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Top Play SP: James Paxton, NYY ($10,800) vs BAL
James Paxton got pushed down in season-long leagues mostly due to drafters being worried about him staying healthy all season. Luckily for us, we’re only concerned about today, and on this day, he’s ready to go. Paxton took a huge step forward in 2018, raising his K% to a career best 32.3%, while maintaining his 6.5% BB%, and his 2.96 SIERA puts to rest any worries I had about his 3.76 ERA. Now, allow me to introduce you to part two of my “Play James Paxton” arguement: the Baltimore Orioles. Sorry, Alex Fast, but the Orioles are projected to start five batters with a 24% K% or greater, and only Joey Rickard of the projected lineup had an ISO greater than .200 versus left handed pitching in 2018. While I was a little surprised at Paxton being the highest priced pitcher on the slate, the safety he comes with makes him worth the cost. The Yankees are also the biggest favorite on the slate according to Vegas, so adding in the probable win to Paxton’s potential points gives him a little advantage over the other aces on this slate.
Honorable Mention: Trevor Bauer, CLE ($9,800) vs MIN.
Value SP: Tyler Anderson, COL ($8,200) vs. MIA
I wanted to include Sonny Gray in this space, but there’s currently an 80% chance of rain all day in Cincinnati, so keep an eye on the status of that game if you choose to play it. Instead, we’ll continue bullying the Marlins. Tyler Anderson gets a major park upgrade playing in Marlins Park, and faces the light hitting Marlins bats that have put up a combined four runs over the first two games of the season. In addition, if the roof is open, there’s a 12 mph wind forecasted to be blowing in from left field.
Honorable Mention: Pablo Lopez, MIA ($6,200) at COL
Top Play: OF Andrew Benintendi, BOS ($4,800) at SEA
Andrew Benintendi has been a beast versus right handed pitching, .376 wOBA in 2018, and after facing lefties for the first two games, he finally gets his big chance facing Mike Leake. Leake doesn’t walk anybody, but he certainly doesn’t strike anyone out either, having a 15.2% strikeout rate in 2018. When you allow the Boston bats to put the ball in play, bad things are going to happen, which leads to points on the board for us. Benintendi will be in the leadoff spot, followed by Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez, and Xander Boagarts. That sounds like a formula for a lot of runs.
Honorable Mention: OF Khris Davis, OAK ($4,800) vs. LAA.
Top Play: 1B Anthony Rizzo, CHC ($5,000) vs. TEX
Anthony Rizzo gets a prime matchup facing Edinson Volquez, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2017. I love Rizzo’s profile: low strikeout rate (9.6%), combined with a high walk rate (12.0%) with some pop, which he parlayed into a .385 wOBA and .205 ISO vs RHP in 2018. Rizzo’s projected to bat third, sandwiched in between Kris Bryant and Javier Baez. The last time we saw Volquez, he allowed a 13.4% walk rate, so I’m anticipating lots of baserunners and runs scored for the Cubbies.
Honorable Mention: 3B/SS Alex Bregman, HOU ($4,900) at TB.
Value: IF Paul DeJong, STL ($3,400) at MIL
Paul DeJong finds himself in the three-hole, right behind Paul Goldschmidt and right ahead of Marcell Ozuna. He’s going to get plenty of RBI opportunities with Goldschmidt having a .389+ OBP the last six years. The Cardinals will get their first look this year at Brandon Woodruff. Woodruff throws mostly four-seam fastballs (62.8%), and changes pace with a slider and changeup. Since 2016, DeJong has fared extremely well versus fastballs from right-handers, producing a .391 wOBA and .323 ISO. When you combine his premium spot in a really solid lineup, with his history of smashing the fastball, DeJong makes for a really nice value play in cash lineups.
Top Stack: Yankees vs Orioles (RHP Nate Karns)
The Yankees have the highest implied run total on the slate at 5.8 runs. It pains me a little to write this, because I really am rooting for Nate Karns, but this is not the cozy matchup that you want to see him coming back to. Somehow the already potent Yankees lineup did the unimaginable by adding a healthy Greg Bird and Troy Tulowitski. If you’re stacking this lineup, feel free to get as creative as you’d like, as everyone from Brett Gardner to Aaron Judge to Gary Sanchez is in play.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is RMoss1983) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games on which I offer advice. 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 nonpublic information.