Daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Sunday

Jeff McNeil has been posting big numbers since earning a starting job with the Mets. Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire

While this isn't the final Sunday of the season, it's the last one where pitchers will handle their usual workload and batters won't be replaced early. Now is the time to gather stats, so you're not scrambling this time next week.

To that end, there's some decent starting pitching available in well over half of all ESPN leagues, as well as batters ready to help, also readily accessible.


Pitchers to Stream

Wade Miley (L), rostered in 37 percent of ESPN leagues, Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates: If this were a random Sunday in June, the narrative would be about regression and how Miley can't continue at this pace all season. Specifically, his .4 HR/9 mark should increase, rendering him vulnerable with such a low 5.7 K/9. However, it's the second to last Sunday in September, so let's borrow from another sport played on Sunday in September and talk matchups and game flow. Miley isn't asked to throw a complete-game shutout. The Brewers only want five or six solid frames before they hand off to their bullpen. While this has been the game plan all season, it's worked to perfection in his three starts as Miley is 3-0 with just three runs allowed in those 16 innings. With respect to the matchup, the Pirates are in the bottom third in production versus southpaws, and Miley benefits from working in the power-suppressing PNC Park.

Steven Matz (L), 28 percent, New York Mets at Washington Nationals: Matz has quietly pitched well down the stretch, posting a 2.29 ERA and .85 WHIP during his past six starts, striking out 39 in those 35.1 innings. Next up is a Nationals lineup that appears dangerous versus southpaws but hasn't been clicking for the last month. On the flip side, Mets hitters have been hitting better lately and draw Erick Fedde on the hill for the Nats, so Matz should enjoy run support.

Brad Keller (R), 25 percent, Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers: Speaking of players and teams quietly picking up the pace down the stretch, Keller and the Royals have played .500 ball this month, which obviously isn't great, but it's a step up from sporting the second worst record in the league for the season. Keller's run dates back to the break, as he's posted a 3.21 ERA and 1.29 WHIP since that time, albeit with a pedestrian 7.5 K/9. Usually, when a successful pitcher isn't missing bats, he's exhibiting good control while keeping the ball in the yard. This is exactly what Keller is doing as evidenced by a 2.6 BB/9 and .8 HR/9 in this stretch. Sunday's foe, the Tigers, should offer little resistance in this regard as they sport the fifth-lowest walk rate and fourth-poorest home run rate with a righty on the hill.

Trevor Cahill (R), 15 percent, Oakland Athletics vs. Minnesota Twins: Cahill is expected to make this start after missing a few turns with a sore back. He's in play because Oakland is still embroiled in the postseason push, not only looking to lock down a wild-card spot, but also hoping to host the game. The Yankees are currently ahead of the Athletics for home-field advantage, but since the Bronx Bombers have to face the pesky Tampa Bay Rays and Red Sox the final week, the race is far from over. It won't be easy, as the Twins are hitting right-handers hard in September, but they are incurring a big park downgrade, and Cahill is backed by a deep bullpen.


Through Friday's action, five closers were tied at three for most September saves. Three of them -- Felipe Vazquez, Raisel Iglesias and Ken Giles -- are rostered in at least two-thirds of ESPN leagues. However, Sergio Romo and Will Smith are both teetering around the 50 percent mark if you're looking for a late-season push in the saves category.

Projected game scores



Omar Narvaez (L), 4 percent, Chicago White Sox vs. Chicago Cubs (RHP Kyle Hendricks): With the catcher pool being even weaker than usual this season, Narvaez has emerged as a second-half go-to guy when a righty is on the hill. Since the break, Narvaez is slashing a serviceable 252/.370/.467, especially useful in points leagues considering the excellent on-base mark.

First Base

C.J. Cron (R), 21 percent, Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays (LHP Ryan Borucki): Due to the emergence of Ji-Man Choi., Cron has been relegated to the short side of a platoon, despite cracking 27 homers this season, by far a career high. His quest for 30 continues with southpaw Borucki on the hill.

Second Base

Jeff McNeil (L), 38 percent, New York Mets at Washington Nationals (RHP Erick Fedde): McNeil has been a frequent visitor to this space since the Mets handed him the keys to the keystone. McNeil is looking to lock up the spot next season, slashing an impressive .348/.392/.493 with the platoon advantage.

Third Base

Rafael Devers (L), 38 percent, Boston Red Sox at Cleveland Indians (RHP Adam Plutko): It's easy to forget Devers is just 21 years old, with his 22nd birthday coming up in about a month. Friday night's game showed the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the young hot cornerman. At the dish, he was 2-for-5 with a homer, but in the field, he booted a ground ball for his 23rd error in just 113 games. Boston needs to know if they can trust him in October, so expect Devers to get a lot of action down the stretch, especially with Eduardo Nunez out with a sore hamstring until at least Tuesday.


Marcus Semien (R), 43 percent, Oakland Athletics vs. Minnesota Twins (RHP Kyle Gibson): Semien's availability is more a reflection of the depth of shortstop in today's game as it is an indictment of his own ability. A middle infielder with double-digit homers and steals used to be sought after; now they're sitting in the free-agent pool or on waivers. With the Athletics still in the thick of things, Semien will continue to be an important cog in their lineup.

Corner Infield

Peter O'Brien (R), 5 percent, Miami Marlins vs. Cincinnati Reds (RHP Michael Lorenzen): Let's dig deep for this pick, as the Marlins are giving O'Brien a look down the stretch. The journeyman has yet to latch on anywhere, despite displaying plus power in the minors. Defensive deficiencies along with strikeout woes have prohibited O'Brien from keeping a big-league spot for an extended period. He's started the past nine games for the Fish, schooling opposing pitchers with an impressive .391/.483/.870 line in that span.

Middle Infield

Jason Kipnis (L), 22 percent, Cleveland Indians vs. Boston Red Sox (RHP Hector Velazquez): While not a formal bullpen game, Velazquez isn't likely to pitch more than three or four innings before giving way to a spotty Red Sox bullpen. Kipnis has been banished to the bottom of the Indians' order, but he does have his power stroke going, smacking two homers and a double during the past week.


Harrison Bader (R), 23 percent, St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Francisco Giants (LHP Andrew Suarez): With the reemergence of Jose Martinez hitting in the two-hole, Bader has been batting seventh, though he's still been a major contributor for the resurgent Cardinals. Bader is especially effective with the platoon edge, sporting a .913 OPS in that scenario. He also has 5 of his 11 steals with a southpaw on the hill, which is relevant, as Buster Posey is no longer around to control the running game.

Scott Schebler (L), 19 percent, Cincinnati Reds at Miami Marlins (RHP Trevor Richards): Schebler is hitting a pedestrian .244 since returning from the disabled list in late August; however, a .212 ISO mark shows he's getting it done in terms of power, smacking five homers and four doubles during that span. With a .344 weighted on-base average allowed to lefty swingers, Richards is vulnerable when pitching without the platoon advantage.

Delino DeShields (R), 4 percent, Texas Rangers vs. Seattle Mariners (LHP Wade LeBlanc): DeShields is strictly a play for those pining for steals. He is back to hitting leadoff versus southpaws, and although this isn't the ideal setup to run, that hasn't deterred him before. This season, he's an impressive 20-for-24 on steal attempts.

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.