We're back to our regularly scheduled programming with tonight's main slate at the usual 7:05 pm ET start time. It's another iffy one for pitching, but at least that means lower salaries from top to bottom. The lone trouble spot for weather will be the Dodgers-Twins game, which has steady rain in the forecast.
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Let's check out the top options on tonight's main slate.
Yu Darvish ($9,700): With most teams still working at the end of their pitching rotations, Darvish immediately stands out as a frontline starter already making his second 2022 appearance. Last year, he put up a 3.49 SIERA, 29.2% strikeout rate, and 6.5% walk rate, and there's little question that he's the top talent on the board.
In his first start, Darvish held Arizona hitless across six scoreless frames, but with his pitch count already at 92 pitches, San Diego would end his night there. It also wasn't the cleanest performance, as the veteran right-hander logged four walks to just three strikeouts.
Still, despite the lack of punchouts, his 28.3% called-plus-swinging-strike (CWS) rate was roughly league average, his velocity was normal, and he didn't give up any barrels. It wasn't entirely a fluke outing.
He does get a tougher opponent this time around in the Giants, though. San Francisco's active roster ranked seventh in both wRC+ (108) and team barrel rate (9.5%) last season.
The good news? They were also just 28th in strikeout rate (24.6%), boosting Darvish's potential upside. This game is also being played at pitcher-friendly Oracle Park in cooler temperatures, which should give a nice assist as well.
While we shouldn't expect another no-hit bid, Darvish should be able to up the punchouts, and a 3.73 implied total suggests that he should be able to keep the Giants in check.
Patrick Sandoval ($8,400): Following Darvish, things get really dicey in a hurry, and Sandoval is a perfect example.
While the southpaw has a plus matchup versus the Marlins, his start was pushed back due to arm fatigue, which isn't a ringing endorsement for his workload tonight. Additionally, we're seeing roughly 17 mph winds blowing out to right field at Angel Stadium, so it wouldn't be shocking to see a few balls leave the yard.
So, why should we put any faith in Sandoval? Well, last year's 25.9% strikeout rate ranks as one of the slate's best marks, and he also induced grounders at a 51.1% clip, potentially helping him nullify the home run ball. A 9.9% walk rate is a slight blemish on the resume, though, and it could prove especially troublesome if he's on a short leash.
But, circling back to the matchup, in 2021, Miami's active roster was 22nd in wRC+ (98), 25th in strikeout rate (23.9%), and 23rd in barrel rate (7.4%). Outside of a few players at the top of the order, this isn't a very imposing lineup, giving Sandoval the opportunity to come through with a fantasy-friendly score.
Alex Cobb ($7,600) and Eric Lauer ($7,200): In the bargain bin salary range, both Cobb and Lauer are intriguing arms, but they both have pitch count worries after logging limited innings this spring. What else is new? They'll need to be efficient to reach five innings, but at least they'll save us a good chunk of coin.
Cobb showed increased velocity and buzz during spring training, and he was already coming off one of the best campaigns of his career, recording a 3.83 SIERA, 24.9% strikeout rate, 8.4% walk rate, and 53.3% ground-ball rate across 18 starts. The matchup against the Padres isn't ideal for strikeouts, but Cobb will get the Oracle Park boost just as much as Darvish -- San Diego only has a 3.77 implied total.
Lauer also demonstrated an uptick in velocity this spring, and he's also coming off an encouraging 2021 after posting a 4.24 SIERA, 23.9% strikeout rate, and 8.4% walk rate. While the lefty will have to face an Orioles lineup of almost entirely right-handed sticks, he actually produced a 25.8% strikeout rate in the split last year and Baltimore's active roster was 29th in strikeout rate. It also won't hurt that Camden Yards may play as a neutral park this season.
Houston Astros: In his 2022 debut versus the Padres, Madison Bumgarner didn't do anything to suggest he's bouncing back, as he would only last three innings while allowing one earned run, walking four batters, and striking out just two. He produced a middling 4.57 SIERA and 20.2% strikeout rate in 2021, and a 45.0% fly-ball rate led to 1.48 homers per nine innings.
It's hard to see him working through a Houston offense that's littered with righties, and the two lefties, Yordan Alvarez ($4,000) and Kyle Tucker ($4,100), are excellent versus southpaws. In lefty-lefty spots, Alvarez owns a career .389 wOBA and .283 ISO while Tucker has a .354 wOBA and .256 ISO.
This is an easy stack to like from top to bottom, and there's plenty of value to go around in guys like Jeremy Pena ($2,300), Yuli Gurriel ($2,600), Aledmys Diaz ($2,300), and Chas McCormick ($2,300).
Atlanta Braves: Like Bumgarner, Patrick Corbin is another veteran left-hander trying to regain his prior form. His opening day start against the Mets was a mixed bag, allowing two earned runs over four innings with four strikeouts and two walks. Better than Bumgarner perhaps, but nothing all that exciting, either.
Corbin was ineffective versus righties in 2021, struggling with dingers and putting up a 4.66 xFIP and 17.2% strikeout rate. If that continues, he'll have a tough time dispatching guys like Ozzie Albies ($3,900), Austin Riley ($4,000), Marcell Ozuna ($2,900), Adam Duvall ($2,900), and Dansby Swanson ($3,000).
And much like the Astros' lefties, Matt Olson ($3,800) shouldn't be ignored, as well. He owns a career .342 wOBA and .238 ISO against southpaws.
Texas Rangers: Teams like the Angels and Cardinals are showing high implied totals, but it's actually the Rangers that lead the way at 5.49 runs.
They face Chad Kuhl, who only managed a 4.89 SIERA, 21.5% strikeout rate, and 12.0% walk rate last year and has generally had issues keeping the ball in the park over his career. Outside of having a slightly higher ground-ball rate versus righties, he has similar numbers against both sides of the plate, so we don't need to be too picky with this stack.
The additions of Marcus Semien ($3,500), Corey Seager ($3,200), Mitch Garver ($3,000), Brad Miller ($2,700), and even Kole Calhoun ($2,300) give this new-look Rangers lineup far more thump than last year's edition. Nathaniel Lowe ($2,600) and Adolis Garcia ($2,900) still pack some punch in the middle of the order, as well.
The only downside is that between the lower salaries and the high implied total, the Rangers figure to be a popular stack, which is something to keep in mind when considering the rest of your roster.