As always, Thursday brings us a shortened slate. Fortunately, this is one of the better ones, with 13 games on the docket. Not only are there plenty of studs at the top of the rankings with Clayton Kershaw, Corey Kluber and Chris Archer all toeing the rubber, but there are plenty of worthwhile streaming options from which to choose as well. Best of all, there’s also plenty of low-end arms worth stacking against. Let’s take a look!
Pitchers to stream
Jaime Garcia (L), 19 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, Atlanta Braves at San Diego Padres: Garcia has gotten roughed up in his last couple of outings, but a matchup against San Diego is the light at the end of the tunnel. The Padres are the worst team in baseball against lefty pitching, sporting a 70 wRC+ to go along with a 25 percent strikeout rate and the fourth-lowest ISO (.135). Although the strikeouts aren’t there with Garcia (6.5 K/9), the combination of grounders (56 percent) and soft contact (23 percent) gives him a reliable floor in a favorable matchup like this.
Brad Peacock (R), 38 percent, Houston Astros vs. Oakland Athletics: Since joining the Astros’ starting rotation, Peacock has whiffed at least eight batters in five of six outings. On Thursday, he gets an A’s team that’s fanning at a 25 percent clip against right-handed pitching — the third-highest mark in baseball. Double-digit K’s are definitely in play here. The right-hander hasn’t been pitching deep into games, throwing six innings just once, which makes the strikeouts all the more impressive.
Joe Ross (R), 15 percent, Washington Nationals vs. Chicago Cubs: Ross seems to slowly be coming around. He still carries risk, but he has pitched reasonably well in three of his last four starts. Plus, his strikeout and walk rates are career bests. In fact, his 4.3 K/BB ratio would place him in the top 10 in the league if he had enough innings to qualify. The Cubs’ lineup may still look imposing on paper, but it has been well below average against righties this season (89 wRC+).
Dinelson Lamet (R), 9 percent, San Diego Padres vs. Atlanta Braves: Lamet’s 6.60 ERA may scare you, but his 4.06 xFIP is somewhat encouraging, as is the fact that he tossed back-to-back quality starts. The main appeal with the Padres righty, though, is his 12.6 K/9 rate. The Braves make plenty of contact, which dampens the strikeout potential a bit, but they are still below average against righties and sport a bottom-five ISO, so the matchup is still quite favorable.
Pitcher to avoid
Lance Lynn (R), 66 percent, St. Louis Cardinals at Arizona Diamondbacks: This outing screams to stay away. Lynn has surrendered seven runs in back-to-back outings — including six homers — and now he heads to one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the majors, where he’ll face a Diamondbacks team that owns an MLB-best .365 wOBA and .218 ISO at home. No thanks!
Matt Bush converted his last save chance for the Rangers on Tuesday, but he owns a 7.88 ERA in June and has allowed runs in five of his last 10 appearances. For the time being, the right-hander’s job is secure. However, if you’re in the market for saves, it’s not a bad idea to stash away Keone Kela, who sports a 1.08 ERA and 14.0 K/9 over his last 16 appearances.
Projected game scores
GS is the projected game score for the pitcher. A “*” means 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.
Stephen Vogt (L), 7 percent, Milwaukee Brewers at Cincinnati Reds (RHP Homer Bailey): Despite his struggles this season, Vogt’s 28 percent hard-hit rate is better than what he produced in both of his All-Star 2015 and 2016 seasons and his swing-and-miss rate is an improvement over last year. He’s still a viable option against right-handed pitching, and Bailey looks exploitable right now after getting blown up in his first start off the DL.
Mitch Moreland (L), 23 percent, Boston Red Sox vs. Minnesota Twins (RHP Kyle Gibson): Moreland is a popular streaming target at first base, and he finds himself in another tremendous spot Thursday. He’ll square off against Gibson, who has been tattooed by lefty swingers this season (.399 wOBA). For his part, the Boston first baseman owns a .365 wOBA versus right-handers this season. Dating back to 2016, 29 of Moreland’s 34 homers have come off righties.
Eric Sogard (L), 8 percent, Milwaukee Brewers at Cincinnati Reds (RHP Homer Bailey): Sogard should continue getting regular playing time even now that Jonathan Villar has returned from the DL. That’s a good thing, because this is a prime matchup. Sogard is batting .367/.486/.533 against right-handed pitching this season, and Great American Ballpark is elite for left-handed power.
Chase Headley (R), 10 percent, New York Yankees at Chicago White Sox (RHP James Shields): Headley does all of his damage against right-handed pitching, and Shields is certainly a hurler against whom you can do damage. The righty has allowed a .377 wOBA to left-handed bats since the beginning of 2015, and he’s currently sporting the highest fly ball percentage of his career (50 percent). At hitter-friendly Guaranteed Rate Field, Shields is a powder keg ready to blow.
Jordy Mercer (R), 16 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Tampa Bay Rays (RHP Chris Archer): A matchup against Archer might seem like one to avoid, but the right-hander is allowing tons of hard contact this season. In fact, his 40 percent hard-contact rate is fourth-worst in baseball. Mercer, meanwhile, is smoking right-handed pitching to the tune of a .313/.381/.473 slash line.
Nicholas Castellanos (R), 38 percent, Detroit Tigers vs. Kansas City Royals (RHP Jake Junis): Castellanos is a buy-low guy for me. His 48 percent hard-contact is top five in all of baseball. Things have been starting to bounce more his way, as he’s hitting .309 with five dingers and 14 RBIs in 22 June games, after batting just .209 through April and May combined. I like his chances against Junis, who sports a 4.97 ERA (not to mention a 6.01 FIP and 5.86 xFIP) and has not yet proved he belongs in the big leagues.
Chase Utley (L), 2 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers at Los Angeles Angels (RHP JC Ramirez): Of the 75 hurlers who have thrown at least 30 innings against left-handed hitters this season, Ramirez’s .399 wOBA and .600 SLG are the worst in baseball. Needless to say, this is a highly appealing spot for Utley, who often bats leadoff in one of the game’s most dangerous lineups.
Joc Pederson (L), 28 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers at Los Angeles Angels (RHP JC Ramirez): Not surprisingly, we’re going back-to-back with lefty bats against Ramirez. Since 2015, Pederson ranks in the top 20 against righties in both ISO and hard-contact percentage. He’s also swinging a hot stick right now, batting .318/.474/.705 since the beginning of June.
Jon Jay (L), 1 percent, Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals (RHP Joe Ross): We highlighted Ross as a potential streaming option, but left-handed batters continue to be a thorn in his side. Lefty hitters have clobbered him for a .321/.367/.580 slash this season. That puts Jay, who is hitting .362/.434/.426 so far in June, in a very nice spot on Thursday.
Ezequiel Carrera (L), 1 percent, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Ubaldo Jimenez): Jimenez has been one of the least-effective pitchers in baseball against left-handed batters this season, as his .435 wOBA can attest. Meanwhile, Carrera is batting .348 in June and sports a .329/.380/.459 slash against righties in 2017.
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.