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The Week Ahead

Week Ahead: Hand Ober the Baton

by Seth Trachtman
Updated On: September 25, 2022, 1:00 am ET

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Injuries happen, and the result in the baseball world is often a lost season. Twins starting pitcher Bailey Ober would certainly like to forget about 2022.

The tall right-hander entered this season with lofty expectations after a breakout rookie campaign in which he showed elite control, resulting in a 4.19 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 92.1 innings over 20 starts. It appeared he would be able to capitalize on his rookie success with a 2.75 ERA in April, but then a groin injury severely disrupted his season.

Ober missed much of May with the injury, and it got much worse after three more starts and sidelined him for more than three months. To Ober's credit, he was able to return on September 16, and is hoping to end his season on a high note.

For all the frustration Ober and his fantasy managers have experienced with the groin injury this season, the limited sample size of performance shows progress over last season. Ober has been effective in two starts since returning, and has matched the elite sub-2.0 BB/9 that he showed last season.

The Twins have major pitching depth heading into the offseason, but Ober has done more than enough to convince them he should be part of their starting rotation plans heading into 2022 with a 3.71 ERA over 43.2 innings and ERA metrics that support that success. It's too late for the Twins this season, but Ober has a great opportunity to create even more momentum heading into next season with a pair of favorable division matchups remaining.

-This time of year is also a great showcase for young players. Joey Wentz has been very effective for the Tigers in five starts after making great strides with his control at Triple-A this season. The left-hander looked like more of a bullpen arm prior to 2022 with a BB/9 above 5.0 last year, but he's turned a corner late in the year and has a 2.3 BB/9 and sub-1.00 WHIP through five starts with the Tigers. Now that the team has hired new front office management, anything is possible this offseason, but Wentz has an opportunity to nearly solidify his role in next year's starting rotation if he can finish on a high note in a two-star week against the Royals and Twins.

-It hasn't been smooth sailing for Dustin May in his return from Tommy John surgery. The right-hander has a 4.50 ERA in six starts, struggling with his control (4.2 BB/9) and pitching beyond the fifth inning only once. There's always some caution we should exercise with pitchers rebounding from serious arm surgery at different rates, as control is usually being the last thing to rebound. May's elite velocity and great groundball rate have been on full display, and he will likely remain a major part of the Dodgers roster during the playoffs as a bullpen arm. He also caps off his regular season with a relatively easy two-start week, concluding with a home start against the Rockies that could put him in a good place entering the playoffs.

-As usual, the Going Twice two-start pitcher section is below, though we should look the upcoming starting pitcher slate differently outside of head-to-head leagues. The final week of the regular season is only three days (October 3-5), so many starting pitchers with a single start later next week still have two starts remaining. As you plan pickups for the final stretch, it's worth keeping in mind that pitchers starting next Wednesday-Friday could have just as much two-start value as those listed below.

 

Going Twice…

Note: Probable pitchers as of Friday, September 23, and are subject to change.

American League

Strong Plays

Triston McKenzie: TB, KC

Robbie Ray: TEX, OAK

Kevin Gausman: NYY, BOS

Michael Wacha: BAL, @TOR

Lance Lynn: @MIN, @SD

Luis Severino: @TOR, BAL

 

Decent Plays

Corey Kluber: @CLE, @HOU

Joey Wentz: KC, MIN

Bailey Ober: CHW, @DET

 

At Your Own Risk

Dane Dunning: @SEA, @LAA

Jordan Lyles: @BOS, @NYY

James Kaprielian: @LAA, @SEA

Daniel Lynch: @DET, @CLE

Kyle Bradish: @BOS, @NYY

 

National League

Strong Plays

Logan Webb: COL, ARI

Max Fried: @WAS, NYM

Zack Wheeler: @CHC, @WAS

 

Decent Plays

Blake Snell: LAD, CHW

Pablo Lopez: @NYM, @MIL

Roansy Contreras: CIN, @STL

Dustin May: @SD, COL

 

At Your Own Risk

Germán Márquez: @SF, @LAD

Adrian Houser: STL, MIA

Luis Cessa: @PIT, @CHC

Cory Abbott: ATL, PHI

 

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 28: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. KC

E-Rod is concluding a relatively lost year, his first in Detroit, after missing a significant chunk of the season. He's been inconsistent since returning in August, but the Royals represent a favorable matchup and a team he's yet to face this season.

 

Thursday, September 29: Dylan Bundy @ DET

Bundy has as quick a hook as any pitcher in baseball, as it's been three months since he pitched a full six innings. That said, he's shown strong control and faces the worst lineup in the league vs. right-handers, as the Tigers have a .600 OPS.

 

Thursday, September 29: Michael Lorenzen vs. OAK

The long ball has been a problem, but Lorenzen has looked relatively strong since returning from the IL on September 9 with seven runs allowed in 15.2 innings. He gets his second very favorable matchup in a row, facing a weak Oakland lineup with a .625 OPS vs. right-handers.

 

National League

Friday, September 29: Graham Ashcraft @ CHC

It's a relief to see Ashcraft back from arm issues late in the year. The fireballing right-hander might have his pitch count limited, but is still a nice play against the weak Cubs lineup with his ability to keep the ball in the park.

 

Friday, September 29: Bailey Falter @ WAS

Falter continues to be a relative savior for the Phils at the backend of the rotation, with a 2.98 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in the second half of the season as a regular member of the rotation. Washington's lineup continues to plummet without Juan Soto, sporting a .682 OPS vs. lefties.

 

Sunday, October 2: Zach Davies @ SF

With one exception of a brutal outing at Coors Field on September 9, Davies has been very consistent recently allowing no more than three runs in eight starts since August 7. The Giants lineup hasn't been much of a hassle lately, and have a sub-.700 OPS against right-handers this season.

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Total Games

American League

5: HOU

6: CLE, CHW, DET, KC, LAA, MIN, NYY, OAK, SEA, TB, TEX, TOR

7: BAL, BOS

 

National League

5: ARI, NYM, STL

6: ATL, CHC, CIN, COL, LAD, MIA, MIL, PIT, SD, SF,  

7: PHI, WAS

 

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 NBCSports Edge's Injury Page.

Ronald Acuña Jr.: Day-to-day (back)

Ozzie Albies: Out for the regular season (finger)

JT Brubaker: Placed on IL (lat)

Patrick Corbin: Day-to-day (back)

J.P. Crawford: Day-to-bay (knee)

Yandy Díaz: Day-to-day (shoulder)

Santiago Espinal: Day-to-day (oblique)

Sonny Gray: Placed on IL (hamstring)

Ramón Laureano: Out for the season (hamstring)

Brandon Marsh: Day-to-day (knee)

Shane McClanahan: Day-to-day (neck)

Yadier Molina: Day-to-day (knee)

Frankie Montas: Placed on IL (shoulder)

Brandon Nimmo: Day-to-day (quad)

Tyler O'Neill: Placed on IL (hamstring)

Luis Robert: Day-to-day (hand)

Brendan Rodgers: Day-to-day (hamstring)

Julio Rodriguez: Day-to-day (back)

Trevor Rogers: Placed on IL (lat)

Nick Senzel: Out for the season (toe)

Nick Solak: Out for the season (foot)

Drew Smyly: Day-to-day (shoulder)

Spencer Steer: Day-to-day (eye)

Trevor Story: Placed on IL (heel)

Spencer Strider: Day-to-day (oblique)

Eugenio Suárez: Placed on IL (finger)

Joey Wendle: Placed on IL (hamstring)

Garrett Whitlock: Out for the season (hip)