Friday posed one of the more challenging slates of the season. Twenty-one pitchers are projected to toss a quality start, with five falling just short of the predicted game score of 50. This makes finding hitters meeting out informal criteria of having less than 50 percent ownership in ESPN leagues difficult, especially since I wanted to mix in some new names so we don't keep regurgitating the usual suspects. Don't worry, after some digging, some interesting names were unearthed. Pitching was also harder than usual, but we have you covered.
Pitchers to stream
Alex Cobb (R), 34 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Oakland Athletics: When the best thing you can say about a pitcher is his walk rate is a shade below average, you're not dealing with a Cy Young candidate. Such is the case with Cobb, who was already having a disappointing season before getting lit up by the Mariners last time out. However, he has mixed in a handful of strong efforts with the stinkers and is facing an Oakland club sitting in the bottom half of the league with respect to weighted on base average (wOBA) versus righties along with toting the fourth-highest strikeout rate in that scenario.
Jhoulys Chacin (R), 3 percent, San Diego Padres vs. Kansas City Royals: Splits can be misleading, but since Chacin has exhibited a strong affinity for home cooking over the years, regardless of his employer, using him at home in Petco Park against a Royals club devoid of the designated hitter seems safe. The visitors sport the fifth-lowest wOBA when facing a right-hander.
Brad Peacock (R), 34 percent, Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Angels: Peacock draws the offense one spot worse than the Royals versus righties -- the Halos carry the fourth-lowest mark into Minute Maid Park. Peacock tossed six frames last time, suggesting the kid gloves are off the reliever-turned starter. Since entering the rotation, Peacock has fanned 25 with just four walks in 15 innings.
Tyler Glasnow (R), 7 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Miami Marlins: Here's a case of Glasnow's weakness -- control -- being masked by one of the more impatient teams in the league as the Marlins walk the fourth-fewest amount of times with a righty on the hill. While Giancarlo Stanton can hit one out anywhere, PNC Park is a pitcher's friend in terms of both power and runs.
Pitchers to avoid
Julio Teheran (R), 78 percent, Atlanta Braves vs. New York Mets: The heart is rooting for Teheran as I'm heavily invested in my own leagues, but the head knows lefty swingers still croak the right-hander. This is exacerbated by the fact SunTrust Park, at least so far, favors left-handed power. The Mets may be scuffling, but with the likes of Jay Bruce, Michael Conforto and Curtis Granderson, they pose a serious threat to Teheran and my fantasy team's ratios.
Peacock may be stretched out, but he'll still likely need a bridge to closer Ken Giles. Chris Devenski has been more useful than some back-end starters, already amassing 35 innings with a whopping 53 punch outs. In leagues with an innings minimum, Devenski is a great option to use if you want to minimize total innings to protect ratios. He's also nails in a strikeouts-per-nine-innings format.
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.
Austin Hedges (R), 27 percent, San Diego Padres vs. Kansas City Royals (LHP Eric Skoglund): To be honest, I'm surprised Hedges' ownership isn't a little higher. Granted, a .211 average doesn't help, but his production is among the league leaders at the position. Hedges is better than he has looked to date, especially against southpaws. The icing on the cake is he has been hitting fifth, higher than most backstops.
Matt Adams (L), 11 percent, Atlanta Braves vs. New York Mets (RHP Matt Harvey): While introducing some new names to track is a goal, leaving out a frequent visitor to this space would be a mistake. Harvey has allowed 13 homers in just 61 1/3 frames, and as mentioned, SunTrust Park is a launching pad for left-handed power bats.
Eric Sogard (L), 3 percent, Milwaukee Brewers at Arizona Diamondbacks (RHP Randall Delgado): To date, Sogard's claim to fame is narrowly missing out being voted the face of MLB. Currently, he's trying to make a name for himself as Milwaukee's new leadoff hitter. He's going to cool down, but right now, he's seeing the ball extremely well, walking at a 20 percent clip while fanning just 7 percent of the time. Oh yeah, he has recorded a 1.152 OPS.
Logan Forsythe (R), 19 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Cincinnati Reds (LHP Amir Garrett): Injuries have curtailed Forsythe's production in his first year with the Dodgers. Friday is a great time to get things going, facing a middling southpaw, probably from the leadoff spot.
Andrelton Simmons (R), 38 percent, Los Angeles Angels at Houston Astros (RHP Brad Peacock): Simmons earned the promotion to the top of the order, already hitting more homers than he did the previous two seasons. The Angels are running as a team, with Simmons contributing with seven bags in nine tries. Peacock's ability to miss bats was highlighted earlier. This will be a fun matchup as Simmons' 10 percent strikeout rate is one of the lowest in the league.
Mitch Moreland (L), 22 percent, Boston Red Sox vs. Detroit Tigers (RHP Jordan Zimmermann): I'll be honest ... Zimmermann almost made the cut as a streamer. It has been one start, but he returned to using the grip on his slider utilized during his successful run with the Nationals. The results were promising, though the opponent was the White Sox, not the Red Sox in Fenway Park. Moreland and the Green Monster have become BFFs, so ultimately it was decided to go in that direction.
Jose Pirela (R), less than 1 percent, San Diego Padres vs. Kansas City Royals (LHP Eric Skoglund): Needing a spark, the Padres have turned to Pirela who was crushing it at Triple-A El Paso, to the tune of a .331/.387/.635 slash line, along with eight steals. He has been hitting leadoff versus southpaws.
Chris Taylor (R), 42 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Cincinnati Reds (LHP Amir Garrett): Taylor is another way to get exposure to Garrett, who has surrendered nine homers in his last 11 2/3 stanzas.
Brandon Drury (R), 42 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Zach Davies): Drury's inclusion is two-fold. First, Davies has been giving it up to righty swingers this season, so this is a reminder not to categorically dismiss hitters not enjoying the platoon edge. Second, Drury also qualifies at second and third, making him a handy guy to have on your roster in leagues with daily moves.
Adam Frazier (L), 20 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Miami Marlins (RHP Vance Worley): Frazier has cooled off considerably, but that has made him readily available. Simply put, Worley isn't very good at pitching.
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.