Loading scores...
The Week Ahead

Week Ahead: It's Crunch Time

by Seth Trachtman
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Some are playing for this year, some are playing for 2019, and some are doing both.


That’s true in real-life MLB as well as fantasy baseball. Jameson Taillon is awfully attractive in any scenario.


The Pirates starter is finishing out his season in style, capping off a breakout year as the ace of the Pittsburgh staff. He reached 30 starts for the first time and hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in a start since May. He’s been particularly outstanding since the All-Star break, with a 2.25 ERA and 64/13 K/BB in 72 innings.


Durability has long been an issue for Taillon, with everything from Tommy John surgery in the minors to cancer last year. The 30 start benchmark is very significant for a pitcher who has needed to overcome so much, and the outstanding second half gives Taillon something to build on for 2019.


Averaging 95 mph on his fastball for the second straight year, Taillon’s stuff plays the part of an ace, and his ERA metrics support this year’s success (3.42 FIP, 3.56 xFIP, 3.75 SIERA). While the Pirates acquired former ace Chris Archer at the trade deadline and Trevor Williams has also been excellent during the second half, Taillon is looking like the team’s best pitcher heading into the offseason.


-It’s cliche to say that you shouldn’t overreact regarding early-season numbers. Mike Leake has been the living example this year. The right-hander finished April with a 6.48 ERA and was dropped in many mixed leagues at the time. While he still leads the AL in hits allowed, Leake has posted a sub-4.00 ERA since April and now has his usual numbers with a 4.10 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and 1.7 BB/9. He finishes out the year with a two-start week against a couple AL West opponents.


-This year has been quite a comeback for Derek Holland. The lefty has struggled to stay healthy in recent seasons but will finish 2018 with 30 starts and a sub-4.00 ERA for the first time since 2013. The lefty doesn’t have nearly the velocity that he did in his best seasons with Texas, as his fastball is down a full two mph, but the move to the NL has been kind to him. Holland will likely finish the year with more than one strikeout per inning for the first time in his career and has also solved his long ball issues in San Francisco. There should still be some skepticism going into 2019 given the continued lack of velocity, but Holland has a great shot to finish out his year on a high note vs. San Diego and LA.


-Sandy Alcantara was the centerpiece of Miami’s return for Marcell Ozuna from the Cardinals, and is finishing the year in the rotation after a minor shoulder issue. He has elite velocity with a fastball that has averaged 95 mph in four starts with the Marlins this season. He had a relative rebound at Triple-A this year after struggling at Double-A last season. Alcantara posted a 3.89 ERA in 19 starts at Triple-A New Orleans, but has continued to struggle with his control at times. Those struggles were on full display in his last start vs. Washington, when he walked six batters in only four innings. If you’re desperate for wins over the last week, Alcantara is a viable option at Washington and the Mets, but the lack of control still makes him a risky proposition over the last week and into next season.


-Good luck going into the final week of the season, and thank you for reading, whether this is the 25th Week Ahead you’ve read this season or the first one.



Going Twice…


Note: Probable pitchers as of Friday, September 21, and are subject to change.


American League


Strong Plays


Corey Kluber: @CHW, @KC

James Paxton: OAK, TEX

Luis Severino: @TB, @BOS

Masahiro Tanaka: @TB, @BOS


Decent Plays


Trevor Bauer: @CHW, @KC

Framber Valdez: @TOR, @BAL

Dallas Keuchel: @TOR, @BAL

Mike Leake: OAK, TEX

Felix Pena: TEX, OAK

Ryan Yarbrough: NYY, TOR


At Your Own Risk


Dylan Bundy: @BOS, HOU

James Shields: CLE, @MIN

Dylan Covey: CLE, @MIN

Jalen Beeks: NYY, TOR

Kohl Stewart: DET, CHW

Yohander Mendez: @LAA, @SEA

Spencer Turnbull: @MIN, @MIL

Yovani Gallardo: @LAA, @SEA

Jimmy Yacabonis: @BOS, HOU




National League


Strong Plays


Clayton Kershaw: @ARI, @SF

Robbie Ray: LAD, @SD

Noah Syndergaard: ATL, MIA

Jameson Taillon: @CHC, @CIN

Max Scherzer: MIA, @COL


Decent Plays


Derek Holland: SD, LAD

Stephen Strasburg: MIA, @COL

Mike Montgomery: PIT, STL

Chris Archer: @CHC, @CIN

Austin Gomber: MIL, @CHC

Cole Hamels: PIT, STL

Chase Anderson: @STL, DET

Zach Eflin: @COL, ATL

Sandy Alcantara: @WAS, @NYM

Bryan Mitchell: @SF, ARI


At Your Own Risk


Vince Velasquez: @COL, ATL

Jon Gray: PHI, WAS

Tyler Anderson: PHI, WAS



Streamer City


The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:


American League


Wednesday, September 26: Jake Odorizzi vs. DET

Odorizzi has made two consecutive quality starts and finishes off his season against a weak Tigers lineup that is now dead last in OPS vs. right-handers.


Saturday, September 29: Framber Valdez @ BAL

Valdez got back on track after his first mediocre start of the year and faces an O’s lineup that has a .699 OPS vs. right-handers, sixth worst in MLB.


Sunday, September 30: Brett Anderson @ LAA

Anderson is scheduled to finish out his year against the Angels. They have the sixth worst OPS in baseball vs. lefties, and Anderson recently shut them out over 6.2 innings.



National League


Wednesday, September 26: Touki Toussaint @ NYM

The inconsistent Toussaint found his footing in his last start against the Cardinals and now faces a Mets lineup that ranks in the bottom 10 in OPS against right-handers.


Wednesday, September 26: Cody Reed vs. KC

Reed gets the good fortune of facing the Royals lineup. After throwing six scoreless innings at Miami, he faces the only team that has been worse against lefties.


Friday, September 28: Zach Davies vs. DET

Davies has had a season he’d like to forget, but ends his year against a terrible Tigers team. Since returning from the minors, Davies has also allowed two runs or less in three consecutive starts.



Total Games


American League





National League


5: CIN





The Infirmary


Here’s some injuries to prominent players from the last week, and other players to watch for in the coming week. You can get a full listing of injured players at Rotoworld's Injury Page.


Jose Abreu: Status uncertain (thigh)

Brandon Belt: Likely out for the year (knee)

Ryan Braun: Day-to-back (back)

Lorenzo Cain: Day-to-day (ribs)

Jeimer Candelario: Day-to-day (back)

Andrew Cashner: Status uncertain (knee)

Chris Davis: Day-to-day (neck)

David Fletcher: Likely out for the season (hamstring)

Wilmer Flores: Out for the year (knee)

Joey Gallo: Day-to-day (toe)

Jeremy Hellickson: Out for the year (wrist)

Tyler Mahle: Will miss start (shoulder)

Brandon Morrow: Out for the season (elbow)

Bud Norris: Day-to-day (blister)

Eduardo Nunez: Day-to-day (hamstring)

Eddie Rosario: Status uncertain (quad)

Kyle Schwarber: Status uncertain (back)

Trevor Story: Day-to-day (elbow)