-- 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.
Masahiro Tanaka is quietly dominating again. He was hardly bad in 2015, but he's looking like the 2014 version so far this season. It's a little bit overlooked because the Yankees are buried in last place with an 11-18 record. The only real difference between 2014 and 2016 is the strikeout rate. He's sitting at 23 percent so far this year compared to 26 percent in '14, however his swinging strike rate is actually up slightly from his rookie season at 14 percent which suggests more strikeouts could be on the way soon. Additionally, Tanaka's ground ball rate is at a career-best 60 percent and has contributed to his scant 0.5 HR/9 mark. The long ball has always been the one real flaw in Tanaka's game with 40 allowed in his first two seasons, but the opposition has just two so far this year. He has also made it into the seventh inning in each of his past four starts.
The skills have never been in question for Drew Smyly and they are even better this year so if he can stay healthy -- something that has eluded him thus far -- a career year could be in the offing. His last start was just the first off the season in which he didn't complete at least six innings, though he was still sharp in five against the Dodgers (5 H, 2 ER, 6 K). Smyly's 32 percent strikeout rate is fourth-best in the league behind only Jose Fernandez, Clayton Kershaw, and Noah Syndergaard. And he's pairing it with just a five percent walk rate, the best of his career. His 1.1 HR/9 rate stands out, but it is all confined to two starts and both against Toronto -- three in his season debut and two more on April 29.
Jacob deGrom missed two weeks right after his season opener with shoulder tendinitis. The ERA since returning looks great at 2.16 in three starts, but he hasn't quite been his dominant self just yet with only 10 strikeouts and five walks in the 16.7 innings of work. However, he is still missing bats at an elite clip (12 percent swinging strike rate) and if that continues, the strikeouts will no doubt follow. He also has the best ground ball rate of his career at 51 percent. The velocity is down a bit from last year, but there is still a ton to like with deGrom.
Last night's postponement at Wrigley Field adds Chicago Cubs southpaw Jon Lester to the Tuesday docket. Many DFS players will surely take advantage of this matchup, as the visiting San Diego Padres strike out at an elevated 27 percent clip against left-handers.
Quick, who has the best ERA among qualified starters for the Miami Marlins? Nope, it's not Jose Fernandez. It's not newcomer Wei-Yin Chen, either. It's actually impressive young lefty Adam Conley. The 26-year-old southpaw had a sharp 67-inning debut last year, though you might've missed it on a 71-91 Marlins team. They aren't exactly killing it this year at 16-14 (due in large part to that fact that Fernandez and Chen haven't really gotten going yet), but Conley is being noticed this time around. He is in the midst of a 13-inning scoreless streak, including 7.7 no-hit innings in Milwaukee back on April 29. He needed 116 pitches to get there, which is why he came out in the midst of the no-no. Conley has also fanned at least six batters in four of his last five starts.
Joe Ross allowed two earned runs in his last start, a season-high for him after allowing just two earned in his first four starts combined. His skills aren't exactly backing up a 1.23 ERA, but he's still unquestionably a promising young arm. He has continued his domination of righties that we saw last year while also getting a bit better against lefties. This actually is a great matchup for his right-dominating ways as the Tigers have only two regulars from the left side against right-handers: Victor Martinez and Anthony Gose.
Kevin Gausman has teased and tantalized in each of his three major league seasons so far, but he hasn't quite had that breakout season. Part of that is because the Orioles have jerked him around between the rotation and bullpen as well as the majors and minors, but he's finally a fixture in the rotation and so far, so good. His season got a late start because of shoulder tendinitis so they have been taking it easy with him and ramping up his workload. The reins should be off now after an eight-inning, 98-pitch gem his last time out as he will likely be allowed to top 100 pitches now, especially if he continues to pitch like this. Righties are hitting just .188 off of him so far, down 90 points from last year.
