As part of a new daily feature at MLB.com, we’ll be breaking down every matchup on the schedule to help give fantasy players an edge, whether it’s in daily contests or season-long leagues. The “Fantasy Daily Dish” will break down every starting pitcher on the slate, as well as all of the notable hitters in that particular game. We’ll dive into all the specifics of a given matchup looking for everything from batters who thrive against certain pitch types to hot/cold streaks to platoon splits — and everything in between.
Monday’s limited slate poses plenty of tough decisions from fantasy managers, both on the mound and at the plate. That’s especially true when considering that White Sox ace Lucas Giolito may not be available to start in all formats with the 11:10 a.m. ET start time.
There are still high-upside pitching options — including Brandon Woodruff and Joe Musgrove squaring off in San Diego — though it may be a good day to pivot to more under-the-radar pitchers and focus on some of the elite bats. Bryce Harper is heating up, Mike Trout is being Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani is locked in and Fernando Tatis Jr. is looking to find his stroke after returning to the lineup.
Here’s a closer look at all of Monday’s games:
White Sox (Giolito) at Red Sox (Eovaldi), 11:10 a.m. ET
White Sox SP: Lucas Giolito, RHP
Key stat(s): 33.1 K% since 2019 (6th in MLB)
2021 stats: 1-0, 2.55 ERA, 38.2 K%
Breakdown: Giolito continues to prove he’s one of the elite strikeout pitchers in the big leagues. After striking out just 16.1% of the batters he faced from 2016-18, Giolito broke out with a 32.3 K% in ’19. He followed that up with a 33.7 K% in ’20, and he’s raised it to 38.2% through three starts this season. He remains primarily a fastball-changeup pitcher, throwing his four-seamer 50% of the time and his changeup 35.2%, while also mixing in a slider for the other 14.8% of his offerings.
J.D. Martinez: 3-for-19 (.158) with zero extra-base hits since three-homer game on April 11.
Rafael Devers: .308 career hitter in day games (.266 in night games).
Xander Bogaerts: 313/.374/.489 career slash line (.862 OPS) at home, compared to .268/.331/.420 (.751 OPS) on road .
Red Sox SP: Nathan Eovaldi, RHP
Key stat(s): 97.1 mph average four-seam velocity
2021 stats: 2-1, 2.08 ERA, 21.2 K%
Breakdown: Eovaldi has had his heater working early this season, with opposing hitters going just 4-for-22 (all singles) against his four-seam fastball, which is averaging 97.1 mph — and topped out at 99.1 mph. That’s a considerable improvement from last season, when opponents hit .328 with a .574 slugging percentage against his four-seamer (97.3 mph average). Eovaldi has also been working in a few more curveballs this season, as hitters are 0-for-9 against it in the early-going.
Notable White Sox hitters
José Abreu: .315 career average (45-for-143) against pitches 97 mph or faster.
Tim Anderson: 2-for-20 (.100) with 10 strikeouts against pitches 97 mph or faster since 2019.
Yermín Mercedes: Hitting .415 with four home runs and a 1.173 OPS in 14 games.
Cardinals (Flaherty) at Nationals (Ross), 7:05 p.m. ET
Cardinals SP: Jack Flaherty, RHP
Key stat(s): 12 K, 1 ER in last two starts
2021 stats: 2-0, 4.11 ERA, 25.4 K%
Breakdown: There were understandably some concerns when Flaherty followed up his disappointing 2020 campaign with a rocky Opening Day performance (six runs on six hits over 4 1/3 innings vs. the Reds), but he’s regained his ace form over the last two outings. After striking out six over six innings of one-hit ball on April 7, he racked up another six strikeouts while allowing only one run over five frames against the Nats. That’s the Cy Young-caliber pitcher we saw for much of 2019, and the peripheral stats suggest that version of Flaherty never really went away. His strikeout numbers in 2020 (10.9 strikeouts per nine innings, 34.5% whiff rate) were right on par with the elite numbers he put up in ’18 (10.9 K/9, 31.6% whiff rate) and ’19 (10.6 K/9, 30.9% whiff rate).
