Can you believe we're in the latter half of August already? Where has the time gone? While the time is ticking down on the season, there are still plenty of games to be played and even the seemingly secure leads can be thwarted. Keep your foot on the gas and continue to scour the wire for improvements. We have another slate of players to help you in your quest for the title and even a couple of guys who might be worth hanging onto beyond Tuesday.
Pitchers to stream
Patrick Corbin (L), 36 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, Arizona Diamondbacks at New York Mets: I'm quite surprised that Corbin is on just 36 percent of ESPN rosters heading into a two-start week at the Mets and home to the Giants while in the midst of a 15.3 IP scoreless streak and a 13-start run during which he has posted a 3.24 ERA. Although, it's worth noting that he has a 1.38 WHIP during that same run due in large part to 86 hits in 77.7 IP. A 19 percent K-BB rate and 77 percent left on base have been instrumental in limiting the damage of that gaudy hit total. The Mets have been a solid 15th in wOBA against righties (.323), but many of the contributing pieces of that total are now elsewhere with Lucas Duda (.393), Jay Bruce (.379), Curtis Granderson (.371), and Neil Walker (.371) have all been dealt and the departures have left the Mets just 25th in wOBA over their last 10 games.
Jose Urena (R), 38 percent, Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies: This pick is as much about the opponent as it is the pitcher, which isn't generally a balance I like. I prefer to be selecting skills over matchup, but beggars can't be choosy. Urena has a strong 3.61 ERA/1.21 WHIP combo on the season, but his 8 percent K-BB rate (league average is 12 percent) leaves a lot to be desired. He's finding success by limiting hits with a .228 AVG that is better than Jake Arrieta, Carlos Carrasco, and Chris Archer to name a few notables. Some of that is just luck as his .245 BABIP isn't fully supported anywhere in his profile. And if you were thinking his home park is aiding the cause, you'd be incorrect. His .162 AVG on the road (paired with a nearly-invisible .158 BABIP) is a key driver. Good thing he's facing a Phillies team that is fifth-worst against in wOBA against righties (.309) with the sixth-highest strikeout rate (24 percent).
Lucas Giolito (R), 11 percent, Chicago White Sox vs. Minnesota Twins: Giolito makes his 2017 debut on Tuesday, much later than many would've expected given his prospect hype. He is coming off an ugly 2016 both in the minors and majors while also toting a modest Triple-A line this year, but he has earned this promotion with his performance, posting a 1.71 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in his last five starts (31.7 IP). He also has a 22 percent strikeout rate which is perfectly fine, but it underrates his work a bit as he has at least six strikeouts in four of the five. While his prospect status has certainly diminished over the last two seasons, he is still just 22 years old and carries sky-high upside. A Twins club that just lost Miguel Sano isn't a terrible landing spot, either.
Pitchers to avoid
John Lackey (R), 66 percent, Chicago Cubs at Cincinnati Reds: Lackey has gotten himself back on track with a 3.29 ERA and 1.25 WHIP over his last seven starts, but don't let Cincy's 53-71 record fool you -- they smash righties. Their .332 wOBA is sixth-best in the league, powered by a handful of lefties. Left-handers have a .910 OPS off Lackey this year and while he did post a 6 IP/1 ER gem against them his last time out, I'm laying off here as I expect the Reds to get to him this time.
The Chicago Cubs bullpen has fallen on hard times in the second half after a strong first half. Their 3.26 ERA was fourth-best before the break and their ninth-ranked 3.85 FIP supported the success, but they've been sixth-worst with a 4.74 ERA and a 4.90 FIP since the break. We're already fading Lackey, but even if they don't fully get to him, the relievers have been opening the door for opposing offenses.
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.
Chris Iannetta (R), 1 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks at New York Mets (LHP Steven Matz): Iannetta is smashing lefties to the tune of a .292/.370/.563 line, keeping up his career-long success against lefties with a 146-point OPS advantage against them. He already has three homers in August after just two in June and July combined. He gets Matz who has allowed a .308/.347/.540 line to righties this year. He has a terrible 10.16 ERA and 2.08 WHIP since the All-Star break and he has more than one walk in all four of his August starts (just two such starts prior to August).
