Daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Saturday

If you're thinking about using Marcus Stroman on Saturday, you might want to take another look. Getty Images

The good news is that Saturday's slate is chock full of big-name starters. Chris Sale and Stephen Strasburg are the headliners, with Yu Darvish, Carlos Martinez, Jacob deGrom, James Paxton, Dallas Keuchel, Aaron Nola, Zack Godley, Garrett Richards and Blake Snell all serving as the supporting cast.

The bad news is that, with so many top-tier hurlers on the schedule, there's less room for quality streaming options. Then again, no one said this streaming thing was going to be easy. So let's strap in and get to work.

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


Pitchers to stream

Kyle Gibson (R), rostered in 11 percent of ESPN leagues, Minnesota Twins at Tampa Bay Rays: Dating back to last August, Gibson holds a 3.57 ERA and 8.2 K/9. That's not outstanding, by any means, but perfectly solid for a streaming option, especially in a prime matchup like Saturday's tilt against Tampa Bay. The Rays' offense has been well below-average this season, sporting an 86 wRC+ and a 23 percent strikeout rate. Plus, if you're chasing wins, this is an awfully good spot to get one. The Rays are 5-13 this season, and the Twins have won Gibson's last 11 starts.

Hyun-Jin Ryu (L), 24 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Washington Nationals: The Nationals have a dangerous offense, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the numbers they've produced against left-handed pitching this season. They rank 24th in baseball with an 80 wRC+ versus southpaws, while their 28 percent whiff rate is second-worst in the National League. Ryu, meanwhile, sports a 10.9 K/9 over his first three starts, and his 2.87 ERA is supported by a 2.85 FIP and 3.29 xFIP. That inflated K-rate is obviously due for some regression, but this remains a matchup with high-strikeout potential.

Homer Bailey (R), 5 percent, Cincinnati Reds at St. Louis Cardinals: Bailey isn't exactly an exciting streaming option. After all, he has only a 6.5 K/9 over his last 22 starts. The good news is that he's delivered three quality starts in four outings this year, and he gets a substantial park upgrade going from Great American Ballpark to Busch Stadium. The Cardinals aren't necessarily a favorable matchup, but he held them in check his last time out, allowing three runs on four hits in seven innings.

Jordan Montgomery (L), 34 percent, New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays: I'll admit to having some pause with Montgomery here. His velocity has been down a couple of ticks this season and, as a result, he has been much more hittable than he was in 2017. His whiffs are down, and his hard-contact allowed is up. That said, there's still strikeout potential against a Blue Jays team fanning 23 percent of the time versus lefties, and Montgomery has a decent chance at coming at with a W against a struggling Marcus Stroman.

Pitchers to avoid

Marcus Stroman (R), 81 percent, Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees: Speaking of Stroman, it's hard to justify running him out there in this spot. Not only has he been torched for a 7.98 ERA and 1.91 WHIP in three starts this season, but he he's the not-so-proud owner of a 5.65 ERA in 28 2/3 career innings against the Yankees. The fact of the matter is that he's just not fooling hitters the way he did in the past. His 23.3 percent chase rate is well below his 29 percent career mark, and as a result he's allowing tons of hard contact (45.7 percent). Stroman isn't worth the risk right now.


Greg Holland may have been signed to be the Cardinals' ninth-inning man -- and chances are he'll get another chance at that role in the near future -- but for right now, Bud Norris is the guy. He's secured saves in each of his last three appearances, and he's fanned a whopping 17 batters in 9 1/3 innings this year. A free agent in 78 percent of ESPN leagues, Norris is currently a top-10 reliever on the ESPN Player Rater. With Carlos Martinez toeing the rubber for St. Louis, there's a good chance Norris gets another save opportunity on Saturday.

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.



Martin Maldonado (R), 7 percent, Los Angeles Angels vs. San Francisco Giants (LHP Derek Holland): There are certain pitchers you like to pick on whenever they're on the mound, and Holland is one of them for me. He's surrendered a .347 wOBA to righty hitters in his career, including a bloated .408 mark in 2017. Maldonado has yet to get going, but he's batting .273 with a .385 OBP versus lefties this season. This looks like a "get well" spot for the Angels backstop.