Spot Starters and Streamers
There were some believable changes early on for Hector Santiago, including increased velocity and more ground balls, but that's why we have to be careful with small samples, even those with tangible changes. The last two starts have seem him fall back into old habits with the velocity and ground balls dropping as he has allowed 16 hits with only five strikeouts and walks in 11 innings. And yet, he is still worthy of some consideration on Tuesday. The Cardinals are only average against lefties and Santiago gets back home where he excels. He posted a 2.65 ERA and 1.15 WHIP there in 98.3 innings last year.
I'm not going to lie; I didn't know who Chris Devenski was coming into the season. The 25-year-old righty repeated Double-A last year and has never been considered a prospect. He skipped Triple-A entirely and joined the club as a long reliever on April 7. Before joining the rotation on April 30, he gave the team 13.7 innings of relief in six outings with 12 strikeouts, one walk, and just one run allowed. He has continued pitching well through two starts and even with three walks in his first start, his 1.8 BB/9 is still much better than his solid 2.7 BB/9 as a minor leaguer. He works 92-94 MPH with his fastball and has two secondary pitches that each give him a different speed level: an 81-83 MPH changeup and a 75-77 curveball. Keep him in mind as a low-dollar option to pair with a high-dollar Tanaka, deGrom or Smyly.
Michael Fulmer fell victim a common problem for young arms his last time out: one bad inning syndrome. It's just as it sounds wherein one bad inning tanks an outing. Honestly, it has been running through the Detroit rotation both young and old, but it really hit Fulmer in Cleveland as he allowed four runs on five hits and a walk in the first inning before settling down for four solid innings to salvage the start. Despite a solid 19-12 record, the Nationals are just 25th in the league against righties in wRC+. Just don't let Bryce Harper beat you, Michael.
Sean O'Sullivan has long been a DFS stack favorite. He has a 5.96 ERA and 1.58 WHIP in 303.3 career innings with a 1.3 K/BB ratio and 1.7 HR/9 rate. I'm kind of surprised the system didn't spit a 20-rating for Oakland with numbers like that. O'Sullivan has been an equal opportunity piñata, though lefties get the best of him with a .919 OPS (righties are at .844) over his career. Josh Reddick and Stephen Vogt will no doubt be popular options, but don't sleep on Khris Davis, even in a righty-righty matchup.
There's a game in Coors, too, so of course both teams will be heavily in play as the Rockies host the Diamondbacks. With lefty Chris Rusin on the mound, Paul Goldschmidt will be the apple of everyone's eye, though Yasmany Tomas and Welington Castillo also have huge platoons favoring their work against lefties. Rubby de la Rosa has struggled mightily with lefties throughout his career and while he has been better this year, I'm not confident he can maintain the improvements in Coors so Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon, and Gerardo Parra are all big targets.
Juan Nicasio has shown some de la Rosa tendencies so far this year with a heavy platoon split favoring lefty batters that brings Joey Votto and Jay Bruce into focus while Alfredo Simon could be a money-saving version of O'Sullivan as the Pittsburgh studs might actually come cheaper than Oakland's. John Jaso is a tough pick because of the star power at first base, but Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco, Starling Marte, and Jung-ho Kang are all viable options.
Carlos Rodon is one of the more intriguing young arms in the game, but he has shown a large platoon split through 172.3 career innings. Three of the top four Rangers in the batting order are lefties, but you can still look at Adrian Beltre and Ian Desmond to exploit Rodon's weakness.
Matt Wisler has shown some early improvements against lefties after really struggling with them last year, holding them to a .213 average so far so while I'd never put together a Philly stack, I would consider Odubel Herrera atop their lineup. Unsurprisingly, all three offenses facing our elites draw "1" overall ratings simply reinforcing the idea that you shouldn't touch them.
Most likely to go yard: Carlos Gonzalez. He has become a platoon player at this point with 38 HR in his last 536 PA against righties dating back to start of last year.
Most likely to swipe a bag: Wil Myers. Going a little off the beaten path here with Myers who is far from a typical burner, but neither David Ross nor Tim Federowicz are all that threatening behind the dish for base stealers. The problem is that the Padres don't have many guys who get on base enough to exploit this one weakness the Cubs have so I'm looking to their best hitter. A healthy Myers is a legitimate double-digit steal threat and he already has three this year.