Daily Picks: Max or Buehler? Trout or Bryce?

April 27th, 2021

As part of a new daily feature at MLB.com, we'll be breaking down every matchup on the schedule to help give fantasy players an edge, whether it's in daily contests or season-long leagues. The "Fantasy Daily Dish" will break down every starting pitcher on the slate, as well as all of the notable hitters in that particular game. We'll dive into all the specifics of a given matchup looking for everything from batters who thrive against certain pitch types to hot/cold streaks to platoon splits -- and everything in between.

After a rocky 2021 debut, Max Scherzer has looked far more like his three-time Cy Young Award-winning self in his last few outings. Meanwhile, Walker Buehler is coming off his best start of the young season.

Which one should you roll with on Tuesday? Or is it safe to trust Lucas Giolito to turn in a bounceback performance following his forgettable Patriots' Day start against the Red Sox?

Here's a full breakdown of every pitcher -- and all the hitters you need to know about -- on Tuesday's schedule:

Twins (Maeda) at Indians (Civale), 6:10 p.m. ET

Twins SP: Kenta Maeda, RHP
Key stat(s): 1.87 WHIP
2021 stats: 1-1, 6.11 ERA, 19.3 K%

Breakdown: No pitcher limited baserunners last year better than Maeda, whose 0.75 WHIP was the best in MLB. He did it by not only forcing soft contact (24.7 hard-hit percentage was second-best in the Majors), but also by striking out hitters at a career-high rate (32.3%). It's been a different story through four outings this season, with Maeda serving up 28 hits in just 17 2/3 innings -- already closing in on his total last season (40 hits in 66 2/3 frames). He's allowed a hard-hit percentage of 44.4% and his strikeout rate sits at just 19.3%.

Notable Indians hitters

Franmil Reyes: 1-for-14 (.071) with five K's vs. Maeda.

José Ramírez: 1.052 OPS at home since start of last season (.856 on road)

Indians SP: Aaron Civale, RHP
Key stat(s): .161 opponents' BA (fourth-best in AL)
2021 stats: 3-0, 2.42 ERA, 22.7 K%

Breakdown: Despite having plenty of success in his first two seasons in the big leagues, Civale overhauled nearly everything about his approach this offseason -- and it's working brilliantly through four outings. Armed with a new delivery and a new pitch mix, he's holding opposing hitters to a .161 average. Opponents are just 4-for-25 (.160) against his four-seam fastball, which has become his most-used pitch (29.2%) after being used sparingly (2.5%) last year. They're also just 4-for-22 (.182) against his cutter, 2-for-17 vs. his changeup (.118) and 2-for-12 (.167) against his curveball.

Notable Twins hitters

Nelson Cruz: .644 SLG vs. four-seamers since 2015 (fourth-best in MLB); hitting .315 with 75 homers vs. the pitch in that span.

Byron Buxton: Hitting .201 (37-for-184) with 54 strikeouts vs. four-seamers since 2018.

Alex Kirilloff: 1-for-18 this season despite a 54.5% hard-hit rate

Royals (Junis) at Pirates (Anderson), 6:35 p.m. ET

Royals SP: Jakob Junis, RHP
Key stat(s): Opponents are 2-for-12 vs. his cutter
2021 stats: 1-0, 3.71 ERA, 26.5 K%

Breakdown: Junis stumbled a bit in last outing (five runs off six hits and three walks in five innings against the Rays), but he had been solid in his first four appearances (two starts) this season. His newly added cutter has been a huge boost for Junis, who's holding opponents to just 2-for-20 (both singles) while racking up 12 strikeouts with the pitch. Batters also have a 50.0% whiff rate against his cutter.

Notable Pirates hitters

Bryan Reynolds: Hitting .229 (11-for-48) with 12 K's in his career vs. cutters.

Colin Moran: 2-for-15 with five strikeouts in his last four games; hitting .253 (19-for-75) with four homers and 21 K's vs. cutters.

