Daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Saturday

Don't be paranoid about starting knuckleballer Steven Wright. He gets results because hitters aren't sure what he's throwing at them. Getty Images

Saturday is "Ace Day," with Max Scherzer, Luis Severino and Carlos Carrasco leading the charge. Madison Bumgarner and Carlos Martinez are also slated to toe the rubber, though neither has necessarily reclaimed that previously No. 1 status since returning from the disabled list. Hopefully that changes on Saturday.

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


Pitchers to stream

Steven Matz (L), rostered in 14 percent of ESPN leagues, New York Mets at Arizona Diamondbacks: Matz was scratched from his scheduled Thursday start due to a blister on his middle finger. Hopefully he'll be able to go on Saturday, as he's been in fine form of late. He has posted a 2.68 ERA over his last seven starts, and each of his last four outings (in which he holds a 2.05 ERA) have come against teams that rank in the league's top-half of wOBA. The Diamondbacks, by comparison, currently rank 25th in wOBA (.302) with a 24.9 percent strikeout rate that ranks fifth-highest in baseball. The fact that Chase Field ranks in the league's bottom-third in both runs and home runs this season -- according to ESPN Park Factors -- doesn't hurt either.

Steven Wright (R), 38 percent, Boston Red Sox at Seattle Mariners: Wright's knuckleball has been dancing to the point where he hasn't allowed a run in any of his last six appearances (22 2/3 innings). He's surrendered just 15 hits over his last 29 2/3 frames. While the Mariners have been formidable against right-handed pitching this season (106 wRC+), they rank seventh-worst in baseball with a 30.9 percent chase rate. That won't do them any favors against Wright's knuckler.

Ivan Nova (R), 8 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds: Nova's results this season have been inconsistent. His skills, however, have remained quite steady. His control is still terrific (1.6 BB/9), he's still inducing plenty of grounders (52.3 percent), and he's even putting up a career-best swinging-strike rate (9.6 percent). Nova finds himself in an appealing spot on Saturday, squaring off against a below-average Reds lineup (92 wRC+) that will suffer a significant park downgrade by going to PNC Park.

Fernando Romero (R), 28 percent, Minnesota Twins at Cleveland Indians: If not for Romero's single disastrous outing against Kansas City back in May (8 ER in 1 2/3 IP), the right-hander would have a 2.27 ERA in seven starts. Of course, the disaster outing did happen, so we can't simply discount it. After all, it could conceivably happen again. Still, it does give us a better idea of just how good Romero has been this season. Saturday's tilt against Cleveland will be a tough test for the 23-year-old, but he should be up for the challenge. After all, he held the Angels -- a top-three lineup against righties this season (111 wRC+) -- in check earlier this week (2 ER in 5 IP).


Saturday's matchup against the Yankees brings yet another bullpen game for the Rays. Ryne Stanek is slated to open with Ryan Yarbrough the "follower". As effective as the southpaw has been in this role, Yarbrough is a risk facing the righty-heavy Yankees lineup.

Projected game scores



Robinson Chirinos (R), 4 percent, Texas Rangers vs. Colorado Rockies (LHP Kyle Freeland): When a lefty is on the mound, that's when Chirinos does his damage. While his .231 ISO against southpaws this season comes in just a 39 at-bat sample, his .265 ISO against lefties from 2015-2017 should help to convince you this is not a fluke. He matches up well with Freeland, who is less effective against righty batters and has allowed four homers over his last three starts.

First base

Trey Mancini (R), 46 percent, Baltimore Orioles vs. Miami Marlins (LHP Wei-Yin Chen): Chen is one of Saturday's most exploitable starters. If his 6.13 ERA and 1.64 WHIP in nine starts weren't enough, he's being absolutely pummeled by right-handed batters (.390 wOBA). Mancini hasn't met expectations this season, but he's in a good spot to change that with a prime matchup in a park that inflates both runs and homers.

Second base

Ian Happ (B), 40 percent, Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals (RHP Carlos Martinez): Martinez has yet to look like himself since returning from the disabled list, surrendering seven runs and a whopping 12 walks in 7 2/3 innings. The right-hander's control issues are something Happ can take advantage of, as he sports a .437 OBP and .490 SLG over his last 21 games.

Third base

Colin Moran (L), 9 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds (RHP Luis Castillo): Castillo was beginning to show signs of life back in May, but it didn't take. Now he's hit another roadblock, holding a 7.47 ERA over his last three outings. He currently sits with a 5.79 ERA and 1.42 WHIP on the season. Castillo is still whiffing a batter per inning, but it's just not enough. Fire up Moran, who sports a .341/.427/.476 slash line at PNC Park in 2018.


Charlie Culberson (R), 2 percent, Atlanta Braves vs. San Diego Padres (RHP Jordan Lyles): Lyles has held left-handed hitters in check this season (.198/.277/.347), but he's been a big liability against righty batters, allowing a .321/.355/.534 slash with a 40.8 percent hard-hit rate. This makes Culberson a sneaky play on Saturday. His aggressive approach (54 percent swing rate) should suit him well against Lyles, who has seen opposing hitters bat .348 on the first two pitches of at-bats this season.

Corner infield

Justin Bour (L), 41 percent, Miami Marlins at Baltimore Orioles (RHP Alex Cobb): If there's a pitcher you'll want some exposure against on Saturday, it's Cobb. He was blasted for nine runs in 3 2/3 innings his last time out, which raised his ERA on the season to to 7.23. He has been particularly brutal against left-handed bats (.390/.416/.667), which is where Bour comes into play. At a power-friendly park like Camden Yards, the Marlins first baseman is an ideal spot this weekend.

Middle infield

Jonathan Villar (B), 16 percent, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Philadelphia Phillies (RHP Zach Eflin): Remember when Villar was a fantasy monster in 2016, swatting 19 homers and swiping 62 bags? It's unlikely he'll ever return to that level of production, but he's been on a nice little run of late, batting .293/.337/.524 over his last 25 games, to go along with five homers and three steals. Villar is a good bet to keep his hot streak going against Eflin and the 5.00 ERA he's managed over his last five outings.


Leonys Martin (L), 35 percent, Detroit Tigers at Chicago White Sox (RHP Lucas Giolito): Martin has been one of this season's more pleasant surprises. He's been a top-30 fantasy outfielder, displaying both pop and speed with nine homers and six steals. Martin has done most of his damage against righties, as demonstrated by his slashing .291/.362/.503. Giolito, meanwhile, has been a launching pad for lefty swingers this season, allowing a .920 OPS against that side of the plate.

Stephen Piscotty (R), 15 percent, Oakland Athletics vs. Los Angeles Angels (LHP John Lamb): Injuries have forced the Angels to dig deep, summoning Lamb, who hasn't pitched in the majors since starting 14 games for the Reds in 2016. The 27-year old southpaw posted a 3.44 ERA and 1.30 WHIP for Triple-A Salt Lake, fanning 54 in 49.1 innings. While strikeouts haven't been a problem as Lamb worked his way back to the bigs, control and a proclivity for allowing the long ball have been an issue. It's been a tough season for Piscotty on and off the field, but his bat has been warming lately.

Daniel Palka (L), 2 percent, Chicago White Sox vs. Detroit Tigers (RHP Jordan Zimmermann): Palka needs to pick up the pace if he wants to continue to play, as Avisail Garcia is nearing a return. Since Zimmermann is making his first start after coming off the disabled with a sore shoulder, Palka is in a good spot to impress. Zimmermann has been one of the weakest starters in the league the past few seasons, though his strikeouts picked up pre-injury. Still, with five homers allowed in 31.1 innings, Palka is vulnerable to left-handed power.