The early-season schedule brings us another short main slate featuring just five games.
Top SP: Yu Darvish, SD ($9,400 DK, $9,900 FD) vs LAD
It’s a tough matchup even without Cody Bellinger, but we’ll take the small discount with Yu Darvish. Needless to say, the skills are fantastic evidence being a 26% K-BB% and 33.8% CSW across his last 93.2 IP. He looked sharp in his last start against the Pirates throwing 95 pitches through seven innings while recording a 33% CSW. The Padres are the slightest of home dogs tonight (+115) with the visiting Dodgers implied total sitting at just about four runs.
Clayton Kershaw (23.2% K-BB%, 31.3% CSW 2020-21) is the other alternative at the top. Though considering the Padres just got back Fernando Tatís Jr, who homered in his return last night, it wouldn’t appear to be an easy spot for Kershaw either.
Honorable Mentions: Clayton Kershaw, LAD ($10,000 DK, $10,700 FD) at SD.
Value SP: Chris Flexen, SEA ($6,300 DK, $6,800 FD) vs DET
There could be some value in picking on the Astros tonight considering their lineup situation. They should be down Alex Bregman, José Altuve, and Yordan Álvarez. After spending a year away in the KBO, the early returns on the Mariner’s Chris Flexen experiment have been decent with a 15.2% K-BB% across two starts, although the swings and misses have been lacking a bit with just a 6.7% swinging K rate. Regardless, we’re looking at a tough, short slate with a lack of strong options. Dane Dunning (28.1% CSW, 17.6% K-BB% 2020-21) has been decent through his first starts, he’s a gamble against the O’s, however, the Rangers have thus far capped him at just 70 and 71 pitches and combining that with a low key arsenal dominated by a sinker and I’m not sure there’s much upside there. Another dart throw, albeit a frightening one, could be Trevor Cahill, he’s had his moments most notably a 3.76 ERA and 1.19 WHIP across 110 IP with the A’s back in 2018. If the Brewers are down Christian Yelich, Cahill could be a risky tournament option considering their early-season struggles including a .286 team wOBA (4th worst) and 26.8% K rate.
Honorable Mention: Trevor Cahill, PIT ($6,900 DK, $6,300 FD) at MIL.
1B/OF Shohei Ohtani, LAA ($5,000 DK, $4,300 FD) vs MIN
You always have to be cautious when looking at early-season stat cast stuff. Regardless, you have to admire Shohei Ohtani‘s return this year, he’s been a force thus far hitting the ball with authority (.460 xwOBA) and a Stanton-Esque max EV of 119. Hitting in front of Mike Trout doesn’t hurt either. He gets the righty Matt Shoemaker (16% K-BB%, 28.1% CSW 2019-21). The former Angel has, to his credit, been very good against opposing LHB limiting them to just a .296 wOBA from 2019-21 likely a testament to his splitter. Still, he has been susceptible to power ceding a barrel rate over 10% in each of the past two seasons. The same holds true for Ohtani’s teammate Jared Walsh (.354 xwOBA in 2020) who has followed up last season’s breakout with sterling aplomb thus far.
3B Josh Donaldson, MIN ($4,400 DK, $3,000 FD) at LAA
José Quintana (14.3% K-BB%, 26.7% CSW 2019-21) has gotten off to a rough start (.364 xwOBA) and has surrendered a .342 wOBA to opposing RHB from 2019-21. The ageless wonder Nelson Cruz is a clear play tonight but don’t forget about Josh Donaldson, who is just making his return from a leg injury. The former MVP owns a prodigious .401 wOBA and 157 wRC+ against southpaws for his career.
This is a value play specifically for FanDuel. It’s no secret that Keston Hiura has had some struggles with high velocity up in the zone, however for tonight he gets a potentially advantageous matchup against Cahill who has neither above-average velocity nor a proclivity to live up in the zone. This is a potential get-right spot for Hiura against the sinkerballer Cahill.
Hiura is priced more adequately on DraftKings. There an interesting play is Ty France. Zack Greinke‘s strikeout rate is down at just 13.9% through his first two turns. Is the end nigh? It’s almost tempting to say so, but it would also be an incredibly Greinke-like thing for him to bounce back and twirl a gem tonight. Regardless, France is on the board considering his price hitting second in front Kyle Seager, the former Padre has shown off some fantastic power notably a .372 ISO in his stint with Triple-A El Paso back in 2019. France’s teammate Mitch Haniger has gotten off to a fantastic start and is looking more like the guy who produced a .367 wOBA/ 137 wRC+ in his last full season of 2018.
Top Stack: MIN at LAA (LHP José Quintana)
As mentioned earlier, Quintana has looked vulnerable in the early going. Meanwhile, this is a Twins lineup that is loaded with excellent righty power. Cruz and Donaldson were introduced earlier, but Mitch Garver from the leadoff spot is a threat too with a career .368 wOBA against southpaws. The perennial tease that is Byron Buxton, who is questionable with a hamstring injury, has thus far added another dimension to this lineup. If he’s in there, Buxton and his silly .560 xwOBA so far this year, would add some serious steam to this stack. Miguel Sano, whose 10.7% Barrels/PA was 8th among qualifiers last season, is yet another power upside bat here to consider.
Honorable Mentions: LAA vs MIN (Shoemaker); TEX vs BAL (Kremer).
Design by J.R. Caines (@JRCainesDesign on Twitter and @caines_design on Instagram)