Pirates SP: Tyler Anderson, LHP
Key stat(s): 58.3% of pitches in strike zone (highest in MLB, minimum 300 pitches)
2021 stats: 2-2, 3.92 ERA, 24.1 K%

Breakdown: Anderson has pitched at least five innings in each of his four outings and he's yet to allow more than three runs in any of them. In fact, he's allowed just three runs combined over 10 1/3 innings in his last two outings. Though he's issued multiple walks in three of his four starts, Anderson will throw plenty of strikes. His 69% strike rate is among the highest in the Majors, and he throws 58.3% of his pitches in the strike zone -- the highest among any pitcher with at least 300 pitches this season.

Notable Royals hitters

Whit Merrifield: Eight stolen bases (T-most in MLB); .863 career OPS vs. left-handed pitchers (.759 vs. RHP)

Salvador Perez: Left Monday's game with jammed right thumb (day to day).

Yankees (Kluber) at Orioles (Zimmermann), 7:05 p.m. ET

Yankees SP: Corey Kluber, RHP
Key stat(s): 1.93 WHIP
2021 stats: 0-2, 5.40 ERA, 19.2 K%

Breakdown: Kluber is yet to complete five innings in any of his four starts this season, yet he's still issued multiple walks each time out. Overall, the veteran right-hander has allowed 18 hits and handed out 11 walks in just 15 walks -- an average of nearly two baserunners per inning. With Kluber's strikeout rate sitting at 19.2% and his chase rate at just 23.3% -- down from 33.1% in his last full season in 2019 -- hitters aren't having much trouble laying off his stuff out of the zone.

Notable O's hitters

Cedric Mullins: Back-to-back three-hit games; hitting .365 with a .996 OPS this season.

Maikel Franco: Has at least one hit in nine of last 10 games; hitting .379 with a 1.126 OPS with runners on base this season (.180 BA, .541 OPS with bases empty).

Orioles SP: Bruce Zimmermann, LHP
Key stat(s): .424 opponents' BA vs. four-seamer
2021 stats: 1-2, 4.57 ERA, 16.7 K%

Breakdown: Zimmermann's secondary pitches have played well this season, but he's having trouble keeping hitters off his four-seam fastball. Opponents are 14-for-33 (.424) with six extra-base hits (including two homers) and a .727 SLG against the pitch. They're just 3-for-23 (.130) against his changeup (though two of the three hits are home runs) and 4-for-17 (.235) against his curveball.

Notable Yankees hitters

Aaron Judge: .712 SLG vs. four-seamers since 2017 (best in MLB); Judge is hitting .311 with 56 homers against four-seam fastballs in that span.

Giancarlo Stanton: .625 SLG, 1.015 OPS in career vs. LHP (.520 SLG, .867 OPS vs. RHP).

Gary Sánchez: Hitting .149 (7-for-47) with zero homers, one RBI and 13 K's in last 15 games after homering in each of the first two games.

Nationals (Scherzer) at Blue Jays (Thornton), 7:07 p.m. ET

Nationals SP: Max Scherzer, RHP
Key stat(s): .123 opponents' BA vs. top-3 pitches (four-seamer, slider, changeup)
2021 stats: 1-1, 1.80 ERA, 35.9 K%

Breakdown: It turns out Opening Day was just a blip for Scherzer. After serving up four homers to the first 10 batters he faced this season, Scherzer has been arguably as good as ever in his three outings since. He's allowed just one run while striking out 24 batters in 19 innings over his last three starts, and he enters this outing on a 17-inning scoreless streak. It's obviously early, but his 35.9 K% would be the highest of his career (his previous best is 35.1% in 2019). He's had everything working, with opponents going 4-for-36 (.111) against his four-seamer, 2-for-16 (.188) against his slider and just 1-for-13 (.077) vs. his changeup.

