Some of you are on the verge of locking down a playoff victory, some looking to come from behind to grab a win while others are padding their category totals in rotisserie leagues. Regardless of the format, the Daily Notes team will be here to help your team to the end.
Sunday is a good day for both pitching and hitting streamers so those trying to make up ground, keep on grinding. Everyone listed is available in at least 50% of ESPN leagues.
Sean Manaea (L), rostered in 46% of ESPN leagues, Oakland Athletics at Texas Rangers: It has only been two starts so let's temper enthusiasm somewhat by labeling Manaea's return from the IL as 'encouraging.' That said, after rehabbing from shoulder surgery most of the summer, the lefty has started two games, throwing 12 frames, allowing just three hits and one run while fanning 15. Arlington is a tough place to pitch, but for the season the Rangers are merely an average offense when a lefty is on the hill at Globe Life Park.
Zac Gallen (R), 38%, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Cincinnati Reds: Get ready for Gallen being on multiple sleeper lists this offseason. Yeah, I know, that means he really isn't a sleeper but that's a story for another day. The 24-year-old's 2.66 ERA may be aided by Lady Luck, but a 29.4% strikeout rate supported by a 13.3% swinging strike mark is for real.
Johnny Cueto (R), 12%, San Francisco Giants vs. Miami Marlins: Here's Johnny! Similar to Manaea, it's best to hold the applause despite a solid 2019 debut where Cueto tossed five scoreless frames against the Pittsburgh Pirates, fanning four Bucs along the way. The Tommy John recoveree draws the offensively challenged Marlins for a home start in pitcher-friendly Oracle Park.
Asher Wojciechowski (R), 3%, Baltimore Orioles at Detroit Tigers: Wojciechowski has made this space frequently, though it has always been as a pitcher to target with a bat. Today, he's in play as a spot starter by virtue of facing a Tigers team averaging the fewest runs per game in the league since the All-Star break.
Justus Sheffield (L), 3%, Seattle Mariners vs. Chicago White Sox: Sheffield's long-term role is still in question as some feel he's better suited for relief duty. If his last two outings are any indication, Sheffield disagrees with that sentiment as he has allowed just one tally in those efforts, throwing 11 innings with 11 punchouts.
There was a time the Twins' ninth inning scenario was unclear. However, there is no doubt Taylor Rogers is the man and he's still available in 43% of ESPN leagues. Since August 18, the lefty has notched a save in all seven of his appearances, whiffing 10 in 7 2/3 frames. Looking ahead, the Twins play seven games at home next week, drawing the lowly Royals and White Sox.
Three clubs will deploy a bullpen game on Sunday. Firstly, Jordan Montgomery will start for the New York Yankees, but isn't expected to throw the requisite five innings to qualify for a win. The left-hander hasn't pitched since May 1, 2018 (Tommy John surgery) and was battling shoulder soreness late in his recovery. Montgomery tossed three innings in both of his last two rehab starts, but isn't likely to go much deeper today.
On the heels of a huge doubleheader sweep of the Cleveland Indians, the Minnesota Twins are giving Jose Berrios an extra day of rest and will again rely on relievers in the series finale. Randy Dobnak gets the initial nod. Also, the Texas Rangers will start 23-year old right-hander Jonathan Hernandez, though they have yet to announce who will follow him.
Catcher -- Welington Castillo (R), 3%, Chicago White Sox at Seattle Mariners (LHP Justus Sheffield): It's been a down season for Castillo as he's teetering around the .200 mark following three straight productive seasons. Castillo has nevertheless chipped in with nine homers, including four in his previous 69 plate appearances.
First Base -- Brandon Belt (L), 11%, San Francisco Giants vs. Miami Marlins (RHP Elieser Hernandez): Belt is hitting the ball hard lately, posting a .421 average (8-for-19) with four doubles and a triple in his last five games through Friday's action. Streaks can end any time, though facing Hernandez and his 5.85 ERA and 1.34 WHIP since the All-Star break gives Belt a good chance to stay hot.
Second Base -- Luis Urias (R), 4%, San Diego Padres at Colorado Rockies (RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez): A Coors game against one of the weakest arms in the league renders all Padres in play. Urias gets the nod in recognition of carrying a seven-game hitting streak into Saturday's action. In that span, Urias has batted .423 (11-for-29). Nick Martini and Ty France are other options.
Third Base -- Abraham Toro (S), 1%, Houston Astros at Kansas City Royals (RHP Jakob Junis): With Carlos Correa just beginning a rehab assignment, Toro should get regular at bats for the next week. After a slow start, he's adjusting to MLB pitching, slashing .300/.333/.500 the past seven days.
Shortstop -- Kevin Newman (R), 37%, Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs (LHP Jose Quintana): It used to be a .300 season with double digit homers and steals from a middle infielder was fantasy gold. Sure, it's still nice, but Newman being available in about two-thirds of ESPN leagues reflects both the current hitting environment and more importantly, the plethora of productive shortstops.
Corner Infield -- Harold Castro (L), 1%, Detroit Tigers vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Asher Wojciechowski): The Tigers' overall lineup may be tame, but that doesn't preclude taking advantage of an individual batter or two in a good spot. Castro logged multi-hit games in six of his previous eight contests entering Saturday's action. In the stretch, he's hitting .471 (16-for 34) with three runs and six RBI.
Middle Infield -- Isan Diaz (L), 2%, Miami Marlins at San Francisco Giants (RHP Johnny Cueto): It's not showing up in his numbers yet, but Diaz is hitting the ball harder in September. If this were the second week of any other month, he'd be the ideal buy-low candidate as this usually portends a breakout. Specifically, since he was called up August 5 through the end of the month, Diaz's average exit velocity was 89 mph. In September, it's up three ticks to 92 mph.
Outfield -- Brett Gardner (L), 37%, New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays (RHP T.J. Zeuch): Somewhat lost in the Yankees' truly amazing campaign has been Gardner's contributions. Heading into 2019, he was expected to transition into a reserve role but instead has been a lineup stalwart, even holding his own defensively in center field when called upon to man the position.
Outfield -- Randal Grichuk (R), 24%, Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees (Undecided): It appears the Yankees may resort to a bullpen game featuring a couple of southpaws, yielding the platoon edge to Grichuk. Regardless, he's in play with even splits with regards to power. Speaking of which, Grichuk is slugging a robust .564 in September.
Outfield -- Trent Grisham (L), 2%, Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals (RHP Michael Wacha): Losing Christian Yelich is obviously a huge blow to the Brewers' playoff chances. That said, Grisham is doing all he can to soften the impact. The rookie is slashing .333/.415/.528 in September, doing most of his damage with the platoon edge.