Daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Sunday

Masahiro Tanaka is a pitcher to avoid Sunday against the Boston Red Sox. Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports

Sunday's slate includes bonus baseball as longtime rivals -- the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox -- play an Ernie Banks special with a day-night doubleheader, the nightcap being the featured ESPN game.

The schedule favors those looking to pick up a spot starter or two as there are several solid options. Hitting is harder to come by, but don't fret, we have you covered.


Pitchers to stream

Mike Fiers (R), 48 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, Houston Astros vs. Minnesota Twins: After carrying Houston's staff for May and most of June, Fiers hit a bumpy stretch. Still, facing Kyle Gibson, he's in great shape for his sixth win of the season. Plus, the Twins offer some strikeout upside.

Trevor Cahill (R), 31 percent, San Diego Padres vs. San Francisco Giants: Cahill's ownership just went up a tick after I picked him up in my own league. I didn't only grab him for the prime matchup, but also for the rest of the season. His increased strikeouts are fully supported by the underlying metrics. If he can improve his control, Cahill has the stuff to be more than a streaming option.

Andrew Moore (R), 13 percent, Seattle Mariners at Chicago White Sox: The White Sox are one of the most disparate teams in the league, crushing southpaws while sitting near the bottom of the pack versus righties. This gives Moore the advantage, despite this being his first start away from Safeco Field so far in his young career.

Trevor Williams (R), 5 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. St. Louis Cardinals: Williams catches the Cardinals shorthanded, with both Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty on the disabled list. He could use the help, coming off a poor effort versus the Cubs. However, prior to that, Williams twirled three straight quality starts.

Pitchers to avoid

Masahiro Tanaka (R), 88 percent, New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox: This is a tough call as Tanaka has done a much better job keeping the ball in the yard lately, mixing in more curves and sliders than earlier in the campaign. However, the Red Sox lineup is beginning to click, averaging over five runs per game for the last three weeks.


After regaining his manager's confidence, Seung-Hwan Oh gave up a walk-off, three-run homer in a tie game to open the second half. There hasn't been news of a change, but Trevor Rosenthal has righted the ship, whiffing seven over his last three outings, each one inning in length.

Projected game scores

GS is the projected game score for the pitcher. The asterisk (*) means that the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate rating; these are the author's ratings.



Russell Martin (R), 26 percent, Toronto Blue Jays at Detroit Tigers (RHP Anibal Sanchez): After being banished to the bullpen, Sanchez has had a rebirth in the rotation. However, two of his outings were against the Padres and Giants, so let's hold the applause until the end. ESPN Research Associate Kyle Soppe presents a compelling case for Martin, assuming he's in the lineup on a day some catchers hit the pine, noting that Sanchez has historically been a reverse split hurler while Martin has handled righties well over his career. Both have been in the league long enough for the splits to be actionable, putting Martin in a good spot to have a productive day.

First base

Danny Valencia (R), 16 percent, Seattle Mariners at Chicago White Sox (LHP Derek Holland): Valencia hasn't been as productive in his first season with the Mariners, but he's still a threat with a southpaw on the hill. Joining Valencia in a favorable spot is outfielder Mitch Haniger, who's looking to recapture some of his early-season success.

Second base

Asdrubal Cabrera (B), 16 percent, New York Mets vs. Colorado Rockies (RHP Jeff Hoffman): Hoffman has been effective on the road and against lefty swingers, but he hasn't faced nearly enough to feel safe. The Mets will provide a good test, with not only Cabrera, but also Lucas Duda and Curtis Granderson available in most leagues and capable of doing damage. Jay Bruce and Michael Conforto are additional left-handed batters but likely not available.

Third base

Joey Gallo (L), 26 percent, Texas Rangers at Kansas City Royals (RHP Ian Kennedy): Sometimes you need to pick the low-hanging fruit. Since the beginning of 2015, only James Shields has allowed more homers than Kennedy.


Stephen Drew (L), less than 1 percent, Washington Nationals at Cincinnati Reds (RHP Homer Bailey): The Nationals have opened the postbreak portion of the season with their platoon shortstop in the two-hole, meaning Drew will be hitting second against a pitcher likely to be roughed up a bit by the potent Washington lineup.

Corner infield

Brandon Drury (R), 44 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks at Atlanta Braves (LHP Jaime Garcia): Drury has sat a couple of times for Ketel Marte, but if he's in the lineup, he'll benefit from the platoon edge over a hittable southpaw.

Middle infield

Orlando Arcia (R), 29 percent, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Philadelphia Phillies (RHP Jeremy Hellickson): Arcia is one of the reasons the Brewers enter the second half leading the NL Central. He hits lower in the order and won't have the platoon edge, but against Hellickson that isn't a big deal since the righty doesn't miss many bats. Arcia has decent pop, swatting eight of his nine homers this season off right-handed pitching.


Carlos Beltran (B), 24 percent, Houston Astros vs. Minnesota Twins (RHP Kyle Gibson): With the manner they've been piling up runs, it's surprising any Astros are available. Not only that, but Beltran's power is better from the left side, while Gibson historically is crushed by left-handed batters.

Eddie Rosario (L), 5 percent, Minnesota Twins at Houston Astros (RHP Mike Fiers): Rosario had been losing some playing time to the recently promoted Zach Granite, but with Byron Buxton visiting the disabled list, both Rosario and Granite should play regularly. Granite is a speed merchant while Rosario offers a little power as well. Both, along with fellow fly-chaser Max Kepler are in play against Fiers, who has been walking too many hitters lately.

Nick Williams (L), 2 percent, Philadelphia Phillies at Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Matt Garza): Williams figures to get a long look over the second half as the Phillies sort out their future. He has struggled early with contact, but that's to be expected for a 23-year old rookie. Garza sports a pedestrian 6.4 K/9, giving Williams a better chance to show what he can do.

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.