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Top Play SP: Max Scherzer, WAS ($11,100) vs NYM
Paying up for the day’s top pitcher may be a boring way to start the season, but let’s not overthink things here on Opening Day. Scherzer checks all of the boxes, as the Nationals are home favorites in the game with the lowest projected run total of the day. Scherzer’s elite 34.6% strikeout rate in 2018 further adds to his case. While the Mets have an improved lineup, look for Scherzer to be locked in on a chilly day in Washington’s home opener. He pitched seven innings in his last spring training appearance and is a safe bet for a lengthy start with plenty of strikeouts.
Honorable Mention: Justin Verlander, HOU ($11,000) at TB
Value SP: Masahiro Tanaka, NYY ($9,300) vs BAL
The Yankees are huge favorites over a Baltimore team that looks poised to be among the league’s worst. Last year the Orioles had a 24% strikeout rate and a .303 wOBA as a team against right-handed pitching—and Tanaka is no slouch himself, posting a 25% strikeout rate last year. The cold weather should help limit Yankee stadium’s home run tendencies, further boosting Tanaka’s chances. Tanaka is an excellent bet for a win on Opening Day, with the potential for a high strikeout total as well. He’s a little pricey for a value play, but he’s in a perfect spot to compete with the other top-end aces.
Honorable Mention: Jameson Taillon, PIT ($8,200) at CIN
Top Play: 3B Kris Bryant, CHC ($5,400) at TEX
Bryant destroyed left-handed pitching last year with a .461 wOBA even in a “down year.” I’m expecting a big bounce-back year from Bryant, and a matchup against lefty Mike Minor looks like a great place to start. Minor had a respectable 2018 but looks poised to regress—and on a slate loaded with good pitching, this is a matchup to target. With the highest projected run total of the day, Bryant could have multiple opportunities to drive in runs.
Honorable Mention: 3B Matt Carpenter, STL ($4,600) at MIL
Top Play: OF Corey Dickerson, PIT ($3800) at CIN
While the real answer here is Mike Trout, that’s too easy, and maybe you want to save money to play a top-end pitcher. Dickerson faces Luis Castillo, who has struggled mightily in his career against left-handed hitters. Castillo allowed a .373 wOBA last year against lefties, primarily burned by the long ball with a 2.06 HR/9. Great American Ballpark is as good as a spot as any to bet on a home run, and Dickerson should be occupying a prime lineup spot. Dickerson has hit 93 out of 103 home runs against right-handed pitching in his career, setting him up nicely to go deep in the season opener.
Honorable Mention: Mike Trout, LAA ($5,600) at OAK
Value: 2B Adam Frazier, PIT ($3,200) at CIN
Frazier makes a nice cheap option to pair with Dickerson for a Pirates mini-stack. Castillo’s struggles against left-handed hitting has already been mentioned, and Frazier recorded a .364 wOBA against right-handed pitching last year. With Frazier likely to lead off, this puts him in a nice spot to rack up some value. He’s not likely a huge upside option, but his premium lineup spot and discounted price in a plus matchup certainly makes him a reasonable choice when trying to fit in other high priced options.
Honorable Mention: 1B/3B Tyler White, HOU ($3,300) at TB
Top Stack: Yankees vs Orioles (RHP Andrew Cashner)
Multiple Yankees looked like top plays today, so I skipped them previously in order to mention them as the top stack option. Cashner was equally giving to right and left-handed hitters last year, with a .370 and .361 wOBA respectively, so fire up almost any Yankee that fits your lineup. Luke Voit, Aaron Judge, Miguel Andujar, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez all look like excellent options. With so many aces on the hill for Opening Day, Cashner and his 1.47 HR/9 is a pitcher to attack.
Honorable Mention: Cubs at Rangers (LHP Mike Minor)
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Eriks44) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view 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.