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Baseball is back! Following a 15-game Opening Day slate, we have just five games this Friday. That won’t slow us down on the DFS side of things. Obviously, there is zero data to utilize for this season at this moment, so all of the analysis will be based on previous batter vs. pitcher history. If you’re unfamiliar with OwnersBox, they offer a unique roster format that includes one pitcher, four IF, three OF, and one Super Flex (OF, IF, and P).
The best value on the board for tomorrow seems like David Peterson. At $7,200, he’s a bargain compared to the rest of the options, and the matchup is as good as it gets. At least when you compare it to last year. Yes, the Marlins added some new hitters in Luis Arraez and Jean Segura, but the rest of the group remains intact. They had the worst wRC+ (71) and highest strikeout rate (27.7%) when facing southpaws last season. Peterson might not work that deep into the game, but he has the potential to rack up plenty of swings and misses. He had a top-80% K rate and top 81% whiff rate last season, so look for him to mow down Marlin hitters.
If you’re looking for a higher upside play, look no further than Dustin May. The ball he throws moves like a whiffle ball, and his spin rates are among the league’s best. The Diamondbacks don’t have the strongest lineup, so May should fare well even in a five-inning stint.
My AL Cy Young Award pick and the chalkiest choice on the board, Cristian Javier, should dominate against the White Sox. He’s the highest-priced pitcher at $8,800 for a reason; hitters cannot square him up. We all saw it in the World Series when he twirled six no-hit innings with nine strikeouts. Last season, he had a top 96% xERA/xwOBA and a top 94% K rate. Hopefully, Javier took notes of what Framber Valdez did against Chicago on Thursday. Our DFS projections say Javier is worth the investment as the slate’s top pitcher.
The Rockies have never had a strong starting staff, and Kyle Freeland is living proof of that as their number two starter heading into the season. Last season, he was among the worst pitchers with an xERA/xwOBA in the bottom nine percentile. He routinely got knocked around, and the Padres were partially responsible for that. Their roster holds a .351 xwOBA across 168 plate appearances when facing him. Manny Machado (.423 xwOBA, 43 PAs), Trent Grisham (.430 xwOBA, 20 PAs), and Juan Soto (.400 xwOBA, 20 PAs) have the best numbers against Freeland.
There are also a couple of Dodgers hitters worth targeting against Merrill Kelly. He is coming off a career year, but a top 60% xERA/xwOBA isn’t all that spectacular. The elite hitters in this Los Angeles lineup will still mash. Max Muncy is 11-for-26 with a .454 xwOBA against him. Three of Mookie Betts‘ seven hits against Kelly have gone for homers, and he has a .422 xwOBA when facing him. Last year’s hits leader, Freddie Freeman, is 6-for-16 with four doubles and a home run against Kelly as well. They’re all a bit pricy, but worth building your lineups around.
It’s difficult to zero in on many other pitchers on this slate with their potential and track records. However, there are still a couple of worth considering. Mike Zunino, priced at $3,800 over at OwnersBox, has a solid track record squaring up Robbie Ray. Four of his five hits against him have left the ballpark, so he might be worth a place in your lineup. Cleveland Guardians teammate Amed Rosario has also faired well against Ray with five hits in 10 at-bats, three going for extra-base hits.
A couple of Colorado Rockies hitters also have some solid history against Nick Martinez. C.J. Cron has eight hits in 25 at-bats with three homers and two doubles, while Charlie Blackmon’s 5-for-12 and .366 xwOBA also stands out.
Lastly, Yordan Alvarez (6-12, .507 xwOBA), Alex Bregman (6-17, .447 xwOBA), and Martín Maldonado (7-16, .344 xwOBA), all have seen Lance Lynn well in the past. Their bats weren’t lively last night at home, but perhaps Lynn’s fastball-heavy repertoire wakes them up.
Design by J.R. Caines (@JRCainesDesign on Twitter and @caines_design on Instagram)