Tout Wars Finale

Just as I suspected early in the season, the championship in Tout has come down to the final weekend.  With three fifths of my original outfield out for the season with injury (Matt Lawton, Kevin Mench, Jeremy Giambi), my team's offense has not been as productive as projected.  In their place, I've had to hope for production from bench players and rookies like Chris Magruder, Pete LaForest and Adam Riggs.  And with several weeks of struggles from my starters (Esteban Loaiza, Sidney Ponson, Johan Santana and Josh Towers), my pitching staff slipped from a comfortable lead to fighting to regain top status, leaving me on the fringes of the race for the championship.

However, my season may not be quite done.

As of today, I sit one home run behind one of the leaders, two runs from breaking a tie with one team and moving ahead of another, two stolen bases from moving up in that category, .025 from moving up in ERA, .025 from moving up in WHIP and 2 saves from moving up in that category.  All totaled, with a good final two days I could move up 6.5 points in the standings, which is enough to tie for the current lead and perhaps win.  Moving up a point in batting average is also within reach (.019), but the team ahead of me would probably have to help out a little by either slumping or not having a particularly good finish.

The reason I'm optimistic about a big final push is that I'm close enough in so many categories that I don't have to depend on my replacement players for sustained production.  A solid finish from my core players - Mark Teixeira, Erubial Durazo, Eric Chavez, Jay Gibbons, Dmitri Young, Ramon Hernandez, Luis Rivas, Jacque Jones, Julio Lugo, Coco Crisp - and a good game (or two) from the rest - Jermaine Clark, Brandon Inge, Chris Magruder, Pete LaForest - and a big multipoint move is quite realistic.  Just one good day away, really.

On the pitching side, a move up is only a little more uncertain.  While I probably won't be able to make up the 4 win margin to catch the current leader in the category, I do have decent-to-favorable match-ups with my starters so that improvement in ERA and WHIP is quite possible.  In addition, I've replaced any starter who isn't scheduled to start with lefty relief specialists (BJ Ryan, Trever Miller) who might vulture a win or a save and should boost ERA and WHIP from favorable match-ups.  I also have a couple of set-up men - Rafael Soriano and Derrick Turnbow - who should contribute in the averages and could also contribute in the counting categories.  I don't expect Ugueth Urbina to get two saves this weekend.  In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't get any because McKeon may want to give him the time off to assure he's fresh for the playoffs.  Still, he may give him work on the final day of the season just to make sure he doesn't get any rust.  With the travel days off in the playoffs, it's possible for a team to pitch their closer every game without them getting over-extended or tired.  So that leaves Fernando Rodney to pick up a save.  He missed out on a save on Thursday, but if the Tigers are to win either or both of their final two games, he will be a part of it and likely with a save opportunity.

So despite not having a particularly good draft, losing 60% of my starting outfield for more than half the season (around 800 at bats, projected) and having my closer traded to the other league to become a set-up man until the final weekend, I'm still in play for the league championship.  Given all my team has endured, a big push to win the title on the final weekend would be a fitting end to what has been one of the most challenging fantasy seasons I've ever faced.