Daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Saturday

Can you risk starting Zach Eflin, who has seen the opposition hit .352 against him in his past four starts? Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire

Saturday's MLB card features Max Scherzer looking to embellish his 2018 Cy Young award resume, as well as a possible playoff matchup with Charlie Morton leading the defending champion Astros into Fenway Park, the home of the league's best record with Eduardo Rodriguez taking the hill. To be honest, the pool of available spot starters is rather weak, though hitting is plush.

Here's Saturday's inventory of pitchers and hitters in favorable spots, each rostered in less than 50 percent of ESPN leagues.


Pitchers to stream

Zach Eflin (R), rostered in 35 percent of ESPN leagues, Philadelphia Phillies at New York Mets: Don't be fooled into thinking this will be a piece of cake for Elfin, as the Mets have hit right-handers well since the break -- being especially potent over the last month. Not to mention, Eflin has allowed four-plus runs in four straight outings. The fact he's still a streaming consideration speaks to the paucity of options on the slate. Despite the recent rough stretch, Eflin has posted fine peripherals with an 8.3 K/9 and a 2.2 BB/9. Further, he enjoys a nice park upgrade on a day shaping up to favor pitching as temperatures have dropped considerably in the East.

Lance Lynn (R), 35 percent, New York Yankees at Seattle Mariners: It's been a rough second half for the Mariners, punctuated by a clubhouse scuffle after Jean Segura took exception to Dee Gordon misplaying a "can of corn" in center field earlier this week. What once looked to be a wild-card preview is now just another September game, though the Yankees still strive to lock up home field for that all-or-nothing game. On the surface, Lynn's 4.86 ERA and 1.48 WHIP since the break are poor. However, a look under the hood reveals a much better 53 strikeouts with 17 walks and a thrifty three homers allowed in those 46.1 innings, translating to a much more palatable 2.87 FIP/3.46 xFIP.

Wei-Yin Chen (L), 12 percent, Miami Marlins at Pittsburgh Pirates: The book says to use Chen strictly at home, where he sports a 1.86 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP, compared to a 4.91 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP on the road. However, while not as favorable as Marlins Park, PNC Park is still a pitcher's haven and the Pirates offense is below average with a left-hander on the hill. The scrappy Marlins offense should be able to provide Chen with some run support, facing Ivan Nova and his pedestrian 6.1 K/9 and generous 1.5 HR/9.

Matt Shoemaker (R), 4 percent, Los Angeles Angels at Chicago White Sox: The Angels are primarily playing out the string, getting innings for pitchers returning from injury while hoping no one incurs a setback -- especially in light of the recent report that Shohei Ohtani is likely headed for Tommy John surgery, relegating him to solely hitting duties in 2019. Shoemaker is coming off just his second start of the season, as he missed most of the year rehabbing from unexpected forearm surgery after his initial March 31 start. He worked five solid frames in his return, holding the Rangers scoreless on just two hits, fanning three with one free pass. He draws a White Sox offense that's been a bit below average in terms of production while offering one of the highest strikeout rates versus righties all season.


Ryan Yarbrough is 13-5 with a 3.68 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP with 112 strikeouts in 129 2/3 innings. Those look like the numbers of top-end starter who has missed a month's worth of games. Of course, Yarbrough has accrued those numbers mostly from the "follower" role, starting only six games while relieving 27 times. The lefty lines up to work the bulk of the middle innings on Saturday, not having pitched since last Sunday. He'll face an Orioles lineup that's been one of the poorest all season versus left-handers but especially weak against them since the break. He actually sets up as a better streamer than the above starters.

Projected game scores



Austin Hedges (R), 18 percent, San Diego Padres at Cincinnati Reds (RHP Matt Harvey): It will be interesting to monitor how the Padres distribute catcher playing time over the final weeks of the season, especially after Francisco Mejia announced his presence with a pair of home runs in his first start behind the plate. Defense is considered Mejia's weakness, so it behooves San Diego to get a look, perhaps so the Padres have a better feel about what they'll want Mejia to work on in the offseason. In the meantime, they already have a good defensive backstop with pop in Hedges. With four home runs over the past month, Hedges is in play against the homer-prone Harvey, as is Mejia if he gets the nod.

