and for a 22-year-old he put up some good numbers. While he could walk more, he's shown plenty of power with 27 homers and has heated up down the stretch with a .288/.326/.528 slash line with 10 home runs since the beginning of August. Justus Sheffield of the Mariners hasn't gotten as much playing time in the majors yet, but has disappointed in his first season getting starts with a 4.86 FIP.
Rockies vs. Cal Quantrill (Padres)
Despite playing his home games in Petco Park, Quantrill comes in with a 5.12 ERA in his rookie season. He's also allowed eight runs in each of his last three starts. Eights are good in certain card games, but not for runs given up by starting pitchers. Quantrill has also allowed a .299 BAA versus lefties, so I have a couple of southpaws included here.
Story isn't a lefty, but that's not really an issue. He's just an elite hitter, though his numbers have been boosted by Coors Field. Of course, this game is at Coors, so who cares what he does at the road? His 1.066 OPS at home is the number that really matters. And on top of his power, Story has stolen 20 bases.
Speaking of guys who know how to take advantage of Coors Field, that's basically the crux of Blackmon's success. He's produced a .391/.443/.753 slash line with 20 homers at home, which are gaudy numbers. Blackmon's also a lefty, and has recorded a .946 OPS against righties.
Murphy's numbers aren't on the same level of Story and Blackmon, but he's still got some life in his bat. Weirdly, he managed better numbers when he played with the Washington Nationals, but he's done a solid job in his first year with the Rockies. Murphy has also looked really good against lefties in 2019, but has also registered a .868 OPS against righties. At Coors, in this matchup, he's worth a shot.
Yankees vs. T.J. Zeuch (Blue Jays)
Zeuch only just made his MLB debut, so we don't know much about him. As such, his 5.40 ERA and 1.68 WHIP is based on a sample size of only eight innings. Before being called up, he had posted a 3.69 ERA in Triple-A, but wasn't considered a notable prospect. The Yankees own maybe the best lineup in baseball despite all the injuries, so it's never a bad idea to have a Bronx Bomber or two - or three - in your lineup anytime they are going up against a pitcher who isn't imposing.
Unfortunately, Judge wasn't able to stay healthy this year, but he's been his user power-hitting self when available. The 27-year-old boasts a career slugging percentage of .553, and he's hit 22 homers in only 92 games. He's also compiled a better road OPS than at home for the first time.
Torres wowed as a rookie, but a sophomore slump was nowhere to be found this year. He's increased all his numbers, slashing .286/.347/.549 with a whopping 37 homers. Even in the modern homer-happy landscape, that's impressive for a second baseman.
Lastly, there's Gregorius. Since Zeuch is a righty, I wanted to get at least one left-handed batter in here but the Yankees don't really lean on southpaws. Gregorius has experienced issues at the plate, especially when it comes to getting on base. However, the shortstop's issues have largely come at home. He boasts a .896 road OPS, which is more than acceptable. If that Gregorius comes to the plate against Zeuch in Toronto, it could bode well for you.