Notable Nationals hitters
Trea Turner: Four multi-hit games in last five; hitting .429 (9-for-21) with two homers and two stolen bases during that span.
Juan Soto: 60.0 hard-hit percentage this season (fifth in MLB).
Nationals SP: Joe Ross, RHP
Key stat(s): Sinker is most-used pitch (42.9% since start of 2019)
2021 stats: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 22.5 K%
Breakdown: After opting out of the 2020 season, Ross has looked great in his return to the mound, tossing 11 scoreless innings in his first two ’21 outings. He’s unveiled a bit of a new pitch mix in the process, not throwing a single curveball (he threw it 9% of the time in ’19), instead relying far more on his slider (31.4%; up from 20.7%). He’s also thrown just 11 four-seamers (14.1% of pitches), a pitch that was his second-most-used offering in ’19 (24.9%). Of course, those numbers could balance out quickly, but one thing remains the same: His primary pitch is his sinker, which averaged 93.1 mph in his first two starts (94.0 mph in ’19).
Notable Cardinals hitters
Paul Goldschmidt: 60.9 hard-hit percentage (third in MLB).
Nolan Arenado: 14.3 barrel percentage, 92.2 mph average exit velocity and 45.2 hard-hit percentage (each is better than his average from 2015-20 with Rockies)
Yadier Molina: Has hit safely in 12 of last 13 games; hitting .340 with four home runs and team-leading 12 RBIs this season.
Giants (Gausman) at Phillies (Anderson), 7:05 p.m. ET
Giants SP: Kevin Gausman, RHP
Key stat(s): Opposing hitters are 0-for-22 vs. his splitter this season
2021 stats: 0-0, 3.20 ERA, 24.3 K%
Breakdown: After a pair of dominant outings to start the season, Gausman was tagged for five runs (including a pair of homers) over six innings on Tuesday. Still, he continued to flash a nearly unhittable splitter, finishing off six of his seven strikeouts with the pitch. Opponents are 0-for-22 with 11 K’s against Gausman’s splitter this season after hitting just .097 (7-for-72) against the offering last year.
Here’s a look at each of the at-bats ending in Gausman’s splitter:
Bryce Harper: 24.2 barrel percentage (third in MLB) and .562 xwOBA (best in MLB); 5-for-12 (.417) with five walks (.556 OBP) vs. Gausman.
Rhys Hoskins: 5-for-34 (.147) over last nine games after going 10-for-24 (.417) with seven extra-base hits in first six games.
Jean Segura: 12-for-23 (.522) with four extra-base hits and a 1.303 OPS over last seven games.
Phillies SP: Chase Anderson, RHP
Key stat(s): 15.3 barrel percentage since start of last season (highest in MLB, minimum 100 batted balls)
2021 stats: 0-1, 4.00 ERA, 15.8%
Breakdown: Anderson has been solid through two starts with the Phillies, allowing four runs off just five hits over nine innings. His overall average exit velocity allowed (81.8 mph) ranks fourth in the Majors (minimum 25 batted balls), though he’s still been prone to some big hits. His 15.3 barrel percentage since the start of last season is the highest in the Majors, with 10 of the 13 home runs he’s allowed in that span coming against his four-seam fastball.
Mike Yastrzemski: 85.8 mph average exit velocity and 30% hard-hit rate this season, down from 88.2 mph and 42.3%, respectively, last season
Evan Longoria: 95.2 mph average exit velocity this season (seventh in MLB)
Rays (Fleming) at Royals (Duffy), 8:10 p.m. ET
Rays SP: Josh Fleming, LHP
Key stat(s): 34.7% chase rate since start of last season (MLB average: 28.4%)
2021 stats: 0-1, 1.80 ERA, 9.5 K%
Breakdown: Fleming allowed one run over five innings in his 2021 debut on Wednesday, an encouraging sign as the southpaw looks to replicate his impressive rookie season in which he went 5-0 with a 2.78 ERA over seven games (five starts) last season. He relies on a three-pitch mix of a sinker (53.1%), cutter (29.1%) and changeup (15.9%), though he’s attempted to mix in a few curveballs this season. Batters went 2-for-2 with a homer against his curve in his ’21 debut, compared to 2-for-17 against those other three offerings.
