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.
Hang in there Corey Kluber fans, things will get better. In fact, Sunday looks like a great spot for the Tribe's right-hander to kick-start his sluggish season as the New York Mets close out an interleague tussle with the Cleveland Indians in Progressive Field. The visitors are in the bottom third of the league in weighted on base average (wOBA) versus righties and sit in the upper third in terms of most strikeouts. Look for Kluber to build on his league-average peripherals, pushing them closer to the elite level you'd expect from him. Kluber draws the talented but still green Steven Matz, so the win is in play, along with goodly innings and whiffs.
Last year, if all you did was use southpaw hurlers at home against the Colorado Rockies, you would have cleaned up. Granted, this is a new season, but the suspects are mostly the same as the group that wielded an unsightly 27 percent strikeout rate and .250 wOBA on the road against southpaws. Jon Lester looks to take advantage in the finale of a weekend set in Wrigley Field. The Chicago Cubs left-hander has fanned only nine in his first 13 innings this season, but by the end of the day Sunday, expect that to be closer to the batter-an-inning mark expected from Lester.
The term small sample size has been used for years with respect to player analysis. It's also important in a team context, and quite frankly, not enough has been done to elucidate how actionable an exceptional or poor performance in a small sample is to evaluating the efficacy of the opposing pitcher. Case and point, the Tampa Bay Rays have recorded an anemic 0.192 wOBA versus lefties through the first 10 games of the season, spanning 77 plate appearances. Because Tropicana Field is so favorable to pitchers, Jose Quintana is a strong play regardless. With the added ineffectiveness of the Rays against lefties, Quintana is in a great spot.
What a difference a three inning, four walk, six hit and four runs allowed outing makes. After an eye-opening spring and impressive 2016 opener, the helium rapidly left the Juan Nicasio balloon. This isn't to say the upstart Pittsburgh Pirates' righty will compete for the Cy Young award, but it's too early to bring out the "Oh, the humanity" cries as well. Nicasio has a favorable match-up for a rebound, taking on the offensively-challenged Milwaukee Brewers in run-suppressing PNC Park. The visitors are middle of the pack with respect to early season wOBA versus right-handers, but their 26 percent strikeout rate in that scenario bodes well for Nicasio.
There's more fun to be had with small sample sizes. Through Friday's games, in 45 plate appearances in Petco Park facing lefties, the San Diego Padres check in with a 0.055 wOBA. Friends, that's wOBA, not batting average. Those that fashion Patrick Corbin a front-end of the rotation sort will have more support unless the Padres get it together. The Arizona Diamondbacks southpaw has fanned only seven in 13 stanzas so far, but with the hosts sporting a 31 percent strikeout rate against lefties, Corbin should pad that total.
Michael Wacha rebounded from a rough 2016 opener by stifling the Milwaukee Brewers, working six frames and fanning seven with just one free pass. The St. Louis Cardinals young right-hander is set up for another fine outing as the Cincinnati Reds close out a weekend set in Busch Stadium. The visitors are striking out at a league-average rate against right-handers, but they aren't doing much when they make contact -- as evidenced by a 0.280 wOBA in those conditions.
Sunday is integral to the head-to-head contingent, so let's find some arms available on more than half of ESPN standard leagues that could put you over the top. Seventeen of the slate's scheduled starters qualify as streamers as designated by a projected Game Score of 50 or below. Jeff Samardzija and Mike Fiers qualify as streamers, but their ownership is well over 50 percent -- so while they won't be featured, both are in play.
At 27 percent, Matt Moore's ownership is woefully low. The Tommy John returnee is off to a solid start, fanning 11 with just three bases on balls in 12 frames. The Tampa Bay Rays entertain the Chicago White Sox in stingy Tropicana Field. The visitors carry a solid 0.369 wOBA against southpaws, though The Trop should temper that. Where Moore has an edge is the Sox are whiffing at a 27 percent pace against left-handers.
The Milwaukee Brewers haven't needed a fifth starter until now, so Zach Davies began the season in the minors. He's been recalled with a road date against the Pittsburgh Pirates on the docket. The Bucs are better than their 0.244 wOBA versus righties suggests; they are, however, also fanning at a 24 percent clip -- providing Davies with a pathway to give you a late week boost.
It's usually best to stream lesser hurlers at home, but until the Minnesota Twins bats start clicking, Target Field is safe for visiting starters. Nick Tropeano gets the call for the Los Angeles Angels as he fills in for the injured Andrew Heaney. Runs will be scant in Target Field, as Kyle Gibson faces a squad equally as anemic as his own in the Angels. The visitors aren't fanning much, so don't plan on much help in the strikeout category, but Gibson should help ratios as the guests tote a 0.282 wOBA against righties.
In a similar vein, Kris Medlen and the Kansas City Royals are guests of the Oakland Athletics, who sport the second-worst wOBA in the league against right-handers. Medlen isn't likely to work more than five or six frames, but with the Royals bullpen behind him, that helps his win potential.
It's not often Jarred Cosart makes the upper half of the steaming section, but with a date against the Atlanta Braves in Marlins Park on the ledger, head to your waiver wire and pick him up, as he's owned in only 2 percent of ESPN leagues. The visitors carry a low 0.280 wOBA and generous 23 percent strikeout rate against righties.
Finally, Robbie Erlin closes out the rather extensive list of head-to-head helpers as the San Diego Padres wrap up a weekend set with the Arizona Diamondbacks in Petco Park. The oft-injured righty is off to a good start, punching out nine with two walks in his first 10 1/3 frames of the 2016 campaign.
Of course, your team's stead may dictate otherwise, but assuming you don't need to deploy them out of desperation, the only three hurlers that are off-limits are Charlie Morton facing the Washington Nationals in Citizens Bank Park, Jon Moscot coming off the disabled list to take on the scorching St. Louis Cardinals in Busch Stadium and Tyler Chatwood squaring off with the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
From the desk of Captain Obvious, the three best places to find hitters coincide with the three pitchers to avoid. Chatwood checks in with the worst Game Score -- putting Anthony Rizzo and company in a great spot do some damage.
The Cardinals usually win games with pitching and defense, but so far this season, the bats have carried the club. To wit, against right-handers, the Redbirds sport an impressive 0.394 wOBA. Matt Carpenter is always dangerous when facing a righty, and early-season surprise Jeremy Hazelbaker is a threat too, enjoying the platoon bump from the two-hole. But don't overlook the dynamic duo of Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk.
Led by Bryce Harper, the Washington Nationals are off to their best start in franchise history. They're in a great spot to keep the ball rolling Sunday as they face Charlie Morton in Citizens Bank Park. Lefty swingers usually have their way with Morton, so Daniel Murphy and Clint Robinson (if he plays) join Harper as solid targets.
Like Morton, Jhoulys Chacin is susceptible to left-handed hitters which elevates Miami Marlins Christian Yelich, Justin Bour and Dee Gordon with Derek Dietrich a possibility to make a Sunday appearance.
Most likely to hit a home run: Let's make it two games in a row with Anthony Rizzo giving a fan in the Wrigley Field bleachers a souvenir.