Steven Matz (NYM - SP) - Matz has been a mixed bag to start the year, but he drew a very favorable matchup against the Atlanta Braves on Saturday night. Entering Saturday's game, the Braves ranked dead last in the MLB in wRC+ against left handed pitching, a park and league adjusted statistic which measures an offense's overall production. Matz cruised through the Braves lineup with ease on Saturday night, pitching into the 7th inning while striking out 8, walking none and allowing just 2 earned runs. He did give up 9 hits, but all but one were singles. To be successful moving forward, Matz needs to continue working on his secondary offerings and maybe take a lesson from Noah Syndergaard on his deadly new slider. With that said, he's a pretty good pitcher right now and even though he's not quite a fantasy ace, the future certainly looks promising.
Kenta Maeda (LAD - SP) - The Maeda train rolled into Colorado on Saturday night and offered the Japanese import his first true taste of a hitter's ballpark. Previously pitching in only Dodger Stadium and Petco Park, Coors was certainly a huge negative park shift. Luckily for Maeda, his nasty breaking pitches were not only get batters to chase, they also help him induce a lot of groundballs. Maeda had the Rockies batters off-balance from the start, striking out 8 batters over 6.1 innings on just 3 hits and 1 walk. Maeda's stat line on the season is now an eye-popping 0.36 ERA and 0.87 WHIP to go along with a 50% groundball rate and 23 strikeouts. Don't forget, many Japanese pitchers do find immediate success when they come over to the United States, but eventually the book gets out on them and they start to falter. Since Maeda exceeds mainly from pitching to contact rather than generating a lot of swing-and-misses, I'm not quite as worried about this type of regression, but I still think he's going to regress. Now might be a good time to see what your league-mates would give up for him. For what it's worth, I'll happily take Matt Harvey or Chris Archer for him.
Jose Fernandez (MIA - SP) - There are few pitchers as divisive as Jose Fernandez and it's all being driven by the coveted "U-word" - Upside. On one side, we have Jose Fernandez supporters who point to his career 30% strikeout rate (supported by an 11.8% SwStr%) and excellent 75% contact rate (44% groundballs) to make their case that Fernandez is the next ace in the making. On the other side, we have the skeptics who point to the small sample size, the innings cap and his inability to go late in games (largely because of the aforementioned strikeouts). What's being lost in all of this is Fernandez's struggles away from his home park in Miami. For his career, he has an ERA over 2 runs higher on the road than at home (1.60 home vs 3.71 road). On Saturday, he had an opportunity to improve his road stats as he traveled to San Francisco to face the contact-heavy Giants. Unfortunately, he did little to improve upon the numbers after going 6 innings and allowing 4 earned runs on 7 hits and 3 walks. He did add 5 strikeouts, but after the pedestrian outing, Fernandez is now sitting with a 4.37 ERA. The schedule doesn't get any easier for Fernandez next week when he travels to Los Angeles to take on the Dodgers. There doesn't appear to be anything wrong with Fernandez's arm besides a slightly higher than normal walk rate, which isn't uncommon for pitchers coming off Tommy John surgery. I'm not ready to sell Fernandez, especially when you consider his first 5 games of the season will have been against the Tigers, Nationals, Mets, Giants and Dodgers, but I remain concerned about his inability to pitch deep into games (both physically and literally due to the innings cap). He's probably not going to be the ace you paid for on draft day in single-season leagues, but he's going to a very good starting pitcher once the schedule softens.
Eugenio Suarez (3B - CIN) - Saurez hit another home run on Saturday night, giving him 5 on the season along with 14 RBI. Suarez is off to a tremendous start this season slashing .292/.352/.538 and has been arguably the best offensive player on the rebuilding Reds. However, it's the dramatic improvement to his strikeout rate (23.6% last season vs 14.1% this season) that has really caught our eye. Under the hood, he's swinging and missing at fewer pitches (8.4%) and he's chasing less out of the strikezone (24.3%). Hitting in front of Joey Votto and Brandon Phillps should mean that he'll continue to see good pitches, but the overall lack of depth in the Reds lineup is going to be a drag on his value.
Maikel Franco (3B - PHI) - Don't look now, but it looks like Maikel Franco's bat is finally waking up. Over the last 2 nights, Franco has gone 6-for-9 with 3 home runs and 7 RBI. Entering Friday's game, he was stuck in a 3-for-29 slump, but after Saturday's game, he's now slashing .299/.338/.552. He'll likely continue to have these hot and cold streaks all season long, but he has enough power to always be a threat for a 2 homerun night. The contact issues (72% contact rate) remain a big drag on his batting average and he chasing too many pitches out fo the strikezone (39%), but as long as he continues to hit the ball hard, he'll be able to support ISO numbers >.200. Looking towards the daily slate tomorrow, Franco looks like a very strong value play at only $3,100 on FanDuel, facing off against the struggling Wily Peralta. On the season, Peralta has already given up 4 home runs - 2 to lefties and 2 to righties. The Phillies currently have an implied run total on 4 runs according to Vegas.
NL Daily Value Plays:
Stephen Strasburg vs MIN $11,600 FD, $11,500 DK
Aaron Blair vs NYM $4,600 FD, $6,800 DK (tournament play to load up on batters from Coors)
Jonathan Lucroy vs PHI $2,900 FD, $3,600 DK
Francisco Cervelli @ ARI $2,800 FD, $3,600 DK
John Jason @ ARI $2,700, $3,200 DK
Lucas Duda @ ATL $3,400, $3,900 DK
Chase Utley @ COL $3,600 FD, $4,300 DK
Ben Zobrist @ CIN $3,100 FD, $4,200 DK
Maikel Franco @ MIL $3,100 FD, $4,000 DK
David Freese @ ARI $2,700 FD, $3,400 DK
Corey Seager @ COL $4,300 FD, $4,800 DK
Zack Cozart vs CHC $3,000 FD, $3,000 DK
Jason Heyward @ CIN $3,600 FD, $4,200 DK
Odubel Herrera @ MIL $2,900 FD, $3,700 DK
Curtis Granderson @ ATL $3,700 FD, $4,300 DK
Michael Conforto @ ATL $3,300 FD, $3,200 DK
Ryan Raburn vs LAD $3,600 FD, $3,700 DK