The 2017 season is rapidly coming to a close, but there are titles to be won in fantasy leagues! Don't sleep on your ability to move in the standings as every strikeout, homer or stolen base could be the difference. After a couple of tough weeks in August, when the pickings were particularly slim, the waiver wire has thickened up a bit thanks to September roster expansion.
Pitchers to stream
Kyle Gibson (R), 18 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, Minnesota Twins vs. San Diego Padres: Don't look now, but Gibson has four straight quality starts (1.69 ERA) and a 3.19 ERA over his last eight. Of course, he's only down to a 5.19 ERA despite the good work, so that tells you how he was doing in his first 17 starts (6.29 ERA, for those curious). In the four quality starts, Gibson has a 20-to-3 K/BB ratio with a very efficient 14 pitches per inning during the run. Given his recent success, he'd be a worthwhile start against a lot of teams, but getting to face arguably the worst offense in the league makes him an easy start. The Padres are 30th in batting average and 29th in wOBA and wRC+, and they have the third-highest strikeout rate.
Dillon Peters (L), 1 percent, Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies: The college product from the University of Texas skipped Triple-A en route to the majors and has looked sharp in his two MLB starts so far, including seven shutout innings against the Phillies team he'll face again on Tuesday. He doesn't have overpowering stuff, but his command helps his fastball play up and his curveball is a plus weapon that he's not afraid to use (38 percent usage). Against lefties, the Phillies are 26th in batting average and wRC+, which helps explain Peters' debut vs. them (7 IP/3 H/0 ER/8 K) and sets up another gem. Just be careful with Rhys Hoskins (2 K, 1 BB in that debut).
Brent Suter (L), 3 percent, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates: Suter threw only three innings in his return from the DL on Sept. 3 and then an inning of relief three days later, but he should be ready to go with a regular workload on Tuesday. He had a 2.40 ERA in 45 IP through July before three August duds (8.16 ERA) that preceded the DL stint, leaving me to wonder how much the shoulder was ailing him throughout August. While he's not a true talent 2.40 ERA guy, he seems capable of a quality start or thereabouts every time out. The Pirates are 25th in wRC+, ISO and AVG against lefties, though they did clip him for seven hits in 4.7 IP back on July 17, though they managed just two runs.
Pitchers to avoid
Johnny Cueto (R), 76 percent, San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers are in a tailspin that no one saw coming and Cueto has made a couple solid starts off the DL (5 1/3 IP, 2 ER and 5 IP, 1 ER), but I'm avoiding him here if I'm protecting ratios late in the season.
Instead of focusing on a team, I'll look briefly at a division here. You better hope your guys facing AL East pitchers get their damage in on the starters because four of the five teams in the division (all but Toronto) have top five bullpen ERAs in the second half and only the Orioles are substantially outperforming their base skills. Of course, we know they have the talent to close that gap, too, especially with Zach Britton getting back on track (six straight scoreless appearances).
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.
Robinson Chirinos (R), 30 percent, Texas Rangers vs. Seattle Mariners (LHP Marco Gonzales): Thrashing lefties has spurred a breakout season for Chirinos. He has a .361/.458/.705 line with 6 HR in 72 PA against southpaws and he's been tremendous overall since the start of August with a .366/.505/.659 line including 5 HR and 20 BB against just 17 K in 108 PA. Gonzales hasn't been able to get going against anyone this year, but righties are especially feasting on him with a 1.006 OPS.
Jose Martinez (R), 22 percent, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Cincinnati Reds (RHP Robert Stephenson): The Cardinals have done it again! Martinez is a 28-year old rookie who is just dominating at the dish with a .308/.372/.543 line, 13 HR, and 25 extra-base hits in total over 248 PA. He does his best work against lefties without a doubt (1.362 OPS), but I'm running him out there against anyone these days. His .280/.339/.435 line against righties isn't exactly bad and includes six of his 13 HR. Stephenson is pitching well of late (2.38 ERA in the last month), but is allowing an .842 OPS against righties (and lefties for that matter... well, .840 to be exact) which is why I'm comfortable with the righty-righty setup for Martinez.
