Daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Monday

In five August starts, Pittsburgh's Trevor Williams had an ERA of 1.16. Getty Images

There are four weeks left. That's all there is. Good luck to everyone taking part in their league's playoffs. Getting there is a job well done, but there's still work to do. For those playing in rotisserie leagues, maximizing at-bats in tandem with category management, as well as efficiency with remaining starts or innings is paramount. Monday is a full holiday slate with games beginning at 1:05 PM ET so be sure to set your lineups prior to enjoying the last day in which you can wear shorts without irritating the fashion police. Now that rosters have expanded, try to keep an extra eye on lineups.

Here's the Labor Day list of players in favorable spots, each rostered in less than 50 percent of ESPN leagues.


Pitchers to stream

Trevor Williams (R), rostered in 42 percent of ESPN leagues, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds: As ESPN Research Associate Kyle Soppe points out, Williams has been one of baseball's best pitchers over the second half, giving up just four earned runs on 36 hits in his last eight outings (48 IP). Williams isn't dominant, though he did fan eight Cardinals his last time out, a personal season-high. Since the break, the Reds rank 24th in wOBA with a right-hander on the hill, including an above-average strikeout rate.

Vince Velasquez (R), 32 percent, Philadelphia Phillies at Miami Marlins: Streaming candidates are risky by nature, but few offer the upside of Velasquez, as evidenced by his 9.9 K/9. The Marlins are one of the league's weakest lineups versus right-handers.

Reynaldo Lopez (R), 11 percent, Chicago White Sox vs. Detroit Tigers: Lopez both began and ended August with solid efforts. In-between those two outings, however, things were not that great. Still, if Lopez continues his August pace of 30 strikeouts to 11 walks (and just four homers allowed), the good will continue to outweigh the bad. Lopez is in a nice spot to begin September in a positive direction, drawing a Tigers lineup ranked No. 30 in baseball with a right-hander toeing the rubber.

Adam Plutko (R), 3 percent, Cleveland Indians vs. Kansas City Royals: This is a classic case where assuming can lead to trouble as the Royals have actually been productive versus right-handed pitching since the break. Still, if you want a jump on wins this week, the Indians will be favored at home. Now that the Cleveland bullpen is fully loaded, Plutko won't be asked to do much more than pitch five frames, so the chances of a ratio-damaging effort are minimized.

Projected game scores



Taylor Ward (R), 12 percent, Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers (Bullpen game): It's been a rough indoctrination into the bigs for Ward as his plate skills have eroded since his promotion. On the farm, Ward was walking and whiffing at at almost 1:1 pace, but with the Angels, Ward's strikeouts have risen even as his free passes have become a rarity. Perhaps facing left-hander Jeffrey Springs, who is scheduled to serve as the Rangers "opener" before giving way to Ariel Jurado, will help Ward get back on track. If the Angels assume the southpaw will be lifted and instead start Francisco Arcia to try and leverage his platoon edge on Jurado, consider Arcia in play as well.

First base

Ryan O'Hearn (L), 3 percent, Kansas City Royals at Cleveland Indians (RHP Adam Plutko): If you're looking to use Plutko, it's better to hedge elsewhere. However, on paper at least, O'Hearn is in a nice scenario for power. Progressive Field favors lefties with pop while O'Hearn has crushed right-handed pitching, boasting a 1.235 OPS, albeit in just 40 at bats.

Second base

Jonathan Villar (B), 26 percent, Baltimore Orioles at Seattle Mariners (RHP Erasmo Ramirez): Baltimore is another example of a team which is likely producing better than the perception. Since the break, they're the second-best team in baseball when facing right-handers. Villar has played a major part of this resurgence, smacking four homers and stealing six bases since coming over from the Brewers.

Third base

Ryon Healy (R), 31 percent, Seattle Mariners vs. Baltimore Orioles (LHP Josh Rogers): Rogers is being given one more start before his shut down. He looks like a back-end innings eater, capped due to a low strikeout rate. In 139 combined innings at Double and Triple-A, Rogers only fanned 101 hitters. Healy has hit right-handers better than southpaws this season but remember, reverse splits aren't predictive in such a small sample size. As a result, it's best to rely on the longer-term history, which says Healy usually hits well with the platoon advantage.


Ketel Marte (B), 24 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Diego Padres (RHP Bryan Mitchell): Mitchell is getting another shot at the San Diego rotation after having struggled as a starter to begin the season. The Diamondbacks are embroiled in a three-way tussle for the NL West crown, helped in the effort by Marte's strong play up the middle. While he's done most of his damage versus southpaws, shortstop is a thin position on the Monday slate, so it's worth getting some exposure to Mitchell.

Corner infield

Yonder Alonso (L), 46 percent, Cleveland Indians vs. Kansas City Royals (RHP Jakob Junis): It's been an uneven season for Junis, largely a result of his having surrendered 27 homers in just 147 innings. With a strong final month, Alonso has a shot at matching last season's career-best 28 homers. As Sunday began, he was just 6 HR from that total.

Middle infield

Adam Frazier (L), 7 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds (RHP Matt Harvey): Roster shuffling has yielded regular playing time for Frazier and he's been taking advantage, slashing .349/.412/.593 over the past month. Harvey's velocity is up from where it was earlier in the season, but he's still giving up an excessive hit total, including a .306 BAA in 26.2 August innings.


Nick Williams (L), 13 percent, Philadelphia Phillies at Miami Marlins (RHP Jose Urena): The Phillies are working Jose Bautista into their lineup, so be sure to confirm that Williams is indeed playing today. If he is, he can be a power threat, with 15 homers in 283 at bats versus righties -- a number that paces him for 30-plus blasts over the course of a full season.

Mark Canha (R), 3 percent, Oakland Athletics vs. New York Yankees (LHP CC Sabathia): The Athletics haven't faced many southpaws of late, so Canha has been playing sparingly. However, when called upon, he usually delivers. Against LHP this year, he's slugging .614 -- including 12 homers --in 132 at-bats.

Daniel Palka (L), 4 percent, Chicago White Sox vs. Detroit Tigers (RHP Michael Fulmer): Once a potential trade target for contending teams, a combination of injury and mound struggles have left Fulmer to toil away and play out the string in Detroit. He's allowed seven runs twice in his last three outings, sandwiching a 4.2 inning scoreless effort against Monday's opponent, the White Sox. Palka continues the theme of selecting bats who "hit for power with the platoon edge" as he's sent 16 out of the yard in 262 at bats facing right-handers.

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.