It’s a weird pitching slate on Tuesday with a handful of unexpected early season stars, some should-be stars who have been mega-duds, and some of the flat-out worst pitchers in the league through two-plus weeks.
Will the hot starters keep it going? Can the stars rebound? Will the disappointments turn it around? We could see some massive DFS scores and big movement up and down season-long standings when this full slate of games is finished.
Pitchers to Stream
Quick mentions to Matthew Boyd (57 percent) and Steven Matz (51 percent) who shouldn’t be this available. I think both should be at 70 percent or high for now, especially given the pitching landscape right now. I went a bit deeper with my choices today as all three are available in 85 percent or more leagues.
Brandon Woodruff (R), rostered in 15 percent of ESPN leagues, Milwaukee Brewers vs. St. Louis Cardinals: Woodruff’s 6.00 ERA doesn’t exactly scream “start me!”, but his 30 percent strikeout rate and 6 percent walk rate definitely do just that. His .385 BABIP has led to a few extra runs. They have let him throw 95 pitches per start so he can go six innings regularly. He is pitching well as the 2.55 FIP indicates and gets a two-start week so I’d consider holding him beyond this start.
Mike Minor (L), 12 percent, Texas Rangers vs. Los Angeles Angels: After struggling through his first start (6 earned runs), Minor dropped seven scoreless on the Astros and allowed just a couple solo shots in Arizona while throwing another strong seven innings. His velo has amped up to 93.3 mph, a career-high as a starter. The Angels are the third-worst team in the league against lefties with a hideous 57 wRC+, though they have struck out just 16 percent of the time.
Tyler Mahle (R), 4 percent, Cincinnati Reds at Los Angeles Dodgers: While most of the league is pushing away from fastballs, Mahle is leaning into his. It’s his best pitch, though part of the problem is that he doesn’t much to go with it. He has shifted from a slider to curveball that he’s using 23 percent of the time while his splitter is just a show-me offering (8 percent). Through three starts, he has displayed a heavy groundball lean which may help him curb his home run issues if it sticks. The Dodgers are a tough draw for sure. However, he gets the Padres over the weekend which is an easier matchup.
The Mets bullpen was supposed to be a strength and while Edwin Diaz has been awesome, the entire unit has a 6.50 ERA in 54 innings. Seth Lugo (6.23 ERA) and Jeurys Familia (5.87) have both struggled quite a bit, but they have combined for just 16 1/3 innings so there’s still plenty of time to rebound.
Projected Game Scores
Willians Astudillo (R), 30 percent, Minnesota Twins vs. Toronto Blue Jays (RHP Aaron Sanchez): Astudillo is doing exactly what we expected so far with a high batting average (.348) and virtually zero strikeouts or walks (1 of each). Playing time has been an issue so he’s someone for a two-catcher league or a daily moves league.
Dan Vogelbach (L), 52 percent, Seattle Mariners vs. Cleveland Indians (RHP Shane Bieber): Vogelbach has only hit one homer in the last five days, how lame! Here I thought he was going to maintain his five homers per four games rate from early April! Vogelbach has been a fantastic hitter in the minors and may finally be paying dividends on that talent. Playing time is still a bit of a challenge with Jay Bruce and Edwin Encarnacion around, but GM Jerry DiPoto isn’t afraid of making trades and if Vogelbach continues hit well, they’ll find a way to clear his path. Vogelbach will take maintenance as you’ll have to check the lineup daily, but he’s worth it.
Brandon Lowe (L), 14 percent, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Dylan Bundy): Lowe is a strong side platoon bat who has been great so far, clubbing four homers and swiping two bases in 59 plate appearances. He is striking out a bit too much at 31 percent, though his 20 percent minor league rate suggests he can cut that number down substantially. Bundy has been a home run machine, so Lowe could get a week’s worth of numbers in this game alone.
Hunter Dozier (R), 3 percent, Kansas City Royals at Chicago White Sox (RHP Reynaldo Lopez): Dozier’s on a roll right now. He was a deep league breakout pick for me so I want to be careful not to get drunk on confirmation bias off five good games, but he’s got power for days and some sneaky speed. He also has as much playing time as he can handle so if these early strikeout and flyball gains are real, he could really take off. If you aren’t going to hold Dozier on your reserves, he should definitely remain on the watch list.
Freddy Galvis (S), 19 percent, Toronto Blue Jays at Minnesota Twins (RHP Kyle Gibson): Galvis has ripped five homers 16 games into the season thanks to a swing change that has facilitated a 49 percent flyball rate, up from 37 percent last year and 39 percent over his career. He does have a 20-homer season on his ledger and three double-digit stolen base seasons, so perhaps Galvis could put together a line rivaling his 20 HR/17 SB output of 2016 except with a better triple slash than his .241/.274/.399 from that season.
Christian Walker (R), 17 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks at Atlanta Braves (LHP Max Fried): Walker came into the season as the weak side platoon option, but an injury to Jake Lamb has thrust him into a full-time role. He has been smashing righties to the tune of a 1.257 OPS, including all four of his homers in 30 plate appearances. He hasn’t done anything in his 22 plate appearances against lefties, though a .125 BABIP won’t stay that low. This is a potential breakout for the season at large, too.
Jeff McNeil (L), 35 percent, New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies (RHP Nick Pivetta): McNeil has four multi-hit games in his last five. He’s bounced around the field to essentially carve out a full-time role, at least while the Mets heal. His .439 BABIP will certainly come down, but he should be good for an average north of .300 regularly. Pivetta has been getting hammered around the yard early on so I’m gleefully starting all of my Mets.
Shin-Soo Choo (L), 32 percent, Texas Rangers vs. Los Angeles Angels (RHP Matt Harvey): Choo is hitting righties at a .324/.425/.529 clip while Harvey is allowing an obscene .357/.500/.786 line to lefties. Both are in small samples, obviously, but Choo does have a career of crushing righties while Harvey hasn’t allowed lower than an .800 OPS against lefties since 2015.
Ramon Laureano (R), 31 percent, Oakland Athletics vs. Houston Astros (RHP Collin McHugh): Laureano is a fringe hold in three outfielder leagues, but he should be rostered in all five outfielder formats. He has gotten hits in 9 of his last 12 games with 3 HR, 8 RBI, and 10 R. His elite defense guarantees playing time and he hasn’t had shown any major platoon splits in his career.
Leonys Martin (L), 6 percent, Cleveland Indians at Seattle Mariners (RHP Mike Leake): One of the only bright spots in the Cleveland lineup, Martin has a great .271/.407/.521 line with 3 HR and 1 SB. He has a 17 percent walk rate, but also a 31 percent strikeout rate. He’s been a solid power-speed combo throughout his career, but health has often interrupted his seasons. Cleveland’s lineup surely can’t stay this bad, especially once Francisco Lindo returns, so having the locked in leadoff hitter is nice.