After a full day of baseball on Memorial Day last Monday, we're back to a typical abbreviated Monday schedule.
A couple of southpaws working on the road in the Keystone State top the list, which is fitting, as nine of the 20 scheduled starters are left-handed. For those in leagues with daily moves, all the lefties mean a bunch of right-handed platoon hitters are available to help maximize at-bats on a day when one-third of the league is enjoying an off day. We'll find the pitchers in the best spots and the hitters with the best chance to produce in today's Daily Notes.
Jon Lester made it through at least seven innings in four of his first five outings, then he went the entire month of May without an effort lasting that long. The veteran southpaw opened June with a complete game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, fanning 10 with nary a walk. Lester has a great chance to make it two straight long outings. as the Chicago Cubs open a series in Citizens Bank Park against the Philadelphia Phillies. With a lefty on the hill, the home team has recorded the league's second lowest weighted on base average (wOBA) of .271, while fanning the fifth most at 24 percent.
New York Mets southpaw Steven Matz could be catching the lefty-mashing Pittsburgh Pirates at the right time, as three of the Bucs' better right-handed cogs are ailing and all missed yesterday's affair with left-hander Hector Santiago. If Andrew McCutchen, David Freese and Francisco Cervelli are forced to miss this contest in PNC Park, Matz is in an even better spot. For the season, the Pirates hit lefties to the tune of a .347 wOBA but whiff at a 24 percent clip. With the strikeout potential, Matz is a GPP option regardless, but if the hosts' lineup is at all watered down, he's in play for cash action too.
Pitching was supposed to be the strength of the Tampa Bay Rays, but it's their bats that have surprised while their top two arms have struggled. Yesterday, Drew Smyly continued his recent woes. Chris Archer now has a chance to right the ship with an interleague tilt against the Arizona Diamondbacks on the docket. Home runs have been Archer's crutch, but he's catching a break despite the away game in hitter friendly Chase Field, as the Snakes are well below average with respect to homers versus right-handers. The young righty is too risky for cash but is in play for GPP with high strikeout upside.
To put Matt Shoemaker's 5.50 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in perspective, he ended April with 9.15 and 1.89 marks. The majority of Shoemaker's improvement stems from his past three efforts, when he fanned 31 with no walks over 22 2/3 innings. With the Los Angeles Angels visiting the Bronx for a series with the New York Yankees, Shoemaker is in play for GPP action on a short slate.
Michael Fulmer ended May with a stellar three-game stint featuring 22 1/3 innings of nine-hit ball; he allowed just one run (on a home run) with 22 punchouts and just four free passes. The Detroit Tigers' rookie right-hander opens June with a challenge, facing the Toronto Blue Jays in Comerica Park. With the platoon edge against the primary power of the visitors, add Fulmer to the list of GPP candidates.
Jonathon Niese draws a tough foe in Matz, and while it's too early to chase wins, it's never a bad time to stack up strikeouts. The Pittsburgh Pirates' lefty is in play as he faces his former teammates, the New York Mets, and their 27 percent whiff rate facing southpaws.
Tyler Chatwood doesn't have huge strikeout potential, but with a road date in Dodgers Stadium, the Colorado Rockies right-hander is in a good spot, facing an offense sporting a beatable .307 wOBA versus righties.
It's only two starts, but if fanning eleven with no walks is any indication of how Danny Duffy's return to the rotation will manifest, it won't be long before the projected game score has him in the safe-to-start range. Monday's affair with the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards could be a tricky one for Duffy, but the Kansas City Royals' lefty has earned the right to be in your fantasy lineup. And despite just downplaying the influence of win potential, Duffy will be opposed by a weak hurler, possibly Mike Wright.
Trying to figure out when to start and when to sit J.A. Happ is frustrating, if not maddening. At some point, it is probably best to decide if you're OK with Happ's projected season-long totals and ratios and just never sub him out and risk missing his great starts. As such, he's an option you may not want to sub out despite a road tilt against the Tigers.
Robbie Ray (and his 10.4 K/9) is another streaming option for an early-week strikeout boost as he entertains a Rays club that whiffs at a 24 percent clip against southpaws. Also, aiding Ray is holding the platoon edge over the scorching Logan Morrison, in addition to the visitors playing without a designated hitter.
Two of the weakest offenses in the league square off in Petco Park, so you know what that means: The Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres will have a 12-11 slugfest. Or maybe not, which puts Friars lefty Christian Friedrich in the mix against an attack toting the league's worst .259 wOBA versus southpaws.
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right? Maybe it's time we reversed course on Colby Lewis by starting him as opposed to stacking against the Texas Rangers' right-hander? The matchup is risky, but the Houston Astros whiff 25 percent of the time with a righty on the hill.
The only no-brainer to avoid is just the one dictated by his projected 45 game score. Phillies southpaw Adam Morgan and the Cubs do not mix.
Let's feature a couple of clubs in favorable spots, then look for right-handed hitters that should be active to help fill out rosters in leagues with daily transactions, as well as likely value plays in DFS.
The chalk stack will no doubt be the Cubs in Citizens Bank Park. Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler will lead the charge with the platoon advantage against Phillies' lefty Morgan, followed by switch-hitters Dexter Fowler and Ben Zobrist. A stealth means to gets some exposure to this tilt is using Anthony Rizzo, who won't begin the game with the platoon edge but should see some righty relievers as the game progresses.
The Orioles haven't announced a starter, but Mike Wright is the leader in the clubhouse to take the ball. Eric Hosmer is the primary beneficiary with the platoon edge, but take a look at newcomer Whit Merrifield, who has been hitting second and could be a nice value play.
Turning to some platoon right-handers, the Atlanta Braves will no doubt have Chase d'Arnaud, Jeff Francoeur and the recently recalled Adonis Garcia in the lineup to face San Diego Padres southpaw Christian Friedrich.
Robbie Ray was given the nod to stream, but that doesn't preclude using some Tampa Bay Rays right-handed bats against the young lefty. Mikie Mahtook, Taylor Motter, Steve Pearce, Steven Souza Jr. and Evan Longoria are all solid options.
While they're not all platoon players, Mike Napoli, Juan Uribe and Rajai Davis along with stalwart switch-hitters Carlos Santana and Francisco Lindor are all in play as the Cleveland Indians visit Safeco Field to face Seattle Mariners lefty James Paxton.
With lefty Danny Duffy on the Camden Yards bump, the Baltimore Orioles will have Joey Rickard and Nolan Reimold in the lineup joining usual suspects Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo as options against the Kansas City Royals southpaw.
Most likely to go deep: Kris Bryant has a great chance to add onto Adam Morgan's generous 1.8 HR/9.
Most likely to steal a base: If Jose Altuve can, he'll no doubt take off when he suspects Colby Lewis will throw one of his frequent sliders or curve balls.