<
>

Daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Thursday

Rangers starter Andrew Cashner delivers during the second inning of a game against the New York Yankees on Sept. 9 in Arlington, Texas. Richard W. Rodgriguez/Getty Images

Thursday slates often leave us wanting, but this one is pretty promising. We have the perfect combination of quality hurlers to stream while still leaving enough bottom-rung guys to stack hitters against. Here's what we're working with on Thursday's 12-game slate.


Pitching

Pitchers to stream

Andrew Cashner (R), 28 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, Texas Rangers vs. Seattle Mariners: You wouldn't know it from his ownership percentage, but Cashner has been a quality fantasy option this season. Of course, the lack of interest stems from his dismal 4.8 K/9 rate. Then again, his 3.19 ERA ranks among the top five in the American League. He also owns a 2.49 ERA over his past 11 starts and has allowed just 13 hits in his past 21 innings. Cashner is a quality streaming option against the Mariners, who rank 24th in runs scored since the All-Star break.

Jose Urena (R), 41 percent, Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies: Urena draws an intriguing matchup on Thursday, squaring off against a Phillies team that ranks in the bottom five with an 89 wRC+ and 24 percent strikeout rate against right-handed pitching. Like Cashner, Urena doesn't miss many bats, but he has been quietly consistent, holding a sub-4.00 ERA in all but one month this season. The 26-year-old has been pitching his best ball of late, producing a 2.70 ERA and 1.09 WHIP over his past eight starts.

Josh Tomlin (R), 20 percent, Cleveland Indians vs. Kansas City Royals: At this point, the Indians might never lose again. Cleveland's rotation has been lights-out, and Tomlin has been a part of that. He has allowed two or fewer runs in both starts since returning from the disabled list, and he sports a 2.57 ERA over his past six starts dating back to before his hamstring injury. The Royals present a non-threatening offense that shouldn't stand in Tomlin's way on Thursday.

Mike Foltynewicz (R), 16 percent, Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals: Foltynewicz went through a rough patch in August that inflated his second-half ERA to 6.32, but he has since settled down. He has allowed three or fewer runs in each of his past three outings, and, despite his struggles, he has whiffed 59 batters in 57 innings since the break. The Nationals' lineup might appear imposing on paper, but Washington has been a bottom-five offense over the past month with a 81 wRC+ and 24 percent whiff rate, so Folty's matchup is better than it appears.

Pitchers to avoid

Felix Hernandez (R), 50 percent, Seattle Mariners at Texas Rangers: Some fantasy owners might be anxious to insert King Felix back into their starting rotations, but let's take a wait-and-see approach here. First off, reports are that Hernandez will be limited to 50 or so pitches in his first start after missing time with a shoulder injury, which means he likely won't even be in the game long enough to register a win. Secondly, the Rangers are tough customers, ranking among the top three in baseball over the past 30 days with a 123 wRC+.

Bullpen

If you're still trying to make up ground in the saves department over the season's final few weeks, Arodys Vizcaino is a name to consider. Available in more than 60 percent of leagues, the right-hander whiffs more than a batter per inning and owns a 2.30 ERA over his past 16 appearances.

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.


Hitting

Catcher

Christian Vazquez (R), 8 percent, Boston Red Sox vs. Oakland A's (RHP Daniel Gossett): Vazquez doesn't have the platoon advantage here, but he still gets a nice matchup against Gossett, one of the lower-ranked hurlers on the slate. The right-hander holds a 5.17 road ERA this season and has struggled more against same-side batters, allowing a .365 wOBA. Vazquez, who has hit equally well against both right- and left-handers this season, is batting .333/.385/.481 in the second half.

First base

Jose Martinez (R), 26 percent, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Cincinnati Reds (LHP Amir Garrett): It's a small sample, but Martinez has crushed lefty pitching this season to the tune of a .396/.475/.887 slash line over 53 at-bats. Twelve of his 21 hits against left-handers have gone for extra bases, and seven of those left the yard. He's in a prime spot against Garrett, who has allowed a whopping 16 dingers in his past seven starts.

Second base

Yolmer Sanchez (B), 17 percent, Chicago White Sox at Detroit Tigers (LHP Chad Bell): Sanchez is batting .379/.419/.712 over his past 17 games and gets a nice draw against Bell, who is allowing a .390 wOBA to right-handed hitters. His dual eligibility at second and third base gives him nice versatility if you have some roster gaps to fill.

Third base

Chase Headley (B), 16 percent, New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles (LHP Wade Miley): Miley is one of the hurlers we're attacking today, as he has allowed a .295/.381/.472 slash line to right-handed bats this season. The switch-hitting Headley has been red-hot, batting .320/.385/.522 since the All-Star break. His OPS is also 166 points higher at Yankee Stadium, where Thursday's game takes place.

Shortstop

Ozzie Albies (B), 16 percent, Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals (RHP Tanner Roark): Albies has been on a tear. Over his past 24 games, he's hitting .337/.402/.505. Roark has been pitching well of late, but he has allowed a .356 wOBA to lefty batters this season, so the matchup isn't as tough as it looks.

Corner infield

Brandon Moss (L), 2 percent, Kansas City Royals at Cleveland Indians (RHP Josh Tomlin): Tomlin has been pitching well, but left-handed batters continue to give him fits. Lefty swingers have hammered Tomlin for a .307/.321/.483 slash line this season. Meanwhile, Moss makes for a nice power play, as he owns a .241 ISO versus right-handed pitchers this season and owns a .504 SLG since the break.

Middle infield

Jorge Polanco (B), 50 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. Toronto Blue Jays (LHP Brett Anderson): Anderson is the lowest-ranked hurler of the day. While he has settled down over his past few starts, he still owns a 5.90 ERA over nine outings and is giving up lots of hard contact (42 percent). This is an enticing spot for Polanco, who is batting .312/.379/. 558 since the All-Star break.

Outfield

Matt Holliday (R), 11 percent, New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles (LHP Wade Miley): Holliday is the second Yankees righty we're recommending against Miley, who owns a 5.27 ERA on the road. The veteran slugger is batting .276/.385/.500 versus southpaws and sports a .241 ISO at Yankee Stadium this season.

Alex Presley (L), 1 percent, Detroit Tigers vs. Chicago White Sox (RHP James Shields): The lefty-swinging Presley gets one of the best matchups of the day facing Shields, who has practically been helpless against lefty bats this season (.397 wOBA). He has allowed at least one homer in 20 of 22 starts, thanks in part to a career-high 44 percent fly ball rate. For his part, Presley is hitting .314/.355/.403 versus righties and .325/.357/.390 since the All-Star break.

David Peralta (L), 38 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Colorado Rockies (RHP Chad Bettis): This one is too easy. Bettis is allowing a .378 wOBA to lefty bats this season while Peralta is batting .308/.359.469 versus righties. No need to overthink this one.


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.