Thursday brings us an eight-game slate that's short on top-end hurlers. After Justin Verlander, it's a bit of a wasteland -- he's the only one of the day's 16 starting pitchers to hold a Game Score of 55 or higher. In terms of streaming options, there are certainly plenty of names to consider.
After all, only Verlander, Marco Gonzales and Johnny Cueto, who is making his first start since April 28, come in above the 50 percent rostered threshold. Unfortunately, the group of widely available hurlers is not super enticing. As always, we'll forge ahead anyway and play the hand we're dealt, so let's get to it.
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
Jeremy Hellickson (R), rostered in 19 percent of ESPN leagues, Washington Nationals vs. Miami Marlins: Hellickson has been an underrated fantasy asset since joining Washington's rotation, posting a 2.63 ERA and 1.02 WHIP across 10 starts. While he's not missing many bats (7.1 K/9), he's showcasing pinpoint control (1.5 BB/9) and limiting hard contact (29.5%). Some negative regression is likely coming once his BABIP (.269) and LOB% (81.8%) level out, but Hellickson still deserves attention as a relatively safe streaming option. He finds himself in a particularly good spot on Thursday, squaring off against a Marlins team that's been largely ineffective against right-handed pitching this season (.298 wOBA, 87 wRC+).
Shelby Miller (R), 6 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Diego Padres: Let's not pretend the early returns from Miller have been any good. The right-hander has made two starts since returning from Tommy John surgery and owns an 11.42 ERA and 2.08. That's, uh, not good. On the positive front, Miller's velocity (94.5 mph) is very encouraging, and the fact that he's whiffed 11 batters in 8 2/3 innings tells us there's still upside here if he can get the rest of his game ironed out. Perhaps a matchup against San Diego will help him do just that. After all, the Padres sport the highest strikeout rate in baseball (25.5%) and rank among MLB's worst in ISO (27th), wRC+ (27th), and wOBA (29th).
Max Fried (L), 6 percent, Atlanta Braves at Milwaukee Brewers: In his second start of the season on Saturday against the Cardinals, Fried reminded us why he was a former first-round pick, tossing 6 2/3 scoreless frames while fanning 11. Walks have been an issue for the young lefty in the past (he walked three in Saturday's outing), so his overall risk level will remain high until he learns to refine that part of his game. Still, it was fun to see Fried show us the kind of upside he possesses when he's on his game and his curveball is working. I'd be hesitant to put too much trust in Fried going forward, but on a short slate, he's an upside streamer against a Brewers team fanning at a 24 percent clip.
Projected game scores
Robinson Chirinos (R), 12 percent, Texas Rangers at Detroit Tigers (LHP Matthew Boyd): Chirinos has been on a tear of late, batting .333/.438/.778 over the last 15 days. On Thursday, he gets the platoon advantage against Boyd, who put up a 6.32 ERA in June and has surrendered six homers over his last six outings.
Ryon Healy (R), 38 percent, Seattle Mariners vs. Los Angeles Angels (RHP Jaime Barria): It's too small a sample size to decree Barria pitches to reverse splits. However, during his young career, righty swingers certainly appear comfortable, as he's allowed seven homers while fanning just 19, facing 117 righty hitters as compared to whiffing 27 while surrendering only three homers to 114 left-handed batters. Healy is in a good spot to take advantage, swatting 12 of his 16 homers off righty tossers.
Joe Panik (L), 11 percent, San Francisco Giants vs. St. Louis Cardinals (RHP Luke Weaver): Weaver is in the midst of a rough stretch. The young right-hander hasn't managed a quality start since May 22, and he's surrendered five homers over his last three outings. All told, Weaver sports a 6.49 ERA in his last seven turns. This creates a nice opportunity for Panik, the owner of a .298/.374/.430 slash line against righty pitching in 2018.
Johan Camargo (B), 10 percent, Atlanta Braves at Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Jhoulys Chacin): Chacin owns a respectable 3.71 ERA in 18 starts this season, but a 4.0 BB/9 and 38.5 percent hard-hit rate suggests there's some volatility here. Fantasy managers saw this firsthand last week, when he was bombed for eight runs in 4 1/3 frames against St. Louis. Chacin has surrendered a .339 wOBA to lefty batters this season, which sets up the switch-hitting Camargo quite nicely.
Ketel Marte (B), 28 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Diego Padres (LHP Eric Lauer): Over his last 31 games, Marte is batting .308/.348/.615 with 24 runs, 20 RBI and 18 extra-base hits. He's done much of his damage this season against left-handed pitching (.298/.348/.519), and he doesn't figure to be slowed down by Lauer, who's allowing a .328/.390/.520 slash line against righty batters.
Trey Mancini (R), 34 percent, Baltimore Orioles at Minnesota Twins (RHP Aaron Slegers): The Orioles slugger looks to be finally turning it on, batting .297/.350/.568 during the past two weeks. Slegers will make his first start this season for the Twins, The righty has started 14 games for Triple-A Rochester, allowing 12 long balls in 83.2 frames. With 27 of his 35 homers smacked the past two seasons served up by a right-hander, Mancini has a good chance to stay in a groove.
Jorge Polanco (B), 5 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Andrew Cashner): Polanco is back from his 80-game suspension. It's been so long that it's easy to forget that the 24-year-old established himself as a nice little player in 2017, clubbing 13 homers and swiping 13 bags in 133 games. The switch-hitting Polanco matches up well with Cashner, who has allowed an .833 OPS to left-handed batters over the last three seasons.
Josh Reddick (L), 30 percent, Houston Astros vs. Chicago White Sox (LHP Carlos Rodon): Reddick won't have the platoon advantage in this matchup, but that's OK. He batted .315/.360/.402 against southpaws in 2017 and owns a higher OPS against them this season (.756 vs. LHP; .704 vs. RHP). Reddick has also crushed at home this season, putting up a .344/.400/.495 triple slash line. For his part, Rodon has allowed six homers in five June starts and has surrendered a .214 ISO to lefty swingers.
JaCoby Jones (R), 1 percent, Detroit Tigers vs. Texas Rangers (RHP Yovani Gallardo): While Gallardo has made only six appearances (three starts) this season, right-handed batters have produced a .326/.370/.558 triple slash against him in those six appearances. As a result, Jones finds himself in a favorable spot on Thursday. He brings a little bit of pop and speed to the table and has produced the bulk of his numbers against same-sided pitching (18 of his 25 extra-base hits).
Austin Slater (R), 1 percent, San Francisco Giants vs. St. Louis Cardinals (RHP Luke Weaver): We highlighted Weaver's recent struggles earlier, so it should come as no surprise why we're doubling up on Giants bats here. After batting .344/.417/.564 in 53 games at Triple-A this season, Slater is hitting .346/.486/.423 in 12 games with the Giants. The 25-year-old hasn't gotten much attention, but there's some offensive potential here in a very favorable matchup.
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.