Thanks for joining me for my third season of Wednesday MLB Daily Notes! I'm stoked for another season of helping you lock in a fantasy championship.
The first few days of the 2019 season have been filled with plenty of homers, questionable velocities and odd scheduling.
We know the last one will be an issue all season, and the Angels and Mariners are taking a breather Wednesday. Among those actually working for your fantasy lineups, the red-hot Brewers travel to face the Reds to start a 14-game calendar at 12:35 p.m. ET.
Trying to balance budding statistics in 2019 with trends we've established from 2018 is a tricky early-season play, but we have plenty of guidelines to follow. Sometimes, we have to dig back multiple years to see who's interesting. Today's first starting pitcher was heavy on my "stash list" in fantasy drafts, and he's wasted little time rewarding my faith.
Pitchers to stream
Matt Shoemaker (R), rostered in 12.0 percent of ESPN leagues, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Baltimore Orioles: The righty's seven-inning, seven-strikeout scoreless debut reminded us of his upside; he sustained a torn tendon last March and only returned in September. Health woes have stopped Shoemaker from building too much on his promising 2016, and any fringe AL East pitcher should cause a bit of concern. Luckily, the division may be weaker than blindly expected, though we've known the Orioles' lineup will offer a soft landing.
Matthew Boyd (L), 21.1 percent, Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees: The Yankees placed Giancarlo Stanton (biceps) and Miguel Andujar (shoulder) on the 10-day injured list Monday, exposing their lineup for streaming. Boyd gave up three earned runs in five frames but struck out 10 in his debut, again flashing the quiet improvements he made in K/9 (8.4) and BB/9 (2.7) in 2018 hidden beneath his 4.39 ERA. If you're OK with getting the whiffs but suffering the consequences of Yankee Stadium, go for it, though given the increasingly brittle state of the Yanks, Boyd is set up for a surprise gem.
Carlos Rodon (L), 28.3 percent, Chicago White Sox at Cleveland Indians: Notice a theme? Cleveland's lineup lacks punch without Francisco Lindor (calf, ankle). Rodon stifled the Royals in 5 2/3 innings on Opening Day, striking out six and walking just one. He settled for a strikeout dip last year in order to improve his control, though that at least showed he may be turning a corner in his winding yet promising career. The 26-year-old could continue putting things together in this favorable intra-division draw.
Jameson Taillon (R), 98.4 percent, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. St. Louis Cardinals: Taillon started off his 2019 poorly at the Reds (four runs in six innings), but while PNC Park is considered a breather for most pitchers, Taillon actually allowed a higher HR/9 there (1.23) than elsewhere (0.73). While I believe he's a steady fantasy SP2 and saw plenty of reality in his late-season improvements, I wasn't as high on him as others this past draft season due to his less-than-elite K/9. I wouldn't count on an ace-like performance against Paul Goldschmidt's Cardinals.
Seattle just lost Hunter Strickland (lat strain) for what could be months, but Elias, a former starter, has stuff that could play up out of the 'pen. A better bet to run away with the job might be coming back Tuesday: Anthony Swarzak, who spun a 2.33 ERA with a 10.6 K/9 in 2017 and has six saves across the past two years, is set to be activated from the IL after rehabbing his shoulder. Pick him up where you can.
Baltimore, meanwhile, probably doesn't care who shuts things down. Why should they? They're certainly not aiming to compete in 2019 despite their hot start. Bleier? Mychal Givens? Mike Wright? Good luck.
Projected game scores
Austin Hedges (R), 38.3 percent, San Diego Padres vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (LHP Robbie Ray): Having started the year 4-for-11, Hedges continues trying to protect his playing time from prospect Francisco Mejia. The 26-year-old should work behind the dish for Joey Lucchesi, considering the battery connected with a 3.08 ERA and 3.8 K/BB in 19 pairings last year. Hedges also hit five homers in only 89 at-bats against left-handers last year.