Notable Blue Jays hitters

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.: 3-for-22 (.136) in last seven games; 18.0% walk rate this season (8.7% in 2019-20).

Blue Jays SP: Trent Thornton, RHP
Key stat(s): 26.7 pitches per appearance
2021 stats: 0-0, 1.86 ERA, 15.8 K%

Breakdown: Though Thornton led the Blue Jays in starts and innings pitched just two seasons ago in 2019, his first five appearances this season came in relief before he worked two innings in his first start of 2021 on Wednesday. It'll likely be similar this time around, with Thornton handling just a couple innings before handing off to the bullpen.

Notable Nationals hitters

Trea Turner: Hitting .310 with two homers, four stolen bases and five multi-hit games in his last 11 starts.

Red Sox (Richards) at Mets (Peterson), 7:10 p.m. ET

Red Sox SP: Garrett Richards, RHP
Key stat(s): 13 walks, 12 strikeouts
2021 stats: 0-2, 6.48 ERA, 14.5 K%

Breakdown: Richards has walked multiple batters in each of his four outings this season, including six in his most recent start. In addition to his 13 total walks, Richards has allowed 18 hits and hit a batter for a total of 32 baserunners in just 16 2/3 innings.

Notable Mets hitters

Pete Alonso: 10-for-31 (.323) with four homers and a 1.126 OPs in last nine games; 98.6 mph average exit velocity (best in MLB).

Francisco Lindor: .599 OPS this season (two extra-base hits and zero stolen bases in 18 games).

Mets SP: David Peterson, LHP
Key stat(s): 42.7% sinker usage rate
2021 stats: 1-2, 6.75 ERA, 31.0 K%

Breakdown: Peterson sandwiched a 10-strikeout gem between a pair of rocky outings in his three starts this season. He allowed six runs over four innings in his 2021 debut against the Phillies, then held that same Phils club to one run over six frames while striking out 10. He followed that up by allowing six runs (three earned) in just 3 1/3 innings vs. the Cubs. Peterson has tweaked his pitch mix this season, leaning on his sinker (42.7% usage rate in 2021, up from 15.8% in 2020) in place of his four-seamer (13.6% usage rate in '21, down from 37.4% in '20).

Notable Red Sox hitters

J.D. Martinez:.976 career OPS vs. LHP (.861 vs. RHP).

Rafael Devers: .413 SLG, .729 OPS in career vs. LHP (.538 SLG, .878 OPS vs. RHP)

Xander Bogaerts: Has reached base safely in 17 of last 18 games; hitting .414 with a 1.110 OPS during that span.

Athletics (Montas) at Rays (Wacha), 7:10 p.m. ET

A's SP: Frankie Montas, RHP
Key stat(s): 49.2% sinker usage rate
2021 stats: 2-1, 6.75 ERA, 23.3 K%

Breakdown: Montas' struggles last season stemmed largely from the ineffectiveness of his sinker -- a pitch against which opponents hit .346 with a .617 slugging percentage. It's been better overall this season, with Montas holding opposing hitters to a .229 (8-for-35) average, though they were 5-for-10 against it in his last outing when he allowed six runs off nine hits (including three homers) in just four innings.

Notable Rays hitters

Randy Arozarena: 18-for-35 (.514) with seven home runs and a 1.152 SLG in his career vs. sinkers, including postseason.

Rays SP: Michael Wacha, RHP
Key stat(s): 95.1 mph average exit velocity allowed (highest in MLB)
2021 stats: 1-1, 4.35 ERA, 25.3 K%

Breakdown: Wacha tossed a gem against the Yankees on April 16, striking out nine while allowing only one hit over six scoreless innings. His other three outings haven't been quite as solid -- and even that performance against the Yanks contained a lot of hard contact off the veteran right-hander. Overall, Wacha is allowing an average exit velocity north of 95 mph -- the threshold for hard-hit balls -- on the 54 balls in play against him this season. He has the highest average exit velocity allowed in the Majors, while also ranking toward the bottom of the league in barrel percentage (16.7%) and hard-hit rate (55.6%).

