We've got an abbreviated Monday slate, featuring five games with early starts along with five evening affairs. Other than the marquee matchup of Chris Sale and Justin Verlander, there's not much by way of aces on the hill, making it a great chance to unearth pitchers and hitters capable of maximizing output on a day where you likely have several players with an off-day.
Let's dive in, beginning with a quartet of pitchers available in more than half of ESPN leagues.
Jharel Cotton (Oakland Athletics at Kansas City Royals, 29 percent): Cotton's 2017 debut was disappointing, considering how well he pitched late last season and into the spring. Don't worry, better days lie ahead for Cotton and his deceptive change-up. Expect a better effort against a Royals lineup devoid of the boppers usually encountered in the American League.
Charlie Morton (Houston Astros at Seattle Mariners, 7 percent): There's a lot of talk about increased velocity, as pitch speed is now being measured from the release point as opposed to five feet or so into flight. Morton's fastball has gained a few mph over and above the new reading. It remains to be seen if the 33-year-old journeyman can maintain the gains. The matchup isn't ideal, but Safeco Field is a good place to take the chance Morton's found something.
Jerad Eickhoff (Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Mets, 44 percent): In what's destined to be a pitcher's duel, Eickhoff squares off with Jacob deGrom in the City of Brotherly Love. Though he has to erase the stigma of pitching for a second-division team, it shouldn't be long before the fantasy community warms to the 26-year old curveballing righty. Eickhoff's skills improved in the second half last season and he looks primed to continue that trend.
Tyler Glasnow (Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds), 22 percent): There's no denying the 6-foot-8 right-hander's talent, but Glasnow's issue is control. As is the case with most tall hurlers, repeating mechanics is key. Once Glasnow irons this out, his strikeout upside will vault him up a tier or two. Monday presents an opportunity tap into that potential, facing the impatient Reds at home in pitcher-friendly PNC Park.
Despite just espousing the virtues of Glasnow, the Reds (behind Brandon Finnegan) should give the Bucs a run for their money. Closer Raisel Iglesias probably isn't available in your league but setup man, and sometimes closer Michael Lorenzen is owned on only 7 percent of ESPN leagues. The Reds have stated they're not locked into Iglesias getting every save opportunity, with Lorenzen in the mix for the odd chance. On a day where you likely have an opening in your pitching lineup, consider inserting Lorenzen, who is capable of working multiple innings with a bunch of punch outs.
Stephen Vogt (Oakland Athletics, 48 percent): Vogt is the fantasy equivalent of a video game cheat code. You know he'll almost always be in the lineup when a righty is on the hill so there's little reason to worry if he's playing. The A's backstop will face Ian Kennedy, who is always among the league leaders in homers allowed.
Ryan Zimmerman (Washington Nationals, 13 percent): The platoon advantage is important, but sometimes facing a weak pitcher with the same handedness is all you need. Unfortunately, presently Wainwrights qualifies as a middling, if not weak pitcher. The Nats should have a productive game, meaning Zimmerman has a good chance to fill a run-producing role. Second Base
Ryan Schimpf (San Diego Padres, 9 percent): Schimpf checks all the boxes desired for a Monday lineup filler. He enjoys the platoon edge against Tyler Chatwood in Coors Field. Better yet, Schimpf is a flyball hitter. Keep in mind the Padres are using him at the hot corner, but Schimpf retains second base eligibility from last season.
Ryon Healy (Oakland Athletics, 47 percent): Here's another instance where platoon edge isn't everything, as Healy has the power to take advantage of Kennedy's home run generosity.
Jordy Mercer (Pittsburgh Pirates, 2 percent): Slim picking at shortstop, but if Mercer his lead-off against a lefty like he did the last time the Bucs encountered a southpaw, he's worth a Monday start.
David Freese (Pittsburgh Pirates, 8 percent): Freese faces Brandon Finnegan, who's coming off a stellar 2017 debut. However, keep in mind the Reds' southpaw surrendered more long balls to righty swingers than anyone else last season. Freese qualifies at both first and third, lending your lineup some flexibility to work in another infielder at either corner.
Cesar Hernandez (Philadelphia Phillies, 15 percent): One of the best-kept secrets in fantasy baseball, Hernandez as excellent on-base skills along with the speed to swipe some bags.
Corey Dickerson (Tampa Bay Rays, 24 percent): Dickerson will step into the box against the enigma that is Michael Pineda. The Yankees righty continues to display sharp control with a bunch of whiffs, but he also continues to lack the out pitch when he needs it, serving up too many homers. Lefties give Pineda the most trouble, feeding right into Dickerson's strength, embellished by his spot at the top of the order.
Gerardo Parra (Colorado Rockies, 15 percent): Honestly friends, this one is too easy. As has been mentioned multiple times in this space, Parra will play nearly every day with Ian Desmond and David Dahl on the shelf. He's a virtual lock to be in against righties and, you know, Coors.