First base

Yonder Alonso (L), 44 percent, Cleveland Indians at Baltimore Orioles (RHP Chris Tillman): Tillman is another pitcher it's easy to pick on. He's allowed a .274/.333/.492 slash line to righty hitters in his career, and this year things have been even worse (.344/.395/.563). It doesn't help that this game takes place at hitters' haven Camden Yards, where he owns a 5.18 ERA and 1.46 since 2015. For his part, Alonso batted .282/.383/.517 against righties in 2017 and gets a nice park boost going to Camden Yards.

Second base

Cesar Hernandez (B), 40 percent, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (LHP Steven Brault): It's a verifiable fact that Hernandez does damage against lefties. Dating back to 2015, he's produced a .311/.374/.417 slash line against southpaws. Hernandez has also shown steady improvement at the plate, improving his swinging-strike rate each season (10.9% in 2014; 9.4% in 2015; 8.0% in 2016; 7.8% in 2017; 7.5% thus far in 2018). He matches up well with Brault, who has allowed a .296/.373/.493 slash line to righty batters in his career.

Third base

Miguel Andujar (R), 7 percent, New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Marcus Stroman): We;ve already highlighted Stroman's early-season struggles, both with his control (6.1 BB/9) and in his allowing truckloads of hard contact (45.7 percent). Andujar doesn't have the platoon advantage here, but if Stroman's struggles continue, it won't matter. Hitting in a great lineup in a great offensive park, the rookie has the power to take advantage of a pitcher who is clearly missing his spots.


Nick Ahmed (R), 13 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Diego Padres (LHP Clayton Richard): Ahmed isn't known for his offense, but you wouldn't know it from looking at his numbers against lefties last year. While it may have been over a small sample (48 plate appearances), he still hammered lefties for a .396/.453/.625 slash line. On Saturday, he'll square off against Richard, who has allowed a .288/.354/.470 flash line to righty batters over 809 career frames.

Corner infield

Yuli Gurriel (R), 48 percent, Houston Astros at Chicago White Sox (RHP Lucas Giolito): Gurriel is one of the rare hitters that I like to target when he doesn't have the platoon advantage. He did all of his damage against righties in 2017, batting .317/.344/.521 including 15 of his 18 home runs. Giolito may have enticing long-term potential, but he hasn't showed it so far this year. He's walked more batters than he's struck out, and his 5.50 ERA is backed up by a 4.88 FIP and 7.25 xFIP.

Middle infield

Addison Russell (R), 48 percent, Chicago Cubs at Colorado Rockies (LHP Tyler Anderson): Russell is off to a slow start, but there are reasons for optimism. He's doubled his walk rate from last year (7.5 percent to 15.0 percent), and drastically cut his strikeouts (23.6 percent down to 15.0 percent). Plus, his hard-contact rate is a career-best 36.6 percent. Another reason for optimism is that he's heading to Coors Field to face Tyler Anderson, who's allowed a career .344 wOBA to right-handed batters.


Ben Zobrist (B), 32 percent, Chicago Cubs at Colorado Rockies (LHP Tyler Anderson): We're going to back-to-back with Cubs hitters because, well, it's Coors Field. Do we need another reason? Zobrist is off to a hot start, batting .326/.408/.465 this season, and is finding himself in the starting lineup more often than not. He owns a career .906 OPS at Coors.

Brandon Nimmo (L), 2 percent, New York Mets at Atlanta Braves (RHP Julio Teheran): Whenever Teheran is on the mound, rest assured we're going to recommend you start your lefty bats against him. He has surrendered a .206 ISO to lefty batters over the last three seasons, and his 34.5 percent hard-hit rate is his worst mark since his rookie year. Then there's this year's 5.40 ERA, which doesn't appear to be a fluke (6.36 FIP, 5.16 xFIP). Nimmo, who hits leadoff when he's in the lineup, batted .281/.404/.474 versus right-handed pitching in 2017. SunTrust Park is also very favorable to left-handed power.

Ben Gamel (L), 2 percent, Seattle Mariners at Texas Rangers (RHP Bartolo Colon): While it was fun to watch Colon flirt with a perfect game in his last time out, that type of performance obviously isn't sustainable. After all, he's allowing a 45 percent hard-contact rate this year. The veteran is particularly vulnerable to lefty batters, who put up a .313/.357/.553 slash line against him in 2017. While Gamel hasn't gotten much playing time this season, he gets the platoon advantage here, along with a park upgrade at Globe Life Park.

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.