Chris Sale (BOS) 9/28 @ BAL 10/3 @ WAS
*Avoids NYY 9/24-26
After returning from Tommy John surgery and the COVID IL, Chris Sale gets a crack at some teams that are well out of postseason contention—all while he looks to become postseason ready. Sale has made only a handful of starts this year but has posted a 2.57 ERA in those seven games. He is averaging five innings per start and could be in a prime position to extend himself into the postseason.
Lance Lynn (CHW) 9/25 @ CLE 10/1 vs. DET
The White Sox clinched a postseason berth on Thursday and Lance Lynn will have himself a nice little primer as the Southsiders anticipate some October action. Cleveland and Detroit rank a respective 20th and 21st in wRC+. Tony La Russa might also give his starters a lighter load as they anticipate a heavy October push.
Germán Márquez (COL) 9/27 vs. WAS 10/2 @ ARI
*Avoids SF 9/24-26
The Rockies have been officially eliminated from postseason contention, but Germán Márquez remains on the good schedule list as he works to push his ERA back into the threes. He probably won’t record enough innings to get there, but his future opponents are well out of playoff contention. His schedule could be far tougher with the Giants visiting Denver this weekend, too. The Nationals do rank 10th in wRC+, so they could show some firepower.
Kevin Gausman (SF) 9/26 @ COL 10/1 vs. SD
Colorado native Kevin Gausman is a little more familiar with Coors Field altitude than most. This will make his schedule a little easier, but the adjustment can still be tough. Gausman will then take on the Padres in what appears to be San Diego’s last series to make any form of a statement. This could actually be a good schedule if the Padres continue their struggles, but there could also be some serious intensity coming out of that opposing dugout.
Casey Mize (DET) 9/24 vs. KC 9/29 @ MIN
Detroit, Kansas City, and Minnesota will feature some lower-leverage action to close out the 2021 slate. Casey Mize will look to capitalize, although he hasn’t pitched more than three innings in his last three starts. It is presumable that he will be capped to a similar limit in these remaining games. He’s also seen plenty of these division rivals this year, so it will be interesting to monitor how he fares against a few recurring hitters.
Logan Allen (CLE) 9/28 @ KC 10/3 @ TEX
Cleveland will get a crack at that Royals lineup next week and Logan Allen will seek to recover from some tough recent starts. He’s faced the Twins in back-to-back outings, allowing nine earned runs across nine total innings. Both Minnesota and Texas are at the bottom of their respective divisions. A low-leverage close to the season could be a momentum builder for Allen into 2021.
José Suarez (LAA) 9/24 vs. SEA 9/29 @ TEX
Seattle and Text rank 19th and 28th in wRC+. José Suarez has also allowed five runs in his last 20 1/3 innings. (Texas, Houston, and Oakland were his opponents.) As the Angels look to shape a rotation going into 2022, Suarez is in a good position to stake his claim.
Dane Dunning (TEX) 9/26 @ BAL 10/1 vs. CLE
Dane Dunning rounds out our lower-leverage ‘good’ schedules with teams out of postseason contention. He’s awaiting the 23rd and 20th-ranked wRC+ but has also seen a limited workload through September. He’s thrown a combined 5 2/3 innings in his last three starts but has also worked through a tough Yankees, Astros, and A’s lineup in those games.
Tyler Mahle (CIN) 9/26 vs. WAS 10/2 @ PIT
*Avoids CHW 9/28-29
The Reds are looking to make a push in the NL wildcard behind the Cardinals. it could be bleak due to how well St. Louis has played as of late, but Tyler Mahle and the Reds will be in a prime position to cover some ground. Mahle won’t see the White Sox in a two-game set and will instead pitch against two NL opponents ranking fifth in their divisions.
Jake Woodford (STL) 9/26 @ CHC 10/1 vs. CHC
The Cardinals and Cubs always seem to make for some interesting baseball, but this year features a far easier batting order for the Cubs than in years past. Jake Woodford will await back-to-back starts against the Cubs and the 24th-ranked wRC+ while his Cardinals look to stay hot and in wildcard position
Anybody for the Royals 9/24-26 @ DET 9/28-30 vs. CLE 10/1-3 vs. MIN
Kansas City, Detroit, Cleveland, Minnesota, and Texas could all realistically have ‘good’ schedules here. There will still be a handful of players looking to prove themselves despite a lot of these games not having postseason contention, however, so this could be a great opportunity to see some new up-and-coming names making a push on both the mound and in the batters’ box.
