OK, we are finally a full week-plus into the MLB season. It's weird how quickly it goes from the excitement of Opening Day and everything to just being in the midseason swing of the daily grind.
Tuesday's slate doesn't offer a ton of great matchups for the day itself, but it does offer some interesting names to hold for the longer term.
Pitchers to stream
Jordan Zimmermann (R), rostered in 24 percent of ESPN leagues, Detroit Tigers vs. Cleveland Indians: Zimm has gotten away from his fastball and leaned into his two breaking balls two starts into the season and looks sharper than he has in recent years. He's toting a career-high 11 percent swinging-strike rate, albeit in a whopping 13 2/3 innings of work. He gets a great opportunity to stay hot by facing Cleveland on Tuesday. The Indians have the worst strikeout rate in baseball at 31 percent along with the second-worst wRC+ at 46. They desperately miss Francisco Lindor.
Kyle Gibson (R), 33 percent, Minnesota Twins at New York Mets: The Mets aren't hitting poorly so far this year with the 12th-best wRC+ (106), but their 28 percent strikeout rate is the fourth highest in the league. Gibson was brutal in his season debut, but he's coming off a career year, so let's not make too much out of 4 2/3 innings.
Jose Urena (R), 3 percent, Miami Marlins at Cincinnati Reds: Urena's had two ugly starts to open the season, but the streaming slate is thin and we're picking on a weak offense here. The Reds are fanning at a 27 percent clip (sixth highest) and have the absolute worst wRC+ in the league, coming in at just 37. Even acknowledging that the season has just started, the Reds have been awful. Urena has never been a big strikeout guy, but even he could drop a K per inning on the Reds
It looks like Ryan Brasier is the guy in Boston. Matt Barnes got the first save for the Red Sox, but Brasier has saved each of their past two wins. Yes, they have just three wins. Barnes has been brought in for the seventh inning of his past two outings, and Brasier has been brought in no earlier than the eighth and finished four of the five games in which he has pitched.
Projected game scores
Blake Swihart (S), 2 percent, Boston Red Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Matt Shoemaker): Swihart was a big-time prospect a few years back, but he's now 27 and kind of in a do-or-die situation. He's out of options and needs to show the Sox that he can handle catcher well enough to garner playing time. Reports suggest he spent his offseason working on his defense behind the dish, and if those improvements come through, he can take over the starting role, as his bat has much more upside than Christian Vazquez's. Part of Swihart's inclusion was to highlight him for fantasy owners in two-catcher leagues as an interesting C2 option.
Christian Walker (R), 29 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Texas Rangers (LHP Mike Minor): Walker has the full-time role at first base while Jake Lamb is on the mend, and his fast start has many thinking he could be this year's Jesus Aguilar. The former prospect has shown power throughout his minor league career and he's already clubbed three homers in the first nine games this year. He's done his best work against lefties throughout his career and gets to face Minor on Tuesday.
Chad Pinder (R), 4 percent, Oakland Athletics at Baltimore Orioles (LHP John Means): Speaking of lefty destroyers, Pinder has a 103-point platoon split favoring his work against southpaws. For some reason, the Athletics traded for Kendrys Morales instead of just letting Pinder play full time with Matt Olson out, but at least he continues to get time against lefties. Righties have handled him throughout his career, including a 188-point platoon split in Double-A and Triple-A last year.
Renato Nunez (R), 1 percent, Baltimore Orioles vs. Oakland Athletics (LHP Brett Anderson): Third was in a little light on available players, especially with Jung Ho Kang having an off day. Nunez has some punch and gets the platoon advantage, so I went with him here. He's been a regular for the Orioles, so he's also an interesting deep-league play, too.
Garrett Hampson (R), 13 percent, Colorado Rockies vs. Atlanta Braves (LHP Max Fried): I never root for injury because I'm not a ghoul, but the rash of injuries blasting the Rockies has to finally clear space for Hampson as a full-timer. He probably should've opened the year with a job based on his skills and big spring -- alas, he didn't. Now with Daniel Murphy, David Dahl, and Ryan McMahon out, surely he will be a regular for the foreseeable future now, right? RIGHT?! Hampson could very quickly play himself into an all-formats player given his electric speed, so monitor him closely. For now, scoop him for the Coors series against Atlanta and go from there.
Yonder Alonso (L), 10 percent, Chicago White Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays (RHP Charlie Morton): After a healthy .900 OPS against righties in 2018, Alonso fell back down to .776 last year, but he still popped 19 homers in 436 plate appearances. Alonso has walked (nine) more than he has struck out (five) in the early going and hopefully the hits start falling soon, too (.160). Obviously, Morton is no pushover as a matchup, but at least we are taking the platoon advantage here.
Dansby Swanson (R), 28 percent, Atlanta Braves at Colorado Rockies (RHP German Marquez): Don't freak out over Swanson's start -- it's not necessarily anything notable yet. It takes two seconds to find a similar nine-game run from 2018, but it happened in the middle of the season, so no one really remembers it. We're picking him, even in this difficult matchup, because he gets to hit in Coors Field. Keep an eye on him in case some real changes develop, but right now, it's just a nice run.
Jorge Soler (R), 24 percent, Kansas City Royals vs. Seattle Mariners (LHP Marco Gonzales): Soler smashed lefties in his shortened sample last year, toting a .315/.415/.648 line with four homers in 65 plate appearances. For his career, he has an .808 OPS and .206 ISO against southpaws, so he's an easy start against them, but if he can maintain or improve upon his .742 OPS against righties from last year, he could be an all-formats play, too.
Kevin Kiermaier (L), 17 percent, Tampa Bay Rays at Chicago White Sox (RHP Ervin Santana): Kiermaier's skills are plentiful, but health has consistently eluded him due in large part to his all-out play style. That style has no doubt been a major factor in him becoming one of the league's best center fielders, but it also has limited him to 105, 98, and 88 games in the past three seasons. He's off to another fast start with two homers, two stolen bases and a 1.020 OPS in 34 plate appearances, so let's ride the hot hand and hope he can finally find some health.
Raimel Tapia (L), 1 percent, Colorado Rockies vs. Atlanta Braves (LHP Max Fried): Like Hampson, the rush of injuries could finally open time for Tapia. The lefty-lefty matchup in this particular game isn't exactly a great setup, but it's more to highlight Tapia as a potential speed option for anyone in need of SBs in the short term. Of course, knowing Colorado, they'll probably sign Ellis Burks and Neifi Perez to take the spots instead of letting Tapia and Hampson play.
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).