Play Ball: Week One Preview

clayton-kershaw-no-hitter

Clayton Kershaw has the highest projected game score in Week 1

I’m doing something a little different this year in the weekly previews. I’m using pitcher game scores generated by CBS Sports to assess the starting pitchers and I’m looking at favorable individual hitter matchups for each team.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with pitcher game scores, they were developed by Bill James. A score of “50” is considered a quality start. Anything less than 50 is less than a quality start while a score of 65+ is considered a dominant start.

Here’s a look at this week’s tastiest fantasy matchups.

Marin Menehunes vs Warning Track Power

Pitching

Marin Menehunes: The Menehunes will have nine starts in Week 1 with five of those coming at home. Six of the nine are projected to be quality starts. The team’s ace, Max Scherzer, has the highest projected game score, a 68 at home against Miami. Mike Tomlin’s game at Arizona has the lowest projected game score at 48. Projected Game Scores: Max Scherzer (68 vs MIA) , Rick Porcello (56 vs PIT, 56 @DET), Jordan Zimmermann (48 @CWS), Ivan Nova (49 vs ATL), Trevor Bauer (51 @ARI), Mike Tomlin (48 @ARI), Junior Guerra (52 vs COL, 50 vs CHC).

Warning Track Power: Warning Track Power has eight starts scheduled to open the season but just two will come at home. All eight are projected to be quality starts but Wei-Yin Chen’s game at the Mets and Tyler Chatwood’s visit to Milwaukee could be nail-biters. Projected Game Scores: Chris Sale (61 vs PIT), Michael Fulmer (51 vs BOS), Julio Urias (NA), Marco Estrada (52 @BAL, 56 @TB), Tyler Chatwood (50 @MIL), Hisashi Iwakuma (52 @HOU, 51 @LAA), Wei-Yin Chen (50 @NYM).

Hitting

Marin Menehunes: Randal Grichuk is 4-for-12 with three extra base hits including a homer against Cubs ace Jake Arrieta. Grichuk has a career 1.071 OPS against his rival. Lorenzo Cain faces Hector Santiago Wednesday and history suggests Cain will have a big day. Cain is 6-for-18 with four extra base hits and five RBI against Santiago.

Warning Track Power: Catcher Welington Castillo has found success against Marco Estrada, a pitcher he’ll face Monday. Castillo is 7-for-23 with four homers, eight RBI, and a 1.159 OPS when facing the Toronto pitcher. Monday could be a big day for Warning Track Power as Josh Donaldson faces Kevin Gausman, a pitcher he’s owned during his career. Donaldson is 6-for-16 with a homer, four RBI, and a 1.046 OPS against the Baltimore ace.

Let’s Play 2 vs Las Estellas Rojas

Pitching

Let’s Play 2: Let’s Play 2 will have 11 starts this week including seven at home. This is a terrific schedule to open the season. All but one of the starts is projected to be quality. Shelby Miller’s game against the Giants is the lone exception. Staff ace Corey Kluber has the highest projected game score, a 60 against Arizona on the road. Projected Game Scores: Corey Kluber (59 @TEX, 60 @ARI), Jose Quintana (52 vs DET, 53 vs MIN), Kyle Hendricks (58 @MIL), Sean Manea (52 vs LAA, 51 @TEX), Jake Odorizzi (54 vs NYY, 54 vs TOR), Robbie Ray (52 vs SF), Shelby Miller (46 vs SF).

Las Estellas Rojas: Rojas has just five starts scheduled to open the season and three of those will be on the road. All five are projected to be quality but Dan Straily’s trip to Washington could be close. Staff ace Noah Syndergaard has two home games against weak-hitting teams and should post a pair of quality starts. Projected Game Scores: Noah Syndergaard (62 vs ATL, 65 vs MIA), Francisco Liriano (55 @TB), Matt Moore (52 @ARI), Eduardo Rodriguez (NS), Dan Straily (50 @WSH).

Hitting

Let’s Play 2: During his career, outfielder Jason Heyward has been solid against St. Louis ace Carlos Martinez. Heyward is 7-for-17 with two RBI and an .882 OPS. Victor Martinez faces Jose Quintana tomorrow and Martinez has raked the White Sox pitcher over his career. He’s 17-for-39 with a pair of extra base hits, three RBI, and a .923 OPS.