Wilmer Flores (R), 29.6 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks at San Diego Padres (LHP Joey Lucchesi): Flores finally gets a sustained chance in a major-league lineup and should add second-base eligibility in the coming days, and though his splits have calmed in recent years, he still holds a lifetime .205 ISO and .775 OPS against lefties. Though he's working on ways to temper righty opponents, Lucchesi yielded a .339 wOBA to them in 2018.
DJ LeMahieu (R), 59.3 percent, New York Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers (LHP Matt Boyd): We typically cut off players with a rostered percentage at around 50, but considering Andujar's news, LeMahieu needed a spot today. He'll step in as starting third baseman and probably will lead off against nearly every left-handed pitcher; he slashed .330/.360/.540 with a .380 wOBA against them last year.
Johan Camargo (B), 4.2 percent, Atlanta Braves vs. Chicago Cubs (LHP Jon Lester): With the Braves facing a left-handed starter for the first time this season, Camargo may slide onto the card to replace Nick Markakis, now that he's seeing more work in the outfield. The switch hitter didn't have a huge split among the handedness of opposing pitchers, but Atlanta will take advantage of his .347 wOBA against southpaws from last year whenever possible.
Willy Adames (R), 15.2 percent, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Colorado Rockies (RHP German Marquez): Betting against Marquez on the road seems like a poor idea, but the middle and bottom tiers of the shortstop crop don't line up well when balancing with the rest of today's roster. Plus, why is Adames being ignored? His late-season adjustments following his recall from Triple-A Durham helped him finish strong (.305/.383/.435 with a .355 wOBA and seven homers).
Maybe you simply lost track of him during your draft. Rectify that mistake now and see if he can build on his .786 OPS versus righties and .778 OPS at Tropicana Field last year.
Mitch Moreland (L), 4.6 percent, Boston Red Sox at Oakland Athletics (RHP Marco Estrada): Another season, another "use Moreland against righty pitchers" nod. A close friend of platoon shufflers in head-to-head leagues, the 33-year-old hit 13 of his 15 homers and enjoyed a .780 OPS versus righties in 2018. Sure, Estrada's home park tempers fly-ball dangers -- good for his approach -- but Moreland should deliver at least one extra-base knock.
Ben Zobrist (B), 31.2 percent, Chicago Cubs at Atlanta Braves (RHP Julio Teheran): While Teheran's velocity looked better in his regular-season debut than it did in spring, he still failed to clear five innings and allowed a big fly. Zobrist will continue floating between several different positions and occupy a favorable lineup spot against lefties, whom he peppered at a .333/.381/.407 slash last year.
Scott Schebler (L), 5.2 percent, Cincinnati Reds vs. Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Freddy Peralta): The lefty stick probably will see his presence on fantasy rosters increase now that Nick Senzel's (ankle) timetable to debut looks slower than expected. Peralta leans on his four-seam fastball. Against four-seamers last year, Schebler, who's also an ideal lefty-on-righty play, unleashed a .377 wOBA, .483 slugging percentage and .282 clip.
Alex Gordon (L), 2 percent, Kansas City Royals vs. Minnesota Twins (RHP Kyle Gibson): Paul Sporer promoted adding Jorge Soler in yesterday's notes (I agree), so I'll go in a different -- certainly less exciting -- direction. Gordon's defense tells most of his story, but the 35-year-old at least was useful against righties last year (.750) OPS, and for all his improvements last year, Gibson still struggled to a 1.95 K/BB against lefty batters.
Jake Marisnick (R), less than 1 percent, Houston Astros at Texas Rangers (LHP Mike Minor): The glove-friendly Marisnick's plate skills typically fall short of fantasy relevance, but he's off to a 4-for-11 start to 2019 and often has more upside against a left-hander. With this clash taking place in Arlington, where Minor gave up six runs in his season opener, Marisnick could at least be a single-day asset where it pays to churn bats. If he's in the lineup instead of a starter resting at designated hitter, Tyler White (12.3 percent) will do, as well.
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); a 1-2 is poor, 3-4 is fair, 5-6 is average, 7-8 is very good and 9-10 is excellent.