As has been the case for the past several years, all 30 teams are in action on Memorial Day. Better yet, there's staggered action all day. If you're a fan of slugfests, buckle up, as the slate is devoid of a true ace -- though there are a couple of big names looking to get their mojo back.
Technically, Jose Quintana finished mere decimal points shy of the cutoff defining elite status, but this being a holiday weekend, let's inject some subjectivity and push the Chicago White Sox lefty up a tier. From a pure baseball perspective, Quintana isn't dominant enough to be a true ace. However, his consistency and reliability earn brownie points in fantasy and are especially pertinent to DFS cash game play. With that said, Quintana is also a GPP option with significant strikeout upside as he'll be facing a New York Mets squad fanning a whopping 27 percent of the time against left-handers. The contest is at Citi Field, so while the southpaw loses the intrinsic skills boost from working at home, that's balanced with a big upgrade in terms of pitcher-friendly surroundings.
Back in March, Nathan Karns populated many a breakout list. Thus far, he's rewarded the seasonal fantasy enthusiasts who called out his name. The Seattle Mariners' 28-year-old right-hander is well past the prospect age, but keep in mind his development was curtailed after he missed 2009 and 2010 with shoulder issues. Karns boasts an impressive 9.0 K/9, but he also carries a rather high 3.5 BB/9. Combined, this elevates his pitch count, explaining why he's averaging just under 5 2/3 innings per start. Karns is in a good spot to go over that on Monday with the San Diego Padres making a northbound trek up the coast for an interleague set at Safeco Field. The Friars tote a meek .277 weighted on base average (wOBA) versus righties along with a hefty 24 percent strikeout rate.
Coming into the season, conventional thinking was that if he was healthy, Carlos Martinez was a candidate to take the next step and become an SP2 or SP3 in fantasy terms. The good news is the shoulder woes that caused some concern at the end of last season don't seem to be an issue. However, Martinez has failed to maintain the skills gain he displayed in 2015 as his strikeout rate has dipped, and there's no improvement in his below-average control. Making matters worse, the righty is trending in the wrong direction. After averaging just under seven innings for his first five outings, the previous four feature three five-inning stints with one just 3 1/3 frames. The Milwaukee Brewers are next up for Martinez for an away affair at Miller Park. The hosts boast a .323 wOBA versus southpaws, so there's risk, but the Brew Crew's generous 27 percent strikeout rate against right-handers means Martinez is a GPP candidate.
If you were patient with Justin Verlander, congratulations. The veteran right-hander's recent performances are reminiscent of his previous Cy Young form. To wit, over his past four outings, Verlander tossed 30 2/3 frames, allowing just four earned runs while striking out 37 with nine walks. The 33-year-old has a great chance to make it five starts in a row lasting at least seven frames as the Detroit Tigers visit Anaheim to kick off a set with the Los Angeles Angels. However, Verlander's punchouts may be tempered as the Halos fan at a stingy 15 percent clip against righties. On a slate devoid of an elite option to anchor cash games, Verlander is a fine surrogate.
Like Verlander, Jeff Samardzija has excelled in May, pitching into the eighth inning in four of his past five starts, completing it thrice. Over that span, the San Francisco Giants' righty has tossed 38 1/3 stanzas, allowing just six earned runs while registering 36 whiffs versus only six free passes. The Shark has an excellent chance to end the month on a high note with a date at Turner Field against the Atlanta Braves. The home team sports a pedestrian .288 wOBA against righties despite fanning at a below-average 20 percent pace. The tempered strikeout upside renders Samardzija more of a cash candidate than GPP play.
Who would have thought that Matt Harvey would ever be a question to start, especially at home? I'm going to break one of my personal rules when penning this column and interject a bit of first-person opinion. I'm completely opposed to stashing a struggling hurler on reserve until he has a string of decent outings. What usually happens is you leave more good stats on your bench than you add bad starts to your active ledger. Either you believe in the player or you don't. While Harvey hasn't displayed many reasons to believe, if I had him on a squad, he'd be in my active lineup. If you need something to hang your hat on, the Mets contend they've discovered a flaw in the right-hander's delivery. Additionally, the White Sox are visiting Queens, which means they'll be lacking their designated hitter, weakening an already-pedestrian attack against righties.
