Thursday's 11-game slate is highlighted by two rather intriguing matchups, with Jacob deGrom squaring off against Jack Flaherty in New York, and Clayton Kershaw taking on Jon Lester in Los Angeles. Things are less appealing on the streaming side, though, as both poor matchups (Red Sox) and hitter-friendly ballparks (Coors Field) take some intriguing arms out of the mix. Either way, we'll make due with what we have available.
Here's a look at the day's top streaming options, focusing on players rostered in fewer than 50 percent of ESPN leagues.
Marcus Stroman (R), rostered in 49 percent of ESPN leagues, Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles: Stroman is coming off his worst start of 2019 (6 ER in 5 2/3 IP against Arizona), but he's been mostly competent this season, so we're willing to look past it. Prior to his last outing, the right-hander had posted a 2.67 ERA over his previous five turns -- and a matchup against Baltimore is a prime streaming opportunity. The Orioles have a .294 wOBA versus right-handed pitching, which ranks 26th in baseball. They have also been striking out at a 26.6 percent rate in June. Stroman's ceiling is limited because of his middling K-rate, but his extreme ground-ball tendencies raise his floor.
Michael Pineda (R), 7 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. Seattle Mariners: After a minimum stay on the injured list for right knee tendinitis, Pineda returned against Detroit last Friday, and the results were pretty ho-hum. He fell short of a quality start, allowing three runs over five innings while striking out three. What was noteworthy, however, was Pineda's velocity. After averaging 92.1 mph on his fastball through his first 10 starts, he averaged 94.7 mph in his most recent outing. While we wait and see whether the added velocity sticks, Pineda makes for an interesting streamer against a Mariners club that has fanned 26 percent of the time over the past month.
Tyler Skaggs (L), 42 percent, Los Angeles Angels at Tampa Bay Rays: Skaggs is mired in a rough stretch. He has surrendered at least four runs in five of his last six outings, and he hasn't registered a quality start since early May. The silver lining is that he's still whiffing more than a batter per inning, and some of the underlying indicators suggest he's had some bad luck. There is some risk here based on recent results, but the Rays are actually a favorable matchup, as they're middle-of-the-road against lefties with an MLB-worst 29 percent strikeout rate.
Adrian Sampson (R), 11 percent, Texas Rangers at Boston Red Sox: To be clear, there are very few circumstances in which I'm actually going to stream Sampson against Boston, but I didn't want to simply ignore what he's accomplished of late. Over his last five outings, Sampson has a 1.99 ERA, a 1.07 WHIP and 30 strikeouts (and just three walks) in 31 2/3 frames. We'll need to see more to be sure we should be buying in here. However, if the right-hander can survive this outing against the Red Sox, he's in line for an enticing two-start week next week against the Indians and White Sox.
Projected game scores
Catcher -- Brian McCann (L), 3 percent, Atlanta Braves vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Joe Musgrove): Even at the age of 35, McCann remains a worthy streamer against right-handed pitching. He's batting .293/.358/.435 against them this season. Meanwhile, Musgrove has a 6.98 ERA since the beginning of May and has been vulnerable to left-handed batters.
First Base -- Brandon Dixon (R), 1 percent, Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals (RHP Homer Bailey): Dixon has slowed down since a strong May saw him hit .305 with five homers and 13 RBIs in 20 games. Despite an ugly 33.3 percent strikeout rate (paired with an equally ugly 2.6 percent walk rate), Dixon has an impressive 49.3 percent hard-hit rate, proving he can do damage when he does make contact. Bailey, who is allowing a .322/.382/.446 slash to right-handed batters, makes for a prime matchup.
Second Base -- Brendan Rodgers (R), 8 percent, Colorado Rockies vs. San Diego Padres (LHP Matt Strahm): The 22-year old rookie is still looking for his first major-league home run. Strahm is fresh off the IL after dealing with a rib strain, and is having a fine season, buoyed by a tidy 56 strikeouts (11 walks) in 60 1/3 innings. However, he's not immune to the home run, surrendering 10 in that span.
Third Base -- Miguel Sano (R), 32 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. Seattle Mariners (LHP Yusei Kikuchi): Kikuchi has had a rough go of things lately. He's failed to make it out of the fourth inning in any of his last three starts, allowing a combined 18 runs (16 earned) and six homers. Sano has big-time power and could take advantage of the left-hander's long-ball issues.
Shortstop -- Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (R), 32 percent, Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles (RHP Gabriel Ynoa): Gurriel Jr. is flat-out raking. Over the past 30 days, he's hitting .327/.373/.727 with five homers. Thursday's matchup doesn't figure to slow him down. Camden Yards is a very hitter-friendly venue, and Ynoa is allowing a .382 wOBA to right-handed batters.
Corner Infield -- Christian Walker (R), 21 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks at Washington Nationals (RHP Erick Fedde): Walker doesn't have the platoon advantage here, but that's not a big deal. He has shown reverse splits this season, with a .509 SLG and nine of his 11 homers coming versus righties. Walker has also fared much better on the road this season (.907 road OPS vs. .693 home OPS).
Middle Infield - Howie Kendrick (R), 43 percent, Washington Nationals vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (RHP Zack Greinke): Kendrick pops up in this space frequently, and it's easy to see why. All he does is hit. After posting a 1.005 OPS in April, he put up a .912 OPS in May and has a 1.152 OPS so far in June. He also owns a .389/.429/.722 triple slash at home. Sure, the matchup against Greinke isn't ideal, but Kendrick remains one of the day's better middle-infield plays.
Outfield -- Corey Dickerson (L), 38 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates at Atlanta Braves (RHP Julio Teheran): Dickerson isn't guaranteed to be in the lineup, given Pittsburgh's logjam of outfielders -- but he's a quality option if he plays. The veteran outfielder has a career .360 wOBA against right-handed pitching, including 94 of his 104 career homers.
Outfield -- Franmil Reyes (R), 46 percent, San Diego Padres at Colorado Rockies (RHP Jon Gray): Let's keep this one simple. Reyes has elite power in his bat, and on Thursday he heads to Coors Field. That's pretty much all we need to know. Get ready for some fireworks in this one.
Outfield -- Brett Gardner (L), 26 percent, New York Yankees at Chicago White Sox (RHP Ivan Nova): Gardner doesn't get too much publicity in fantasy circles these days and his batting average doesn't help, but he's actually on pace for 25 homers, 15 steals, and 91 runs. That's still a valuable skill set. He should get some good hacks in against Nova, who pounds the strike zone and pitches to contact.