<
>

Daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Saturday

Nick Pivetta may have just one win in 2018, but the Phillies are 5-0 in games he's started. Getty Images

Saturday brings us a full slate -- and then some. With the Dodgers-Giants and White Sox-Royals set to play doubleheaders, we'll get a supersized 17-game day. As you might expect, the abundance of games gives us plenty of streaming opportunities on both the hitting and pitching sides. With that in mind, here are the day's most interesting streaming options, focusing on players rostered in less than 50 percent of ESPN leagues.


Pitching

Pitchers to stream

Nick Pivetta (R), rostered in 49 percent of ESPN leagues, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves: Pivetta checks in at just below the 50 percent threshold, but he won't be there for long. Through five starts, the right-hander sports a 2.57 ERA to go along with a 9.0 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9. While some regression is likely coming, what he's done so far is looking to be legit. His 7.0 K/BB ratio ranks 10th in the league and his 22.4 percent hard-contact rate is fifth. Not only that, but his 2.57 ERA is supported by a 2.29 FIP and 3.15 xFIP. The Braves rank fifth in runs scored and just added phenom Ronald Acuna to their lineup, so this isn't exactly a favorable matchup. That said, with the way Pivetta is pitching I'm not sure it matters.

Chris Stratton (R), 28 percent, San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers: Stratton has been one of this season's more pleasant surprises. He has yet to allow more than three runs in any start this season. In fact, he's been particularly sharp over his last three outings, allowing just three runs on 10 hits with 17 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings. The lack of "strikeout stuff" limits the upside, but he's a solid floor play against the Dodgers. He gets to pitch in one of the game's most pitcher-friendly parks, and his effectiveness against lefties this season (.140/.231/.193) sets him up well against a Dodgers lineup that's anchored by lefty swingers Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger.

Mike Foltynewicz (R), 40 percent, Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies: Speaking of pleasant surprises, Foltynewicz looks like he might finally be delivering on his promise as a former first-round pick. The right-hander owns a 2.77 ERA this season and has yet to allow more than two earned runs in any single start. He's also fanned seven or more batters in four of his five outings, leading to an 11.4 K/9 rate. While I'm not completely buying what he's done so far (the 4.5 BB/9 needs to come down), this is still a high-upside matchup against a Phillies team that's whiffing at a 28 percent clip against righties. When he last faced the Phillies on April 17, Foltynewicz delivered six innings of one-run ball with eight strikeouts.

Jack Flaherty (R), 21 percent, St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates: Flaherty's rotation spot will be in jeopardy once Adam Wainwright returns from the disabled list, so let's take advantage of the young righty while we can. The 22-year-old delivered a 2.65 ERA and 9.2 K/9 over 18 Triple-A starts, and he posted five innings of one-run ball with nine whiffs against the Brewers in his lone big league start earlier this month. Against a Pirates club that's been struggling over the last couple of weeks with a .298 wOBA that ranks No. 24 in baseball, Flaherty is one of Saturday's more enticing streaming options.

Walker Buehler (R), 23 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Dodgers: There are so many quality streamers today, we'll offer up a bonus arm. Buehler, who tossed five scoreless frames against Miami in his big league debut on Monday, is slated to start in one of Saturday's two games against San Francisco. This is another favorable matchup for the rookie right-hander, as the Giants have been non-threatening against righties this year, producing a .299 wOBA and 25 percent strikeout rate. It's unlikely Buehler goes deep into this game, but the upside is intriguing. It's likely he'll be sent back to the minors after Saturday's outing, so enjoy him while you can.

Bullpen

Greg Holland has yet to register a save this season, but the first one could be coming soon. After a rough start, the right-hander has now had four straight scoreless appearances, with five strikeouts and only one hit allowed. More importantly, the Cardinals appeared to be setting Holland up for a save opportunity in Thursday's extra-inning win over the Mets. Unfortunately, the save opportunity never came, but the fact that Bud Norris (who has been serving as the team's closer) was used in the eighth inning could be telling. Holland is still available in roughly 45 percent of ESPN leagues.

Projected game scores

GS is the projected game score for the pitcher. The "*" symbol means the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate rating. These are the author's ratings.


