Sorry, but I have bad news for those in search of a hidden gem to stream on the last day of most fantasy scoring periods: There isn't much available.
Hopefully, you own Clayton Kershaw or Corey Kluber, two of the top hurlers in the game. Kluber has been dealing with a sore neck but is slated to take the hill on Sunday. Other featured starters include Stephen Strasburg facing Robbie Ray while the Sunday night game (8:00 p.m., ESPN) spotlights the resurgent Michael Wacha and the St. Louis Cardinals squaring off with the newly acquired Jose Quintana and the Chicago Cubs.
We're getting down to the last weeks to fight for the playoffs in head-to-head leagues. Here's some players available to help get you into the playoffs or add to your category totals in rotisserie formats.
Pitchers to stream
Ty Blach (L), 10 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, San Francisco Giants vs. San Diego Padres: Blach has tossed three straight quality starts, allowing just five earned runs in 19 1/3 innings. However, his low strikeout rate puts him at risk, even against a weaker offense like the Padres. Some will look at the Padres' high strikeout rate and opine the advantage goes to Blach, suggesting he could fan more than normal. The opposing narrative is the Padres have a better chance of putting the ball in play against Blach than other hurlers.
Jerad Eickhoff (R), 9 percent, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Milwaukee Brewers: Speaking of strikeouts, that's the impetus of deploying Eickhoff. The Brewers are dangerous, but they whiff a ton. When Eickhoff has his curve breaking, he can tantalize any lineup. To that end, Eickhoff has fanned 16 over his past 11 frames, settling into a groove after coming off the disabled list.
Junior Guerra (R), 8 percent, Milwaukee Brewers at Philadelphia Phillies: Guerra has been scuffling lately, but on a day where viable spot starters are scant, he makes the cut by virtue of facing the third-worst lineup versus righties. In addition, the Phillies strikeout at an elevated 24 percent clip versus righties. Though, the same reasoning can be applied here as above about Blach: Guerra is not especially dominant, giving the free-swinging Phillies a chance to keep Guerra in a rut.
Rafael Montero (R), 1 percent, New York Mets vs. Oakland Athletics: Wrapping up the less-than-stellar streaming options is Montero, facing a surprisingly productive lineup that will be without its designated hitter. The Athletics do most of their damage via the long ball. However, in a record-setting season, Montero has allowed only two homers in 45 frames.
Pitchers to avoid
Ivan Nova (R), 82 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates at Colorado Rockies: Nova has the stuff and control to frustrate any lineup, but he's too much of a risk at altitude in Denver. Plus, he doesn't have a strikeout floor to help those seeking whiffs.
Dylan Bundy (R), 57 percent, Baltimore Orioles vs. Houston Astros: Perhaps because everyone is focused on Kevin Gausman's disappointing campaign, Bundy's slide has escaped fantasy ire. Over the past two months, Bundy checks in with a rather unsightly 5.58 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. He's been even worse lately, recording a 7.18 ERA the past month and now he draws the best offense in the league.
With the trade deadline looming, now's the time many in deeper formats speculate on those moving into the closer role after a trade. It seems every season the Braves deal Jim Johnson. If this comes to fruition, either Jose Ramirez or Arodys Vizcaino should inherit ninth inning duties. Most assume the honors will go to Vizcaino, recently activated from the disabled list. Vizcaino has picked up the reigns from Johnson previously, but don't overlook the job Ramirez did in setup while Vizcaino was out.
Projected game scores
GS is the projected game score for the pitcher. The asterisk (*) means that the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate rating; these are the author's ratings.
Tucker Barnhart (B), 1 percent, Cincinnati Reds vs. Miami Marlins (RHP Tom Koehler): Koehler isn't very good. You want as many Reds as you can manage, with Barnhart likely available and playing. Scott Schebler and Scooter Gennett could be available in shallower leagues.
Lucas Duda (L), 9 percent, New York Mets vs. Oakland Athletics (RHP Daniel Gossett): Part of what I like to do in this space is introduce new names, even if there's a Daily Notes regular in a better spot. However, with many head-to-head league playoff races in the balance, there's no reason to get cute. Duda is available in nine out of 10 leagues and is in a great spot against a middling righty that's surrendered seven homers over his last 21 1/3 innings.
Derek Dietrich (L), 1 percent, Miami Marlins at Cincinnati Reds (RHP Sal Romano): Dietrich may be having an off year, but his contact rate is a career best so the hits should pick up over the rest of the second half.
Nicholas Castellanos (R), 46 percent, Detroit Tigers at Minnesota Twins (LHP Adalberto Mejia): The only negative about Castellanos these days is his switch from Nick to Nicholas costing me a few minutes updating my spreadsheets. He continues to hit the ball with authority with more deserved results over the past month or so. To be honest, he should be owned in far more leagues. Pick him up for this prime encounter with a raw southpaw then ride this strong hitting the rest of the season.
Tim Anderson (R), 7 percent, Chicago White Sox at Kansas City Royals (LHP Travis Wood): Anderson is another hitter that's been better lately, recovering nicely from a .204 average over the first month of the season. After enjoying some success as a bullpen arm, Wood has been thrust back into the rotation where the results haven't been as rosy. The southpaw has allowed eight runs in 8 1/3 innings in his last two starts.
Josh Bell (B), 23 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates at Colorado Rockies (LHP Kyle Freeland): After going 4-for-6 with 4 RBI Friday night, the Pirates will have a hard time convincing Bell to leave Coors Field. Sunday affords Bell another chance to pad his stats at altitude.
Brad Miller (L), 20 percent, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Texas Rangers (RHP Tyson Ross): It has been a tough season for the Ross family with Joe undergoing Tommy John surgery and Tyson struggling to find his rhythm after missing the first half recovering from thoracic outlet surgery. Miller is in a nice spot, hitting fifth with the platoon edge.
Whit Merrifield (R), 49 percent, Kansas City Royals vs. Chicago White Sox (LHP Derek Holland): I really hope this is the last time we have to highlight Merrifield in this space. It's not that he doesn't deserve it, quite the opposite. Like Castellanos, Merrifield should be on more fantasy rosters, especially if you're looking for steals. The Royals' leadoff hitter has quietly amassed 16 steals, being caught just once.
Gerardo Parra (L), 37 percent, Colorado Rockies vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Ivan Nova): Parra's been hitting third or fourth a lot lately. He's already a solid option with the platoon edge, add in a prime lineup spot and he should be a top your Sunday wish list.
Ryan Raburn (R), less than 1 percent, Washington Nationals at Arizona Diamondbacks (LHP Robbie Ray): With Jayson Werth sidelined, Raburn's been playing a lot lately, often batting second. Ray has betting better, but he's still prone to control issues and is susceptible to righty swingers.
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.