Salvador Perez: 92.9 mph exit velocity (91.0 mph last season) and 54.3 hard-hit percentage (47.0% in 2020) this season.
Whit Merrifield: Has reached base safely in 13 of 14 games this season; hitting .321 with three home runs and five stolen bases. He has an .867 career OPS vs. left-handed pitchers and a .763 OPS vs. RHP.
Jorge Soler: Has not hit a home run in last 13 games following Opening Day homer (longest drought since 2018).
Royals SP: Danny Duffy, LHP
Key stat(s): Opponents are 3-for-18 (.167) vs. his four-seamer
2021 stats: 2-0, 0.75 ERA, 22.4 K%
Breakdown: Duffy is off to a strong start this season, relying primarily on a four-seamer with increased velocity and his slider. After sitting at 92.2 mph last season, Duffy’s fastball is averaging 93.9 mph through two strong starts, with opponents going just 3-for-18 (all singles) with six strikeouts against the pitch. As for his slider, opponents are hitting .214 against the offering this season after hitting just .188 in ’20.
Randy Arozarena: 13-for-39 (.333) with five home runs and a 1.178 career OPS vs. left-handed pitchers (.761 OPS vs. RHP).
Austin Meadows: 3-for-27 (.111) over last eight games; hitting .193 overall this season.
Rangers (Arihara) at Angels (Bundy), 9:38 p.m. ET
Rangers SP: Kohei Arihara, RHP
Key stat(s): Opponents are 7-for-10 with five extra-base hits vs. his four-seam fastball
2021 stats: 1-1, 3.07 ERA, 12.3 K%
Breakdown: Arihara flashed his potential in his last outing, striking out five over 5 2/3 scoreless innings against the Rays. That came after tallying only two strikeouts over nine innings in his first two starts combined. Still, opponents continued to rake against his fastball — a pitch against which opposing batters are 7-for-10 with five extra-base hits (1.400 SLG) this season. That’s been the lone trouble pitch for Arihara, as hitters are just 7-for-45 (.156) against his other offerings.
Mike Trout: Leads MLB with 25.0 barrel percentage; has reached base safely in all 13 games this season, while hitting .386 with a 1.276 OPS.
Shohei Ohtani: 24.3 barrel percentage (second in MLB); .908 career OPS with a 6.1 HR% vs. RHP (.725 OPS and 2.4 HR% vs. LHP)
Jared Walsh: Hitting .341 with four homers, 13 RBIs and a 1.133 OPS this season (including 1.256 OPS vs. RHP).
Angels SP: Dylan Bundy, RHP
Key stat(s): 48.1% whiff rate on slider since 2020 (fourth among SP)
2021 stats: 0-1, 3.32 ERA, 28.6 K%
Breakdown: Bundy is proving that last year’s breakout season with the Halos was no fluke, turning in three straight quality starts to begin 2021. In fact, while his 3.32 ERA is right in line with last season (3.29), his 2.16 xERA through three starts suggests he’s been even better than the numbers indicate. Bundy’s resurgence has been fueled by relying more on his offspeed stuff and less on his four-seamer. The result is a slider that’s producing a 48.1% whiff rate and a curveball that, while used sparingly (13.1% of the time), has held hitters to a 1-for-17 mark.
Joey Gallo: Hitting .178 with 158 strikeouts against sliders since 2017.
Brock Holt: 11-for-17 (.647) with four extra-base hits lifetime vs. Bundy.
