The first day of April and we have nine games on the main slate with four games being played during the day and four teams getting the day off. Today’s Hitting Coach will cover this nine-game main slate. I’m particularly excited to see a few studs on the mound, most notably four southpaws: Julio Urias at home against the Giants, Matt Strahm facing the Dbacks, Caleb Smith at home against the Mets, and Steven Matz opposing him. I likely won’t be doing much stacking against these guys today. In fact, Strahm is one of my most owned pitchers among my high stakes teams. Hopefully this first start is as good as what we’ve seen out of him this preseason.
The highest total on the slate is the Orioles-Blue Jays (9.0) with subpar sophomore David Hess and promising youngster Sean Reid-Foley planning to toe the rubber. The Jays were massive disappointments in the first series, but facing this horrendous O’s staff should get them back into the swing of things. I’m also not afraid to use some Padres’ bats against last year’s man from Japan Merrill Kelly who happened to have a rough spring. Another team worth stacking today are the Red Sox against a very ordinary Aaron Brooks.
Willson Contreras, RH/CHC– A sad position and most just go to what’s most predictable. Contreras is a top-five hitting backstop with a 10% career walk rate facing a lefty (Sean Newcomb) who posted an 11.6% walk rate himself last season.
Omar Narvaez, LH/SEA– A couple of surprise dingers over the weekend after most of us took him off our seasonal lineups for the week following an 0-9 in Japan. No need to go here on FanDuel where playing catchers is unnecessary. But for only 3.3k on DraftKings, we’ll likely see hefty ownership.
Austin Barnes, RH/LAD– We may assume he’s in the lineup today with a lefty on the mound (Drew Pomeranz). Barnes had a hot spring and carried that over into the regular season. Priced up a bit on DK, but the Doyers are swinging red-hot bats right now.
Justin Smoak, LH/TOR– Smoak crushed a big bomb over the weekend, they’re in their wonderful home park north of the border and Hess is a gas can, allowing 22 homers in 103.1 innings last season.
Ji Man Choi, LH/TB– Love playing this big bopper against weak ass righties. Better if this game was in Coors of course, but with Chad Bettis on the mound, it’s still a gift. Bettis allows boatloads of runs, but not all that often by the longball (1.16 HR/9 over course of his career).
Mitch Moreland, LH/BOS– We’re looking at lefty bats facing weak righties and here’s another. Brooks last pitched in the bigs back in 2015 and has a career ERA over 8.00 in 60 IP. Need I say more?
Rowdy Tellez, LH/TOR – This kid’s a beast and will have fantasy value in seasonal leagues as the full-time DH with Kendrys Morales shipped to Oakland. Crushed one over the weekend and we’ll likely see 20 more of those this year. Another one to pick on Hess with.
Pete Alonso, RH/NYM– It’s only a matter of time before the Boy Wonder starts cranking out his mammoth shots. After all, he’s already one of the league’s most powerful hitters and has had the opportunity to hit second in this Mets’ lineup. Southpaw Smith is a solid pitcher but only slightly above league average.
Jose Altuve, RH/HOU– Not much needs to be said about Altuve, the league’s best hit-sprayer of the last few years. Always a solid cash play and will likely take advantage of Drew Smyly and this awful Rangers’ bullpen today.
Ben Zobrist, SW/CHC– A cash play if he leads off as the Cubs have been cranking out runs with abandon. Can be used in the OF on DK.
Jonathan Villar, SW/BAL– Always a threat for a couple of hits and a couple of swipes. Reid Foley has just 33 major-league innings under his belt, and they weren’t all that sparkling (5.13 ERA, 1.62 HR/9).
Kike Hernandez, RH/LAD– My guy has been smashing throughout the preseason and the start of the regular season, so there’s more of that coming. A very streaky hitter, so when you notice him struggling, stay away. That time isn’t here yet. Let’s see if Drew Pomeranz’s velocity is, in fact, down, or if he’s been fooling us this spring and can get back to being #good. Would like Kike less if the game was in SF, but…it’s not.
Ian Kinsler, RH/SDP– Mostly because I like the Padres’ bats against Kelly today, and he’s likely leading off. Could start the game with a homer.
Chad Pinder, RH/OAK– Your 2% guy who no one will play. I’ll continue to pop him into GPP lineups because the hot streak is coming.