Brandon Woodruff (MIL) 9/28 @ STL 10/3 @ LAD
*Avoids NYM 9/24-26 *Might avoid LAD on 10/3?
The hottest team in baseball meets the reigning champs: this is an extremely untimely and extremely unforgiving schedule for Brandon Woodruff. The Dodgers might still be in a position to overtake the Giants for a division lead on October 3, so Woodruff might not have an easy path to the postseason (even on the last day of the regular season). There is also a chance Woodruff won’t even pitch that game, however. The Brewers are in a solid position for an NL Central title and they can start stacking their deck for the postseason.
Sean Manaea (OAK) 9/25 vs. HOU 10/1 @ HOU
A double-dose of the best wRC+ in baseball is one tough way to end the year. Sean Manaea’s A’s have taken a big step back in the wildcard standings and this final stretch is unforgiving. Manaea has allowed nine runs in his last 10 innings too (SEA, KC). He will look toward a challenging high note to end the year.
Alec Mills (CHC) 9/26 vs. STL 10/1 @ STL
Jake Woodford for the Cardinals gets the good side of this schedule; Alec Mills will instead be forced to work through a steaming hot Cardinals lineup as they stake their claim on an NL wildcard slot. Mills has not fared too well in his last two starts (8 2/3 IP, 10 ER).
Keegan Akin (BAL) 9/28 vs. BOS 10/3 @ TOR
Baltimore is the only team in the AL to elapse the 100-loss mark. It doesn’t get any easier for them either, as the Red Sox and Blue Jays claw it out for an AL wildcard spot. Keegan Akin has seen a fair amount of the AL East this year but is also coming off one of his best outings of the season. He tossed a 5 1/3-inning performance against the Phillies and allowed a single run.
Shane Baz (TB) 9/28 @ HOU 10/3 @ NYY
Shane Baz made his season debut on Monday, tossing five innings of two-run baseball against Toronto. He’s got a tough stretch but he could be a huge piece in helping the Rays get ready for the postseason. The Astros hold the best wRC+ in baseball, while the Yankees might need to carry some momentum all the way to the wire.
José Urquidy (HOU) 9/26 @ OAK 10/1 vs. OAK
The A’s aren’t exactly hanging around in the wildcard standings but they still hold the ninth-best wRC+ in the league. It’s presumable they will look to make a statement against the Astros in the division, too, so José Urquidy gets them twice in what could quickly feature an intense A’s lineup.
Jesús Luzardo (MIA) 9/26 @ TB 10/1 vs. PHI
Tampa Bay has the third-ranked wRC+. While the Phillies rank 18th, they also might need to pull some serious action together to make the postseason. This schedule could get far easier if and when the Phillies are eliminated from the postseason. Jesús Luzardo has seen a rocky month of September, allowing nine runs in his last 8 1/3 innings while his last two starts have come against the Nationals
Max Kranick (PIT) 9/26 @ PHI 10/1 vs. CIN
Max Kranick could have a lot to do with the NL wildcard standings if the Cardinals don’t run away with the second spot. Philadelphia and Cincinnati are also five games out of the playoffs, and they have some middle-of-the-pack wRC+ at this point in the year. If they are eliminated, Kranick could find himself with a suddenly easy schedule. He will, however, look to bounce back from eight runs allowed in his last 9 2/3 innings.
Anybody for the Padres 9/24-26 vs. ATL 9/28-30 @ LAD 10/1-3 @ SF
Here are some interesting developments. Everybody on San Diego’s future schedule is either 1. a division leader, or 2. the Dodgers. San Diego is also finishing the year without the pitching coach they started the season with, and it will be extremely interesting to see if they cash things in or put up a fight with a divisional-heavy finish. It doesn’t look good for any of their starters, however; they await the 12th, fourth and seventh-ranked wRC+
Anybody for the Yankees 9/24-26 @ BOS 9/28-30 @ TOR 10/1-3 vs. TB
New York will find themselves on a similar path as the Padres and perhaps an even tougher one. The Yankees face the sixth, second, and third-ranked wRC+ to end the regular season. They will need to pull off some serious wins in order to hold their ground in the AL wildcard race, and the Red Sox and Blue Jays are in an equal position as the red-hot AL East finishes up the regular-season slate.
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