Abandon all hope, ye who enter the world of late-season fantasy baseball pitcher streaming.
That paraphrased famous line from Dante's Inferno nails what it often feels like when you're scouring the waiver wire for helpful arms. It often scares even the bravest speculators.
Sure, the first suggestion for a Wednesday mound rental looks like the sleeper many thought he'd be in the preseason, but another carries a soul-crushing ERA, and the third will endure a trial in the pits of the hitter-friendliest underworld.
Of course, going against the grain often is the first step on the path to paradise -- a fantasy championship, of course -- so don't write off unexpected pickups that could pay off.
Pitchers to Stream
Jerad Eickhoff (R), 16.8 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves: The Bravos hover near the bottom of the league in BB/K (0.36), wOBA (.311) and ISO (.149) against right-handed hurlers this year. Even with Freddie Freeman back, they're a prime target for Eickhoff, who has yielded two or fewer earned runs in three of his last four outings.
Chad Bettis (R), 18.3 percent, Colorado Rockies vs. Detroit Tigers: He'll be facing an already waning lineup that could play without Miguel Cabrera (lower-back tightness, possible start of suspension). Bettis is adept enough to navigate his difficult home park, and even while facing Justin Verlander, he may make it a duel.
Pitchers to Avoid
Ivan Nova (R), 70.7 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs: Super Nova is collapsing with a 6.23 ERA in his last seven starts -- only two of them earning the "quality" badge. Expect Chicago to keep the regression train a-rolling for another station.
Even with Miguel Sano on the disabled list, the Twins should hit holes into the White Sox. Starter Derek Holland is tied for the second-highest rate of pitches per innings pitched (18.2), and Minnesota ranks tied for the sixth-best BB/K (0.44). Chicago has traded away its reliable bullpen weapons and is left with a crew that Minnesota may have a chance to pester earlier than usual.
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.
Wilson Ramos (R), 26.8 percent, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Kansas City Royals (LHP Jason Vargas): In his limited 2017 season, Ramos, who's hitting a catcher-acceptable .292/.343/.446 in August, has continued peppering left-handers. He'll also catch Vargas during his own Nova-like swoon. The southpaw has also allowed 16 of his 19 homers on the year to righty sticks.
Yonder Alonso (L), 38 percent, Seattle Mariners at Baltimore Orioles (RHP Ubaldo Jimenez): Jimenez's brief run of success in late July and early August has faded, and he allowed three big flies in his last start. Alonso sets up well to park one at hitter-friendly Camden Yards.
Logan Forsythe (R), 9.1 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks (LHP Robbie Ray): Even with a strikeout artist like Ray, a left-hander on the hill usually makes Forsythe interesting at least in deep leagues. Ray does walk 4.91 righty bats per nine, as opposed to 2.19 BB/9 for the other handedness, so perhaps points-leaguers can extract more value from the veteran at the keystone.
Luis Valbuena (L), 3.9 percent, Los Angeles Angels vs. Oakland Athletics (RHP Kendall Graveman): Valbuena has enjoyed a homer barrage, leaving the yard six times in his last 12 games while posting an astonishing .316/.422/.816 slash.
Jorge Polanco (B), 24.8 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. Chicago White Sox (LHP Derek Holland): As noted before, play your Twins. Polanco has sizzled in August (.378, four homers and a ridiculous 20 RBI), and Holland basically throws batting practice.
Dominic Smith (L), 6.9 percent, New York Mets at Cincinnati Reds (RHP Homer Bailey): The callup already has homered three times off right-handed pitching, and Bailey has been tagged to an .871 OPS by lefty lumberjacks.
Jose Pirela (R), 19.4 percent, San Diego Padres vs. San Francisco Giants (LHP Ty Blach): Use this other August riser (.289, four homers, 13 RBI) in the platoon-friendly clash, even though he's fared better against righties. Blach lives on initiating poor contact but too often fails.
Scott Schebler (L), 20.4 percent, Cincinnati Reds vs. New York Mets (RHP Rafael Montero): Though he only recently came off the disabled list, someone with 25 home runs needs to be more heavily owned. Montero has pitched well lately, but trust the platoon matchup.
Jacoby Ellsbury (L), 17.6 percent, New York Yankees vs. Cleveland Indians (RHP Josh Tomlin): Since the beginning of 2016 play, Tomlin has allowed the second-highest HR/9 at 1.74 (minimum 250 frames). (Thanks, ESPN Research.) Ellsbury looks locked in with an .825 OPS in August and is commanding more time in the lineup.
Austin Jackson (R), 2.3 percent, Cleveland Indians at New York Yankees (LHP CC Sabathia): Stick with this clash and stack your righty Tribe batters against Sabathia. A-Jax is .340/.426/.574 in his first 108 plate appearances against them. Righty hitters have delivered a 4.72 FIP against CC, and his 2.15 K/BB against them is much lower than what he does against lefties (2.83).
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.