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Happy Opening Day! The slate starts at 1:05 PM EST with the home openers for the Washington Nationals and New York Yankees. On OwnersBox, the DFS slate is an all-day bonanza that includes the Los Angeles Dodgers opener at 10:10 PM EST. If you’re unfamiliar with OwnersBox, they offer a really unique roster format that includes one pitcher, four IF, three OF, and one Super Flex (OF, IF, and P).
Aces in Many Places
A quick note on the PLV metric listed above: If you’re curious as to its intricacies, be sure to check out Nick’s primer. A too-brief summation: PLV is a quantifier that uses several variables to assess the quality of each individual pitch: the higher the value, the better the pitch.
As always, Opening Day is a unique puzzle because there are so many aces on the board.
That leads us to Jacob deGrom. No one knows how many innings he is going to throw, but there is no denying that his skills are still the best. Last year, his PLA, which is PLV on an ERA scale, was 2.00. Of all the pitchers who threw 500 pitches last year, only Emmanuel Clase was better at 1.65. The next-best SP was Shane McClanahan at 2.62.
So deGrom’s skills are terrific. The only knock today is he’ll be on a pitch count of sorts after throwing 50 in his final tune-up.
That could bring pretty much everyone to Shohei Ohtani, who gets to face an Oakland A’s lineup that scored the second-fewest runs in baseball last year. They didn’t add much outside of Jesús Aguilar. Ohtani threw 81 pitches his last time out, so we should see close to a full workload today.
McClanahan, who tied Ohtani last year in PLV, should be ready to roll as the Tampa Bay Rays host the lowly Tigers, an offense that scored the fewest runs in baseball. Choosing between McClanahan (-230) and Ohtani (-225) is difficult, but I’d give the edge to the latter. The A’s lineup might be the most horrifying baseball thing I’ve ever seen.
If you’re angling for leverage in tournaments, Gerrit Cole, Corbin Burnes, Sandy Alcantara, and Aaron Nola should be seen on fewer rosters relative to Ohtani and McClanahan. If I were to pick one out of this group, it would be Cole because he carries the most strikeout upside. The Giants will also be without one of their better hitters, Mitch Haniger.
A tier below…but still really good
Sean Murphy ($3,400) should be the most popular catcher. Second base looks like a tough position to fill, so Ozzie Albies ($3,900), who is on the favorable side of his splits as a righty hitter, makes sense.
Similar to FD, the Twins have some potential value bats in Kepler ($3,400), Miranda ($3,300), and Larnach ($2,500).
I don’t want to pick on Marcus Stroman, but I like Jesse Winker ($3,100) as a bounce-back candidate this season. He has a career .885 OPS against RHP.
Coming off a down season, Juan Soto ($5,400) just seems like a great tournament play against Germán Márquez.