As the fantasy football season creeps closer, trolling the fantasy baseball waiver wire becomes more important. Sometimes you can catch league mates sleeping on some high-upside plays as their attention turns away from the diamond.
Of course, we know the season-long struggles of finding starting pitching, and the later we get in the fantasy campaign, the tougher it can be to unearth some gems.
We may have a big one on the pitching side, though, in the form of Wednesday's top arm.
Adrian Houser (R), rostered in 5.3% of ESPN fantasy leagues, Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals: The thought of adding him might've made us sick in the stomach earlier this year, but the righty has started in each of his past four outings, sporting a 2.74 ERA with a 9.78 K/9 and 1.96 BB/9, and he's worked against the Oakland Athletics, Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals. Houser is starting to gain more confidence in his secondary pitches. St. Louis has sizzled a bit lately but remains a bottom-tier offense versus righties (.304 wOBA ranks tied for 25th).
Mike Montgomery (L), 6.1%, Kansas City Royals at Baltimore Orioles: First streamer question: Who's facing the O's? Montgomery has waffled between starting and relieving in recent seasons, but he's really taken to starting lately upon his return to his first organization. Montgomery sports a 3.68 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 29⅓ frames as a starter, and despite the trip to Camden Yards, which usually accentuates hitters, the southpaw couldn't ask for a better AL matchup: Baltimore's .302 wOBA against lefties ranks 26th.
Mike Leake (R), 14.8%, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Colorado Rockies: Leake is nothing special (4.64 ERA, 6.34 K/9, 1.29 BB/9), but he's working in pitcher-friendly Chase field and catching the Rockies on the road, a split in which they rank 29th with a way-below-average 72 wRC+.
Archie Bradley gave up a homer on Monday but still recorded his fifth save since the righty stepped into the closer role for the Diamondbacks. He's still unclaimed in about 60 percent of ESPN fantasy games.
Three teams are deploying a bullpen game, although nobody involved is particularly enticing for fantasy purposes. The only arm meriting any consideration at all is Wade LeBlanc, doing the bulk work for the Mariners against the Rays, with Cory Gearrin opening. Matt Strahm hill take the hill for the Padres against the Reds before giving way to Robbie Erlin. Wilmer Font will again open for the Blue Jays at Dodger Stadium, with a probable parade of Toronto bullpen hands piecing together the rest of the interleague contest.
Catcher -- Josh Phegley (R), 9.2%, Oakland Athletics vs. New York Yankees (LHP J.A. Happ): Phegley still is solid vs. lefties (.786 OPS). Happ has allowed the 10th-highest wOBA to righty batters this year (.347).
First base -- Matt Beaty (L), 2%, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Toronto Blue Jays (Bullpen game): Beaty is an underrated piece of the Dodgers' platoon machine. He's thrived against righthanders with a .320/.358/.573, .383 wOBA and 140 wRC+. Toronto will open with a right-hander, but it's unclear who will follow. If Beaty isn't in the lineup, teammate Chris Taylor is another way to get a piece of this potent offense.
Second base -- Isan Diaz (L), 2.8%, Miami Marlins at Atlanta Braves (RHP Julio Teheran): Diaz has struggled with a .188 clip in his first 53 plate appearances, but those scrounging for help from the middle infield could look his way. A big reason for Teheran's 2019 rebound has been his ability to limit damage from lefty batters, but they're still reaching base against him at a .350 pace, thanks to his 4.65 walks per nine innings.
Third base -- Hanser Alberto (R), 7.7%, Baltimore Orioles vs. Kansas City Royals (LHP Mike Montgomery): When I have to dig into the dregs for our streamers, of course I'm also going to position batters against them. Alberto continues to post ridiculous numbers against left-handers (.407/.421/.533, .403 wOBA, 154 wRC+) and should help many fantasy players who can play with daily lineup changes.
Shortstop -- Freddy Galvis (S), 15.6%, Cincinnati Reds vs. San Diego Padres (Bullpen game): Cincinnati claimed Galvis off waivers last week, and he's rolled in seven games since changing teams with a .440/.423/.680 and two homers. The switch-hitter hasn't slacked from either side of the plate, which comes in handy since Galvis will get early at-bats against southpaws Matt Strahm and Robbie Erlin before likely facing a right-handed reliever later on.
Corner infield -- Jesus Aguilar (R), 47.1%, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Seattle Mariners (Bullpen game): Aguilar has been stronger against right-handed pitchers, but Wade LeBlanc, Seattle's bulk reliever, has struck out right-handed batters just 5.67 times per nine innings. As such, Aguilar has a chance to make productive contact for a few at-bats. Since joining the Rays, he's batting .318/.392/.386 in 51 plate appearances.
Middle infield -- Joe Panik (L), 1.7%, New York Mets vs. Cleveland Indians (RHP Adam Plutko): When the middle infield spots don't have many talented options below 50 percent free agency, we dig deeper. Plutko has wilted against lefty batters, striking out just 3.93 per nine. Panik hardly makes scorching contact, but the fact that Plutko can't put lefty batters away at least gives him hope to scrape out a few knocks.
Outfield -- Sam Travis (R), 0.5%, Boston Red Sox vs. Philadelphia Phillies (LHP Drew Smyly): Travis squeezes into the Red Sox lineup most often when a southpaw takes the hill. He's seized those chances by hitting five homers in just 67 plate appearances against them. Smyly should comply, having allowed 2.81 HR/9.
Outfield -- Corey Dickerson (L), 43.4%, Philadelphia Phillies at Boston Red Sox (RHP Rick Porcello): Let's stick with the same potentially high-scoring contest. Dickerson has continued his ease of batting vs. righty pitchers with a .328/.373/.613 on the season. Plus, he's cleared the fences three times in just 47 plate appearances since joining the Phils. Porcello has worse command against lefty batters too, posting just a 2.09 K/BB compared to 4.07 against righties.
Outfield -- Matt Adams (L), 1%, Washington Nationals at Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Joe Musgrove): "Big City" is just one homer away from tying his 2018 totals in nearly 60 fewer plate appearances, and he remains a steady lineup piece against righties, considering his .347 wOBA in that split. PNC Park has played drastically toward hitters this year, and Musgrove has struck out lefties at only a 6.9 per-nine rate.
Hitter matchup ratings
Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's history (three years' worth) as well as 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. For example, a 10 is a must-start rating, while a 1 should be avoided (if possible).