Thursday's 12-game slate feels like a mixed bag. In terms of starting pitching options, there are plenty of names worth streaming consideration, but they all have a certain level of risk attached. Alas, such is life when you're streaming starters. Let's take a closer look at some of the names to consider for Thursday's shortened slate.
Pitchers to stream
Edinson Volquez (R), 11 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, Miami Marlins at Pittsburgh Pirates: Fresh off his no-hitter against the Diamondbacks, Volquez finds himself in another favorable spot, facing a Pirates squad that sports an 89 wRC+ over the past month and is below average against righty pitching (93 wRC+). The right-hander has pitched better at home this season, but PNC Park is one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in the majors.
Derek Holland (L), 49 percent, Chicago White Sox at Tampa Bay Rays: Holland is due for some regression, as his peripherals don't support his 3.43 ERA. That said, with a tasty matchup against Tampa Bay on deck, that regression can wait a week. Not only are the Rays not a threat against lefty pitching (86 wRC+), they are whiffing an MLB-worst 28 percent of the time versus southpaws. Matchups don't get much better than this for left-handed pitchers.
Patrick Corbin (L), 13 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Diego Padres: Corbin's 5.43 ERA and 1.58 WHIP this season are ugly, but the circumstances put the lefty in a very appealing spot Thursday. The Arizona southpaw has actually pitched respectably at home this season (3.27 home ERA, compared to 9.00 road ERA), and San Diego is the ideal opponent. No team in baseball has been more helpless against lefty pitching than the Padres, who own a 62 wRC+ and 23 percent whiff rate. In fact, Corbin already has faced the Padres twice this season, and he has a 2.77 ERA and 17 K's in 13 frames to show for it.
Tyler Chatwood (R), 11 percent, Colorado Rockies at Chicago Cubs: Chatwood's road splits blow away his home splits. Normally, this would be considered a sample size anomaly, but when home is Coors Field, the difference is actionable. Last season, streaming against the Cubs would be a fool's mission, but just after one-third of the season, the defending champs rank a lowly 25th with respect to wOBA versus right-handers. Chatwood is further helped by his being an extreme groundball pitcher, helping to mitigate the Cubs hibernating power potential.
If you're actively trying to protect your fantasy team's ERA and WHIP, the thought of rostering Fernando Rodney and his 6.10 ERA probably comes with a punchline. However, it might surprise you to learn that, over the past 30 days, the right-hander sports six saves, a perfect 0.00 ERA and 0.78 WHIP in nine innings of work. Of course, it could all come tumbling down at any time. For now, however, Rodney is pitching like a competent closer. He's still available in more than half of ESPN leagues.
Projected game scores
GS is the projected game score for the pitcher. A "*" means that the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate rating; these are the author's ratings.
Tyler Flowers (R), 13 percent, Atlanta Braves vs. Philadelphia Phillies (RHP Ben Lively): Flowers' low ownership doesn't reflect the fact that he's hitting .356/.469/.466 this season, including .352/.466/.472 against right-handed pitching. Fire him up against the soft-tossing Lively, who has only seven big league innings under his belt.
Alex Avila (L), 40 percent, Detroit Tigers vs. Los Angeles Angels (RHP JC Ramirez): Avila is smoking right-handed pitching to the tune of a .340/.453/.701 slash line. As it happens, left-handed hitters are Ramirez's weakness, as his .366 wOBA allowed attests.
Brandon Phillips (R), 35 percent, Atlanta Braves vs. Philadelphia Phillies (RHP Ben Lively): Phillips is the second Braves hitter we're targeting against Lively. The second baseman his batting .295 against right-handed pitching this season and has been crushing at SunTrust Park, where he owns a .351/.398/.468 slash line.
Yuli Gurriel (R), 24 percent, Houston Astros at Kansas City Royals (RHP Jason Hammel): Gurriel has been a fantasy disappointment this season, but his matchup against Hammel on Thursday suits him nicely, as both Gurriel and Hammel have shown reverse splits this season. Gurriel is hitting .316/.352/.526 against righties (.130/.180/.152 vs. lefties), while Hammel is allowing a .396 wOBA to righty bats.
Nick Ahmed (R), 1 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Diego Padres (LHP Clayton Richard): Ahmed isn't a player with a ton of offensive upside, but he owns an impressive 36 percent hard-contact rate this season and is batting .304 since May 1. He matches up well with Richard, who has allowed a .284/.350/.459 slash to righty hitters in his career and has been even worse so far in 2017 (.311/.356/.495).
Matt Adams (L), 11 percent, Atlanta Braves vs. Philadelphia Phillies (RHP Ben Lively): Adams can't fill Freddie Freeman's shoes, but he's trying. Since joining the Braves, Adams has blasted five home runs and driven in 12 runs in 13 games. He's also hitting .295/.333/.537 versus right-handed pitching this season, which puts him in a favorable spot against Lively on Thursday.
Tim Beckham (R), 19 percent, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Chicago White Sox (LHP Derek Holland): Beckham gets the platoon advantage against Holland, whose 3.43 ERA is deceiving (5.04 FIP, 4.98 xFIP). Among shortstops, Beckham's 47 percent hard-contact rate is the best in baseball.
Seth Smith (L), 2 percent, Baltimore Orioles at Washington Nationals (RHP Joe Ross): Ross is in a downward spiral. He has allowed 19 hits and 11 runs in his past seven innings of work (against two bad offenses: SD and OAK), and his 39 percent hard-contact rate is 11th worst in baseball. Ross has been particularly vulnerable to lefty bats (.364 wOBA), which is where Smith, who sports a career .356 wOBA versus righties, comes into play.
Denard Span (L), 4 percent, San Francisco Giants at Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Paolo Espino): Span is a career .291/.352/.410 hitter against righty pitching, which matches him up well with the inexperienced (at least at the major league level) Espino. Going from AT&T Park to Miller Park also gives Span a huge park upgrade.
Hunter Renfroe (R), 19 percent, San Diego Padres at Arizona Diamondbacks (LHP Patrick Corbin): Renfroe gets a huge park boost by trading in Petco for Chase Field, and his career .313/.431/.583 slash line against southpaws shows how dangerous he can be. Corbin, who has surrendered a .389 wOBA to righty bats in 2017, will have his hands full against Renfroe.
Hitter matchup ratings
Notes: Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's history (three years' worth, as well as the past 21 days) and 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. So, for example, a 10 is a must-start rating, whereas 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.