Fringe Starting Pitcher Matchups: Week 1

These matchups could be everything during the early fantasy season.

It’s March, and that means fantasy baseball draft season is underway! This article will help you determine which fringe starters you’ll want to pull the trigger on during the last few rounds of your draft. Let’s say you play in a league with daily transactions, and you look to churn and burn your roster. In this scenario, you should always have at least one slot (most likely two) where you look to stream pitching. You’ll want to make that last pick in the draft count, at least for the first couple of weeks. For example, don’t grab Johnny Cueto or Jeff Samardzija. They face off against the Dodgers twice in their first three matchups. Instead, take someone like Aaron Civale who draws the Tigers twice or Danny Duffy who could net three starts, two of which are against weak opponents.

Maybe you’re in a weekly moves league, and you’re deciding between two pitchers as your sixth or seventh starter. This chart should be the tiebreaker between these two players. Even in weekly leagues, you shouldn’t be too attached to the back end of your rosters. You can use the tables below to help find that diamond in the rough for the first week and a half of 2020. Then, as his matchups get tougher, drop him for the pitcher you really want after another owner throws him on waivers after a rough outing. Keep in mind, some teams have more off days than others, so they can afford to go with a four-man rotation. I’ll highlight those teams and pitchers as well. Let’s dive into each team’s first three opponents and find those draftable fringe starters.

*Note: The starters discussed below are probable as of today’s article. Updates will be made as teams make their final rotation determinations.

 

ATLANTA BRAVES

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 4 x @ARI none
3/30 – 4/1 3 x @SDP none
4/2 – 4/5 3 x MIA Thursday, 4/2
  • The Braves have seven straight games without an off day. The fifth starter will receive at least one start and it’ll come against the Padres in pitcher-friendly San Diego.
  • Felix Hernandez, Kyle Wright, or Bryse Wilson: whoever wins a rotation spot out of spring might be worth a flier as a late-round option.
  • Sean Newcomb as the fourth starter should net two starts, one in Arizona and another at home versus the Marlins.

 

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 4 x ATL none
3/30 – 4/1 3 x SFG none
4/2 – 4/5 3 x @CHC Thursday, 4/2
  • Mike Leake, the only fringe starter on the Dbacks draws the Braves and Giants at home. I’m not interested in him against ATL but he’s worth a shot versus the Giants.
  • Oh, and he’s not fringe-worthy but Zac Gallen as the fifth starter would line up against the Giants. Yes, please!

 

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 3 x NYY Friday, 3/27
3/30 – 4/1 3 x BOS none
4/2 – 4/5 3 x @STL Friday, 4/3
  • A four-man rotation is at play, but I’m not touching any Orioles starter at home against the Yankees or Red Sox.
  • John Means and Asher Wojciechowski are interesting against the Cardinals in St Louis for their second starts of the season.

 

BOSTON RED SOX

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 4 x @TOR none
3/30 – 4/1 3 x @BAL none
4/2 – 4/5 3 x CHW Friday, 4/3
  • Without any off days through the first eight days, Nathan Eovaldi becomes an intriguing option against the Blue Jays and White Sox.
  • Along the same lines, Martin Perez could build on the success of his cutter and pile up the strikeouts against two whiff-heavy teams in the Blue Jays and White Sox.

 

CHICAGO CUBS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 3 x @MIL Friday, 3/27
3/30 – 4/1 3 x PIT none
4/2 – 4/5 3 x ARI Thursday, 4/2
  • The Pirates are nearly the void of talent offensively making Jon Lester and, dare I say, Tyler Chatwood viable for the first full week of the season.
  • If the Cubs go with a four-man rotation, Jose Quintana would draw the Pirates in his second start and would be recommended.

 

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 3 x KCR Friday, 3/27
3/30 – 4/1 3 x @CLE none
4/2 – 4/5 3 x @BOS Friday, 4/3
  • Dallas Keuchel and Reynaldo Lopez deserve a look for the Sox first series at home against the Royals.
  • With only nine games in the first 11 days of the season, the White Sox can afford to go with a four-man rotation through the first week and a half. Either Gio Gonzalez or Dylan Cease would be skipped as a result.