Tommy La Stella (L), 1 percent, Chicago Cubs vs. New York Mets (RHP Robert Gsellman): TLS doesn't always play so make sure you check the lineup beforehand, but he has posted a .273/.369/.509 line with 4 HR in 66 PA during the second half. He also has more walks (9) than strikeouts (7) during that time. There is some dispute about whether it'll be Gsellman or Matt Harvey on Tuesday, but I'd use La Stella regardless of which guy is going. Gsellman is allowing a .280/.358/.478 line to lefties with a meager 1.7 K/BB ratio while Harvey is being torched to the tune of a .291/.379/.560 with just a 1.3 K/BB ratio.
Cory Spangenberg (L), 22 percent, San Diego Padres at Minnesota Twins (RHP Kyle Gibson): My weekly reminder that this isn't a DFS lineup so there are times I will go against one of my starters with a hitter pick. Spangenberg can have a good day without ruining Gibson's outing. Spangenberg is hitting .295/.358/.479 against righties this year with 29 of his 31 extra-base hits on the season. Even in the four straight quality starts, Gibson has still allowed an .805 OPS to lefties (.414 v. RHB).
Eduardo Escobar (B), 14 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. San Diego Padres (LHP Travis Wood): Escobar has a solid .272/.338/.440 line against lefties this year and he's surging in September with a .300/.317/.825 that includes five homers and four multi-hit games. Wood is yielding a .318/.348/.513 line to righties. His 6 percent swinging strike rate is a career-low and he's allowed nine homers in his eight starts with the Padres.
Carlos Sanchez (B), 11 percent, Chicago White Sox at Kansas City Royals (RHP Sam Gaviglio): I've recommended (Carlos aka Yolmer) Sanchez in my last two Daily Notes Tuesdays and he's gotten hits in both so let's go for three! The switch-hitter does his best work against righties with a .274/.330/.430 line plus 10 of his 11 HR and 7 of his 8 SB on the season. Gaviglio just joined the Royals, but struggled mightily against righties (and lefties) while with the Mariners earlier this year. He's got an .884 OPS against righties and an .833 against lefties so Sanchez could find success from either side of the dish.
Marcus Semien (R), 15 percent, Oakland Athletics at Boston Red Sox (LHP Eduardo Rodriguez): Semien has done his best work against lefties over his career with a .278/.327/.468 line, though it's a career-worst .230/.321/.338 in his injury-shortened season this year (just 67 games played). I still trust the career work and have no issues spot-starting Semien against southpaws.
Michael A. Taylor (R), 15 percent, Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves (RHP Julio Teheran): An injury derailed Taylor's breakout season (.831 OPS beforehand), but he's back on track with a .263/.327/.463 line since returning. He also has 4 HR and 4 SB, the homers all coming in his last eight games (1.334 OPS in that time). Taylor is 13-for-13 on the bases against righties with 12 of his 16 HR on the season. Teheran has been a nightmare at home with a 6.47 ERA and 1.55 WHIP in 80.7 IP.
Carlos Gonzalez (L), 61 percent, Colorado Rockies at Arizona Diamondbacks (RHP Taijuan Walker): Look who's back! He's over the 50 percent threshold we usually aim for, but he's been cut in a lot of leagues after a disastrous season, but he's sprinting to the finish line with hits in eight of his last nine games yielding a .464/.595/.929 with 2 HR and 1-to-1 K/BB ratio. Walker doesn't get hit hard by lefties, but this more about riding the wave with Cargo as he's finally looking a bit like the guy we've known for nine seasons before this.
Mitch Haniger (R), 18 percent, Seattle Mariners at Texas Rangers (RHP Miguel Gonzalez): Haniger was in my Sept. 3 fill-in Daily Notes column and he's only jumped onto 6 percent more rosters despite a .448/.448/.759 line since then, including a 4-for-5 on the day I recommended him. Good thing this is the last guy in column because I really got hurt patting myself on the back right there. Jokes aside, Haniger has gone hitless just once in his last 10 games with six multi-hit games and seven extra-base hits. This big finish is reminded us of his blistering hot April and could help generate some buzz for Haniger in 2018.
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.