Daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Monday

Despite a 10.50 ERA in his last three starts, Chris Stratton might be worth a look on a short-slated Monday. AP

No, it's not a misprint. The Braves and Cubs indeed have a matinee affair in Wrigley Field before boarding flights to Atlanta for their regularly scheduled series. Monday's contest is a makeup game from earlier in the season. For those in leagues with lineup locks at the start of the first game of the day, note the early start time.

The rest of the schedule is a typical Monday, with many squads enjoying the day off. This tends to make finding pitching a challenge, which is one reason a single game features 50 percent of the suggested starting pitchers. Despite a truncated slate, there are still many strong candidates to keep your offense filled with active batters.

Let's kick the week off with some names available in at least 50 percent of ESPN leagues.


Pitchers to stream

Chris Stratton (R), rostered in 17 percent of ESPN leagues, San Francisco Giants vs. Cincinnati Reds: It's a pattern we've seen countless times: pitcher starts out on fire, regression kicks in, pitcher settles into normal groove. Stratton is about to embark on Phase No. 3, an option most useful at home. He can certainly be more than that if his control improves but, for now, deployment in AT&T is the prudent play. The Reds are one of the weakest teams facing a right-hander, though that's likely to improve.

Tyler Anderson (L), 13 percent, Colorado Rockies at San Diego Padres: Anderson hasn't developed as much as some may have expected following an impressive 2016 debut where he pitched better at Coors Field than on the road. If Anderson were to maintain that trend, he'd be the first. Using a pitcher on the road loses the organic skills bump from a home game. Even at Coors, the park just mitigates it -- and then some. Still, when the away venue is Petco Park and the opponent is the Padres and their 26 percent strikeout rate against lefties, Anderson is a strong streaming option.

Sal Romano (R), 2 percent, Cincinnati Reds at San Francisco Giants: Despite an above-average velocity, Romano has never been a strikeout artist. Even so, a 5 percent swinging strike mark is dangerously low -- which is where he sits after eight efforts. Next up is a Giants club whiffing at a 26 percent clip against right-handers, so maybe Romano can punch out an extra hitter or two. Romano also enjoys a big park boost against one of the least productive offenses in the league.

Ryan Yarbrough (L), 2 percent, Tampa Bay Rays at Kansas City Royals: The Rays haven't labeled him as such, but it appears Yarbrough has been promoted from bullpen day participant to No. 4 starter, as he's filled that role the last couple of times through the rotation. The telltale sign is tossing five frames in both of his last two outings, whereas the "bullpen day" starter usually is removed sooner. Yarbrough earned the spot with a solid 8.3 K/9 along with a league average 3.1 BB/9. He matches up well against a Royals lineup fanning at a 24 percent pace against southpaws and an impatient 7 percent walk rate.

Pitchers to avoid

Jose Quintana (L), 92 percent, Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves: Conventional wisdom says Quintana will get better -- and he probably will. However, his rough start is real and not attributable to bad luck. To wit, Quintana's batting average on balls in play and HR/FB mark -- the two likeliest metrics to be unlucky -- are both in line with his career levels. It's a lower strikeout rate with more free passes that seem to be contributing to the southpaw's bloated 4.42 ERA and 1.47 WHIP. I'm normally aggressive when it comes to managing pitching, but Monday's foe is the second-best team in the league versus lefties. Further, the Braves fan at a stingy 18 percent clip with a left-hander on the hill.


An often-overlooked tactic, especially on short slates, is grabbing a few high-strikeout relievers, even if they aren't in line for saves. Strikeouts and innings help in points leagues while rotisserie players get a little ratio support, aiding in streaming efforts down the line. On Monday, consider Cleveland's Andrew Miller (fresh off the disabled list) along with Joe Kelly and Carson Smith of the Red Sox. Other options include Noe Ramirez of the Angels, Oakland's Ryan Dull, Atlanta's Sam Freeman, Seattle's Nick Vincent and Carl Edwards Jr. of the Cubs.

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.



