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 hasn't exactly been the Dark Knight much this year, but he's rounding into form. His velocity has improved over the past two starts, including a season-high 95.6 mph average fastball during his last night out. After notching just five strikeouts in his first two starts combined, he has 16 in his last 16.7 innings. Even if you're skeptical about him getting back to that elite level, it's hard not to be interested in him against the anemic Braves, who are toting a league-worst 63 wRC+ against righties.
It's weird to see Jake Arrieta not atop the projected Game Score listing, but opposition is the determining factor here, as a trip to Pittsburgh is much tougher than a home date against Atlanta. Even so, I think he's the best option of the day, if you're willing to pay up. He somehow didn't face the Pirates during his 2014 breakout, but he then obliterated them for 36 innings last season with just a 0.75 ERA and 33 strikeouts (and somehow lost one of the five starts, going 3-1).
Scott Kazmir has definitely been better than his 5.76 ERA. The Giants have gotten him for 10 runs in eight innings, and he had a multihomer outing at Coors. His strikeout and walk numbers aren't far off from his 2015 marks, and he's unlikely to keep allowing 1.8 HR/9. A trip to the home of his original team is a nice place to start chiseling down those numbers.
For as well as Philly is playing through the first month of the season (15-10), it doesn't hit well. The Phillies have just a 78 wRC+ against righties, making Michael Wacha an intriguing play, for sure. His strikeout rate doesn't jump off the page, but it's really held down by the zero he notched in San Diego. Outside of that game, he has a 25 percent strikeout rate in four starts. This is why I always check out the game logs to see the makeup of a guy's numbers. The point isn't that the zero-strikeout game doesn't count or anything, it's just that looking at his other four starts outside of that one shows that he's capable for a strong strikeout game.
The White Sox are playing out of their minds through the first month, but Steven Wright is also pitching lights out. He has thrown at least six innings in each start, has yet to give up more than two earned runs and has more than six strikeouts in three of them (and still five in the other). Let's ride the knuckleball wave!
Aaron Nola has a tough draw with the homer-happy Cards (their 30 HR v. RHP is a league-best), but he has been excellent so far this year. He has pumped his strikeout rate up to 29 percent, dropped his walk rate a tick to 5 percent and his 3.55 ERA is inflated by the seven earned runs he allowed to Washington, which accounts for 54 percent of his total earned runs. He only went five innings in that start against the Nationals, but he has gone seven innings in his other four starts.
Matt Moore has been really good so far this season. His 3.66 ERA doesn't stand out, but his strikeout and walk rates (27 percent and 5 percent, respectively) are premium, and he has a couple of bad innings or even bad pitches from toting a sub-3.00 ERA through the first month. He just needs to avoid that one big mistake that usually costs him a couple of runs. The Dodgers' lineup meandered through April offensively and doesn't pose a major threat to lefties right now.
Between Justin Verlander and Josh Tomlin, I'd lean toward Verlander, but it's probably a layoff altogether. Verlander has struggled with home runs (six in five starts, including two the last time he faced Cleveland), and Tomlin is perennially a home run machine, though his 1.1 HR/9 so far this year is actually a positive given his history (1.4 HR/9). Meanwhile, Tomlin is allowing a lot more contact this year (strikeout rate from 23 percent to 16 percent), so I foresee more homers soon.
Spot Starters and Streamers
Tanner Roark only lasted four innings in his season debut, but he has gone more than six innings in all four since including three 7-inning starts. His 23 percent strikeout rate is inflated by that 15-strikeout demolition of Minnesota, but we already know we're sacrificing strikeout upside if we choose to go against the Royals (though it's worth noting their 19 percent strikeout rate is their highest in years).
The Red Sox' 15-10 record has them atop the AL East and they lead the AL with 134 runs scored, but their offensive production is built off of destroying righties. They actually have just a 64 wRC+ against lefties, making Jose Quintana someone worth considering for sure. His strikeouts are way up at 27 percent and he might finally log 10 wins for the first time in his career with three victories logged already. We're less concerned with season-long win totals, but wins are still very important for DFS.
Patrick Corbin has been rough this year. He is being beaten around the yard, especially by righties, as his 40 percent hard-hit rate is fifth highest among qualified starts (Archer is actually atop that list); however, the damage is being done at home, so a trip to Miami might be a great way to get right because that spacious park covers mistakes (except versus Stanton). All seven of Corbin's homers allowed have come at home (including two 3-HR starts), while both of his quality starts are on the road. If you're a bargain shopper in DFS, this could be your pick.
Sonny Gray is one of 12 pitchers to walk three or more batters in four starts already this year, and he is joined by several other luminaries, including Jose Fernandez, Chris Archer, Danny Salazar, Jaime Garcia, Cole Hamels and Yordano Ventura. Francisco Liriano is also on the list, but that's not surprising. I think I'd lay off here.
Eddie Butler was so brutal in 16 starts last year with a 5.90 ERA and 1.1 K-to-BB ratio, which is probably why the Padres have such a good rating. We know the Padres aren't all that good, but Butler hasn't been very good in his Triple-A work so far this year, either, so they might make an interesting contrarian stack. But who the heck do you even get to stack the Padres? I'd look at Wil Myers, Matt Kemp, Melvin Upton Jr. (yes, seriously), and... well... that's about it. So not necessarily a full-on stack. Unfortunately, they don't have many lefties, which is Butler's real weakness.
Matt Wisler shares that same deficiency against lefties, but the Mets actually have some very intriguing lefty bats to hone in on: Michael Conforto, Curtis Granderson and, of course, Mr. Nine Homers in April -- Neil Walker. He is a switch-hitter, but he's lighting up righties and lefties.
I liked Martin Perez a bit coming into the season, but I just can't get behind a sub-1.0 K-to-BB ratio at all. His 4.20 ERA is remarkably fortunate, given that and his 1.37 WHIP. He has a sharp platoon split that has gotten worse each season, including a .829 OPS this year. Those righty Blue Jays bats are always popular, and they will be really popular on Tuesday: Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion; and hey, maybe even Troy Tulowitzki will start getting his act together here, though his deficiency against lefties is what's holding his numbers back most thus far. He's 0-for-21 against them.
There aren't a ton of stack opportunities, with just the one team at eight overall and not even that many useful by-hand setups to pick on. A sneaky one might be the Texas Rangers. They only draw four overall, but they're facing Marco Estrada on the heels of a 118-pitch outing that came in just 6.7 innings, and he was seen rubbing his shoulder in pain and then kind of dodged discussing it after the game. When off, Estrada is a homer machine, and while the Rangers haven't gotten the long ball going just yet, they are capable of going off.
Most likely to go yard: Prince Fielder. On the heels of that Estrada comment, I'm picking a Ranger for my big fly. Fielder had a slow April, but he hit just one home run last April before unloading nine in May.
Most likely to swipe a bag: Jose Altuve. Three different teams are pulling 10 ratings for stolen bases, so you have plenty of potential options here, but I'm going with Altuve. He's getting a lot of attention for his seven HRs so far, but his nine stolen bases lead baseball.