Five weeks left -- that's all, folks. Head-to-head players are hoping to sneak into the playoffs, battling for a better seed or looking for a waiver-wire stash. Rotisserie gamers are focusing on categories with points in jeopardy. Now is when those willing to put the time in reap the most benefits. My job is giving you a head start.
Here are some hitters and pitchers to consider for your Monday lineups, a day you'll no doubt have openings with only two-thirds of the league in action.
Pitchers to stream
Jhoulys Chacin (R), 28 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, San Diego Padres vs. San Francisco Giants: On the average, pitcher's skills are about 10 percent better at home. This is park unadjusted, so it makes sense Chacin's numbers in Petco exceed that 10 percent mark. However, he's been even better than that at home, which is just a sample size effect. Look for Chacin's home success to continue in a juicy matchup against the offensively-challenged Giants.
Ian Kennedy (R), 17 percent, Kansas City Royals vs. Tampa Bay Rays: While it's early in the week to chase wins, if you can absorb some ratio risk, Kennedy is in a good spot for whiffs and a possible victory taking on the strikeout-happy Rays in Kauffman Stadium.
Mike Montgomery (L), 9 percent, Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates: Montgomery grabs another start while Jon Lester is out, drawing a Pirates club sitting near the bottom of the league in terms of production versus southpaws. Despite spending much of the campaign in the bullpen, Montgomery should be fine to pitch as deep into the game as his effectiveness allows, as he's coming off a six-inning stint against the Reds.
Andrew Heaney (L), 5 percent, Los Angeles Angels vs. Oakland Athletics: Heaney's numbers since coming off the disabled list are quite curious. In a pair of five-inning efforts, he's fanned an impressive nine hitters with no walks. However, he's allowed 15 hits with seven of those leaving the yard. Putting aside the fact the Athletics are above average with respect to power, expect Heaney's hits and homers allowed to regress. There's risk here, but Heaney has displayed ample to skill to hope the correction begins now.
Pitchers to avoid
Despite a short slate, there are several upper-echelon arms scheduled to take the ball on Monday. Even considering the need to be conservative in close ratio battles, it's all systems go for the studs.
Eleven teams have five or fewer saves in August. The Angles have five different closers registering saves this month. The latest to join the party is Blake Parker, who possesses the best skills of the lot. Cam Bedrosian is the closer, but he isn't used on back-to-back days and Mike Scioscia will occasionally use Bedrosian earlier than the ninth if dictated by the situation. Monday is the perfect day to add a guy like Parker to your lineup if you're looking to stabilize ratios while snagging some punch outs, and maybe a bonus save.
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.
Welington Castillo (R), 32 percent, Baltimore Orioles vs. Seattle Mariners (LHP Marco Gonzales): Castillo has always hit southpaws well; this year is no exception. In 20 2/3 innings this season, Gonzales has allowed 32 hits, including seven homers.
Yonder Alonso (L), 38 percent, Seattle Mariners at Baltimore Orioles (RHP Chris Tillman): There's no way to say this nicely: Tillman has been terrible this year, registering a 7.75 ERA and 1.99 WHIP. Alonso, along with Ben Gamel and Mitch Haniger are all readily available, and in line to have a productive evening.
Yangervis Solarte (B), 28 percent, San Diego Padres vs. San Francisco Giants (RHP Jeff Samardzija): I've discussed several times in this space how the opposing pitcher is my first filter when analyzing matchups. It's more than just the hitter in question versus the pitcher, but the team context. Runs and RBI are integral, and often overlooked, in all scoring formats. Despite his high ERA, for most of the season I've been reticent to use hitters against Samardzija since he's pitched into some bad luck. However, ESPN Research Associate Kyle Soppe tenders a strong argument to use Solarte. Soppe explains the switch-hitting Solarte has been more effective versus righty tossers this season while Samardzija has been weaker versus lefty swingers. Further, Soppe counters my skills concern by noting Samardzija's strikeouts have waned lately, sporting a pedestrian 6.7 K/9 in August. Add in Solarte hits cleanup and I agree with Kyle, it's a good time to deploy Solarte.
David Freese (R), 4 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs (LHP Mike Montgomery): Historically, Freese hits southpaws well. If you're streaming Montgomery, you may want to look elsewhere, but sometimes on abbreviated slates, you have no choice but to use a hitter against one of your pitchers.
Wilmer Difo (B), 5 percent, Washington Nationals vs. Miami Marlins (RHP Jose Urena): Difo has quietly filled in nicely for Trea Turner, including swiping five bags the last month. Turner will be back before the season ends, but until then, Difo is a stealth pick-up for bags. He's a switch-hitter from the 2-hole, so he always gets maximum at-bats with the platoon edge.
Lucas Duda (L), 10 percent, Tampa Bay Rays at Kansas City Royals (RHP Ian Kennedy): As alluded to earlier, Duda and his teammates may fan a lot, but they're also dangerous. Kennedy is one of the more generous hurlers with regards to homers, putting Duda, and Kevin Kiermaier in play.
Brandon Crawford (L), 22 percent, San Francisco Giants at San Diego Padres (RHP Jhoulys Chacin): After being dormant for much of the season, August has been kind to Crawford, as a healthy .938 OPS the last two weeks has pushed him back up to the fantasy-friendly 5-hole, after spending much of the campaign lower in the order.
Gerardo Parra (L), 49 percent, Colorado Rockies vs. Detroit Tigers (RHP Jordan Zimmermann): Parra barely makes the 50-percent cutoff so hurry if you want to use him, his ownership is likely to rise this week with six games in Coors Field. This is the most attractive of the bunch, facing a weak righty to open the series.
Kole Calhoun (L), 32 percent, Los Angeles Angels vs. Oakland Athletics (RHP Daniel Gossett): After a sluggish first half, Calhoun has his stroke back, registering a .975 OPS in August. He's in a great spot to keep the roll going, facing a righty allowing 12 homers in just 59 frames this season.
Nick Williams (L), 18 percent, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves (RHP Lucas Sims): Rhys Hoskins is deservedly getting the attention, leaving fellow rookie Williams to slip under the radar. Williams has more than held his own, with eight homers in what amounts to one-third of a season.
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.