Friday is the first day this week without any matinee action as all 15 contests are under the lights. The card features both All-Star game starters as Chris Sale hosts the Twins while Max Scherzer takes the hill in South Beach.
Hopefully you have one anchoring your staff, but if not, here's our usual potpourri of candidates to fortify your Friday pitching along with batters enjoying favorable matchups, including a couple fresh faces.
Pitchers to stream
Marcus Stroman (R), rostered in 50 percent of ESPN leagues, Toronto Blue Jays at Chicago White Sox: At the time of this writing, Stroman satisfies the criteria of being available in at least half of ESPN leagues, but chances are he's now over the 50 percent threshold so don't dilly-dally, pick him up. Not only is Stroman facing a weak White Sox unit with high strikeout potential, he's pitched to a 3.03 ERA and 1.18 WHIP the last month, allowing just three homers on those 35.2 innings.
Andrew Heaney (L), 49 percent, Los Angeles Angels vs. Seattle Mariners: Let's tag in ESPN Research Associate Kyle Soppe to help make Heaney's case. Soppe notes Heaney has not only spun a 2.73 ERA and 10.3 K/9 in July, he's done it against some of the better offense in the Dodgers (twice), Astros and these Mariners. Heaney also thrives at home, giving him a great chance to end the month on a high note.
CC Sabathia (L), 43 percent, New York Yankees vs. Kansas City Royals: Sabathia is making his first start of the pseudo-second half after getting a lubricant injection during the break to aid with arthritis. The workhorse should be healthy and well-rested facing the Royals, who will tote the sixth lowest weighted on-base average (wOBA) versus righties into Yankee Stadium.
Mike Montgomery (L), 9 percent, Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals: Montgomery faces the Cardinals for the second time in a week, this time on the road. He held them in check last time, allowing just one run in six frames, albeit with just three punch-outs. For the season, the Redbirds are mid-pack versus southpaws with an above average strikeout clip.
Anthony DeSclafani (R), 6 percent, Cincinnati Reds vs. Philadelphia Phillies: If you're in a roto league with tightly contested ratio categories or a points league penalizing heavily for runs and hits, caveat emptor. However, if you can benefit from strikeouts, DeSclafani is in a good spot to rack up some whiffs, facing a Phillies offense fanning a league worst 26 percent pace against righthanders.
The Royals Wily Peralta has three saves the past week. Kansas City plays the Yankees over the weekend, so Peralta's services may not be needed. However, next week the Royals have series with the White Sox and Twins. Picking Peralta up in advance of these divisional affairs is how to get a jump on your competitors.
Speaking of the White Sox, it's unclear how the South Siders will handle the ninth inning with Joakim Soria dealt to the Brewers. If you're want a no-cost flyer, consider lefty Jace Fry and his 38 strikeouts in 30.1 innings.
Projected game scores
Sandy Leon (B), 2 percent, Boston Red Sox vs. Minnesota Twins (RHP Lance Lynn): Leon is behind the dish whenever Sale is on the hill. Sure, he hits low in the order, but the way the Red Sox pound righty pitching, he'll still have plenty of chances to produce runs.
Jake Bauers (L), 30 percent, Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles (RHP Andrew Cashner): As is the case for all rookies, Bauers has hit a speed bump, hitting only .239 the last month. However, he's still walking and hitting for power. Cashner has turned in a couple decent performances the last month but he's still a below average pitcher. This is the time of year the ball flies out of Camden Yards, putting Bauers in a great spot to take advantage of the short porch in right. Just cross your fingers he doesn't lose a long ball with a postponement.
Yairo Munoz (R), 8 percent, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs (LHP Mike Montgomery): With Jedd Gyorko and Kolten Wong both sidelined, Munoz has been seeing considerable time at the keystone sack. Acquired by St. Louis from Oakland in the Steven Piscotty deal, the 23-year old is slashing 292/.348/.444 with six homers and five steals in what amounts to one-third of a season.
Matt Chapman (R), 40 percent, Oakland Athletics at Colorado Rockies (LHP Kyle Freeland): Chapman is slashing .259/.349/.44 while his teammate Matt Olson checks in with .236/.329/.450. Yet, Olson is rostered in 71 percent of ESPN leagues, not quite twice as many as Chapman. This isn't an indictment of Olson, but rather pointing out Chapman is very underappreciated. Oh yeah, he also has the platoon edge in Coors Field.
Ketel Marte (B), 29 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks at San Diego Padres (RHP Luis Perdomo): Marte continues to sting the ball, posting .350/.435/.450 decimals since the break. His increased patience will come in handy against a righty sporting a 1.54 WHIP since entering the Padres rotation in early June.
David Freese (R), under 1 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. New York Mets (LHP Jason Vargas): A partial season of split stats can be misleading. Looking at how Freese has hit lefties and righties this season, it's fair to question why he continues to hold down the short side of the third base platoon seeing as he's hitting righties better this season. Career numbers are better predictor and historically, Freese handles southpaws better than righthanders. Though, to be honest, splits are moot when facing a pitcher like Vargas, who is equally generous to all opposing batters.
Neil Walker (B), 1 percent, New York Yankees vs. Kansas City Royals (RHP Brad Keller): Even with Gleyber Torres back, Walker has remained in the lineup with Aaron Hicks nursing a sore shoulder. Check the lineups, Walker may not be playing but the point is, you want as much exposure to Keller as you can muster. The Royals rookie's 3.20 ERA may seem impressive, but a 5.6 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 suggest Keller has been a little lucky, specifically just two homers allowed in his initial 70.1 frames. He's due some correction in that department; who better to administer it than the Yankees?
Michael Conforto (L), 46 percent, New York Mets at Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Ivan Nova): Conforto appears to be awakening from a season-long slumber, posting a .333/.414/.750 triple slash in this last seven games heading into Thursday's action. Nova can be tough, especially at home, but with a 5.7 K/9, opposing hitters put the ball in play. When they do, it often clears the fence as evidenced by 19 homers allowed in just 109.1 innings.
Nick Williams (L), 4 percent, Philadelphia Phillies at Cincinnati Reds (RHP Anthony DeSclafani): DeSclafani's strikeout prowess was highlighted above. On the flip side, he's extremely homer-prone, surrendering 14 long balls in only 48.1 stanzas this season. Williams has gone deep four times the past month with 11 of his 12 homers for the year coming off a righty.
Rosell Herrera (B), under 1 percent, Kansas City Royals at New York Yankees (LHP CC Sabathia): Despite not displaying solid on-base skills, the Royals have been slotting Herrera in the two-hole, a nice spot for fantasy production. He's hit safely in five of his last six games through Wednesday night. Sabathia is still susceptible to righthanded batters so if you're digging deep, Herrera is in play.
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.