Welcome back baseball! Today we have our first MLB Sunday and I don’t know about you but having the game on in the background while doing outdoor chores is something I missed and now we get that for the next 6 months. Just makes weeding the yard, washing the car, or spring cleaning for your out-of-control garage just a bit more bearable. Throw in some action on the games and you are ready to roll!
So where should we focus our action for today? Yesterday was all about the pitching and the pitchers featured in yesterday’s article rewarded us nicely. Dylan Cease (5 IP, 1 ER, 8 Ks, W), Carlos Rodón (5 IP, 1 ER, 12 Ks), and Joe Musgrove (6 IP, 2 ERs, 8 Ks) all provided quality starts. Today we will flip the script by placing more emphasis on the bats. Also, I will just discuss the main slate since the there are very few games in the afternoon and around that time you will need to pick up the pace with the outdoor chores just to keep a happy home!
Call me arrogant if you will but I think pitcher selection is easy today. Simply target the teams who whiff. Even better if you can find a team who also can’t hit for power. Look no further than the Oakland A’s. Last year’s team was your typical A’s squad that was able to make lemonade out of lemons. They nearly made the postseason with home grown players such as Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, and Mark Canha. Sadly all three are gone.
Also gone is Starling Marte. The A’s traded for him in the middle of the season to make a postseason push. He was a fantastic #2 hitter for Oakland who got on base often and was able to put himself in scoring position often with his deceptive speed (25 SBs in 27 attempts). Do the math and half of the A’s offense all moved east.
As we have seen often with Oakland during the Billy Beane era, the A’s replace their star talent with a bunch of prospects who probably could use another year or two of seasoning in the minors. Other times, the A’s will trot out a bunch of misfit toys on the field. Elvis Andrus, Tony Kemp, Stephen Piscotty, and Chad Pinder probably don’t start for most other teams and each are 30 or older. But here we are, with those four all projected to start today.
This current A’s roster is at the bottom end of the Money Ball cycle so let’s take advantage of that opportunity. That means we are all-in with Zach Eflin. He is not my favorite pitcher but I smell a Philly sweep and I want a part of it. Eflin can easily get us 5 – 6 IP and earn the W. He is also a decent strikeout pitcher with phenomenal control. In 2020, he earned 70 Ks and allowed just 15 BBs while throwing 70 innings. Last year, the BB’s stayed about the same (16) and but K’s improved to 99 over 105.2 IP. That is a 6:1 KK/BB ratio which is incredible. Even better, we get Eflin for a very good price on both DraftKings and FanDuel and his ownership probably won’t be too high. He could fly under the radar so roster Eflin in all of your DFS lineups.
If you are playing DraftKings, you will need a 2nd pitcher. Since I intend on paying up for the bats, let’s hit the bargain bin. Michael Kopech is our diamond in the rough. He may not pitch more than 4 or 5 innings but this blossoming star throws heat. Prior to his Tommy John surgery in September 2018, he had struck out 170 batters while throwing just 126.1 innings for AAA Charlotte. The year before he was also brilliant when he played for AA Birmingham (155 Ks over 119.1 IP). Kopech was amazing last year for the White Sox with 103 Ks, 24 BBs, and a 3.50 ERA. He mainly worked out of the bullpen but he was born to start.
He faces a Detroit team that loves to swing for the fences but strikes out a lot. It’s also an older team with Miguel Cabrera batting 5th who is well beyond his best years. Just think about it. Cabrera won a World Series for the then Florida Marlins in 2003! He won a triple crown TEN years ago. Kopech is dirt cheap on DraftKings at just $5600 so as long as Kopech doesn’t get blown up and get us 6 – 7 Ks with 4 IP, we will take it. Just make sure you go with Eflin on FanDuel since Kopech is priced up on that site and in fact has the same salary as Eflin.
There are two stacks I like for today: Tampa Bay and Toronto. Why? Because both were brilliant last year at the plate with Tampa Bay ranking 2nd in runs scored and Toronto 3rd. Toronto also had the highest OPS last season with Tampa Bay making the top 10 in that category. Both teams are young and hungry with Tampa Bay still looking for its first World Series title and the Blue Jays getting so close to the postseason in what was arguably the most competitive division in baseball last year.
Another reason to love the Rays and Jays is the pitchers they are facing. Baltimore had the worst bullpen in all of MLB last season and they still have the worst group of relievers. It looks like they will be going with an opener today. As for the Texas, their pitching was not as bad Baltimore’s but it was in the bottom 10 in most categories. Spencer Howard was the worst of the Rangers last year allowing more than 1 ER per inning.
Given the savings, we get from our pitchers, we can have some fun with our Tampa Bay and Toronto stacks. Check out the possible lineups for both DraftKings and FanDuel.
P: Z. Eflin
P: M. Kopech
C: M. Zunino
1B: V. Guerrero
2B: B. Lowe
3B: M. Chapman
SS: W. Franco
OF: R. Arozarena
OF: T. Hernandez
OF: J. Lowe
P: Z. Eflin
C/1B: J. Choi
2B: B. Lowe
3B: Y. Diaz
SS: W. Franco
OF: G. Springer
OF: T. Hernandez
OF: L. Gurriel
UTIL: B. Bichette
The DraftKings lineup gives us the 1-2-3 and 6-8 hitters for Tampa Bay which I like a lot. The wrap around from the bottom of the lineup to the top could work wonders for us should Tampa Bay light up Baltimore today. Then we get 3-5-6 for Toronto which features most of the power for that feared lineup.
On FanDuel, we get 1-2-4-5 for both Tampa Bay and Toronto. I feel that batting order has strong correlation since you want the batters close together but have a bit of space in between. You can probably mix and match a few more pieces but this roster construction gives you a good foundation as you build similar permutations today. Best of luck, especially with the outdoor chores!
Design by J.R. Caines (@JRCainesDesign on Twitter and @caines_design on Instagram)