 

CINCINNATI REDS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 3 x STL Friday, 3/27
3/30 – 4/1 3 x @TOR none
4/2 – 4/5 3 x @PIT Friday, 4/3
  • The Reds can roll with a four-man rotation which leaves Wade Miley as the odd man out.
  • Anthony DeSclafani is a nice late-round target as he’ll draw the Blue Jays and Pirates in his first two outings of 2020.

 

CLEVELAND INDIANS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 3 x DET Friday, 3/27
3/30 – 4/1 3 x CHW none
4/2 – 4/5 4 x @DET none
  • Go get Aaron Civale as a late-round flier as he draws the Tigers in his first two starts. It doesn’t get much better than that.
  • In deeper formats, grab Logan Allen if he wins the fifth spot. A home start against the White Sox is okay but then he’d face the Tigers in Detroit.

 

COLORADO ROCKIES

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 4 x @SDP none
3/30 – 4/1 3 x @LAD none
4/2 – 4/5 3 x SDP Thursday, 4/2
  • Coors Field is untouchable and the Dodgers might be the most explosive offense in the National League.
  • Only the first series in San Diego is playable for Rockies starters making Jon Gray and Kyle Freeland options in week one.

 

DETROIT TIGERS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 3 x @CLE Friday, 3/27
3/30 – 4/1 3 x KCR none
4/2 – 4/5 4 x CLE none
  • If the Tigers stick with a five-man rotation through the first week and a half, Spencer Turnbull is a great option when he faces up the Royals.
  • Let’s not forget Daniel Norris has a really nice slider. He should throw two times through the first three series’, matching up against the Royals in his first outing.

 

HOUSTON ASTROS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 4 x LAA none
3/30 – 4/1 3 x @OAK none
4/2 – 4/5 3 x @LAA Thursday, 4/2
  • The Astros need five starters through the first three series, making Jose Urquidy a nice option with both starts lining up against the Angels.
  • Whoever wins the fifth spot between Josh James and Austin Pruitt will line up against the Athletics in pitcher-friendly Oakland. My money is on James, but Pruitt has pitched well early.

 

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 3 x @CHW Friday, 3/27
3/30 – 4/1 2 x @DET Tuesday, 3/31
4/2 – 4/5 3 x @SEA Friday, 4/3
  • The Royals have a light eight-game schedule through the first week and a half with three off days.
  • A four-man rotation is almost a certainty and all of the Royals starters are fringe options in 12-team formats.
  • Danny Duffy lines up for three starts, two of which are very favorable against the Tigers and Mariners.
  • The fourth starter, Jakob Junis or Mike Montgomery, should net two weak matchups, making him an option in deeper formats.

 

LOS ANGELES ANGELS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 4 x @HOU none
3/30 – 4/2 3 x @TEX Monday, 3/30
4/3 – 4/5 3 x HOU none
  • The Angels could start with a four-man rotation with an off day after the Astros series. If a fifth starter is used, it’ll likely be Jose Suarez.
  • The opening matchups for the Angels are brutal, and I’d suggest staying away from deploying any Angels starter through 4/5.

 

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 3 x SFG Sunday, 3/29
3/30 – 4/1 3 x COL none
4/2 – 4/5 3 x @SFG Thursday, 4/2
  • With two off days, the Dodgers can afford to use four pitchers through their first nine games.
  • Alex Wood seems like a great option as he lines up against the Rockies at home followed by the Giants on the road.

 

MIAMI MARLINS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 4 x PHI none
3/30 – 4/1 3 x WSH none
4/2 – 4/5 3 x @ATL Thursday, 4/2
  • The Marlins need five starters but their matchups are brutal.
  • I wouldn’t recommend any Marlins starters in the first week and a half. However, if you’re looking for strikeouts, Caleb Smith could be your guy in his home starts against Philly and the Nationals.

