The first Saturday of the regular season is upon us. While every team has technically already thrown its No. 1 starter, we're still left with some big names making their 2019 debuts on Saturday, including Noah Syndergaard, Trevor Bauer, Stephen Strasburg and James Paxton. Then again, we're not here for the big names. We're here for unders! Under-the-radar, under-appreciated, under-rostered names who can make an impact this week.
Rest assured, we've got those, too! Here's a look at Saturday's top streaming options.
Pitchers to stream
Pablo Lopez (R), rostered in 3 percent of ESPN leagues, Miami Marlins vs. Colorado Rockies: Many people have written off the Marlins for fantasy purposes, but there are some interesting arms in Miami's rotation. Chief among them is Lopez, who really flashed this spring, sporting a 0.90 ERA and 0.55 WHIP with 16 strikeouts and just one walk across 20 frames. Armed with a sinker that generates plenty of grounders, and a changeup and curve that get lots of swings and misses, Lopez is a name to keep an eye on. While wins will be hard to come by for the Marlins, Marlins Park is a very forgiving venue for young pitchers and he should get a long leash. The Rockies lineup might be intimidating, but it's much less dangerous away from Coors Field.
Brandon Woodruff (R), 15 percent, Milwaukee Brewers vs. St. Louis Cardinals: After spending most of his time in Milwaukee last season working out of the bullpen, Woodruff won a starting gig this spring. While his stuff won't play as well in the rotation, he still offers some nice upside due to his strikeout potential and ability to keep the ball on the ground. The Cardinals bolstered their lineup over the offseason with the addition of Paul Goldschmidt, but it's still a top-heavy lineup that doesn't need to be feared when streaming starters.
Sonny Gray (R), 26 percent, Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates: Gray gets a fresh start in Cincinnati after bottoming out with the Yankees last season, holding a 4.90 ERA over 23 starts. Moving to the National League and reuniting with Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson, who was his pitching coach back at Vanderbilt, could lead to a rebound. After Gray was a non-factor in fantasy leagues last season, it's easy to forget that he produced a solid 3.55 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP and a career-best 22.6 K% in 2017. The hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark is a negative for Thursday's matchup against Pittsburgh, but the good news is that the Pirates posted just a .150 ISO (24th in MLB) against right-handed pitching in 2018.
Jakob Junis (R), 25 percent, Kansas City Royals vs. Chicago White Sox: Junis put up a respectable 2018 campaign, missing a decent number of bats (8.3 K/9) and showing quality control (2.2 BB/9). However, the longball got the best of him (1.6 HR/9) and that contributed to his lackluster 4.37 ERA. What's noteworthy here is that Junis gained a couple of ticks on his fastball this spring, which could elevate his ceiling if the gains hold all season. For now, he's a reasonable streaming option who is pitching in a favorable park against a young White Sox lineup that can be exploited.
Trevor May was the most widely drafted Twins reliever this spring, but it was Taylor Rogers who secured the save for Minnesota on Opening Day, twirling 1 2/3 scoreless frames against Cleveland with three strikeouts. Manager Rocco Baldelli could "mix and match" all season with Rogers, May and Blake Parker, but it's notable that Rogers got the first call. Both May (available in 66 percent of ESPN.com leagues) and Rogers (available in 97 percent) should be on your radar if you're scouring the waiver wire for saves.
Projected game scores
Jonathan Lucroy (R), 19 percent, Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics (LHP Brett Anderson): Lucroy has all but collapsed as a fantasy contributor after being one of fantasy's top catchers just a few years ago. However, the sad state of the catcher position keeps him relevant. On Saturday, the Angels backstop draws the platoon advantage against Anderson, who has produced a 5.24 ERA over his last 30 starts.
Greg Bird (L), 3 percent, New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Nate Karns): Bird looks to be in line for regular playing time as long as Aaron Hicks is sidelined. While there are plenty of flaws in his game, his power still plays quite nicely in Yankee Stadium, which caters to left-handed power hitters. Karns is slated to serve as the opener for the Orioles on Saturday, and neither he, nor the bullpen behind him, are intimidating.
Adam Frazier (L), 40 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds (RHP Sonny Gray): Frazier batted .291/.363/.490 against right-handed pitching last season and gets a notable park boost going from PNC Park to Great American Ballpark. As noted above, Gray has some rebound potential this season, but he's still volatile until he proves otherwise.
Jake Lamb (L), 44 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks at Los Angeles Dodgers (RHP Kenta Maeda): Because of Lamb's injury-riddled 2018 campaign, it's easy to forget that he slugged 29 homers in 2016 and 30 homers in 2017. Lamb is a platoon bat who does all of his damage against right-handed pitching, demonstrated by a career .269/.350/.488 slash line with a .219 ISO versus righties. He draws the platoon advantage in Saturday's matchup against Maeda.
Tim Beckham (R), 6 percent, Seattle Mariners vs. Boston Red Sox (LHP Eduardo Rodriguez): Beckham is on fire! Through three games, he already has seven hits with three round-trippers -- including two off Chris Sale on Thursday. The odds of Beckham staying fantasy-relevant all season long are not good, but there's nothing wrong with riding the hot hand. He gets the platoon advantage again on Saturday against Rodriguez.
Rowdy Tellez (L), under 1 percent, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Detroit Tigers (RHP Spencer Turnbull): With Kendrys Morales being shipped off to Oakland, Tellez was recalled from Triple-A. He looks to be in line for regular at-bats at DH. The 24-year-old made a strong impression on the Blue Jays late last season, putting up a .314/.329/.614 slash over 23 games. Tellez was probably playing over his head a bit, but he still has good power to go along with a quality approach at the plate. On Saturday, he draws a favorable matchup against Turnbull, who has only four big-league appearances to his name.
Willy Adames (R), 18 percent, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Houston Astros (RHP Collin McHugh): Adames might not be flashy, but he does have double-digit home run and steals potential -- and could grow into more. He won't have the platoon advantage against McHugh, but he did more damage against same-side pitching in 2018, producing a 120 wRC+ against righties (compared to 83 wRC+ versus lefties).
Joc Pederson (L), 33 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (RHP Zack Godley): Expect Pederson to be a frequent flyer in this space whenever there's a right-hander on the mound. He owns a career .893 OPS and .295 ISO against RHP and wasted little time showing off those splits on Opening Day, clubbing a pair of dingers against righties Zack Greinke and Matt Koch.
Jorge Soler (R), 12 percent, Kansas City Royals vs. Chicago White Sox (RHP Reynaldo Lopez): Soler looked to be on his way to a mini-breakout in 2018 before a toe injury sidelined him for the rest of the season. The lack of talent around him in Kansas City's lineup is a hinderance, but he pairs a strong walk rate with good power, and that should keep him relevant if he can stay healthy. Lopez has flashed high-end potential at times. That said, he's also frequently erratic, and his flyball tendencies can get him into trouble against a guy like Soler.
Jason Heyward (L), 4 percent, Chicago Cubs at Texas Rangers (RHP Edinson Volquez): Volquez surrendered a .347 wOBA and 41.3 hard-hit percentage to left-handed batters in 2018. As luck would have it, Heyward has an identical .347 wOBA against right-handed pitching in his career. Globe Life Park is also much more favorable than Wrigley Field for homers.
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.