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.
Carlos Carrasco is one of two bona fide studs going on Tuesday. Carrasco probably won't be used in as many daily lineups as he was last time out against the Rays, if only because he's playing on a full slate (compared to an afternoon slate), but he's still the primary target on the mound as one of the best strikeout arms in all of baseball.
We haven't seen the strikeouts from Stephen Strasburg yet, but he has faced the Braves twice and they usually make a lot of contact (most of it bad contact, but still). His swinging strike rate is right in line with his career mark, so I'm expecting more strikeouts for him, starting as soon as Tuesday against the Marlins.
The Red Sox just faced their first lefty starter of the season on Monday (J.A. Happ) and they get a second one on Tuesday with Drew Smyly. Outside of the three homers versus Toronto, Smyly has looked positively filthy this year: 30 percent strikeout rate, 4 percent walk rate and 16 percent (!) swinging strike rate. He's incorporating his changeup a lot more this year and so far righties can't do anything against him (.441 OPS). I know some don't like using pitchers in Fenway, but that makes me like Smyly a little more, as he could be underutilized.
Hope you enjoyed those two starts of Vince Velasquez being super-affordable and offering major surplus value. Now you'll have to pay up, but that doesn't mean you have to shy away from using him. Another 16-strikeout, 27 swing-and-miss performance this year is very unlikely, but the 23-year-old righty's talent is evident. He's going to be facing an innings limit this year for sure, so use him while you can, especially in favorable matchups.
The Padres are an automatic pick-on these days, so Francisco Liriano's strong projection isn't surprising, but it is worth noting they actually have a 100 wRC+ against lefties so far this season. Maybe since attacking San Diego is an obvious play, Liriano becomes someone to fade just because he will be so widely used, not so much because of that 100 wRC+. The strikeout upside might just be too much to pass up, though. Let your game type (cash versus tourney) dictate your moves here.
I'm not sure how Shane Greene goes to Pittsburgh and allows two runs in six innings with seven strikeouts and sees his price drop at DraftKings. I understand Kansas City is tough to punch out, but that's still surprising. At $4,900, I feel like you have to make at least one lineup with him, even if it's not your primary. Injury explains away a lot of his issues last season, but a big spring and strong debut has restarted the hype machine that got going last year (and, admittedly, spiraled out of control).
All the attention will be on Velasquez after that amazing outing against the Padres, but don't sleep on his opponent. Logan Verrett has been a useful spot starter for the Mets dating back to last year. Now that includes all of five starts, but the Phillies' offense has been as bad as advertised, sitting above only the Braves in wRC+ (meaning, yes, they are even behind the anemic Padres).
Jaime Garcia is one of the hottest pitchers to start the season, but carries just a 52 projected Game Score facing the fierce Cubs offense -- second only to his own teammates with 5.9 runs per game. Garcia is not only doing his normal heavy ground ball thing (58 percent), but he's also logging tons of punchouts early on with a 34 percent strikeout rate. More often than not, you want to avoid the Cubs, but Garcia makes for a sneaky play on Tuesday with a full slate and tough matchup on paper.
The Twins' bats are finally starting to wake up, which makes me feel better about using their ace, Ervin Santana, especially against the ho-hum Brewers. They are also really righty-heavy. Santana doesn't have a crazy split, but he's definitely better against right-handers.
Adam Conley was overamped in his season debut from what I saw and he couldn't command anything (16 balls in 31 pitches, only lasted 1 IP), but he calmed down in his second start and showed why I'm so excited about him this year. His velocity is up 1.5 mph for an average of 93 mph, which is really good from the left side, and he backs it up with a pair of solid secondary offerings (slider, changeup). He has strikeout upside, and the one issue in his profile -- his fly ball tendency -- is mitigated by his home ballpark. Just don't pitch to Bryce Harper, even in a lefty-lefty matchup.
Spot Starters and Streamers
If you really want to get cute -- which is rarely a good idea, how often do you hear "don't get cute!" -- you could go for Marcus Stroman in Baltimore. He is platoon neutral, his base skills generally hold up on the road, and he has been successful against the O's, albeit in just 18 innings of work. I freely admit there is risk to this maneuver, but Stroman is really good and his heavy ground ball tendencies give him a good chance to keep the Orioles in the park.
Michael Pineda has a nice projected Game Score because his base skills remain appealing: 23 percent strikeout rate, 6 percent walk rate and 14 percent swinging strike rate, but as was the case last season, he's still getting crushed whenever he misses his spot -- which is surprisingly often for someone with his stuff. He's a perfect example of the difference between command and control. Command is putting the ball where you want it and generating quality strikes, while control is just consistently hitting the zone. The anemic A's offense could coax a Pineda lineup out of me, but I'm entering with my eyes open now, as opposed to the multiple times I fell for Pineda last season and came away dumbfounded when he allowed 5-plus earned runs (including a ridiculous 8 ER versus Philly in June).
I've been skeptical about Alex Wood for a while now, as his 2014 strikeout rate of 25 percent has proven to be a fluke, with just a 16 percent mark since (and essentially the same swinging strike rate). All the reservations are tempered when you've got the Braves on the docket. He gets a crack at his former teammates and could be a nice low-dollar gamble, especially with his offensive support.
The Orioles' fast start has been driven by the offense and bullpen. Almost the entire rotation has struggled, and a series with Toronto isn't likely to remedy that. We all know the Jays feast on lefties, but they stay well fed on righties, too. MIke Wright has only about 50 major league innings under his belt, but homers have been a huge issue (1.8 HR/9), a problem Toronto can exacerbate big time.
Wily Peralta is a total mess this season and it's hard to feel confident after his uninspiring 20 starts last year (4.72 ERA). Generally it's lefties who crush him, but so far this year a bat in either hand is all that is required to handle Peralta. Joe Mauer is off to a tremendous start, but his teammates are finally offering some support, so I would take a look at some Twinkies on Tuesday.
The Reds-Rockies game doesn't feature the highest run total by Vegas at 8 (there are some 8.5s and the HOU-TEX game is 9), but no one would be surprised if those two teams put up a double-digit total. The 16 combined overall hitter ratings for the two teams is highest on the docket.
Most likely to go yard: Michael Saunders. He has been inserted atop the Blue Jays' lineup and I think he gets them off to a fast start against Wright in Camden. The Jays are a great candidate for multiple homers, in fact.