Welcome to Week 12. The week opens with a typically truncated slate, though it does feature two of the best pitchers in the league with Corey Kluber taking on the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards and Clayton Kershaw entertaining the New York Mets in Dodger Stadium.
Unfortunately, that's where the goodness ends as the streaming candidates are middling at best. However, the dearth of quality pitching means a bump in batters, so at the very least, you can take advantage of that and get your hitting off to a strong start as we approach the midpoint of the 2017 MLB season.
Pitchers to Stream
Brad Peacock (R), 27 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics: It's hard to get a real read on Peacock as he's not fully stretched out after spending time in the bullpen, plus he started his last game on short rest. One thing is clear: He hasn't lost his ability to miss bats as a starter. This will come in handy facing the Athletics, a team that whiffs 25 percent of the time against righties, despite playing in a venue that suppresses strikeouts.
Scott Feldman (R), 13 percent, Cincinnati Reds at Tampa Bay Rays: Normally Feldman wouldn't be considered, but with the lack of choices, he makes the cut. The Rays are potent versus southpaws, but they do offer some strikeout upside. Further, Feldman isn't giving up homers at the pace of some other pitchers. Clicking Feldman in doesn't elicit the warm fuzzies, but if you need innings, he's likely available and there's a pathway to a useful outing.
Sam Gaviglio (R), 4 percent, Seattle Mariners vs. Detroit Tigers: In Gaviglio's six starts, he allowed at least four runs in half, holding the opponent to two or fewer runs in the other three. The Tigers are better at home, offer some strikeout upside and are a little banged up.
R.A. Dickey (R), 3 percent, Atlanta Braves vs. San Francisco Giants: I told you this was a thin slate for streamers. Throw analysis out the window with a knuckleball artist. Yes, the Giants are last in terms of offense versus righties, but you can't compare numbers to conventional pitching. Either you believe a team can be baffled by the floater or you don't. Personally, I'm fine with jumping on the back of a knuckleball pitcher in a groove. That's not the case with Dickey, but I won't argue with someone electing to take the chance.
Pitcher to Avoid
Gerrit Cole (R), 91 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates at Milwaukee Brewers: This is a tough call. My philosophy isn't to reserve quality pitchers until they get it going as that leaves the good stuff on the bench and the bad stuff in the books. That said, I don't play in many leagues shallower than 15-team mixed so the strategy is different. A case can be made for sitting Cole in this matchup. Let's tag in ESPN Researcher Kyle Soppe to lend a hand. Soppe explains while the Brewers strike out a lot, Cole's ability to take advantage is limited by a declining strikeout rate punctuated by a dropping chase rate. Further, he points out Cole is more effective at PNC Park and is incurring a big downgrade to Miller Park.
Arodys Vizcaino is quietly having an outstanding season in the setup role for the Braves. He's top five in the league in holds, fanning more than a batter an inning. It would be surprising to see Atlanta move Jim Johnson (again), giving Vizcaino a well-deserved chance to claim the closer role, this time for good.
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. A 50 typically earns the pitcher a "quality start" by this measure, while a 70 is considered a dominant start.
Mike Zunino (R), 20 percent, Seattle Mariners vs. Detroit Tigers (RHP Anibal Sanchez): Since his recall about a month ago, Zunino has smacked seven homers. We've seen this power display before, so it's too early to say he's finally figured it out for good, especially since Zunino is still striking out at a 40 percent clip. He didn't play Sunday so the chances are excellent Zunino is back in the lineup, drawing Sanchez and very likely some weak Tigers bullpen arms.
Logan Morrison (L), 46 percent, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Cincinnati Reds (RHP Scott Feldman): Morrison is a frequent visitor to this space, for good reason, as now only Aaron Judge has hit more homers versus right-handers. Yet, he remains owned in fewer than half of ESPN leagues.
Ian Happ (R), 17 percent, Chicago Cubs vs. San Diego Padres (LHP Clayton Richard): The Cubs' new 2-hole hitter is in a great spot, between Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant. Not to mention, he holds the platoon edge over a mediocre lefty who has been allowing extra base hits by the bushel lately.
Derek Dietrich (L), 1 percent, Miami Marlins vs. Washington Nationals (RHP Tanner Roark): The results haven't been there for Dietrich thus far, despite striking out at a reduced clip and a hard hit rate right around his career mark, which coincides with the league average. Historically, Dietrich is effective versus righties, thus should eventually come around. Roark, who already works with a thin margin of error, hasn't been sharp this month, availing Dietrich the platform to turn things around as we approach the second half.
Brandon Crawford (L), 46 percent, San Francisco Giants at Atlanta Braves (RHP R.A. Dickey): Crawford's excellent hand-eye coordination along with a friendly right field in SunTrust Park put him in a great spot against the knuckleball.
Josh Bell (B), 14 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates at Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Matt Garza): Let's use Bell as a proxy for all available Pirates. A matchup against Garza is appealing, and the game will take place in a venue equally generous to power from either side of the plate.
Taylor Motter (R), 6 percent, Seattle Mariners vs. Detroit Tigers (RHP Anibal Sanchez): With Jean Segura embarking on a rehab assignment and the Mariners' outfield looking stable, Motter will have to fight for playing time. This is a great spot to make a case to keep his bat in the lineup.
Ben Gamel (L), 11 percent, Seattle Mariners vs. Detroit Tigers (RHP Anibal Sanchez): Gamel is one of the main reasons Motter may not find much run as he's solidified the Mariners' fly chasers, providing excellent on-base skills from the leadoff spot. This is especially useful in points leagues.
Joc Pederson (L), 20 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. New York Mets (RHP Zack Wheeler): Streaks aren't predictive, but with four extra-base hits and only three strikeouts in 23 at-bats since coming off the disabled list, Pederson is seeing the ball well and likely swinging with confidence.
Lonnie Chisenhall (L), 4 percent, Cleveland Indians at Baltimore Orioles (RHP Dylan Bundy): We saw what can happen in Camden Yards when the weather warms as the heat and humidity led to balls flying out of the yard all weekend. Granted, this is a night game, but that won't stop Chisenhall from taking aim at a few of Bundy's offerings.
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.