Every team is in action for the second fantasy baseball Wednesday of the season. Fantasy-worthy starting pitching, on the other hand, does not enjoy such an abundance.
There's a decent tier of arms headlined by Nationals ace Max Scherzer. Beyond that, the position carries plenty of uncertainty, which doesn't sound tempting early in the season. Still, several risky plays could wind up with a massive payoff.
(Note: Scheduled San Diego starter Luis Perdomo will be placed on the 10-day disabled list today due to shoulder inflammation. Zach Lee will start in his place. We are working on updating the charts to reflect this news.)
Jaime Garcia (Atlanta Braves at Miami Marlins, 4.7 percent): Miami was one of the more effective offenses against left-handers last season but, with Martin Prado (hamstring) on the disabled list, lack one of its most important pieces for that goal. Garcia allowed four runs in six innings without a strikeout in his opener but boasts the control to navigate around this lineup at pitcher-friendly Marlins Park.
Mike Fiers (Houston Astros at Seattle Mariners, 4.3 percent): The right-hander took a tough loss in his first 2017 effort but lasted six innings and gave up only one earned run. Fiers struggled away from Minute Maid Park last year to a 4.99 ERA but travels to hitter-suppressing Safeco Field. He may surprise against a sluggish Mariners club, which ranks last with a .574 OPS through April 10 and probably will not have leadoff hitter Jean Segura (hamstring) available.
Shelby Miller (Arizona Diamondbacks at San Francisco Giants, 6.8 percent): He's a "last year's trash, this year's treasure?" poster boy. Miller endured a slightly sloppy opener (eight base-runners in 5.1 innings on April 7) but struck out seven while his fastball touched 98 mph -- continuing momentum from spring training, when he fanned 22 in 15.1 frames. Miller more frequently incorporated his curveball Friday, which could lead to a breakthrough for an organization that's refining its pitcher philosophy. By no means is Miller safe yet, and the Giants are off to a strong start at the plate. AT&T Park, however, remains one of baseball's best pitcher-leaning stadiums, especially more so than Miller's dangerous home at Chase Field. A Wednesday gem could create high demand for the 26-year-old on the waiver wire, though proactive players with a spot to burn can beat the crowd, even if they don't use him.
Starting pitcher bust
John Lackey (Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, 93.5 percent): The steady veteran right-hander has outpitched his FIP over each of the last two years, including 3.35 ERA to 3.81 FIP in 2016. Last year, Lackey also allowed a career-high 34.4 percent hard-contact rate. The Dodgers deploy a lethal lineup against right-handers and set up Lackey for disappointment.
We have clarity in the Athletics' saves picture: Santiago Casilla will land opportunities with mostly right-handers due up, and Sean Doolittle will handle LHB-packed spots. Ryan Madson will hover in the seventh and eighth innings. Chase Casilla if quantity is the focus, but Doolittle offers better skills for owners in a good spot at the position who may need only the occasional chance. The left-hander could win the job for himself as the season progresses.
Also, it's only April 11, sure, but heading into Tuesday action, the Twins lead the majors -- not a typo -- with a 2.04 ERA. Watch out, though: Closer Brandon Kintzler is dealing with a cracked fingernail. If he must join former stopper Glen Perkins (shoulder) on the sidelines, Minnesota may look to handle save chances with some combination of Ryan Pressly, who sits in the mid-90s, and Matt Belisle, whose slider has elevated him into a vital setup role.
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.
Francisco Cervelli (Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds, 13.6 percent): Cervelli versus a lefty pitcher? "That's Amore" indeed. He's a frequent cycle option in one-catcher lineups with daily transactions, having pestered southpaws for a career .310/.396/.413 line in 427 plate appearances. Cincinnati starter Amir Garrett is a tantalizing but unfinished product who'll have trouble retiring him.
Chris Carter (New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays, 10.0 percent): Greg Bird (ankle, flu) is tentatively scheduled to return Wednesday, but the Bronx Bombers will draw Rays left-hander Blake Snell. They may decide to ground Bird an extra day so Carter, who raked to an .875 OPS against left-handers last year, can take some hacks.
Brandon Phillips (Atlanta Braves at Miami Marlins, 37.6 percent): The veteran, who may have been a bit undervalued during draft season, has hit sixth in every game since debuting with Atlanta. Tom Koehler, Miami's listed starter, struggled immensely with runners on base the previous three years, allowing a .273/.347/.443 line. Given the quiet effectiveness of Atlanta's top six hitters, Phillips should see plenty of RBI chances against a mediocre innings-eater.
Freddy Galvis (Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Mets, 8.4 percent): It made sense to doubt the near 20-homer, 20-steal season Galvis put up last year, but he's quieting haters early on. Zack Wheeler lasted just four innings in his first start since 2014 and will be monitored heavily. Galvis' .715 OPS against right-handers from last year dwarfs his .544 against left-handers, and he clubbed 11 of his 20 taters last year at home.
Pablo Sandoval (Boston Red Sox vs. Baltimore Orioles, 30.2 percent): Despite his sickly 3-for-23 start to the year,Kung Fu Panda has not fallen victim to Boston's flu epidemic. One of those hits left the yard, and he might hit in the middle of the order if Hanley Ramirez must continue resting. Consider Sandoval one of the many Beantown bats to use against Ubaldo Jimenez, who hated facing left-handed batters last year (.294/.378/.506). Though these appearances came when Sandoval was a Giant and Jimenez was in Colorado, the switch-hitting third baseman is 14-for-39 lifetime (.359/.405/.615) against him, with two home runs and seven RBIs.
Hunter Renfroe (San Diego Padres at Colorado Rockies, 31.7 percent): After homering in the Padres' opener at Coors Field, Renfroe probably doesn't want to leave. Fantasy players will happily click to start members of both teams here, but this is a reminder that the potential 30-homer bat should be owned in more leagues. After clubbing his first long ball of the year against Rich Hill on April 6 and hitting cleanup against Madison Bumgarner three days later, Renfroe should find more success Wednesday against soft-tossing southpaw Kyle Freeland.
David Peralta (Arizona Diamondbacks at San Francisco Giants, 18.5 percent): Though few fantasy owners seem to care, Peralta is one of several Arizona batters off to a promising start. It's tough to love his draw at AT&T Park, but Peralta prefers facing right-handed pitching. In his healthy near-breakout 2015 campaign, he also went 12-for-28 with 2 HRs and 6 RBIs when visiting the Giants. Need another reason to play him? San Francisco sends human pitching machine Matt Cain to the bump.
Steven Souza Jr. (Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees, 22.5 percent): Souza's 0-for-3 Monday effort snapped a six-game hitting streak. Luckily, he'll likely bat leadoff Wednesday against New York southpaw Jordan Montgomery, who's making his major league debut. Souza's owners can squeeze at least one or two extra at-bats out of him in a favorable hitter's environment.