Around this time of year, early-season busts can resurface as useful fantasy baseball additions for a rental or more. That’s a strong truth, given the low-end starter pool has essentially become a wasteland.
Indeed, the first name on this list may flip on the light bulb for pitcher-desperate fantasy owners.
Pitchers to stream
Collin McHugh (R), 37.5 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, Houston Astros at Chicago White Sox: Remember how good this guy was a few years ago? He has come back from the DL strong (17 strikeouts, five walks and a 3.24 ERA in 16.2 innings) and gets a gimme assignment against the rebuilding Pale Hose. He’s worth adding for beyond this spot as well.
Sean Newcomb (L), 8.6 percent, Atlanta Braves vs. Philadelphia Phillies: Not a terrible idea to start both pitchers in this clash of rebuilding lineups. Newcomb’s walks remain an issue, so perhaps points leaguers won’t benefit as much, but the Phillies have been a streamer target all season and hardly make a dent against southpaws.
Brandon Woodruff (R), less than 1 percent, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Minnesota Twins: The somewhat intriguing prospect’s major-league debut of 6.1 shutout innings says he’s worth trying again, especially against a club that carries a straggling .303 wOBA and has all but given up on the season.
Pitchers to avoid
Ivan Nova (R), 76.6 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates at Detroit Tigers: The Tigers lost a big bopper when they traded J.D. Martinez, but rank fifth in runs scored since the All-Star break. The strikeout-deficient Nova has dipped on the mound lately, with a 5.21 ERA and 1.52 WHIP over his past eight starts.
The Mets will find themselves hard-pressed to count on former reliever Rafael Montero pitching deep into games, so Texas Rangers bats should also enjoy facing the Mets’ bullpen, which carries the league’s third-worst team ERA (4.79).
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.
Manny Pina (R), 11.8 percent, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Minnesota Twins (RHP Bartolo Colon): He’s just one of many Brew Crew members to stack against Colon. Pina’s offense is coming back to earth, but despite his better rates of production against lefties, he’s hit all seven of his big flies against right-handers.
Lucas Duda (L), 18.3 percent, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox (RHP Rick Porcello): While Porcello has performed admirably away from Fenway Park, he allows home runs seemingly everywhere. The Duda is in his element with his new club, going 10-for-31 with three homers over his first 10 contests with the Rays. The 16 big flies against righties this year abides by his career-long platoon tendencies.
Jed Lowrie (B), 32.7 percent, Oakland Athletics vs. Seattle Mariners (RHP Yovani Gallardo): Gallardo has yielded a .354 wOBA to lefty opponents. Lowrie owns a.347 wOBA against righty hurlers. It’s a match made in platoon heaven.
Joey Gallo (L), 41 percent, Texas Rangers at New York Mets (RHP Rafael Montero): Unlike My Cousin Vinny’s Jerry Gallo, Joey is far from dead. He has already cleared the fence five times in August and on nine occasions since the All-Star break, while also managing a .258 clip. Montero has struggled as a starter, with a 6.00 ERA and six homers allowed in 42 innings.
Tim Beckham (R), 38 percent, Baltimore Orioles at Los Angeles Angels (RHP Troy Scribner): Now we turn to someone who left the Rays via trade. Beckham is 15-for-28 to start his O’s career and could continue thriving in a full-time role.
Maikel Franco (R), 33.1 percent, Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves (LHP Sean Newcomb): His ownership drop is justified, but it may jump back up before long. He’s riding a four-game hit streak.
Howie Kendrick (R), 16.7 percent, Washington Nationals vs. Miami Marlins (LHP Adam Conley): Kendrick left Monday’s game with back stiffness, but would be worth starting if he can go Wednesday. Before his current 0-for-9 slide, Kendrick started off swimmingly with his new club, going 10-for-21 at the plate. He could recapture that early excitement thanks to his .939 OPS across 55 plate appearances against southpaws this year.
If Kendrick isn’t on the lineup card, consider the Brewers’ Eric Sogard (1.8 percent) as another stack piece against Colon.
Bradley Zimmer (L), 40.4 percent, Cleveland Indians vs. Colorado Rockies (RHP Antonio Senzatela): Zimmer prefers to face righties (.269/.337/.473, .343 wOBA) and bat at secret hitter’s haven Progressive Field (.283/.321/.496, .342).
Manuel Margot (R), 33.8 percent, San Diego Padres at Cincinnati Reds (RHP Asher Wojciechowski): Margot has been one of baseball’s hottest hitters since returning from the disabled list on June 27, compiling a .295/.324/.473 line with five big flies, 14 RBI and six stolen bases in 137 plate appearances. He’s not platoon-dependent, with eight of his nine homers on the year coming against right-handers.
Derek Fisher (L), 13.4 percent, Houston Astros at Chicago White Sox (RHP Miguel Gonzalez): Gonzalez, who has a 6.63 ERA since June 1, has been owned by lefty sticks this year (.293/.355/.515, .365 wOBA). Fisher, meanwhile, is squaring up the ball well in his first big-league exposure (42.6 percent hard contact).
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.