Streaming starters is a strategy that has plenty of ups and downs. Sometimes you get a day where there are multiple options, each of whom provides you with relative safety, along with some intriguing upside. Other days, it's more of a roll of the dice, with only a group of inconsistent arms from which to choose. Unfortunately, Saturday's slate falls more into the latter camp.
As we head into the weekend, here's what we're looking at in terms of players rostered in less than 50 percent of ESPN leagues.
Pitchers to stream
Andrew Heaney (L), rostered in 35 percent of ESPN leagues, Los Angeles Angels at Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers have a top-five offense against right-handed pitching this season, producing a .110 wRC+ and .332 wOBA. Against lefthanders, however, the lineup has been fairly average (96 wRC+, .310 wOBA). This presents a decent streaming opportunity for Heaney, who is coming off back-to-back 10-K efforts, one of which came against these same Dodgers. Plus, this time he gets to face a batting order with a pitcher instead of a DH. Heaney has delivered some clunkers here and there, but his is a skill set worth investing in for this start and beyond.
Reynaldo Lopez (R), 18 percent, Chicago White Sox vs. Kansas City Royals: Lopez has been inconsistent and a somewhat frustrating fantasy hurler this season. However, if there's a spot where you'll feel somewhat good about using him, it's against the Royals, who sport a bottom-three wOBA (.292). Walks have often been an issue for Lopez (4.0 BB/9), but that risk is mitigated against a Kansas City club that walks just 6.8 percent of the time, the second-lowest mark in baseball. Also in Lopez's favor is the fact that he's been much better at home this season, producing a 2.72 ERA in 46.1 innings.
Danny Duffy (L), 28 percent, Kansas City Royals at Chicago White Sox: Walks have been a problem for Duffy, too (4.2 BB/9). Fortunately, the only team with a worse walk rate than the Royals is the White Sox, at 6.7 percent. They're also fanning at a 25.7 percent clip against lefties, the worst mark in the AL. In other words, this is a prime spot for the Kansas City southpaw. While Duffy has battled inconsistency this season, he's been mostly good of late, allowing no more than a single run in three of his last four starts.
Zack Wheeler (R), 18 percent, New York Mets vs. Washington Nationals: Continuing with our theme, we come to Wheeler, another inconsistent option. Yes, he's hard to trust on a start-to-start basis, but he has whiffed seven-plus batters in his four of his last five starts. That gives him nice upside against a Nationals team that has been shut out a whopping nine times since June 1. Despite his 4.42 ERA, Wheeler is allowing the lowest hard-hit rate of his career (28.2 percent), a mark that ranks top-five in baseball. Better times appear to be on the horizon.
Projected game scores
Tom Murphy (R), 2 percent, Colorado Rockies vs. Seattle Mariners (LHP Wade LeBlanc): It can be tough to find offense at the catcher position. As a result, when you get the platoon advantage against a mediocre left-hander at Coors Field, you shouldn't overthink it. Murphy has the power to pay big dividends in this matchup. As usual, Chris Iannetta is also a favorable play, should he get the starting nod over Murphy.
Greg Bird (L), 25 percent, New York Yankees at Cleveland Indians (RHP Mike Clevinger): Bird has yet to really get going since coming off the DL, but if you want power upside, it's hard to do much better than a 25-year-old slugger who has pounded 27 homers in 132 career games. While Progressive Field isn't quite Yankee Stadium, it still boosts left-handed power.
Brad Miller (L), 3 percent, Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Clay Holmes): Miller is batting .310/.375/.517 over his last 19 games and sports a career-best 44.1 percent hard-contact rate. It's highly unlikely that he'll be slowed down by Holmes, who hasn't looked big-league ready in any of his three big league appearances (7.11 ERA, 8.5 BB/9).
Daniel Descalso (L), 20 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks at Atlanta Braves (LHP Sean Newcomb): Newcomb has been a pleasant surprise this season, but his control issues (4.4 BB/9) can make him vulnerable. He hasn't made it out of the fourth inning his either of his last two starts, surrendering 10 runs and nine walks in those 6.1 frames. While Descalso won't have the platoon advantage here, he still has managed an .871 OPS and .279 ISO against left-handed pitching this season.
Tim Beckham (R), 4 percent, Baltimore Orioles vs. Texas Rangers (LHP Martin Perez): Beckham has only 31 at-bats against lefty pitching this season, but he's made the most of them, producing a .323/.400/.484 slash line. He matches up well with Perez, who is allowing .294/.358/.454 to right-handed hitters to go along with a bloated 46.7 percent hard-hit rate.
Matt Adams (L), 33 percent, Washington Nationals at New York Mets (RHP Zack Wheeler): It's no secret that Adams mashes right-handed pitching. Look no further than his .935 OPS against righties this season, including 12-of-13 home runs. Wheeler, meanwhile, has been susceptible to that side of the plate in his career (.341 wOBA).
Ian Happ (B), 36 percent, Chicago Cubs at San Diego Padres (RHP Luis Perdomo): On the one hand, Happ's 36.2 percent K-rate is still awfully high. On the other, he's drawing walks (16.2 percent), hitting for power, and swiping the occasional base. This makes him awfully enticing in leagues that don't penalize for strikeouts. Dating back to June 15, he's batting .306/.425/.444. Look for Happ to get plenty of opportunities to do damage against Perdomo and his 7.09 ERA.
Dustin Fowler (L), 3 percent, Oakland Athletics at San Francisco Giants (RHP Jeff Samardzija): Samardzija has been very generous to left-handed swingers in his nine starts. Sure, it's a small sample, but a .304/.407/.552 slash line with four homers and 12 walks allowed in just 16.1 frames is hard to ignore. Needless to say, this a nice spot for Fowler, who offers a nice combination of power and speed atop Oakland's batting order.
Nick Williams (L), 6 percent, Philadelphia Phillies at Miami Marlins (RHP Trevor Richards): Williams doesn't get much attention in fantasy circles, but he's been a nice little player of late. Over his last 45 games, he's batting .273/.342/.517 with nine home runs. Most of that damage has come against right-handed pitching (.810 OPS). On Saturday, he squares off against Williams, who has a 5.51 ERA over his last 13 starts.
Jake Cave (L), 1 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. Tampa Bay Rays (RHP Chris Archer): It's a limited sample to be sure, but Cave has punished righties this season (.309/.333/.509 in 55 at-bats). He's also hitting .394/.444/.727 with runners on base. We all know how dominant Archer can be when he's on his game, but that hasn't happened a lot in 2018. He has struggled against lefties (.296/.360/.481) and is coming off one of his worst outings of the season -- a start against Detroit in which he didn't make it out of the fourth inning.
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.