Masahiro Tanaka will take the mound against the Blue Jays on Sunday, making his first start since July 8. For those that need a refresher, Tanaka exploded onto the scene after coming over from Japan this offseason, tallying a 2.51 ERA with 135 strikeouts in 129.1 innings prior to partially tearing the UCL in his elbow. Tanaka's return is obviously good news for the Yankees, but is he a usable player Sunday? The 25-year-old threw five scoreless innings in an instructional league game Monday, during which his fastball reached 92 mph, according to the Associated Press. While that is encouraging, it's certainly worth mentioning that MLB.com reports he will be limited to around 75 pitches in the outing this weekend. A pitcher of Tanaka's caliber is probably capable of giving us a quality start in that time frame, but with a price tag of $10,200, it will be very difficult for me to pull the trigger. The good news, however, is he could get another start against the Red Sox next Saturday, by which time we may have a clearer picture of whether he is safe to use.
Scott Kazmir ($3,300)
Kazmir has been wildly inconsistent of late, but faces a favorable opponent Sunday, as the Phillies have struggled mightily against southpaws this season, tallying an 87 wRC+ to go along with a 22 percent strikeout rate. With so many quality plays eclipsing the $10,000 mark Sunday, Kazmir could be a nice sleeper option, as he has the potential to turn in a quality performance, and affords us a certain amount of financial flexibility.
Squaring off against Kazmir Sunday will be A.J. Burnett, who may have hinted at an arm injury when he told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Friday that he will considering returning in 2015 if, "I can lift my arm up at the end of the season." While it's interesting to note that he has struggled in his last two outings, allowing nine runs (eight earned) in 11.2 innings, we donít have to speculate in order to pick against him Sunday, as he has tallied a 5.24 walk rate against left-handers in 92.2 innings.
Jed Lowrie (SS) ($3,000)
Stephen Vogt (C) ($3,000)
Jacob Turner has gotten crushed in his last two outings, allowing 12 runs (11 earned) in 10.1 innings. He will take his negative K/BB ratio against southpaws this season into a start against the Dodgers at home Sunday.
Adrian Gonzalez (1B) ($6,300)
Carl Crawford (OF) ($6,000)
Anthony Swarzak has been a reliever for most of the season, but will make his second consecutive start Sunday against the Indians in place of Tommy Milone, who is out with a neck injury. Swarzak was pummeled in his last outing against the Tigers for six runs in 4.2 innings, and projects to have a similarly tough time Sunday, as he carries a 5.29 xFIP against lefties this season.
Michael Brantley (OF) ($11,700)
Drew Hutchison has struggled against lefties this season, allowing 15 home runs in 94.1 innings. Unfortunately, injuries to some key southpaws in New York's lineup will prevent us from fully capitalizing on the situation at Yankee Stadium, but we can find at least one cheap option with the potential to provide us with a nice return.
Brett Gardner (OF) ($3,000)
John Danks and his 4.63 xFIP against right-handed hitters will head into a matchup against the Rays on Sunday, who have some righty power threats for us to sink our teeth into.
Evan Longoria (3B) ($7,600)
Ben Zobrist (2B) ($5,800)
The Week at a Glance
Travis Wood will attempt to fade a few choice right-handed bats when he takes his 4.90 xFIP against righties into his last outing of the season against the Cardinals on Monday.
Gerrit Cole has tallied mixed results since returning from a back injury that sidelined him for almost two months in July, but seems to have rediscovered his strikeout pitch, as he's fanned 21 batters in his last 19 innings (three starts). He will face the Braves on Tuesday, who have struck out 22.1 percent of the time against right-handers this season.
Jason Vargas has been his serviceable self this season, but could run into some issues Wednesday, as the Indians' lineup has a couple of imposing right-handed bats that will look to cash in on his 4.20 xFIP against righties this season.
The Trevor May rule will remain in effect Thursday against the Tigers. May had been throwing the ball better of late, including a 10-strikeout performance against the White Sox on Sept. 14, but has allowed five or more runs in three of his eight starts this season after taking a drubbing at the hands of the Indians on Saturday. That kind of blowup potential is appealing, particularly when he is scheduled to face one of the best offenses in the league.
We can attempt to pick on the Phillies again Friday, as Ervin Santana will take the hill against Philadelphia and their .293 wOBA against right-handers, which is tied for third-worst in the league.
The Giants will face soft-tossing lefty Eric Stults on Saturday, who has allowed 20 home runs in 119.1 innings against right-handed hitters in 2014.