In an effort to serve daily fantasy players and season-long fantasy players who use daily lineup settings, we present daily notes each day of the season. It's a daily version of our Fantasy Forecaster in which we project the best pitcher game scores as well as the best team hitting matchups based upon a number of factors.
Matt Harvey did not fare so very in his inaugural start, but then the pesky Kansas City Royals are trouble for a lot of starters. Harvey's next start is less daunting as he and the New York Mets conclude a set with the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field. The visitors will send Jeremy Hellickson to the hill, hoping for a repeat of his stellar beginning to the season. Still, at home, the edge goes to the Metropolitans. However, Harvey isn't as sure a thing as a Clayton Kershaw or a Max Scherzer, which makes him a better tournament play than cash option.
Was I nervous watching Felix Hernandez rarely top 90 mph in his opener? I wasn't nervous. Maybe I was a little bit concerned, but that's not the same thing (hat tip to the Princess Bride). Last season King Felix averaged 92 mph, compared to 89.4 earlier in the week against the Texas Rangers. He also struggled with his control, issuing five walks in just six frames, but Hernandez is in a good position to get things in gear with a home tilt against the Oakland Athletics. Hernandez is best utilized on multiple pitcher sites to save a little space in your budget.
If your philosophy is that the elite are match-up proof, then perhaps you rank Jake Arrieta above Hernandez or even Harvey. He was certainly drafted as such in seasonal formats and looked in mid-season form in his 2016 debut, tossing seven strong against the Angels. However, Chase Park has become one of the more dangerous venues for pitchers to visit, as the Arizona Diamondbacks can score runs and the venue aids them in that endeavor. The numbers show it's better to stick with home hurlers for cash games. Don't worry, there will be plenty of better chances to deploy last year's National League Cy Young Award recipient.
Not many inhabitants of the solid group are in a particularly favorable spot, especially for DFS. Johnny Cueto is the exception, as he and the San Francisco Giants close out a weekend series with long-time rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers. The free agent acquisition started the season on a positive note, twirling seven stanzas against the Milwaukee Brewers. It is especially nice to see Cueto finish seven strong inning, as his calling card when on is going deep into games -- which is necessary, since his strikeout rate isn't dominant. With AT&T Park at his back, Cueto is an option for both cash and GPP play.
Jose Quintana is the Rodney Dangerfield of fantasy baseball -- he gets no respect. The Chicago White Sox lefty took a no decision in his first start, despite fanning seven with no walks in 5 2/3 frames. Despite being at home, his date with the Cleveland Indians won't be easy as the Tribe can send up a lineup laced with right-handed (and switch) hitters. Still, on a slate where the middle tier isn't blessed with many palatable options, leaning on the home field advantage is viable.
Adam Wainwright's career accomplishments grant him the benefit of the doubt, just be cognizant of a couple of yellow flags. Even before he tore his Achilles early last season, Wainwright's strikeout rate was on the decline. Factor in the likelihood that the days of 230 or so innings are long gone, and at least in seasonal terms, Wainwright drops down a tier since the raw strikeout total won't be there. However, until he demonstrates otherwise, he's a match-up play in DFS. While a home game would be better, a road affair in Turner Field qualifies as a good spot, especially if Wainwright's DFS cost is low.
If you needed Scherzer to get you over the top Sunday in your head-to-head matchup, you suffered your first bad beat of the season as he lost a two-start week due to Saturday's frigid temperatures in the Nation's Capital. Joe Ross' owners are the beneficiary, as the Washington Nationals opted not to skip him. Conditions will still be bothersome for hitters so Ross makes for a great salary-pinching option in all formats.
The silver lining with the paucity of solid choices is that it leaves more bandwidth to discuss the most important group on the Sunday slate -- the spot starters. In general, whether or not to deploy a borderline option will be dictated by your team's situation. Most of the time it will be obvious; either protect your ratios and bench close calls, or throw caution to the wind to make up ground in strikeouts, and perhaps wins. But sometimes you're between a rock and a hard place -- that's what this space is for.
