Tuesday's slate runs the gamut of offerings including some two-start pitchers we're holding beyond their next outing, a couple bats who are well below where they should be in roster rate, and of course a few straight streamers that we'll send back to waiver wire after the one game.
Griffin Canning (R), rostered in 20 percent of ESPN leagues, Los Angeles Angels vs. Oakland Athletics: Three straight gems now has Canning firmly on the all-formats radar, though his roster rate makes him still widely available. A 15 percent swinging strike fully supports his 26 percent strikeout rate and even suggests the potential for more. Even his 1.7 HR/9 loses some punch when you realize three of the six allowed came in one game. That doesn't sound like a persistent home run issue to me. The A's are a middle of the pack offense against righties and a team Canning just handled for six strong on the road (1 ER, 5 K, 0 BB). Data has shown that when a starter gets back-to-back outing against the same team, the first start has no real influence on the second one, but we're going more on the full track record of Canning thus far to spot-start him Tuesday and hold beyond that for Sunday's start against Seattle.
Wade Miley (L), 32 percent, Houston Astros at Seattle Mariners: Miley has added some strikeout prowess to his profile making him far more enticing. He has a 27 percent strikeout rate over his last five starts, logging fewer than five strikeouts just once (2 at Boston). He responded to that outing by fanning 35 percent of the batters he faced, including eight Red Sox in six innings. The Mariners offense has faded making Miley an even easier spot-start here, but you might consider keeping him if these strikeouts hold.
Devin Smeltzer (L), 22 percent, Minnesota Twins at Cleveland Indians: Smeltzer has all of one start in the majors, but it was a gem against the Brewers during which he shut them down for six strong, allowing three hits and fanning seven. In nine starts across Double- and Triple-A, Smeltzer posted a 1.15 ERA and 0.90 WHIP with a solid 23 percent strikeout rate. This Cleveland team isn't near the foe that the mighty Brewers were, so Smeltzer looks like a strong play here.
Catcher -- Mitch Garver (R), 31 percent, Minnesota Twins at Cleveland Indians (RHP Shane Bieber): Garver has returned and hopefully he will get back to smashing righties. He has a .288/.373/.746 line with eight of his nine homers. He's emerged as one of the best catchers in the league thus far and his improved defense, particularly with throwing out runners, will keep him in the lineup regularly.
First Base -- Matt Adams (L), 1 percent, Washington Nationals vs. Chicago White Sox (RHP Reynaldo Lopez): Adam has been better against righties this year, though his .755 OPS doesn't jump off the page. This pick is more to go against Lopez and his insane .968 OPS yielded to lefties. He just doesn't have a consistent answer for southpaws, so as long as Adams gets multiple looks at him, I think he'll do something.
Second Base -- Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (R), 33 percent, Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees (RHP Masahiro Tanaka): Gurriel Jr. has been on fire since returning from the minor, hitting .364/.382/.848 with 4 HR in just 34 PA. While he has been better against lefties, he has split the homers evenly. Tanaka has been sharp throughout the first two months, but his 1.5 HR/9 since 2017 is the 10th-highest in the league among qualified starters.
Third Base -- Yandy Diaz (R), 33 percent, Tampa Bay Rays at Detroit Tigers (LHP Ryan Carpenter): Diaz is obliterating lefties to the tune of a .298/.389/.638 line with four of his nine homers in just 30 percent of his plate appearances (54). I realize he had an injured list stint, but I'm somewhat shocked by Diaz's roster rate and predict that he will start to surge in the coming weeks.
Shortstop -- Brendan Rodgers (R), 16 percent, Colorado Rockies at Chicago Cubs (RHP Kyle Hendricks): Rodgers has a whopping 44 plate appearances in his major league career and he hasn't been special thus far with just a .635 OPS, but let's gamble on the young buck. No, it's not at Coors Field and Hendricks is far from a pushover, but Rodgers is someone to at least keep on the watch list because he will be snapped up quickly if he starts to hit.
Corner Infield -- Renato Nunez (R), 20 percent, Baltimore Orioles at Texas Rangers (LHP Drew Smyly): Nunez is just a lock against lefties at this point. If the Orioles are facing a lefty on a Tuesday, you should expect to see Nunez. He has a .300/.355/.629 line against southpaws with seven homers in half as many plate appearances (76) as he's had to accumulate eight homers against righties (147 PA).
Middle Infield -- Travis Shaw (L), 42 percent, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Miami Marlins (RHP Pablo Lopez): Shaw won out over rookie Keston Hiura as they sent the 22-year old back to Triple-A despite a healthy 124 wRC+ in 69 very nice plate appearances. He was fanning at an alarming 33 percent clip so it's not like he had the majors figured out, but the news still came as a shock. Shaw has been abysmal this year, but let's take a shot on the track record. Maybe health was an issue all year and led to his brutal start.
Outfield -- Alex Verdugo (L), 32 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks (RHP Taylor Clarke): The rookie outfielder has taken to his full-time role well and actually shown a reverse split thus far with a 151-point advantage against lefties. That said, his .809 OPS against righties is perfectly palatable and contains the same skills that have him successfully hitting lefties including a near 1:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio with 11 punchouts and nine walks in his 122 PA. His lack of overall power makes him a difficult hold in shallower leagues.
Outfield -- Ramon Laureano (R), 19 percent, Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Angels (RHP Griffin Canning): This is a hot hand play going against one of our recommended pitchers. Laureano has posted a .304 AVG and .852 OPS in the last 28 days, including four homers and eight doubles. For the year, he's been way better against righties with his .762 OPS sitting 213 points clear of his mark against lefties.
Outfield -- Oscar Mercado (R), 11 percent, Cleveland Indians vs. Minnesota Twins (LHP Devin Smeltzer): Let's consider a small piece of the Cleveland lineup in case Smeltzer isn't quite as sharp in his second start. Mercado is a strong SB threat with three tries already in his 60 PA (2-for-3 success) who could still deliver double-digit from today forward. Even if you don't consider Mercado for Tuesday's game, keep a close eye on him if your team lacks speed.