We've harped plenty in this space on the importance of planning your streaming pitcher strategy as the fantasy baseball season fades away, but it has just become even more vital with Clayton Kershaw (back) set to miss at least a month.
On that note, our top two Wednesday rentals should also sit near the top of Kershaw owners' pickup lists.
Pitchers to stream
Patrick Corbin (L), 24.2 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Atlanta Braves: Despite getting Freddie Freeman back in their lineup, the Braves remain a worthy fantasy target. Corbin boasts a 3.04 ERA with 53 strikeouts and only 12 walks over his last eight starts. With his renewed slider and K/9, he looks more like the 2013 version of himself that surprised the fantasy world.
Jeff Hoffman (R), 24.7 percent, Colorado Rockies at St. Louis Cardinals: Another potential Kershaw backup plan is to use Hoffman's road starts. The Cardinals are bouncing back at the plate of late, but Hoffman's 2.45 ERA away from Coors Field should play well with his otherwise enticing skills.
Ian Kennedy (R), 27.3 percent, Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers: The J.D. Martinez trade -- apparently during a going-out-of-business sale -- makes the Tigers an easier opponent. Kennedy still allows plenty of home runs, but with a 4.15 ERA and an 8.0 K/9 since May ended, he's done enough to get by.
Trevor Williams (R), 3.5 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates at San Francisco Giants: The Giants rank 26th with an 82 wRC+ over the last 30 days, still struggling to get to many pitchers. Williams holds a 5.40 ERA away from PNC Park, but AT&T Park will play friendlier for him.
Pitchers to avoid
Jimmy Nelson (R), 83.1 percent, Milwaukee Brewers at Washington Nationals: Even with the injuries Washington has endured, they remain one of the league's strongest offenses and still should make Nelson's owners hesitate, especially considering he's shown some cracks over his last three starts, allowing nine runs in 16.2 innings.
Along with Cahill, the Padres on Monday sent the Royals their closer, Brandon Maurer, who'll now serve as Kelvin Herrera's top setup man. This creates immediate intrigue for San Diego's bullpen. Breakout lefty Brad Hand is their current leader for saves. Phil Maton and Kirby Yates hang around -- but so does Carter Capps, who's dominating at Triple-A El Paso with 22 K's in 23 innings and is by many considered their closer of the future, when healthy. Hand or Capps could bring a decent haul if the Friars make another bullpen deal, but both deserve fantasy speculation ahead of the July 31 waivers rush.
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.
Hector Sanchez (B), 5.9 percent, San Diego Padres vs. New York Mets (LHP Steven Matz): With Austin Hedges on the disabled list, Sanchez has taken full advantage during a scorching July (.317 with four homers and 10 RBI in 41 at-bats). Righty hitters tend to do better at Petco Park, and this is a trap start for the underwhelming lefty. (Of course, even I cringed at the "Door Matz" joke in my first draft.)
Joey Gallo (L), 22 percent, Texas Rangers vs. Miami Marlins (RHP Jose Urena): With two homers in his last four games, Gallo is reminding fantasy players of his early-season barrage that's long cooled off. Urena has yielded 1.32 big flies per nine innings, making this an opportune time to keep Gallo active.
Cesar Hernandez (B), 19.5 percent, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Houston Astros (RHP Mike Fiers): Hernandez has delivered against righties (.302/.373/.407, with five of his six homers on the year, across 204 plate appearances). His .330 clip at Citizens Bank Park doesn't hurt, either.
Chase Headley (B), 7.5 percent, New York Yankees vs. Cincinnati Reds (RHP Homer Bailey): Perhaps the arrival of Todd Frazier has propelled Headley to produce. He's landed eight hits in his last 21 at-bats and should join the list of hitters who've peppered Bailey since the right-hander's return.
Brad Miller (L), 19.6 percent, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Ubaldo Jimenez): Jimenez has allowed a .428 wOBA to left-handed batters, the highest figure in the league. July has indeed been Miller Time, despite his .233 average this month. He holds a .788 OPS with two homers and eight RBI over 52 plate appearances since his return from the DL.
Rafael Devers (L), 29.6 percent, Boston Red Sox at Seattle Mariners (Andrew Moore): The hyped prospect likely will debut Tuesday, though the welcome mat may be left out through Wednesday thanks to Moore (5.70 ERA, only 3.9 K/9). Sadly, it was too obvious to include homer-happy Athletics third baseman Matt Chapman, who has left the yard in three straight games and matches up with the struggling Marco Estrada. He deserves acknowledgement, though.
Ian Happ (R), 46.7 percent, Chicago Cubs at Chicago White Sox (RHP James Shields): It was an obligation to fit in at least one Cubs bat against Shields, who continues to prove he could've been the Cy Young of the Home Run Derby. Happ's lineup place is a bit more tenuous with the Cubs' offense healthy, however, so check his lineup status before clicking him.
Hunter Renfroe (R), 10.3 percent, San Diego Padres vs. New York Mets (LHP Steven Matz): His .422 wOBA against southpaws places him in the top 20 for that split among qualified bats, and Matz continues to wilt against righty hitters.
Jason Heyward (L), 18.3 percent, Chicago Cubs at Chicago White Sox (RHP James Shields): Heyward continues clawing his way back into fantasy relevance. Despite an 0-5 Monday, he's 13-40 with a big blast and eight runs plated in his last 11 games. Shields might as well be a pitching machine.
Mallex Smith (L), 12.4 percent, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Ubaldo Jimenez): Pair Smith with Miller if you want to keep piling on against Jimenez with another lefty bat.
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.