 

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 3 x CHC Thursday, 3/27
3/30 – 4/1 3 x STL none
4/2 – 4/5 3 x @PHI Friday, 4/3
  • Look for the Brewers to utilize a four-man rotation given the lack of depth in their rotation. Adrian Houser should draw two starts against the more favorable opponents in the Cubs and Cardinals. I like him as an option towards the end of drafts.
  • We haven’t seen much of Josh Lindblom, so he’s a dart throw against the Cardinals at home. Maybe you’ll catch lightning in a bottle.

 

MINNESOTA TWINS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 4 x @OAK none
3/30 – 4/1 3 x @SEA none
4/2 – 4/5 3 x OAK Friday, 4/3
  • The Twins will need all five rotations spots for these matchups. Jake Odorizzi should throw three times through 4/5 and I like his matchups.
  • For deep leagues, take a look at Homer Bailey or Jhoulys Chacin, whichever slots in as the number four starter. A home start against the Mariners looks tasty.

 

NEW YORK METS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 3 x WSH Friday, 3/27
3/30 – 4/1 3 x PHI none
4/2 – 4/5 3 x @WSH Friday, 4/3
  • The Mets have a tough draw to start 2020. With two off days, they could skip Rick Porcello and go with a four-man rotation.
  • I think Steven Matz is viable for his first projected start at home against the Phillies, but not in Washington.

 

NEW YORK YANKEES

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 3 x @BAL Friday, 3/27
3/30 – 4/1 3 x @TBR none
4/2 – 4/5 3 x TOR Friday, 4/3
  • The Yankees starting rotation is already decimated with injuries and we are still a few weeks away from opening day.
  • Fortunately, they can carry a four-man rotation through the first week and a half. I like the way J.A. Happ has two starts line up with the Orioles and the Blue Jays at home.
  • Jordan Montgomery is worth a grab in deep-league formats depending on how he looks this spring. He’s matched up against the Rays and Blue Jays.

 

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 4 x MIN none
3/30 – 4/1 3 x HOU none
4/2 – 4/5 3 x @MIN Friday, 4/3
  • The Athletics will need all five starters as they match up against the Twins and Astros. Yikes. I’d consider benching Sean Manaea and definitely Mike Fiers for their first three starts of the year.
  • Frankie Montas is interesting because he should miss the Astros matchup, but the Twins are far from a pushover.
  • Maybe hold off on deploying A.J. Puk and Jesus Luzardo until week two given the degree of difficulty of their matchups.

 

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 4 x @MIA none
3/30 – 4/1 3 x @NYM none
4/2 – 4/5 3 x MIL Friday, 4/3
  • The Phillies will go with a five-man rotation, so Jake Arrieta is intriguing so long as he’s healthy. He’ll get the Marlins at home followed by the Mets in New York.
  • Similarly, Vince Velasquez will close out the Marlins series then face the Brewers at home. I prefer Arrieta’s matchups, but VV is still a decent option.
  • I’d pass on Zach Eflin as he’ll go to New York to face the Mets then take the mound against the Brewers at home. No thanks.

 

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 3 x @TBR Friday, 3/27
3/30 – 4/1 3 x @CHC none
4/2 – 4/5 3 x CIN Friday, 4/3
  • With two days off in the first 11 days, the Pirates can afford to use four starters.
  • Mitch Keller slots in as the SP4 and is an intriguing option in chilly Chicago against the Cubs followed by the Reds in pitcher-friendly PNC Park.
  • Chris Archer could throw three times in the first three series, so if you’re looking to pound strikeouts, grab him.
  • Joe Musgrove is a pitcher I’m chasing this year. His opening matchups are just okay heading into the season. Be sure to check on his health before pulling the trigger.

 

SAN DIEGO PADRES

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 4 x COL none
3/30 – 4/1 3 x ATL none
4/2 – 4/5 3 x @COL Thursday, 4/2
  • The Padres need five starters, so that means Garrett Richards draws the Rockies at home but misses them in Colorado. His second start in tougher with the Braves, but he’s worth a grab.
  • Unfortunately, Dinelson Lamet is slotted as the fifth starter, which means he’ll miss the road Rockies. Hopefully, that changes.
  • As it stands, Joey Lucchesi and Kyle Davies will close out the series against the Rockies. I prefer Lucchesi, but of course, I’m staying away from their matchup in Colorado.