Hitting

Catcher

Alex Avila (L), 1 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks at Washington Nationals (RHP Jeremy Hellickson): On Saturday, Avila draws the platoon advantage against Hellickson, one of the lowest-ranked hurlers on the slate -- and a pitcher who posted a nearly identical ERA (5.43) and K/9 (5.27) in 30 starts last season. The Arizona backstop is off to a slow start, but he sported a .377 wOBA versus righties in 2017.

First base

Yonder Alonso (L), 42 percent, Cleveland Indians vs. Seattle Mariners (RHP Mike Leake): Alonso has carried over his power gains from 2017, as he already has six homers this season, putting him on pace for 42 bombs. He's in a great spot to continue his power outburst against Leake, who has been smashed by righty batters this season, allowing a .442 wOBA and four homers in 14 innings.

Second base

Starlin Castro (R), 50 percent, Miami Marlins vs. Colorado Rockies (RHP German Marquez): One of the few advantages of playing for a bad team is that Castro is locked into the three-hole in the Marlins lineup. He'd bat much lower on nearly any other team. On Saturday, he finds himself in a nice spot against Marquez, who has allowed a career .258 ISO to right-handed batters. In fact, Marquez has surrendered 11 hits to righty batters this season, and seven of them have gone for extra bases.

Third base

Matt Davidson (R), 43 percent, Chicago White Sox at Kansas City Royals (LHP Eric Skoglund): If there's one pitcher you want exposure against on Saturday, it might be Skoglund. The lefty has been a glorified batting-practice pitcher this season, as right-handed bats have pummeled him for a .340/.389/.560 slash line. What's amazing is that that's actually an improvement over 2017 (.366/.397/.547). This looks like a prime matchup for Davidson, who has the power to capitalize on Skoglund's mistakes.

Shortstop

Eduardo Escobar (B), 10 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. Cincinnati Reds (RHP Sal Romano): Escobar has done his part filling in for the suspended Jorge Polanco. He's been particularly dangerous against righties, batting .313/.382/.563 with a .250 ISO. Consider Escobar a great "plug and play" option on Saturday against Romano and his .373 wOBA against lefty batters.

Corner infield

Hernan Perez (R), 1 percent, Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago Cubs (LHP Jose Quintana): Quintana has struggled this season, and right-handed batters have been the reason why. Right-handed hitters have put up a .313/.397/.547 slash line against the lefty. This includes a bloated 47.2 percent hard-hit rate. Perez has struggled out of the gate but, for his career, he's done most of his damage against southpaws, including a .316/.342/.447 slash line in 2017.

Middle infield

Kolten Wong (L), 3 percent, St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Trevor Williams): Williams has a 2.15 ERA through five starts. That looks awfully nice, but don't believe it. He's not missing bats (6.4 K/9), he's showing poor control (4.6 BB/9), and his 2.15 ERA isn't supported by his 3.73 FIP or 4.87 xFIP. It's been slow going for Wong out of the gate, but he showed last year that he can be a formidable option against righties (.288/.380/.431).

Outfield

Curtis Granderson (L), 13 percent, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Texas Rangers (RHP Bartolo Colon): Granderson has been pretty helpless against lefties in recent years, but right-handers have been a different story. So far this season, he's produced a .333/.424/.588 slash line against right-handed pitching. He's also been a top-50 hitter against righties since 2015 in terms of hard-hit rate. Colon has had success this season, but a 45.6 percent hard-contact rate, along with a .200 ISO allowed to lefty batters from 2015-2017, suggests that success will be short-lived.

Manuel Margot (R), 42 percent, San Diego Padres vs. New York Mets (LHP Jason Vargas): Margot has yet to get going offensively, and a DL stint for a rib injury didn't help matters. That makes this a prime opportunity to buy low. A big-time stolen-base threat with good contact skills and double-digit HR potential, Margot was a popular breakout candidate this offseason. He's especially productive against southpaws, having hit .285/.353/.480 against them last season. He'll get an opportunity to jump on Vargas, who's making his first start of 2018 after missing time with a hand injury.

Scott Schebler (L), 12 percent, Cincinnati Reds at Minnesota Twins (RHP Jake Odorizzi): Odorizzi started strong, but he's run into trouble recently, allowing five homers over his last two starts. If he continues to miss his spots on Saturday, Schebler and his .257 career ISO against righties can make him pay.