Corbin Burnes (MIL) 9/18 vs. CHC 9/23 vs. STL 9/28 @ STL
Corbin Burnes is on a prime track to put the finishing touches on a 2021 Cy Young campaign. He’s got the 22nd, 19th, and 19th-ranked wRC+ on the horizon and he just threw eight shutout innings in his last start. The Cardinals will fight to stay in wildcard position against one of the best arms in the NL this year, but they hold the 19th-ranked wRC+ and Burnes has a 2.25 ERA. His 1.50 FIP suggests he’s on pace to finish out the year even stronger than his ERA might suggest.
Nick Pivetta (BOS) 9/17 vs. BAL 9/22 vs. NYM 9/28 @ BAL 10/3 @ WAS
Boston is in a prime position to make a statement at the end of this season but their COVID IL is making it difficult. Nick Pivetta will look to cover some Chris Sale-sized holes in the starting rotation, facing off against the Orioles and the worst record in the AL two times this month. Pivetta just tossed 5 1/3 innings of shutout ball against the tough-hitting White Sox in his last start.
Dylan Cease (CHW) 9/18 @ TEX 9/23 @ CLE ***9/28 vs. CIN*** 10/3 vs. DET
Dylan Cease is coming off one of his worst starts of the season, a 2 2/3 inning, seven-run showing at the hands of the Red Sox. His road ahead is timely, as Texas, Cleveland and Detroit rank 21st or worse in wRC+. Cincinnati will be the toughest on the schedule, but they are also 3-7 over their past 10.
Steven Matz (TOR) 9/18 vs. MIN 9/23 @ MIN ***9/28 vs. NYY***
Minnesota has posted the 20th-ranked wRC+ over the last two weeks, a step back from their 12th-ranked position over the entire season. They are a division winner from last season and might be a tougher opponent than their record suggests, but they also don’t have a whole lot to play for this year as they rank fifth in the AL Central. The Yankees have stifled a little as well this month, posting the 19th-ranked wRC+ in the past two weeks. Steven Matz can ride a wave with the surging Blue Jays as they look to climb as an AL wildcard.
Rich Hill (NYM) 9/19 vs. PHI 9/24 @ MIL 9/29 vs. MIA
The Mets are five games out of the NL wildcard and are 3-7 in their last 10 games. Rich Hill will take on the Phillies and the 17th-ranked wRC+ on Sunday, followed by the 20th-ranked Brewers. Both are in a playoff picture, but neither has fared too well at the plate compared to other playoff teams. Meanwhile, the Marlins rank 26th this year.
Josiah Gray (WAS) 9/17 vs. COL 9/22 @ MIA 9/27 @ COL
Josiah Gray gets a double-dose of the Rockies and the 30th-ranked wRC+ this month, bookending a start in Miami. This schedule will take a relative turn at the end of the month, however, as Gray is in line to make a final start against the Red Sox in October, Otherwise, his biggest challenge could be more on Coors Field rather than his prospective opponents.
Bryse Wilson (PIT) 9/18 @ MIA 9/23 @ PHI 9/28 vs. CHC
*Avoids CIN 9/20-22
Bryse Wilson has posted a 7.04 ERA in his last three starts, taking on the 3rd, 21st, and 9th-ranked wRC+. He will look ahead to the 26th, 17th and 22nd-ranked figures and only the Phillies are in a playoff hunt.
Jose Urquidy (HOU) 9/20 @ LAA 9/25 @ OAK 9/30 vs. TB
*Avoids ARI 9/17-19
Houston is pretty safe atop the AL West standings but their future opponents have either 1. swung it well this year, or 2. have Shohei Ohtani on their team. Oakland and Tampa Bay have ranked a respective 12th and 4th in wRC+ over the past two weeks. Jose Urquidy returned from the injured list on September 3 and has since posted a 3.38 ERA.
Zac Gallen (ARI) 9/19 @ HOU 9/24 vs. LAD 9/29 @ SF
Zac Gallen has a 4.44 ERA right now. It appears 2021 will be his first of three big league seasons with an ERA above three, and he will fight to keep it below five against some abhorrent offense. The Astros, Dodgers, and Giants rank a respective first, sixth and fourth in wRC+.
Antonio Senzatela (COL) 9/21 vs. LAD 9/26 vs. SF
Both division leaders, and both at a mile above sea level: Antonio Senzatela has his hands full as the Rockies get their final look at the NL West frontrunners. He’s posted a 3.89 ERA at home this year compared to a 4.27 on the road, however, so Senzatela could be primed for some degree of Coors Field success.
Luis Castillo (CIN) 9/17 vs. LAD ***9/22 vs. PIT*** 9/28 @ CHW
Since the All-Star Break, Luis Castillo has posted a 3.61 ERA and has lowered his season ERA to a 4.24. He has a tough billing with the Dodgers and White Sox coming up, two teams he has yet to face in 2021. Even Pittsburgh has been showing well in September; they have posted a 103 wRC+ this month.
Max Fried (ATL) 9/19 @ SF 9/24 @ SD 9/29 vs. PHI
*Avoids ARI 9/20-23
It’s tough to predict a future schedule with the Padres on it since we don’t know how they are going to finish out the year. For these intents and purposes, let’s assume their offseason spending comes through this month. Max Fried would then have a gauntlet of September, taking on the MLB-leading Giants and two teams fighting for a wildcard berth. Fried has allowed four runs in his last two starts (12 IP) and has also struck out 21 in 18 September innings.
