As we continue closing out this fantasy baseball season, crunch time is getting ... crunchier.
We have several marquee mound matchups Wednesday, including Blake Snell vs. Carlos Carrasco and Aaron Nola vs. Stephen Strasburg, and there's one spot where both hurlers could be worth a fantasy add. Of course, there are some duels of futility where stacking hitters against either arm is a fine idea.
The Marlins and Mets are slated for a doubleheader, and they haven't announced their Game 2 starters as of press time. Grabbing one of these batters -- including two sneaky veterans I'll mention later -- could help plug in a few extra hits should someone start both halves.
Pitchers to stream
Ross Stripling (R), rostered in 42 percent of ESPN leagues, Los Angeles Dodgers at Cincinnati Reds: Stripling hasn't started a game since Aug. 9, but it's difficult to pass on him if he's available considering the breakout season he's enjoyed (2.61 ERA, 9.9 K/9, 1.4 BB/9 in 110 1/3 innings). The Reds touched up the Dodgers on Monday but still offer a promising matchup. How deep will Stripling go? Even assuming it's only five innings, I'd prefer these skills over many others in my lineup if hoping for an abbreviated win.
Joey Lucchesi (L), 18 percent, San Diego Padres at Seattle Mariners: The southpaw spun 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball with nine strikeouts against these Mariners on Aug. 29 and lines up as a solid repeat candidate. He's surprisingly better away from Petco Park (2.98 ERA) than in San Diego (3.97), and he's struck out at least six in his past six turns as well as seven of his past eight. Seattle holds a middling .305 wOBA and 96 wRC+ against left-handers.
Anibal Sanchez (R), 39 percent, Atlanta Braves at San Francisco Giants: Sanchez might have the quietest great ERA in fantasy this season (3.09, with a 9.03 K/9 and 2.69 BB/9) in 21 appearances. The Giants' lineup is one of the ripest for matchup plays down the stretch, and San Francisco's AT&T Park is a delight for pitchers.
On that note, considering the pitcher-friendly locale ...
Derek Holland (L), 28 percent, San Francisco Giants vs. Atlanta Braves: ... both arms in this game could fly as rentals. Holland's recent scorching run has been marred by his past three outings, in which he's walked 11 in 18 innings -- including five free passes Friday. Luckily, he's worked around that, with a 1.61 ERA in his past five starts, including three straight quality starts. Though the Braves have succeeded against left-handers for most of the season, Holland feels more comfortable pitching at home (3.50 K/BB and 0.53 HR/9, as opposed to 2.05 and 1.39 elsewhere).
Two big closer changes were announced Monday. Bud Norris was stripped of Cardinals save chances. Carlos Martinez slides into that full-time role, and he's rostered in only 66 percent of ESPN leagues as of early Tuesday. If he's taken, Jordan Hicks (14.2 percent) is next in line.
The Diamondbacks also removed the tag from the struggling Brad Boxberger and will move ahead with a committee. Though Boxberger is worth holding, Yoshihisa Hirano (7.9 percent) looks like the best pickup; he's been lights out with a 1.33 ERA in the second half. Archie Bradley has been less useful with an 8.20 ERA in that time, and the club might prefer to keep him in setup duty. Brad Ziegler and Jake Diekman might chime in with cameos but are lower fantasy priorities.
Liam Hendriks will take the ball for the Athletics and their injury-riddled staff. This is Hendriks' fourth time in this role, totaling 3.2 innings over the first three, so don't expect anything more than an inning or two. While on the topic of Oakland, don't fret if Blake Treinen is your closer. Jeurys Familia registered Tuesday's save because the club wanted to give Treinen a couple days off after a busy stretch.
Projected game scores
Martin Maldonado (R), 5.1 percent, Houston Astros at Detroit Tigers (LHP Daniel Norris): With Brian McCann's return from the disabled list, this Astros' catcher picture has become trickier. Maldonado is technically the No. 2 backstop and could get the chance to face Norris, who's allowed five homers to RHBs in just 79 plate appearances this season. The honor could also go to fellow righty hitter Max Stassi (1 percent), with whom Gerrit Cole has spun a 2.61 ERA and a 4.66 K/BB in 16 pairings this season.
