Daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Saturday

After handling the Rockies at Coors Field, can you trust Sean Newcomb in Wrigley Field against the Cubs? Getty Images

We get good slates, and we get bad slates. Fortunately, Saturday is one of the good ones. The Saturday schedule features half of the "Big Four" -- Max Scherzer and Corey Kluber -- along with plenty of other big-name arms, including Chris Archer, Jose Quintana and Rich Hill. But that's not why we're here. We're here for the little guys, the underappreciated guys, the guys who were picked last or not at all. That's right, we're here for the streamers. So let's get to it!

Here's a look at the day's most interesting streaming options, focusing on players rostered in less than 50 percent of ESPN.com leagues.


Pitchers to stream

Miles Mikolas (R), rostered in 17 percent of ESPN leagues, St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati Reds: Some fantasy managers will see the 6.00 ERA over Mikolas' first two starts and look elsewhere, but there are some things to like here. The right-hander has 10 whiffs and zero walks over 12 innings this year, and he's keeping the ball on the ground with a 54 percent ground ball rate. Even his 2.47 xFIP suggests that his ERA is inflated. The Reds, meanwhile, rank 28th in baseball in runs scored and are fanning 24 percent of the time.

Sean Newcomb (L), 14 percent, Atlanta Braves at Chicago Cubs: Newcomb has been impressive in his first two starts, racking up 15 strikeouts in just 10 1/3 innings, to go along with a 56 percent ground ball rate. Control has been an issue for him in the past (5.0 career BB/9). However, if the southpaw can keep it in check like he did in his first two outings (3.5 BB/9), then his swing-and-miss stuff will make him quite interesting in fantasy circles. While the Cubs offense is undoubtedly dangerous, it isn't firing on all cylinders just yet -- especially with Anthony Rizzo sidelined. As a result, this isn't as risky a matchup for Newcomb as it might be a couple of months from now. Also, keep in mind that Newcomb's last start came in a much worse matchup, where he tossed six shutout frames with nine whiffs and no walks against the Rockies at Coors Field.

Mike Minor (L), 10 percent, Texas Rangers at Houston Astros: It goes without saying that this matchup is far from ideal. There's certainly risk here with Minor, who is allowing tons of fly balls (75 percent) and a lot of hard contact (37.5 percent) in the early going. That said, when you're streaming starters, it's rare that everything lines up perfectly. The good news is that there's also nice upside here. Minor's 10.1 K/9 this year matches what he did as a reliever in 2017 (10.2), and he gets an Astros team that's striking out 25 percent of the time.

Jaime Garcia (L), 10 percent, Toronto Blue Jays at Cleveland Indians: This looks like a tough matchup for Garcia on the surface, but he's getting Cleveland at the right time. The Indians have been the second-worst team in the American League against left-handed pitching, sporting a 72 wRC+ this season. For his part, Garcia is off to a promising start, with a 3.18 ERA and a 9.5 K/9 over two outings. The strikeout rate is going to regress, especially against an Indians team that makes a lot of contact, but this is still a decent streaming opportunity. Having said that, if you're chasing wins, you're better off looking elsewhere with Corey Kluber taking the hill for Cleveland.

Pitcher to avoid

Alex Cobb (R), 36 percent, Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox: Cobb may not be on as many rosters as you might expect because of how late he signed, but he's still a big enough name to be included here. Making his Orioles debut, Cobb finds himself in a tough spot, facing the Red Sox at Fenway Park. On one hand, Cobb holds a career 3.15 ERA at Fenway. On the other hand, this is his first start after getting stretched out at extended spring training. The fact that he doesn't miss many bats (6.4 K/9 last year) leaves him little room for error against a Red Sox team that's pounded right-handed pitching this season (120 wRC+). I'm not activating him just yet in standard leagues.


It's unlikely that Cobb goes very deep in his first start of the season, which means Baltimore's bullpen could be relied on heavily in Saturday's tilt against Boston. Those in leagues that count holds can take a look at Darren O'Day, who owns a 1.35 ERA and 0.90 WHIP to go along with his three holds. If you're hurting for saves, Brad Brach, who is still available in roughly 54 percent of ESPN leagues, is the clear go-to man in the ninth while Zach Britton is sidelined.

