September is a scramble for fantasy baseball value. Our top streaming pitcher pick may struggle to go beyond five innings thanks to a predetermined plan to limit his innings.
Still, talent with ticking clocks can offer help when it counts the most, as can players with horrifying season-long numbers who suddenly are turning things around.
Pitchers to stream
Luis Castillo (R), 31.3 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, Cincinnati Reds vs. Milwaukee Brewers: This is probably going to be his last start of the season, so he may not go more than five innings even if he's cruising. But he should cap an excellent debut year by piling up strikeouts. The Brewers have tallied the second-fewest runs since the All-Star break and have the highest strikeout percentage against righties this year.
Blake Snell (L), 30.6 percent, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Minnesota Twins: Ignore the ugly season-long stats. Look at his past five starts since being recalled from Triple-A Durham: 1.91 ERA, 24 strikeouts in 33 innings. He's attacking the strike zone more effectively, too. The Twins hold the highest wRC+ (130) in the past 30 days, but Snell prefers pitching at Tropicana Field (3.64 ERA, 4.26 elsewhere), and surging arms like this should be more widely owned and used during the stretch run.
Tyler Skaggs (L), 4.6 percent, Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics: The A's struggle against lefties (.298 wOBA this year, 27th in the majors), and Skaggs likes leaving Angel Stadium (3.82 road ERA).
Jack Flaherty (R), 8.2 percent, St. Louis Cardinals at San Diego Padres: The Giants, of all teams, toasted Flaherty in his major league debut Friday, but he doubles down for start No. 2 against the league's other weakest offense. As with Castillo, it's at least a favorable spot to build a strikeout count for the week.
Pitchers to avoid
For reasons yet to be determined by science, the Mets are throwing Matt Harvey on short rest. Sure, it's probably because he pitched only two innings Saturday, but it's a perplexing move given his health history. Expect a short outing, which means Phillies hitters may get to attack the Mets' bullpen (4.54 ERA, 24th in the majors) earlier, which is always good.
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.
Martin Maldonado (R), 4.4 percent, Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics (LHP Sean Manaea): Manaea has worked sluggishly with a 6.14 ERA in the second half. Play the platoon advantage for a secret backstop rental.
C.J. Cron (R), 10 percent, Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics (LHP Sean Manaea): Angels party? Angels party. Cron's playing time might be in danger with Yunel Escobar returning from the disabled list soon, but he should start against this lefty. He's not going to be a batting average boon against either handedness, but he's clubbed six homers in just 68 at-bats versus southpaws and just finished an absurd August (.308, 7 HR, 18 RBI, .981 OPS).
Howie Kendrick (R), 32.2 percent, Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins (LHP Dillon Peters): He's 1-for-14 to start September but comes off a scorching August. He's not far off from recapturing that, especially against a lefty in his second start in the majors -- and above Double-A.
Ryon Healy (R), 36.3 percent, Oakland Athletics vs. Los Angeles Angels (LHP Tyler Skaggs): Deploy that .398 wOBA against lefties whenever possible, even if it's against one of our daily recommendations.
Alcides Escobar (R), 3.3 percent, Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers (LHP Matthew Boyd): Righty bats have tagged Boyd to a .373 wOBA, the sixth highest among qualified pitchers, so righty Royals batters will be in high demand for daily-transaction setups. Escobar has turned things around since May ended and has averaged a useful .270 against southpaws.
Johan Camargo (B), 1.3 percent, Atlanta Braves vs. Texas Rangers (LHP Cole Hamels): If Camargo gets at-bats against Hamels, he should connect for at least one knock. Call it a short sample size, but Camargo is 23-for-57 (.404) against southpaws this year, and again, this isn't the ace-level Hamels the fantasy community is used to.
Jose Reyes (B), 14.3 percent, New York Mets vs. Philadelphia Phillies (RHP Nick Pivetta): Across his seven-game hit streak, Reyes is 11-for-26 with four stolen bases and a 1.174 OPS. The hittable Pivetta should help Reyes either continue or restart that run.
Scott Schebler (L), 26.9 percent, Cincinnati Reds vs. Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Matt Garza): Schebler holds a gaudy .266 ISO against righty hurlers this year, and Garza carries an .842 OPS against lefty bats. Go for launch.
Hunter Pence (R), 13.1 percent, San Francisco Giants at Colorado Rockies (LHP Kyle Freeland): In road at-bats against left-handers, Pence has a 0.56 BB/K and a .208 ISO. Buy this before you trust Freeland's 3.48 ERA at Coors Field.
Jorge Bonifacio (R), 1.5 percent, Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers (LHP Matthew Boyd): Keep picking on Boyd. Bonifacio's .230 clip against lefties hasn't wowed, but he's clubbed five homers in 100 at-bats against them -- a handy rate for those looking for deep-league help. Expect him to start in favor of offensive ghost Alex Gordon.
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.