Even during the final week of regular-season play, there's plenty on the line for fantasy baseball title chasers. Championship weeks are for considering players never expected to contribute. Take what helps, regardless of stigma.
Of course, a few widely available starting pitchers are in fine position not only to help in the present but establish sleeper intrigue for 2018. Why not get a jump on them?
Pitchers to stream
Garrett Richards (R), 36.2 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, Los Angeles Angels at Chicago White Sox: The injury-prone but talented righty has dazzled with a 1.86 ERA during four starts, with a whopping 20 strikeouts compared to just three walks in 19.1 innings. He figures to put an exclamation point on this promising stretch against a revived yet still young offense that has struck out in 23.7 percent of its plate appearances against righties.
Sean Newcomb (L), 8.8 percent, Atlanta Braves at New York Mets: The southpaw still struggles with control but has punched out 9.6 per nine in his first 18 major league starts. That alone is worth grabbing for fantasy managers chasing strikeouts. On top of that potential, the Mets carry the second-worst BB/K against lefties in the majors (0.30).
Chad Kuhl (R), 8 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Baltimore Orioles: The Orioles have the lowest wOBA (.277) and third-higest strikeout rate (26.5) in September. Though Kuhl failed to sustain a run of positive results in September with a letdown performance last time out, he's flashed brilliance at times, and this whiff-happy lineup could help.
Gabriel Ynoa (R), 0.4 percent, Baltimore Orioles at Pittsburgh Pirates: Oddly enough, it doesn't hurt to take a stab at either side of this matchup to try locking in a win. While not much of a strikeout artist, the 24-year-old has suppressed walks throughout his professional career, and 2017 has been no exception. Peppering the strike zone should help against Pittsburgh, who ranks directly behind Baltimore with the second-worst wOBA in September (.289).
Brandon Woodruff (R), 15.3 percent, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Cincinnati Reds: If you don't want to double up, move here. The righty has slipped in his second major league stint but still holds a useful 3.76 ERA during seven starts. Cincinnati has struck out 24.1 percent of the time in September, the seventh-highest rate in the majors.
Pitchers to avoid
Michael Wacha (R), 56.1 percent, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs: At this point in the season, it's probably best not to bench any reliable starter, even in a tough matchup. But this one comes close against the rejuvenated Cubs, who've touched up Wacha for a 7.88 ERA in three starts this year. That's no laughing matter.
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.
Austin Barnes (R), 3.1 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Diego Padres (LHP Clayton Richard): Though Barnes is actually hitting .327 against righty arms, he has typically done better against southpaws and has six homers in 106 at-bats against them this year. Check the lineup, but Barnes' hot play may have him pushing ahead Yasmani Grandal anyway.
Greg Bird (L), 11.8 percent, New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays (RHP Matt Andriese): Talk about rebuilding value for next year. The promising youngster has four homers in his past nine games (30 at-bats), and he's at his lefty-hitter-friendly home against a pitcher with a 5.60 road ERA. Fly with Bird.
Joe Panik (L), 15.2 percent, San Francisco Giants at Arizona Diamondbacks (TBD): The Diamondbacks haven't announced their Wednesday starter, with right-hander Braden Shipley the most likely candidate. If it's confirmed, that'd be a fine opportunity for Panik to capitalize on his .283/.342/.452, nine-homer line against righties on the season.
Jeimer Candelario (B), 12.3 percent, Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals (RHP Jason Hammel): He's day-to-day with knee issues but is expected to return Tuesday. Hammel has allowed 1.56 HR/9 to righty bats. If Candelario's active, go for launch.
Ozzie Albies (B), 23.6 percent, Atlanta Braves at New York Mets (RHP Robert Gsellman): Albies has one homer, four runs, three RBI and a stolen base in his last five games. Despite Gsellman's recent improvement, he still has a .351 wOBA on the year against lefty hitters.
Joe Mauer (L), 27.6 percent, Minnesota Twins at Cleveland Indians (RHP Danny Salazar): Not the most fun first baseman to consider, noting his lack of power, but at least he's clubbed all seven of his homers against this handedness. Plus, it doesn't hurt to ride his .350/.406/.472 line since August started, and lefties have touched up Salazar for a .351 wOBA.
Logan Forsythe (R), 5.9 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Diego Padres (LHP Clayton Richard): Pile on with Dodgers RHBs. Maybe this is how the 2017 bust can repay those still brave enough to ask him to help. He's .297/.429/.466 against lefties this year. That middle number especially can catapult points-leaguers to a solid day.
Derek Fisher (L), 2.1 percent, Houston Astros at Texas Rangers (RHP Nick Martinez): Lefties against Nick Martinez are typically a go. Also, if Jose Altuve (forearm) has to miss time, Fisher may move up in the order.
Brett Phillips (L), 2 percent, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Cincinnati Reds (RHP Homer Bailey): Seemingly locking down center field on the top side of a platoon with Keon Broxton, this formerly hyped prospect should take some fine cuts against Bailey
Austin Jackson (R), 7 percent, Cleveland Indians vs. Minnesota Twins (LHP Adalberto Mejia): Jackson, who's come out of almost nowhere to deliver a .320 clip on the year, is one of many right-handed Tribe bats against the southpaw are set to rake.
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.