Due to some funky MLB scheduling, the main slate will begin at 1:10 pm ET and consist of the six afternoon games with start times before 4:00 pm.
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Let's check out the top options on today's main slate.
The righty produced a 3.57 SIERA and 31.9% strikeout rate in 2021, and the only problem was his occasional tendency to hand out free passes (9.6% walk rate). That last bit has been the case so far this year after already notching five walks in 10 2/3 innings, but he's also racked up eight punchouts in back-to-back starts with a 15.3% swinging-strike rate.
The Guardians aren't necessarily a plus matchup for strikeouts, but Cease should be able to take care of business against a team with a 3.70 implied total.
Both guys are in play against tougher opponents, but I'm giving Carrasco the slight edge nod against San Francisco.
Carrasco is coming off a forgettable 2021 campaign due to injuries, but he's looked like his old self through two starts, tallying 13 strikeouts in his first 10 2/3 innings. His strikeouts have come with a 15.8% swinging-strike rate, which falls right in line with what he was doing from 2018-2020.
The Giants have some punch in their lineup, but they also have a lot of swing-and-miss bats. Their active roster posted a 24.7% strikeout rate in 2021, and that's carried over into this season, where they've struck out at a 25.6% clip.
At home in pitcher-friendly Citi Field, Carrasco enjoys one of the lowest opposing implied totals on the board (3.56).
Joe Ryan ($8,200): In the value range,Paul Blackburn ($7,600) has been a pleasant surprise thus far with a 26.3% strikeout rate, and if the weather holds up, I'm not against taking a few swings with him against Baltimore if you're a believer. However, his two outings have been 71 and 73 pitches, and he's otherwise been a low strikeout pitcher over his career.
The more conventional move is to ride with Ryan, who is short on experience but could have a similar upside to the high-salaried arms. Over seven starts dating back to last season, Ryan has logged a 3.42 SIERA, 29.1% strikeout rate, and 6.4% walk rate.
Although the young right-hander doesn't get many grounders and has shown some early home run problems, he's facing a Royals offense that's light on power and plays in one of the least friendly ballparks for home runs. Kansas City's another team with a modest implied total (3.87), as well.
New York Yankees: There isn't a single offense with an implied total cracking five runs today, so it's possible we see roster percentages a bit more spread out than usual.
The Yankees have the highest mark of the bunch (4.66), though, likely making them a popular destination for stacks.
They'll take their hacks against Michael Pineda, who's making his 2022 debut. While Pineda found some success last season, his peripherals were pretty meh, including a 4.36 SIERA and 19.2% strikeout rate.
Dingers have been a problem over his career, and 2021 was no different, as he allowed 1.40 per nine innings and only put up a 39.8% ground-ball rate.
Pineda can be attacked by both sides of the plate, but he was worse versus lefties, posting a 4.62 xFIP and 16.5% strikeout rate. Aaron Hicks ($2,700) is a value out of the leadoff slot, andAnthony Rizzo ($3,500) andJoey Gallo ($2,700) are the other prominent sluggers with the platoon advantage.
Chicago White Sox: Right-hander Zach Plesac struggled to a 4.73 SIERA and 16.7% strikeout rate last year, and he's likely to be a low-strikeout pitcher yet again after managing just a 15.9% strikeout rate over his opening 2022 starts.
There's some solid value in Chicago's lineup today, asYasmani Grandal ($2,700) is under-salaried, andGavin Sheets ($2,700) andLeury Garcia ($2,200) are two other low-salaried sticks with the platoon advantage. Sheets has posted a 10.9% barrel rate over his young career, and while Garcia doesn't possess much pop, he's actually hitting third.
Toronto Blue Jays: The Blue Jays don't have a great matchup versus Tanner Houck, but Houck has performed poorly so far with an 18.4% strikeout rate and 15.8% walk rate, so he may be feeling the effects of the shortened spring training. He's only induced a 7.2% swinging-strike rate, as well.
Houck had a lower strikeout rate versus lefties in 2021, so Raimel Tapia ($2,600) and Zack Collins ($2,700) should get extra consideration in an otherwise righty-heavy order. Tapia is batting leadoff today and Collins is hitting cleanup.