At 60 percent ownership, Tanner Roark is a little higher than the 50 percent mark we use as a cutoff to discuss streamers, but it's low enough to recommend the Washington Nationals right-hander for his road encounter with the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
Josh Tomlin is a hair underneath the mark, checking in at 49 percent ownership in ESPN leagues but being worthy of edging over that level with a home affair facing the Texas Rangers. Tomlin doesn't miss many bats, but he doesn't walk many, either, boasting an impressive 1.1 BB/9. The guests are average against righties, carrying a .317 wOBA and 19 percent strikeout rate in this scenario.
This may come as a bit of a surprise, but Mike Foltynewicz -- and his 4 percent ESPN ownership -- makes the cut for his home date with the Giants at Turner Field. Don't expect a ton of whiffs, as the guests punch out at a tempered 16 percent pace, but Foltynewicz should offer solid innings, allowing you to take more chances later in the head-to-head week.
Injuries to starters Shelby Miller and Rubby De La Rosa have forced the Arizona Diamondbacks to summon journeyman southpaw Edwin Escobar to face the Houston Astros at Chase Field. On the surface it may seem like a no-brainer to sit Escobar, since the visitors have a bevy of strong right-handed hitters. But consider in May, the Astros sport a lowly .258 wOBA and bloated 29 percent strikeout rate when facing left-handers. Plus, they'll be without their designated hitter.
The numbers suggest the Reds' offense isn't that threatening, but it has ample firepower to do some damage against Chad Bettis at Coors Field. One of the Reds' issues is a high strikeout rate, but since Bettis carries a below-average 6.5 K/9, the increased contact bodes well in the mile-high conditions.
For a similar reason, Jeff Locke taking the hill at Marlins Park is a risk. The Fish sport a .338 wOBA against southpaws, but they also whiff at a 24 percent clip. However, since Locke fans hitters only at a 5.6 K/9 level, the added contact supplements an already-productive wOBA.
Continuing the theme, Colby Lewis also doesn't tally many punchouts, which aids the Cleveland Indians and their 22 percent strikeout rate against righties. More contact on top of an above-average .328 wOBA versus right-handers renders the homer-prone Lewis a risk at Progressive Field.
Fading Coors is an option with several alternatives, but beware, runs will be scored in Denver. The visiting Reds have ample power with Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, Adam Duvall and Eugenio Suarez to get to Bettis. On the other side, Dan Straily takes to the mound in the thin air with Charlie Blackmon, Trevor Story, Carlos Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado comprising the welcoming committee.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have the privilege of squaring off with the day's lowest-ranked hurler in Justin Nicolino. The Miami Marlins southpaw has to contend with Jordy Mercer, Andrew McCutchen, David Freese, Jung Ho Kang, Starling Marte and Francisco Cervelli, all enjoying the platoon bump from the right-handed batter's box.
Nova's 1.2 HR/9 is in danger of heading upward as the New York Yankees cross the border for a series with the Blue Jays. The usual suspects include Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion, but don't overlook Justin Smoak.
Research has shown cold streaks can end at any time, so if you take a shot with Escobar in DFS, using another lineup featuring a Houston Astros stack is an intriguing hedge. The righty-heavy top of the order features Jose Altuve, George Springer and Carlos Correa. Evan Gattis is in play if the Astros opt to get his right-handed bat in the lineup by using him at catcher.
Most likely to go yard: There will be a lot of round-trippers to close out Memorial Day weekend. We'll tag Bautista with the honor of carrying the torch, leading off against Nova at Rogers Centre.
Most likely to steal a base: Karns is vulnerable to base stealers and doesn't get much help from his receivers, so look for Jon Jay of the Padres to take advantage.