The Pennant Races Hit High Gear

Steven Matz

Can Steven Matz pitch High Cheese to their first league championship?

The top four teams in the league are now separated by three games with four weeks remaining in the regular season. Three of the league’s four divisions feature red-hot pennant races, with team’s separated by three games or less. It’s safe to say this is going to be a fun last month to the season.

Eephus Monkeys vs Land Shark

The Monkeys defeated Land Shark 8-4 when they faced them in Week 14. It was the start of a four-week undefeated streak that was snapped with last week’s 7-5 series loss to Buster Hugs. The Monkeys are 101-105-10 and 11th in the standings but they are squarely in the chase for the league’s final playoff berth. Land Shark trails Buster Hugs by one game in the East Division pennant race. They are 110-98-8 following last week’s 6-4-2 victory over Stadium Mustard. It was their third series win in the last four weeks.

Pitching: Land Shark won four of the six pitching categories in Week 18, as starter John Lackey notched a pair of quality starts. The veteran pitcher tossed 14.2 innings with a 0.61 ERA. It’s worth watching Lackey this week as he was experiencing shoulder soreness in Sunday’s start. Despite finishing Week 18 with a 5.31 ERA and 1.48 WHIP, the Monkeys managed to win three pitching categories. Relievers Pat Neshek and Sam Dyson combined to earn four net saves/holds without allowing a run.

Hitting: Land Shark finished with a 1.051 OPS last week and scored 36 runs. Despite the excellent week at the plate, they won just two categories while tying two others. Veteran third baseman Adrian Beltre knocked in eight runs and ended the week with a team-high 1.367 OPS. The Monkeys managed to win just two hitting categories against Buster Hugs last week and ended the week with a .789 OPS. Outfielder Billy Hamilton finished the week with an amazing seven net stolen bases, six runs scored, and a healthy 1.047 OPS to lead the Monkeys.

Los Coches Bomba vs High Cheese

Los Coches Bomba notched a much-needed series win with a 6-4-2 victory over Let’s Play 2 last week. It broke a four-week winless streak. Bomba is now 102-98-16 and in a heated playoff chase. Every point is big for the team heading down the stretch. High Cheese defeated the JetSetters in a thrilling 7-5 series and now lead the South Division by 1.5 games. They are third in the league with a 118-91-7 record. High Cheese and Bomba are old division rivals and have a lot riding on this series.

Pitching: High Cheese won last week’s series with pitching. They took five of the seven categories against the JetSetters thanks to Cole Hamels and Steven Matz. Hamels and Matz each had a pair of quality starts while Dellin Betances had two net saves/holds in three scoreless innings while posting a 24.00 K/9 rate. Bomba struggled on the mound in Week 18, finishing with a 4.71 ERA and 1.46 WHIP. Noah Syndergaard and Gio Gonzalez each lasted just five innings in their respective starts. Jason Hammel was the team’s best pitcher, tossing seven scoreless innings to earn a quality start.

Hitting: While High Cheese didn’t hit poorly last week, they couldn’t match the firepower from the JetSetters, losing four of six categories. Veteran first baseman Freddie Freeman led the team in runs (8), RBI (8) and OPS (1.730). Bomba’s hitters helped defeat a stubborn Let’s Play 2 squad last week, winning four of the six categories. Third baseman Evan Longoria scored five runs and drove in nine more. First baseman Hanley Ramirez also had nine RBI but he’s going to miss the next three days on the bereavement list.

Buster Hugs vs Stadium Mustard

Buster Hugs won their second consecutive series with a 7-5 victory over the Eephus Monkeys in Week 18. They have just one series loss over the last two months. They are now one game ahead of Land Shark in the East Division pennant race with a 111-97-8 record. Stadium Mustard is 95-108-13 and 13.5 games behind Buster Hugs in the division. They are coming off a 6-4-2 loss to Land Shark, their second series loss in the last three weeks.

Pitching: The pitching was abysmal for Buster Hugs in Week 18. The team earned a 6.75 ERA and 1.71 WHIP. Tyler Skaggs was bombed in his lone start, finishing with a 12.60 ERA over five innings, while Hector Rondon had a classic bullpen meltdown, getting one out while giving up two homers and finishing with a 108.00 ERA. A lack of pitching cost Stadium Mustard their series last week. They won just two categories and finished the week with a 4.56 ERA and -1 net saves/holds. A.J. Griffin failed to earn a quality start in two attempts while Carlos Estevez pitched 3.1 innings in relief and finished with a 13.50 ERA.

