While several big-name hurlers -- Clayton Kershaw, Jacob deGrom, Luis Severino and Patrick Corbin included -- adorn the top tier of Wednesday's pitcher list, late-season fantasy chasers might scratch their heads at others on the slate, which bodes well for matchup potential.
Streamers aren't exactly screaming at me, but I'll again include a season-long favorite.
Pitchers to stream
Vince Velasquez (R), 52.5 percent rostered in ESPN leagues, Philadelphia Phillies at Arizona Diamondbacks: I'm bending the rules for roster percentage as we head into crunch time, considering Velasquez is on the borderline of our usual 50 percent limit. He's spun back-to-back quality starts (two runs with 11 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings), though he walked five in one of them. The potential for whiffs and support from a solid if not great offense should play well at newly pitcher-friendly Chase Field, though a duel with Patrick Corbin puts him behind in odds to bag a win.
John Gant (R), 2.2 percent, St. Louis Cardinals at Miami Marlins: Marlins Park typically sends off a flare -- or whatever is still radiating from that monstrosity of an outfield statue -- for streaming, especially late in the season. Miami holds the second-lowest home wOBA (.288) in the majors. The finesse hurler doesn't teem with strikeout upside, but this could be a sneaky win for whomever throws him.
Lucas Giolito (R), 7.3 percent, Chicago White Sox vs. New York Yankees: Here's the gutsy pick. The Yankees' lineup is without Aaron Judge (wrist) and Gary Sanchez (groin), which makes this much more appealing. Across his past five starts, Giolito has surrounded a July 28 disaster with four quality efforts. Walks remain an issue, but this Pinstripes lineup looks slim without those big names, so if nothing else, the K column could light up.
Pitchers to avoid
Chris Archer (R), 92.1 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates at Colorado Rockies: Archer received a harsh welcome to the National League in his Bucs debut Friday, when he allowed four earned runs in just 4 1/3 frames. The welcome mat now has spikes on it as he tries to tap the Rockies at Coors Field. He threw a six-inning, 11-strikeout gem there in 2016, but unless you're desperate to chase K's and don't care about collateral damage, this looks like a disaster waiting to happen for someone who way too often misses harshly around the plate.
In the Astros' first save chance since activating Roberto Osuna, the controversial right-hander worked the eighth inning of a brilliant Charlie Morton start before Hector Rondon locked down the save. Perhaps Houston will switch things up for the rest of the season, supporting each reliever's fantasy value, but the club apparently saw no reason to strip Rondon of all save opportunities. The vet has done little to deserve losing them: Since June started, he's spun a 2.21 ERA, 11.29 K/9 and 2.43 BB/9 while going 12-for-13 in save conversions.
Projected game scores
Manny Pina (R), 0.9 percent, Milwaukee Brewers vs. San Diego Padres (RHP Brett Kennedy): Behold the only bat in the Brewers' stacked lineup who qualifies for Hitting recommendations. The Crew should harshly welcome Kennedy to the big leagues, and though not impressive in the grand scheme, Pina's .388 slugging percentage against righties is 108 points higher than his lefty split.
Greg Bird (L), 31.3 percent, New York Yankees at Chicago White Sox (RHP Lucas Giolito): Hedge against the Giolito streamer gamble on the fact that he's allowed the sixth-highest wOBA (.376, tied) to lefty bats and carries a 7.76 home ERA. Guaranteed Rate Field enhances lefty power, and Bird was robbed of a homer to center on an arguable Catch of the Year nominee Monday.
Jason Kipnis (L), 15 percent, Cleveland Indians vs. Minnesota Twins (RHP Jake Odorizzi): Odorizzi hasn't had a HR/9 lower than 1.39 in any of his past three major-league years and wilts against lefties (.361 wOBA, .260/.336/.520 in 223 plate appearances). Kipnis, who cleared the fences Monday, has fared better versus left-handers this year (.349 wOBA, compared to .281 against RHPs), but this is a productive platoon-focused matchup.
Colin Moran (L), 5.9 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates at Colorado Rockies (RHP German Marquez): Marquez has been saddled with a 6.63 ERA at Coors Field and yielded 12 of his 20 homers with a .350 wOBA to LHBs. Moran enters the fantasy discussion when a righty takes the hill (.281/.344 /.422 with eight homers in 288 plate appearances), and he'll enjoy an ideal park boost.
Matt Duffy (R), 20.9 percent, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Andrew Cashner): In a breakthrough season (.301/.353/.383, four homers, eight steals in 397 plate appearances), Duff Man has shown nearly equal success against righties and lefties. His contact-heavy approach should pester the hurler who's induced the second-lowest swinging-strike percentage (6.9) among qualified starters.
Albert Pujols (R), 46.9 percent, Los Angeles Angels vs. Detroit Tigers (LHP Blaine Hardy): Pujols has popped four homers in just 88 at-bats against southpaws this year, and Hardy's absurdly fortunate 3.25 ERA (complete with uninspiring 6.62 K/9, 2.34 BB/9) should crash soon. This Halos lineup should help contribute to that path.
Jeff McNeil (L), 1.8 percent, New York Mets vs. Cincinnati Reds (RHP Robert Stephenson): Keep rolling with the recent callup, who's 8-for-12 with a homer and two RBI in his past three games and crushed Triple-A with a .368/.427/.600 line for Las Vegas this season. Stephenson, who holds a career 5.10 ERA in the majors, had his own sparkling Triple-A campaign at Louisville (2.87 ERA, 11 wins in 20 starts) but also walked 4.5 per nine, which says he hasn't yet cured the control woes that have held him back as a big-leaguer.
Mark Trumbo (R), 21.2 percent, Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays (Bullpen game): This may seem like a gimme after Trumbo's thunderous two-homer, five-RBI effort Sunday, but he has an eight-game hit streak that's encompassed three big flies and 11 RBI. He'll have a variety of pitchers to square up against in another one of Tampa Bay's bullpen games.
Teoscar Hernandez (R), 26.7 percent, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Boston Red Sox (LHP Brian Johnson): Despite his contact woes in that split, Hernandez has shown more effective power against lefties (eight homers in only 117 at-bats). Johnson has yielded a .437 SLG and .336 wOBA from righty bats.
Jorge Bonifacio (R), 0.6 percent, Kansas City Royals vs. Chicago Cubs (LHP Jose Quintana): Bonifacio has yet to catch up to the 17-homer pace in 113 games from last year with just one in 27 this season, but the disappointing Quintana has allowed 13 of his 16 homers on the year and a .333 wOBA to RHBs this year while failing to command the plate against them (1.68 K/BB, compared to 3.38 vs. LHBs).
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.