While there's a reason why Edinson Volquez and Shelby Miller are below the 50 Game Score threshold necessary for solid status, because both are at home, they're a definite go as streamers. Volquez leads the Kansas City Royals against the Minnesota Twins, while Miller is tasked with taming the Cubs. If you're choosing between the two, Volquez gets the nod as his win potential facing Ricky Nolasco is much better than Miller, who opposes Arrieta.
It certainly appears last season's trend that facing the Houston Astros, is a high-risk, high-reward proposition carrying over to this year. Jimmy Nelson is slated to finish off an Interleague series at home between teams that used to be in the other league. The right-hander was a popular speculative choice in drafts, with hopes that he continues to limit walks while adding a few more punch outs. His season opener didn't dissuade those desires, as he threw 7 1/3 innings, with strikes on 67 percent of his pitches -- above league average in that department. If he keeps it up, the whiffs will follow. As implied, Houston is a team capable of padding Nelson's home run total, which not only puts him in play in seasonal action but also for DFS play.
Jeff Locke's likely to be favored as the Pittsburgh Pirates wrap up a road set against the Cincinnati Reds. The home team's rotation is nicked up, as this was targeted as Anthony DeSclafani's 2016 debut, but he's been pushed back with Tim Melville slated to make his debut. Only deploy Locke if your primary objective is a win. He's not likely to get lit up, but he's also not a candidate to record a ton of strikeouts.
Another option for a win, perhaps at the expense of some runs with fewer strikeouts, is Texas Rangers southpaw Martin Perez. Perez's development has been curtailed by injury, as well as a couple of stints as a reliever. Finally healthy, the Rangers smartly want to see what they have in him as a starter. Working in Angels Stadium isn't the ideal setup, but his mates should be able to tattoo Jeff Weaver, so the win is certainly in play.
Unless you're in break glass in case of emergency mode, Chad Bettis and Williams Perez are off limits, while Jeremy Hellickson is borderline. Bettis is at home in Coors Field as the Colorado Rockies face the San Diego Padres, while Williams Perez is at home, leading the Atlanta Braves against the St. Louis Cardinals. Since the end of last season, Hellickson has thrown the ball pretty well -- but he's still Jeremy Hellickson. The Phillies wrap up a series in Citi Field, where the Mets will challenge Hellickson with several strong left-handed hitters that can take him deep.
While the recurring Sunday theme with respect to pitching is manage your streamers based on need, the hitting mantra is keep an eye on lineups, as Sunday is the most common day for managers to give their reserves a start. This is especially true early in the season, as teams don't want their bench to get rusty coming off a spring where they played a little more than usual -- albeit not quite in regular game conditions.
Sometimes the obvious is the best play, so let's begin our journey a mile-high. The San Diego Padres, most notably Matt Kemp, have finally gotten off the schneid and did some damage. They'll have another chance against Chad Bettis. Not only is Kemp in play, but so are all his teammates, with little-known lefties Jon Jay and Cory Spangenberg sitting on top the order with the platoon edge against Bettis.
The St. Louis Cardinals started off slow out of the gate, but picked it up at the expense of the Atlanta Braves. This should continue with Williams Perez taking the hill at Turner Field. Matt Carpenter and Kolten Wong are strong options with the platoon advantage. Check to see who plays between Matt Adams and Brandon Moss, though both can conceivably be in the lineup with Moss playing in the outfield.
If your interest is DFS tournament play, the Kansas City Royals may not be your thing, since they don't hit the high volume of homers that's so integral to the format. On the other hand, their lineup is perfectly suited to face the Minnesota Twins Ricky Nolasco, as the veteran right is not overpowering and always puts it around the plate. This matches up perfectly with the Royals, who make solid contact, going gap to gap in spacious Kauffman Stadium. A Royals stack may appear appealing, but their real utility is in head-to-head seasonal action.
As suggested in the pitching notes, Jeremy Hellickson seems to have figured something out, but historically, he's susceptible to the long ball -- which makes Neil Walker an intriguing option, along with Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes.
Most likely to hit a home run: Let's stay chalk and expect Matt Kemp to stay hot and take Bettis deep.
Most likely to steal a base: Despite being a southpaw, Jeff Locke is not particularly adept at controlling the running game. The Cincinnati Reds are hitting Billy Hamilton ninth, in part to free him up to run so let's give him the nod.