Las Estallas Rojas: Keep an eye on catcher Yadier Molina during tonight’s game. Molina has owned Cubs ace Jon Lester. Molina is 8-for-22 with three extra base hits, four RBI, and a .900 OPS against Lester. Miguel Cabrera has nice career numbers against White Sox ace Jose Quintana. Cabrera is 15-for-43 with a pair of extra base hits and three RBI with a robust .923 OPS.

Land Shark vs Stadium Mustard

Pitching

Land Shark: Land Shark’s staff will make nine starts to open the season with six of those coming on the road. The team is projected to have six quality starts but Tyler Anderson, Tyler Glasnow and Jeremy Hellickson all have games that are virtual coin flips. Garrett Richards’ start at Oakland has the highest projected game score at 54. Projected Game Scores: Felix Hernandez (53 @HOU, 52 @LAA), Steven Matz (NA), Garrett Richards (54 @OAK), Jerad Eickhoff (52 @CIN), Tyler Glasnow (49 vs ATL), Jeremy Hellickson (49 @CIN, 49 vs WSH), Tyler Anderson (53 @MIL, 50 vs LAD).

Stadium Mustard: The staff is going to make just six starts in Week 1 and five of those are coming on the road. It’s not going to be easy. James Paxton’s start at Houston has the highest projected game score at 55. Jaime Garcia’s start at the Mets is going to be interesting. Projected Game Scores: Julio Teheran (52 @NYM, 54 @PIT), James Paxton (55 @HOU), Matt Shoemaker (53 @OAK, 53 vs SEA), Alex Wood (NA), Jaime Garcia (50 @NYM).

Hitting

Land Shark: Madison Bumgarner is one of the most feared pitchers in the league. Unless you are Paul Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt is 13-for-46 with six extra base hits including a pair of homers and six RBI off the Giants ace. Nelson Cruz is 9-for-22 with four extra base hits and three RBI against Houston ace Dallas Keuchel. Cruz has a career 1.345 OPS against Keuchel.

Stadium Mustard: Yu Darvish is a tough opponent for any major league hitter but Edwin Encarnacion sees him well. Encarnacion is 5-for-16 with a pair of homers and four RBI in his career versus Darvish. Neil Walker has three hits in 10 career at-bats against Bartolo Colon but two of those have gone for extra bases, including a homer.

High Cheese vs JetSetters

Pitching

High Cheese: The staff will make eight starts in Week 1 with just two coming at home. Jon Lester has the two highest projected game scores when he pitches at St. Louis and Miami. Bartolo Colon’s return to New York to face the Mets has the lowest projected game score. Projected Game Scores: Jon Lester (60 @STL, 61 @MIA), Gerrit Cole (50 @BOS, 54 vs ATL), Aaron Sanchez (55 @TB), Marcus Stroman (56 @TB), Bartolo Colon (48 @NYM), Brandon Finnegan (54 vs PHI).

JetSetters: All 10 of the team’s starts are projected to be quality to open the season. Five of those will come on the road, so it won’t be easy. Robert Gsellman’s start at home against Miami has the highest projected game score at 57. Projected Game Scores: Danny Duffy (53 @MIN, 54 @HOU), Cole Hamels (54 vs CLE), Zack Greinke (53 vs SF, 52 vs CLE), Ian Kennedy (53 @MIN), Ervin Santana (52 vs KC, 51 @CWS), Steven Wright (51 @DET), Robert Gsellman (57 vs MIA).

Hitting

High Cheese: Evan Longoria faces Yankee pitcher CC Sabathia on Tuesday and he’s owned Sabathia over his career. Longoria is 29-for-72 with 16 extra base hits, seven homers, and 16 RBI. The veteran third baseman has posted a career 1.319 OPS against Sabathia. Longoria could actually be in for a big week for High Cheese. He faces Toronto pitcher Marcus Stroman on Thursday. He’s 8-for-22 with four extra base hits including a pair of homers against Stroman.

