We're back! We hope you enjoyed the respite in spite of the Manny Machado watch. Keep in mind we're a week deeper into the season than usual coming out of the All-Star break, so now is the time to shore up your roster for head-to-head playoffs along with addressing category needs in season-long rotisserie formats.
The first full slate of games following the break features fewer top pitchers than previous seasons as many are getting some extra rest after pitching in the Midsummer Classic while others are getting extra time off to monitor innings before crunch time.
However, that leaves a nice supply to stream into your Friday lineup, along with a strong group of available batters looking to supplement your hitting lineup.
Pitchers to stream
Danny Duffy (L), rostered in 40 percent of ESPN leagues, Kansas City Royals vs. Minnesota Twins: Duffy went into the break strong, holding the White Sox and Friday's foe, the Twins, scoreless in his two most recent outings, fanning 17 in those 13 innings. The Twins are below average versus southpaws, giving Duffy a chance for a third consecutive quality start.
Nathan Eovaldi (R), 35 percent, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Miami Marlins: Just as Eovaldi gets on a roll, he throws up a clunker like he did against the Twins heading into the hiatus. The righty draws a good team to get on another streak, facing a Marlins outfit with the sixth-lowest weighted on-base average (wOBA) versus right-handers.
Wade LeBlanc (L), 28 percent, Seattle Mariners vs. Chicago White Sox: While LeBlanc has pitched well, his 3.63 ERA is well below that portended by his basal skills. This usually means an ERA correction is around the corner. However, even if he incurs some bad luck, LeBlanc is pitching well enough to keep the 21st-ranked offense versus southpaws in check.
Tyler Mahle (R), 16 percent, Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates: Coming into the season, Mahle had the looks of a decent back-end starter, capable of helping, mostly in ratios, when deployed in the right matchup. He's still an asset, but more for strikeouts than anything else. That said, look for his WHIP to improve the final two-plus months of the season, beginning with his matchup with the Pirates. The visiting Bucs tote the ninth-lowest wOBA versus righties into the Great American Ballpark, along with below-average power, so they're less likely than other guests to take advantage of the homer-friendly venue.
German Marquez (R), 16 percent, Colorado Rockies at Arizona Diamondbacks: As I've mentioned before, home versus road splits can be misleading, especially if the focus is surface stats and not skills. One exception is Rockies pitchers, with Marquez a prime example. In 55 frames outside of Coors Field, Marquez has spun a tidy 2.62 ERA and 0.98 WHIP with 56 punchouts. Look for another solid effort in the only other park in the majors employing a humidor. The Diamondbacks lineup is fourth from the bottom versus righties with a generous 24 percent strikeout rate.
In a deal anticipated by many, the Padres dealt Brad Hand, along with Adam Cimber, to the Indians. Despite a high ERA and a recent blow-up, Cody Allen is still closer-worthy, though it remains to be seen how Indians skipper Terry Francona will utilize his new lefty. As for San Diego, Kirby Yates should be the immediate beneficiary and inherit the closer role, but keep in mind he's on the block and could be moved as well.
Projected game scores
John Hicks (R), 42 percent, Detroit Tigers vs. Boston Red Sox (LHP David Price): The last time the Tigers faced a lefty (one week ago), Hicks batted second. Whether he stays there or moves back down, he's in play against Price. The Red Sox southpaw allowed 11 homers over the 33⅔ innings before the break.
Jake Bauers (L), 24 percent, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Miami Marlins (RHP Dan Straily): Despite an 0-for-6 effort last Sunday, Bauers was probably anxious to keep playing as he was 7-for-13 with three doubles and a pair of long balls in his previous three games. Bauers is in a great spot to get the power stroke back, squaring off with a pitcher sporting a 1.64 HR/9.
Jedd Gyorko (R), 6 percent, St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs (LHP Jon Lester): Lester is Exhibit A why ERA is a poor manner to evaluate performance. Lester's strikeout and walk rates are poorer than last season, yet his ERA is much better. Look for a big correction over the final couple of months. Enjoying the platoon advantage, Gyorko is in a strong spot to exploit Lester's declining skills.
Ryon Healy (R), 37 percent, Seattle Mariners vs. Chicago White Sox (RHP James Shields): While the platoon advantage is often important, here's an instance it can be ignored. When it comes to doling out homers, Shields is equally magnanimous to all parties. Healy has no qualms facing righties, smashing 14 of his 18 homers without the platoon edge.
Adalberto Mondesi (B), 4 percent, Kansas City Royals vs. Minnesota Twins (RHP Kyle Gibson): Despite hitting low in the order, Mondesi is a dual threat, capable of racking up points with muscle or speed. He's coming out of the break riding a modest four-game hitting streak, featuring two homers and a steal.
Steve Pearce (R), 4 percent, Boston Red Sox at Detroit Tigers (LHP Matthew Boyd): Despite being available in almost every ESPN league, Pearce is automatic with a lefty on the hill. For the season, the veteran is clubbing a 1.019 OPS versus left-handers and now he's doing it in one of the league's most potent offenses.
Jorge Polanco (B), 9 percent, Minnesota Twins at Kansas City Royals (LHP Danny Duffy): Polanco appears to be back in stride after serving his 80-game suspension, slashing 292/.370/.458 the week before the break. As a switch-hitter, Polanco benefits when the Royals turn to a weak bullpen.
Steven Duggar (L), 2 percent, San Francisco Giants at Oakland Athletics (RHP Edwin Jackson): Duggar has assumed the leadoff spot against righties. If you need help in steals, he's more than a one-game add; look for him to do some running the rest of the season. He's still looking for his initial MLB steal, but keep in mind five of his first eight hits have been two-baggers.
Dustin Fowler (L), 2 percent, Oakland Athletics vs. San Francisco Giants (RHP Dereck Rodriguez): One hopes Fowler used the break to regroup after an anemic one hit in his previous 20 at-bats. Still, prorated over a season he's on pace for 18 homers with 15 steals, coming off a horrific knee injury.
Brandon Guyer (R), under 1 percent, Cleveland Indians at Texas Rangers (LHP Martin Perez): While Guyer isn't as prolific as Pearce versus left-handers, he generally does some damage. Plus, with Lonnie Chisenhall sidelined, there's less of a chance Guyer will be lifted from the game against righty relievers.
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.