Pitcher List is proud to partner with DraftKings for the 2019 season. We’ll be featuring our top picks for every daily slate through the season and feature articles dedicated to the GPP.
Fantasy baseball success requires patience. Nobody should cut ties with Chris Sale after an Opening Day dud or dismiss a stud who went 0-for-4. It’s a long season, so don’t overreact to the first taste of data.
While DFS also requires level-headedness, a bit more aggression can come in handy. Nobody would dare bench Sale in a season-long league, but it’s easy enough to fade him until he turns the corner. Rather than sustaining their production for months, streaky hitters need only keep rolling for another day or two for gamers to profit.
Without throwing all of those preseason projections and research out the window, let’s take a look at some early risers and fallers. In a few cases, trends in playing time matter more than the results two days into the season.
Tim Beckham (SS, Seattle Mariners)
There’s still time to ride the Beckham Bandwagon. After taking Sale deep twice on Thursday, the shortstop has gone 8-for-16 with two doubles and three home runs through the first four games. One would expect his DraftKings price to soar into an unseemly territory, but it actually dropped $200 to $3,300 on Saturday. That’s despite the right-handed shortstop, who holds a career .327 wOBA against southpaws after tormenting Sale, drawing lefty Eduardo Rodriguez. So sure, ride the hot hand one more day. If he keeps raking, expect a sizable price spike in the near future.
Enrique Hernandez (2B, Los Angeles Dodgers)
Hernandez was on the uptick before turning two baseballs into souvenirs on Opening Day. Declared the Dodgers’ full-time second baseman over Chris Taylor, he quickly rewarded Dave Roberts for the promotion. The following day, he batted leadoff against lefty Robbie Ray.
The versatile 27-year-old has made massive strides at the plate, upping his power and slashing his strikeouts in each of the past two seasons. Yet this development is ultimately more significant for season-long players, where he will now compile more stats while sliding across the diamond with multi-position eligibility. DFS gamers, meanwhile, will probably continue to look his way when a lefty comes to town. That could change if he sustains last year’s success (.349 wOBA, up from a career .295) against righties.
Ryan McMahon (2B, Colorado Rockies)
Earlier this week, McMahon didn’t even have a secure starting job. After getting the nod at second base over Garrett Hampson in each of Colorado’s first two games, his price has spiked to $4,000 for Saturday’s slate. Just think how much he’ll cost once the Rockies head to Coors Field for Friday’s home-opener.
Even when everyone says they will never overrate spring stats, it’s awfully hard to ignore a 24-year-old collecting 13 extra-base hits (nine doubles, a triple, and three home runs) in 24 Cactus League games. McMahon might make the ultimate post-hype sleeper for those who bought low in preseason drafts, but there’s not enough of a discount to play him on the road until he proves his major league merit.
Jose Berrios (SP, Minnesota Twins)
A hot Opening Day ticket, Jose Berrios didn’t disappoint. The 24-year-old commenced 2019 with 10 strikeouts scattered over 7.2 scoreless frames to beat Cleveland. He needed just 96 pitches to pierce through a lineup (sans Francisco Lindor) featuring Tyler Naquin in the third slot and the ghost of Hanley Ramirez batting fifth. Those planning his AL Cy Young Award coronation should remember last season’s torrid start. He opened 2018 with a complete-game shutout against the Orioles and allowed three hits and no runs in two more April outings. Berrios’ final 3.84 ERA thus felt like a letdown despite his 202 strikeouts and 1.14 WHIP.
Now here’s the good news: He’ll see plenty more of the putrid AL Central, including Wednesday’s scheduled turn at Kansas City. Barring a massive price hike, the matchup will make him a chalk play again.
Hunter Renfroe (OF, San Diego Padres)
Playing time was always uncertain for Renfroe entering 2019, but the righty no longer even has a secure lineup spot against southpaws. Despite his career .396 wOBA versus lefties, the 27-year-old outfielder watched San Diego’s first two games from the dugout against Madison Bumgarner and Derek Holland. Franmil Reyes, who also crushed lefties last year (.437 wOBA), got each nod instead.
DraftKings gamers would love to see both sluggers start in lieu of Manuel Margot, but neither of them (or Wil Myers) can adequately handle center field. That likely keeps Renfroe in playing time purgatory unless Myers gets hurt or Reyes squanders his opportunity. This development takes a popular lefty-mashing target off the board, but Reyes should dutifully fill the void. Also, the benching should make Renfroe cheaper for when he’s given a spot-start against a southpaw.
Zack Greinke (SP, Arizona Diamondbacks)
The season couldn’t have started much worse for Greinke. Facing his former squad on Opening Day, the 35-year-old righty relinquished seven runs (four homers) in 3.2 innings, his shortest regular-season outing since August 14, 2016. His average fastball velocity, which already fell below 90 mph in 2018, dropped even more to 88.5. That’s not going to work with an 86.2 mph changeup. Neither is generating just five swinging strikes, none via his slider.
DFS players should probably wait for Greinke to regain their trust with a bounce-back outing, but he’s an interesting GPP pivot at Petco Park on Tuesday. Although not nearly as troubling a start, he also stumbled with a 4.80 ERA through last year’s first five turns. Even with his diminished stuff, he’s too good a pitcher not to recover, especially against more aggressive teams than the Dodgers that will chase off the corners.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is akgould4) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games on which I offer advice. Although I have expressed my personal views on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings, and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
(Photo by Justin Fine/Icon Sportswire)
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