We have one of the smaller main slates of the young season on Monday with just five games in all. It's also a night that leans more towards pitching, as just one team has an implied total above five runs, and no other offense comes anywhere close.
Our daily helper is available every day to analyze FanDuel's main slate and help give you a starting point when you're building lineups. Be sure to also incorporate our great tools into your research process. Whether you're looking for daily projections, the latest starting lineups and weather, or batting and pitching heat maps to find the best matchups -- we've got you covered!
Let's check out the top options on today's main slate.
Max Scherzer ($10,800): Outside of an elevated walk rate in the early going (10.1%), Max Scherzer's just doing Max Scherzer things, sporting a 2.86 SIERA and 33.3% strikeout rate over three starts.
In his last outing, he flashed his upside with 58 FanDuel points against the Giants, allowing just one earned run over seven innings while racking up 10 punchouts. He also cracked 100 pitches for the first time on the young season, so there are zero workload concerns for Scherzer.
The Cardinals aren't expected to score a whole lot tonight, checking in with a slate-low 2.99 implied total. Not only does St. Louis have to contend with the veteran righty, but Busch Stadium is one of the league's most pitcher-friendly venues.
Perhaps the only thing working against Scherzer is that the Cardinals' offense suppresses strikeouts; their active roster has the third-lowest strikeout rate this year.
Even so, everything else checks out for Mad Max in this spot, and outside of a slate-high salary, it's hard to not like him as the night's top choice.
Buehler has a fantastic matchup against the Diamondbacks, a team that's struggled at the plate this year and isn't likely to get much better. However, Buehler has been surprisingly ineffective with a 16.2% strikeout rate and 26.7% called-plus-swinging-strike (CSW) rate, well below what we normally see from him.
We ought to see better days ahead from Buehler -- he does have a 12.2% swinging-strike rate at least -- but he could be feeling the effects of this year's shortened spring training.
On the other hand, despite displaying lower velocity through three outings, Bieber is still getting the job done, recording a 2.85 SIERA, 27.6% strikeout rate, and 5.2% walk rate.
Although the Angels have actually been one of the best offenses in the league so far, they're also striking out at the seventh-highest clip (24.7%), giving the Cleveland right-hander a path towards a big performance.
And while he's unlikely to match Scherzer in pitch count, Bieber did get up 86 pitches in his last start, so he should be able to get into the 90s if he's dealing.
Both Bieber and Buehler should be on your radar in lineups without Scherzer, but with Buehler's early issues, Bieber is my preference between the two.
Nathan Eovaldi ($8,200): Given both the quality of high-salaried options and the lack of any must-have stacks tonight, you may not have to dip into the value range.
But if you do, Eovaldi's sparkling peripherals stand out. He's put together a 2.56 SIERA, 29.2% strikeout rate, and 4.6% walk rate in his three appearances, which are eye-popping numbers at this salary. That strikeout rate figures to settle in closer to last year's mark (25.5%), but it's an encouraging start nonetheless.
However, he gets a tough draw versus the vaunted Blue Jays, and this will also be his second start in a row against them. While that certainly isn't great, Toronto's active roster only has a 101 wRC+, so they've actually been more of an average offense so far.
They figure to get better overall, particularly when Teoscar Hernandez returns, but the truth is that the bottom of their order isn't that scary.
We've yet to see Eovaldi go more than five innings to begin this year, but he's thrown 101 and 95 pitches the last two times out, so it's really just a matter of efficiency rather than workload.
Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers have the highest implied total by a country mile (5.11), so they'll pretty much be the chalk stack by default. No other team exceeds even 4.30 implied runs.
That said, the Dodgers may not necessarily have a cupcuke matchup. Merrill Kelly has more or less been a league-average starter over his career, but he's gotten some buzz with his hot start in 2022. The 33-year-old righty boasts a 2.86 SIERA and 28.6% strikeout while giving up just one earned run over 15 1/3 innings.
Considering that Kelly has a career 20.5% strikeout rate, it's easy to be skeptical of the rise in punchouts, and his 9.4% swinging-strike rate is right in line with what he's normally achieved. Still, an improved 30.8% CSW rate could suggest this isn't entirely a fluke, and both a slight uptick in velocity and increased changeup usage could be reasons to believe, as well.
Don't get me wrong, on a slate that's so lacking in offense, L.A. is still the top stack, and even an improved Kelly could struggle versus this elite lineup. But if you believe their roster percentages will be through the roof, there are reasons to fade them tonight.
You probably don't need me to tell you who to consider on the Dodgers, but Kelly has shown a lower strikeout rate to lefties both last year and so far this season, so prioritize Freddie Freeman ($4,000), Max Muncy ($3,200), and Cody Bellinger ($3,300).
Houston Astros: Offense on this slate gets ugly real fast, and we're mostly just taking shots in the dark after the Dodgers.
The Astros have the next highest implied total (4.26) against Dane Dunning, which isn't a super exciting matchup but one of the better ones.
Dunning has gotten knocked around a bit, but his underlying metrics suggest he's performed better than his bloated ERA. Outside of an ugly 11.5% walk rate, the right-hander has a solid 3.78 SIERA and 23.0% strikeout rate -- both of which are similar to how he performed in 2021 -- and he's inducing grounders at a high rate as usual (51.3%). He's also been unlucky with an inflated .405 BABIP.
Overall, though, Dunning doesn't have overpowering numbers, and we're just banking on a talented Astros offense to get the job done.
With the Guardians, they're up against a wild card in Michael Lorenzen, a reliever-turned-starter who's shown some positive signs in two starts. Cleveland's offense is also performed well above expectations with the league's fourth-best wRC+.
Really, we just don't know how good either side will be this year, so this is just rolling the dice on the Lorenzen experiment failing and the Guardians' hot start having some legs.
As for the Sox, they have a poor matchup on paper against Jose Berrios, who shut them down in his last start.
However, Berrios hasn't thrown well overall, posting a 4.62 SIERA, 18.6% strikeout rate, and 10.2% walk rate. Facing the same team in back-to-back starts is a negative for the pitcher, too.
Chances are that Berrios pitches well tonight, but this is a slate where we have to take some chances, and despite a slow start, Boston's bats could wake up on any given night.
Berrios has pretty consistently allowed more home runs to left-handed batters over his career, including 1.51 per nine innings in 2021. That places Rafael Devers ($4,000) at the top of the wish list, and Alex Verdugo ($3,600) has been consistently batting in the heart of the order. Other than those two, the other possible lefties aren't super exciting, though, so it's probably best to generally stick with the top righty sticks.