This Wednesday, Major League Baseball returns to a 15-game schedule and interleague lineup alterations continue. The Royals lose a designated hitter while the Giants gain one, though San Francisco must tangle with the scorching-hot Justin Verlander.
Luckily, there are plenty of bats to rent that are available in more than 50 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues and have more favorable draws.
Pitchers to stream
Kyle Freeland (L), rostered in 39.8 percent of ESPN leagues, Colorado Rockies at Los Angeles Dodgers: Across his past five starts, Freeland has stifled opponents, as proven by a 1.59 ERA with 32 strikeouts and nine walks in 34 innings ... and that stretch included two assignments at Coors Field. His success seems to be fueled by pitching more aggressively in the zone to right-handed batters and refining his slider, which has held opponents to a .146/.234/.268 line this year. Though they just welcomed back Justin Turner, the Dodgers own the fourth-lowest ISO (.131) against left-handers and are tied for the third-worst home wOBA (.296) this year. Freeland again stays away from Denver and should enjoy pitcher-aiding Chavez Ravine.
CC Sabathia (L), 48.9 percent, New York Yankees at Texas Rangers: Consecutive mediocre-or-worse outings might have caused this dip in Sabathia's fantasy popularity that allowed him to be eligible for this article. However, he still struck out 10 in those nine combined innings, and Texas is tied for the worst BB/K against southpaws (0.28) in 2018. Don't let the hitter-friendly environment inflate the potential of a flawed, injury-hampered offense.
Brent Suter (L), 1.4 percent, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks: Miller Park is hardly a pitcher's paradise and the soft-tossing lefty has a poor 5.82 ERA at home. However, the Diamondbacks have struck out at the fourth-highest pace (26.2 percent) against left-handers this year. Streaming against this A.J. Pollock-less lineup that will also be missing Steven Souza Jr. (pectoral) is a good opportunity to sneak in Suter, who still boasts excellent control (1.89 BB/9).
Pitchers to avoid
Chris Archer (R), 93.9 percent, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox: The strikeout artist probably isn't as bad as his 5.02 ERA, but he's sure making it difficult to believe in a strong rebound. Don't expect any effort to start against one of the league's best offenses. Archer's 42.6 percent hard contact percentage rates as the fifth-highest among qualified starting pitchers, per Fangraphs, and he already has sunk to a 5.32 ERA in four starts at Tropicana Field.
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.
Brian McCann (L), 41.8 percent, Houston Astros vs. San Francisco Giants (RHP Jeff Samardzija): "Shark" has been chum for reverse-split opponents, who've repelled him to a .421 wOBA, 10 walks and four homers in just 13 innings. McCann likely will pair with battery mate Justin Verlander and remains a wise play against righties (.348 career wOBA), though his 2018 numbers suggest otherwise.
Mitch Moreland (L), 23.4 percent, Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays (RHP Chris Archer): Right-hander on the hill, Moreland in your lineup: Among batters with at least 80 plate appearances against that split, Moreland's .436 wOBA ranks sixth on the year, and Archer's issues with hard contact amplify Moreland's potential.
Ben Zobrist (B), 22.3 percent, Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians (RHP Adam Plutko): Plutko will make his first turn in the Tribe's rotation after his 2.25 ERA across seven starts for Triple-A Columbus, but the Cubs are a tough draw. The switch-hitting veteran often leads off against righties, and despite his lack of power, he's tagging them for a .301/.407/.438 line and a .374 wOBA on the year.
Josh Harrison (R), 35.6 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds (RHP Homer Bailey): The Pirates' platooners get a ton of play in these articles, so I'll list a righty-versus-righty option to remind players that Harrison is back from the disabled list and still lightly rostered. In fact, all of Pittsburgh's starters are in play against the equal-opportunity Bailey. Righty batters have gotten to him with a .357 wOBA.
Chad Pinder (R), 1.4 percent, Oakland Athletics vs. Seattle Mariners (LHP Marco Gonzales): Gonzales has been bitten by bad luck this year, but it should continue against the sneaky good A's lineup, which is loaded with righties. Pinder is one of the hidden gems, especially when he can tap into his career .357 wOBA against southpaws. That success has continued this year with two homers and an exaggerated but reflective .458 wOBA over 42 plate appearances in that category.
Wilmer Difo (B), 5.6 percent, Washington Nationals vs. San Diego Padres (RHP Tyson Ross): Holding down second base with Howie Kendrick done for the season and Daniel Murphy continuing his slow recuperation, Difo has rattled off a 5-for-13 stretch in his past three starts. Ross' revival has been propped up by a .268 BABIP to hide a 38.4 percent hard-contact rate, so the surging infielder is a quiet bet for another multi-hit day.
Nick Ahmed (R), 8.8 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks at Milwaukee Brewers (LHP Brent Suter): It doesn't hurt to try picking on Suter, despite his streamer listing, and Ahmed deserves deep-league lineup consideration against lefties. Suter has allowed a .367 wOBA to RHBs and, as mentioned before, hasn't performed well at home.
Alex Gordon (L), 7.4 percent, Kansas City Royals at St. Louis Cardinals (RHP Michael Wacha): Gordon's brief run of power has cooled, but he's still left the yard all three times on the year against righties to complement a .271/.444/.424 slash and a handy 34.3 hard-contact percentage in that split. Wacha's 3.08 ERA is ripe for regression, and a big blow could come from a Royals squad known for its frequent contact (tied for fifth in the majors at 78.2 percent).
Travis Jankowski (L), 30.3 percent, San Diego Padres at Washington Nationals: Play the Padres' outfield platoon game depending on who's starting for Washington. The frontrunner heading into Tuesday is Erick Fedde, who has lost his prospect hype and has seen mixed results at Triple-A Syracuse with a 4.35 ERA. Jankowski, now the majority center field, has cooled off after a recent run but has continued producing against righties (.382/.460/.509 in 55 at-bats this year).
Swap in right-handed Jose Pirela (17.3 percent) should Washington announce a lefty instead.
Guillermo Heredia (R), 0.7 percent, Seattle Mariners at Oakland Athletics: Long classified as a mere platoon player, Heredia is getting a shot to play nearly every day in center field in the initial stages of Robinson Cano's suspension, and he's 4-for-10 in the past four games. He's worth a trial as a fifth mixed-league outfielder. The best guess for Oakland seems to be Daniel Gossett or Kendall Graveman, both quite hittable.
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.