Notable A's hitters

Mark Canha: Hitting .316 with 18 homers and a .632 SLG vs. four-seamers since 2019.

Matt Olson: .896 career OPS vs. RHP (.730 vs. LHP).

Cubs (Williams) at Braves (Anderson), 7:20 p.m. ET

Cubs SP: Trevor Williams, RHP
Key stat(s): 42.3% whiff rate with slider
2021 stats: 2-1, 4.66 ERA, 21.8 K%

Breakdown: Williams has been solid in three of his four outings this season, including an April 17 win over these Braves in which he allowed just one run over five innings. His lone rocky performance, however, came in his only other road start -- he allowed five runs on 10 hits in just 3 1/3 innings on April 11 in Pittsburgh. His breaking pitches have been hit or miss, with opponents going just 3-for-14 (.214) with six K's against his slider -- but 4-for-9 (.444) with zero K's against his curveball.

Notable Braves hitters

Ronald Acuña Jr.: .764 SLG (third in MLB); 62.3% hard-hit rate (second in MLB).

Freddie Freeman: 92.4 mph average exit velocity (up from 92.4 mph last season when he won NL MVP Award). Freeman has a .468 SLG this season despite a .690 xSLG; the .222-point differential is fifth-highest among players with at least 50 batted balls.

Ozzie Albies: Hitting .169 with one stolen base in 20 games this season.

Braves SP: Ian Anderson, RHP
Key stat(s): Seven barrels allowed (one in 2020)
2021 stats: 1-0, 3.27 ERA, 24.5 K%

Breakdown: Though Anderson looked more like the dominant version we saw in 2020 in his last outing, there are still some concerns for the 22-year-old right-hander. He tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings Wednesday against the Yankees, despite issuing four walks for a second straight start. He has an 11.7% walk rate this season after walking 10.1% of the hitters he faced last year. Anderson has also served up seven barrels after allowing only one all of last season, and his hard-hit rate has also jumped to 42.3% (up from 32.1% in 2020).

Notable Cubs hitters

Kris Bryant: 13-for-35 (.371) with three homers and 10 RBIs in last nine games after hitting .220 in first 12 games.

Anthony Rizzo: .507 SLG, .886 OPS in career vs. RHP (.427 SLG, .779 OPS vs. LHP).

Javier Báez: Missed Monday's game due to left hamstring tightness (check status before game).

Marlins (Castano) at Brewers (Houser), 7:40 p.m. ET

Marlins SP: Daniel Castano, LHP
Key stat(s): 5 swings and misses on 156 pitches
2021 stats: 0-1, 3.60 ERA, 5.0 K%

Breakdown: Castano isn't going to miss many bats, as evidenced by his two strikeouts in 10 innings this season -- and opponents have only five swings and misses against the 156 pitches he's thrown. That said, he's allowing an average exit velocity of just 83.3 mph -- second-best among starting pitchers with at least 25 batted balls.

Notable Brewers hitters

Kolten Wong: Four consecutive multi-hit games since returning from strained left oblique; he's 10-for-17 with four extra-base hits and a stolen base in those games.

Brewers SP: Adrian Houser, RHP
Key stat(s): 61% ground-ball rate since start of last season (highest in MLB)
2021 stats: 1-2, 3.32 ERA, 15.0 K%

Breakdown: Houser has had some control issues early this year, racking up nearly as many walks (nine) as strikeouts (12), but he's limited the damage to eight runs (seven earned) over 19 innings. He's been able to minimize the damage by keeping the ball primarily on the ground, inducing a ground ball on 64.4% of balls in play this season. He has a 61% ground-ball rate dating to the start of last season, highest in the Majors.

Notable Marlins hitters

Jazz Chisholm Jr.: Only player in MLB with at least four homers and six stolen bases this season.

