Less than half of the league is in action on Monday, with only seven games on the slate. The marquee series features the surging Athletics visiting the defending champions. The Astros, currently nursing a small lead, are getting healthy again, so this sets up to be an interesting stretch run between AL West combatants. Pitching streamers are very light and all are riskier than normal. There's hitting to be found out there for those filling lineup holes.
Good luck to those vying for a playoff berth in the last week of the regular season for ESPN standard head-to-head leagues! Here are some players to consider, all rostered in less than 50 percent of ESPN leagues.
Pitchers to stream
Zach Eflin (R), rostered in 44 percent of ESPN leagues, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Washington Nationals: August started well for Eflin, but he's hit the skids in his last two outings -- including getting hit hard by this Monday's opponent, the Nationals. In the big picture, though, Eflin is one of the reasons the Phillies are in the playoff picture. Expect a bounce-back in this home rematch with a depleted Washington lineup.
Brett Anderson (L), 23 percent, Oakland Athletics at Houston Astros: The Athletics shuffled their rotation, pushing Anderson to this key tussle with the division leaders. With a solid effort, Anderson will be in contention for "pitcher of the month" honors as he's posted a 0.67 ERA and an 0.53 WHIP so far this month. Beware, however, with only 14 strikeouts in those 26.2 innings, Anderson hasn't been dominant. Further, Houston has feasted on left-handed pitching all season. On another day, Anderson would be too risky, but if you're desperate for help to make your playoffs, Anderson is in play.
Sam Gaviglio (R), 3 percent, Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles: In an odd twist, the option available in the most leagues could be the top streamer of the day. Eflin and Anderson are much better hurlers than Gaviglio, but they don't draw one of the weakest lineups in the league. The "yeah, but" here is that despite sitting bottom five for the season, Baltimore has been one of the better lineups versus right-handers over the past month. Two of Gaviglio's best outings this season have come against the Orioles, fanning 15 in 15.2 innings, allowing 13 hits with six earned runs.
There are a decent number of available closers which could come in handy with an abbreviated slate. The first place to look is the New York Yankees as you could also fall into a save with Aroldis Chapman sidelined. David Robertson, Zach Britton and Dellin Betances are all in play. Other candidates include Toronto's Ken Giles and Pat Neshek of the Phillies.
Projected game scores
Danny Jansen (R), 9 percent, Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles (RHP David Hess): While he may not be the prospect Blue Jays fans have been clamoring to see, they're getting a glimpse into their future with Jansen behind the plate. The 23-year-old backstop carried an impressive 1.125 OPS into Sunday's action. He'll look to fatten that up this week against the poor Orioles staff, beginning with Hess and his 5.50 ERA.
Tyler White (R), 8 percent, Houston Astros vs. Oakland Athletics (LHP Brett Anderson): White has taken advantage of a second-half swoon from Evan Gattis, taking over as the primary designated hitter. White has recorded an impressive .310/.362/.678 slash line the last month, highlighted by eight long balls. As expected, he's been more productive facing southpaw pitching.
Wilmer Flores (R), 14 percent, New York Mets at Chicago Cubs (LHP Jon Lester): Lester has pitched better lately, sharpening his control and command, though his strikeouts are still below previous levels. It's been an off season for Flores, as he's had more success against right-handers than lefties, but a track record of hitting southpaws well trumps a 100-plate appearance sample size.
Ryan McMahon (L), 2 percent, Colorado Rockies at Los Angeles Angels (RHP Odrisamer Despaigne): The Rockies head to Anaheim for an interleague series with the Angels, all but assuring McMahon and his .357 average over the last week will be in the lineup, thanks to the addition of the designated hitter to the Colorado order. Despaigne was recently acquired by the pitching-starved Angels. He's only lasted four innings in his first two starts with his new club, allowing eight runs on 12 hits in those two contests.
Amed Rosario (R), 24 percent, New York Mets at Chicago Cubs (LHP Jon Lester): Despite possessing a well-documented case of the yips while holding runners on, Lester does actually do a decent job controlling the running game. Even so, he's allowed 10 steals so far this season. With 15 steals in 23 attempts, Rosario doesn't have a good success rate. Nevertheless, he's an option for those in rotisserie leagues looking for a jumpstart in the category.
Ian Happ (B), 32 percent, Chicago Cubs vs. New York Mets (RHP Noah Syndergaard): Speaking of pitchers vulnerable to stolen bases, Syndergaard was witnessed a silly 25 pilfers in just 106.2 frames. Of the Cubs available in more than half of ESPN leagues, Happ is the most likely to take advantage of that flaw in Thor's game.
Jonathan Villar (B), 14 percent, Baltimore Orioles vs. Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Sam Gaviglio): OK friends, I know Villar was relegated to a part-time role with the Brewers prior to the Jonathan Schoop trade, but he's playing every day now -- and he's beginning to warm up. While others are saving their waiver-wire priority or FAAB for a top prospect in September, Villar has demonstrated the ability to contribute across the board. He's homered three times over the past 10 days-plus and, when asked if Villar will be given the green light, Orioles skipper recently replied, "What's greener than green?"
Nick Williams (L), 19 percent, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Washington Nationals (RHP Stephen Strasburg): Until he displays the form of old, Strasburg isn't to be feared -- especially on such a limited ledger. The Phillies weren't intimated last week, knocking Strasburg out after just four innings with seven hits -- including two homers -- leading to five runs. Williams has smacked 15-of-17 HR with a right-hander on the hill.
Daniel Palka (L), 4 percent, Chicago White Sox at New York Yankees (RHP Masahiro Tanaka): Owning the platoon edge isn't crucial when facing Tanaka, though Palka does benefit in that regard. The main allure is Palka's power facing a homer-prone pitcher. The lefty swinger has 18 round-trippers in what amounts to half a season for a full-time player. A good 16 of those blasts have come with a righty on the hill.
Billy McKinney (L), 1 percent, Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles (RHP David Hess): Here's today's pick for deeper leagues, as the Blue Jays are also giving McKinney a look in advance of next season. Still just 24 years old, the well-traveled outfielder has been leading off and playing right field versus RHP. Since entering the lineup on August 18, the former Athletics, Cubs and Yankees farmhand has slashed an impressive .350/.480/.800.
Hitter matchup ratings
Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's history (three years' worth), as well as ballpark factors. "LH" and "RH" ratings account only for left- and right-handed batters, respectively.
Weighted on-base average (wOBA) is the primary statistic used in the calculation. Ratings range from 1 to 10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. For example, a 10 is a must-start rating, while a 1 should be avoided (if possible); a 1-2 is poor, 3-4 is fair, 5-6 is average, 7-8 is very good and 9-10 is excellent.