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Daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Thursday

Both of Brandon Phillips' home runs with the Angels have come in the last four days. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

We're inching closer to the end of the regular season, with only four days remaining. Thursday's abbreviated slate isn't particularly pretty, but there's no sense in waiting for a better slate to come around. This is what we have to work with, so make the most of it.

Here's a look at the day's top streaming options ...


Pitching

Pitchers to stream

Brent Suter (L), 6 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Cincinnati Reds: Suter has rebounded nicely since returning from the disabled list in early September. Over his last five appearances (four starts), the southpaw owns a 1.56 ERA over 17 1/3 innings. He hasn't done a good job working deep into games, which limits his win potential, but he still has a favorable matchup on Thursday against Cincinnati. Since the All-Star break, the Reds rank 25th in both batting average and slugging percentage. They also sport an inflated 24 percent whiff rate in September. Additionally, it helps that two of the Reds' most dangerous hitters, Joey Votto and Scooter Gennett, bat from the left side, as Suter has shut down left-handed batters this season (.191/.267/.279).

Eduardo Rodriguez (L), 50 percent, Boston Red Sox vs. Houston Astros: Rodriguez hit a bit of a rough patch in August, but he bounced back in September. His last four starts have seen him post a 1.78 ERA and 10.8 K/9 over 25 frames. Of course, a matchup against the Astros is far from ideal, but you don't always have the luxury of picking and choosing the best matchups when you're streaming starters. The good news is that the Astros offense has been fairly ordinary over the last 30 days, sporting a .313 wOBA that ranks 17th in baseball.

Miguel Gonzalez (R), 8 percent, Texas Rangers vs. Oakland Athletics: Gonzalez's 7.16 ERA in September may scare some owners. However, that inflated number is largely the result of one bad start, an outing in which he surrendered seven runs in just 2 1/3 innings to the Mariners. That blowup outing happened and Gonzalez needs to be held accountable for it, but if you remove it, you'll find a 2.44 ERA over eight starts. He also rebounded nicely from that bad starting, allowing just two runs over his last 11 innings. The upside here is limited because Gonzalez doesn't miss many bats, but there's still some whiff potential against an A's team that sports a 25 percent strikeout rate against righties.

Sean Manaea (L), 32 percent, Oakland Athletics at Texas Rangers: It has been a disappointing season for Manaea, but he's trying to close it out on a strong note. Although the Red Sox lit him up earlier this month (7 ER in 3 2/3 IP), the 25-year-old lefty has allowed three or fewer runs in five of his last six starts. The dip in strikeout rate is certainly a concern, as his 9.0 K/9 in the first half has tumbled all the way to 6.3 since the break. That said, he draws a Rangers team on Thursday that whiffs at a 25 percent clip and is below average against lefties.

Pitchers to avoid

There are no hurlers I'm outright avoiding on Thursday, but let this be a general note that, for the majority of teams, their starting rotations are somewhat in flux this week. Some hurlers will be given abbreviated starts, while others will be skipped completely. Take heed.


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

John Hicks (R), 1 percent, Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals (LHP Danny Duffy): Hicks, who should see some increased playing time with Miguel Cabrera sidelined, is an under-the-radar play at catcher for Thursday's slate. Duffy isn't a hurler we typically target, but he can be vulnerable against right-handed bats. The lefty is allowing a 42 percent fly ball rate and 32 percent hard-hit rate to righty batters, which matches up well with Hicks, who owns a .227 ISO versus left-handed pitching this season.

First base

Brandon Moss (L), 7 percent, Kansas City Royals vs. Detroit Tigers (LHP Daniel Norris): It's safe to say this season hasn't gone has planned for Daniel Norris. Dating back to June 1, he owns a 7.02 ERA over 11 appearances (seven starts). He has actually struggled more against left-handed batters (.398 wOBA), which suits Moss just fine, as he's hitting .288/.365/.485 versus southpaws this season.

Second base

Brandon Phillips (R), 40 percent, Los Angeles Angels at Chicago White Sox (RHP Dylan Covey): Covey has pitched only 64 1/3 innings this season, but here are his monthly ERA breakdowns: April, 6.91; May, 8.81; August, 11.05; September, 6.05 ERA. He has also allowed a somewhat shocking .338/.431/.644 slash line to righty hitters this season. Needless to say, I don't have much confidence in him on Thursday. Phillips lacks the platoon advantage in this spot, but he has hit just as well against righties this season and gets a nice ballpark bump going from Angel Stadium to Guaranteed Rate Field.

Third base

David Freese (R), 4 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates at Washington Nationals (RHP Edwin Jackson): Jackson actually put together a decent stretch earlier this year, but predictably, he reverted back to the guy who posted a 5.89 ERA in 2016. The 34-year-old veteran has surrendered five or more runs in four straight starts and has struggled against same-side hitters (.415 wOBA). This creates an intriguing spot for Freese, who is batting .317/.377/.429 in September.

Shortstop

Tim Anderson (R), 45 percent, Chicago White Sox vs. Los Angeles Angels (RHP Bud Norris): Anderson has been more effective with the platoon advantage this season, but his power production has been relatively equal against both righties and lefties. And lately, the splits haven't mattered, as Anderson is raking to the tune of a .393/.413/.573 slash line in September. Norris, meanwhile, owns a 7.94 ERA and 1.81 WHIP since the break and hasn't been an effective starter (4.51 ERA, 1.40 WHIP) in his career.

Corner infield

Will Middlebrooks (R), 1 percent, Texas Rangers vs. Oakland Athletics (LHP Sean Manaea): With Mike Napoli and Adrian Beltre likely shut down for the season, Middlebrooks will see more action, especially with a southpaw on the hill. As such, he'll likely be in the lineup versus Manaea, who has had difficulty with righty bats (.284/.353/.468).

Middle infield

Jed Lowrie (B), 43 percent, Oakland Athletics at Texas Rangers (RHP Miguel Gonzalez): This is one of those plays that feels almost too easy. Gonzalez has struggled against lefty hitters this season, allowing a .285/.350/.517 slash line, while Lowrie has done almost all of his damage against righties (.284/.365/.468). Lowrie also gets a nice park upgrade going from the Oakland Coliseum to Globe Life Park.

Outfield

Delino DeShields (L), 21 percent, Texas Rangers vs. Oakland Athletics (LHP Sean Manaea): If you're desperately seeking a stolen base or two to make a move in the steals category in the season's final days, DeShields makes a lot of sense. He owns an 11.2 walk percentage against lefties to go along with an 80 percent success rate on SB attempts. It doesn't hurt that DeShields is batting .333/.412/.458 at home this season.

Gregory Polanco (L), 26 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates at Washington Nationals (RHP Edwin Jackson): Polanco isn't playing every day down the stretch, but he's an intriguing option if he's in the lineup against Jackson. The right-hander owns a 5.26 ERA in 65 second-half innings and has allowed an incredible nine homers over his last four starts.

Kole Calhoun (L), 30 percent, Los Angeles Angels at Chicago White Sox (RHP Dylan Covey): Calhoun is the second Angels hitter we're targeting against Covey, who is allowing a .383 wOBA to left-handed bats. The Angels outfielder is much more effective with the platoon advantage, and Guaranteed Rate Field boosts left-handed power.


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.