Jesús Aguilar: Three homers in last four games after going homerless in first 18 games this season.

Phillies (Eflin) at Cardinals (Martínez), 7:45 p.m. ET

Phillies SP: Zach Eflin, RHP
Key stat(s): .180 opponents' BA vs. his sinker
2021 stats: 1-0, 2.77 ERA, 19.2 K%

Breakdown: Eflin relies heavily on his sinker -- a pitch against which opponents hit .310 with a .469 slugging percentage last season. It's been a much more reliable offering in 2021, with opposing batters going just 9-for-50 against Eflin's sinker, with 11 strikeouts and only one extra-base hit (a double). His other pitches have been a different story, however, as Eflin has allowed 15 combined hits between his slider, four-seamer, changeup and curveball -- and nine of the 15 have gone for extra bases.

Notable Cardinals hitters

Nolan Arenado: .341 career hitter vs. sinkers, with as many home runs (52) as strikeouts (52) against the pitch.

Paul Goldschmidt: .332 career hitter with 53 home runs vs. sinkers.

Yadier Molina: 90.1 mph average exit velocity (up from 84.7 mph in 2020).

Cardinals SP: Carlos Martínez, RHP
Key stat(s): 12.7% sinker usage rate
2021 stats: 0-4, 6.00 ERA, 14.3 K%

Breakdown: Martínez had his best outing of the season on Wednesday, holding the Nationals to just one run off four hits over six innings. That came right after he gave up six runs in just five innings against this same Phillies team on April 16. His most-used pitches through four starts are his slider (26.2%), four-seamer (24.4%) and cutter (22.6%) -- he developed his cutter in 2018 before mostly abandoning it in '19 (2.3%) and '20 (1.0%). Meanwhile, his sinker -- the pitch he used most from 2016-19 -- has been used only 12.7% of the time, as opponents are hitting .474 against it since the start of last season.

Notable Phillies hitters

Bryce Harper: 13-for-30 (.433) with four homers and a 1.428 OPS over last eight games.

Rhys Hoskins: Six homers in last six games.

Andrew McCutchen: 8-for-44 (.182) with 11 K's vs. Martínez.

Angels (Quintana) at Rangers (Foltynewicz), 8:05 p.m. ET

Angels SP: José Quintana, LHP
Key stat(s): One extra-base hit allowed
2021 stats: 0-1, 9.00 ERA, 31.5 K%

Breakdown: On the surface, Quintana's 2021 numbers are far from pretty. He's allowed 12 runs (10 earned) in just 10 innings of work -- but it hasn't been all bad. In fact, he's allowed one extra-base hit (a double) and he has 17 strikeouts in those 10 frames -- an average of a whopping 15.3 per nine innings. Of course, he's also walked 11 batters (more than one per inning). His best outing of the young season came Wednesday against this same Rangers club, when he allowed one run off two hits while striking out eight over five innings. If he can limit the walks, Quintana has proven he still has swing-and-miss stuff.

Notable Rangers hitters

Joey Gallo: Though he's a left-handed hitter, Gallo has a slightly higher SLG (.503) and OPS (.825) vs. LHP than he does vs. RHP (.484 SLG, .821 OPS).

Nate Lowe: Four multi-hit games in last seven (hitting .360 during that stretch), but has a .671 career OPS vs. LHP (.824 vs. RHP).

Rangers SP: Mike Foltynewicz, RHP
Key stat(s): 94.1 mph average fastball velocity
2021 stats: 0-3, 5.32 ERA, 24.2 K%

Breakdown: Foltynewicz's velocity has returned this season, but the results haven't come quite yet. A mainstay in Atlanta's rotation from 2016-19, Foltynewicz was an All-Star in 2018 -- and even garnered a share of NL Cy Young Award votes -- before being DFA'd after just one start last season. His velocity was inexplicably low last spring -- and that carried into his first start of the 2020 regular season, with his four-seamer averaging just 90.9 mph. Foltynewicz's velocity is back through four starts, as his four-seamer is sitting at 94.1 mph and opponents are just 3-for-21 (.143) against the pitch. They're also 4-for-21 with 14 strikeouts against his slider. The issue has been his sinker, as opponents are 11-for-35 (.314) with five homers against the offering. Overall, Foltynewicz has served up eight homers in four starts, including three against this Halos club on Wednesday.

