We've officially hit the second half of the MLB season, with more than half of 2018's games now in the books. To celebrate, we have a smorgasbord of hurlers, ranging from Chris Sale and Justin Verlander at the top to well-traveled veterans Bartolo Colon and Edwin Jackson at the bottom. As you might expect, Saturday's streaming options fall somewhere in the middle.
Here's a look at the day's top streaming options, focusing on players rostered in less than 50 percent of ESPN leagues.
Pitchers to stream
Felix Hernandez (R), rostered in 43 percent of ESPN leagues, Seattle Mariners vs. Kansas City Royals: Hernandez may no longer deserve the "King Felix" moniker, but he can still provide fantasy value in the right spots. Saturday's matchup against Kansas City is one of those spots. Hernandez owns a 3.41 ERA in June, which includes matchups against the Red Sox (1 ER in 7 IP) and Yankees (1 ER in 5 IP). Needless to say, the Royals aren't in the same class as those two clubs. In fact, they're probably the worst offensive team in baseball, ranking last or second-to-last in wOBA (.292), ISO (127) and wRC+ (81). If we're going to see Felix resemble "King Felix" anytime soon, it'll probably be in a prime matchup like this one.
Trevor Williams (R), 27 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates at San Diego Padres: This recommendation has more to do with the opponent than anything else. After all, the Padres rank 30th in wOBA (.289), 28th in ISO (.134) and 27th in wRC+ (84). San Diego's 25.6 percent strikeout rate is also the second highest in baseball. So, yeah, this is a pretty good matchup for Williams. Despite holding a 5.23 ERA since the beginning of May, the right-hander has pitched well during his past two starts, limiting his opponents (the Brewers and Diamondbacks) to three earned runs and six hits in 13 innings (2.07 ERA) with 13 strikeouts. Williams' track record tells us he's not exactly trustworthy, but matchups don't get much better than this.
Vince Velasquez (R), 27 percent, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Washington Nationals: Start-to-start consistency has been a problem for Velasquez. During his past 10 starts, he's managed only five quality starts, and only once did they come in back-to-back games. If you're looking for upside, though, Velasquez has it, as the right-hander's 10.8 K/9 ranks top-10 in baseball. While Washington has an imposing lineup on paper, it hasn't translated to production lately. Over the past 30 days, the Nationals rank dead last in the National League with a 72 wRC+ and .279 wOBA. If you're going to attack this Nats' lineup, now is the time to strike.
Carlos Rodon (L), 20 percent, Chicago White Sox at Texas Rangers: In four starts since returning from the disabled list, Rodon holds a 3.70 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. It's too small of a sample to draw any real conclusions, but his velocity (93.8 mph) is where it was last year (93.6 mph), which is a good sign. While that hasn't translated to whiffs just yet (7.0 K/9), his control has been improved (2.6 BB/9). If he can start missing more bats while keeping the control gains, then we'd really have something here. On Saturday, Rodon draws a Rangers team that's middle-of-the-road against lefties (99 wRC+) with a healthy 23.4 percent strikeout rate.
Pitcher to avoid
Sonny Gray (R), 63 percent, New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox: A case can certainly be made for Gray, who owns a 3.23 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in June. A matchup against Boston, however, is a tough sell. He has a limited chance to come away with a win while opposing Sale, and the Red Sox are the best team in baseball against right-handed pitching this season (117 wRC+). Of course, there's always a chance Gray could come out of this one unscathed, but there's just as good of a chance that the Sox put up a crooked number.
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.
Robinson Chirinos (R), 5 percent, Texas Rangers vs. Chicago White Sox (LHP Carlos Rodon): A top-10 fantasy catcher during the past month, Chirinos boasts a .904 OPS in June and gets the platoon advantage in a hitter-friendly park. While Rodon has pitched well since returning from the DL, homers have been an issue, which sets things up nicely for the Texas backstop.
Joe Mauer (L), 7 percent, Minnesota Twins at Chicago Cubs (RHP Tyler Chatwood): Mauer isn't an upside play, but he's still a quality play. Left-handed batters are reaching base 42.9 percent of the time against Chatwood this season, and 13 of the 16 extra-base hits he's allowed have been hit by lefties. Mauer, meanwhile, is batting .280 with a .371 OBP against right-handed pitching during the past three seasons. He's a good bet to reach base a couple of times in this matchup.
Jason Kipnis (L), 17 percent, Cleveland Indians at Oakland Athletics (RHP Edwin Jackson): Jackson pitched well in his first start of the season on Monday, but let's not forget that this is a guy who hasn't posted a sub-5.00 ERA since 2015. After a slow start, Kipnis has been on a tear of late, batting .371/.450/.657 with three homers during his past 10 games.
Pablo Sandoval (B), 4 percent, San Francisco Giants at Arizona Diamondbacks (RHP Shelby Miller): Miller struggled in his first start back from elbow surgery, and Sandoval is batting .304/.367/.478 against right-handed pitching. While the humidor in Chase Field has made it a much more pitcher-friendly park, it's still an upgrade over AT&T Park, which is the worst venue in baseball for left-handed power.
Jose Peraza (R), 40 percent, Cincinnati Reds vs. Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Jhoulys Chacin): While Chacin has been a serviceable starter for the Brewers this season, it's hard to be overly optimistic about his prospects going forward. The right-hander's 3.82 ERA isn't supported by his 4.76 xFIP, his strikeout rate is down, his walk rate is up, and he's allowing significantly more hard contact (38.5 percent). For his part, Peraza is batting .306 with a .366 OBP in June and has (amazingly) gone yard in back-to-back-games.
Yuli Gurriel (R), 50 percent, Houston Astros at Tampa Bay Rays (RHP Matt Andriese): Since entering the major leagues, Gurriel is hitting .306/.332/.480 in 692 plate appearances against righty pitching. That will suit him well against Andriese, who has shown reverse splits in his career. While the Tampa right-hander is keeping lefty batters in check this season (.224 wOBA), right-handed batters have given him trouble (.352 wOBA).
Daniel Descalso (L), 29 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Francisco Giants (RHP Dereck Rodriguez): Descalso continues to be one of 2018's most pleasant surprises. He sports an .872 OPS against right-handed pitching and owns a .297/.392/.563 slash line during the past month. Rodriguez has pitched reasonably well of late, but his success has not translated away from AT&T Park (5.68 ERA).
Joc Pederson (L), 35 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Colorado Rockies (RHP German Marquez): Marquez has been much more effective away from Coors Field, but lefty batters have still pummeled him for a .309/.369/.514 slash line this season. This creates an enticing spot for Pederson, who is smashing righties to the tune of a .293/.385/.624 slash line, including a .309/.387/.945 triple slash with 10 homers in June.
Manuel Margot (R), 21 percent, San Diego Padres vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Trevor Williams): It's time to start paying attention to Margot again. After being a popular sleeper during draft season, the speedy outfielder hit just .189/.234/.288 during his first 37 games. Since then, however, he's hitting .313/.394/.500 in 30 games. He's also regained his spot at the top of the Padres' lineup. Williams, who owns a 5.23 ERA during the past two months, doesn't figure to slow Margot down.
Kole Calhoun (L), 7 percent, Los Angeles Angels at Baltimore Orioles (RHP Andrew Cashner): Calhoun has hit the ground running since returning from an oblique injury. He's batting .321/.367/.571 during the past two weeks, gets a park upgrade going to Camden Yards, and matches up well with Cashner, who owns a 5.12 home ERA 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.