Daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Saturday

Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Saturday's slate features the return of Carlos Rodon, who has been on the disabled list all season following shoulder surgery last September. While there's too much risk involved in throwing Rodon to the wolves against the Red Sox this weekend, he's certainly a name that deserves attention. The former No. 3 overall pick owns a 3.95 ERA and 9.2 K/9 over 63 major league starts, and he produced a 1.53 ERA with 28 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings during his minor league rehab assignment. Rodon will certainly find his name in this space in future weeks when the matchups are more favorable.

Here's a look at the day's most interesting streaming options, focusing on players rostered in less than 50 percent of ESPN leagues.


Pitchers to stream

Tyler Skaggs (L), 44 percent, Los Angeles Angels at Minnesota Twins: Skaggs is another hurler who has pitched better than his rostered percentage indicates. The left-hander is missing plenty of bats (9.6 K/9) and has allowed more than three runs just once in his last eight outings. Since April 23, Skaggs holds a 2.96 ERA and has 49 K's in 45 2/3 frames. Against a middle-of-the-road Twins lineup that whiffs at a 24.1 percent clip against lefties, Skaggs is in line for another strong performance this weekend.

Nick Kingham (R), 14 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs: A road matchup against the Cubs isn't necessarily ideal. After all, the North Siders rank top-three in baseball with a .333 wOBA against right-handed pitching this season. Even so, Kingham is one of the day's more interesting streaming options if you're searching for upside. While the 26-year-old has made only five starts this season, the stuff looks legit. He's shown great control (4.2 percent walk rate) to go along with swing-and-miss stuff (25.4 percent strikeout rate). Even if you decide to pass on Kingham on Saturday because of the matchup, he's a name to keep an eye on going forward.

Kyle Gibson (R), 24 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. Los Angeles Angels: Like Kingham, Gibson gets a tough draw on Saturday, facing an Angels club that's top-four in baseball with a .327 wOBA versus righties. That said, the Twins right-hander deserves the benefit of the doubt based on what he's accomplished this season. Dating back to April 26, Gibson sports a 3.21 ERA with a 1.11 WHIP and 10.0 K/9. When he faced the Angels back in May, he tossed six innings of two-run ball with six K's. That's a good baseline when setting expectations for Saturday.

Pitcher to avoid

Jon Lester (L), 95 percent, Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates: If I've rostered Lester, I'm still running him out there in most formats. I'm not feeling great about it, though. Some red flags have popped up in his profile this season. While Lester sports a tidy 2.44 ERA, it's not backed up by his 4.14 FIP and 4.39 xFIP. He's also working with his worst K/9 (7.8) rate since 2013, his worst BB/9 (3.2) since 2011, and a career-worst 33.5 hard-hit rate, suggesting his stuff isn't as good as it used to be. On top of all that, the Pirates have been the best team in the National League against left-handed pitching, producing a .341 wOBA and .189 ISO. Lester has faced them twice this season and has allowed eight earned runs over 11 frames (6.55 ERA).

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.



Chris Iannetta (R), 11 percent, Colorado Rockies vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (RHP Matt Koch): Iannetta has been in a bit of a funk of late, but this is a nice spot for him to right the ship. He's been better against same-side pitching this season (.263/.366/.500), which matches him up well with Koch, who's had trouble with same-side batters (.308/.358/.559). Then, of course, there's the Coors Field factor, which certainly doesn't hurt.

First base

Chris Davis (L), 10 percent, Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Aaron Sanchez): Davis is always a risk/reward play, but the reward in Saturday's matchup is substantial. While Davis doesn't make a lot of contact, he sports a 35 percent hard-hit rate when he does connect, along with a career .356 wOBA and .255 ISO versus right-handed pitching. Sanchez, meanwhile, isn't missing a ton of bats (7.2 K/9) and has been tattooed by lefty batters this season (.304/.432/.500).

Second base

Daniel Descalso (L), 19 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks at Colorado Rockies (RHP Chad Bettis): I'm going back-to-back with Coors Field bats. Can you blame me? Descalso is batting .284/.399/.543 against righties this season, including a 42.2 percent hard-hit rate and 49.5 percent fly ball rate, which makes a series at Coors all the more enticing. Bettis owns a 7.24 ERA and .321 batting average against at home this season, so look for plenty of fireworks on Saturday.

Third base

Maikel Franco (R), 40 percent, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Milwaukee Brewers (LHP Brent Suter): While Suter has pitched better of late, he's still a highly combustible hurler. He's a soft-tossing, pitch-to-contact lefty who has allowed multiple home runs in four of his last six starts. Meanwhile, Citizens Bank Park is an elite venue for right-handed power, and Franco owns a .222 ISO versus lefties in 2018.


Marcus Semien (R), 50 percent, Oakland Athletics vs. Kansas City Royals (LHP Danny Duffy): There's no way to sugarcoat it. Duffy has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball this season. He currently ranks 215th on the ESPN Player Rater among starting pitchers. While Duffy has done a decent job keeping lefties in check, right-handed batters have tagged him for a .394 wOBA. Semien gets the platoon advantage here and should be able to do some damage.

Corner infield

Yuli Gurriel (R), 29 percent, Houston Astros at Texas Rangers (LHP Mike Minor): Gurriel has gone yard only once this season. That could change with a matchup against Minor on Saturday, however, as the Texas lefty has surrendered at least one home run in six straight starts (nine total). He's also allowed a .380 wOBA to right-handed batters, putting Gurriel in a highly appealing spot.

Middle infield

Jason Kipnis (L), 18 percent, Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers (RHP Mike Fiers): Kipnis has been a big disappointment this season (.205/.285/.306), but he's starting to show signs of life. Over his last 11 games, he's batting .318/.362/.523 with a pair of homers and a pair of steals. Kipnis matches up well with Fiers, who has allowed a .362 wOBA to lefty swingers this season.


Curtis Granderson (L), 5 percent, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Kevin Gausman): The Gausman train has derailed. After posting a 3.18 ERA over his first eight starts, his ERA has skyrocketed to 4.63. Allowing six-plus in three of your last four outings will do that. Gausman could certainly rebound soon, but he looks like an easy target for the time being. For his part, Granderson owns an .846 OPS against righties over the last three seasons.

Joc Pederson (L), 4 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Atlanta Braves (RHP Anibal Sanchez): Pederson is on a bit of a heater right now, bopping five home runs in his last four starts. He's always done the majority of his damage against right-handed pitching, while Sanchez has had trouble keeping the ball in the park in recent seasons.

Jay Bruce (L), 42 percent, New York Mets vs. New York Yankees (RHP Domingo German): Bruce is stuck in a season-long slump, but sometimes you need to ignore the past results and instead focus on what's ahead. What's ahead is a matchup against German, who sports an 8.14 ERA over his last four starts. With a career .231 ISO against right-handed pitching, Bruce should start producing some positive results soon, and Saturday is a great place to start.

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.