Notable Angels hitters

Mike Trout: Homered off Foltynewicz on first pitch Wednesday; leads MLB in OBP (.539) and slugging percentage (.820).

Anthony Rendon: 10-for-31 (.323) with five extra-base hits in his career vs. Foltynewicz.

Shohei Ohtani: 25.5 barrel percentage (best in MLB); .675 SLG ranks fourth.

Mariners (Gonzales) at Astros (Javier), 8:10 p.m. ET

Mariners SP: Marco Gonzales, LHP
Key stat(s): .122 opponents' BA, 2.25 ERA in last two starts
2021 stats: 1-2, 6.04 ERA, 19.8 K%

Breakdown: Gonzales appears to have gotten back on track after a disastrous start to 2021. After conceding 12 runs on 17 hits in just 10 1/3 innings -- all while allowing opponents to hit .370 -- in his first two outings, the southpaw has given up just three runs off five hits in his last two starts. That includes a seven-inning gem against the Dodgers in his last outing, with Gonzales holding the reigning champs to one run off just two hits.

Notable Astros hitters

Jose Altuve: Went 3-for-5 in return from COVID-IL on Monday; he's 9-for-21 (.429) with an 1.167 OPS lifetime vs. Gonzales.

Alex Bregman: 1.013 career OPS vs. LHP (.857 OPS vs. RHP); 8-for-23 (.348) vs. Gonzales.

Carlos Correa: 2-for-13 (.154) in his career vs. Gonzales.

Yuli Gurriel: Hitting .391 with three homers and 11 RBIs in last six games.

Astros SP: Cristian Javier, RHP
Key stat(s): .068 opponents' BA vs. slider since 2020, including postseason (best in MLB)
2021 stats: 2-0, 1.32 ERA, 36.4 K%

Breakdown: Javier has been lights out this season, allowing only two runs over 13 2/3 innings in his three starts. That includes back-to-back scoreless outings of five innings apiece. The right-hander has racked up 16 strikeouts over those 10 innings, leaning strongly on a slider against which opponents are just 1-for-15 with 10 K's and a 51.5% whiff rate. That's after opposing hitters went just 4-for-58 (.069) with 29 K's against the offering in 2020.

Notable Mariners hitters

Mitch Haniger: 11-for-62 (.177) with one homer and 28 K's vs. sliders since 2019.

Kyle Seager: Hitting .179 with 13 homers and 196 K's vs. sliders since 2014.

Kyle Lewis: Hit first HR of the season on Monday; hitting .158 (3-for-19) in five games (missed first few weeks with right knee injury).

Tigers (Ureña) at White Sox (Giolito), 8:10 p.m. ET

Tigers SP: José Ureña, RHP
Key stat(s): 3 walks in last two starts (9 walks in first two starts)
2021 stats: 0-3, 4.57 ERA, 20.4 K%

Breakdown: Ureña has been sharp in his last two outings, thanks to his ability to limit walks. After walking a career-high 12.5% of the batters he faced last season, Ureña walked 24.3% of opposing hitters in his first two starts this year. He's turned that around in his last two outings, however, walking only three of the 56 batters he's faced (5.4%). The result has been back-to-back outings in which he's gone seven innings and allowed just two runs in each. Ureña has a plus slider and a fastball that reaches 97 mph, but the key has always been his ability to control it all.

Notable White Sox hitters

José Abreu: Hitting .318 (41-for-129) with five homers against pitches 97 mph or faster since 2015.

