Taking Advantage of the Week 9 Schedule by Mike Podhorzer September 10, 2020 With such a short season, playing time is even more paramount than it usually is. Instead of a missing game being just 0.6% of the season, it’s now 1.7%. That’s a significant difference. So it’s worth it to look to a team’s schedule to try to take advantage. Do this by seeking out teams scheduled to play the most games in a given week and rostering/starting those hitters. Obviously, that doesn’t mean bench a six game Mike Trout to start an eight game Brian Goodwin, but when you’re past the top couple of tiers at a position, then games scheduled should be a deciding factor. Week nine is set to be another crazy week after this current week which is expected to include several teams playing nine games. Next week, there’s a team schedule to play ten games! Below are all the teams scheduled for at least eight games. It’s an easy start/bench decision when comparing these players to the three poor teams only playing five games. Week 9 Games Team Games STL 10 MIA 9 PIT 9 BAL 8 MIL 8 PHI 8 Now that we have our list of teams to target, let’s go through their lineups and identify some of the hitters more widely available that you should consider adding for the week. Because of their recent COVID-19 outbreak, the Cardinals are scheduled to be the only team to play 10 games in one week. Most of this offense is likely rostered already, but there are some names that may be available. Brad Miller is following up last season’s small sample surge with more of the same, and has shown the skills to back up the results. He has also been hitting cleanup. He won’t start against lefties, so make sure the Cardinals aren’t set to face a whole bunch of them next week, but he’s an easy call here and would even be worth holding onto for the final week of the season, when the Cardinals play another eight games. Tyler O’Neill hasn’t shown the mammoth minor league power he had shown, but has dramatically improved his strikeout and SwStk% rates to acceptable levels. He’s precisely the type to gamble on as he could knock a bunch of homers over a hot week. With Dylan Carlson back to the team’s training site, O’Neill’s playing time is now more secure. The same can be said of Harrison Bader, who owns some power and speed, and whose wOBA sits at a career high over a small sample. That’s important because another sub-.300 wOBA like last year means he would be finding himself on the bench more often. The good plate performance means he should be in the lineup most, if not every, game of that 10 game schedule. As you might imagine, the Marlins might have a number of options available to you, but most just aren’t good enough to justify starting for the extra game or two. One name who is likely available is Garrett Cooper. He got a late start to the season due to a positive COVID-19 test, but returned at the end of August. He’s got excellent power, but it would be nice if he hit a higher rate of fly balls to take advantage. Jazz Chisholm has played most days since his recall, rotating between second base and shortstop, but he skipped Triple-A, and struck out more than 30% of the time at Double-A, so it’s difficult to envision him succeeding immediately. The Pirates are tough because they sport the lowest wOBA in baseball, so there aren’t going to be a whole lot of extra runs scored and runs batted in opportunities, even with an extra game or two. That said, Bryan Reynolds was available in my 12-team mixed league, so I picked him up as possibly the only real good option. Reynolds posted a hefty .387 BABIP that no one thought was repeatable, but many figured he still owned the skills to post an inflated mark, just not that high. Instead, his BABIP has come crashing down to just .244, but his batted ball profile is actually elite. He continues to hit lots of line drives and hasn’t even popped up all season. His SwStk% is actually down slightly from last year, suggesting the strikeout rate spike is small sample randomness and his barrel rate is actually higher than last year. He’s a prime buy low pickup for a tasty nine game week. I discussed both DJ Stewart and Cedric Mullins in my article discussing new full-timers in the AL and now these guys have eight games to look forward to next week. Stewart homered again yesterday, making it four homers in his last three games. You don’t get stats that already happened, but the key here is it will solidify his playing time, as previously the Orioles gave him a ridiculously short leash. On the Brewers, Ben Gamel (discussed yesterday), Avisail Garcia, and Orlando Arcia make for solid pickup options for their eight games. We though Arcia had lost his job to Luis Urias, who the team traded for over the offseason. However, an injury to Urias meant it was Arcia’s job. Then COVID-19 hit, delaying the season, and we figured Urias would get his job back. Nope, because Urias actually tested positive for the virus, delaying his season even further. Arcia has been playing every day, with Urias taking over third base, allowing both youngsters to show their stuff. Arcia has been better than the last two seasons, but still sits with a sub-.300 wOBA. But, he has dramatically improved his strikeout and SwStk% rates, while he continues to show some home run power and a touch of speed. Not a thrilling skill set, but the additional games should be the deciding factor when your alternative is near replacement level. Perhaps your league is different, but no Phillies playing every day are available in my shallow league. Owners of Rhys Hoskins, Bryce Harper, and J.T. Realmuto, et al, should enjoy the extra plate appearances!