Weather has been a major wild card in the early going and no doubt has made a big impact in daily lineup leagues. There is no way to truly combat this, and we are probably through the worst of it at this point, but keep a close eye on things and make sure you are getting as many actives into your fantasy baseball lineups as you can. Replacing a postponed player with a bench guy who does something for you could be the difference between winning and losing a weekly head-to-head match.
Pitchers to stream
Nick Pivetta (R), rostered in 23 percent of ESPN leagues, Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves: Pivetta flashed some strikeout upside last year with a 24 percent mark, but far too many of the other 75 percent of batters facing him did a lot of damage, leaving him with a 6.02 ERA in 133 innings. This year has seen him amplify the strikeout rate to a tremendous 29 percent mark, thanks in large part to further development of his slider and curveball, both of which have helped him slice more than 500 points off his OPS against righties. Meanwhile, he's held steady against lefties despite a lofty .400 BABIP. While the Braves haven't been a rollover in the early season, I'm still willing to run solid arms against them, and Pivetta's early-season work has him on the path to a breakout campaign. I'd strongly consider keeping him even beyond this start.
Trevor Williams (R), 23 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Colorado Rockies: Did you know the Rockies have the second-worst OPS against righties on the road since the start of 2017? Full disclosure: I'm playing that angle more than anything else with Williams. He is riding an unsustainable 92 percent left-on-base rate, and he has a .226 batting average against compared to his 1.56 ERA, as his skills show him to be more of a low-4s-ERA kind of guy. His favorable home ballpark and ability to keep the ball in the yard give hope for a baseline quality start (6 IP/3 ER), and anything else would be gravy.
Trevor Cahill (R), 0 percent, Oakland Athletics vs. Chicago White Sox: He is slated to get called up from Nashville for Tuesday's start, but stay tuned to make sure that is still the case. Cahill has been fine in a couple of tune-ups in Triple-A, outside of a few too many walks. Luckily for him, the White Sox have walked just 7 percent of the time against righties since 2017, tied for the fewest in the league. Cahill came out of the gates on fire last year with a 3.14 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 10 starts, including a 30 percent strikeout rate. Let's see if we can get that version of Cahill here to start 2018.
The Midwest-based teams and their opponents over the weekend faced a wave of postponements due to bad weather, so their bullpens will be well-rested heading into this week. That includes the White Sox, Twins, Tigers, Yankees, Indians, Royals, Blue Jays, Cubs, Angels and Braves.
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.
Jonathan Lucroy (R), 48 percent, Oakland Athletics vs. Chicago White Sox (RHP Miguel Gonzalez): Lucroy hasn't really turned back into his old self, and it's unreasonable to expect as much at this point, but he is doing his best work against righties thus far with a .300 BA and all three of his doubles against them. Meanwhile, Gonzalez has been torched in his two outings (8.68 ERA) and hasn't flashed any skills to suggest a major turnaround is coming (4 K's and 4 BB in nine innings of work).
Colin Moran (L), 24 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Colorado Rockies (RHP Chad Bettis): Moran joined the launch angle revolution last year and untapped his power with a career-high 18 homers. The gains have held in the early going with a healthy .843 OPS, six strikeouts and five walks in 43 plate appearances. He has only one homer so far, but he is smacking the ball with a 38 percent hard-contact rate and maintaining his fly ball lean.
Jed Lowrie (B), 14 percent, Oakland Athletics vs. Chicago White Sox (RHP Miguel Gonzalez): I recommended Lowrie in this spot just last week, and he delivered a cool 0-for-4 before reeling off a pair of three-hit games in his next three contests. Let's give him another shot! This time it's against a righty, and he's been markedly better against them since the start of 2017, including a fast 13-for-40 start. I covered the shortcomings of Gonzalez in Lucroy's entry. And Gonzalez is even worse against lefties over his career.
Wilmer Flores (R), 2 percent, New York Mets vs. Washington Nationals (LHP Gio Gonzalez): While his lone home run so far this season is against a righty, Flores has always done his best against lefties. He's essentially a star-level player against them with a .314/.349/.620 line versus the Nats since 2015. The Mets regularly place him high in the lineup against southpaws too. Gonzalez is looking to prove his 2017 was no fluke, but his 1.41 WHIP thus far says the 2.20 ERA is on thin ice. Righties are usually the problem when his games go south, as they've clubbed 83 percent of his extra-base hits since the start of last year.
Ketel Marte (B), 8 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Francisco Giants (RHP Johnny Cueto): First off, Cueto isn't guaranteed to make this start, so Marte could draw a much lesser arm. A .231 BABIP has sunk his work against righties, and the batted-ball profile backs the struggles, but we're still talking about 33 plate appearances. I am willing to bet on his career batting averages of .276 against righties and .270 at home over a short sample.
Danny Valencia (R), 1 percent, Baltimore Orioles at Detroit Tigers (LHP: Francisco Liriano): Jonathan Schoop's injury has pushed Tim Beckham to second with Valencia and manning the hot corner. Valencia as been quietly effective versus southpaws for his career, sporting a nifty 135 wRC+ when enjoying the platoon advantage.
Jonathan Villar (S), 24 percent, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Cincinnati Reds (RHP Sal Romano): Villar has done the bulk of his positive numbers against righties, sporting a .343 average, his lone home run and both of his stolen bases. Romano has more walks than strikeouts and hasn't really missed bats since his low minors days.
Jose Pirela (R), 9 percent, San Diego Padres vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (LHP Alex Wood): Pirela was in this exact space last week against a lefty and offered up a big 3-for-5 effort with a run and an RBI. He's gone 4-for-8 with two more doubles against lefties since then, giving him a robust .409 BA against them for the season in 23 plate appearances. He plays every day, bats top four in the order and has shown early on that 2017 was no fluke. Pirela is someone to consider holding on a more permanent basis.
Steve Pearce (R), 8 percent, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Kansas City Royals (LHP Danny Duffy): Pearce has always been a lefty destroyer with 107-point platoon split and 28 homers per 600 plate appearances. Duffy is off to a terrible start this year, and even at his best, he's never really handled righties. He has a 219-point platoon split for his career, with a .766 OPS, and righties already are toting an .871 mark in the early going of 2018.
Matt Joyce (L), 10 percent, Oakland Athletics vs. Chicago White Sox (RHP Miguel Gonzalez): I had to get one more Athletic into the mix, so why not get their best platoon bat? Joyce has posted an .864 OPS against righties since 2016, with a 16 percent walk rate and 38 homers in 767 plate appearances.
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.