Can you believe September is just days away? We are in the stretch run now where every RBI, SB, and K could be the difference between a title and spending the winter wondering what went wrong. With fantasy football firing up, some fantasy aren't as attentive to their teams -- and while that is a bummer, it's a fact of the game. Now is the time to double time on your diligence and make sure you're giving yourself the best opportunities to succeed.
Scour the wire, check out those matchups, and see if any of the below players fit your plan for winning!
Pitchers to Stream
Luke Weaver (R), Rostered in 31 percent of ESPN leagues, St. Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers: Weaver just beat up on the Brewers earlier this month (6 IP/2 ER/8 K) and he'll look to repeat the feat on Tuesday. The Brewers have the highest strikeout rate against righties this year at 26 percent and sit just 20th in wRC+ against right-handed pitching. They've also been the lowest scoring team since the All-Star break. Weaver only has 23.3 innings split between three starts and three relief appearances and he's posted a 2.31 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 28 percent strikeout rate, and 9 percent walk rate.
R.A. Dickey (R), 20 percent, Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies: Dickey has quietly been rolling for a while with 2.74 ERA over his last 12 starts. Home runs are usually the issue when he struggles, so facing the team with the third-fewest homers against righties seems like a good idea. He's trounced Philly twice this year, including a 7 IP/0 ER/8 K gem in the midst of this 12-start surge. He also hit them with a 7 IP/1 ER/8 K performance back in June.
Luis Perdomo (R), 4 percent, San Diego Padres vs. San Francisco Giants: Perdomo has shown flashes throughout the season, but he has struggled to find consistent success. That said, he has gone at least six innings in each of his last seven starts and while he has a 4.64 ERA in that stretch, that's essentially a quality start level (6 IP/3 ER = 4.50 ERA). I know a 4.50 ERA -- or 4.64 in this case -- isn't exactly special, but that's the average ERA for starters this year (well, 4.49 to be exact). I think Perdomo can at least deliver a baseline quality start against the lowly Giants, and perhaps even better. They have the fewest homers against righties by a wide margin with just 73 (next lowest is 92) and their .689 OPS is unsurprisingly also a league-low.
Pitchers to Avoid
Michael Fulmer (R), 88 percent, Detroit Tigers at Colorado Rockies: Sometimes the obvious answer is the right one. At his best, I can easily see Fulmer surviving Coors, but he's been wobbly of late (5.97 ERA in his last six starts) and not completely healthy (a DL stint is sandwiched within those six starts). Let's just avoid him at Coors.
Things are going to get wild at Coors over the next few days with two of the worst bullpens in the second half toeing the slab. The Rockies' bullpen was a strength in the first half, but their 4.73 ERA in the second half slots 24th. The Tigers, of course, have had bullpen issues for the last 2000 years and it's even worse as they enter a full-on rebuild stage with a 5.71 ERA in the second half (29th in the league). Even the non-stars of both offenses should be started here.
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.
Evan Gattis (R), 48 percent, Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers (LHP Martin Perez): Gattis is posting a healthy .232 ISO against lefties this year, continuing a career-long trend of hitting lefties (career .234 ISO, .810 OPS). Perez is allowing a .312/.367/.492 line against righties and has allowed the same number of homers he did in the first half (nine) in 32 fewer innings.
Josh Bell (B), 50 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs (RHP Jake Arrieta): Bell's breakout season has been built off of righties as 16 of his 22 homers have come against them -- as well as a sharp .279/.358/.516 line. If you've read me regularly every Tuesday here, you know I almost never cite batter vs. pitcher numbers because the samples are usually too small to matter, but Bell just hasn't flinched against Arrieta with a 6-for-11 showing that includes 2 2B, 1 HR, 3 BB, and just 2 K in 14 PA. Add in that Arrieta is allowing a .260/.332/.468 to lefties with 10 HR allowed -- as many as he allowed in 2015-16 combined -- and it's easy to see why I'm picking up Bell.
Kolten Wong (L), 19 percent, St. Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Matt Garza): Wong is having a really nice season. He's got a .310/.395/.472 line against righties which is nearly identical to his .331/.400/.478 line against everyone in the second half, including three homers after just one in the first half. Garza is giving up a .279/.358/.498 line to lefties. This is his third straight season of a 33 percent or higher hard contact rate and 16 percent or lower strikeout rate. He's also allowed eight homers in his last four starts (of course his 0 HR game was at the Giants).
Luis Valbuena (L), 3 percent, Los Angeles Angels vs. Oakland Athletics (RHP Chris Smith): Valbuena is a straight-up platoon player these days, but he muscles against righties with aplomb (16 of his 17 HR). Valbuena managed just a .584 OPS in 169 PA through June, but has since dropped an .893 in 130 PA over the last two months. Six of his homers have come in his last 11 games, too. Smith has posted a reverse platoon split this year (.694 OPS vs. lefties), but I'm willing to bet on Valbuena's success against righties over Smith's against lefties.
Jorge Polanco (B), 22 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. Chicago White Sox (RHP James Shields): I'm sure you're aware of how much Byron Buxton is dominating right now, but Polanco has also been a huge part of Minnesota's success that has them in the thick of the wildcard race. He has a .378/.411/.656 line with 4 HR and 3 SB over the last month. I'll detail Shields' deficiencies against lefties in the outfield section when highlighting another Twin.
Tommy La Stella (L), 1 percent, Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Chad Kuhl): Make sure you check lineups to see if La Stella is starting, but he's been fantastic in the second half with a filthy .394/.475/.788 line and 4 HR in 41 PA, most of the damage being done in 15 games this month. His 4 HR against righties in 96 PA this year match his total in 508 PA from 2014-16.
Yolmer Sanchez (B), 2 percent, Chicago White Sox at Minnesota Twins (RHP Ervin Santana): FYI: He may be listed as Carlos Sanchez in some places still, but it's the same guy. We're just looking to spike a good game out of a low-end middle infielder here. He has a .268/.324/.406 line against righties that includes 9 2B, 4 3B, and 7 HR as well as 4 SB, but also 5 CS -- so he's not very efficient. If I were ranking my picks by confidence of success, Sanchez would slot last, even lower than the 1 percent La Stella and our 1 percent outfielder coming up.
Max Kepler (L), 19 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. Chicago White Sox (RHP James Shields): Kepler does his damage against righties (.280/.343/.512) thanks to a 38 percent hard contact rate and 17 percent strikeout rate. While he isn't having the best second half overall (.662 OPS), he still has a .197 ISO. Shields turns lefties into superstars with a .306/.400/.625 line this year. He has more 3+ HR games (3) than 0 HR games (2) this year.
Denard Span (L), 19 percent, San Francisco Giants at San Diego Padres (RHP Luis Perdomo): We're going against one of our pitchers here, but Span always does his best against righties with a .277/.328/.452 against them this year and .308/.365/.444 from 2014-16. Perdomo allows a .314/.390/.462 line to lefties which isn't quite Shieldsian, but still rough.
Seth Smith (L), 1 percent, Baltimore Orioles vs. Seattle Mariners (RHP Erasmo Ramirez): Smith is the perfect spot-starter when he's facing a righty. He has hit 50 of his 52 HR since 2014 against righties while Ramirez has allowed a .272/.333/.510 line to lefties. Smith is also surging in the second half with a .289/.419/.500 line that includes three homers.
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.