The last slate before the All-Star break features a couple of former Cy Young winners in Clayton Kershaw and Corey Kluber. While our teams benefit from the extra start, neither ace will be working in Tuesday's Mid-Summer Classic. There is also a strong group of pitchers and hitters likely available to finish the pseudo-first half on a high note.
Pitchers to Stream
Joe Ross (R), 25 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves: You wouldn't know it from looking at Ross' season-long stats, but he's entering the break on a high note. Over his past four starts, the Nationals' starter is sporting a 2.36 ERA and 1.24 WHIP spanning 26 2/3 innings, striking out a respectable 22 batters over that stretch. Ross is in a great spot to continue the roll, facing a Braves offense in the lower third of the league versus right-handers.
Trevor Cahill (R), 23 percent, San Diego Padres at Philadelphia Phillies: Cutting to the chase: What Cahill did before the break was more fact than fluke, although he is due some ERA correction. In fact, he's a nice target to boost your staff over the second half. Better yet, the likely postbreak schedule has Cahill missing the series in Colorado, instead facing the weak-hitting Giants twice. Speaking of soft offenses, Cahill closes out the first half with one of the weakest lineups in the league versus righties, also offering significant strikeout upside.
Patrick Corbin (L), 15 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Cincinnati Reds: Corbin continues to pitch just well enough to hold his rotation spot. On Sunday, the hope is he pitches just well enough to record a win, grabbing some strikeouts along the way as the Diamondbacks should score at will facing Homer Bailey. To his credit, Corbin's 8.1 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 are both acceptable; allowing homers at a 1.51 HR/9 clip has been his issue. To that end, he'll enjoy the platoon edge on Joey Votto and Scott Schebler, two of the Reds' main power sources.
Jerad Eickhoff (R), 7 percent, Philadelphia Phillies vs. San Diego Padres: If Eickhoff was returning against most other clubs, the safe route would be giving him a start to get back in the swing of things after visiting the disabled list. However, no team whiffs more with a right-hander on the hill than the Padres.
Pitchers to Avoid
Don't drop Brad Brach just yet. Zach Britton didn't fare well in his first appearance off the DL, so it's not a sure thing he'll get the next save opportunity. Additionally, when he does get the closer job back, temper expectations in terms of saves, regardless of how he's throwing the ball. Some research I recently conducted reveals that saves correlate to team wins along with a lower ERA, resulting in a higher percentage of wins that are saved. The Orioles aren't going to win as many games as they did the past few seasons, with a high ERA being a chief reason. As such, Britton's save total should suffer.
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.
Jason Castro (L), 47 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Ubaldo Jimenez): There's a slew of lefty-hitting Twins to consider on Sunday, led by Castro. Jimenez sneaks a gem in now and again, but overall, he provides a favorable matchup for left-handed batters. Joining Castro with the platoon edge are Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario and the switch-hitting Kennys Vargas, Eduardo Escobar and Robbie Grossman.
Yuli Gurriel (R), 48 percent, Houston Astros at Toronto Blue Jays (LHP J.A. Happ): Most of the Astros are likely already on a roster, with Gurriel and maybe Alex Bregman the exceptions. As mentioned earlier, Happ is pitching well, but it's still worth having some exposure to the Astros if possible. As a club, they're sporting a .379 weighted on base average (wOBA) versus lefties over the past month.
Joe Panik (L), 24 percent, San Francisco Giants vs. Miami Marlins (RHP Jose Urena): Urena is quietly having a breakout season, though he's still vulnerable to lefties. Panik hits out of the second spot in the order, preceded by frequent visitor to this space, fellow lefty Denard Span. Also in play is Brandon Crawford.
David Freese (R), 5 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs (LHP Jon Lester): While he hasn't been a complete bust, for what it cost to acquire his services in the spring, Lester has been a major disappointment, in large part due to troubles versus righty swingers. Freese no longer plays every day, but with a southpaw on the hill, he'll likely be in the lineup.
Tim Anderson (R), 8 percent, Chicago White Sox at Colorado Rockies (LHP Kyle Freeland): Anderson has already displayed his pop this weekend at Coors Field and is looking to flex his muscles again, facing the left-handed Freeland.
Luke Voit (R), 2 percent, St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Mets (LHP Steven Matz): With Aledmys Diaz demoted to Triple-A, the Cardinals have shuffled their infield, moving Matt Carpenter to second with Voit getting a look at first base. Sunday presents a challenge with Matz on the hill, but with the southpaw's whiffs way down, Voit is in a good spot to take advantage and show off some power.
Asdrubal Cabrera (B), 11 percent, New York Mets at St. Louis Cardinals (RHP Lance Lynn): Lynn is one of the many hurlers sporting normal whiff and walk rates but surrendering homers by the bushel. The Mets have several lefties or switch-hitters capable of taking advantage. Cabrera is featured from the No. 2 spot, but also consider leadoff man Curtis Granderson, Lucas Duda and perhaps the recently activated Michael Conforto.
David Peralta (L), 38 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Cincinnati Reds (RHP Homer Bailey): I try to make a point to introduce new names to this space, but sometimes a stalwart is in too good a spot to be ignored. Bailey did pitch very well last time at Coors, but previously, he was hit hard in his first two starts after finally debuting in late June. Peralta has been scuffling, but with A.J. Pollock back in front of him and Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb following, it shouldn't be long before Peralta is locked in again.
Shin-Soo Choo (L), 26 percent, Texas Rangers vs. Los Angeles Angels (RHP JC Ramirez): While Choo's on-base skills have declined from his prime, a .367 is adequate for a leadoff man in today's game. That's where Choo will be on Sunday, hitting first against a righty toting a generous .405 wOBA versus lefties.
Matt Joyce (L), 2 percent, Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners (RHP Felix Hernandez): We'll close out the pre-break festivities with a hat-tip to ESPN researcher Kyle Soppe, who notes that Hernandez is giving up big numbers to lefty swingers as they're hitting .321 against him this season. Further, Hernandez's already declining swinging strike rate continues to plummet. When Joyce makes contact versus a right-hander, good things ensue, as evidenced by a .207 ISO.
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.