 

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 3 x @LAD Sunday, 3/29
3/30 – 4/1 3 x @ARI none
4/2 – 4/5 3 x LAD Friday, 4/3
  • Okay, so the entire Giants’ rotation appears to be full of fringe starters. Unfortunately, I dislike their first three matchups of the season, but they should only deploy four starters, skipping Tyler Beede.
  • If I had to pick one to roll with, I’d go with Drew Smyly. As a lefty, he has a better chance to neutralize the lefty-heavy Dodgers lineup and he’ll face them at home.
  • I’d 100% stay away from Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. Cueto faces the Dodgers twice and both of Shark’s outings are away from friendly Oracle Park.

 

SEATTLE MARINERS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 4 x TEX none
3/30 – 4/1 3 x MIN none
4/2 – 4/5 4 x @KCR Friday, 4/3
  • The Mariners need all five rotation spots to open the season. Whoever draws the fourth spot in the rotation will face the Rangers at home and the Royals in Kansas City. Right now, that’s Kendall Graveman, so he may be in for two easy matchups.
  • I won’t be recommending Yusei Kikuchi. He faces the Rangers and Twins.
  • Marco Gonzales will be a volume play as he’ll face all three opponents and is a streaming option against the Royals.
  • I’m only mildly interested in Taijuan Walker after he’s thrown just 14 innings since 2017. His second start in Kansas City is the one I’m eyeing.

 

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 3 x @CIN Friday, 3/27
3/30 – 4/1 3 x @MIL none
4/2 – 4/5 3 x BAL Friday, 4/3
  • Fortunately for the Cardinals, they can run with a four-man rotation through the first three series.
  • Dakota Hudson and Adam Wainwright should not be started in their first outings, but they line up nicely to face the Orioles in their home park the first week of April.

 

TAMPA BAY RAYS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 3 x PIT Friday, 3/27
3/30 – 4/1 3 x NYY none
4/2 – 4/5 4 x @TEX none
  • Two off days means a four-man rotation and the only fringe-worthy starters are Yonny Chirinos and Ryan Yarbrough.
  • Whoever earns the fourth spot will draw two poor matchups with the Yankees and Rangers, so I’d stay away.

 

TEXAS RANGERS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 4 x @SEA none
3/30 – 4/1 3 x LAA Monday, 3/30
4/2 – 4/5 3 x TBR none
  • I’m loving the first series in Seattle. Corey Kluber and Lance Lynn are mid-round targets and should start the season with a nice easy matchup.
  • Mike Minor and Kyle Gibson will both face the Mariners and receive the fringe-worthy green light there. However, their follow-up starts should be avoided.

 

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 4 x BOS none
3/30 – 4/1 3 x CIN none
4/2 – 4/5 3 x @NYY Friday, 4/3
  • All five starters are needed, but the Jays are book-ended with the Red Sox and Yankees. Tanner Roark and Matt Shoemaker are (un)lucky enough to face both. It would not be wise to use them there.
  • Trent Thornton and his curveball will draw the Reds at home and is worth a roll of the dice.

 

WASHINGTON NATIONALS

 

Series Dates #Games x Opp Off Days
3/26 – 3/29 3 x @NYM Friday, 3/27
3/30 – 4/1 3 x @MIA none
4/2 – 4/5 3 x NYM Friday, 4/3
  • Using a four-man rotation, Anibal Sanchez all of a sudden becomes viable facing the Marlins in Miami followed by the Mets at home.

Photo by Frank Jansky (Civale) & Brian Rothmuller (Wood)/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Michael Packard (@designsbypack on Twitter & IG)

Max Freeze

Max is the founder of the FreezeStats Blog and currently writes for PitcherList and FantasyPros. Max is a lifelong Cubs fan who used to pretend he was Andre Dawson while hitting rocks in his backyard as a kid.

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