It's Patriots' Day in Massachusetts with the city's annual pre-Noon affair, so be sure to set your alarms if you're in a league requiring roster moves prior to the first pitch of the day. The game itself should be a good one as Nathan Eovaldi takes the hill for the home team against Lucas Giolito. This would have been Carlos Rodon's start on regular rest, but the White Sox have opted to give their rejuvenated lefty an extra day off after his no-hitter last week.
The rest of the card is rather unfriendly for fantasy streaming, with little by way of either pitching or hitting. One reason for this dearth is the fact that the already short slate also lost the Twins-Athletics tilt, with several Minnesota players having been diagnosed with COVID-19. Monday's postponed opener is tentatively scheduled as part of a Tuesday doubleheader.
Others may look at the available options and choose to wait for something better later in the week. Monday is for the grinders, always looking for the edge. Here are some ideas for them, all available in more than 50% of ESPN leagues.
Danny Duffy (L), rostered in 25% of ESPN leagues, Kansas City Royals vs. Tampa Bay Rays: Duffy has been solid to open the 2021 campaign, spinning a pair of quality starts, both resulting in victories. He's fanned a moderate 11 batters over those 12 frames, issuing four free passes along the way. The Rays have whiffed at an elevated 19% clip against left-handers thus far.
Joe Ross (R), 15%, Washington Nationals vs. St. Louis Cardinals: Ross has begun the season tossing 11 scoreless frames, fanning nine with three walks over that span. The Cardinals offense has been in a rut all season, sitting 21st in terms of wOBA versus right-handers with a generous 25% strikeout rate.
Chase Anderson (R), 1%, Philadelphia Phillies vs. San Francisco Giants: Wait, Anderson is 33 years old? When did that happen? Sure, he's been around for several seasons, but it just seems like he's younger. Breaking in as a 26-year-old will do that. Anyway, Anderson is an average starter at best, but the Giants are one of the best lineups to target as they're fanning at a 30% pace versus right-handers and sporting just the No. 24 wOBA against them as well.
Bullpen: There isn't much happening by way of closer scenarios, so let's take a look at a couple of disturbing bullpen trends. To date, the percentage of wins that have resulted in saves is the lowest since 1970. This has been trending downward for the last couple of seasons. The fantasy repercussion is that not only are saves being distributed among more relievers, but there are also fewer saves in the pool. In addition, there has been a higher percentage of blown saves than ever before.
Keeping in mind that a blown save can be recorded before the ninth inning, this speaks towards the inferior overall quality of major league bullpens. It's mostly economic as non-competing teams do not want to pay for a quality closer, so these players instead sign for good money as setup men for a competing team.
This makes our job as fantasy managers a bit tougher. In points leagues, focusing on high-strikeout relievers throwing multiple innings could be better than a closer on a bad team. In roto leagues, fewer saves are needed to compete, which also renders high-strikeout setup men more useful to help support ratios.
For the latest team-by-team closer situations, please consult our Closer Chart.
Catcher -- Jose Trevino (R), 2%, Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels (LHP Jose Quintana): Trevino checks all the boxes as he enjoys the platoon edge. Plus, he has been hitting high in the order with a left-hander on the hill. Through Saturday, Trevino had hit safely in nine of his 10 starts.
First Base -- Brandon Belt (L), 6%, San Francisco Giants at Philadelphia Phillies (RHP Chase Anderson): It has been a curious start for Belt, who is carrying a curiously high 63% flyball rate. He's hitting the ball hard so, once things normalize, he'll start compiling more line drive base hits and, with those, the associated production.
Second Base -- Tommy La Stella (L), 19%, San Francisco Giants at Philadelphia Phillies (RHP Chase Anderson): La Stella has played strictly against right-handers so far this season, with only two of his first 26 plate appearances coming without the platoon advantage. That said, he's achieved a .917 OPS against righties in the early going.
Third Base -- Travis Shaw (L), 30%, Milwaukee Brewers at San Diego Padres (RHP Joe Musgrove): Normally, streaming against a pitcher of Musgrove's caliber isn't a wise idea. However, with limited options, sometimes it's a good play. Shaw has been crushing lefties so far, slashing .316/.350/.579 against them.
Shortstop -- J.P. Crawford (L), 5%, Seattle Mariners vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (RHP Dustin May): Similarly, avoiding batters who are facing May is usually a good idea, especially since he's been missing more bats this season. However, Crawford rode an eight-game hitting streak into Sunday's action, with hits in 11 of his previous 12 games.
Corner Infield -- Matt Carpenter (L), 1%, St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals (RHP Joe Ross): According to Statcast data, Carpenter has been extremely unlucky so far this season. He's slugging just .192 despite an expected mark of .665.
Middle Infield -- Hanser Alberto (R), 1%, Kansas City Royals vs. Tampa Bay Rays (LHP Josh Fleming): Alberto has helped pick up the slack with Adalberto Mondesi and Hunter Dozier banged up, playing mostly third base. His calling card is putting the bat on the ball, which he should be able to do with Fleming on the hill. Over his minor-league career, Fleming posted tepid strikeout rates, consistently in the high teens.
Outfield -- Michael Taylor (R), 49%, Kansas City Royals vs. Tampa Bay Rays (LHP Josh Fleming): Taylor has cooled down from his scorching start to the season, but if nothing else, the solid beginning has firmed up his gig as the Royals' starting center fielder. Recently, Taylor has been batting sixth against southpaws. This may not seem noteworthy, but it's better than the nine spot he had been occupying.
Outfield -- Manuel Margot (R), 34%, Tampa Bay Rays at Kansas City Royals (LHP Danny Duffy): Margot is beginning to rediscover the form he exhibited late last season and into the playoffs. He has a home run and two steals over his past four games. He's no longer a platoon player as he's contributing enough offensively to keep his glove in the everyday lineup.
Outfield -- Jackie Bradley Jr. (L), 15%, Milwaukee Brewers at San Diego Padres (RHP Joe Musgrove): Bradley has always been perceived as a streaky hitter. It took some time to get going, but heading into Saturday's action, he had hits in seven straight contests.