With Opening Day on Thursday, many clubs with the potential for inclement weather leave Friday open, so we have the rare Friday slate without every team in action.
That said, the schedule-makers were prescient as a couple of postponements will be made up Friday, including the debut of Max Scherzer. We also have the first scratch of the season as Joey Lucchesi will be summoned by the Padres to take the spot of the oft-injured Robbie Erlin.
As always, we'll do our best to stay on top of all lineup changes, for both pitchers and hitters. The added off days on this ledger mean you'll need some replacements to keep your lineup at maximum potential. Here are some suggestions for each position, each available in at least half of ESPN leagues.
Pitchers to stream
Ivan Nova (R), rostered in 17 percent of ESPN leagues, Pittsburgh Pirates at Detroit Tigers: Last season was tough for Nova, but he draws a team in flux, largely sending righties to the dish. That said, both Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez have showed some life at the plate in the spring. Still, overall, the Tigers' lineup is below average. This call is also about Nova's second-half spike in strikeouts last season, sporting an impressive 8.7 K/9 after the break.
Mike Foltynewicz (R), 13 percent, Atlanta Braves vs. Philadelphia Phillies: Foltynewicz was a frequent visitor to this space last season, so it's no surprise he debuts early in 2018. He has the stuff to propel himself above the 50 percent rostered cutoff. To get there, Foltynewicz needs to return to 2016's level of control when he walked just 2.6 batters per nine innings as compared to 3.5 last season. The Phillies' lineup is improving, but it's young and likely anxious, helping mitigate Folty's control woes.
Tyler Skaggs (L), 4 percent, Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics: Once a highly regarded prospect, injuries, including Tommy John surgery have slowed Skaggs' development. Healthy now, the 26-year-old southpaw looks to get his career back on course, facing a powerful Oakland lineup, albeit at a venue hurting homers. There's strikeout potential here as the Athletics' muscle comes with a lot of swings and misses.
Jhoulys Chacin (R), 3 percent, Milwaukee Brewers at San Diego Padres: Small-sample splits can be misleading, but it's safe to say Chacin is comfortable on the Petco Park hill, where he led the league in home ERA last season as a member of Friday's opponent, the Padres. Chacin has the luxury of strong outfield defense to track down the infrequent fly balls he allows. The Padres have improved their lineup, at least on paper, but it's still not as daunting as the iron of the league.
The Texas Rangers announced Keone Kela will be their primary closer, with Kevin Jepsen ready to take over if Kela scuffles. Kela has the stuff to get the job done, his concern is the mental aspect. Alex Claudio returns to the setup role, especially when the better lefty swingers are due up.
Pitchers to avoid
Blake Snell (L), 56 percent, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox: Snell's 2017 was a roller-coaster ride, ending on a high note he hopes to carry into 2018. However, he draws a talented Red Sox lineup, albeit in pitcher friendly Tropicana Field. Boston poses trouble for Snell since the Red Sox are stacked with patient hitters who make solid contact, while the lefty's control can be spotty.
Aaron Sanchez (R), 57 percent, Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees: Sanchez is a much better pitcher than he looked last season, a campaign obviously affected by persistent blisters. However, even when healthy, Sanchez isn't especially dominant, a trait useful when dealing with the Yankees' lineup.
Projected game scores
GS is the projected game score for the pitcher. "*" means the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate rating; these are the author's ratings.
Matt Wieters (B), 6 percent, Washington Nationals at Cincinnati Reds (RHP Homer Bailey): It wasn't just last season; Bailey has scuffled for three injury-riddled seasons, so you want all the exposure you can get to the batters facing him. The problem is, most of the Nationals are rostered, leaving Wieters as the likely available free agent. Washington has been in the market to upgrade from Wieters, so you know the veteran wants to get off to a good start.
Hanley Ramirez (R), 44 percent, Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays (LHP Blake Snell): Beware that in most leagues, Ramirez is only eligible at first base, at least for now. Perhaps buoyed with Alex Cora in town as the Red Sox's new skipper, Ramirez appears rejuvenated, opening the season as the regular first baseman, hitting in the third spot in the order.
Chase Utley (L), 1 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants (RHP Johnny Cueto): The veteran is back for another season, getting early playing time versus righties while Justin Turner is sidelined. Cueto is coming off a down season in which he dealt with assorted injuries, including blister issues. It's hard to judge if his skid was simply health or a decline in skills.
Derek Dietrich (L), 2 percent, Miami Marlins vs. Chicago Cubs (RHP Kyle Hendricks): Dietrich returns to an unfamiliar clubhouse as last season's starting outfield was traded in the offseason. While he played more infield than outfield over the years, Dietrich can shag flies and will be called upon to do so while a couple of the Marlins' acquisitions get up to speed. Dietrich handles right-handers well, while Hendricks' sharpness has been in decline.
Freddy Galvis (B), 7 percent, San Diego Padres vs. Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Jhoulys Chacin): There aren't many shortstops that meet our eligibility requirements, which usually means Galvis gets the nod since he's a switch-hitter, always enjoying the platoon bump. As mentioned earlier, the Padres are sporting a revamped lineup. It might gel right away, or it may need time. On paper, hitting in front of Wil Myers and Eric Hosmer should result in some runs scored.
Colin Moran (L), 4 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates at Detroit Tigers (RHP Jordan Zimmermann): Zimmermann has been one of the weakest arms in the league the past several seasons. Maybe he figures it back out, but more likely, he'll continue to be a target for opposing hitters, Moran may have moved from the world champions with a prolific lineup to a middling offense, but he now has a regular job ... which is the key. Give him the platoon edge in a sneaky good hitter's park, and it's a nice spot to get a piece of Moran before others find out he can hit.
Neil Walker (B), 7 percent, New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Aaron Sanchez): Like Galvis, Walker is a nice fallback as a switch-hitter, especially with a righty on the hill. The Yankees should do some damage, so even if Walker is at the bottom of the order, he'll be given some chances to be productive.
Derek Fisher (L), 3 percent, Houston Astros at Texas Rangers (RHP Doug Fister): With Yuli Gurriel hurt (and set to serve a five-game suspension), Fisher will see playing time on the strong side of a left field platoon. His late-season hot spell with the Red Sox aside, Fister is a rather weak hurler, in a tough spot facing the loaded Astros.
Leonys Martin (L), 2 percent, Detroit Tigers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Ivan Nova): Why not? The Tigers may as well take a look at Martin. Last season was a struggle for the speedy outfielder, but he has shown some pop, hitting 15 homers for the Mariners in 2016 along with consecutive 30-plus stolen base seasons for the Rangers in 2013-14.
Preston Tucker (L), less than 1 percent, Atlanta Braves vs. Philadelphia Phillies (RHP Nicholas Pivetta): The Braves have determined Ronald Acuna needs more time in the minors, availing a chance for Tucker to cement a roster spot on an up-and-coming roster. Tucker was lost in the shuffle in Houston, but at least has the chance to serve as a reserve in Atlanta.
Hitter matchup ratings
Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's past 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.