The first official Sunday summer slate is headlined by two of the American League's best with Chris Sale and Gerrit Cole each getting a home start. The evening ESPN affair features a pair of National League East combatants as the Nationals and Jefry Rodriguez entertain the Phillies and Nick Pivetta.
The schedule lays out nicely for streaming both pitchers and hitters. Good luck to those looking to close out the fantasy week with a victory. Here are some options available in more than half of ESPN leagues who are in a favorable spot.
Pitchers to stream
Rich Hill (L), rostered in 53 percent of ESPN leagues, Los Angeles Dodgers at New York Mets: Apologies for bending the eligibility rule, but Hill is just over 50 percent and this matchup couldn't be sweeter. The Mets are anemic versus southpaws, sporting the lowest weighted on base average (wOBA) in the league versus lefties in concert with a high 25 percent strikeout clip. Hill's first start after massaging his mechanics went swimmingly, shutting out the Cubs over six innings while allowing only five baserunners with six strikeouts.
Nick Pivetta (R), 44 percent, Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals: This matchup is representative of the conundrum faced when looking for a strong option to spot start: Is it better to use a good pitcher against a good offense or a lesser hurler versus a weak offense? While this question is worthy of some research, my preference is for the better pitcher. As an example, I'd rather roll with Pivetta than Paul Blackburn taking on the Chicago White Sox. Admittedly, the Nationals have been a below-average unit versus righties, though that could change when/if Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Adam Eaton get rolling together. Pivetta is coming off his best outing of the season, perhaps his career, fanning 13 Cardinals in just over seven innings.
Domingo German (R), 36 percent, New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays: German is in a groove, striking out 28 with just two walks during his past three outings spanning 19 innings. Tampa's wOBA versus righties is in the bottom third of the league and the Rays strike out at an above-average clip.
Brandon McCarthy (R), 8 percent, Atlanta Braves vs. Baltimore Orioles: McCarthy continues to be a useful cog in the Braves' rotation, mentoring the young arms while pitching well enough the club doesn't have to rush one of its prized prospects to the majors. On Sunday, he's rewarded for his efforts with a date against one of the softest lineups in the league against right-handers, further hindered by being without a designated hitter in a National League park.
Adam Plutko (R), 2 percent, Cleveland Indians vs. Detroit Tigers: Here's an interesting comparison to the Blackburn versus White Sox example cited earlier. The Tigers and White Sox are equally inept offenses. Even though the White Sox whiff more than the Tigers, Blackburn misses too few bats to stream. Plutko isn't exactly dominant, but he has enough strikeout potential to be dangerous. Plus, he's at home supported by a good offense.
The former Rays "opener" has taken well to closing. While things could change on a whim, Sergio Romo has posted four saves during the past 10 days, also failing to convert once in that span. To start the game on Sunday, the Rays are changing things up a little as they're using Matt Andriese to kick things off. A former starter, Andriese has been working the middle innings in these scenarios, though he hasn't tossed more than 3.1 frames in any outing. The club has been letting their openers throw multiple innings lately but with the Yankees taking hacks, Andriese isn't likely to extend longer than his usual 2-3 stanzas.
With Jason Vargas hitting the disabled list, the Mets are scrambling for Sunday pitching. Chris Flexen has been summoned and is well-rested, however he flew all night to get to Citi Field. While he is likely to pitch at some point, it's Jerry Blevins who will get the start.
The San Francisco Giants already had over 40 million reasons to hand Mark Melancon the ninth-inning reins. Now they have another, with Hunter Strickland injured. The initial plan was for Sam Dyson and Tony Watson to share duties, but Melancon successfully converted an opportunity Thursday night.
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. Miami Marlins (LHP Caleb Smith): If Murphy isn't in the lineup, it will be Chris Iannetta. Assuming you have the luxury of waiting until lineups are posted, you want the Rockies' catcher for a Coors Field affair, both enjoying the platoon edge on a fly ball pitcher incurring one of the biggest park downgrades possible.
Joe Mauer (L), 8 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. Texas Rangers (RHP Bartolo Colon): It was a coin flip whether to feature Mauer or teammate Logan Morrison as both are in play. If you need a homer, Morrison is your guy as Colon has allowed 10 homers over his past 29.2 innings. Mauer's attraction is hitting at the top of a productive order with a great chance of getting on base and scoring a couple of runs facing his former teammate.
Alen Hanson (B), 8 percent, San Francisco Giants vs. San Diego Padres (LHP Eric Lauer): Hanson is a speedy utility player displaying more pop than usual this season. The Giants have played Hanson at second, shortstop, third and left field, with most of his action at the keystone. He's done most of his damage versus right-handers but should improve versus southpaws as he gets more reps. Lauer averages under-five innings per start, so Hanson should get a chance or two from his stronger side.
Derek Dietrich (L), 1 percent, Miami Marlins at Colorado Rockies (RHP German Marquez): The past few times the Marlins have faced a right-hander, Dietrich has led off the game. He's posted a tidy .825 OPS versus right-handers, including seven long balls. Dietrich is in a great spot to add to those figures, facing a righty recording a 7.45 ERA and 1.81 WHIP at Coors Field. Justin Bour is also an option.
Ketel Marte (B), 36 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks at Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Trevor Williams): With the Diamondbacks using a rotation in the middle infield it's imperative to check lineups, but Marte sat on Saturday so he'll probably be back at it on Sunday. Though more of a speed than power guy, Marte has muscled up the last month, slugging .580 after cracking five homers, four triples and seven doubles during that span. Williams is coming off seven shutout innings against the Brewers, but before that effort he registered a 9.60 ERA and 2.13 WHIP the previous four outings.
Cory Spangenberg (L), 3 percent, San Diego Padres at San Francisco Giants (RHP Dereck Rodriguez): Spangenberg has settled into a hot corner platoon with Christian Villanueva, hitting fifth when he gets the call. Spurred by better contact, he's been on a roll the past couple of weeks with an OPS of .845. Travis Jankowski is also in play but note his running could be curtailed if Buster Posey is behind the plate.
Yolmer Sanchez (B), 19 percent, Chicago White Sox vs. Oakland Athletics (RHP Paul Blackburn): As discussed earlier, hitters put the ball in play against Blackburn. Hitting second, Sanchez should have a few chances to set the table for the run producers looking to take advantage of Blackburn's pitch-to-contact style.
Jon Jay (L), 38 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks at Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Trevor Williams): If it were the middle of the week, I'd search for another as Jay makes this space frequently. With this being the last day of many scoring weeks, it's not worth trying to be cute. Jay continues to be an on-base, run-scoring machine, with a .415 OBP and 26 runs the past month.
Danny Santana (B), 11 percent, Atlanta Braves vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP David Hess): Ronald Acuna Jr. is back soon so Santana's playing time will obviously decrease, but he's been playing left field lately. The switch-hitter is in a good spot as the Orioles' bullpen is weak and Hess doesn't work deep into games. If he's playing, Ryan Flaherty is a secondary option.
Nick Williams (L), 2 percent, Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals (RHP Jefry Rodriguez): Williams and the disappointing Aaron Altherr comprise a platoon with Williams getting the nod facing a righty. After a slow start, the sophomore has picked it up, slashing .253/.309/.517 the past month.
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.