Other than opening day, Memorial Day Monday is my favorite day of the season. There’s wall-to-wall baseball with all 30 teams playing all day long.
The card may be full, but it’s lacking aces. The highlight is David Price making his 2017 debut with the marquee matchup featuring Mike Leake and the St. Louis Cardinals hosting Rich Hill and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The games get underway at 1:05 p.m. ET, so make sure you get your lineups locked in time. Here’s some players available in at least half of ESPN leagues in a great spot to get your week off and running.
Pitchers to stream
Martin Perez (L), 6 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays: Research shows pitchers stringing together several good outings usually continue to pitch well. Perez has tossed four consecutive quality starts featuring 20 strikeouts with only four walks and one home run allowed over those 25 2/3 innings. The southpaw draws a Rays squad that strikes out excessively versus left-handers and sports a below average weighted on base average (wOBA) versus lefties.
Jordan Montgomery (L), 13 percent, New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles: Intuitively, this may appear to be a risky matchup, and it is. However, with an assist with the numbers from ESPN researcher Kyle Soppe, here’s why the reward could be worth the risk: Montgomery has been stingy with hits, supported by a hard-hit rate well below league average. His 12.7 percent swinging strike rate is a tick higher than another southpaw’s you may have heard of: Clayton Kershaw. Montgomery has a great platform to rack up more whiffs, as the Orioles are among the league leaders in strikeout rate versus left-handers along with posting a below average wOBA in this scenario. Montgomery is still risky as a fly ball pitcher with Baltimore having some powerful right-handed bats in the lineup, but the swing-and-miss potential offers hope as a streaming option.
Edinson Volquez (R), 4 percent, Miami Marlins vs. Philadelphia Phillies: This is more about a weak-hitting team visiting a run-suppressing venue than it is Volquez. The Marlins’ right-hander has a 8.3 K/9, but he’s giving up too many baserunners. However, the Phillies carry a below-average wOBA versus righties.
Ricky Nolasco (R), 8 percent, Los Angeles Angels vs. Atlanta Braves: Nolasco’s setup is similar to that of Volquez. He’s a below-average pitcher in a favorable matchup. The Braves bring the No. 18 wOBA versus right-handers into one of the best pitcher’s parks in the league.
Pitcher to avoid
David Price (L), 92 percent, Boston Red Sox at Chicago White Sox: If you’ve been patiently awaiting Price’s inaugural 2017 effort, it’s understandable why you want to get him in your lineup. However, be warned that the numbers paint a perilous picture. The White Sox check in with the league’s second-best wOBA versus southpaws in tandem with a low strikeout rate. Price’s eight strikeouts to two walks in five rehab innings is encouraging, but 12 hits allowed suggest he wasn’t especially sharp. Finally, the Red Sox say Price will be on a pitch limit, tempering strikeout and win potential.
The Los Angeles Angels will soon face a tough decision as Huston Street and Cam Bedrosian could both be activated in early June. Current closer Bud Norris has performed admirably, doing nothing to lose the job. However, Bedrosian has better pure stuff while an old-school skipper like Mike Scioscia may prefer a veteran like Street, despite the mediocre repertoire. If Norris is one of your key closers, don’t panic, but consider a backup plan.
Projected game scores
GS is the projected game score for the pitcher. A “*” means that the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate rating; these are the author’s ratings.
Russell Martin (R), 24 percent, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Cincinnati Reds (RHP Lisalverto Bonilla): For the second straight season, Martin had a terrible April. While things weren’t that much better in May, he’s picked up the pace. The Blue Jays as a team are finally healthy and the results are showing. Martin may not possess the platoon edge over Bonilla, but hitting sixth in what should be a productive lineup against a lesser pitcher is sufficient to hope water begins to find its level.
I’ve called a personal moratorium on using Alex Avila in this space even though he’s still available in 75 percent of ESPN leagues and in a great spot. (I’d like to think part of the purpose is to share justifications for selections, so the more players the Daily Notes team uses, the better equipped you are to make your own decisions.)
Lucas Duda (L), 6 percent, New York Mets vs. Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Matt Garza): Garza’s improved control is encouraging, though he’s wasting it with an elevated home run rate. After missing three weeks with a hyperextended elbow, Duda is back in form, with a 1.104 OPS the past two weeks.
Whit Merrifield (R), 2 percent, Kansas City Royals vs. Detroit Tigers (LHP Daniel Norris): Merrifield has a knock in 13 straight games and has a great chance at another facing Norris. The Tigers’ southpaw is much better versus lefty swingers.
Derek Dietrich (L), 1 percent, Miami Marlins vs. Philadelphia Phillies (RHP Jeremy Hellickson): Dietrich has been playing the hot corner in Martin Prado‘s absence. Truth be told, the utility infielder hasn’t been as effective versus right-handers as normal, but he’s in a good spot facing Hellickson. Dietrich already makes good contact, so he should have no trouble putting the ball in play against Hellickson and his 3.6 K/9.
Jose Reyes (B), 16 percent, New York Mets vs. Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Matt Garza): With Asdrubal Cabrera back, Reyes has slid back to the hot corner as he’s been swinging a good bat. Since the Mets have a solid array of lefty hitters, Garza could have a tough start Monday. Hitting second, Reyes should be in the middle of things.
Nicholas Castellanos (R), 50 percent, Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals (RHP Jason Hammel): This is similar to the Martin call at catcher. Castellanos is a better hitter than he’s exhibited thus far. In fact, Statcast data portends a higher hit rate than he’s incurred to this point of the season. He doesn’t possess the platoon edge, but Hammel is quite simply a bad pitcher.
Andrew Romine (B), 1 percent, Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals (RHP Jason Hammel): Doubling down on Hammel, Romine is not only playing second while Ian Kinsler is on the disabled list, he has also assumed the leadoff spot. That’s a great place to be with Hammel on the hill.
Kole Calhoun (L), 44 percent, Los Angeles Angels vs. Atlanta Braves (RHP Julio Teheran): Teheran historically struggles against lefty swingers. Calhoun’s early season woes have resulted in some impatient fantasy owners rightfully frustrated and cutting ties. By the end of the season, Calhoun’s numbers should be more like the back of his baseball card.
David Peralta (L), 28 percent, Arizona Diamondbacks at Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP Trevor Williams): Peralta is enduring a park downgrade, but hitting second in a road contest gives him a great chance to get five plate appearances.
Ben Gamel (L), 7 percent, Seattle Mariners at Colorado Rockies (RHP Tyler Chatwood): Because he plays in the relative obscurity of the Pacific Northwest, Gamel could be sliding under the radar. The Mariners’ bats awoke from their slumber yesterday and now head to Colorado. Gamel may hit as high as second, but even he’s lower in the order, he offers a great option to get some exposure to Coors Field.
Hitter matchup ratings
Notes: Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher’s history (three years’ worth, as well as the past 21 days) and ballpark factors. “LH” and “RH” ratings account only for left- and right-handed batters, respectively. Weighted on-base average (wOBA) is the primary statistic used in the calculation. Ratings range from 1 to 10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. So, for example, a 10 is a must-start rating, whereas a 1 should be avoided (if possible); a 1-2 is poor, 3-4 is fair, 5-6 is average, 7-8 is very good and 9-10 is excellent.