The penultimate Sunday of Major League Baseball's regular season offers bonus baseball with the Marlins and Nationals playing a pair of matinees in South Beach, with postseason implications for the home team while the defending champs play out the string. The ESPN prime time affair features the slate's best pitching matchup between a pair of playoff-bound teams with Yu Darvish and the Chicago Cubs entertaining Jose Berrios and the Minnesota Twins.
Here are Sunday's selections to give your lineups the push they need to end the season on a winning note. Everyone cited is available in at least 50% of ESPN leagues.
Sandy Alcantara (R), rostered in 48% of ESPN leagues, Miami Marlins vs. Washington Nationals: Alcantara has pitched at least six innings in four of his five starts this season, including the last three. This is important for two reasons. With starters averaging fewer innings per outing, it's encouraging that Marlins manager Don Mattingly has confidence in Alcantara to face a lineup more than twice through the order. Next, with the game being part of a doubleheader, if Alcantara can again toss six frames the bullpen will just need to close out the game's last inning, contingent upon Miami having the lead, or course. Alcantara's ERA is a tidy 2.50 over his last three starts and is facing an underperforming Nationals offense looking at some younger players down the stretch.
Deivi Garcia (R), 47%, New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox: The pair of rookie right-handers will take the hill for teams going in the opposite direction. While the Red Sox are counting the days until the season ends, the rejuvenated Yankees are finally healthy with Garcia giving the pitching staff a well-needed boost. The 21-year-old from the Dominican Republic has back-to-back seven-inning victories, fanning six batters in each.
Ryan Yarbrough (L), 37%, Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles: It has been an uneven season for Yarbrough two of his last three appearances resembled those that we've come to expect, just in time for the Rays to embark on what they hope is a long playoff run. The Orioles were hanging around the playoff race for longer than anyone expected before falling back, in large part due to their ineffectiveness facing southpaws this month, posting a league low .217 wOBA (weighted on base average) against left-handers in September.
Jose Urquidy (R), 30%, Houston Astros vs. Arizona Diamondbacks: Fresh off the report Justin Verlander will undergo Tommy John surgery, Urquidy will be asked to help fill the void, both in the impending playoffs and next season. The 25-year-old righty has a nice head start, allowing just three runs in his last two efforts, spanning 13 frames.
Josh Lindblom (R), 6%, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Kansas City Royals: The last time Lindblom pitched, it was pointed out he's been had some bad luck this season and was due for a rebound. Right on cue, Lindblom tossed five scoreless innings against the Cardinals with six strikeouts. On Sunday, he's in a great spot to continue the roll, facing a middling Royals lineup playing out the string.
Bullpen: Both of the closers for the squads playing a Sunday pair are available in over half of all ESPN leagues. Brandon Kintzler (Marlins) and the Daniel Hudson (Nationals) both carry a %ROST level around 40%.
For the latest team-by-team closer situations, please consult our Closer Chart.
Catcher -- Kevan Smith (R), under 1%, Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles (LHP John Means): Catcher has been exceedingly frustrating to manage this season with Sunday no exception. Smith should get the call with a lefty on the hill. He has hit safely in his last three starts, including a homer while producing four RBI's.
First Base -- Jared Walsh (L), 40%, Los Angeles Angels vs. Texas Rangers (RHP Kyle Cody): Walsh is also a middle reliever, doing his best to secure a roster spot as a hitter next season. This season's explosion comes on the heels of a .325/.423/.686 campaign last year for Triple-A Salt Lake.
Second Base -- Cesar Hernandez (S), 34%, Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers (LHP Matthew Boyd): After sputtering to begin September, Hernandez is back on track with hits in six of seven games heading into Saturday's action. He's 10-for-29 in that span with three doubles and five runs scored.
Third Base -- Edwin Rios (L), 1%, Los Angeles Dodgers at Colorado Rockies (RHP Antonio Senzatela): Rios has been playing a lot lately, mostly filling in for Justin Turner. However, even with Turner returning from the injured list Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has continued to keep Rios in the lineup. There aren't many Dodgers bats readily available to pick up, with Rios being the best shot at your having one last chance to pile up some Coors Field-inflated stats this weekend.
Shortstop -- Jose Iglesias (R), 9%, Baltimore Orioles vs. Tampa Bay Rays (LHP Ryan Yarbrough): Iglesias won't provide any homers or steals, but he has parlayed a .372 average into 33 runs produced in 35 games.
Corner Infield -- Josh Fuentes (R), 1%, Colorado Rockies vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (RHP Tony Gonsolin): Fuentes is wielding a hot stick, slashing .370/.357/.556 in the seven games leading into Saturday's slate. Gonsolin's 1.51 ERA and .79 WHIP are impressive, but he's due a comeuppance with just 30 strikeouts in 35 innings.
Middle Infield -- Jurickson Profar (S), 31%, San Diego Padres at Seattle Mariners (RHP Justin Dunn): Some thought Profar may be out of a starting job after the string of moves the Padres pulled off at the trade deadline. However, the switch-hitting utilityman didn't get the memo as he has recorded a .360/.389/.540 slash in September.
Outfield -- Corey Dickerson (L), 26%, Miami Marlins vs. Washington Nationals (RHP Max Scherzer): The risk using Dickerson isn't just that he's facing Scherzer, it's the possibility of playing just one of the two ends of Sunday's twin bill. That said, Miami is in the playoff race and will likely go with their best and Dickerson excels at the plate and in the field. Besides, facing Scherzer isn't as daunting anymore with the righty surrendering nine homers over his previous 36 IP.
Outfield -- Shogo Akiyama (L), 13%, Cincinnati Reds vs. Chicago White Sox (RHP Dylan Cease): Maybe Akiyama was slow to acclimate to MLB after coming over from Japan, but the five-time NPB All-Star has been an on-base machine lately. Akiyama has reached base at a 52% clip over the last 16 games, particularly helpful in points leagues.
Outfield -- Willie Calhoun (L), 11%, Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels (RHP Julio Teheran): Calhoun is 1-for-11 in his first three games since returning from his time on the IL for a hamstring injury is not encouraging. However, he draws Teheran, a pitcher quite susceptible to left-handed power bats, especially in Angels Stadium which has proven friendly to lefty swingers since the home run boundary in right field was lowered.
Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's past history (three years' worth as well as past 21 days) as well as ballpark factors. "LH" and "RH" ratings account only for left- and right-handed batters, respectively. Weighted on-base average (wOBA) is the primary statistic used in the calculation. Ratings range from 1-10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. So, for example, a 10 is a must-start rating, while a 1 should be avoided (if possible); a 1-2 is poor, 3-4 is fair, 5-6 is average, 7-8 is very good and 9-10 is excellent. A "*" means that the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate hitter rating; these are the author's ratings.