Josh Bell (B), 36 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (RHP Brock Stewart): Bell's power development has been an unexpected treat this season with 21 HR moving up the rookie record ranks for both the Pirates and switch-hitters. He's five shy of Jason Bay for the Pirates mark and six away from matching the switch-hitter record shared by Tony Clark and Eddie Murray. He's clocking righties to the tune of a .269/.348/.503 line and 15 of his homers. Stewart is more of an unknown than anything else with just 50 MLB innings under his belt and while he's been a little better against lefties in his career, I'm willing to bet on Bell here.
Wilmer Flores (R), 6 percent, New York Mets vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (LHP Patrick Corbin): Flores, like Iannetta, also has career-long success against lefties with a .278/.345/.544 from 2014-16 and despite just two walks in 101 PA this year, he still has a .284/.297/.537 with six of his 15 homers.
Yoan Moncada (B), 28 percent, Chicago White Sox vs. Minnesota Twins (RHP Kyle Gibson): We've picked Moncada a couple times since his call-up and I'm still waiting for that huge game. Six of his seven extra-base hits have come against righties and he's been markedly better overall in August with a .240/.377/.400 line compared to .105/.261/.261 in July. Lefties are clubbing Gibson with a .316 AVG, second highest among 102 qualified arms since the start of 2016, and rocking an .883 OPS this year.
Tim Anderson (R), 14 percent, Chicago White Sox vs. Minnesota Twins (RHP Kyle Gibson): Doubling up against Gibson as he's only 41 points better against righties over his career and just as awful this year with an .884 OPS. Anderson is surging over the last two weeks with a .948 OPS that includes 4 HR in 53 PA. He only has a .609 OPS against righties for the year, but this is a pick more against Gibson than for Anderson.
Cory Spangenberg (L), 36 percent, San Diego Padres at St. Louis Cardinals (RHP Lance Lynn): Spangenberg is doing virtually all of his damage against righties (.298 AVG, .844 OPS, 10 HR, 7 SB) while Lynn has had issues with lefties (.242, .812, 13, 1 - Yadier Molina keeps that SB total down). This is the perfect setup for Spangenberg and it coincides with his extended hot streak. He had just a .556 OPS in 31 games through May, but he's up at .853 over 66 games since June 1st. Spangenberg's power-speed capability makes him someone worth holding beyond just Tuesday's spot start.
Kolten Wong (L), 16 percent, St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Diego Padres (LHP Clayton Richard): Going lefty-lefty isn't my favorite play, but his breakout has been fueled in part by a jump against southpaws with a career-best .872 OPS in 62 PA. Wong is chasing less and finally letting his solid plate skills (14 percent K, 9 percent BB rates) carry him. Lefties aren't showing major power against Richard, but they are hitting .325 in 166 PA and their .742 OPS is a career-worst.
Delino DeShields (R), 3 percent, Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels (RHP Ricky Nolasco): This is a play for some stolen bases. DeShields has nabbed 41 of his 57 bases against righties, including 15 of this year's 24. Volume alone certainly aids that, but he's also very successful (77 percent steal rate). His .698 OPS against righties exposes his utter lack of power, but the .288 AVG definitely works. Nolasco is allowing a .321/.355/.620 line to righties, yielding an OPS 205 points higher than his work against lefties. Again, if you're getting DeShields for power, you're likely to be disappointed but if ever there were a matchup, this would be it as Nolasco "leads" baseball with 31 homers allowed.
Matt Joyce (L), 4 percent, Oakland Athletics at Baltimore Orioles (RHP Ubaldo Jimenez): Joyce is a known righty destroyer with 17 of his 18 HRs this year against them and 42-of-45 since the start of 2014. He's been better after the break, too, with a .549 SLG compared to just a .409 before the break. There is a little uncertainty about whether he'll face Jimenez or Dylan Bundy, but either way he will get a righty. And sure, Jimenez would be more favorable, but Joyce can handle himself against even the best righties in the league.
Denard Span (L), 8 percent, San Francisco Giants vs. Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Jimmy Nelson): Span is surging of late with a .302/.362/.465 line including 2 HR and 3 SB over the last 14 days. For the season, he has a strong .800 OPS against righties and he's been at .781 or better in each of his last four seasons. Part of Nelson's surge has been improvement against lefties, but they still have nine of the 15 homers he's allowed this year.
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.