The first Sunday of August treats us to a standard slate, featuring the New York Mets hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Sunday night ESPN game. Two of my favorite hurlers, Luis Severino and Aaron Nola look to build on their stellar campaigns, while youngsters Lucas Sims and Erick Fedde look to build on their recent MLB debuts.
As always, Sunday marks the end of most head-to-head scoring periods. Here are some players likely available to help your last-minute push to the top.
Patrick Corbin (L), 27 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, Arizona Diamondbacks at San Francisco Giants: Corbin snapped a string of solid outings with a rough go against the Cubs last time out. Next up is one of the weaker lineups versus lefties, in a great pitcher’s park. Corbin will be opposed by the enigmatic Jeff Samardzija, he of the Cy Young peripherals but Matt Young numbers.
Hyun-Jin Ryu (L), 19 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers at New York Mets: Ryu has pitched fairly well in between trips to the disabled list. Since returning from his last visit, Ryu has fanned 20 in 17 2/3 innings, walking only five in those three outings. Ryu has the advantage of holding the platoon edge over many of the Mets’ better hitters.
Lucas Sims (R), 5 percent, Atlanta Braves vs. Miami Marlins: Considering Sims’ MLB debut was against the Los Angeles Dodgers, a six-inning, three-run effort with three whiffs and a walk is impressive. The control artist threw 92 pitches, 62 for strikes. The Marlins are a mid-pack attack with a low walk rate. If Sims can keep Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna in the yard, he should have another quality effort.
Doug Fister (R), 2 percent, Boston Red Sox vs. Chicago White Sox: Need a win? Obviously, nothing is guaranteed, but as poor a pitcher as Fister is, he’ll be favored in this tilt against Mike Pelfrey. With the return of Joe Kelly and the acquisition of Addison Reed, the revamped Red Sox bullpen means Fister won’t have to go through the weak White Sox order a third time. To his credit, Fister is coming off a 7 2/3-frame gem against the dangerous Cleveland Indians.
Pitchers to avoid
Marcus Stroman (R), 97 percent, Toronto Blue Jays at Houston Astros: Even a depleted Astros lineup is dangerous. Stroman is coming off a solid effort against the punchless White Sox. However, in his previous three starts, Stroman allowed a whopping 30 base runners in 19 1/3 stanzas.
For those curious, while starting Nola in Colorado is a risk, I don’t foresee a disaster, so I’m running him out there. If you’re in a close battle in ratios in your head-to-head league, benching Nola is defensible.
Perhaps it’s manager-speak, but Terry Francona said he’ll consider using Chad Allen in the Andrew Miller role, coming into games earlier, based on matchups. If this is the case, Bryan Shaw is the likely beneficiary in terms of saves.
Projected game scores
GS is the projected game score for the pitcher. A “*” means that the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate rating; these are the author’s ratings.
Jason Castro (L), 3 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. Texas Rangers (RHP Nick Martinez): The ongoing theme to finding a catcher on Sunday is looking for strict platoon scenarios, since many bell cow backstops sit on Sunday. Castro normally does the squatting with a righty on the hill, ceding to Chris Gimenez versus southpaws. Not only is Martinez a righty, he’s a weak righty. Also consider Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario and Robbie Grossman. Don’t overlook Byron Buxton if you need steals.
Mitch Moreland (L), 13 percent, Boston Red Sox vs. Chicago White Sox (RHP Mike Pelfrey): Moreland’s hurt toe must be better, as he’s been hitting the ball well for the past week or so, including a recent walk-off into the Monster seats. Pelfrey is one of the weakest hurlers in the game, putting Moreland and rookie phenom Rafael Devers in a great spot.
Logan Forsythe (R), 12 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers at New York Mets (LHP Steven Matz): In four starts since the All-Star break, Matz has recorded an unsightly 12.21 ERA and 2.57 WHIP, covering 14 innings. Overall, Forsythe is having an off year, but he continues to hit lefties well, as evidenced by a .923 OPS versus southpaws.
David Freese (R), 4 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. San Diego Padres (LHP Clayton Richard): Richard has allowed at least four runs in six of his past seven outings. The Pirates’ offense isn’t especially productive; however, they have ample firepower from the right side to get to Richard. Freese, along with Jose Osuna, Francisco Cervelli, Josh Bell and Jordy Mercer are all lesser-owned options to get exposure to one of the day’s worst pitchers.
Amed Rosario (R), 40 percent, New York Mets vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu): Rosario’s much-anticipated call-up took place earlier in the week. The top prospect has a hit in all four games he’s played, stealing a bag Friday night. Ryu’s been solid, but if you need a late-week steal, Rosario has the wheels to get it done.
Derek Dietrich (L), 1 percent, Miami Marlins at Atlanta Braves (RHP Lucas Sims): Since he’s making just his second start, there’s no book on Sims. However Dietrich historically hits right-handers with authority.
Kolten Wong (L), 3 percent, St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati Reds (RHP Homer Bailey): With the troops mostly healthy, Wong has been dropped in the order. Still, facing Bailey, the lineup should turn over ample times for Wong to be productive.
Hunter Pence (R), 12 percent, San Francisco Giants vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (LHP Patrick Corbin): Along with most of the Giants, this has been a season to forget for Pence. That said, entering Saturday’s action, he was riding a modest six-game hitting streak, including a pair of long balls. Half of Pence’s eight homers this season have come off a southpaw, despite having more than twice as many plate appearances versus righties.
Brandon Moss (L), 3 percent, Kansas City Royals vs. Seattle Mariners (RHP Erasmo Ramirez): In his first game in the Mariners’ rotation, Ramirez lasted only 3 1/3 innings, allowing a pair of long balls. Moss hits low in the Royals’ order but should get the start and has the pop to take Ramirez deep.
Jim Adduci (L), less than 1 percent, Detroit Tigers at Baltimore Orioles (RHP Ubaldo Jimenez): Adduci has been hitting from the two-hole with a righty on the hill. Jimenez is coming off a couple of solid outings but is still vulnerable to lefty swingers.
Hitter matchup ratings
Notes: Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher’s history (three years’ worth, as well as the past 21 days) and 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. So, for example, a 10 is a must-start rating, whereas 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.