Remember last season when it seemed as if all the aces were on the same slate a couple times a week? This year, they're all on the disabled list. Imagine if you drafted a fantasy staff with Madison Bumgarner, Corey Kluber, Noah Syndergaard, Cole Hamels and James Paxton?
Monday's abbreviated slate features a handful of second-tier aces along with a decent number of streaming options. The hitting is dotted with name bats in great spots, including a rookie inexplicably available in over half of all ESPN leagues.
Here's all the scuttlebutt necessary to kick off the fantasy week on a strong note.
Pitchers to stream
Trevor Cahill (R), 24 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, San Diego Padres vs. Texas Rangers: Cahill had his Sunday start pushed back a day because, contrary to what Albert Hammond croons, sometimes it does rain in Southern California. The Rangers visit Petco Park, leaving their umbrellas and the designated hitter behind. They hit righties well but also fan at an above-average clip. Cahill has altered his pitch mix, resulting in 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings.
Adam Conley (L), 4 percent, Miami Marlins vs. St. Louis Cardinals: On paper, this doesn't seem appealing, but the Cardinals have had issues hitting lefties this season and are without Stephen Piscotty, one of their top righty sticks. To wit, the Redbirds tote an anemic .268 weighted on-base average along with an above-average strikeout rate versus lefties into Marlins Park.
Nate Karns (R), 3 percent, Kansas City Royals at Tampa Bay Rays: Karns sports an above-average strikeout rate, which will come in handy facing a squad that whiffs at a bloated 26 percent clip with a righty on the hill.
Alex Wood (L), 19 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates are above average versus lefties, but this still sets up as a good chance for Wood to rack up more whiffs and be in a position for a win as he'll be opposed by Trevor Williams on the hill.
Pitchers to avoid
Kevin Gausman (R), 58 percent, Baltimore Orioles vs. Washington Nationals: Hopefully if you own Gausman you're able to sit him for this tough matchup against the top offense in the league. I'm still not tossing in the towel on the right-hander, as most of his underlying peripherals aren't out of sync with his career levels. The primary issue is control, which suggests an injury or mechanical issue. His velocity is fine, so hopefully Gausman can get things back together and get back on course, just likely not today.
Jake Arrieta (R), 99 percent, Chicago Cubs at Colorado Rockies: Perhaps it's cheating using this space to call for benching Arrieta at Coors, but it does avail the chance to share a few thoughts on the right-hander. Especially if he has a rough outing in Colorado, he's a nice buy-low candidate. His peripherals are outstanding; he's been victimized by a high hit and home run rate. A 3.16 xFIP is a better measure than his 4.63 actual ERA.
Let's head back to San Diego where closer Brandon Maurer is available in just over half of all ESPN leagues. His ownership is tempered since there was some talk of Carter Capps coming back and usurping the gig, but with Capps still in extended spring training, working on his mechanics, Maurer's job is safe, at least for now. The righty is doing his part to make the decision difficult when Capps does return. The 26-year-old converted starter has punched out an impressive 17 while issuing just a single free pass in 12 1/3 innings.
Russell Martin (R), 48 percent, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Cleveland Indians (RHP Trevor Bauer): Perhaps this is a back-handed compliment, but Martin's .365 OBP with a .195 average means he's walking a ton. With Trevor Bauer and his 4.0 walks per nine innings on the hill, Martin is a great play for those playing in points leagues.
Whit Merrifield (R), 1 percent, Kansas City Royals at Tampa Bay Rays (LHP Blake Snell): Merrifield hasn't been lighting it up since being inserted into the leadoff spot for the Royals. Still, facing an inconsistent lefty, Merrifield is in a favorable spot, enjoying the platoon edge.
Ryan Schimpf (L), 7 percent, San Diego Padres vs. Texas Rangers (RHP Nick Martinez): Martinez has surrendered five long balls in his last two outings, covering 11 1/3 innings. Schimpf only has 14 hits so far, but eight have left the yard.
Didi Gregorius (L), 41 percent, New York Yankees at Cincinnati Reds (RHP Rookie Davis): When the Yankees go on the road, their lefty hitters usually suffer from a big park downgrade. However, on the road in the Great American Ballpark, Gregorius is a threat to take the rookie deep.
Adam Lind (L), 1 percent, Washington Nationals at Baltimore Orioles (RHP Kevin Gausman): With Ryan Zimmerman playing out of his mind, Lind hasn't played much. The Nationals make the short trip to Camden Yards, meaning Lind can slot in as the designated hitter.
Cory Spangenberg (L), 1 percent, San Diego Padres vs. Texas Rangers (RHP Nick Martinez): Spangenberg has been playing outfield for the Padres and holding his own. He's been hitting second, carrying a modest six-game hitting streak into Monday's affair.
Cody Bellinger (L), 49 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Trevor Williams): To be honest, I had no intention of highlighting Bellinger, figuring his ownership was well over 50 percent. I was curious where it was. Color me shocked the rookie meets the criteria for inclusion. With Adrian Gonzalez on the DL, Bellinger has a great chance to cement a permanent call-up.
Joc Pederson (L), 42 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Trevor Williams): With Jameson Taillon joining the laundry list of talented arms on the disabled list, Williams has been summoned from the bullpen. Back from injury, Pederson could be available in your league and is always a threat to hit one out against a right-hander.
Matt Joyce (L), 1 percent, Oakland Athletics vs. Los Angeles Angels (RHP Ricky Nolasco): Joyce is off to a slow start, but he historically hits righties well, while Nolasco is vulnerable to power-hitting lefty swingers.