Daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Sunday

Michael Kopech should have a longer and more productive outing on Sunday than his rain-shortened debut. Daniel Bartel/Icon Sportswire

On paper, Sunday looks to be a high-scoring day, with several weak arms dotting the schedule. There are a few top-of-the-rotation hurlers scheduled to help balance, but all told, expect the scoreboard operators to be busy.

Still, a few safe options can be found, offering some streaming options as the fantasy week concludes. As always, bats are bountiful.

Here are some suggestions, all available in at least half of ESPN leagues, Well, all but one.


Pitchers to Stream

Michael Kopech (R), rostered in 53 percent of ESPN leagues, Chicago White Sox at Detroit Tigers: I'm taking the liberty of bending my self-imposed guideline of limiting player picks to those rosters in 50 percent or fewer of all ESPN leagues as Kopech is close enough. If it weren't for waning interest, he'd be well over the threshold. Kopech was one of the centerpieces of the Chris Sale deal. He has ace potential, provided the 22-year-old righty can continue to harness his control. Kopech was doing just that before his promotion, fanning 59 with only four walks in his last 44 innings for Triple-A Charlotte. Kopech's debut was a rain-shortened affair, featuring four whiffs without a free pass in his inaugural two innings. On Sunday, he is facing one of the softest lineups in the league against right-handers.

Shane Bieber (R), 35 percent, Cleveland Indians at Kansas City Royals: Bieber has recovered from a rough July, posting a win against the Red Sox last time out, fanning five with no walks in 6 1/3 frames. Sunday's opponent is far less formidable, putting Bieber in a great spot to continue his August roll. Though they've been better lately, the Royals sit fourth from the bottom in terms of production versus righties.

Derek Holland (L), 20 percent, San Francisco Giants vs. Texas Rangers: Holland has been a frequent visitor to this space, and for the most part he has been able to deliver. He has only allowed more than three earned runs once during his past 16 appearances, posting a 2.92 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in that span, striking out 84 in those 71 innings. The Rangers are midpack versus lefties, but they'll be without their designated hitter, incurring a huge park downgrade.

Jordan Zimmermann (R), 10 percent, Detroit Tigers vs. Chicago White Sox: Zimmermann draws the unenviable task of squaring off with Kopech. The veteran has tossed at least six innings, allowing two or fewer runs in three of his past four outings. The outlier was against Sunday's foe as he was touched up for six earned runs in five frames by the White Sox on August 15. Look for a better effort this time as he looks to keep up with the phenom.


It has been fun watching Gabe Kapler's first season as manager. If nothing else, we've learned he'll ride the hot hand when it comes to the ninth inning. Long term, Seranthony Dominguez profiles as the ninth-inning stopper, but for now, the rookie manager is showing more confidence in Pat Neshek. A 1.06 ERA in 17 innings is the reason why, but note Neshek has only whiffed 12. The lack of dominance leaves Neshek vulnerable, but if you need saves, the journeyman righty is the current flavor of the month.

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.



Tyler Flowers (R), 2 percent, Atlanta Braves at Miami Marlins (RHP Pablo Lopez): Confession time: Johan Camargo deserves to be the featured Braves option, but since he has been a staple in this column, let's highlight the catching duo on a day when either Flowers or Kurt Suzuki will match up with a young right-hander vulnerable to righty power. Either Flowers or Suzuki is in play against Lopez, who has pitched well but has surrendered six homers in 23 innings of work against righty swingers.

First base

Yonder Alonso (L), 46 percent, Cleveland Indians at Kansas City Royals (RHP Jorge Lopez): Alonso is one of the poster boys for the launch-angle revolution. He has 22 homers so far, only six away from last season's career high of 28. Prior to 2017, Alonso had never hit more than nine homers in a season, and that was in 2012 with the Padres.

Second base

Daniel Descalso (L), 12 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Seattle Mariners (RHP Mike Leake): It's tough to pinpoint exactly who will play up the middle for Arizona, but with the Snakes facing a southpaw on Saturday, there's a good chance Descalso will be in Sunday's lineup. If he's not, either Nick Ahmed or Ketel Marte are fine pivots as Leake isn't dominant enough to be scared away from either side of the plate. Descalso is a sneaky play in points leagues, drawing 16 walks during the past month, fueling a .423 on-base mark.

Third base

Taylor Ward (R), 17 percent, Los Angeles Angels vs. Houston Astros (LHP Framber Valdez): Ward has been manning the hot corner for the Angels, gaining dual eligibility at third and catcher in most leagues. It hasn't come to fruition yet, but he profiles as an across-the-board fantasy contributor, prorating to double-digit homers and steals over a full season. On Sunday, he'll enjoy the platoon edge on Valdez, pressed into the rotation with Lance McCullers Jr. still on the shelf.


Brandon Crawford (L), 43 percent, San Francisco Giants vs. Texas Rangers (RHP Yovani Gallardo): After a strong start to the season, Crawford has been ice cold for much of the second half. Many a slumping batter has snapped out of it against Gallardo and his 6.06 ERA and 1.57 WHIP.

Corner infield

Luke Voit (R), under 1 percent, New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles (RHP Dylan Bundy): Bundy has been one of the biggest disappointments this season. After showing signs of a turnaround, he has been socked around for seven runs in three consecutive starts. Voit has mostly been used against lefties, but with Gleyber Torres covering shortstop, Neil Walker playing second and Greg Bird a non-factor, Voit has been playing a lot of first base. The former Cardinal took advantage of Camden Yards' cozy confines with a pair of long balls Friday night.

Middle infield

Jeff McNeil (L), 12 percent, New York Mets vs. Washington Nationals (RHP Jefry Rodriguez): The red-hot McNeil carried an eight-game hitting streak into Saturday's action. It would be 11, but he failed in a pinch-hitting appearance. He has been particularly productive at home versus righties, so look for the rookie to continue rolling facing Rodriguez and his .436 weighted on-base average facing lefty swingers.


Jason Heyward (L), 35 percent, Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds (RHP Homer Bailey): There's no getting around it, Bailey has been one of the worst pitchers in the league since 2014. Granted, injuries have played a part, but in 216 2/3 innings during the past three seasons, he has registered a bloated 6.31 ERA with a 1.68 WHIP. Like Crawford above, Heyward is in a tailspin, but you want as much exposure to Bailey as possible and most of the Cubs are already on a fantasy roster.

Scott Schebler (L), 9 percent, Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs (RHP Kyle Hendricks): Schebler was activated from the disabled list and reinserted back at the top of the Reds' order on Saturday. While Hendricks has been stingy with homers lately, batting leadoff at Wrigley Field will likely give Schebler quite a few cracks at sending one over the ivy.

Roman Quinn (B), 1 percent, Philadelphia Phillies at Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Marco Estrada): Here's the play if you're in head-to-head leagues and need a last-minute steal. Quinn hits at the bottom of the order, but since this is an interleague affair at an American League park, that's not as much of an issue. Toronto is one of the easiest teams to run on in the league.

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.