Nolan Arenado, RH/COL, Alex Bregman, RH/HOU, Kris Bryant, RH/CHC– A tough call today in cash among these three, with all of these monsters facing left-handed starters. Bregman may have the best matchup here because of the Rangers’ bullpen, but is he at full strength? Arenado will see Ryne Stanekopen the game, and then should get two at-bats against lefty Ryan Yarbrough.
Justin Turner, RH/LAD– Forgive me because I thought he’d start the year off cold. Alas, he has not, and now faces lefty Pomeranz. Only Nolan Arenadoand Giancarlo Stantonhave hit southpaws better over the last two seasons (only three guys with a .450+ wOBA over that span).
Yandy Diaz, RH/TBR– Big Yandy has at least one hit in every of the Rays’ four games this season and will bat some leadoff as well. Love him today with Bettis opposing him on the mound. Stay hot, kid.
Rafael Devers, LH/BOS– Stud in the midst of his massive breakout. Hitting third in this behemoth lineup will pay dividends for sure. Against Brooks, he’s probably a cash play, but that OAK pen is strong. You get a nice discount on him when compared to Arenado/Bryant/Bregman.
Trevor Story, LH/COL– Story against a lefty, what’s not to love? But it’s Stanek first, so he’ll have to really get a piece of Yarbrough’s offerings in his one or two at-bats against him and you know the second-year pitcher will be nibbling the plate. Maybe we just wait for the Rockies to get to Coors before we utilize them and play this guy instead…
Javier Baez, RH/CHC– Scorching hot like the rest of his team. Newcomb just isn’t a good pitcher and Baez has two hits in each of their first three games. Now the Braves are a tougher matchup than the Rangers, so perhaps the squad cools down just a tad. Still, Newcomb is someone I don’t mind attacking.
Fernando Tatis, RH/SDP – Going to continue to recommend the kid so long as the matchups are right. Not saying that Merrill Kelly won’t have good starts and stretches, but I’m not sure he’s ready for that begin quite yet. Tatis is a threat for 25 fantasy points today. His first big game of the year.
Mike Trout, RH/LAA, Mookie Betts, RH/BOS– Got to love both these guys, but specifically Trout who has a fantastic and viable BvP history against the ever-so-aging Felix Hernandez. He has 31 hits (eight homers) in 83 at-bats against him (and a .485 wOBA). I’d lean Trout over Betts since the Red Sox are in Oakland and not at home.
Wil Myers, RH/SDP– Wil the Thril had quite the weekend going 6-for-13 in the series against the Giants. That’s a pretty solid staff and bullpen he did damage against.
Domingo Santana, RH/SEA + Jay Bruce, LH/SEA – Domingo cooled off just as Bruce warmed up but both great plays with good ol’ Chris Stratton on the mound – someone we just loved stacking against last year. Stratton signed with the Angels and will now allow us the pleasure to use hitters against him.
Austin Meadows, LH/TB + Tommy Pham, RH/TB– Really love this Rays’ offense this year and so far Meadows has not disappointed. Meadows hit a homer in his first game as a Ray, stole a base on Friday and hit a two-run blast yesterday.
A.J. Pollock, RH/Dodgers– So long as we’re considering Dodgers, then we must consider Pollock against a lefty.
Mallex Smith, LH/TB– Could see a three-swipe game here today. Stack yer Mariners!
Mark Canha, RH/OAK– Back in my day we used to say ‘Death, Taxes and Canha against a Lefty’. Oh wait, we used to say that last season. He’s cheap so consider him with very few doing the same as they give David Price too much respect.
Dwight Smith Jr, LH/BAL– Hitting second in this lineup and swinging a hot bat to start the season. Never trust a man with three first names (Sean Reid Foley).
Kole Calhoun, LH/LAA– A bit out of left field (except that he’s their right fielder), but that’s because who the hell plays Calhoun when he isn’t already hot? Well, he’s got to strike sometime so why not today against King Felix. His career against him isn’t all that great though (.143 BA in 55 PA but 3 HR).
Juan Lagares, RH/NYM– He’s going to be everyone’s punt play but offers very little power. The alternative is Rosell Herrera of the Marlins but I don’t know if I want to fux with Matz.