Another Sunday, another slate of mostly matinees. The MLB Little League Classic will close out the docket, as the Sunday night ESPN affair between the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates is a home game for the Bucs but will be contested at BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The venue is the home park for the Williamsport Crosscutters, the Philadelphia Phillies' Class A-Short Season New York-Penn League affiliate. On paper, the dimensions suggest the park slightly favors pitchers, not unlike the Pirates' home digs at PNC Park. Starting time is an hour earlier than usual. As for the other 14 games, we have the usual array of pitchers to stream and hitters to fortify your lineup as the fantasy week comes to a close. Today's bats feature some hitters recently coming off the disabled list.
Pitchers to stream
Dinelson Lamet (R), 30 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, San Diego Padres vs. Washington Nationals: Really? A rookie taking on one of the top-scoring teams in the league? ESPN research associate Kyle Soppe likes the idea. Soppe points out Lamet has allowed two or fewer runs over his past five starts, spanning 30 1/3 innings. Furthermore, he has whiffed a hitter an inning during that span. Soppe notes Lamet is especially effective versus right-handed batters. With Bryce Harper out, an important left-handed weapon is missing. Daniel Murphy will have to be dealt with, but the rest of the Nationals' most productive sticks swing from the right side.
Luis Castillo (R), 28 percent, Cincinnati Reds at Atlanta Braves: Castillo is undergoing the usual peaks and valleys of a young arm, though he has tossed at least six frames in seven of his past eight efforts. Considering the league average start is 5 2/3 innings, this speaks highly of the youngster. Castillo draws a Braves squad with the league's sixth-lowest weighted on base average (wOBA) versus righties.
Adam Conley (L), 8 percent, Miami Marlins at New York Mets: An already depleted Mets lineup traded away veteran Curtis Granderson. This will be more relevant when it faces a righty, but that doesn't mean Conley isn't in a good spot. The righties he'll face aren't especially daunting. I prefer the other three options to Conley, but we're at the point of the week, and the season for that matter, when you sometimes need to settle for what is available.
Ben Lively (R), 1 percent, Philadelphia Phillies at San Francisco Giants: Mark Leiter Jr. has been moved to the bullpen, clearing the way for Lively to get another look in the rotation. He couldn't have asked for a softer landing spot, facing the league's third-least productive offense in a decided pitcher's park.
Pitchers to avoid
Justin Verlander (R), 97 percent, Detroit Tigers vs. Los Angeles Dodgers: Personally, I'm starting Verlander regardless of the scenario. However, in an effort to anticipate the question, I can understand sitting him if ratios are close. I just see a guy who has been crushing it since the break, recording a 2.72 ERA and 0.99 WHIP with 52 punchouts in 46 1/3 innings since the All-Star break. It's narrative, but Verlander seems like the type who wants to pitch his best against the best.
Sonny Gray (R), 86 percent, New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox: On the other hand, context here is important. If you're in a tight ratio battle in your head-to-head league, consider benching Gray. The Red Sox are a difficult offense to grasp. In this climate of swinging for the fences, they have the second-lowest percentage of homers per run. That said, they've gone long multiple times in 11 of their past 17 contests.
Just as Trevor Rosenthal had reestablished himself as the stopper in St. Louis, the Cardinals need to turn to someone else for ninth-inning duties with Rosenthal out with what's initially termed elbow irritation (though he's getting the dreaded second opinion). It wasn't a save situation, but the Redbirds called upon former closer Seung-Hwan Oh on Friday night. It's important to note that the Cardinals scored in the eighth, extending the lead past what's allowed to earn a save, but Oh would have likely been summoned if there was a save on the line. He secured the win, but not before giving up a couple runs, and it wouldn't be surprising if Tyler Lyons is given a shot, especially if Rosenthal's second opinion turns out to be bad news.
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.
Juan Centeno (L), 1 percent, Houston Astros vs. Oakland Athletics (RHP Jharel Cotton): A common theme on Sunday is looking for a platoon scenario instead of trying to guess if the regular backstop will get Sunday off. With Brian McCann and Evan Gattis on the shelf, Centeno has been picking up the at-bats with a righty on the hill. Cotton has been a disappointment, registering a hefty 1.50 WHIP in 97 1/3 frames. Joining Centeno as strong options are Josh Reddick, Carlos Beltran and Derek Fisher.
Danny Valencia (R), 14 percent, Seattle Mariners at Tampa Bay Rays (LHP Blake Snell): Snell's proclivity of allowing baserunners is also well-documented. Valencia has been playing outfield but obviously still qualifies at first base.
Yoan Moncada (B), 29 percent, Chicago White Sox at Texas Rangers (RHP A.J. Griffin): It's beginning to look like Boston made the right choice in dealing Moncada while keeping Rafael Devers. That said, Moncada is too talented not to get it going, and when he does, he'll be the combo power-speed threat we all covet.
Eduardo Escobar (B), 5 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (LHP T.J. McFarland): The Diamondbacks are making Sunday a bullpen affair, with righty Braden Shipley expected to follow the southpaw McFarland. Escobar is in a good spot as a switch-hitter, enjoying the platoon edge regardless who's on the hill.
Jose Peraza (R), 32 percent, Cincinnati Reds at Atlanta Braves (LHP Sean Newcomb): Peraza doesn't hit for power, and he hasn't run much, but he's been an on-base machine for the past month. It would be nice if he'd parlay this into some bags, and he eventually will, but for today, take advantage of the platoon edge and see what happens.
Josh Bell (B), 34 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. St. Louis Cardinals (RHP Mike Leake): Bell is a mainstay in this space, there to call on when the situation warrants. Let's tag Kyle Soppe back in to explain why this is a perfect time to deploy Bell. He reveals Bell has been raking since the break, as evidenced by a .321/.385/.538 slash line. On top of that, Leake is vulnerable to lefty swingers and has been having a rough August, as an 8.80 ERA and 2.02 WHIP attests.
Ian Happ (B), 26 percent, Chicago Cubs vs. Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Marco Estrada): Estrada's strikeout and walks rate are in line with career norms, but he's giving up a lot more homers. Happ already has three homers this week, and he's in a good spot to add to that even more.
Mitch Haniger (R), 12 percent, Seattle Mariners at Tampa Bay Rays (LHP Blake Snell): Haniger is the first of three fly-chasers recently activated from the disabled list. It's still unclear how the playing time will flesh out, but it's almost certain Haniger will be in there with a southpaw on the hill.
Kevin Kiermaier (L), 8 percent, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Seattle Mariners (RHP Yovani Gallardo): Not only is Kiermaier back, he's been inserted at the leadoff spot, hoping to spark a sputtering Rays offense. If you're looking for some steals down the stretch, Kiermaier has capable of swiping bags and should be afforded the chance to run.
Juan Lagares (R), less than 1 percent, New York Mets vs. Miami Marlins (LHP Adam Conley): Lagares was likely going to be in the lineup regardless, facing a lefty. However, with the trade of Granderson, he'll also play against right-handers and is another stealth candidate for bags.
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.