Week 16 gets an early start with a matinee starting at 12:35 PM ET in the Great American Ballpark, as the Cincinnati Reds entertain Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals. Even with the afternoon affair, there's still 12 tilts under the lights on a busier than normal Monday.
Here are some available names to get the week off on the right foot.
Pitchers to stream
Eduardo Rodriguez (L), 45 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, Boston Red Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays: Rodriguez was beginning to find himself before reinjuring his balky knee while warming up in the bullpen for his last start back on June 1. The Jays sport a league average versus southpaws though they do fan at an average clip with a lefty on the hill.
Zack Wheeler (R), 11 percent, New York Mets vs. St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals are one of those teams that always seems to have the next man ready when needed, but still, being short Randall Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty helps Wheeler. For the season, St. Louis is an average team versus right-handers. In his last start before the break, Wheeler handled the Redbirds in Busch Stadium, allowing two earned runs in six frames, punching out five with just one walk. That itself isn't predictive, but the matchup is good and this one's at home in Citi Field.
Jerad Eickhoff (R), 9 percent, Philadelphia Phillies at Miami Marlins: This is more a trust in Eickhoff's talent than anything supported by numbers. Eickhoff, though, is coming off a solid five-inning stifling of the Padres, fanning eight with just one walk.
Brent Suter (L), 6 percent, Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates: It was tempting to go with Suter's mound foe, Chad Kuhl, as Kuhl has home-field advantage and the Brewers offer strikeout upside. You can go in that direction if desired. Suter was given the nod as he incurs a park upgrade facing a less potent offense, albeit without as much strikeout upside. Perhaps this is more a game theory call, as my preference is to build up innings with solid ratios early in the week, paving the way to chase wins and whiffs over the weekend.
Pitchers to avoid
Adam Wainwright (R), 58 percent, St. Louis Cardinals at New York Mets: Wainwright has pitched better lately, but he's still vulnerable to power-hitting lefties. The Mets are having a down season, but they still possess some punch from the left side with Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, Michael Conforto and Lucas Duda.
The big question is who will be the closer for the Nationals after they acquired Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson from Oakland. Confusing matters is Matt Grace recorded his second save on Sunday, though of course neither Doolittle nor Madson were with the club yet. Not to mention, the ultimate closer may not be on the roster yet. Of the two new acquisitions, Doolittle is more apt to get saves. That said, barring an announcement, it's a coin-flip between Grace and Doolittle with respect to which gets the next save. Forced to pick, I'll say Doolittle.
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.
Bruce Maxwell (L), 2 percent, Oakland Athletics vs. Tampa Bay Rays (RHP Jake Odorizzi): While there has been no talk of injury, something's up with Odorizzi as his velocity and spin rate isn't quite up to snuff. Maxwell is well-positioned to take advantage, enjoying the platoon edge on a scuffling righty. Fellow lefty swinger Matt Joyce along with switch-hitter Jed Lowrie join Maxwell as strong plays. Yonder Alonso is owned in just over half of ESPN leagues so let's bend the 50-percent cut-off rule and give him a shout out as well.
Garrett Cooper (R), less than 1 percent, New York Yankees at Minnesota Twins (LHP Adalberto Mejia): Along identifying solid matchups, part of the purpose of this space is to alert you to recent call-ups that could make a difference. Cooper will occupy the small side of a first base platoon with Ji-Man Choi. Cooper isn't a heralded prospect, but when they're clicking, the Yankees possess a potent offense, availing run-producing opportunities to both Cooper and Choi. Clint Frazier, a more highly regarded prospect is also in a great spot, having the platoon edge on the rookie southpaw.
Carlos Asuaje (L), less than 1 percent, San Diego Padres at Colorado Rockies (RHP German Marquez): A player like Asuaje may not benefit from inflated power in Coors Field. However, keep in mind the venue boosts runs more than home runs so a two-hole hitter like Asuaje also reaps a significant reward. Cory Spangenberg and Jose Pirela are in a similar boat. Don't dismiss the Coors Effect because they're not power hitters.
Brock Holt (L), less than 1 percent, Boston Red Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Marcus Stroman): Holt returned to the majors as the 26th man in Sunday's doubleheader. It's not official he stays with the Red Sox, but if he does, he could see time at the hot corner while Boston pursues trade options as the deadline approaches.
Brandon Crawford (L), 35 percent, San Francisco Giants vs. Cleveland Indians (RHP Josh Tomlin): My usual process when seeking a shortstop to feature is looking elsewhere first, but if nothing stands out, go back to the well with Crawford, especially against a weak righty. It's not like he was a top-tier player so it doesn't get mentioned much, but in context, Crawford has been a disappointment. That said, his hard-hit rate is above average, in sync with his career mark. He's hitting fewer line drives, a metric that can reverse at any time so look for a post-break bump in batting average. Joe Panik joins Crawford an option against the pedestrian Tomlin.
Lucas Duda (L), 7 percent, New York Mets vs. St. Louis Cardinals (RHP Adam Wainwright): Duda is in a bit of a funk, last going deep on July 1. As mentioned earlier, Wainwright is susceptible to left-handed power. Citi Field suppress runs, but keep in mind it's positive for homers.
Brad Miller (L), 22 percent, Tampa Bay Rays at Oakland Athletics (RHP Daniel Gossett): Miller is still settling into a groove after a long layoff. Keep in mind this is a guy that hit 30 dingers last season, so if you need a long term power boost from the middle infield, jump on Miller before he gets hot and scooped up.
Shin-Soo Choo (L), 22 percent, Texas Rangers at Baltimore Orioles (RHP Chris Tillman): If you play in a points league, Choo is a must-play. Tillman's WHIP is a whopping 2.14. Getting on base is paramount in points leagues, something the leadoff hitting Choo should be able to do a couple times.
Raimel Tapia (L), 7 percent, Colorado Rockies vs. San Diego Padres (RHP Luis Perdomo): Tapia's playing time is taking a hit with Ian Desmond and Gerardo Parra back from injury. There's a good chance either Tapia or Parra are in the lineup, with both being available in over 90 percent of ESPN leagues. Perdomo has shown flashes of promise, but he's still raw and Coors is Coors.
Nick Williams (L), 2 percent, Philadelphia Phillies at Miami Marlins (RHP Tom Koehler): Injuries are forcing Koehler back into the Marlins rotation. Simply put, he's not very good at pitching. Williams enjoys the platoon edge, albeit with a park downgrade.
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.