Monday is a day off for a good portion of Major League Baseball, but it’s not a day off for fantasy managers. In fact, we need to work harder to fill the extra holes in our lineups with a reduced inventory at our disposal. Making it even tougher is a good number of above-average arms on the docket, limiting steamers as well as hitters in plus match-ups. Have no fear, though — I’ve mined the data and discovered some gems to kick your week off right.
Pitchers to stream
Jameson Taillon (R), 49 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Colorado Rockies: There’s a good chance Taillon’s ownership has already eclipsed the 50 percent plateau used to identify streamers, but as of this writing, he qualifies. I’m sure you know the story, so let’s just say the cancer-beating righty should be picked up regardless, but he finds himself in a favorable spot at home in pitcher-friendly PNC park, facing a club that travels with an average offense versus righties.
Kyle Freeland (L), 31 percent, Colorado Rockies at Pittsburgh Pirates: Taillon’s mound foe is also in a good spot in what should be a low-scoring affair. Home/away, lefty/righty, it really doesn’t matter; the Pirates are one of the least productive offenses in the league.
Luis Perdomo (R), 26 percent, San Diego Padres vs. Cincinnati Reds: This call comes with some trepidation, as the Reds hit right-handers well, even on the road. But they do most of their damage via the long ball, and as an extreme groundball pitcher, Perdomo’s best quality is his ability to keep the ball in the yard.
Joe Musgrove (R), 7 percent, Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers: It’s getting harder to argue Musgrove really is a good pitcher. His season seems to be marred by one step forward, two steps back. His last outing before visiting the disabled list was his best of the season, holding the Orioles scoreless for seven frames, with six whiffs and no walks. But the Rangers are much more effective at home than on the road, giving Musgrove the edge in this battle of Lone Star State rivals.
Pitchers to avoid
Start all your above average pitchers with confidence, there aren’t any landmines to avoid.
The Philadelphia Phillies recently made a change at closer as Hector Neris has been getting hit lately, especially on his splitter. Pat Neshek should pick up save chances in the short term. I don’t expect this to be a long-term demotion.
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. A 50 typically earns the pitcher a “quality start” by this measure, while a 70 is considered a dominant start.
Jason Castro (L), 5 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. Seattle Mariners (RHP Yovani Gallardo): Castro’s been wielding a hot bat, slugging over .600 for the past two weeks. For his career, he’s always hit much better when facing a right-handed hurler.
Jose Pirela (R), 2 percent, San Diego Padres vs. Cincinnati Reds (RHP Bronson Arroyo): Regular readers of this space know that the platoon edge is nice, but spot in the batting order and quality of opposing pitcher can be equally relevant. Pirela has hits in six of his first seven games since being called up a week ago, with his debut the only exception.
Eduardo Escobar (B), 1 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. Seattle Mariners (RHP Yovani Gallardo): Beggars can’t be choosers on abbreviated slates. Escobar is a below-average hitter, but he does enjoy the platoon edge over a below-average pitcher, as well as any relievers who will follow Gallardo’s inevitable exit.
Tim Anderson (R), 13 percent, Chicago White Sox vs. Baltimore Orioles (LHP Wade Miley): After a sluggish start, Anderson’s picked it up, registering a neat .825 OPS in the last month. That said, don’t expect him to run, at least when Miley’s in the game.
Yangervis Solarte (B), 41 percent, San Diego Padres vs. Cincinnati Reds (RHP Bronson Arroyo): Simply put, you want as many Padres as possible in your lineup.
Freddy Galvis (B), 12 percent, Philadelphia Phillies at Boston Red Sox (RHP Rick Porcello): It’s not exactly ground-breaking analysis to suggest Porcello isn’t as good as he appeared in his Cy Young award-winning campaign, nor is he as bad as his 3-8 record and 4.46 ERA, either. One constant is that he’s less effective against lefty swingers. The switch-hitting Galvis prefers hitting from the left-side, plus he won’t have to hit in front of the pitcher’s spot in this interleague tilt.
Seth Smith (L), 2 percent, Baltimore Orioles at Chicago White Sox (RHP Mike Pelfrey): As a platoon hitter, it’s understandable why Smith’s ownership is low — but 2 percent seems too low; granted, he’s yet to take advantage of the power-friendly confines of Camden Yards. This particular game isn’t a home affair, but it is against a bad pitcher in another locale known for being generous with the long balls.
Robbie Grossman (B), 5 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. Seattle Mariners (RHP Yovani Gallardo): Grossman’s become an on-base machine for leagues using OBP, as well as points leagues where walks earn points. Grossman’s walk rate is a whopping 18 percent, matching up well against Gallardo and his bloated 4.2 BB/9.
Max Kepler (L), 28 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. Seattle Mariners (RHP Yovani Gallardo): Kepler isn’t as patient as his teammate, but he’s also in a prime spot, facing a mediocre pitcher in Target Field, a venue that stealthily is a boon for runs.
Guillermo Heredia (R), 2 percent, Seattle Mariners at Minnesota Twins (LHP Adalberto Mejia): I shorted you a pitcher to avoid on this limited Monday slate, so as a make-good, I’ll favor you with an extra outfielder. Heredia’s strong play has earned him a full-time spot. That said, he’s better with a lefty on the hill and won’t automatically be lifted for a pinch-hitter if a right-handed reliever enters the contest.
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.