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Daily notes: Pitcher and hitter rankings for Thursday

While many eyes will be on Atlanta's newest bat, don't overlook Sean Newcomb on the mound. Getty Images

We've already seen plenty of ugly Thursday slates this season, but this one isn't bad -- relatively speaking, of course. The suitable streaming options aren't exactly abundant on the pitching side, but there's enough here to work with. That's saying something.

Here's a look at the day's most interesting streaming options, focusing on players rostered in less than 50 percent of ESPN leagues.


Pitching

Pitchers to stream

Sean Newcomb (L), rostered in 17 percent of ESPN leagues, Atlanta Braves at Cincinnati Reds: There's a lot to like about Newcomb this year. Sure, the walk rate (4.6 BB/9) needs to come down, but the 28.4 percent K-rate and 50.9 percent ground ball rate is a nice combination. In fact, last season only three pitchers produced a 25-plus percent K-rate and a 50-plus percent ground ball rate (Carlos Martinez, Luis Severino, Jimmy Nelson). Newcomb has also pitched well on the road this year -- in two very tough spots -- allowing just two earned runs with a combined 16 K's against the Cubs at Wrigley Field and the Rockies at Coors. More importantly, the Reds are an easy target right now. They currently sit bottom-five in runs per game, ISO, wOBA, wRC+ (and basically any other acronym you can imagine).

Jordan Montgomery (L), 34 percent, New York Yankees vs. Minnesota Twins: Montgomery's velocity isn't quite where it was last year, but he's making it work. In his last outing against the Blue Jays, the New York left-hander surrendered just one run on four hits over six frames. More encouraging is the fact that he allowed just 11.8 percent hard contact after being drilled his previous two times out (39 percent hard contact). On Thursday, he matches up well with a Twins team that's below average against lefties (89 wRC+) and sports an inflated 28 percent whiff rate. Montgomery should also get some nice run support here. Not only have the Yankees averaged 8.8 runs per game in Montgomery's four starts this year, but the Twins entered Tuesday's action having allowed 40 runs over their last four games.

Ivan Nova (R), 26 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Detroit Tigers: We know what Nova is by now. His calling card is his pinpoint control, and he hasn't disappointed this year with a career-best 1.2 BB/9. While he's never going to miss many bats, his 20.2 percent K-rate is his best mark since 2012. In fact, he fanned nine batters against the Marlins earlier this month, marking his highest single-game strikeout total since September 2016. It's about finding the right matchups with Nova, and Thursday's tilt against the Tigers qualifies. Detroit's offense has been middle-of-the-road against righties this season and will lose its DH during interleague play. Nova has delivered three straight quality starts, and he's a good bet to tack on another one here.

Pitcher to avoid

Kyle Hendricks (R), 93 percent, Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers: League context will determine whether you actually bench Hendricks on Thursday, but the matchup is less than ideal. Milwaukee's .330 wOBA versus right-handed pitching ranks third in the National League. Plus, the right-hander has allowed five homers in his last three starts, while Milwaukee ranks sixth in baseball in homers since 2016.

Bullpen

The Orioles' Zach Britton is continuing to work his way back from a ruptured Achilles tendon. He threw 20 fastballs off a half-mound last week and threw a bullpen session off a regular mound on Tuesday. The left-hander is still at least a month away from returning to game action, but this is just a reminder that he might be worth stashing away if you're in need of closer help.

Projected game scores

GS is the projected game score for the pitcher. The "*" symbol means the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate rating. These are the author's ratings.


Hitting

Catcher

Kurt Suzuki (R), 32 percent, Atlanta Braves at Cincinnati Reds (RHP Homer Bailey): Suzuki's roster percentage is on the rise, but it hasn't risen far enough. Currently the No. 4 catcher on the ESPN Player Rater, Suzuki sports a .411 wOBA versus same-side pitching this season. Bailey currently sports a career-high 41.1 percent fly ball rate and career-worst 44.6 percent hard-hit rate, which is an awfully dangerous combination at hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark.

