The weekend brings us a jumbo, overstuffed, colossal slate of games. With every MLB team in action, and the Rays and Red Sox and A's and Rangers all suiting up for doubleheaders, we get a whopping 17 games on Saturday. That leaves us plenty of names to sift through on both the pitching and hitting sides of the ledger, so let's dive in and see what this super-sized slate has to offer.
Here's a look at the day's top streaming options, focusing on players rostered in fewer than 50 percent of ESPN leagues.
Nick Pivetta (R), rostered in 44 percent of ESPN leagues, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Cincinnati Reds: Some fantasy managers will still be scared off by the 6.14 ERA, and that's understandable. However, Pivetta pitched well during his six-start stint at Triple-A (3.41 ERA, 12.2 K/9), and, aside from a rough first inning against the Cardinals in his first start back in the majors, he's now tossed 10 straight shutout frames over his past two starts. That includes six shutout innings with 9 K's against the Dodgers his last time out. There's still some blowup potential here because of his struggles with the long ball, but there's upside here, too. Pivetta sports a 9.5 K/9, and the Reds are striking out nearly 25 percent of the time versus righties.
Trevor Richards (R), 12 percent, Miami Marlins vs. Atlanta Braves: The Braves aren't an ideal matchup, but Richards has been dealing of late. He's given up just two runs over his past three starts combined with 19 strikeouts in 17 2/3 frames. Sure, it's been a rather soft schedule for the right-hander (SD, SF, DET), but he's doing what you're supposed to do against weak teams. While it's never good to bet on wins for Miami pitchers, Richards is a decent bet for a quality start in this matchup.
Steven Matz (L), 37 percent, New York Mets vs. Colorado Rockies: You don't want to face the Rockies at Coors Field. But the Rockies on the road? That's a different story. They have the second-worst road offense in baseball with a 75 wRC+, .288 wOBA, and a 26.7 percent K rate. This creates an enticing opportunity for Matz, who owns a 3.57 ERA over his past seven starts and sports a 1.50 ERA at Citi Field this season.
Framber Valdez (L), fewer than 1 percent, Houston Astros vs. Baltimore Orioles: Valdez has been thrust into Houston's starting rotation, and he gets a soft landing spot against Baltimore. The Orioles have been a bottom-five offense this season, putting up a .301 wOBA to go along with a 24 percent whiff rate. Valdez, meanwhile, owns a 2.57 ERA across 22 appearances (five starts) in his big-league career. While walks have been an issue, he generates tons of grounders (career 62.7 GB%) and has done a good job keeping the ball in the park. The 25-year-old is just a matchup play for now, but this is a matchup to attack.
If you're trying to stay ahead of the curve, keep in mind that Hunter Strickland, who has been sidelined since late March with a lat injury, is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment next week. Seattle's bullpen has been a mess this season, ranking 27th in baseball with a 5.23 ERA. As a result, Strickland could immediately step back into the closer role for the Mariners following his rehab stint. He's available in 92 percent of ESPN leagues, but his rostered rate should rise quickly upon his return.
Projected game scores
Catcher -- Robinson Chirinos (R), 23 percent, Houston Astros vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Andrew Cashner): I featured Chirinos in this space earlier this week, and I'm doing it again. The Astros backstop has socked homers in four straight games and has been a top-five fantasy catcher over the past month. He should continue to rake against Cashner, who's been tattooed by righty hitters this season (.315/.359/.573).
First Base -- Christian Walker (R), 22 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks at Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Aaron Sanchez): After a cold stretch, Walker has picked things up of late, popping three homers in his past seven games. On Saturday, he squares off against Sanchez, the owner of a 5.40 ERA over his past seven starts, in the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre.
Second Base -- Jeff McNeil (L), 48 percent, New York Mets vs. Colorado Rockies (RHP Jon Gray): McNeil's rostered percentage should creep back up above 50 percent here shortly, which will make him ineligible in this space, so let's take advantage while he's still here. The 27-year-old owns a career .346/.408/.478 triple slash against righty pitching, and he gets the platoon edge against Gray on Saturday.
Third Base -- Renato Nunez (R), 24 percent, Baltimore Orioles at Houston Astros (LHP Framber Valdez): If you're looking for cheap power, look no further. Currently on pace for 39 bombs, Nunez has clubbed seven homers over the past 15 days. He also sports a .933 OPS versus lefties, which puts him in a prime spot against Valdez.
Shortstop -- Didi Gregorius (L), 31 percent, New York Yankees at Cleveland Indians (RHP Adam Plutko): Gregorius is set to make his season debut on Friday after working his way back from Tommy John surgery. It's only a matter of time before his rostered percentage spikes, so grab him now. Gregorius gets the platoon advantage against Plutko, who was pounded for seven runs and four homers when he last pitched in the majors in mid-May.
Corner Infield -- Jay Bruce (L), 35 percent, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Cincinnati Reds (RHP Tanner Roark): Since joining the Phillies, Bruce has drilled three homers, two doubles, and racked up seven RBIs in three games. The veteran slugger should continue playing regularly with Andrew McCutchen out for the season. He makes for a quality power play in Citizens Bank Park, an elite park for left-handed power.
Middle Infield -- Howie Kendrick (R), 27 percent, Washington Nationals at San Diego Padres (LHP Eric Lauer): Kendrick just continues to rake. He batted .314 in April, .333 in May, and he's hitting .375/.382/.750 over the past two weeks. Kendrick has been particularly lethal against left-handed pitching, putting up a 1.043 OPS against them.
Outfield -- Ramon Laureano (R), 19 percent, Oakland Athletics at Texas Rangers (RHP Adrian Sampson): Laureano was a popular sleeper pick in draft season, and while the overall numbers don't jump off the page, he's flirting with a 20/20 pace. Over the past month, he's batting .306/.349/.551 with five homers and three steals. Meanwhile, Sampson has been highly vulnerable to righty swingers, allowing a .318/.371/.553 triple slash line.
Outfield -- Eric Thames (L), 4 percent, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Jordan Lyles): After a dominant stretch in early May, Lyles has come back down to earth, allowing 13 runs over his past 15 2/3 innings. Thames offers big-time power against right-handed pitching, and Miller Park is one of the best parks in baseball for lefty power.
Outfield -- Garrett Cooper (R), 2 percent, Miami Marlins vs. Atlanta Braves (RHP Julio Teheran): There's not much in the Marlins' lineup in terms of fantasy potential, but Cooper has put himself on the radar. Over his past 19 games, he's batting .329/.405/.528 with five homers and 15 RBIs. In fact, he's been a top-five fantasy outfielder during that stretch. While Teheran holds a 3.28 ERA, his 4.36 FIP and 4.90 xFIP suggest negative regression is coming.
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).