Time sure flies. We're looking at the last Friday slate in August. Next Friday is Sept. 1, when the focus will be on potential call-ups. To be honest, it is not the greatest setup for stream-worthy pitching, but there are some arms in a good spot to help. It's easier to find hitters, though the matchups aren't kind to middle infielders. Here are some names to consider as we head into the final weekend of August.
Pitchers to stream
Collin McHugh (R), 34 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels: An elbow impingement delayed McHugh's 2017 debut until after the break, Now, six starts into his campaign, the rust is off and he should be poised for a solid end to the season. McHugh isn't a stud, but he's serviceable. While there's been a lot of research on individual player's hot and cold streaks and whether they're predictive, there's isn't as much work done on team performance. This is relevant because for the season, the Angels are a bottom-third team in terms of production versus righties. However, for the past month, the Halos sport the second best weighted on base average (wOBA) with a righty on the hill. Using McHugh comes down to needs. If you need a win, he's backed by the highest scoring offense in the league.
Chad Bettis (R), 21 percent, Colorado Rockies at Atlanta Braves: For the Braves, it doesn't matter how you slice the season, they're a below average attack versus right-handers. Bettis will be making his first road start of the season, with his initial two outings taking place in Coors, where he still managed to toss a pair of seven-inning efforts, allowing just three runs total.
Adam Conley (L), 14 percent, Miami Marlins vs. San Diego Padres: Conley is coming off his best outing of the season, allowing just one earned run, fanning 11 with just two free passes in seven frames. Granted, it was against a depleted Mets lineup, but next up is an equally soft Padres club, checking in with the second worst wOBA versus southpaws in tandem with the third highest strikeout clip in this scenario.
Ryan Merritt (L), less than 1 percent ownership, Cleveland Indians vs. Kansas City Royals: The Royals don't offer Merritt the same punch out potential as the Padres, but their wOBA versus lefties is among the worst, putting Merritt is a good spot to vulture a win, even without Andrew Miller able to serve as a bridge to Cody Allen.
Pitchers to avoid
Jason Vargas (L), 86 percent, Kansas City Royals at Cleveland Indians: It feels like I've panned Vargas a lot in this space, but my confidence remains low and his ownership continues to be high. To wit, for the past two months, Vargas has pitched to a 5.64 ERA and 1.58 WHIP and it's not like he's helping in strikeouts, with only 44 in those 59 stanzas.
Ivan Nova (R), 73 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds: Pop quiz: what team possesses the fourth highest wOBA versus righties? Well duh, I wouldn't have asked if it wasn't the Reds. This, combined with Nova's recent struggles is enough for me to fade the Buc's right-handers, especially in the Great American Ballpark.
A few weeks ago in this space, I suggested tracking Trevor Hildenberger, righty reliever for the Twins. Sure enough, he's worked his way into high-leverage situation, picking up a save as well as some holds. Now, the sidewinder has some company with the recent promotion of John Curtiss as well as the return of Glen Perkins. Curtiss is where my interest lies, especially in keeper and dynasty formats. As opposed to Hildenberger, who averages 88 mph on his frisbee like fastball, Curtiss is the more traditional reliever, fanning a combined 68 batters in 49 1/3 innings, split almost evenly between Double-A Charlotte and Triple-A Rochester.
Projected game scores
GS is the projected game score for the pitcher. A "*" means that the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate rating; these are the author's ratings.
Miguel Montero (L), less than 1 percent, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Minnesota Twins (RHP Bartolo Colon): While Colon's been serviceable for the Twins, he's no longer a reliable hurler, as evidenced by allowing three homers in each of his last two outings. Montero's season has been a disappointment, on and off the field, but he still has pop versus righties. If Montero doesn't start, Raffy Lopez is in an equally good spot, also with the platoon edge on Colon.
Matt Olson (L), 2 percent, Oakland Athletics vs. Texas Rangers (RHP A.J. Griffin): Martinez will be recalled to take Tyson Ross' spot in the rotation as Ross is being moved to the bullpen. In 80 innings with the Rangers, Martinez has allowed a whopping 20 homers. The Athletics carry the fourth best home run rate versus righties, with Olson a key cog in their attack. It should be noted Martinez has been pitching well at Triple-A Round Rock, however, be needs to show he can carry that over to the bigs.
Brandon Drury (R), 21 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Francisco Giants (LHP Ty Blach): I don't remember what I had for breakfast, but I know Drury was one of the players highlighted on the opening day notes. He's the same player now as he was then; not good enough to be a full-time fantasy contributor, but someone to utilize in the right situation. Here's one, facing a hittable lefty in the desert.
Chase Headley (B), 9 percent, New York Yankees vs. Seattle Mariners (LHP Ariel Miranda): Headley's better from the left side, but even hitting right-handed, he's in a good spot versus Miranda, who's been scuffling lately. The Mariners southpaw has allowed nine homers over the past five games. Joining Headley in what should be a productive night in the Bronx is Aaron Hicks and Tyler Austin.
Amed Rosario (R), 26 percent, New York Mets at Washington Nationals (undecided): A.J. Cole is being summoned to take the start originally earmarked for Max Scherzer's return. A lot of attention is paid to platoon advantage in this space. However, one area it's less important is for righty-swinging base stealers as it's usually harder to swipe bags with a southpaw on the hill. The rookie has begun to use his wheels more, swiping a couple of bags this week, doubling his total since his callup. Cole's only tossed 22 frames, but has allowed three pilfers.
Rhys Hoskins (R), 39 percent, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Chicago Cubs (LHP Jose Quintana): What are you waiting for? No, of course Hoskins won't say this hot, but he did smack 29 homers in 115 games for Triple-A Lehigh this season after bashing 38 for Double-A Reading last year. The power is real.
Neil Walker (B), 22 percent, Milwaukee Brewers at Los Angeles Dodgers (RHP Kenta Maeda): Maeda's been pitching well, but as alluded to in the opening, middle infielders to pick up are sparse, so calling on an old friend is the play. Traditionally, Walker hits better from the left-side and will be doing so from the productive two-hole.
Mitch Haniger (R), 14 percent, Seattle Mariners at New York Yankees (LHP CC Sabathia): Haniger leads a crew of righty-swinging Mariners in favorable spots against a scuffling Sabathia. Danny Valencia, Guillermo Heredia and Mike Zunino are in play, as Seattle as turned to a Strat-O-Matic-like, platoon approach with their lineup.
Rajai Davis (R), 9 percent, Boston Red Sox vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Jeremy Hellickson): With Jackie Bradley Jr. on the disabled list, the Red Sox acquired Davis from the Athletics and will ask him to roam center field with their Gold-Glover is sidelined. Boston has been aggressive on the base paths, so expect Davis to have the green light. With steals such a hotly contested category, Davis is a great acquisition for the next couple of weeks.
Brandon Guyer (R), less than 1 percent, Cleveland Indians vs. Kansas City Royals (LHP Jason Vargas): Like the Mariners, the Indians deploy righty swingers with a lefty on the hill. Austin Jackson, Yan Gomes, Yandy Diaz and Giovanny Urshela along with Guyer are in the mix.
Hitter matchup ratings
Notes: Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's history (three years' worth, as well as the past 21 days) and 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. So, for example, a 10 is a must-start rating, whereas 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.