Mitch Moreland (L), 21 percent, Boston Red Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Aaron Sanchez): As my colleague Paul Sporer wrote Monday, it's a good idea to line up Boston bats versus Sanchez, considering how hard he's been hit lately. Color us shocked: Nearly all of Moreland's homers this season (13 of 15) have been launched off righty pitches, and he's preferred hitting at Fenway Park (.851 OPS, .703 elsewhere).
Starlin Castro (R), 50 percent, Miami Marlins at New York Mets (RHP Zack Wheeler, LHP Jason Vargas): Right on the edge of qualifying for this article, Castro -- who's put together a .761 OPS in the second half -- should at least occupy a lineup spot against Vargas in Game 2. Castro has churned out a .340 wOBA, 0.58 BB/K and .784 OPS against left-handers this season.
Renato Nunez (R), 1 percent, Baltimore Orioles vs. Oakland Athletics (RHP Daniel Mengden): Nunez is a sneaky source of power with increasing playing time late in this season as Baltimore looks to figure out if they have any useful replacements for Manny Machado. Mengden's .329 wOBA allowed to righties sits 49 points higher than the opposite handedness.
Chad Pinder (R), 1 percent, Oakland Athletics at Baltimore Orioles (RHP Andrew Cashner): Pinder has been a near everyday player for at least the past week, but the A's might stick Matt Joyce or Dustin Fowler (each less than 1 percent rostered) in left field for this one. Either way, Cashner should be a generous host. He's been saddled with the fourth-highest wOBA by righty bats (.365) and, while not ranking as high, a tantalizing .355 wOBA by LHBs.
Ronald Guzman (L), 2 percent, Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels (RHP Felix Pena): Fresh off a Monday homer against Jaime Barria, Guzman deserves a followup in fantasy lineups. He's a platoon power piece (12 of his 15 homers have come against RHPs). Pena has yielded a .350 wOBA and a .287/.358/.452 line to lefty sticks this season and holds a 6.17 ERA at Anaheim.
Jose Fernandez (L), 1 percent, Los Angeles Angels vs. Texas Rangers (RHP Yovani Gallardo): Holding the top-side job at first base but also eligible at second, Fernandez is riding a four-game hit streak heading into Tuesday. Gallardo has allowed 12 homers in only 76 2/3 innings (1.41 per nine), giving Fernandez a good shot at going deep for the first time as a major-leaguer.
Jay Bruce (L), 11 percent, New York Mets vs. Miami Marlins (RHP Jeff Brigham, RHP Trevor Richards): The Marlins are sending two righty pitchers (Jeff Brigham, Trevor Richards) to the hill in Wednesday's twin bill, and Bruce -- who's launched three homers with a .277/.358/.532 since his return from the DL Aug. 24 -- looks like he could be a promising late-season find on the waiver wire.
Avisail Garcia (R), 15 percent, Chicago White Sox at Kansas City Royals (LHP Erik Skoglund): Despite hitting at a .206 clip since the All-Star break, Garcia has peppered seven homers in that window. He's preferred to face lefties this season (.338 wOBA, .267/.304/.493 slash with three homers in 79 plate appearances), so deploy him against Skoglund, who carries a 6.45 ERA and a 1.74 HR/9.
Adam Frazier (L), 17 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals (RHP Daniel Poncedeleon): Since being recalled July 25, Frazier has staked a strong claim for everyday (at least top-side platoon) work, slashing .361/.412/.613 with five homers and a 0.48 BB/K in 131 plate appearances. Righties have felt the pain, as he's pasted them for a .362 wOBA and a 129 wRC+ on the season.
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); a 1-2 is poor, 3-4 is fair, 5-6 is average, 7-8 is very good and 9-10 is excellent.