Mitch Garver (R), 47 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. Seattle Mariners (LHP Wade LeBlanc): Garver continues to see the bulk of the playing time behind the plate in Jason Castro's absence. He was carrying a modest four-game hitting streak into Sunday's action, hitting in the Nos. 6-7 slots in the recently productive Twins lineup.

First base

C.J. Cron (R), 31 percent, Tampa Bay Rays at Kansas City Royals (LHP Eric Skoglund): Cron has smacked 16 homers in each of the last three seasons. We're barely one-quarter of the way through 2018 and Cron is halfway to matching that total. He's in a great spot to start working on the next eight round-trippers, facing a lefty who has surrendered five homers in 32.2 innings, four to righty swingers.

Second base

Daniel Descalso (L), 10 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Junior Guerra): Descalso's time as a regular could be drawing to a close as Jake Lamb embarked on a rehab stint on Sunday. That said, with an impressive .263/.353/.505 triple slash, the Diamondbacks will likely find ways to keep his stick in the lineup. He'll be in there Monday, facing a righty coming off a pair of mediocre efforts -- including three homers allowed in his last 10 innings pitched.

Third base

Cheslor Cuthbert (R), under 1 percent, Kansas City Royals vs. Tampa Bay Rays (LHP Ryan Yarbrough): It's been over a week, but the last time the Royals faced a lefty starter, Cuthbert was neatly positioned in the five-hole. Note, while Cuthbert is likely to get a couple of whacks with the platoon edge, Yarbrough isn't likely to work deep into the contest, meaning Lucas Duda could pinch-hit for Cuthbert if a righty reliever takes over on the hill.


Brandon Crawford (L), 12 percent, San Francisco Giants vs. Cincinnati Reds (RHP Sal Romano): Crawford is best known for his slick leather, though his 21-home run season from 2015 still lingers in our minds. While that was an outlier, Crawford has managed to loft double-digit homers in both seasons since then. As mentioned earlier, Romano doesn't miss many bats, which is one reason he's served up seven homers in 42.1 frames.

Corner infield

Yonder Alonso (L), 45 percent, Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers (RHP Mike Fiers): With nine homers on the season, Alonso is still hitting for power. He's just not doing much else. However, as a one-off, he's in a great spot facing Fiers -- an erratic righty who has given up seven dingers in 32.1 frames, five to left-handed swingers.

Middle infield

Ben Zobrist (B), 20 percent, Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves (RHP Julio Teheran): Teheran appears to be a disciple of "Saberhagemetrics," a coin named after Bret Saberhagen and his "every other year" trend of good season/poor season. Thus far, the "good Teheran" is front and center. Still, his career issues versus lefties can't be dismissed, putting Zobrist, or Ian Happ (also a switch-hitter) in a favorable spot.


Manuel Margot (R), 30 percent, San Diego Padres vs. Colorado Rockies (LHP Tyler Anderson): In ESPN Research Associate Kyke Soppe's notes, he keenly reminds us not to dismiss hitters facing lefty starters when you're focusing on steals. An above-average 78 percent of would-be base stealers have been successful with Anderson on the hill, and Margot is as likely to take off with a southpaw on the hill as he is facing a right-hander.

Jose Bautista (R), 13 percent, Atlanta Braves at Chicago Cubs (LHP Jose Quintana): While Bautista profiles as a good option, enjoying the platoon edge from the five-hole against a vulnerable southpaw, this note is more about Austin Riley. Atlanta's highly esteemed prospect is on the fast track, recently being promoted to Triple-A. What's even more interesting is that manager Brian Snitker stated his club would indeed promote Riley if there were a need at the hot corner. With the Braves looking like they're a year ahead of schedule and a ton of young pitching knocking on the major-league door, that need could be sooner, rather than later. If your league rules allow stashing a minor leaguer, consider Riley.

Ben Gamel (L), 1 percent, Seattle Mariners at Minnesota Twins (RHP Jake Odorizzi): Gamel has yet to get on track after missing time early this season. However, his plate skills are in line with career norms, so it appears that he's been snake bit. The slump has him batting low in the order, so consider this a choice only for the deepest of leagues, those requiring the scraping of the bottom of the barrel.

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.