Sorry friends, there's no way to sugarcoat it, Sunday's slate is terrible for streaming arms. Hopefully, your head-to-head matchup doesn't require making up pitching points with spot starters. Even hitting is a little rough. Though, because a playoff berth could rest in the balance, all hitters come with a little help from a friend. That is, a teammate also in a good spot will be recommended. As usual, everyone featured is available in at least half of ESPN leagues.
Alex Wood (L), rostered in 26% of ESPN leagues, Cincinnati Reds vs. St. Louis Cardinals: Wood hasn't been especially effective since debuting in late July, but the matchup is quite favorable. For the season, the Cardinals are one of the weakest offenses with a southpaw on the hill. To make matters worse (for them), they're dead last in that department since the All-Star break, in part due to fanning 27% of the time against southpaws in that span.
Jason Vargas (L), 10%, Philadelphia Phillies vs. San Diego Padres: The Padres, on the other hand, are handling southpaws well since the break. Even so, Vargas is still in play as he has mostly avoided disaster outings by serving multiple homers only twice this season. You know it's a poor streaming slate when that's the best I can come up with.
Griffin Canning (R), 9%, Los Angeles Angels vs. Chicago White Sox: Canning is by far the top option on the docket, drawing a White Sox lineup bringing up the rear with respect to production since the break when facing right-handers. Their strikeout clip in that time is a generous 28%, syncing up nicely with Canning's 13.7% swinging strike rate.
Tony Gonsolin (R), 4%, Los Angeles Dodgers at Atlanta Braves: Gonsolin will be recalled to take Dustin May 's rotation spot as the Dodgers begin their maneuvering for the stretch one and look to preserve innings for the 21-year-old May. Gonsolin is coming off fanning nine in five innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City. The outing before that was in the bigs where he whiffed even St. Louis Cardinals in six frames. The setup isn't ideal as the Braves handle right-handers well but there is win and strikeout potential.
Bullpen: There are two bullpen games Sunday. First, the Toronto Blue Jays will open with Wilmer Font before calling on southpaw Thomas Pannone for bulk work against the Seattle Mariners who are hitting lefties well, taking Pannone out of consideration. The second option is intriguing as the Tampa Bay Rays will start with Diego Castillo, and will then bring in newly acquired Trevor Richards. The former Marlins starter could thrive in this role, drawing the offensively challenged Detroit Tigers, thus is in play in lieu of a standard starter on Sunday.
Catcher -- Tony Wolters (L), 2%, Colorado Rockies vs. Miami Marlins (RHP Jordan Yamamoto): While Wolters has been holding down the strong side of a platoon all season, the release of Chris Iannetta firms up that role, with Dom Nunez now handling the duty with a lefty on the hill. It should be Wolters' turn Sunday, and even though the backstop isn't a slugger, Coors Field helps maintain a useful batting average. One way to make up points in the category is replacing a batting average drain from behind the plate with someone like Wolters. Ryan McMahon is on a power binge so he's an option if you need some late-week pop.
First Base -- Matt Thaiss (L), 1%, Los Angeles Angels vs. Chicago White Sox (RHP Dylan Cease): Thaiss is a deep-league option. He's in a rut but Cease is the ideal foil to snap out of it. The White Sox rookie hurler is a good prospect, he's just overmatched now, allowing 41 hits and 20 walks in his first 39 MLB frames. Luis Rengifo (9-for-29, .310 entering Saturday's action) is also in play.
Second Base -- Isan Diaz (L), 3%, Miami Marlins at Colorado Rockies (RHP Peter Lambert): After going deep in his first game in the bigs, Diaz has been quiet. Don't worry, he'll get going. The 24-year-old rookie knocked 24 out of the yard for Triple-A New Orleans before getting summoned to the majors. On Sunday he gets a final crack at going yard in Coors Field, along with teammates Jon Berti, Brian Anderson and Garrett Cooper.
Third Base -- Evan Longoria (R), 17%, San Francisco Giants at Arizona Diamondbacks (RHP Merrill Kelly): After a largely quiet campaign, the former All-Star is making noise the past week. Before Saturday's contest, Longoria was 11-for-26 with a pair of long balls. Kelly has been pounded for five homers and 14 runs over his past two starts, tossing only 8⅓ combined innings. Kevin Pillar has also been on a tear lately.
Shortstop -- Marwin Gonzalez (S), 41%, Minnesota Twins at Texas Rangers (RHP Lance Lynn): Gonzalez is back to doing Gonzalez things, slashing .444/.459/.667 the past week while starting at three different positions. Lynn is tough, but if you're looking for some help up the middle, Luis Arraez is also in a groove.
Corner Infield -- Tommy Edman (S), 15%, St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati Reds (LHP Alex Wood): Edman isn't a prototypical leadoff hitter as he doesn't draw walks, but that's where he has nestled lately with a southpaw on the hill. He is hitting for average, chipping in elsewhere so take the extra at-bat and leave lineup construction to Redbirds skipper Mike Shildt. As for a teammate, Matt Wieters hit southpaws well when he was filling in for Yadier Molina so consider whichever backstop is in the lineup.
Middle Infield -- Nick Ahmed (R), 20%, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Francisco Giants (LHP Madison Bumgarner): Ahmed is building on last season's power spike as he's sure to post a new career best in terms of homers, likely ending up in the low 20s. He has left the yard four times the past week. Frequent visitor to this space Christian Walker is also in play.
Outfield -- Trent Grisham (L), 4%, Milwaukee Brewers at Washington Nationals (RHP Erick Fedde): Grisham has flown under the radar with all the exploits of other prospects, but he should be in your crosshairs. The 22-year-old rookie has a tidy .869 OPS since being promoted a couple weeks ago, with the chance of contributing precious steals. Old standby Eric Thames remains a threat with a righty toeing the rubber.
Outfield -- Delino DeShields (R), 2%, Texas Rangers vs. Minnesota Twins (LHP Martin Perez): Every Sunday, I like to recommend an option for those needing a last-minute steal in their head to head matchup. Perez is a lefty, but he's not as adept as other southpaws at controlling the running game. Perez is also generous in allowing baserunners. Isiah Kiner-Falefa is also in a good spot, plus he qualifies at catcher.
Outfield -- Greg Allen (S), 1%, Cleveland Indians at New York Yankees (LHP CC Sabathia): The new-look Indians outfield has Allen and Tyler Naquin platooning in left field. With a southpaw on the bump, Allen should be in action. Let's call Allen another deep-league option with Franmil Reyes an even better choice for shallower leagues.