<
>

Daily fantasy notes: Pitcher projections and hitter ratings for Tuesday

Hunter Pence is turning heads in his first season with the Rangers. Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Tuesday slate is really interesting. There are several arms to consider for a spot-start and many of those are worth hanging onto beyond Tuesday while the hitting pool has some really sharp hitters who should undoubtedly be on more rosters at this point.

I'll highlight those guys who you might consider beyond just a Tuesday look.

Pitching

Jerad Eickhoff (R), rostered in 37 percent of ESPN leagues, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Milwaukee Brewers: How is Eickhoff this widely available? It's not a huge sample with a 4-inning relief appearance and four starts, but Eickhoff has been excellent so far this season. He has adopted the new age approach of moving away from his fastball in favor of his secondary stuff. His fastball is down to a career-low 38% usage rate and he's using both his slider and curveball 31% of the time. The slider usage is nearly double his career mark and it's been a huge weapon for him. The surge in breaking ball effectiveness has helped curb his career issues with lefties as he's toting a career-best .679 OPS against them. Milwaukee brings the thunder so this won't be an easy outing, but I like holding Eickhoff even beyond this start. I like him to maintain a sub-4.00 ERA and strike out 23-25 percent of his batters.

Brandon Woodruff (R), 31 percent, Milwaukee Brewers at Philadelphia Phillies: Woodruff had a 6.00 ERA through his first three starts which may have discouraged some people, but he had a 30 percent strikeout rate and 6 percent walk rate. This was a clear case where the underlying FIP (2.51 for Woodruff) was really helpful for maintaining confidence. Since then he has posted a 3.29 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings, notching at least six strikeouts in five starts. The WHIP has been a little high during the run with 30 hits allowed, but a .386 BABIP is likely to come down if he continues to pitch like this. Like Eickhoff, this isn't an easy matchup, but I like holding him beyond just this start.

Wade Miley (L), 14 percent, Houston Astros at Detroit Tigers: Miley rode a cutter to an intriguing second half surge last year and then signed with the Astros this offseason which fueled some interest in the 32-year old lefty. He's continued to be successful with a cutter-first approach, amping the usage to 54 percent, but it's still devoid of any real strikeout prowess. His 16 percent rate is tied for the 4th-lowest among 93 qualified starters. He could match or exceed his season-high of seven strikeouts (achieved twice) in Detroit as the Tigers are tied for the 3rd-highest rate against lefties at 28 percent.

Bullpen

The Yankees pen looks prepared to take off again. They are still without Dellin Betances, but Tommy Kahnle has returned to his 2017 form after a tough 2018 while Chad Green has come back from the minors after getting himself back on track. Green fanned 14 in his 7 1/3 innings of work, allowing just seven base runners and two runs at Triple-A. He returned on Sunday and blitzed through three Rays on 12 pitches, striking out all three. With Aroldis Chapman and Adam Ottavino already dominating, the re-emergence of Kahnle and Green once again gives them a remarkably deep pen to cover their starters.

There's a pair of bullpen games on Tuesday's schedule with Cam Bedrosian taking the mound for the Angels before handing the baton to Felix Pena. Pena has pitched well, but is a risk against the potent Twins offense, especially in Target Field. As they suggested they might in the spring, the Giants are deploying an opener in Toronto, with Nick Vincent doing the honors. It's not clear who will follow, though Tyler Beede is lined up and was the originally announced starter. It's early in the week for a desperate play, but if you're feeling frisky, Beede's numbers are bloated after facing the Rockies and Reds in their home parks. The Blue Jays are the third-weakest lineup versus right-handers.

Hitting

Catcher -- Willians Astudillo (R), 14 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. Los Angeles Angels (RHP Felix Pena): His trip to the injured list no doubt tanked his roster rate, but he's back now and will once again be a useful option, even in one-catcher leagues. Catchers rarely deliver batting average goodness, but that's Astudillo's specialty. The emergence of Mitch Garver behind the dish might limit Astudillo's starts there, but he should remain a utility option for the club as he can play everywhere.

First Base -- Matt Olson (L), 57 percent, Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners (RHP Mike Leake): Olson has been back about a week since surgery to remove his hamate bone and while he exceeds the 50 percent rate we usually aim for, he's too available not to mention. The hamate injury can sap power upon return and that could be the case with Olson, but I think he needs to be on a roster for the time being as we wait to see how his power looks. He has five hits with a double and a homer in his last five games and if he hits his groove, he can be a premium 1B option.

