When you're streaming starting pitchers on a daily basis, you occasionally come across a schedule of games where you'd just as soon sit it out. Unfortunately, Thursday is one of those days. The pickings are slim, and even the names we're recommending below come with plenty of risk. Alas, we must soldier on.
Here are the day's most interesting streaming options, focusing on players rostered in less than 50 percent of ESPN leagues.
Pitchers to stream
Mike Leake (R), rostered in 17 percent of ESPN leagues, Seattle Mariners at Tampa Bay Rays: Leake may own a 4.71 ERA in 12 starts this season, but he's on a nice little run right now. During his past three starts, he's produced a 1.66 ERA with only 16 hits allowed over 21 2/3 innings. He's still not overly trustworthy, and the low K/9 (5.8) means there's no upside here to speak of. That said, his Thursday matchup is favorable, as he squares off against a lackluster Rays offense that sports a .299 wOBA and 89 wRC+ during the past two weeks.
Jalen Beeks (L), 1 percent, Boston Red Sox vs. Detroit Tigers: The Red Sox are calling up the 24-year-old Beeks to make his big league debut on Thursday against Detroit. Beeks has been nothing short of dominant this season at Triple-A, posting a 2.56 ERA with a 12.8 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 10 starts. There's always risk in trusting a rookie in his major league debut. Plus, the Tigers have actually been tough on lefties this season, putting up a 114 wRC+ that ranks third best in baseball. Still, the 24-year-old makes for an interesting streaming option on a shortened slate with few reliable arms.
Tyler Mahle (R), 8 percent, Cincinnati Reds vs. Colorado Rockies: Mahle is coming off one of his better efforts off the season, albeit against San Diego, the fourth-least productive offense with a right-hander on the hill. Today, he draws the third worst as Colorado's bats have been even more sluggish versus righties than those of the Padres.
Tampa Bay made an adjustment with how they handle their starting pitchers. Now, it's our turn. Whenever the Rays -- or any other club -- deploy the newly coined "opener" you'll see us denote it as such in the pitching chart below with the word "Bullpen" and discuss the matchup here. Righty Ryne Stanek will take the mound in the first inning against the Mariners, likely to be followed by fellow right-hander Austin Pruitt. The Mariners are league-average versus righties, so if your league has separate positions for starters and relievers, Pruitt is in play -- especially in points leagues where his innings, strikeouts and potential for a win are strong. Pruitt has worked at least five frames in each of his last three appearances, sporting a 2.25 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in that span.
Projected game scores
Christian Vazquez (R), 3 percent, Boston Red Sox vs. Detroit Tigers (LHP Matthew Boyd): There's a good chance Boston will want their defensive specialist behind the dish to handle rookie Jalen Beeks. Vazquez will step in against the surprising Boyd. The Tigers southpaw has allowed only five homers on the season, but they've all been to right-handed hitters. Vazquez is showing signs of coming out of his early-season malaise, with a pair of home runs in his last three starts.
Mark Trumbo (R), 18 percent, Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays (LHP Jaime Garcia): With only two homers in 104 plate appearances, Trumbo clearly isn't meeting power expectations. That could change on Thursday, however. There's still plenty of thump in Trumbo's bat, and he draws a tasty matchup against Garcia. The lefty has surrendered a .305/.391/.518 slash line to right-handed hitters in 2018.
Kolten Wong (L), 2 percent, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Miami Marlins (RHP Trevor Richards): Wong has racked up 39 of his 42 extra-base hits against righties the past two seasons, which makes him an intriguing "stream play" for Thursday against a pitcher returning to the majors after a successful stint at Triple-A.
Colin Moran (L), 10 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (RHP Dennis Santana): Moran's numbers don't jump off the page, but he continues to provide value against right-handed pitching, producing a .285/.360/.451 slash line against them. He's been particularly dangerous at PNC Park, where he's batting .365/.435/.514 this season. Moran matches up with the rookie Santana, who is set to make his first major league start after getting roughed up in his big league debut (5 ER in 3 2/3 IP).
Yairo Munoz (R), 8 percent, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Miami Marlins (RHP Trevor Richards): Munoz has been a fixture in the Cardinals lineup of late, filling in for the injured Paul DeJong. Since May 22, the rookie is batting .405/.450/.595. He's done most of his damage against righties, batting .326 with a .370 OBP, which matches him up well with Richards.
Justin Bour (L), 44 percent, Miami Marlins at St. Louis Cardinals (RHP Miles Mikolas): Bour continues to be an underrated fantasy option, especially in leagues that use OBP instead of batting average. The Marlins slugger owns a 17.1 percent walk rate that's third-best in baseball behind only Mike Trout and Bryce Harper and he sports a .262 ISO versus righties. A matchup against Mikolas isn't exactly favorable, but Bour remains a quality streamer.
Ian Happ (B), 50 percent, Chicago Cubs vs. Philadelphia Phillies (RHP Nick Pivetta): It's still hard to get past Happ's 40.2 percent strikeout rate, but he's been very productive of late, especially in OBP leagues. During his past 14 games, he owns a .257/.490/.657 slash line with three homers and a pair of steals. Pivetta isn't a cake matchup by any means, but he's far less effective on the road, where he owns a 6.00 ERA this season.
Nick Williams (L), 2 percent, Philadelphia Phillies at Chicago Cubs (RHP Tyler Chatwood): Williams rebounded from an ugly April (.188/.264/.292) with a very strong May (.293/.369/.586). He also owns a .218 ISO versus right-handed pitching, making him a potentially profitable play when he gets the platoon advantage. Plus, let's face it, any matchup against Chatwood comes with a reasonable floor. The Chicago righty sports an 8.2 walk rate in 11 starts this season. That's, uh, not good.
Adam Duvall (R), 40 percent, Cincinnati Reds vs. Colorado Rockies (LHP Tyler Anderson): This matchup may not take place at Coors Field, but don't tell that to Anderson, who sports a 5.01 ERA away from Coors this season, including a 6.67 ERA in his past five starts. Duvall has struggled this season, but he still owns a 41.5 percent hard-hit rate to go along with a 47.7 percent fly ball rate, suggesting better days ahead.
Carlos Gonzalez (L), 19 percent, Colorado Rockies at Cincinnati Reds (RHP Tyler Mahle): Mahle has flashed some potential at times this season, but there are plenty of red flags here too. He's surrendered multiple homers in five starts this season (only Cole Hamels has more), and he's allowing a 40.4 percent hard-hit rate, which doesn't play well in the hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark. Gonzalez, meanwhile, has produced a .233 ISO versus righties this season,
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.