The early-season schedule weirdness continues. The Red Sox, Cubs, Reds and Marlins enjoy a day off to thin out the typically full Wednesday slate. The Nationals' Max Scherzer (Braves) and Cleveland's Corey Kluber (Angels) both have sneaky-tough road trips, and it's difficult to find pitchers on fewer than 50 percent of ESPN rosters with a promising matchup.
Still, these names -- including one with potential season-long upside -- could get the job done.
Pitchers to stream
Sean Manaea (L), rostered in 34 percent of ESPN leagues, Oakland Athletics vs. Texas Rangers: The left-hander allowed just one run with seven strikeouts and no walks over 7 2/3 innings during his first 2018 outing. Texas' lineup took a significant hit at the top, losing Delino DeShields (hand) for about a month, and despite its dangerous pieces, many of them are lefty, which plays in Manaea's favor. He could become one of 2018's most pleasant surprises.
Jake Odorizzi (R), 45.7 percent, Minnesota Twins at Pittsburgh Pirates: This jaunt to pitcher haven PNC Park will offer Odo a breather from the designated hitter and his shockingly hitter-helping home at Target Field. Pittsburgh mustered the third-lowest wOBA in the majors versus righty hurlers (.303) last season, and the arrivals of Corey Dickerson and Colin Moran shouldn't scare waiver-wire seekers.
Ivan Nova (R), 16.3 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Minnesota Twins: I wasn't kidding when I said it's a light day for matchup games, so it could help to pick one or both sides of this game at Pittsburgh's pitcher paradise. A second solid effort to open 2018 could bump up Nova's popularity.
Pitcher to avoid
Dylan Bundy (R), 92 percent, Baltimore Orioles at Houston Astros: Trying to double down on his Opening Day gem of seven shutout innings versus the Twins will be tempting, but anyone with other viable options should bench him against the scorching-hot defending champs.
We can scream "it's early" all we want, but Kenley Jansen's blown save Monday -- which matched his 2017 total -- further stoked concerns over his velocity. The right-hander touched 92 mph but also settled at 88-89 with most of his trademark cutters. He's now allowed two homers in two appearances.
The consensus top fantasy stopper in draft season insists he's healthy, though he recently acknowledged he needs to bump up his velocity and participated in a bullpen session to examine his mechanics. A flawed delivery can affect velocity -- that was the main point in manager Dave Roberts' explanation after the Friday stumble -- but is a spring hamstring injury still nagging Jansen? Are those extra 16.2 postseason innings wearing him down?
Pre-emptively stashing Dodgers eighth-inning bridge Josh Fields isn't a horrible dart for a flexible roster spot -- more strongly for those with Jansen -- but there's still time for the incumbent to turn things around following this small sample size. If we're still talking about this next week, though, the spark of worry may become something bigger.
Projected game scores
GS is the projected game score for the pitcher. The "*" symbol means the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate rating; these are the author's ratings.
Chris Iannetta (R), 33.9 percent, Colorado Rockies at San Diego Padres (LHP Clayton Richard): Last year, right-handed bats tagged Richard for a .377 wOBA last season, the third-highest figure among qualified starting hurlers, and Iannetta cruised to a .409 in 94 plate appearances against lefties.
Tyler Austin (R), 3.6 percent, New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays (LHP Blake Snell): Austin peppered two homers Saturday and will generally see starts against left-handers while Greg Bird and Aaron Hicks remain sidelined. Snell didn't display his spring dominance in his 2018 regular-season debut, fanning just two in 5.2 frames. Austin boasts four homers in 39 career at-bats when staring down a left-hander.
Joe Panik (L), 42.5 percent, San Francisco Giants vs. Seattle Mariners (RHP Felix Hernandez): One of the weekend's MVPs, Panik (6-for-17 over four games, with two homers) wielded useful rates of a .774 OPS and a .333 wOBA against righties last season. His strong debut (5 1/3 shutout innings) aside, Felix is hardly the royalty he used to be.
Cory Spangenberg (L), 1.8 percent, San Diego Padres vs. Colorado Rockies (RHP Jon Gray): Batters at Petco Park hardly inspire confidence, but Gray offers the Friars an exception to the rule: He thrives at Coors Field but struggles elsewhere (4.06 road ERA last year). Spangy piled up a useful .348 wOBA versus Gray's handedness last year and has already lifted two homers in his first three contests.
Enrique Hernandez (R), 3.7 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks (LHP Patrick Corbin): Corbin's dazzling 5 2/3-inning, eight-strikeout season opener shouldn't let daily-roster churners overlook a reliable righty-on-lefty click. Hernandez has an early path to at least part-time duty during Justin Turner's (wrist) recovery, especially against southpaws, whom he plastered for 10 homers and a .270/.367/.579 slash across 177 plate appearances last year.
Yangervis Solarte (B), 49 percent, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Chicago White Sox (RHP Carson Fulmer): Solarte is a great option for daily leagues since he's eligible at multiple positions as well as being a switch-hitter. That means plenty of chances to get him in your lineup. Solarte is a better hitter from the left side, which is where he'll open the contest against the talented but inconsistent Fulmer. Solarte's teammate Curtis Granderson is in the juicy leadoff spot in today's tilt if you need an outfielder. Another solid option for corner is the Nationals' Matt Adams as Ryan Zimmerman is getting the day off, but hurry as first pitch is noon ET.
Kolten Wong (L), 7.9 percent, St. Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Jhoulys Chacin): The Cardinals' infield shuffle to accommodate everyday first baseman Jose Martinez was expected to hinder Wong's playing time, but Jedd Gyorko is now nursing a hamstring strain and might need a few days to rest. Matt Carpenter sliding over to third base should allow Wong to face a right-hander in the favorable confines of Miller Park. Chacin posted a 49.1 groundball percentage last year, but his new home will not help his flyballs as much as Petco Park did.
Matt Joyce (L), 2.8 percent, Oakland Athletics vs. Texas Rangers (RHP Doug Fister): The vet hit 24 homers against right-handers last year and should be at least considered for deep-league lineups in such assignments, but Joyce is nursing an ankle injury that might keep him from facing Fister. If Joyce must sit, top-side center fielder Boog Powell (0.5 percent) could fill in, having hit .287/.347/.407 against righties in 2017.
Derek Fisher (L), 3 percent, Houston Astros vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Dylan Bundy): Fisher resides at the bottom of the order, but the Astros' lineup is prolific enough to afford him opportunity to be productive. Bundy can be tough, but the Baltimore bullpen is rather soft.
Brandon Guyer (R), 0.1 percent, Cleveland Indians at Los Angeles Angels (LHP Tyler Skaggs): With Michael Brantley's return on the horizon (maybe), use the Tribe's bottom-platoon pieces while you can. Guyer has built his major-league roster cred on toppling southpaws (career .280/.377/.446 with a .362 wOBA in 673 plate appearances). If Guyer gives way to Rajai Davis (0.6 percent), follow suit.
Hitter matchup ratings
Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's history (three years' worth) as well as 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. For example, a 10 is a must-start rating, while 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.