First base

Luke Voit (R), 28 percent, New York Yankees at Seattle Mariners (RHP Felix Hernandez): Platoon advantage is a common theme in this space, but it still ranks second to quality of opposition in terms of analysis. Voit is locked in, stroking seven homers over the past two weeks. Meanwhile, Hernandez is back in the Mariners rotation by default as opposed to merit, allowing homers in five straight games and seven total in those 29 2/3 frames, with only 22 whiffs along the way.

Second base

Jason Kipnis (L), 20 percent, Cleveland Indians at Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Sean Reid-Foley): Apparently, Kipnis isn't too keen about losing playing time once Josh Donaldson is ready to join the club. Kipnis has homered four times over the past two weeks, driving in 14 runs over that span. Reid-Foley is coming off a strong effort against the Marlins, allowing one run on four hits in seven stanzas, punching out 10 with just one walk. However, he was less effective in his first two career starts, surrendering a combined nine runs in his initial 9 1/3 innings.

Third base

Derek Dietrich (L), 22 percent, Miami Marlins at Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Ivan Nova): The Marlins are using the final weeks of the season to get a look at some of their younger players, sometimes at the expense of Dietrich -- so make sure he's in Miami's lineup before yours locks. Assuming he is playing, Dietrich continues to excel with the platoon edge, knocking 11 of his 16 homers off right-handed pitching. In fact, in 2016-2017, Dietrich hit all 23 of his homers off righties. Nova has served up 24 homers in just 140 frames, split equally to both sides of the plate.


Marcus Semien (R), 48 percent, Oakland Athletics vs. Texas Rangers (LHP Yohander Mendez): Semien is a good example of a player who likely is as widely available as he is simply due to the waning late-season attention of fantasy managers. He's obviously not a stud, but he is productive at a position where the lower end has struggled this year. He's especially useful versus southpaws, as he typically leads off for a lineup that has crushed left-handers for the bulk of the season.

Corner infield

David Freese (R), 2 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers at Colorado Rockies (LHP Kyle Freeland): One of the reasons the Dodgers acquired Freese from the Pirates is that the club has struggled facing left-handed pitching. Freese has made a career out of hitting southpaws well, getting a chance to show it in Coors Field. The caveat is that Freese is a ground ball hitter, though he's always carried an above-average HR/FB mark, despite having spent his entire career in power-suppressing venues.

Middle infield

Joey Wendle (L), 45 percent, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP David Hess): While he probably won't win it, Wendle will get some American League Rookie of the Year consideration. Some may not even realize he qualifies since he's 28 years old and has had short stints in the majors in 2016 and 2017. But he is under the playing-time threshold and having a solid season. As expected, he has hit better with the platoon advantage, blasting all seven of his homers off right-handers. Hess has allowed 16 homers in only 82 frames, with 10 of those coming from lefty swingers.


Billy McKinney (L), 20 percent, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Cleveland Indians (RHP Adam Plutko): McKinney is taking advantage of the playing time he's getting down the stretch, slashing .358/.444/.679 over the past month. Most of this success has come against right-handed pitching.

Phillip Ervin (R), 4 percent, Cincinnati Reds vs. San Diego Padres (LHP Robbie Erlin): If Ervin were a full-time player, we'd be looking at someone with both homers and steals in the mid-teens. A couple of reasonable comps are Ian Kinsler and Brett Gardner, and Ervin's average is better than both of those guys.

Jake Cave (L), 3 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. Kansas City Royals (RHP Jorge Lopez): While having the platoon edge on a lesser hurler is the optimal setup, it's just part of the picture. With that said, Cave is quietly enjoying the second-half audition he's getting from the Twins, recording 10 homers with a productive 37 runs scored and 30 RBIs in what amounts to one-third of a season's worth of full-time at-bats.

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.