Second Base -- Tommy La Stella (L), 22 percent, Los Angeles Angels at Minnesota Twins (RHP Kyle Gibson): La Stella entered the season with 10 HR in 947 career plate appearances. He has 9 HR in 117 so far this year, along with more walks (12) than strikeouts (8). He is obliterating righties with eight of the nine homers and a gaudy .960 OPS. Gibson improved some against lefties last year with a .733 OPS, but this year he's back up over .800 for the third time in the last four seasons (.805 in 89 PA).

Third Base -- Yandy Diaz (R), 53 percent, Tampa Bay Rays at Miami Marlins (LHP Caleb Smith): Don't you love it when a plan comes together? When Diaz was traded to Tampa Bay, the fantasy community collectively got excited about the prospects of the Rays teaching him some lift to maximize his ability to smash the ball. They've done just that, boosting his flyball 10 points to 33 percent. That jump along with a 24 percent HR/FB rate has fueled his 9 HR in 158 PA. Lefties are feeling the heat, allowing four of the homers and a 1.162 OPS in 44 PA. Smith has been great this year, but we'll still roll the dice with Diaz here.

Shortstop -- Ronny Rodriguez (R), 4 percent, Detroit Tigers vs. Houston Astros (LHP Wade Miley): Rodriguez is making a strong case to play every day in Detroit. He's played just 19 games, coming up to fill-in for Jordy Mercer and now he looks like a fixture for the foreseeable future. It's only 76 PA, but his batted ball profile is backing up the surge. He's mashing the ball with a 47 percent Hard contact rate while hitting it in the air (46 percent) and pulling it (62 percent) a ton, all key factors for power. This is a hot hand play that you should monitor closely and jump out if it turns sour, but it's hard to ignore while he's rolling.

Corner Infield -- Gio Urshela (R), 5 percent, New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Andrew Cashner): Like Rodriguez, Urshela is a former Cleveland prospect unexpectedly surging at age-27. Unlike Rodriguez, this is more of a batting average-fueled run thanks to a .392 BABIP, but he isn't striking out (16 percent) and driving in runs like crazy right now with 9 in 11 May games.

Middle Infield -- Michael Chavis (R), 46 percent, Boston Red Sox vs. Colorado Rockies (LHP Kyle Freeland): Chavis saw his roster rate jump just six points since I included him in this space a week ago and I'm not sure how he's failing to crack lineups or at least reserve rosters. The .970 OPS will smooth out some, but I think he's a good bet to stay above .800 the rest of the way with power and strong R/RBI totals as a part of that electric Boston offense.

Outfield -- Franmil Reyes (R), 28 percent, San Diego Padres at Los Angeles Dodgers (LHP Clayton Kershaw): When Reyes clubbed 16 homers in 87 games last year, it was clear he wouldn't maintain that rate... instead, he improved it. With his 11 homers so far, he'd have 23 if he kept this pace through 87 games. Reyes is now a fixture in the lineup and hitting in the 2-spot. He has spent the last 13 games there and put up a .352/.345/.685 line with five of his aforementioned 11 homers. Yes, his OBP is lower than his AVG, that wasn't a typo. It might be the theme of the day, but this is yet another player than I'm holding beyond Tuesday. Plus, Kershaw is a really tough draw so just scooping Reyes for Tuesday might not pay dividends.

Outfield -- Hunter Pence (R), 23 percent, Texas Rangers at Kansas City Royals (LHP Danny Duffy): Pence has been a top 30 outfielder for the season according to the Player Rater and there's a lot of support for his rebirth. His StatCast data is off the charts as he sits in the 88th percentile or better in Exit Velocity, Hard Hit rate, xwOBA, xBA, xSLG, and Sprint Speed. The speed is probably the most surprising aspect as you don't expect a 36-year old to regain foot speed. His strikeout and walk rate are also substantially improved. This is absolutely wild and I understand the reluctance to fully buy in, but he has to be on more than a quarter of the site's rosters.

Outfield -- Alex Verdugo (L), 31 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Diego Padres (RHP Chris Paddack): Since A.J. Pollock's injury, Verdugo has started all but two games and become a staple in the Dodgers lineup. Verdugo has just a 10 percent strikeout rate, lending credence to the notion that his .333 AVG could be here to stay. His minor league scouting reports didn't give him great power upside, but his high contact ability and the bouncier MLB ball make him a great candidate to hit more homers than we'd normally project. The four he has so far are already pacing well beyond projections and if he logs 500 plate appearances, he could chase down 20 HR. He gets a tough draw on Tuesday, but the schedule sets up nicely with just two lefties on the slate over the next two weeks.