Dodgers (May) at Mariners (Sheffield), 10:10 p.m. ET
Dodgers SP: Dustin May, RHP
Key stat(s): 98.4 mph average fastball velocity
2021 stats: 1-0, 1.74 ERA, 31.8 K%
Breakdown: After striking out eight and allowing only two hits over six scoreless innings in his season debut, May was solid — albeit more hittable (two runs off seven hits in 4 1/3 IP) — his last time out vs. the Rockies. Still, he’s allowed only one extra-base hit (a double) in 10 1/3 innings this season and his fastball velocity is creeping closer to the 99.1 mph it averaged last season.
Mitch Haniger: 11-for-24 (.458) with five extra-base hits (including two homers) over last six games, but just 3-for-21 (.143) with 11 strikeouts in his career against pitches 98 mph or faster.
Kyle Seager: 2-for-21 (.095) over last six games.
Mariners SP: Justus Sheffield, LHP
Key stat(s): All 10 strikeouts this season have come on slider
2021 stats: 0-1, 4.91 ERA, 21.3 K%
Breakdown: Sheffield’s outing will be dictated entirely by his feel for his slider. Though he deploys a three-pitch mix — four-seamer (49.7% of his pitches), slider (30.2%) and changeup (20.1%) — his slider is the only offering with real swing-and-miss stuff. Not only have all 10 of his strikeouts this season come on his slider, but the offering has induced an impressive 51.9% whiff rate, while his fastball (3.4% whiff rate) and changeup (6.7%) have been a different story.
Corey Seager: .782 career OPS vs. left-handed pitchers (.905 vs. RHP).
Mookie Betts: 4-for-21 (.190) with one homer and zero stolen bases in six games since returning from back injury (hit .348 with a homer and two stolen bases in five games before injury).
Justin Turner: Has reached base safely in 13 of 14 games this season; hitting .404 with five homers and a 1.225 OPS this season.
Brewers (Woodruff) at Padres (Musgrove), 10:10 p.m. ET
Brewers SP: Brandon Woodruff, RHP
Key stat(s): .169 opponents’ BA vs. four-seamer since start of last season
2021 stats: 0-0, 2.12 ERA, 29.2 K%
Breakdown: Woodruff has been dominant through three starts, though each of the last two have come against the struggling Cubs. The right-hander continues to stifle hitters with his fastball (96.8 mph average velocity), with opponents going just 1-for-21 — the lone hit being an infield single — with 12 strikeouts against the pitch so far this season. That comes after he held opposing batters to a .194 average against his fastball last season.
Fernando Tatis Jr.: 1-for-13 with a home run since returning from left shoulder injury.
Manny Machado: .316 career hitter with 18 home runs against pitches 96 mph or faster.
Jake Cronenworth: 7-for-20 (.350) in his career vs. pitches 96 mph or faster.
Eric Hosmer: Has reached base safely in all 15 starts this season; hitting .344 with a .986 OPS this season.
Padres SP: Joe Musgrove, RHP
Key stat(s): Opponents are 0-for-19 with 13 K’s vs. his slider
2021 stats: 2-1, 0.47 ERA, 35.8 K%
Breakdown: Musgrove has had every pitch working for him through three starts — after all, he did throw the Padres’ first no-hitter — but his slider, in particular, has been on another level. Opposing hitters are 0-for-19 against Musgrove’s slider, with 13 of those 19 outs coming via strikeout. Toss in his nearly untouchable curveball, and his breaking ball has become one of the most dominant in the sport. Opponents are just 10-for-97 (.103) with one home run and 59 K’s against Musgrove’s breaking pitches since the start of last season.
Omar Narváez: .191 career average vs. sliders; 3-for-14 (.214; all singles) over last six games after hitting .455 with two homers in first seven games.
Keston Hiura: Hitting .116 (5-for-43) with 18 strikeouts and a 41.8% whiff rate this season.