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Pitching Primer: Week 25

Fri Sep 13 1:40pm ET
By MIKE BARNER
Contributing Writer

With only two weeks left during the regular season, we are starting to see some fluid starting rotations. That can make projecting things moving forward a bit difficult. As things currently stand, here are five two-start pitchers for Week 25 and the impact they could have in fantasy based on their matchups.

Robbie Ray, Arizona Diamondbacks: vs. MIA, at SD

The Diamondbacks have surprisingly made a push for one of the Wild Card spots in the National League. Ray has been one of the staples of their rotation, already making 30 starts and logging 157 innings. His 4.30 ERA and 4.27 FIP leave a lot to be desired and he does allow too many baserunners, leaving him with a 1.34 WHIP. On the plus side, he carries plenty of strikeout upside with his 30.9 percent strikeout rate.

With a matchup against two struggling lineups on tap, Ray could provide tremendous value in Week 25. First up will be a Marlins team that has scored the second-fewest runs in baseball. Then he will face a Padres team that has been weakened by the loss of Fernando Tatis Jr. (back). While he’s currently dealing with a blister issue, he’s expected to be ready to go by Monday, so make sure he’s locked into your lineup.

Dallas Keuchel, Atlanta Braves: vs. PHI, vs. SF

Keuchel has turned out to be an excellent addition for the Braves and could prove to be a key part of their playoff rotation, especially given his experience. He’s certainly hot down the stretch, allowing only four runs across 37 innings in his last six starts. Amazingly, he only gave up one home run during that stretch, which came against the Marlins, of all teams.

He just faced the Phillies in his last outing, allowing one run and recording eight strikeouts over six innings. They only have an 85 wRC+ on the road this season, setting up Keuchel with the possibility to hold them down once again. After that, he’ll take on a Giants’ lineup that is in the bottom-five of baseball in most major offensive categories. This has the makings of two more extremely valuable starts, so make sure he’s in your lineup.

John Means, Baltimore Orioles: at DET, vs. SEA

Means has been the one shining light in the sea of darkness that is the Orioles’ starting rotation. He had a brief rough patch that started in the middle of July, but he’s settled back down to allow two runs or fewer in each of his last four starts. That’s brought his ERA down to 3.47 and his WHIP checks in at a sparkling 1.11.

He’s actually pitched better at the normally hitter-friendly Camden Yards, posting a 2.86 ERA, 3.89 FIP and a 0.96 WHIP at his home park. Still, a matchup against the Tigers carries the potential for a great stat line regardless of where the game is being played since they have scored the fewest runs in baseball. The Mariners have struck out the third-most times in baseball, so Means might even be able to provide more value than usual in that category for his second start.

Steven Matz, New York Mets: at COL, at CIN

Just when it looked like the Mets were fading, they’ve gone on another hot streak to get themselves back in the Wild Card hunt. Matz has been one of the driving forces for their success, allowing 11 runs (nine earned) over 41 2/3 innings in his last seven starts. With performances like that, a two-start week could make him a difference-maker in fantasy.

The problem with that thought is that both of his games this week will be on the road. He has a 5.85 FIP and a 1.56 WHIP there compared to a 3.18 FIP and a 1.11 WHIP at home. It’s no coincidence that during the aforementioned seven-start stretch, five of his outings came at home. To complicate matters, his first matchup is against the Rockies at Coors Field. While the Reds aren’t an imposing force, Eugenio Suarez and Aristides Aquino can do damage against lefties. As good as Matz has been, benching him might be the prudent move.

Zach Plesac, Cleveland Indians: vs. DET, vs. PHI

Where would the Indians currently be without Plesac? With injuries to Corey Kluber (oblique) and Carlos Carrasco, he’s been forced to make 19 starts this season. Despite a concerning 5.05 FIP, he’s managed to produce a 3.64 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. His last outing against the Angels was an absolute gem with him recording five strikeouts in a complete game shutout.

One disappointing stat for Plesac is his 18.2 percent strikeout rate, which somewhat limits his upside. Still, his first outing against the Tigers is about as juicy as it gets. With the Phillies’ struggles on the road already detailed, Plesac checks in as one of the more appealing streaming options to seek out on the waiver wire.

Mike Barner has been covering fantasy sports since 2007. His work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Yahoo, SportsLine and RotoWire. Mike was also a finalist for the 2018 FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year award. Follow Mike on Twitter @rotomikebarner.

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