Monday is another short slate, typical of what we'll see with the new MLB schedule adding four additional off days per club. Sixteen squads are in action, with a surprising number of pitchers profiling as possible streamers. That said, each of them has a wart or two, so if you're looking to get a jump on the week, it's a bit of a game of "pick your poison."
Because of the limited schedule, many of the hitters will square off against a pitcher recommended for streaming -- another repercussion of the lack of options. Here are seven pitchers for fantasy managers to consider. We also bring you the typical array of hitters, all available in more than half of ESPN leagues.
Pitchers to stream
Joe Musgrove (R), rostered in 41 percent of ESPN leagues, Pittsburgh Pirates at Arizona Diamondbacks: The Pirates took a chance that Musgrove's success as a reliever late last season could be transitioned back to starting. So far, they have chosen wisely. That said, Musgrove's actual 1.89 ERA over his first three starts is about half of what his 3.47 FIP and 3.81 xFIP say it should be. The good news is that, if Musgrove settles in that range, he'll be an above-average MLB pitcher. Monday's contest will pit Musgrove against the red-hot Paul Goldschmidt, fresh off a series where the first baseman took full advantage of Coors Field. Perhaps the added confidence will help Goldschmidt overcome his home woes.
Andrew Heaney (L), 35 percent, Los Angeles Angels at Seattle Mariners: The six-man rotation in Los Angeles seems to be agreeing with Heaney in his first full year back from Tommy John surgery. He's coming off a shutout of the Royals, though he's fanned only 12 total batters over his past three outings, spanning 20⅓ innings. This makes Heaney vulnerable against a Mariners club in the upper half of the league against southpaws.
Junior Guerra (R), 30 percent, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Chicago Cubs: In what's become a bit of a theme, Guerra is also pitching better than his peripherals -- as a 4.21 xFIP, compared to his actual 2.83 ERA -- would suggest. To his credit, Guerra's 8.4 K/9 is above average, and he's working with more velocity than last season. The problem is, he draws a Cubs squad checking in with the third-best lineup with a right-hander on the hill. If Guerra can escape with a lead, he's supported by the best bullpen in the league.
Steven Wright (R), 10 percent, Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles: Knuckleballers are like a box of chocolates: You never know what you'll get. The Orioles are the fourth-weakest team against right-handers, but those splits are derived against conventional pitching. Boston draws Dylan Bundy, so the "likely to get a win" narrative is mitigated. Wright is the type of play best deployed when you're matched up against a team with excellent pitching in a head-to-head matchup where you need some unexpected help.
Sam Gaviglio (R), 3 percent, Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays: Returning to the theme of a pitcher with surface stats not being supported by his underlying metrics, may we present Mr. Gaviglio? He has provided the Blue Jays with a nice shot in the arm while filling in for Marco Estrada -- despite a pedestrian 20 strikeouts to go along with six walks and four homers allowed in those four games, spanning 24⅓ frames. Tampa Bay is a mid-range offense, though Gaviglio enjoys a nice park upgrade.
Wei-Yin Chen (L), 1 percent, Miami Marlins vs. San Francisco Giants: As is typical of a pitcher with his stuff, Chen can be very inconsistent. Three starts ago, he stifled the Nationals over 7⅓ frames, only to follow that outing up with a disaster against the Padres. The Giants are about average versus southpaws.
Ryan Yarbrough (L), 10 percent, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Toronto Blue Jays: Ryne Stanek worked an inning in relief on Sunday, so Yarbrough will be given the ball to start the game, making him the best streaming option of the day. He'll be facing a Blue Jays team that is struggling against lefties. Yarbrough's relief appearances are often longer than the expected innings from a typical spot starter.
After it appeared that Nate Jones has usurped the closer role from Joakim Soria, all of a sudden Soria posted four saves last week. White Sox skipper Rick Renteria insists it's still a committee, saying he'll continue to play the matchups as he sees fit. Still, Soria's recent efforts make him the one to roster in the Chicago bullpen.
