So, it's come down to Sunday and you need to find a player who's going to get you over the top in a key category. Well, you're in luck, as we have the tools to give you the best shot at finding an edge by picking up on the most exploitable situations and matchups. The best part is, all of these players are owned in less than 50 percent of leagues, and all but one is owned in less than one-third of all leagues.
Pitchers to Stream
Ty Blach (L), 2 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, San Francisco Giants vs. San Diego Padres: Well, the word is official -- Madison Bumgarner will be out about three months. Blach gets first dibs on the rotation spot, though prospect Tyler Beede looms on the farm. With a southpaw on the hill, the Padres check in with the fifth-worst weighted on base average (wOBA) and seventh-highest strikeout rate in the league.
Hyun-Jin Ryu (L), 10 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Philadelphia Phillies: Injury-prone players often have low ownership, even though on a per-game basis they're better than many players with higher ownership. This isn't to say Ryu is off to a great start, but he is better than most hurlers who are owned in only one of 10 ESPN leagues. That said, three of his four starts have been on the road, so it will be nice to be home, working against a squad that's league-average versus left-handers.
Martin Perez (L), 6 percent, Texas Rangers vs. Los Angeles Angels: Perez is best-suited for a points league or for someone chasing an extra win as the fantasy week comes to a close. The lefty still struggles with control, but he's facing a Halos club that isn't patient, toting a below-average walk rate into Arlington. Although his mound foe, JC Ramirez, has pitched well as a starter, the Rangers bats should provide some run support for their young southpaw.
Miguel Gonzalez (R), 32 percent, Chicago White Sox at Detroit Tigers: In an era when 5 2/3 innings is the average start, Gonzalez has tossed 8 and 8 1/3 innings his last two efforts. He fanned only nine in that span, benefiting from just six hits sneaking through. While it's fair to say that regression is on the way, Gonzalez has been throwing well going back to last season. There's some risk, but with Jordan Zimmermann on the Comerica Park bump, the veteran righty is another candidate to pick up a late-week win.
Mike Foltynewicz (R), 10 percent, Atlanta Braves at Milwaukee Brewers: Players often earn the label of boom or bust. The Brewers are looking like a boom-or-bust team. They whiff excessively against both righties and lefties, but they also sport an above-average wOBA in both scenarios. After a slow start to the 2017 campaign, Foltynewicz is demonstrating why he was a popular sleeper in March, coming into this start with consecutive seven-inning outings.
Pitchers to Avoid
Kyle Hendricks (R), 95 percent, Chicago Cubs at Boston Red Sox: On paper, Hendricks looked better last time out, tossing six scoreless stanzas against the Pirates in Pittsburgh, but he only fanned three with two walks. His velocity is still down, and he didn't have much to lose in the first place. The Red Sox offense isn't hitting on all cylinders, but it's plenty potent to keep Hendricks on the fantasy sidelines for this Fenway Park affair.
Let's jump back to the Braves as Foltynewicz should be in contention for a win with Matt Garza working for the Brewers. Closer Jim Johnson is owned in 65 percent of leagues, so there's a chance he's available for those needing a save or two to win the category in head-to-head leagues. Jose Ramirez has been solid while Arodys Vizcaino has been excellent, save for a blow-up against the Phillies earlier in the week.
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.
Dustin Garneau (R), less than 1 percent, Colorado Rockies at Arizona Diamondbacks (LHP Patrick Corbin): The toughest part of finding a Sunday catcher is landing on one that'll definitely be in the lineup. Garneau has usurped the playing time versus lefties from Tony Wolters, and although this isn't Coors Field, Chase Field is a good hitting venue.
Justin Bour (L), 8 percent, Miami Marlins vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Chad Kuhl): Perhaps this is damning with faint praise, but after fanning a ton to begin the season, Bour has whiffed just six times in his last 36 at bats, spanning ten games. Hits, and homers, should soon follow.
Chase Utley (L), 1 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Philadelphia Phillies (RHP Nick Pivetta): Utley has stepped in for Logan Forsythe with a righty on the hill. The veteran carried a modest three-game hitting streak into Saturday night's action, suggesting the added playing is helping get back in the groove.
Christian Arroyo (R), 11 percent, San Francisco Giants vs. San Diego Padres (LHP Clayton Richard): It's getting hard to keep telling people Arroyo is more a gap hitter then slugger when he keeps driving the ball out of the yard.
Tim Anderson (R), 15 percent, Chicago White Sox at Detroit Tigers (RHP Jordan Zimmermann): There are limited options up the middle, so we're going to pair up a couple teammates, even though neither enjoys the platoon edge on Zimmermann. That said, Zimmermann's 4.4 K/9 with 21 hits allowed his last two games, covering 12 innings, suggests the advantage isn't necessary in the matchup.
John Jaso (L), less than 1 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates at Miami Marlins (RHP Tom Koehler): Koehler's below-average strikeout rate, in tandem with his above-average walk rate, plays right into Jaso's strength. He's a patient hitter, though early on, he's fanning more than normal.
Tyler Saladino (R), 2 percent, Chicago White Sox at Detroit Tigers (RHP Jordan Zimmermann): Here's the other half of the keystone combo, forming a one-two at the top of the order against Zimmermann.
Matt Holliday (R), 19 percent, New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles (LHP Wade Miley): Like Ryu cited above, the threat of missing time due to injury tempers Holliday's ownership. He's healthy now and in a great spot, sitting in the three-hole with a southpaw on the Yankee Stadium hill.
David Peralta (L), 44 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Colorado Rockies (RHP German Marquez): Other times, it isn't health concerns that soften ownership, it's that the hitter is part of a platoon. Peralta's in play whenever a righty is on the hill. When he's at home and the righty isn't special, Peralta is an even better option.
Lonnie Chisenhall (L), 8 percent, Cleveland Indians vs. Seattle Mariners (RHP Chase De Jong): Then there's hitters like Chisenhall who have it all -- injury risks while working in a platoon. When healthy, the Tribe's fly chaser is a threat to take righties out of Progressive Field. De Jong is taking the spot of Felix Hernandez, expected to be shelved for three or four weeks.
Notes: Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's past 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.