With less than month to go in the regular season, we've officially hit the home stretch. Saturday brings us a 16-game slate, with Houston and Oakland playing a doubleheader, so there are plenty of options to choose from whether you're streaming pitchers or hitters (or both). This is often the time of year when fantasy baseball championship are won and lost, so let's bear down and make it happen.
Here are the top streaming options for Saturday's slate:
Pitchers to stream
Mike Montgomery (L), 25 percent rostered in ESPN leagues, Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers: Montgomery has bounced back and forth between starting and relieving this season, and he has performed well in both roles. In his four starts since the All-Star break, he owns a 1.88 ERA with a 0.83 WHIP. If that weren't appealing enough, the southpaw draws a Brewers offense that has been the worst in baseball in the second half with a 79 wRC+ and 28 percent whiff rate.
Chad Kuhl (R), 7 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals: I've frequently attacked Kuhl in the past, given his struggles against left-handed hitters, but he turned a corner in the second half. Over his past 10 starts, Kuhl boasts a 3.36 ERA with a strikeout per inning. The Cardinals offense is running hot right now (119 wRC+ over last month), so this isn't a risk-free matchup by any means. That said, Kuhl is running hot, too, and Busch Stadium is a venue that deflates offense.
Edwin Jackson (R), 21 percent, Washington Nationals vs. Philadelphia Phillies: I'll admit that I never feel completely comfortable inserting a guy like Jackson into my mixed-league lineups. Then again, he has posted a 3.29 ERA since the break and has registered quality starts in four of his past five outings, so the 33-year-old veteran deserves some credit. Now, a 5.57 FIP and 5.38 xFIP suggest that Jackson hasn't fully earned his 3.62 seasonlong ERA, but the good news is that the Phillies don't look like a team that's going to exploit him. The Phillies rank 25th in baseball with a .311 wOBA and .154 ISO versus right-handed pitching this season, not to mention a 24 percent strikeout rate that sits fifth-highest in the majors.
Jake Junis (R), 21 percent, Kansas City Royals vs. Minnesota Twins: Junis has quietly established himself as a capable option in deeper formats. The 24-year-old righty owns a 2.40 ERA over his past five starts with 27 strikeouts and just two walks. He also has fared much better at Kauffman Stadium, where he'll be toeing the rubber on Saturday. Junis should be able to continue his success against a Twins club that has been middle of the road against righties this year and is still without Miguel Sano.
I get that fantasy owners don't like trusting Fernando Rodney, but at some point you have to buy in. The right-hander has been a top-10 closer in fantasy this year, including a top-five reliever over the last month, yet he is still available in 32 percent of ESPN.com leagues. I doubt this number will change much over the season's final month, but if you have points to gain in the saves category, jump on in. The water's fine.
Pitcher to Avoid
Chase Anderson (R), 68 percent, Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago Cubs: I'm probably not sitting Anderson if I own him, but I don't feel great about starting him. The right-hander hasn't been as effective on the road this year, and the Cubs offense has really clicked in the second half, ranking second in baseball with a 113 wRC+. In fact, when Anderson faced the Cubs at Wrigley Field earlier this year, he surrendered six runs over four innings.
Projected game scores
GS is the projected game score for the pitcher. A "*" means the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate rating; these are the author's ratings.
Tyler Flowers (R), 11 percent, Atlanta Braves vs. Miami Marlins (LHP Adam Conley): Flowers is off the disabled list, stepping back into the starting role behind the plate. Not only does Flowers hold the platoon edge, he hits higher in the lineup than most receivers.
Yuli Gurriel (R), 49 percent, Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics (RHP Daniel Gossett): After 13 big league starts, all Gossett has to show for it is a 5.32 ERA and 1.54 WHIP. He has especially struggled against same-side hitters, surrendering a .372 wOBA to right-handed bats. That sets up perfectly for Gurriel, who is better when he doesn't have the platoon advantage. The 33-year-old sports a .304/.333/.505 line versus righties this year.
Joe Panik (L), 12 percent, San Francisco Giants at Chicago White Sox (RHP James Shields): There are certain pitchers I want exposure against whenever they take the mound. Shields is one of those pitchers. He has allowed a .303/.399/.606 slash line to left-handed batters this season and has a 6.22 ERA and 1.56 WHIP since the break. Panik, meanwhile, is batting .284/.340/.460 against right-handed pitching, including .310/.364/.479 in the second half.
Danny Valencia (R), 10 percent, Seattle Mariners vs. Los Angeles Angels (LHP Andrew Heaney): Somehow, some way, Heaney has allowed 11 homers in 19 1/3 innings this season, all to right-handed batters. That adds up to a .473 wOBA. We're dealing with an extremely small sample size here, to be sure, but this still a matchup I want to exploit right now. Valencia owns a .482 SLG and .205 ISO versus left-handed pitchers this season, setting him up to be a high-upside play on Saturday.
Brandon Crawford (L), 37 percent, San Francisco Giants at Chicago White Sox (RHP James Shields): We're going with both halves of the Giants' double-play tandem against Shields and his 6.22 second-half ERA. Crawford struggled in the first half, but he's batting .316/.380/.531 over his past 28 games. Guaranteed Rate Field is also a much better offensive environment than AT&T Park.
Asdrubal Cabrera (B), 16 percent, New York Mets vs. Cincinnati Reds (RHP Homer Bailey): Bailey just hasn't had it this season. He has struggled with a 5.88 ERA in the second half, having allowed at least six runs in four of 10 starts. Cabrera fares better against left-handed pitching, but this is still a highly appealing spot for the switch-hitter.
Brandon Phillips (R), 49 percent, Los Angeles Angels at Seattle Mariners (LHP Andrew Albers): After scuffling with his new club, Phillips has recorded multi-hit efforts in three of his last five games. He's in a good spot to keep it going, with the platoon edge against a mediocre lefty.
Lonnie Chisenhall (L), 7 percent, Cleveland Indians vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Gabriel Ynoa): The Orioles finally had enough of Chris Tillman, demoting him to the bullpen while giving Saturday's start to Ynoa. Ynoa started 21 games for Triple-A Norfolk before joining the Orioles when rosters expanded. Ynoa is not considered a top prospect, as he doesn't miss many bats. In year's past, Chisenhall was a risk, since he was often lifted for a pinch-hitter against lefty relievers. However, he's handled southpaws well this season, so he's likely to get the full complement of at bats.
Scott Schebler (L), 26 percent, Cincinnati Reds at New York Mets (RHP Chris Flexen): It has been a disappointing second half for Schebler, but he turned it on of late, batting .283/.381/.566 over his past 17 games. He'll get the platoon advantage against Montero, who is finishing up a campaign featuring a disappointing 5.21 ERA and 1.69 WHIP.
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.