Tim Anderson: 9-for-63 (.143) with one home run and 23 K's vs. pitches 97 mph or faster.

Yermín Mercedes: Leads MLB with .429 average; has hit safely in all 16 games that he's started and finished.

White Sox SP: Lucas Giolito, RHP
Key stat(s): 10 of 13 batters reached base in last outing
2021 stats: 1-1, 5.79 ERA, 32.1 K%

Breakdown: Giolito's season numbers are severely inflated by his disastrous April 19 outing against the Red Sox in which he allowed eight runs (seven earned) off eight hits and two walks in just one-plus inning. Until proven otherwise, we'll chalk up that 11 a.m. ET start as a blip on the radar for Giolito. The right-hander has a 2.55 ERA and 26 K's in just 17 2/3 innings through his first three starts prior to last week's misstep.

Notable Tigers hitters

Miguel Cabrera: 2-for-14 (.143, both singles) in career vs. Giolito.

Jeimer Candelario: Three multi-hit games in his last four, but he has zero RBIs -- and only one extra-base hit -- in his last 11 games.

Padres (Paddack) at D-backs (Kelly), 9:40 p.m. ET

Padres SP: Chris Paddack, RHP
Key stat(s): .350 opponents' SLG vs. fastball
2021 stats: 1-2, 3.50 ERA, 21.0 K%

Breakdown: Paddack has yet to pitch more than five innings this season, though his defense certainly hasn't done him any favors of late (six unearned runs allowed in last two starts). Regardless, Paddack has shown some improvement with his fastball -- a pitch against which he allowed 10 of his 14 homers last season. Opponents are still hitting a respectable .275 vs. his fastball, but they are slugging just .350 and have yet to hit a homer against the offering. They hit .308 with a .658 slugging percentage and a 92.7 mph average exit velocity against the pitch in 2020. Paddack's strikeout numbers (21.0 K%) aren't where they were during his 2019 breakout season (26.9 K%), but limiting homers -- particularly with his fastball -- will be the key moving forward.

Notable D-backs hitters

David Peralta: Hitting .320 with a .513 SLG vs. four-seamers since 2018.

Kole Calhoun: Hitting .232 with the same number of strikeouts (105) as hits vs. four-seamers since 2018.

Eduardo Escobar: 1-for-12 (.083) in his career vs. Paddack.

Carson Kelly: 3-for-19 (.158) over his last seven games, though all three hits are home runs. He hit .440 with a 1.305 OPS through his first nine games.

D-backs SP: Merrill Kelly, RHP
Key stat(s): Opponents are 10-for-23 with seven extra-base hits vs. four-seamer
2021 stats: 1-2, 7.71 ERA, 13.7 K%

Breakdown: Kelly has been hit hard through three starts this season, allowing a .565 slugging percentage -- and he may be fortunate it's not even higher, considering he has a .627 xSLG. Opposing hitters have registered a 44.7% hard-hit rate -- and just a 13.7% strikeout rate -- against Kelly, whose fastball has been particularly susceptible. Hitters are 10-for-23 with seven extra-base hits, including three homers, against his four-seamer.

Notable Padres hitters

Fernando Tatis Jr.: 7-for-14 with five home runs and two stolen bases in last three gamesl he's also 5-for-12 with three homers in his career vs. Kelly.

Manny Machado: .379 SLG is 172 points lower than his .551 xSLG; the 172-point difference is the fifth-highest among players with at least 60 batted balls this season. Machado's 59.4% hard-hit rate ranks third in the Majors behind only Stanton and Acuña.

Eric Hosmer: 7-for-20 (.350) in his career vs. Kelly.

