For the second straight Sunday, we have bonus baseball as one of Saturday’s pair of early postponements was rescheduled as part of an old-fashioned single-admission doubleheader in Target Field. The slate is highlighted by Stephen Strasburg, who has managed to escape injury in this season, where the disabled list has been one of the top stories across MLB. Other marquee names include Chris Archer trying to slow down the surging Yankees, Jake Arrieta hoping to keep the Brewers in the yard at Wrigley Field and Yu Darvish taking on the Detroit Tigers in Motown under the lights on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.
Hopefully you have your share of solid pitchers and hitters locked and loaded. But as this is the last day of most fantasy scoring periods, it’s essential to maximize your output or even take chances when necessary. Here are some suggestions, all available in more than 50 percent of ESPN leagues.
Pitchers to stream
CC Sabathia (L), 14 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays: Those new to fantasy baseball have no clue what a horse Sabathia was back in the day. Now, he’s strictly an option when the matchup is right. Sunday is one of those days where the stars align for the veteran lefty. Most pitchers prefer working at home, but when home is Yankees Stadium, it’s understandable if Sabathia is looking forward to dealing in Tropicana Field. Further, while the Rays are crushing right-handers, they’re one of the weakest clubs with a lefty on the hill.
Zack Godley (R), 26 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks at San Diego Padres: While not as extreme, Godley also enjoys a park upgrade, toeing the rubber in Petco Park. The 27-year-old right-hander has pitched well since being called up to fill the fifth spot in the Snakes’ rotation. However, he’ll need to improve a 4.3 BB/9 to sustain solid results. Sunday’s opponent avails Godley a chance to better an already impressive 9.2 K/9 rate, as the Padres whiff an excessive one quarter of the time against righties.
Phil Hughes (R), 7 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. Kansas City Royals: Hughes is a frequent visitor in this space — albeit usually in the hitting section as someone against whom to stack. Today, he makes it as a streamer, as he draws an already weak Royals club that may split its starters between the two games of the twin bill. That said, Adalberto Mejia, slated for the nightcap, is a southpaw, so the Royals are likely to deploy platoons, meaning Mejia is also in play as although he’ll be facing righties, they’ll be reserves.
Adam Wainwright (R), 46 percent, St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Francisco Giants: Wainwright joins Sabathia as a former stud relegated to streaming status. The Giants are the least productive team in the league versus righties, giving the Redbirds veteran a chance to revisit his salad days.
Pitchers to avoid
Andrew Triggs (R), 74 percent, Oakland Athletics vs. Boston Red Sox: Triggs is one of those guys batters think they can hit, yet they saunter back to the dugout four or five times frustrated. While he’s capable of stifling any team, the Red Sox feel like a lineup that can take advantage of his low strikeout rate as their strength is putting the ball in play. Boston’s power has picked up lately, adding another level of risk. If you own Triggs, you’re getting your money’s worth, it’s defensible to keep him on your bench. The strikeout and win potential is low while the chance of damage to ratios is real.
There was a time all Wainwright needed was ninth-inning help, but those days are gone. Even if he keeps the Giants in check, at minimum, Trevor Rosenthal and Seung Hwan Oh will be asked to lend him a hand. Oh’s owned in 93 percent of ESPN leagues, but this isn’t about him. Not all formats lend themselves to using a middle reliever, but for those that do, Rosenthal should top the list. He’s averaging 99 mph on his fastball, spurring 27 punchouts in 15 1/3 innings. If you’re in a league with daily moves and an innings cap, Rosenthal is a must.
Projected game scores
Note: W-L, ERA and WHIP are full-year 2016 statistics. 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.
Andrew Knapp (B), less than 1 percent, Philadelphia Phillies at Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Chad Kuhl): Counting on Knapp to be in the lineup is a small leap of faith, but it is Sunday where many second-string backstops step to the forefront. Knapp’s a switch-hitter, but has faced primarily righty throwers in his rookie campaign. To this point in his career, lefty swingers have crushed Kuhl.
Mike Napoli (R), 34 percent, Texas Rangers at Detroit Tigers (LHP Matthew Boyd): With five homers during the past two weeks, Napoli’s power stroke is rounding into form. After he showed signs of getting things together late last season, Boyd’s whiff and walk rates have fallen to career worsts. Homers haven’t been an issue, but he can ill afford to make a mistake facing Napoli.
Devon Travis (R), 14 percent, Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles (LHP Wade Miley): Dropping a player like Travis when he’s scuffling is perfectly fine in standard ESPN leagues, despite running the risk he turns things around. Travis has done just that, hitting over .360 the past couple of weeks. It’s time to grab him again.
Matt Davidson (R), 3 percent, Chicago White Sox at Seattle Mariners (LHP Dillon Overton): Davidson, the 2014 Triple-A home run derby champion, is showing off that pop with the rebuilding White Sox. In his 38 1/3 major league innings, Overton has surrendered a whopping 14 long balls.
Nick Ahmed (R), 1 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks at San Diego Padres (LHP Clayton Richard): ESPN researcher Kyle Soppe points out Richard has allowed the highest batting average to righties, while Ahmed’s hard-hit rate is well above average this season.
Jefry Marte (R), 1 percent, Los Angeles Angels at New York Mets (LHP Tommy Milone): The Angels will be without their designated hitter, but with a lefty on the hill, Marte will probably assume the hot corner spot over Luis Valbuena. Marte isn’t hitting all that well, but he usually handles southpaws.
Freddy Galvis (B), 23 percent, Philadelphia Phillies at Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Chad Kuhl): Galvis, a switch-hitter, fares better against righty tossers. While he hasn’t homered since May 1, the Phillies’ shortstop has pounded 27 of his past 31 long balls against right-handers.
Jayson Werth (R), 29 percent, Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves (LHP Jaime Garcia): If it were a sure thing Werth would make it through the season without injury, he’d be owned in well over half of ESPN leagues. However, that’s obviously not the case so he’s one of the first hitters to check out as a streamer when looking for some outfield help. Facing Garcia, whose skills against righties are on a serious decline, Werth is a great play, hitting second in the top-scoring lineup in the league.
Denard Span (L), 5 percent, San Francisco Giants at St. Louis Cardinals (RHP Adam Wainwright): Yes, Wainwright was featured as a streamer, but he’s not going to throw a no-hitter. Span holds the platoon edge, and is also a threat to steal as the Cardinals aren’t as effective at throwing out runners as in the past.
Guillermo Heredia (R), 2 percent, Seattle Mariners vs. Chicago White Sox (LHP Derek Holland): The Mariners deploy an outfield platoon, with Heredia moving up to the 2-hole when a southpaw is on the hill.
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.