When it comes to playing the matchups, I'm used to taking it week by week. Probable pitchers are constantly changing, so predicting any further out than that is a fool's errand.
But if you play in a Head-to-Head league, the playoffs are nigh, if not already here. It's about this time every year that people begin asking who they should stash away for the stretch run. So I'll play along, sizing up every team's remaining schedule and speculating which players could benefit most from it.
Understand, though, that speculation is all it is. Again, it's no use trying sort out which exact pitchers will start on which days, so for more confident recommendations, I advise you to check out my weekly pitcher and hitter sleepers, which will be released every Friday as usual. But if you're looking to get a jump on your competition, stashing away all the potential reinforcements ahead of time, then a little speculation may be just what you need.
What I've done here is count up which teams have the most remaining series against "bad" pitching staffs and which have the most remaining series against "bad" lineups. How do I classify such things? Mostly by runs, whether prevented or scored, but I do make my own judgments based on changes in personnel. For instance, the Mets certainly have a bad pitching staff now even if they haven't for most of the season.
The starting point for this exercise is next scoring period, the one that begins Monday, Aug. 28. From that point forward -- five scoring periods in all -- each team will play 10 series. The ones with the most series against "bad" pitching staffs and the ones with most series against "bad" lineups are listed below, along with some players who you may want to pick up in light of this information. For the most part, I've limited myself to those rostered in less than 80 percent of CBS Sports leagues, but I have highlighted a couple who are rostered in more.
You of course won't be able to add them all, and I want to stress that these recommended pickups are in no way meant to replace the studs who got you where you are. In fact, in a perfect world, you won't have to use any of them and can simply add them just so your competition won't use them against you.
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Remaining series against 'bad' pitching staffs:
- Chicago Cubs: 6
- Chicago White Sox: 6
- Detroit Tigers: 6
- Minnesota Twins: 6
- Atlanta Braves: 5
- Baltimore Orioles: 5
- Cincinnati Reds: 5
- New York Yankees: 5
- Philadelphia Phillies: 5
- San Diego Padres: 5
- Seattle Mariners: 5
ATL Atlanta • #20 • Age: 33
I wouldn't think the matchups would serve as any more incentive to hold onto Ozuna given that he's been a stud since the start of May, but his roster rate was only 67% as of a week ago.
DET Detroit • #20 • Age: 24
The only first basemen who've been better since mid-June, going by points scoring, are Matt Olson, Freddie Freeman, Christian Walker and Cody Bellinger. The remaining matchups will hopefully ensure that Torkelson continues to thrive.
DET Detroit • #30 • Age: 26
The production has gone from good to great since the Tigers made Carpenter a true everyday player, and with two remaining series against the White Sox and one each against the Angels, Athletics and Royals, even more good times are likely ahead.
Nolan Jones LF
COL Colorado • #22 • Age: 25
The Rockies are facing some good pitching staffs over the final five weeks, but six of their 10 series are at home at Coors Field, where a heavy hitter like Jones can do some serious damage.
Royce Lewis 3B
MIN Minnesota • #23 • Age: 24
Even knowing the matchups are favorable, much of the Twins lineup is difficult to recommend because the lefty/righty distribution is unclear this far out. It doesn't matter for Lewis, who figures to be their starting third baseman either way.
Seiya Suzuki RF
CHC Chi. Cubs • #27 • Age: 29
Suzuki has long underperformed his exit velocities but is showing signs of coming around in August and has the benefit of facing the Rockies twice (including once at Coors Field) down the stretch.
CIN Cincinnati • #33 • Age: 24
The second-half call-up has mostly just held his own so far, but we've seen glimpses of the power stroke that delivered so much damage in the minors. Particularly from the second week of September on, the matchups could set Encarnacion-Strand ablaze.
TJ Friedl CF
CIN Cincinnati • #29 • Age: 28
Though his second half has begun with a whimper, Friedl continues to bat leadoff most days, which means he'll be bolstered by the dangerous lineup batting behind him.
COL Colorado • #19 • Age: 37
Blackmon is a forgotten man after losing two months to a fractured hand, and while you might presume he has nothing left at age 37, his numbers at home, where the Rockies will spend six of their final 10 series, are still impressive.
Matt Wallner LF
MIN Minnesota • #38 • Age: 25
Again, it's hard to say what exactly the lefty/righty distribution will be for the Twins' favorable matchups down the stretch, but Wallner tends to start against lefties more than, say, Edouard Julien or Max Kepler and has the most power of the three.
Remaining series against 'bad' lineups:
- Detroit Tigers: 7
- Chicago Cubs: 6
- Kansas City Royals: 6
- Chicago White Sox: 5
- Cincinnati Reds: 5
- Cleveland Guardians: 5
- Los Angeles Angels: 5
- Los Angeles Dodgers: 5
- Minnesota Twins: 5
- New York Yankees: 5
- San Diego Padres: 5
- Toronto Blue Jays: 5
Cole Ragans SP
KC Kansas City • #55 • Age: 25
With a new slider that seems to have helped his entire arsenal play up, Ragans was shaping up to be the breakout pitcher of the second half with or without the Royals' favorable pitching schedule.
CLE Cleveland • #63 • Age: 24
Williams has been throwing with more conviction in recent starts, seeing his strikeouts spike as a result, but there's a chance the Guardians will shut him down if they slip too far behind the Twins. He's already reached a career high in innings.
Seth Lugo SP
SD San Diego • #67 • Age: 34
Lugo had already emerged as a quality matchups play in recent weeks, his low walk rate and high ground-ball rate serving to limit damage, and it turns out he'll have more favorable matchups than not down the stretch.
LAA L.A. Angels • #63 • Age: 23
Silseth has enjoyed some big strikeout games recently thanks to an improved slider, but he tends to get pulled early from starts and likely won't line up for two in a given week because of the Angels' six-man rotation.
Tarik Skubal SP
DET Detroit • #29 • Age: 27
Skubal has looked dominant at times with his improved fastball velocity since rejoining the Tigers rotation in early July, and the remaining schedule suggests that even better days are ahead. It's worth noting, though, that his latest start was his first of six innings.
CIN Cincinnati • #51 • Age: 25
Ashcraft's recent run of success is looking more sustainable now that he's beginning to mix in some strikeouts, and it certainly helps that the majority of the Reds' September is against weak Central opponents, both in the NL and AL.
PHI Philadelphia • #61 • Age: 26
You may be inclined to dismiss Sanchez given his lack of swing-and-miss stuff, but the favorable schedule makes it more plausible he remains a quality start machine with his elite strike-throwing and ground-ball skills.
Ryan Pepiot RP
LAD L.A. Dodgers • #47 • Age: 26
This one is a bit speculative seeing as the Dodgers sent Pepiot back to the minors after his bulk relief appearance in a doubleheader Tuesday, but the rookie has big strikeout potential and should get a chance to fill Tony Gonsolin's void soon enough.
CLE Cleveland • #41 • Age: 25
It's been difficult to pin down Allen from one start to the next, but the rookie has at least proven capable of taking advantage of favorable matchups, which should be in ample supply down the stretch.
CHC Chi. Cubs • #28 • Age: 34
Hendricks' soft-tossing ways will have you holding your breath with every start, but he has a long history of limiting damage and could be a quality start machine down the stretch, judging by the Cubs' schedule.