JetSetters: One of the best matchups of the week is Starlin Castro vs Chris Archer tonight. Castro is 4-for-12 with a pair of extra base hits and a home run with five RBI against the Tampa Bay ace. Castro owns a career 1.000 OPS against Archer. Jose Reyes hits Bartolo Colon hard. He’ll face Colon Wednesday. Reyes is 3-for-10 with a pair of extra base hits including a homer. Reyes has also struck out just once against Colon while posting a 1.000 OPS.

Hapamon vs The Bulls

Pitching

Hapamon: No pitcher has a higher projected game score in Week 1 than Clayton Kershaw’s 80 at home against San Diego. Hapamon has four different starts rated at 60+. The team will make nine starts and six of those will come at home. The team will keep its fingers crossed that Adam Wainwright and Mike Leake don’t blow up. Projected Game Scores: Clayton Kershaw (80 vs SD, 68 @COL), Yu Darvish (62 vs CLE, 64 vs OAK), Jameson Taillon (50 @BOS), Joe Ross (57 @PHI), Adam Wainwright (49 vs CHC), Anthony DeSclafani (Inj), Mike Leake (48 vs CIN), Matt Andriese (53 vs TOR).

The Bulls: The Bulls will make 10 starts to open the season and nine of them are expected to end in quality. Six of the 10 will be played at home. Ace Stephen Strasburg has the two highest projected game scores while Alex Cobb faces a huge test against the Yankees .Projected Game Scores: Stephen Strasburg (63 vs MIA, 65 @PHI), Kenta Maeda (62 vs SD, 53 @COL), Alex Cobb (47 vs NYY), Jon Gray (56 @MIL, 53 vs LAD), Gio Gonzalez (55 @PHI), Andrew Triggs (52 vs LAA), Chris Tillman (Inj), Jason Hammel (53 @MIN).

Hitting

Hapamon: Brad Miller loves him some Masahiro Tanaka. Miller is 5-for-24 with four extra base hits including three homers against the Yankee ace. Miller has a career .875 OPS against Tanaka. On Thursday, Charlie Blackmon faces Chase Anderson, a pitcher he’s simply abused. Blackmon is 7-for-27 with four extra base hits including a pair of homers. Blackmon has a career .889 OPS against Anderson.

The Bulls: It’s bonus time when your catcher produces on any given week and Nick Hundley is in line to rake against Zack Greinke. Hundley is 5-for-16 with a pair of extra base hits and an .859 OPS against Greinke, who has a history with the Bulls. Khris Davis is 3-for-11 with a homer and a .970 OPS against Texas pitcher Yu Darvish. Davis will face Darvish next Saturday.

Buster Hugs vs Midtown Marsupials

Pitching

Buster Hugs: Madison Bumgarner’s start at San Diego could be dominant. The game score of 68 is tied for the second highest in the league in Week 1. The team will make seven starts and five of those are coming on the road. Despite the difficult schedule, the only start that isn’t expected to end in quality is Michael Wacha’s home game against the Cubs. Projected Game Scores: Madison Bumgarner (61 @ARI, 68 @SD), Masahiro Tanaka (59 @TB, 54 @BAL), J.A. Happ (52 @BAL), Jharel Cotton (53 vs LAA), Michael Wacha (49 vs CHC)

Midtown Marsupials: The Marsupials will have seven starts to open the season and five of them will come at home. All seven are projected to be quality starts, though Jeff Samardzija’s start at Arizona could be dicey. Jacob deGrom’s home start against Atlanta has the team’s highest game score at 59. Projected Game Scores: Jacob deGrom (59 vs ATL), Carlos Martinez (54 vs CHC, 55 vs CIN), Matt Harvey (54 vs ATL), Vincent Velasquez (55 vs WSH), Jeff Samardzija (51 @ARI), Mike Foltynewicz (52 @PIT), Alex Reyes (Inj).

Hitting

Buster Hugs: Adam Duvall has faced Mike Leake 13 times, collecting five hits including a pair of homers. Duvall has eight RBI against Leake with a 1.313 OPS. Buster Posey is slated to face Jhouly Chacin next weekend. That’s never good news for Chacin. Posey is 9-for-19 against Chacin over his career with a 1.208 OPS.