Hitting: Buster Hugs defeated the Monkeys last week thanks to a pair of runs scored and two additional RBIs. It was that close in the hitting categories. Infielder Starlin Castro led the team with seven RBI while David Ortiz finished with a team-high 1.076 OPS. While Stadium Mustard won just two hitting categories against Land Shark in Week 18, they were competitive at the plate, finishing with 43 RBI and a .929 OPS. Third baseman Kyle Seager drove in a team-high 10 runs, scored five times, and ended the week with a .986 OPS.

A-Rod’s Mirrors vs Warning Track Power

The defending champion Mirrors are tumbling down the league standings and are in serious danger of not making the playoffs. They’ve lost seven of their last eight series and are 95-113-8 and 13th in the overall standings. The Mirrors are 24.5 games behind Warning Track Power in the West Division. Warning Track Power remains the top team in the league with a 120-89-7 record despite a 7-3-2 loss to the Menehunes last week. It snapped a five-week winning streak and moved the Lower Haighters to within three games in the division pennant race.

Pitching: The Mirrors faced a red-hot Lower Haighters pitching staff in Week 18 and won just two categories. Blake Snell had a disaster on the mound, lasting just 1.2 innings while giving up five runs, two earned. Warning Track Power finished Week 18 with a 5.90 ERA, 1.49 WHIP and managed to win just one category against the Menehunes. Veteran Jon Niese gave up six runs in 1.2 innings of relief last week and finished with a 32.40 ERA.

Hitting: The Mirrors lost five of the six hitting categories to the Lower Haighters in Week 18 and had just 208 plate appearance. Jed Lowrie and Kevin Pillar both missed the series with injury while Bryce Harper had just four plate appearances. Mark Trumbo led the Mirrors with eight RBI but he also struck out 11 times in 28 plate appearances. Warning Track Power was lucky it faced the light-hitting Menehunes last week or they would have been swept at the plate. WTP posted a .711 OPS with just 176 plate appearances. Curtis Granderson failed to drive in a run in 20 plate appearances and ended the week with a .250 OPS.

Home Run 101 vs Hapamon

With last week’s 8-4 loss to Bacon, Home Run 101 hasn’t won a series since a 6-5-1 victory over the Bulls in Week 6. They are 80-125-11 and 15th overall. Hapamon is coming off a 4-7-1 loss to the Bulls and are now 84-114-18 and 14th overall. They’ve lost six straight series. It’s safe to say this series won’t be featured on Fantasy Baseball Tonight.

Pitching: While Home Run 101 didn’t pitch well in Week 18, they did win four of the six categories. They finished with a 4.47 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and just two quality starts but Bacon at Mile 11 was horrific. Reliever Ryan Buchter was Home Run 101’s most effective pitcher, tossing three scoreless innings and earning a hold. It’s safe to say Hapamon misses injured ace Clayton Kershaw. With just a few more solid innings, the team could have defeated the Bulls last week. Instead, they finished with a 4.91 ERA, 1.73 WHIP and were swept on the mound. Patrick Corbin had a disastrous start, posting a 21.60 ERA over 1.2 innings.

Hitting: It can’t get much worse at the plate for Home Run 101. They were swept by Bacon last week. They didn’t hit poorly, finishing with a .949 OPS, 33 RBI, and 35 runs scored, but they ran into a hot hitting team. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy and second baseman Jose Altuve each collected six RBI for Home Run 101 while outfielder Jason Werth led the team with a 1.278 OPS. Hapamon won four of the six hitting categories against the Bulls last week as the team finished with a .885 OPS and 38 runs scored. Outfielder Charlie Blackmon was on fire, scoring 13 runs with nine RBI and a 1.913 OPS in 35 plate appearances.

