Baseball is back and what a fun time Opening Day was! We got a taste of it all: extra-inning games, big strikeout performance, Joey Gallo stealing a base, and Tim Locastro hitting a home run. Isn’t that why we enjoy baseball? And DFS for that matter as well? The unexpected can happen at the drop of a hat, and it’s our job to help navigate you through the calamity. Friday is a smaller slate so we need to be more on point than ever to take down that GPP or double up in those cash games. Find the perfect contest for you and enjoy!
Top SP: Blake Snell, SD ($9,700 DK, $9,500 FD) vs ARI
When targeting an ace for your build, a key component is finding that stud that can pile up the strikeouts. Well, look no further than Snell’s 31% K-rate from 2020 as a terrific indicator. He pairs a blazing 95-mph four-seamer with two breaking balls that had an SwStr% north of 25%. Heck, the slider alone had a -66 wRC, no that is not an error; it is just that devastating of a pitch. Even better news, when a batter does make contact, it’s a groundball nearly 50% of the time. Start him with confidence in any formats, and Snell should be considered a lock for any cash games.
Honorable Mentions: Trevor Bauer, LAD ($10,500 DK, $10,000 FD) at COL.
Value SP: Yusei Kikuchi, SEA ($6,000 DK, $7,500 FD) vs SF
The great thing about playing DFS early in the MLB season is finding the miscalculations in one of the sites. Today you will notice a huge salary disparity between DraftKings and FanDuel. The least expensive starting pitcher on the slate could potentially have the highest upside as well. On the surface, Kikuchi looks like a flawed pitcher, 5.17 ERA with a BB-rate over 10%-not great, Bob! But, when you dive deeper into his profile, there is plenty to adore. That robust ERA looks like the product of small sample size misfortune as he touts a 3.30 FIP. On top of that, he also showcases a 52% GB rate and nearly 25% K-rate.
Honorable Mention: Pablo Lopez, MIA ($7,0000 DK, $7,800 FD) at TB.
OF Cody Bellinger LAD ($5,700 DK, $4,700 FD) at COL
Let’s start with the obvious, Coors Field. Any time a player takes swings in the Rocky Mountain state, it’s noteworthy. Cody Bellinger is an elite talent that you want to build a lineup around. He shredded right-handed pitching last year by slugging .504 with a .854 OPS in 160 at-bats. That success should continue against the Rockies’ number two starting pitcher, Antonio Senzatela, who relies on balls in play to get through innings. Don’t let Senzatela’s 3.44 ERA fool you; he also carries a 5.02 SIERA, and 4.57 FIP-regression is a-coming!
Honorable Mentions: Eric Hosmer, 1B ($4,800 DK, $3,500 FD) vs ARI; Jose Abreu, 1B ($5,800 DK, $4,00 FD) at LAA.
SS Tim Anderson, CWS ($5,500 DK, $3,800 FD) at LAA
Tim Anderson is becoming the human cheat code against LHP. In 2020, he batted .449/.509/1.000 with a 1.509 OPS against southpaws. Do we expect him to maintain that over the course of a full 162-game season? Of course not, but the previous two seasons before 2020 also boasted an ISO of .167 and .192 vs. LHP. Anderson’s ability to put the ball in play at a high rate should pay off nicely as he sits atop the potent Chicago White Sox batting order.
Value Batter: 2B Jake Cronenworth, SD ($3,400 DK, $2,600 FD) vs ARI
There is probably no better place to in a lineup than between Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado. That lucky player is none other than our value batter of the day: Jake Cronenworth. Jake’s lucky spot in the lineup did not come by complete accident. In 2020 he busted on the scene with and put up electric numbers. His .285/.354/.477 slash line was no fluke as he ended the year in the 70th percentile in Barrel% and 94th percentile in xwOBA. Getting on base and hitting the ball hard between those two elite talents will pay off big when rostering Cronenworth.
Top Stack: Mariners vs. SF (RHP Johnny Cueto)
The chalk stack is the Dodgers, so let’s move on from that one and look at something a little more fun. Seattle makes for an interesting stack because the whole roster is so inexpensive. Only Dylan Moore and Kyle Seager are the only two active players with a salary of more than $4000. Rostering the first few salary-friendly batters like Mitch Haniger, Ty France, Kyle Seager, and Evan White means you will be able to load up on high-end bats like the ones listed early and still have room left to get any pitching you desire. Also, let’s face it, Cueto is not the pitcher he once was, as seen by his diminishing skills and climbing ERA.
Honorable Mentions: LAD at COL (Senzatela); CWS at LAA (Heaney).
Design by J.R. Caines (@JRCainesDesign on Twitter and @caines_design on Instagram)