First base

Lucas Duda (L), 13 percent, Kansas City Royals vs. Chicago White Sox (RHP Lucas Giolito): Duda makes for an upside power play in favorable matchups, and that's the case here. Giolito has been obliterated in four starts this season, sporting a 9.00 ERA and a walk rate (8.6 BB/9) that more than doubles his strikeout rate (4.1 K/9). That's not something you see very often. Duda, who owns a .235 career ISO against right-handed pitching, has a great chance to do some damage here.

Second base

Adam Frazier (L), 2 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Detroit Tigers (RHP Michael Fulmer): While Frazier isn't a player who does any one thing particularly well, he's still a versatile option when he gets playing time -- which is the case right now with Josh Harrison sidelined. He's a high-contact hitter with some speed who bats near the top of Pittsburgh's lineup. Against Fulmer, who isn't missing any bats this year (5.0 K/9), Frazier looks to be a sneaky play.

Third base

Jeimer Candelario (B), 19 percent, Detroit Tigers at Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Ivan Nova): Candelario has smashed righties this season to the tune of a .297/.366/.563 slash line. He's also sporting a 35 percent hard-contact rate this season. This matches him up well with Nova, who is allowing a career-high 38 percent fly ball rate and is constantly around the plate.

Shortstop

Ketel Marte (B), 10 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks at Philadelphia Phillies (RHP Ben Lively): The switch-hitting Marte has done more damage against righties in his career, and Lively is a good right-hander to target. He allowed a .286/.360/.512 slash line to right-handed batters in 2017, and things haven't gotten any better this season (.354/.415/.583). Batting second in a hitter-friendly park, Marte should have plenty of opportunity to put up numbers on Thursday.

Corner infield

Chris Davis (L), 30 percent, Baltimore Orioles vs. Tampa Bay Rays (RHP Chris Archer): A matchup against Archer doesn't sound like a favorable matchup. Then again, the version of Archer we've seen this season owns a 6.59 ERA and a 39 percent hard-contact rate. He's also allowed a homer in each of his five starts. That's where Davis comes in. He's not good at making consistent contact, but when he does connect, the baseball tends to go a long way.

Middle infield

Addison Russell (R), 42 percent, Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Chase Anderson): Russell's early stat line may be yawn-inducing, but there are reasons for optimism. He's walking more than ever (12.2 percent), striking out less often than ever (13.5 percent), and swinging at fewer pitches outside the zone (26 percent). He should get things going soon. Reverse splits for pitchers are much more actionable than for young hitters. For his career, Anderson's weighted on base average is .346 versus right-handed batters as opposed to .297 facing lefty swingers.

Outfield

Aaron Hicks (B), 49 percent, New York Yankees vs. Minnesota Twins (RHP Kyle Gibson): Hicks is an intriguing fantasy asset, despite being rostered in less than 50 percent of leagues. He has power, can run, and is adept at getting on base. He also hits in the middle of a great lineup in a great hitters' park. On Thursday, he finds himself in favorable spot against Gibson, who surrendered a .301/.367/.465 slash line to righty batters in 2017.

Jackie Bradley Jr. (L), 42 percent, Boston Red Sox at Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Marco Estrada): Estrada has been hit hard his last couple of times out, allowing nine runs over his last nine innings. The right-hander has also been a victim of the longball, surrendering six homers over four starts. Needless to say, this is a less-than-ideal spot for Estrada. The Red Sox lineup has an MLB-best 133 wRC+ against righties this year and has feasted on weaker pitching. Look for Bradley to get in on the fun. He draws the platoon advantage here and gets a park boost going to the Rogers Centre.

Nick Williams (L), 3 percent, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (RHP Matt Koch): Williams took a seat last night against Zack Greinke, but expect him to be back in the lineup this afternoon with Koch on the hill. Koch earned another start replacing Taijuan Walker by holding the Padres to two hits and one run over six frames -- though he fanned only four with two walks. While not daunting, the Phillies lineup poses more of a challenge than the Padres. Williams is slow out of the gate but has a history of hitting right-handers well, dating back to his minor-league career.

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); a 1-2 is poor, 3-4 is fair, 5-6 is average, 7-8 is very good and 9-10 is excellent.