Let’s Play 2 vs JetSetters

The JetSetters had gone 11 weeks without a series loss until last week’s 7-5 defeat to High Cheese. The series was decided by a razor-thin WHIP margin, so a single hit or walk over the course of the week gave High Cheese the win. The JetSetters are now 115-91-10 and fifth in the league. They trail High Cheese by 1.5 games in the South Division. Let’s Play 2 lost to Los Coches Bomba 4-6-2 last week and, like the Cubs of yore, are playing out the season. They are last in the league standings with a 69-138-9 record.

Pitching: Let’s Play 2 pitched very well in Week 18 but managed just two category wins. The team finished 2-2-2 despite posting a 1.86 ERA and 0.88 WHIP. Reliever Adam Warren tossed three scoreless innings and earned two net saves/holds. The JetSetters also pitched well last week, finishing with a 3.53 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. Unfortunately, they ran into a hot pitching High Cheese team and won just a single pitching category. Danny Duffy was magnificent for the JetSetters, giving up just one run in a complete game quality start.

Hitting: With Yasiel Puig, Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Conforto out of the lineup, Let’s Play 2 finished Week 18 with just 167 plate appearances. It’s tough to win categories without opportunities and Let’s Play 2 won just two. Outfielder Mookie Betts carried the offense, knocking in 10 runs, scoring five times, and ending Week 18 with a team-high 1.273 OPS. The JetSetters won four of six hitting categories against High Cheese, scoring 45 runs, knocking in 40, and posting a .985 OPS. Outfielder George Springer had eight RBI, scored eight more, and ended the week with a 1.177 OPS.

Bacon at Mile 11 vs The Bulls

Bacon at Mile 11 snapped a two-week losing streak with an 8-4 victory over Home Run 101 in Week 18. They are second in the league standings with a 117-87-12 record and they lead the North Division by 14 games over the Bulls. The Bulls beat Hapamon 7-4-1 last week and have now won four of their last six series. They are 103-101-12 and can’t catch Bacon but they are in the mix for a playoff berth.

Pitching: Bacon had one of their worst pitching performances of the season last week. They finished with a 9.97 ERA and 2.03 WHIP, earning just a single quality start. Five of the team’s pitchers finished with a 10.00+ ERA. Vincent Velasquez gave up nine runs over 4.2 innings in his start. The Bulls didn’t pitch well last week but it didn’t matter as they won all six categories against Hapamon. They ended Week 18 with a 4.80 ERA and 1.45 WHIP and won both categories. Bartolo Colon was the most effective starter, tossing a seven-inning quality start. Outfielder Hunter Pence struck out 14 times in 28 plate appearances and posted a .475 OPS.

Hitting: As poorly as Bacon pitched, the team was swinging some hot lumber in Week 18. They swept the categories against Home Run 101 and finished with 52 runs and 36 RBI. Catcher Sandy Leon scored seven runs and led the team with a 1.650 OPS. Rookie second baseman Trea Turner scored seven runs and swiped a pair of bases. Bacon will face a Bulls team that is not swinging the bat well. They won just one category against Hapamon last week and finished with a .738 OPS.

Lower Haighters vs Marin Menehunes

The Menehunes came up big in Week 8, defeating the West Division leaders, Warning Track Power, 7-3-2. The Menehunes have gone 19-3-2 over the last two weeks and jumped back into the eighth and final playoff spot with a 107-97-12 record. The Lower Haighters are fourth with a 117-92-7 record and trail Warning Track Power by three games in the West. Their 9-3 victory over the Mirrors last week was their fourth series win in the last five weeks.

Pitching: The pitching staff won four of six categories for the Lower Haighters and posted a 2.79 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in Week 18. Nate Jones pitched five innings of scoreless relief, earning a pair of holds with a 12.60 K/9 rate. The Menehunes won four categories against Warning Track Power and finished with a 3.53 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. Rick Porcello pitched 15 innings with a 1.80 ERA and 0.73 WHIP to earn a pair of quality starts.

Hitting: The Lower Haighters drove in 45 RBI with an .850 OPS and won five of the six hitting categories last week against the Mirrors. Most of the damage came off the bats of shortstop Carlos Correa and outfielder Ryan Braun. They combined to score 12 runs and drive in 21 RBI. The Menehunes held their own at the plate despite finishing with a .744 OPS and just 15 RBI. They won three categories and tied another. Infielder Daniel Murphy drove in five runs while Adam Eaton Scored five.

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