With any luck, this Saturday will mark the first day in quite some time that all 30 major league teams will be suiting up and taking the field. After a 16-day hiatus because of a coronavirus outbreak in the organization, the Cardinals are finally set to return to action this weekend. The situation is obviously fluid, as another positive test could shut things down yet again, but the current plan is for the Cardinals to play three double-headers in five days -- one this Saturday against the White Sox, and two against the Cubs on Monday and Wednesday next week. If you're looking ahead, it's a good idea to pick up a hitter or two from these double-header teams to maximize at-bats and get more bang for your buck.
Here's a look at the day's top streaming options, focusing on players rostered in fewer than 50% of ESPN leagues.
Kevin Gausman (R), rostered in 15% of ESPN leagues, San Francisco Giants vs. Oakland Athletics: Gausman's 4.05 ERA over four appearances (three starts) doesn't jump off the page, but his other numbers do. The 29-year-old boasts a career-best 10.4 K/9 with a 0.90 BB/9 over 20 frames, and he's throwing harder than he has in years. After averaging 93.6 mph in 2018 and 94 mph last season, Gausman's fastball is averaging 95.3 mph in 2020. Also consider that two of his outings this season came against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, and another was against the Rockies at Coors Field. Saturday's home matchup against the A's, who sport a 26.6% strikeout rate, finds Gausman in a much more favorable spot.
Cristian Javier (R), 36%, Houston Astros vs. Seattle Mariners: Javier's results have been up and down since joining the Astros' rotation. After back-to-back one-run outings against the Dodgers and Diamondbacks, the young righty was roughed up by the A's his last time out, serving up five runs and three homers in just three innings. While Javier had questionable control in the minors, he consistently missed bats and did a good job keeping the ball in the yard, so there are reasons to buy into the youngster. Yes, the short track record of big-league success means there could be more blowups in his future. However, Javier matches up well with a Mariners club that's been bottom-six in baseball with a 91 wRC+ and .295 wOBA.
Adrian Houser (R), 47%, Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago Cubs: Houser got beat up by the Twins in his last start -- a start most fantasy managers would have benched him for, anyway -- but he's pitched well otherwise. In his first two outings, he allowed just one run over a combined 13 innings. The strikeouts are down this season (13 K's in 17 innings), though repeating last season's 25% strikeout rate was going to be a tall task because of his lack of great secondary stuff. Instead, Houser is getting tons of grounders (65.9%) by relying more on his sinker. A road matchup at Wrigley Field isn't ideal, but there is still potential here against a Cubs lineup that features a lot of swing and miss.
Bullpen: Kirby Yates was removed from Friday night's game after facing one batter and is scheduled for an MRI on his sore elbow. Drew Pomeranz has been picking up saves already for the Padres, but now he's a must-add, as in stop what you're doing and see if he's available. Another possibility is Trevor Rosenthal as the Royals play a pair, albeit facing the tough Twins. Still, with two chances at a save, it's worth the gamble.
For the latest team-by-team closer situations, please consult our Closer Chart.
Projected game scores
Catcher -- Martin Maldonado (R), 10%, Houston Astros vs. Seattle Mariners (LHP Nick Margevicius): Maldonado is an easy plug-and-play option on Saturday. In addition to hitting in one of the game's best lineups, Maldonado has smashed lefties this season, putting up a .333/.455/.722 triple slash against them. Fire him up against Margevicius, the lowest-ranked hurler on the slate.
First base -- Eric Thames (L), 6%, Washington Nationals at Baltimore Orioles (RHP Asher Wojciechowski): Thames' time is coming. While his .219/.306/.281 slash line leaves much to be desired, he's been putting good wood on the ball. Among hitters with at least 30 plate appearances, Thames' 63.6% hard-hit rate ranks top-five in baseball. He gets the platoon edge here in a great park for power.
Second base -- Garrett Hampson (R), 39%, Colorado Rockies vs. Texas Rangers (RHP Kyle Gibson): It's somewhat shocking that Hampson is playing every day and batting leadoff for the Rockies, yet his rostered percentage remains under 50%. The 25-year-old is batting .325/.391/.575 with a homer, a pair of steals, and a 10.6% walk rate. Add in the weekend series at Coors Field, and it's hard to justify leaving Hampson on the waiver wire.
Third base -- Travis Shaw (L), 5%, Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays (RHP Ryan Yarbrough): Shaw is starting to heat up. He's collected multiple hits in back-to-back games and swatted his first two dingers of the season on Wednesday, leading to a .366 wOBA and 136 wRC+. Matching up against Yarbrough, who has surrendered a .294/.429/.471 slash line to lefty batters this season, puts Shaw in a prime spot on Saturday.
Shortstop -- Andres Gimenez (L), 8%, New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies (RHP Aaron Nola): Gimenez has been playing regularly for the Mets, and he's been making an impact with his legs. With a Sprint Speed score that ranks in the 95th percentile, Gimenez has already swiped four bases, which ties him for fourth most in baseball. The rookie will have his hands full with Nola, but speed is becoming increasingly hard to come by in fantasy leagues.
Corner infield -- Jesus Aguilar (R), 36%, Miami Marlins vs. Atlanta Braves (LHP Max Fried): Aguilar is bouncing back nicely after a down 2019. The big first baseman has belted four homers with 12 RBIs in 12 games to go along with a .311/.353/.622 slash line. On Saturday, he draws the platoon advantage against Fried, who is much more vulnerable against right-handed batters.
Middle infield -- Kolten Wong (L), 31%, St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago White Sox (RHP Lucas Giolito): With the Cardinals playing two on Saturday, adding Wong is a nice way to double dip and get two games' worth of stats. Batting leadoff for the Cards, Wong does a little of everything, possessing power, speed and a strong batting eye. He's a good bet to reach base against Giolito, who has battled control issues (5.2 BB/9) in his first four starts.
Outfield -- Roman Quinn (S), under 1%, Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Mets (LHP Steven Matz): Matz has been drilled by righty hitters this season, serving up a .392 wOBA against them. The switch-hitting Quinn, who has been seeing regular at-bats, should be able to take advantage. The real draw here, however, are the wheels. Quinn has the fourth-highest Sprint Speed score in baseball this season (30.1 ft/sec) and is an under-the-radar stolen-base asset.
Outfield -- Nick Solak (R), 21%, Texas Rangers at Colorado Rockies (RHP German Marquez): Here is another way to get some Coors Field exposure. Solak is batting .386 (10-for-26) over the past week and has three steals on the season. The power has yet to show up, but after clubbing 32 homers across three levels in 2019, it's only a matter of time. A weekend at Coors is a great starting point.
Outfield -- Edward Olivares (R), 1%, San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks (LHP Alex Young): Olivares has been relegated to the lesser side of a platoon, but with a southpaw on the hill, he should be back in the lineup with a chance to show off his intriguing power-speed combo. Last season with Double-A Amarillo, the 24-year-old outfielder clubbed 18 homers and stole an impressive 35 bases.
Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's past history (three years' worth as well as past 21 days) 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 1-10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. So, 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. A "*" means that the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate hitter rating; these are the author's ratings.