Despite nearly a full complement of games, Monday's slate is not very kind to those looking to get off to a head start with streaming pitchers. It will get better as the transaction period wears on, but sometimes it's good to build a solid foundation so you're not chasing lesser options later on in the week. Hitting, on the other hand, is stocked with good choices. Good luck to all, as the marathon has barely begun.
Jakob Junis (R), rostered in 22 percent of ESPN leagues, Kansas City Royals vs. Seattle Mariners: Junis has built on a fine spring, most notably exhibiting pinpoint control, which is necessary as he's not dominating, at least in terms of velocity. The Mariners possess some heavy-hitting lefties, so there's some risk, but research shows pitchers on a roll have a better than 50 percent chance of continuing that trend.
Miles Mikolas (R), 18 percent, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Milwaukee Brewers: For about a day, Mikolas was the top hitter-pitcher combo coming over from Japan this season -- having spent the last three seasons with the Yomiuri Giants. Mikolas' second start is a rematch, this time at pitcher-friendly Busch Field. The Brewers are showing signs they'll resemble last year's offense, one that is dangerous but quite punch-out prone.
Miguel Gonzalez (R), 1 percent, Chicago White Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays bats woke up a little on Sunday but, in general, the opposing hurler will be a streaming option. Guaranteed Rate Park isn't the best hitter's park, but that's mitigated by the cool temperatures.
Cody Reed (L), fewer than 1 percent, Cincinnati Reds at Philadelphia Phillies: Reed is making his 2018 debut and since he may be sent back to Triple-A at its conclusion, you know he wants to make a positive impression. After all, the injury-riddled Reds rotation will no doubt need some reinforcements -- and probably sooner, rather than later. The allure is the unknown, combined with a decent strikeout pedigree. Granted, Reed displayed terrible control last season in a short stint in the bigs, but now, just one week from his 25th birthday, his composure should be better.
Pitcher to avoid
J.A. Happ (L), 57 percent, Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles: It's early, so you can always rebound from an early-week mishap, but if you anticipate a close battle in ratios, not starting this southpaw against the righty-heavy Orioles is certainly defensible as a strategy.
For some, churning is difficult. Blake Parker is certainly a better pitcher than he has demonstrated to date. He'll bounce back and perhaps even regain the closer gig in Anaheim. But, for now, Kenyan Middleton looks like the guy to target.
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.
Yan Gomes (R), 4 percent, Cleveland Indians vs. Detroit Tigers (LHP Francisco Liriano): Gomes isn't the greatest stick, but the fact of the matter is, you want as many righties as you can muster when Liriano is on the hill. The Indians lineup is deep, so Gomes should have some chances against a southpaw with 31-of-37 his longballs allowed since 2016 going to righties.
Albert Pujols (R), 40 percent, Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers (RHP Doug Fister): Pujols doesn't qualify at first, --yet -- but he soon will. Fister is equally generous to lefties and righties and, since Shohei Ohtani pitched on Sunday, Pujols will be in the lineup.
Asdrubal Cabrera (B), 30 percent, New York Mets at Miami Marlins (RHP Jose Urena): Cabrera continues to be a great spot starter, eligible all over the infield and a switch hitter to boot. Urena is an example of a young hurler able to throw 95 mph, but lacking in both the command and control departments, along with a dearth of secondary offerings. The Mets are sneakily solid with a righty on the hill, putting Cabrera in a good spot out of the two-hole.
Maikel Franco (R), 26 percent, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Cincinnati Reds (LHP Cody Reed): The Phillies infield rotation is still a work in progress, though Franco is doing his best to command full time play with four extra base hits, including a pair of homers. With a lefty on the hill, he'll be in there looking to build on his early success.
Ketel Marte (B), 6 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks at San Francisco Giants (LHP Derek Holland): Marte has been hitting from the No. 2 spot, where he should be in line to score some runs. The Diamondbacks are also one of the clubs still including the stolen base in their offensive repertoire, an area in which Marte can contribute.
C.J. Cron (R), 6 percent, Tampa Bay Rays at Chicago White Sox (RHP Miguel Gonzalez): With Brad Miller on the disabled list, nursing a left groin strain, Cron should see regular playing time. It's curious the Rays haven't used him more versus right-handed pitching as his career wRC+ without the platoon advantage is 111, compared to 94 versus southpaws. (For those unfamiliar with the stat, wRC+ is a park-neutral form of weighted on base average (wOBA) where 100 is league neutral, so a mark of 111 is noteworthy.) Gonzales is a fly ball pitcher, vulnerable to power hitters from either side of the plate. Cron enjoys a hefty park upgrade, on the road in Guaranteed Rate Park.
Pat Valaika (R), fewer than 1 percent, Colorado Rockies vs. San Diego Padres (LHP Clayton Richard): Valaika finds himself in the unexpected role of platoon first baseman. Fantasy managers don't care how or why, they just relish the chance to get some exposure to Coors Field.
Jesse Winker (L), 6 percent, Cincinnati Reds at Philadelphia Phillies (RHP Ben Lively): Winker's ability to draw walks has him atop the Reds lineup. There's still a logjam in the Cincinnati outfield, but Winker's early season .538 OBP should keep him as a starter. Those in points leagues should take note, as players with high walk rates are under-the-radar contributors in that popular format.
Derek Fisher (L), 3 percent, Houston Astros at Minnesota Twins (RHP Lance Lynn): Hitting ninth isn't the greatest setup, but it's palatable on the road since the visiting team is assured of a full nine innings of at bats. Lynn is prone to the homer and, while he's off to a slow start, Fisher has the power to take advantage.
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.