They're not playing today, but sometimes it's best to be one step ahead of your competition. Hector Rondon appears to be the "flavor of the month" in Houston as he recorded three saves over the past week.
Another scenario to monitor is in St. Louis, where Bud Norris has hit a speed bump. He's still the ninth-inning man for now, but if you want to back him up (or simply speculate), fire-balling Jordan Hicks is likely "on deck" for saves.
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.
Manny Pina (R), 2 percent, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Chicago Cubs (LHP Jose Quintana): Quintana is pitching better of late, though he's still vulnerable to righty swingers. The choices behind the plate are rather scant on the abbreviated docket, putting Pina in play, especially given that he both has the platoon edge and should be hitting higher in the lineup than other candidates.
Chris Davis (L), 10 percent, Baltimore Orioles vs. Boston Red Sox (RHP Steven Wright): Tim Wakefield used to say he preferred facing sluggers, as they tended to overswing against the spinless floater. Still, if you're looking for a long ball or two, Davis is in play. When he falls behind, Wright tends to turn away from the junk more than Wakefield ever did.
Ian Kinsler (R), 42 percent, Los Angeles Angels at Seattle Mariners (LHP Wade LeBlanc): Yes, it's Kinsler -- again. On a bigger slate, it's easier to find other names to put on your radar. However, with limited choices, we will once again point out that Kinsler is still available in more than half of ESPN leagues -- despite homering in three consecutive games entering Sunday's action. The icing on the cake is that he'll be facing a middling southpaw.
Ryon Healy (R), 28 percent, Seattle Mariners vs. Los Angeles Angels (LHP Andrew Heaney): As mentioned earlier, Heaney is pitching well despite allowing a lot of contact. Healy's hard-hit rate is well above the league average. He has also hit southpaws well over the course of his career, which definitely puts him in play Monday.
Yairo Munoz (R), 9 percent, St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Diego Padres (RHP Jordan Lyles): Kolten Wong has been a popular choice in this spot, but it's time to highlight his new double-play partner. Munoz was acquired from the Athletics in the Stephen Piscotty deal. He has a bit of both power and speed, though contact is his primary skill. However, like many young hitters, he's struggling in that area early in his career. Lyles' strikeout rate is just average, but on a day with scant options up the middle, that will have to do.
Jake Bauers (L), 4 percent, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Sam Gaviglio): Assuming he can avoid colliding with Carlos Gomez on foul pops, Bauers should be an intriguing choice when a right-hander is on the hill -- especially since he's hitting in the meat of the order, unlike most other streaming options.
Devon Travis (R), 1 percent, Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays (LHP Ryan Yarbrough): Travis has hit better since his recall May 22, albeit with only a modest .727 OPS. He's been better versus lefties, however, stroking both his homers with a southpaw on the hill.
Jon Jay (L), 27 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Joe Musgrove): Jay has picked up in Arizona right where he left off with the Royals, setting the table for the Diamondbacks from the leadoff spot. Arizona's offense woke up in Coors Field, so if the team carries the momentum to the desert, Jay could be a great source of runs.
Gorkys Hernandez (R), 13 percent, San Francisco Giants at Miami Marlins (LHP Wei-Yin Chen): Hernandez, along with fellow fly-chaser Mac Williamson, are in play against Chen, with both outfielders enjoying the platoon edge. Williamson is in play wherever he hits in the order, but Hernandez could be the best option if he ends up in the juicy leadoff spot.
Jason Heyward (L), 7 percent, Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Junior Guerra): Streaks are non-predictive, meaning they can end at any time. With that disclaimer, Heyward has been on a tear, posting an .853 OPS over the past month, including a .923 mark for the past week. As a result of this streak, Heyward has been "promoted" to batting second in the order. That makes this a good spot, even without simply relying on his recent prowess.