At last, we get a Thursday slate where we're not scraping the bottom of the barrel, trying to scrounge up more than one or two reasonable streaming options. It's a pretty solid set of games, highlighted by a duel between James Paxton and Luis Severino. It still doesn't compare to the multitude of options we generally get on a full slate, but, hey, we'll take what we can get.
Here are the day's top streaming options, focusing on players rostered in less than 50 percent of ESPN leagues.
Pitchers to stream
Kyle Freeland (L), rostered in 40 percent of ESPN leagues, Colorado Rockies vs. New York Mets: Streaming a starting pitcher at Coors Field? Really? Really. Freeland has actually thrived at Coors this year, posting a 2.93 ERA, 8.8 K/9 and .226 batting average against in five starts. And it's not just this season, as he sports a solid 3.72 ERA in 19 career games (16 starts) at Coors Field. So if we can agree that Coors isn't a huge concern here, then there's no reason not to fire up Freeland against the Mets, the worst team in baseball against left-handed pitching this season (72 wRC+).
Brent Suter (L), 18 percent, Milwaukee Brewers vs. St. Louis Cardinals: Wednesday's rainout in Pittsburgh pushes Suter to Thursday where he now draws the Cardinals for a home affair. Suter doesn't have a high ceiling, but he knows his task -- keep the Brewers in the game for five or six innings before handing the ball off to the league's best bullpen. To that end, he hasn't allowed more than three runs in any of his last six outings, posting five wins in that span. St. Louis is a below-average offense with a lefty on the hill, giving Suter a good chance to extend his streak of solid efforts.
Chad Kuhl (R), 18 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Arizona Diamondbacks: After Wednesday's postponement, Kuhl gets a nice draw against the Diamondbacks, who rank 29th in baseball with an 81 wRC+ against righties to go along with a bloated 25 percent strikeout rate. Quality starts may not be the best measure, but with eight of them in his last 11 efforts, Kuhl has established a decent floor, aided by pitcher-friendly PNC Park.
Aaron Sanchez (R), 35 percent, Toronto Blue Jays at Los Angeles Angels: After a rough May (5.96 ERA), Sanchez has begun to right the ship in June, posting three straight quality starts with a 2.95 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 9.8 K/9. While the right-hander has had his struggles against lefty batters this season, he's holding right-handed hitters to a .206/.294/.315 slash line, which matches him up well with the Angels' righty-heavy lineup.
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.
Tom Murphy (R), 4 percent, Colorado Rockies vs. New York Mets (LHP Steven Matz): Murphy has started six of eight games for the Rockies since being called up from Triple-A, where he hit .289/.359/.642 with 16 homers. There's nice fantasy upside here if he continues to get regular playing time. On Thursday at Coors Field, he draws the platoon advantage against Matz, who has surrendered 18 of his 19 extra-base hits to right-handed batters this season.
Eric Thames (L), 53 percent, Milwaukee Brewers vs. St. Louis Cardinals (RHP Carlos Martinez): Thames technically comes in just above our 50 percent threshold, but we'll still include him here given Thursday's abbreviated slate. The 31-year-old has hit all nine of his homers against righties, and he sports a .989 OPS at Miller Park, one of the best parks in baseball for left-handed power. Martinez generally isn't a hurler we want to stream against, but he hasn't looked like himself since returning from the DL, allowing 10 earned runs and a whopping 18 walks over his last 12 2/3 innings (three starts).
Wilmer Flores (R), 2 percent, New York Mets at Colorado Rockies (LHP Kyle Freeland): The Mets offense has awoken in the rarefied air, scoring 28 times in the first three games of the series. Flores homered in the first game, but is a modest 3-for-12 for the set, with a good chance to end the Coors visit on a high note, facing Freeland who has surrendered 8 of his 10 homers allowed to right-handed batters. He doesn't qualify at second base in all leagues, but in those where he does, don't sleep on him today.
Christian Villanueva (R), 32 percent, San Diego Padres at San Francisco Giants (LHP Madison Bumgarner): Bumgarner hasn't quite looked like his old self since returning from the DL, so this isn't a matchup that scares me away. Villanueva has mashed lefties this season, producing a .328/.379/.885 slash line against them, with 11 of his 15 dingers.
Yairo Munoz (R), 4 percent, St. Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers (LHP Brent Suter): With Paul DeJong still not cleared to hit fastballs, Munoz continues to fill in at shortstop. Today, Munoz has the platoon bump along with a park upgrade. The main danger with using Munoz is that if he doesn't take advantage of his swings against Suter, the Brewers bullpen when protecting a lead has been lights out. On the other hand, if the Cardinals get to Suter, the ensuing relievers aren't nearly as formidable.
Colin Moran (L), 10 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (RHP Zack Godley): Moran continues to be an under-the-radar streaming option whenever a righty is on the mound. He's batting .280/.355/.457 against right-handed pitching this season and matches up well with Godley, who hasn't fared well on the road (6.53 ERA in eight starts).
Daniel Descalso (L), 33 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks at Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Chad Kuhl): Descalso continues to find success with his revamped swing, batting .300/.405/.550 over the last month. While Kuhl has been effective, he is vulnerable to left-handed power, with eight of the 12 homers he has allowed coming from that side of the plate, in a roughly equal number of plate appearances.
Jason Heyward (L), 13 percent, Chicago Cubs at Cincinnati Reds (RHP Matt Harvey): After a rough start, Heyward is starting to find his rhythm, batting .338/.375/.515 over his last 16 games. He's also settled into the No. 2 spot in the Cubs' batting order against righties. Heyward gets a tasty matchup on Thursday, squaring off against Harvey. The former Met got off to a nice start in Cincinnati (2.57 ERA over his first three starts, but the honeymoon phase is over. He owns a 6.75 ERA over his last four starts and is allowing a .291/.356/.581 slash line to left-handed batters.
Michael Taylor (R), 29 percent, Washington Nationals vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Kevin Gausman): Taylor has been seeing less playing time since the start of The Juan Soto Experience, but he's still providing value when he's in the lineup. He's batting .412/.474/.588 in 34 June at-bats, and 22 of his 25 stolen base attempts have come against righty pitching, putting him in a favorable spot against Gausman. For his part, the Baltimore righty has allowed a .307/.345/.534 slash line to right-handed batters in 2018.
Noel Cuevas (R), less than 1 percent, Colorado Rockies vs. New York Mets (LHP Steven Matz): In the first three games of this four-game set, a total of 50 runs have been scored, with the home team tallying 10 in both of the last two contests. Matz is certainly better than Jason Vargas and arguably Seth Lugo, but he's not Jacob deGrom, who masterfully held the Rockies to just a pair of runs. Look for another high-scoring affair, giving Cuevas a chance at a productive day, enjoying the platoon edge in Coors Field.
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.