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.



Yan Gomes (R), 4 percent, Cleveland Indians vs. Toronto Blue Jays (LHP Jaime Garcia): Gomes sported a .360 wOBA versus left-handed pitching in 2017, and his aggressive approach matches him up well against Garcia. The Cleveland backstop slashed .400/.426/.689 on first pitches last season, while Garcia has allowed an .889 OPS to batters who put the first pitch in play (2015-2017). A full 81 percent of the extra-base hits Garcia allowed last season were to right-handed swingers.

First base

Yuli Gurriel (R), 39 percent, Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers (LHP Mike Minor): Gurriel makes his second start after serving his suspension then rehabbing his left hand after February surgery. if you have a hole at the corner, don't hesitate to grab Gurriel, he won't be available in over 60 percent of leagues much longer.

Second base

Jed Lowrie (B), 37 percent, Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners (LHP Marco Gonzales): With a couple of early postponements, a switch-hitter like Lowrie should be on the short list. He won't be lifted for a pinch-hitter like many streaming hitters and he hits high in the A's order.

Third base

Yairo Munez (B), fewer than 1 percent, St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati Reds (LHP Brandon Finnegan): Matt Carpenter is getting the day off, giving Munoz a rare start. The 23-year old switch-hitter impressed the Cardinals in the spring, slashing .375/.423/.625 in the Grapefruit League. Munoz also has the ability to swipe a base, which could come into play facing a Reds club terrible at controlling the running game. St. Louis outfielder Harrison Bader is also getting the start today, enjoying the platoon edge on a talented but still developing southpaw.


Marcus Semien (R), 25 percent, Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners (LHP Marco Gonzales): Semien is an underrated commodity in fantasy circles. He possesses 20-homer power, has the potential for double-digit steals, and he bats at the top of solid lineup. On Saturday, he draws a favorable matchup against Gonzales. Small sample size caveats apply, but righty batters hammered him for a .346/.388/.566 slash line last season, and things haven't been any better so far in 2018 (.345/.367/.483).

Corner infield

Lucas Duda (L), 16 percent, Kansas City Royals vs. Los Angeles Angels (RHP Garrett Richards): Richards isn't a pitcher we'd normally attack, but his issues against lefty batters this season (.366 wOBA) make this an enticing spot for Duda. Over his nine-year career, the lefty slugger owns a .250/.356/.487 slash line, including a .237 ISO, versus right-handed pitching.

Middle infield

Jonathan Villar (B), 25 percent, Milwaukee Brewers at New York Mets (RHP Matt Harvey): There's been some good from Harvey this year, and there's been some bad. The bad includes a .389 wOBA allowed to left-handed batters. Enter the switch-hitting Villar, who is 11-for-30 (.367) versus right-handed pitching in 2018.


Hunter Renfroe (R), 14 percent, San Diego Padres vs. San Francisco Giants (LHP Derek Holland): Since the beginning of 2016, only Nolan Arenado, J.D. Martinez, Kris Bryant and Paul Goldschmidt have produced a better wOBA versus left-handed pitching than Renfroe (min 150 PAs). This makes Renfroe a nice upside play against the soft-tossing Holland, who has surrendered a .372 wOBA to opposing batters since 2015.

Hunter Pence (R), 4 percent, San Francisco Giants at San Diego Padres (LHP Clayton Richard): Pence is entering the twilight of his career, but he still can be productive, especially with the platoon edge. Ben Zobrist from the Cubs is another outfielder in a great spot, facing Julio Teheran, a righty with serious issues facing lefty swingers.

Jake Marisnick (R), 2 percent, Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers (LHP Mike Minor): There are plenty of holes in Marisnick's offensive game. Then again, he handles left-handed pitching well and offers double-digit homer and steal potential if used correctly. Even if he's batting in the bottom-third of the order, this is an appealing spot against Minor, who is missing plenty of bats this season, but also allowing lots of fly balls and hard contact.

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.