The Tuesday after Opening Day is always a shorter slate to protect against weather issues in the Midwest and Northeast parts of the country, where it's not always spring weather just yet. The teams that open on the Sunday before the real Opening Day get their second games going, as do the teams playing out west or in closed-roof venues.
For those who might have missed the first couple of iterations of this year's Daily Notes, I'll let Todd Zola once again explain what we're doing this year:
We'll be focusing strictly on seasonal fantasy leagues in this space. The objective is identifying pitchers and hitters likely available for pickup, or perhaps stashed on reserve, enjoying a matchup worthy of being active that day.
The other change is increased attention to the popular points-game format, since the bulk of analysis is usually done with the undertone of rotisserie scoring. Understanding the type of players better (or worse) in points-based formats is a great way to get an edge on your competition.
And with that, we're off...
In need of a spot starter for Tuesday's slate? Here are some of our top recommendations.
Both pitchers in a single matchup are your best bet for a quality spot start on Tuesday. Zach Davies (45 percent owned) and Tyler Anderson (12 percent) go toe-to-toe in Milwaukee and could yield a pitcher's duel, a relative rarity in Milwaukee (especially with the Rockies involved). Davies was a hidden breakout last year, logging 163.3 innings of a 3.97 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. He is more about contact management than swing-and-miss (7.4 K/9), but he did log 15 quality starts and didn't allow more than three earned runs in any of his final six starts in 2016.
Anderson, meanwhile, tamed the beast that is Coors Field with a 3.00 ERA there in 78 innings, markedly better than his 4.71 in 36.3 road innings. So why the recommendation on the road? Because his skills were nearly identical at home (3.8 K:BB) and away (3.1), and the small sample of road pitching meant that a couple of shaky starts really inflated the bottom line. While this wasn't the basis for his selection, I will mention that he had a strong five-inning start in Milwaukee in August with just two earned runs and 10 strikeouts.
If you're betting on a Patrick Corbin (4.1 percent) rebound, you could find yourself repeatedly frustrated by the bullpen in Arizona. Its futility was already on display in the opener, as they allowed three of the five runs that San Francisco scored, along with a Fernando Rodney blown save, and that could be the norm out in the desert this year.
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.
Let's find one player at each position with less than 50 percent ownership in ESPN leagues in a favorable spot.
Yan Gomes (5.5 percent) was terrible last season, but was it all bad? For the third time in four seasons, he was serviceable (if not good) against left-handed pitching. He also was eerily similar to new teammate Edwin Encarnacion with runners in scoring position last season (Gomes hit .250 and slugged .467 while Encarnacion hit .250 and slugged .476). And you're telling me I get him at this price tag against a pitcher in Martin Perez, who allowed righties to hit .291 (plus 16 of his 18 homers allowed)?
It's a tough position to find widely available bats that you would want to use. Most teams have their 1B slot filled with a star, but maybe you have Miguel Cabrera in there and his off day in Chicago isn't doing you any good. You can take a look at Yonder Alonso (1.6 percent), who has made some swing changes this season in hopes of unlocking some latent power. Results were there in the spring (1.148 OPS, 4 HR in the Cactus League), but the real deal is a lot different than spring training.
Ryan Schimpf (5.5 percent) absolutely torched righties (.231/.352/.556, 17 HR) en route to a surprising 20-homer debut in just 330 plate appearances last year. It's a boom-or-bust profile, but the beauty there is that he can make your day on any given pitch with that power.
Andrelton Simmons (3.9 percent) will never be known for his bat thanks to his all-world defense, but he did handle himself pretty well against southpaws last year with a .295/.342/.410 line in 115 PA. The aforementioned defense guarantees his spot in the lineup if you looking for surefire playing time. Meanwhile, Sean Manaea had a 228-point platoon split favoring righty hitters last year, setting a scenario for Simmons to collect a couple of hits while filling in for your fantasy teams.
Yangervis Solarte (47.3 percent) is gradually improving against right-handed pitching, and he gets a chance to show that growth against a righty in Kenta Maeda, who faded in the second half last season (2.95 ERA in the first half, 4.25 in the second half). Solarte slashed .243/.334/.339 against righties in 2014, .278/.328/.443 in 2015 and .291/.346/.472 last season. Maeda struggled in high-leverage situations (RISP) last season, as opponents recorded the same slugging percentage against him as they did James Shields (.475).
David Peralta (21.4 percent) is facing a right-handed pitcher in Johnny Cueto, and anytime Peralta is facing a righty, you should be considering him. Over the past two seasons, Peralta owns a .309 batting average, with 38 percent of his hits going for extra bases in his 515 at-bats against RHP. For reference, Xander Bogaerts (ADP: 29.1) hit .292 with 30 percent of his hits going for extra bases in his 527 at-bats against RHP last season. There are two sides to every matchup, and Cueto isn't scary enough to worry me. Last season was the first one since 2012 in which left-handed hitters had a better slash against Cueto than righties. The nice part about this matchup is that it might only take one swing, as 80 percent of Cueto's home runs allowed last season came on the road, while Peralta's slugging percentage was 36 percent higher at home in 2016 than it was on the road.
If I had told you a year or two ago that an article about players on fewer than 50 percent of rosters would include Jason Heyward (32.6 percent), you would have wondered about my health, and yet, here we are. The former uber-prospect is coming off a disastrous 2016 with some swing changes designed to get his bat back on track and improve the .647 OPS he put up against righties. He draws former teammate Adam Wainwright, who allowed an .841 OPS to lefties last season -- the second-highest mark of his career (.867 in 2006). At the risk of making too much out of one game, if Heyward is going to get back on track, these are the kinds of matchups he needs to exploit.
Rickie Weeks (0.1 percent) is a deep cut, but the 34-year-old has stuck around this long because of his ability to club lefties. He only got 76 plate appearances against them last year, but he made the most of them with a 1.010 OPS and six of his nine homers. CC Sabathia had a 63-point platoon split favoring right-handed hitters last season, and the platoon-happy Rays will likely slot Weeks into the lineup, possibly even at first base in Logan Morrison's stead. He doesn't qualify at 1B in fantasy just yet, but drop him in at OF if he gets the call.
Notes: Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's past history (three years' worth, as well as past 21 days) and 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 1-10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. So, 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.