Paul Blackburn (OAK) 9/21 vs. SEA 9/26 vs. HOU 10/1 @ HOU
Oakland and Seattle are currently fighting to make a wildcard berth a reality, and both will throw down next week in hopes to gain some ground. They will need several losses on the AL East front to get back in the picture, however. Paul Blackburn will be the go-to guy for the A’s on Tuesday as they look to put together a threat. He’s got back-to-back starts against the best wRC+ in the league right after that, and it’s crunch time for the A’s.
Keegan Akin (BAL) 9/17 @ BOS 9/22 @ PHI 9/28 vs. BOS 10/3 @ TOR
Baltimore doesn’t have a ton to play for in the final days of the season. Keegan Akin has a chance to fortify his big league future, however, after debuting in 2020 and posting a 6.31 since. All four of his future opponents are in a playoff hunt; both Akin and his Orioles can get some additional momentum out of playing the spoiler at least.
Casey Mize (DET) 9/17 @ TB 9/22 vs. CHW 9/28 @ MIN 10/3 @ CHW
*Avoids KC 9/24-26
Casey Mize gets one final grand tour around the AL Central, but he will first roll through the AL East frontrunner and the league’s fifth-ranked wRC+. He will then get the third-ranked White Sox in two of his final three starts. Mize’s last start was a two-inning affair against the same Rays he will see this evening. He allowed three earned runs last Saturday in two innings.
Bonus Bad Schedule: The Padre Unknowns
Vince Velasquez (SD) 9/17 @ STL 9/22 vs. SF 9/28 @ LAD 10/3 @ SF
*Schedule largely unknown (Velasquez was signed on Wednesday)
The Padres have their work cut out for them down the stretch, squaring off against the Giants, Dodgers, and Giants in the final stretch of the season. Blake Snell has just been placed on the injured list, so Vince Velasquez has been placed in the rotations after inking a minor league deal with the Padres this week. He could have a lot to do with the NL wildcard standings (and the NL West picture) in his next few starts if he is to stay in the rotation. Even the Cardinals are on the hunt for a postseason berth. Velasquez last pitched in July for the Phillies and has a 5.95 ERA this year.
Bad Good Schedule: Mad Max
Max Scherzer (LAD) 9/18 @ CIN 9/23 @ COL 9/28 vs. SD
After flirting with a no-hitter in his last outing, Max Scherzer has not allowed an earned run in his last four starts (29 2/3 IP). His schedule is good by default — because he’s Max Scherzer — but his road ahead could be a bad one for somebody else.
Scherzer takes on Cincinnati’s 11th-ranked wRC+, followed by a start at Coors Field and then a start against the Padres while they try and figure out how to make the playoffs. San Diego’s urgency could tell a different tale this month than their collective season, but they will be forced to do so against the Dodgers in a heated series that could be an NL wildcard game forecaster. (If so: make sure to clear your schedule for Sept. 28.)
Soon To Be A Great Schedule
Alex Cobb (LAA) 9/21 vs. HOU 9/26 vs. SEA 10/1 @ SEA
*Schedule could change (returning from IL)
Seattle has their work cut out for them if they are to make a playoff push, stuck beyond three teams in the AL East and the A’s in the AL wildcard hunt. Their offense ranks 19th in wRC+ this month, and Alex Cobb will fight through the first-ranked wRC+ all year to get there. He’s posted a 1.09 ERA in his last four starts, but he also hasn’t pitched since July (wrist). Angels manager Joe Maddon may elect to be cautious with Cobb in the waning days of 2021, and this could mean his schedule is pushed back a few days
Aaron Civale (CLE) 9/18 @ NYY 9/23 vs. CHW 9/29 @ KC 10/3 @ TEX
Opposing wRC+, in succession: 10th, 3rd, 25th, 28th. Aaron Civale isn’t arbitration-eligible until 2023 but he’s got a chance to score some money by then if he’s to finish the season a little better than his September so far. He’s got a 9.39 ERA in his last two starts (7 2/3 IP)
Brady Singer (KC) 9/17 vs. SEA 9/22 @ CLE 9/28 vs. CLE 10/3 vs. MIN
This might already be a good schedule depending on what version of the Mariners take the field this evening. Brady Singer gets them at a time where Seattle’s wildcard chances have yet to disappear, but it will be tough with the AL East trifecta ahead of them. Singer was one out shy of the five-inning mark in his last start, allowing six earned runs to the Twins—on five homers. His future opponents, Seattle, Cleveland, and Minnesota, rank a respective 13th, 12th, and 5th in home runs.
Soon To Be A Bad Schedule
Elieser Hernández (MIA) 9/17 vs. PIT 9/22 vs. WAS 9/28 @ NYM
*Avoids TB 9/24-26
Elieser Hernández is arbitration eligible in 2022. He currently holds a 4.14 ERA this year and is pitching for a paycheck this month as he awaits the 29th, 9th, and 15th-ranked wRC+ through the rest of the month. This is a largely unknown schedule, being that the Nationals have posted the seventh-best wRC+ in the last two weeks but they are also well out of the postseason picture. The Mets have posted the fifth-best but are seeing their postseason dreams slip away.
Any starter for the Yankees 9/17-19 vs. CLE 9/20-22 vs. TEX 9/24-26 @ BOS 9/28-30 @ TOR 10/1-3 vs. TB
The Yankees have a chance to pull away in the next week. They will have a far tougher time if they don’t capitalize before a stretch with the Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Rays.
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