-- 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.
It's an odd day among the elite, as all three principles are displaying uncharacteristically high walk rates (each over 4.0 BB/9). It's a good thing for Jose Fernandez that he's also fanning hitters at a 12.8 K/9 clip. Sunday's foe is the Washington Nationals in the nation's capital. Be sure to check the lineups, as the Miami Marlins right-hander could be facing some reserves after playing a twin bill on Saturday. On the other hand, the same can be said for Joe Ross facing the Fish sticks. Fernandez tossed seven frames last time out, so if he can be pitch-efficient, he'll stick around on what appears to be a close game. There are other hurlers offering a better bang for the buck, however, and if it's just points you're after, Fernandez should lead the pack Sunday.
For Sonny Gray to be successful he needs pinpoint control, as he's not especially dominant. His strikeout total in traditional fantasy leagues relies on volume, which he has delivered the past two seasons -- averaging 213 innings per year in that span. So far this season, Gray is disappointing both seasonal owners and those who trusted him in DFS. His velocity and strikeout rate are tracking with career norms -- it's his control that's the culprit. More walks not only result in more baserunners and runs but also fewer innings; perhaps Gray can regain some confidence by facing the Tampa Bay Rays and their 27 percent strikeout rate against right-handers. There's some risk, but based on his history, Gray deserves a look for cash play.
Normally, seeing Felix Hernandez with a 2.27 ERA wouldn't be a cause for concern, but a 4.63 FIP and 4.50 xFIP is not very kingly. Upon closer inspection, Hernandez's average fastball has dropped 2 mph from last season, which has resulted in a big drop in swinging strikes induced -- lowering his K/9 to just 6.8. Making matters worse is a 4.1 BB/9. The natural reaction is to wonder if Hernandez is hiding an injury; after all, we're talking about a guy who has amassed eight consecutive campaigns of at least 200 innings, topping 190 in the two seasons before that. Sunday's opponent, the Los Angeles Angels, are struggling offensively, but they don't offer Hernandez the platform to push his whiffs closer to normal. Some will put it all together and recommend the Seattle veteran as a contrarian play. That's taking the notion of being contrary too far since, at minimum, you want some strikeout upside with a risky matchup.
There's not a lot in the solid tier, with two options that often visit the elite level saddled with dangerous road affairs. New York Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom challenges the Colorado Rockies in Coors Field, and Gerrit Cole and the Pittsburgh Pirates wrap up a weekend set in Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs (who are averaging over six runs a game). How about we turn our attention to some more DFS-friendly options?
Over his last five outings, Masahiro Tanaka has fanned 29 with just a pair of walks, covering an impressive 35 2/3 innings. Home runs remain his Achilles heel, but Sunday's opponent, the Chicago White Sox are well below average when it comes to homers facing righties. Tanaka's high floor is ideal for cash action, with higher ceiling options more suitable for tournament play.
If Tanaka epitomizes a cash anchor, Jon Lester is the poster boy for GPPs, as the Chicago Cubs southpaw faces the Pittsburgh Pirates -- owners of an eye-popping 0.390 weighted on base average (wOBA) against lefties, but also a team that's fanning at an above-average rate in these conditions. Fueling the Bucs' success against left-handers is a healthy 12 percent walk rate, which Lester combats with s stingy 2.0 BB/9.
It's only 25 innings, but if you're a Kevin Gausman owner in seasonal formats, things are certainly looking good. The Baltimore Orioles right-hander's walk rate has dipped, but he's maintaining the same strikeout rate as last season. Gausman has a chance to pad that as he has a date with the punch out-prone Detroit Tigers at Camden Yards. The strikeout upside, combined with his facing a dangerous lineup when contact is made, renders Gausman another GPP candidate.
Of the 30 scheduled starts, 17 qualify as streaming candidates at a projected game score between 46 and 52. Since it's Sunday, the most important factor is whatever you happen to need to win your head-to-head matchup. Here's a look at the more attractive spot starters.
There's some parallels with Trevor Bauer and the aforementioned Gausman, as both came into the league with strong pedigree but have yo-yoed between the rotation and bullpen. Bauer is making a pitch to remain a starter, though issuing fewer free passes would certainly strengthen his case. He's worth a start against the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field.
Matt Moore's walk rate is another who could use some work, although the Tampa Bay southpaw is fanning hitters at an impressive 9.4 K/9 clip. The Oakland Athletics close out a weekend set at The Trop, sporting a weak 0.287 wOBA versus lefties.
On paper, Danny Duffy has a great matchup facing the hapless Atlanta Braves in Kauffman Stadium; the visitors tote an anemic 0.240 wOBA versus southpaws while whiffing at a healthy 25 percent clip. The issue here is that Duffy is on a 50-pitch limit, so he's useless for DFS but in play for seasonal action if you need a late-week ratio boost.
The Philadelphia Phillies are auditioning arms for the future. After a couple of spotty efforts, Adam Morgan earned a longer look with seven one-run frames, albeit against the offense-challenged Braves. He's in a good spot to make it two solid efforts in a row taking on the Cincinnati Reds in a home tilt.
Matt Wisler is reminding doubters that he came up as a well-regarded prospect, too, and that they shouldn't be fixated on last season's inauspicious beginning to his major league career. Lefty swingers still give the Atlanta Braves right-hander difficulties, but in facing the Kansas City Royals, he has a decent chance to keep things in control. Eric Hosmer is swinging well, but fellow lefty Alex Gordon is scuffling, and switch-hitter Kendrys Morales traditionally hits better from the right side.
This one's easy, as the game score prediction lines up exactly with the lowest six on the docket. Unless you're very desperate, reliever-turned-starter Cesar Ramos, Miguel Gonzalez, Sean O'Sullivan, Matt Cain, Rubby De La Rosa and Tyler Chatwood are all risks to blow up your ratios. If forced to pick one to use, it would be De La Rosa at Chase Field facing the San Francisco Giants.
There's a lot of great alternatives to Coors Field, which actually makes stacking Rockies against Jacob deGrom a contrarian play. The more conventional stack is loading up on the New York Mets left-handers against Tyler Chatwood. Curtis Granderson, Michael Conforto and Lucas Duda are the standard three, with switch-hitter Neil Walker always in play against a right-hander -- and the same can be said for Yoenis Cespedes.
Matt Cain's stifling of the Toronto Blue Jays last time out temporarily put the kibosh on rumors of his demise; doing it again will be a challenge against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the desert. Jake Lamb will be the primary beneficiary, with Chris Herrmann likely to be in the lineup somewhere as he has been playing outfield as David Peralta tends to his sore wrist.
The big right-handed bats of the Toronto Blue Jays must be licking their chops with Cesar Ramos scheduled to take the hill in Globe Life Park. Ramos, a southpaw, is normally a reliever, but he has been pressed into starting duties as Cole Hamels nurses a groin injury.
The New York Yankees are familiar with Miguel Gonzalez from their American League East battles during the right-hander's tenure with the Orioles. Even more relevant is that Gonzalez has a proclivity for giving up the long ball, which isn't a good thing in Yankee Stadium. Look for the Bronx Bombers to load up on left-handers and switch-hitters, rendering anyone donning pinstripes in play.
As alluded to in the pitching notes, an all-out pig-pile on Matt Wisler isn't recommended. However, a mini-stack of Eric Hosmer and Alex Gordon could be a means of getting some exposure to a low-owned duo when there's so much chalk elsewhere.
Most likely to hit a home run: There are a lot of choices, but we have to go with Josh Donaldson facing Ramos in Arlington.
Most likely to steal a base: It's a Jon Lester day, so the no-brainer pick is Starling Marte.