Rockies (González) at Giants (Sanchez), 9:45 p.m. ET

Rockies SP: Chi Chi González, RHP
Key stat(s): Opponents are 1-for-12 vs. his slider
2021 stats: 1-0, 3.00 ERA, 12.7 K%

Breakdown: González has allowed just two runs over 10 innings in two starts after making his first two appearances of 2021 out of the 'pen. He's not missing many bats (12.7 K%) and has nearly as many walks (seven) as strikeouts (eight), but he's limited the damage by leaning strongly on his slider. He's throwing the pitch 18.7% of the time -- his second-most-used offering -- after throwing it just 2.3% last year. Opponents are 1-for-12 (.083) vs. the slider in 2021.

Notable Giants hitters

Evan Longoria: 69.8% hard-hit rate this season (best in MLB).

Alex Dickerson: 6-for-10 in his career vs. González.

Buster Posey: 8-for-18 (.444) with three homrs in last five games.

Giants SP: Aaron Sanchez, RHP
Key stat(s): 86.7 mph fastball velocity in last start
2021 stats: 1-1, 1.83 ERA, 17.5 K%

Breakdown: Sanchez tossed five scoreless innings against the Marlins on Thursday, but there was some reason for concern the right-hander, who is coming off right shoulder surgery. His four-seamer sat at just 86.7 mph, down from 90.5 mph in his first three starts of the year -- and down from 93.4 mph when he was last on the mound in 2019. He reportedly topped out at 98 mph in a February showcase before signing with the Giants, so the 86.7 mph average is certainly something to watch. That said, Sanchez has compensated by relying more on his curveball (32.2% usage rate) and far less on his four-seamer, which has been the least-used pitch (19.0%) among his four offerings this season. He threw it 36.4% of the time in 2019.

Notable Rockies hitters

Trevor Story: Has two homers in last four games after going homerless in first 18 games this season.

Reds (Hoffman) at Dodgers (Buehler), 10:10 p.m. ET

Reds SP: Jeff Hoffman, RHP
Key stat(s): 91.1 mph average exit velocity since 2020 (seventh-highest in MLB)
2021 stats: 2-1, 2.66 ERA, 19.1 K%

Breakdown: After posting a 9.28 ERA in 16 relief appearances with the Rockies last season, Hoffman has pitched well through four starts with the Reds in 2021, thanks in part to an improved four-seamer. Opponents are still hitting .265 (13-for-49) against the pitch, but that's a sizable upgrade from previous seasons. Opposing batters hit .356 with a .627 SLG vs. Hoffman's four-seamer in 2020, and .323 with a .741 SLG against the offering in '19. While those numbers have been better in 2021, he's still giving up a lot of hard contact -- and that may help explain the .329 xBA and .594 xSLG vs. his fastball.

Notable Dodgers hitters

Mookie Betts: Has reached base safely in all 16 starts this season, though he's hitting just .211 (8-for-38) with zero home runs in his last 10 games.

Corey Seager: 92.5 mph average exit velocity this season (sixth-best in NL).

Justin Turner: 5-for-28 (.179) with 11 K's in last eight games after hitting .440 with a 1.282 OPS in first 12 games.

Dodgers SP: Walker Buehler
Key stat(s): Opponents were 1-for-15 vs. four-seamer in last outing
2021 stats: 1-0, 2.16 ERA, 22.1 K%

Breakdown: Buehler was solid in his first three starts of the season, pitching six innings in each while allowing two runs or fewer -- but he also struck out just four batters in each. His fastball wasn't nearly as effective as it was last season, as he gave up 11 hits with the pitch after holding opponents to 6-for-59 (.102) against it in 2020. On Thursday, however, Buehler's fastball was back to its typical form, with the Padres going 1-for-15 with eight strikeouts against the offering, which induced 14 swings and misses -- three more than his first three outings combined.

Notable Reds hitters

Nick Castellanos: 13 extra-base hits (T-third in NL), including four in last five games (two homers, two doubles).

Joey Votto: 92.8 mph average exit velocity (up from 87.4 mph in 2020); also has higher barrel percentage (14.3%, up from 9.1%) and hard-hit percentage (47.6%, up from 35.7%).