Just when it looked like things were moving in the right direction, another team came down with a case of COVID-19 on Thursday. With the Mets' season now on pause, their matchup Friday against the Yankees has been postponed and their entire weekend series with them is in jeopardy. The good news is that we still have 12 games to choose from for the main slate on Yahoo, so let's discuss some players who could be set up to thrive.
The Phillies will send their ace to the mound when Aaron Nola ($54) takes on the Braves. He's been lights out across his last three starts, allowing two runs and recording 30 strikeouts over 21 innings. One of those starts came against these same Braves when he held them to one run while recording 10 strikeouts over eight innings. With the Braves still missing a few key hitters from their lineup because of injuries, Nola could shine once again.
After being limited to three starts last year because of Tommy John surgery, Garrett Richards ($29) entered 2020 healthy and ready to prove that he can once again be a valuable pitcher like he was earlier in his career with the Angels. The initial results are encouraging since he has a 4.01 FIP and a 1.22 WHIP. That's with two of his five starts coming against the Dodgers. Although the Astros might seem like another tough matchup, they are shorthanded right now with Alex Bregman (hamstring), Yordan Alvarez (knee) and Michael Brantley (quadriceps) all out. At this cheap salary, Richards might be worth the risk in tournament play.
It looks like Christian Yelich ($23) has finally started to turn the corner after a dreadful start to the season. Across his last 11 games, he's 12-for-38 (.316) with three home runs and two doubles. He'll look to keep things rolling against Chad Kuhl ($36), who has allowed a .370 wOBA to left-handed hitters for his career. He's also had difficulty keeping hitters inside the ballpark, allowing 17 home runs across his last 99 innings.
One of the more pleasant surprises in baseball this season has been the play of Wilmer Flores ($19), who has emerged as a weapon for the Giants. He already has six home runs across 92 plate appearances and has recorded a .378 wOBA to go along with a paltry 10.9 percent strikeout rate. One area that he's normally had success in during his career is hitting left-handed pitchers considering he has posted a wOBA of at least .401 against them in three of the last five seasons. That presents him with a juicy matchup against Robbie Ray ($31), who has an unsightly 1.91 WHIP across his first five outings.
The fact that Cody Bellinger ($13) has a salary this low shows how badly he's struggled to start the season. His walk rate is down considerably, but his strikeout rate has remained largely unchanged. The big difference has been his hard-hit rate, which has dropped from 45.6 percent in 2019 to 35.7 percent this year. His barrel rate has also dropped from 12.6 percent to 7.1 percent. He has homered in back-to-back games, so this might be the beginning of his turnaround. His matchup Friday against Jon Gray ($28) could produce another productive stat line since Gray has started the season with a 5.74 ERA and a 4.71 FIP.
Another established player who is off to a rocky start is Eduardo Escobar ($11), who has a 57 wRC+ through 25 games. Unlike Bellinger, his hard-hit rate of 31.9 percent is actually slightly higher than his mark from 2019. He is hitting the ball on the ground more, so his .217 BABIP has been a problem. The good news is that he's 6-for-18 with two home runs and a double across his last five games and he'll be facing a pitcher in Logan Webb ($27) who has followed up his 1.46 WHIP last season with a 1.57 WHIP through his first five appearances in 2020.
Stacks to Consider
Brewer will serve as the opener for this game and is expected to be followed by Darwinzon Hernandez, who would be making his season debut. He doesn't have much experience pitching at higher levels, throwing only 17 career innings at Triple-A and 30.1 innings in the majors. Neither of those stints went well for him, so the Orioles could be in line for a productive night. Santander has been their best hitter out of the gate with a 167 wRC+. Mullins is a more budget-friendly option to consider taking a chance on since he is 7-for-17 during his current five-game hitting streak.
Means doesn't miss a lot of bats, so if he's not close to perfect, things can get ugly for him in a hurry. That's exactly what happened to him in his last start against the Nationals when he allowed three runs and recorded only two outs. He's still building up his pitch count, so the Red Sox could see plenty of the Orioles' underwhelming bullpen in this game, as well. Martinez and Bogaerts both carry tremendous upside while Vazquez is a viable catcher to pursue based on his .365 wOBA against left-handed pitchers last year.
Hudson doesn't produce a lot of strikeouts, which is partially to blame for his 1.41 WHIP in 2019. His 3.35 ERA that season might look great, but his 4.93 FIP painted another story regarding his effectiveness. This could be a great opportunity to roll with a Reds stack. Castellanos has proven to be a big boost for their lineup and Winker has also stepped up with a lofty 212 wRC+ to go along with a .492 wOBA.