Nathan Eovaldi-Red Sox-SP
Nathan Eovaldi gets the Opening Day start for the Red Sox. He is coming off a strong 2020 in which he posted a 3.72 ERA and 1.20 WHIP with 23% K-BB. Yes, it was a small sample but he showed increased strikeouts (26% K) and improved command (4% BB). The increase in strikeouts came with more swinging strikes (13% SwStr) which is a good sign. The biggest question with Eovaldi has always been health. If he can stay healthy for the Red Sox then he will be a very useful fantasy starter given his K-BB% which is one of the strongest indicators of success. He gets a very nice matchup against the Orioles and then has tougher matchups against the Rays at home and Twins on the road to start the year.
Jose Quintana was signed to be a rotation stabilizer for the Angels. He has pitched more than 170 IP seven out of the last eight seasons with last year being the exception. This makes him more valuable in real-life than in fantasy. His ERA has not been under 4.00 since 2016. His WHIP has not been less than 1.30 since 2017. This is a pitcher with declining skills that no longer benefits from pitching in the National League. Quintana was sitting 90 mph this spring which is not far from his career average (91.6 mph) but puts him in the very hittable range. Outside of Al-only leagues, it would be wise to avoid Quintana and the damage he could potentially do to your ratios.
Dylan Cease-White Sox-SP
Dylan Cease ended Spring Training by going 5.1 IP with 0 BB and 11 K. Cease came into spring knowing that he needed to improve his control and stop cutting his fastball in order to get more ride/life. It was encouraging to see that he knew what he needed to work on and attacked it this offseason. He pitched very well this spring with a 1.06 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. The key stat for Cease is that his K-BB was 22 K/7 BB. Improved control would allow Cease to make a significant jump in year three. He has the raw stuff to be an elite starter but needs improved control to increase strikeouts and avoid hard contact. Cease needs to be owned in all formats because if the improved control from spring sticks he will be long gone from the wire.
Makiel Franco impressed in 2020 with the Royals (.278 AVG with 8 HR, 23 R, 38 RBI, and 1 SB) but had a hard time finding a job this past offseason. The good news is that Baltimore is as good of a situation as possible. He is going to play every day in an excellent park for power. Franco has always posted an above-average strikeout rate (15% K) but the results have not followed. One of the main reasons for this is despite being able to make contact he has struggled with balls out of the zone. For his career, he has swung at pitches outside of the zone more than the league average which has led to lower quality contact. Franco is 28 years old, so the likelihood that he makes significant changes to his approach is unlikely. This being said he is still worth rostering as a CI in deeper mixed leagues.
Luis Garcia has been named the Astros fifth starter by manager Dusty Baker. Garcia is an intriguing arm to pick up off the waiver wire or keep an eye on depending on the size of your league. He has a decent floor given his above-average changeup that has both deception and enough of a velocity gap to be extremely effective. Garcia also mixes in a slider and curve which gives him room for upside if he develops one of them into a true out pitch. The Astros have been very effective in getting the most out of their pitchers so someone like Garcia is very interesting considering he is starting with a strong FB/CH foundation. He has just 12.1 IP above Single-A so there could be growing pains but the upside is enough to warrant taking a risk.
DFS Value Plays: SP Nathan Eovaldi ($6,300) and OF Joey Gallo ($3,600)
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