If your league locks lineups at the first pitch of the first game, beware: Monday's matinee in Coors Field begins at 3:10 p.m. ET. The game is a makeup with the Braves who head to Toronto after the game, hence the early start. Even with the added contest, Monday's slate is only eight games deep so don't wait, pick up Braves and Rockies now and beat the rush.
Good luck, there's only five weeks in the MLB regular season so every decision is magnified. Here's some recommendations to get the week off in a string manner, with everyone available in over 50% of ESPN leagues.
Brad Keller (R), rostered in 22% of ESPN leagues, Kansas City Royals vs. Oakland Athletics: Keller's strikeout rate is low, and his walk rate is a little high. However, a 50% ground ball rate minimizes homers, a trait even more useful in today's climate. The Athletics offense is more dependent on the long ball than most teams, so if Keller stays true to form, he has a good chance at keeping the score down.
Dustin May (R), 15%, Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres: The Dodgers are making sure May's innings are kept in check as he skipped a start last week and worked out of the bullpen. He's back in the rotation on Monday, drawing a Padres offense ranking 24th in wOBA (weighted on base average) versus righties with the second highest K% in that scenario.
Jason Vargas (L), 11%, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Pittsburgh Pirates: Like Keller, Vargas' skills are pedestrian, but he's been inducing weak contact as evidenced by yielding low average exit velocity. Vargas is in a good spot to keep this trend going as the Pirates are deal last in terms of wOBA versus southpaw pitching.
With three saves the past week, Matt Magill appears to be the Mariners closer. Especially telling is Magill blew a save on Wednesday but was given the next opportunity. If Seattle were using a committee, chances are they would have turned elsewhere but they wanted Magill to get right back on the horse.
Catcher -- Austin Nola (R), 12%, Seattle Mariners vs. New York Yankees (LHP J.A. Happ): Nola is crushing lefties to the tune of .347/.429/.755, playing mostly first base. Despite a 10-8 record, Happ is in midst of a disappointing season, especially poor since the break as demonstrated by a 6.86 ERA and 1.60 WHIP with 11 homers allowed in 39 1/3 second half innings.
First Base -- Ryan McMahon (L), 28%, Colorado Rockies vs. Atlanta Braves (RHP Julio Teheran): One of the tenets of daily league roster management is streaming lefty batters against Teheran, though the damage isn't as severe this season. Still, historically it's a strong play, especially in Coors Field.
Second Base -- Isan Diaz (L), 2%, Miami Marlins vs. Cincinnati Reds (RHP Sonny Gray): Gray is tough, so this won't be easy for the rookie, but Diaz is showing better plate skills after a slow start when first promoted. Diaz hit his first major league home run over the weekend after blasting 26 for Triple-A New Orleans.
Third Base -- Josh VanMeter (L), 22%, Cincinnati Reds at Miami Marlins (RHP Pablo Lopez): The Reds new leadoff hitter hasn't been shy on the basepaths, swiping five bags in eight tries. As competitive as most stolen base categories are this season, every bag counts. VanMeter's elevation to the top of the order should promote continued running.
Shortstop -- Enrique Hernandez (R), 23%, Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres (LHP Eric Lauer): Hernandez splits aren't as extreme as a couple years ago, but he's still a threat with the platoon advantage. Lauer has only thrown 13 combined innings over his last three starts, allowing seven runs with a tepid 11 strikeouts.
Corner Infield -- Jose Osuna (R), 1%, Pittsburgh Pirates at Philadelphia Phillies (LHP Jason Vargas): The Pirates are likely going to give Osuna a long look down the stretch with Melky Cabrera losing playing time. Osuna is taking advantage, especially against same-side pitching. That said, Vargas is vulnerable to right-handed power and Osuna has popped eight homers in 150 plate appearances.
Middle Infield -- Tommy Edman (S), 23%, St. Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers (LHP Gio Gonzalez): Like VanMeter, Edman is a stealth source of steals, snagging eight pilfers without being caught. Despite being left-handed, Gonzalez isn't adept at controlling the running game.
Outfield -- Trent Grisham (L), 3%, Milwaukee Brewers vs. St. Louis Cardinals (RHP Adam Wainwright): Grisham has been lost in the shuffle of recent call-ups. He shouldn't be as the 22-year old fly chaser is batting leadoff with four home runs this month.
Outfield -- Matt Joyce (L), under 1%, Atlanta Braves at Colorado Rockies (RHP Tim Melville): With Ender Inciarte, Nick Markakis and Austin Riley all out, the Braves have turned back the clock and are using Joyce and Adam Duvall in a platoon. A right-hander is on the hill, which means Joyce gets to take advantage of the thin air.
Outfield -- Brett Phillips (L), under 1%, Kansas City Royals vs. Oakland Athletics (RHP Homer Bailey): For anyone not believing parks matter, Bailey has a 2.96 ERA in four home starts since signing with Oakland but he's still susceptible on the road. Phillips is in line to share center field with Bubba Starling, with facing left-handers. Phillips on base skills are still developing, however he's another cagey source of speed after stealing 21 bases in 22 tries with Triple-A Omaha before being promoted.