Monday brings a fairly quiet MLB schedule consisting of just seven games. The good news is, we are set to see the beginning of some exciting series. In the AL East, the Blue Jays will have Jose Berrios on the mound for a matchup with Nathan Eovaldi and the Red Sox. In a matchup between two National League teams with playoff aspirations, the Cardinals will host the Mets, who will have Max Scherzer on the mound. We’ll also have the battle of Texas when the Rangers host the Astros. Let’s get down to business and highlight some pitchers and hitters to target for the five-game main slate on Yahoo.
Max Scherzer ($60) has looked like his usual dominant self with his new team. Over his first three starts, he has a 0.89 WHIP and has recorded 23 strikeouts over 18 innings. The Cardinals aren’t the easiest of matchups, and his will do a number on your budget, but it’s tough to argue against adding him to your salary entry.
Walker Buehler ($45) hasn’t been great out of the gate, failing to log more than 5.2 innings in any of his first three starts, while posting a 1.47 WHIP. However, it should be noted that one game came at Coors Field and another was against the Braves. His matchup against a Diamondbacks team that has scored the fourth-fewest runs in baseball could leave him with an excellent pitching line.
After a stellar debut against the Marlins, Michael Lorenzen ($30) was touched up for four runs over 3.1 innings by the Astros in his last outing. The Angels are giving him his first chance to be a regular starting pitcher, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him provide inconsistent production. His initial 24.3 percent strikeout rate in encouraging, though, and his salary is cheap enough that he could be worth considering in a tournament play for his matchup with the Guardians.
Despite the limited slate, there are several top-tier, or close to it, pitchers set to start. That could make finding hitters difficult in some games. When in doubt, it’s never a bad idea to roll with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. ($21). He’s stormed out of the gate with a .649 slugging percentage, which could be an issue for Eovaldi ($39)who has allowed five home runs over 14.2 innings.
Staying in that same game between the Blue Jays and Red Sox, Rafael Devers ($21) is also intriguing. His overall numbers are down a bit from his lofty standards, but his .283 BABIP is the second-lowest mark of his career. He still has a 51.8 percent hard-hit rate, so he could crank up his production in short order. As good as Berrios ($42) was against the Red Sox in his last outing, he did allow 10 base runners over six innings, so he may have been lucky to get away with allowing just one run.
The Astros will start Framber Valdez ($37) against the Rangers, which means the right-handed hitting Nick Solak ($13) should be in the lineup. For his career, he has a .354 wOBA and a 125 wRC+ versus southpaws. For comparison, he has a .290 wOBA and an 81 wRC+ against righties.
How often are we going to see Bo Bichette ($13) with a salary this cheap? As bad as his start has been, he does have at least one hit in five of his last seven games, and he recorded two multi-hit games during that stretch. Given the lack of viable options with only five games to choose from, the limited risk based on his salary might be worth the potential for a lofty reward.
Stacks to Consider
Astros vs. Dane Dunning ($30), Rangers: Yordan Alvarez ($19), Kyle Tucker ($12), Michael Brantley ($15)
Dunning has followed up his 1.44 WHIP last season with a 1.89 WHIP through three starts. The former first-round pick is going to have problems living up to his lofty expectations if he can’t make dramatic improvements in that area. This might be just the matchup that Tucker, who has a .205 wOBA, needs to break out of his slumber.
Mets vs. Miles Mikolas ($31), Cardinals: Francisco Lindor ($20), Brandon Nimmo ($17), Starling Marte ($15)
On the surface, Mikolas is off to a monster start after recording a 1.04 WHIP and allowing three runs over 15.1 innings in his first three starts. However, he faced the Pirates, Brewers and Marlins, none of which have imposing lineups. This will be a much tougher test against the Mets, who have the seventh-highest OPS and have scored the third-most runs in baseball. While Nimmo isn’t the biggest name on the start-studded Mets, he has a .393 OBP for his career, and has a .412 mark in that category to begin 2022.