We’ve hit the point in the season in which teams don’t have their top pitchers line up to face each other. As a result, we have an intriguing mix Tuesday of aces taking the mound and excellent stacks to deploy against back-of-the-rotation starters. So, do you pay up for pitching or hitting? Let’s dive into the slate to examine where advantages can be gained.
Max Scherzer ($58) is the cream of the crop in terms of starting pitchers for this slate. He was his dominant self in his first start of the season against the Mets, allowing two runs to go along with 12 strikeouts across 7.2 innings. The Mets have a much improved lineup and he’ll face another tough task in the Phillies. His strikeout upside is still off the charts regardless of opponent, so he should be highly owned.
Another popular option will likely be Jose Berrios ($51) against the Royals. Berrios had no trouble dispatching the Indians in his first start, allow just three base runners and recording 10 strikeouts across 7.2 innings. The Indians lineup isn’t nearly as imposing with Francisco Lindor (calf/ankle) out, so it was certainly a favorable spot for him to shine. He’ll face a similarly weak lineup in the Royals on Tuesday, leaving him with the potential for a great stat line.
As we start to work our way down the price scale, Hyun-Jin Ryu ($45) checks in with a favorable start against the Giants. Ryu has done a great job of limiting base runners during his time in the majors, resulting in a career 1.21 WHIP. He also has his best season in terms of punch outs last year with a 27.5 percent strikeout rate. The Giants have looked anemic offensively, setting up Ryu with the potential for a valuable performance.
For those who decide to load up on the hitting side of things, Marcus Stroman ($35) might be a viable option against the Orioles. The Orioles were able to take two out of three games in their opening series against the Yankees, but their lineup doesn’t exactly instill fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers. Injuries derailed Stroman’s season last year, leaving him with a 1.48 WHIP across 19 starts. That’s rare for him considering he had never finished with a WHIP above 1.31 previously in his career. With a full offseason to get himself right, Stroman looked good in spring training with a 0.57 WHIP and 13 strikeouts across 12.1 innings. He followed that up with seven strikeouts over seven shutout innings against the Tigers in his first start. With another favorable matchup on tap, there is upside here.
The Rangers starting rotation looks like one of the worst in baseball. Shelby Miller will be taking the mound Tuesday, setting up the Astros with the potential to put up some crooked numbers. Injuries have limited him to 38 innings over the last two seasons and he wasn’t sharp this spring with a 2.08 WHIP. Expect Alex Bregman ($21), George Springer ($22) and Jose Altuve ($24) to be among the highest owned hitters for this slate, and for good reason.
Another juicy matchup will feature the Red Sox taking on Mike Fiers and the A’s. Fiers has allowed at least 1.7 HR/9 in back-to-back seasons, which is just asking for trouble against the potent Red Sox lineup. J.D. Martinez ($25) is already off to a hot start in the homer department and will likely be in a lot of lineups. So should Mookie Betts ($25) and Xander Bogaerts ($19), although they will be costly.
It’s going to be hard to pass up on an Astros stack against Miller. The problem is that if that’s the route you want to take, you’ll have to avoid the top pitching options. As far as the more cost-effective players on the Astros go, adding Michael Brantley ($17) to a stack could be a nice way of getting some valuable production while also not destroying your budget.
The ownership on a Red Sox stack will probably be pretty close to the Astros. Outside of their top hitters, Mitch Moreland ($14) and Rafael Devers ($20) are excellent targets that won’t break the bank. Devers will likely be batting between Betts and Martinez with a right-hander on the mound, which is certainly an enviable position to be in.
For those looking for a stack that might not be all that popular, rolling with the Mets against Jose Urena could be a viable route to take. He only recorded an 18.3 percent strikeout rate last year and was beat up for six runs (five earned) across 4.2 innings in his first start against the Rockies. Not only are Robinson Cano ($20) and Michael Conforto ($17) good options for a Mets stack, but so if Jeff McNeil ($18) after he recorded a .374 wOBA against right-handed pitchers last year.