Weekends are great for afternoon baseball, and Saturday certainly delivers with 10 afternoon games on the schedule. Chris Sale, Jake Arrieta and Carlos Martinez are all set to toe the rubber Saturday, but a marquee matchup pitting Justin Verlander against Corey Kluber looks like the headliner. But that's not why we're here. We're here to unearth some under-the-radar pitching and hitting options for all of you streamers out there, so let's get to it.
Looking for a spot starter Saturday? Here's a list of potential options still available in more than 50 percent of ESPN.com leagues.
Brandon Finnegan (Cincinnati Reds vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 49 percent owned): After tossing seven innings of one-hit ball with nine K's in his 2017 debut, Finnegan couldn't get past the second inning in his second outing, due in part to wavering control that saw him allow five free passes in those two frames. The start-to-start inconsistency paints Finnegan as a risk, but he still has 13 whiffs in nine innings this year and is facing a Brewers team that features an MLB-worst 30 percent strikeout rate in the early going.
Patrick Corbin (Arizona Diamondbacks at Los Angeles Dodgers, 5 percent owned): The Dodgers' struggles against left-handed pitching were well-documented last season (MLB-worst 72 wRC-plus). So far this season it doesn't appear things have gotten much better (73 wRC-plus). This makes for a very appealing matchup for Corbin, who allowed just two earned runs over his first two starts and gets to trade in the hitter-friendly Chase Field for Dodger Stadium, one of the game's most pitcher-friendly venues.
Nathan Karns (Kansas City Royals at Los Angeles Angels, 2 percent owned): Control issues keep Karns' ceiling in check, but he fanned more than a batter per inning last season, is pitching in a great park for pitchers and has a great defense behind him. Although the Angels' offense is off to a hot start, the lineup is far from intimidating, so it should regress back toward the middle of the pack soon.
CC Sabathia (New York Yankees vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 17 percent owned): Since 2015, the Cardinals rank 23rd in baseball in wOBA vs. left-handed pitchers and sport the ninth-highest strikeout rate. The Cardinals' offense has also been stuck in neutral to start the season, ranking 28th out of 30 teams with a 72 wRC-plus. Sabathia isn't the pitcher he was back in his heyday, but he's surrendered more than three runs just once in his last 10 starts (2.24 ERA) and has as many whiffs as hits allowed (81) over his last 15 outings.
The Texas Rangers' bullpen is a mess right now. Sam Dyson has imploded (11 ER in 3 IP), Jeremy Jeffress has allowed runs in half of his appearances (6.75 ERA) and Matt Bush could be looking at an extended absence due to shoulder issues. This means there is now opportunity in Texas. Jose Leclerc picked up a multi-inning save Wednesday, but Tony Barnette was warming up in the eighth inning and might have gotten a save chance in the ninth had the Rangers not extended their lead from 6-3 to 8-3. Both names are worth keeping an eye on if you're hunting for saves.
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.
Here's a position-by-position look at hitters in favorable spots with less than 50 percent ownership.
Francisco Cervelli, Pittsburgh Pirates (14 percent): On the surface, a matchup against Jake Arrieta isn't exactly a prime spot. However, Cervelli's 50 percent hard-hit rate so far is tops among catchers, and he gets a park boost going to Wrigley Field. Plus, despite the positive results in the early going, Arrieta's velocity is down, and he's allowing more hard contact.
Greg Bird, New York Yankees (51 percent): It might seem strange to stream batters against a dominant hurler like Carlos Martinez, but the Cardinals' righty hasn't had nearly the same success against lefty hitters (.411 SLG against since 2014) as he has right-handed hitters (.296 SLG). Meanwhile, despite the small sample, Bird has slugged .574 against righties with 55 percent of his hits going for extra bases since he reached the majors. Also, the fact that Yankee Stadium caters to left-handed power hitters like Bird shouldn't be understated.
Devon Travis, Toronto Blue Jays (33 percent): It's been a sluggish start for Travis, evidenced by his .097/.152/.097 through his first seven games. Then again, he still bats atop a dangerous lineup, hits in a park that inflates runs and right-handed power, and he gets the platoon advantage against lefty Jayson Aquino, who is making his first big-league start.
Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati Reds (41 percent): Brewers hurler Zach Davies has scuffled through his first two starts (11 ER in 9 1/3 innings), while Suarez is slashing .429/.529/.750 through nine games. Playing in Great American Ballpark, which inflates power, Suarez is a good bet to stay on a roll here.
Asdrubal Cabrera, New York Mets (45 percent): After using Adam Conley in relief in Thursday's 16-inning affair, pushing Edinson Volquez to Friday, the Marlins need a spot-starter for Saturday. This puts the switch-hitting Cabrera in a great spot as you don't have to worry about the handedness of the pitcher. Plus, there's a good chance a tired bullpen will need to be called on, further gaming the automatic platoon edge.
David Peralta, Arizona Diamondbacks (18 percent): Peralta deserves consideration nearly every time he's due to face a righty. Since 2014, he owns a .307/.353/.514 slash line against right-handed pitchers, and his wOBA over that stretch is higher than guys like Manny Machado, Giancarlo Stanton and Mookie Betts. Kenta Maeda is a quality pitcher, but he's given up 10 more extra-base hits to lefties than righties in his big-league career in 55 fewer at-bats.
Jarrod Dyson, Seattle Mariners (20 percent): The Mariners square off against Dillon Gee, one of the weakest hurlers on the slate who struggles against left-handed hitters. The lefty-swinging Dyson won't be of any interest to those who play in points leagues, but rotisserie owners who need steals should take a look at the Seattle speedster.
Michael Conforto, New York Mets (15 percent): Conforto has only 15 plate appearances on the year, but in those 15 appearances, he has 6 hits, 2 homers and 3 walks. The two leading candidates to take the ball for the Fish, Odrisamer Despaigne and Scott Copeland are both right-handed, increasing the likelihood Conforto is in the lineup.
Notes: Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's past history (three years' worth, as well as 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, 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.