Midtown Marsupials: Daniel Murphy has teed off against Edinson Volquez over his career, going 8-for-18 with a pair of extra base hits and three RBI. Murphy’s career OPS against Volquez stands at a cool 1.079. Brian Dozier faces Ian Kennedy on Wednesday and his eyes should be big. Dozier has hit two homers in 15 at-bats against Kennedy and has a 1.020 OPS.

Bacon at Mile 11 vs Home Run 101

Pitching

Bacon at Mile 11: Bacon’s staff will make eight starts to open the season. Six of those will come at home, including the highest projected game score, a 62 by Chris Archer at home against Toronto. Five of the eight starts are expected to end in quality but GM Eric Brown will be holding his breath when Zack Wheeler faces Miami and Taijuan Walker makes his starts against the Giants and Indians Projected Game Scores: Chris Archer (59 vs NYY, 62 vs TOR), Danny Salazar (56 @TEX), Aaron Nola (54 vs WSH), Michael Pineda (55 @TB), Zack Wheeler (48 vs MIA), Taijuan Walker (49 vs SF, 49 vs CLE).

Home Run 101: Johnny Cueto and Zach Davies will both make a pair of starts as Home Run 101 opens the season with seven starts. Rich Hill’s start at home against the Padres is most likely to end in quality while both of Davies’ starts will be dicey. Projected Game Scores: Johnny Cueto (54 @ARI, 60, @SD), Rich Hill (68 vs SD), Jon Lackey (56 @STL), Zach Davies (50 vs COL, 49 vs CHC), Tyler Skaggs (51 @OAK).

Hitting

Bacon at Mile 11: Anthony Rizzo has built a career hitting Carlos Martinez. The Chicago first baseman is 7-for-26 with three homers, seven RBI, and a 1.064 OPS against Martinez. Outfielder Denard Span has faced Arizona pitcher Patrick Corbin three times in his career but he’s collected three hits and a walk and one of those hits was for extra bases.

Home Run 101: Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury will take aim at Chris Archer, hoping to do some serious damage in their head-to-head matchup. Ellsbury has abused Archer in recent games, going 19-for-34 with two homers and a 1.370 OPS. First baseman Jose Abreau has 11 hits in 29 at-bats against Justin Verlander, including four homers. Abreau has a career 1.265 OPS against the Detroit ace.

Lower Haighters vs. A-Rod’s Mirrors

Pitching

Lower Haighters: The Lower Haighters will make seven starts in Week 1 and six are expected to end in quality. Joe Musgrove’s start against Seattle is going to be a struggle. Five of the team’s seven starts will come at home but Jake Arrieta’s road game at St. Louis is most likely to end in quality. Projected Game Scores: Kevin Gausman (54 vs TOR), Jake Arrieta (61 @STL), Lance McCullers (58 vs SEA; 59 vs KC), Drew Pomeranz (55 @DET) Blake Snell (54 vs TOR), Joe Musgrove (49 vs SEA).

A-Rod’s Mirrors: The Mirrors will make eight starts with an even split between home and road games. Justin Verlander’s start at the White Sox is the most likely to end in quality. GM Sean McKenna will be holding his breath when Edinson Volquez takes the mound at Washington and at the Mets. Projected Game Score: Justin Verlander (60 @CWS, 58 vs BOS), Carlos Carrasco (58 @TEX), Dallas Keuchel (56 vs SEA, 58 vs KC), Tanner Roark (53 vs MIA), Edinson Volquez (46 @WSH, 46 @NYM).

Hitting

Lower Haighters: Giancarlo Stanton can hit fastballs. He faces Stephen Strasburg Monday and over his career Stanton is 14-for-38 with 10 extra base hits, and three homers against Strasburg. Third baseman Jake Lamb has found success against Johnny Cueto, his opponent Tuesday. Lamb is 5-for-14 with three extra base hits and a 1.071 OPS against the Giants ace.

A-Rod’s Mirrors: Manny Machado has an excellent matchup with J.A. Happ on Wednesday. Machado is 6-for-21 with four extra base hits, including two homers, and has a career 1.089 OPS against Happ. Likewise, Bryce Harper owns Miami pitcher Tom Koehler, who he’ll face Thursday. Harper is 11-for-32 with six homers and a 1.385 OPS when facing Koehler.

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