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Tuesdays aren’t just for tacos anymore. All but two teams will compete during MLB’s first Tuesday slate of the season. Off days and postponements have already unaligned rotations to give the day a variety of top-tier aces and bottom-feeding hurlers to exploit. This gives DFS players plenty of paths to constructing a profitable lineup, but here’s a look at some of the best options from the main tilt starting at 7 p.m. ET.
Silencing “overrated” chants one moonshot at a time, the red-hot Bryce Harper has crushed three homers and drawn five walks over the last two days. He has yet to strike out four games into the season. Few non-Rockies starters are less comfortable at home than Julio Teheran, who yielded 17 home runs and 5.86 ERA in SunTrust Park’s inaugural campaign. Even though he has seen far better days in his topsy-turvy career, the 27-year-old has still surrendered a career .342 wOBA to lefties. I won’t mention batter-vs.-pitching numbers often, but Harper thoroughly has Teheran’s number with seven homers and a 1.664 OPS in 44 plate appearances. While a hot streak and past success against Teheran will inflate Harper’s ownership rates, this is a time to play the chalk in cash contests.
Top SP: Justin Verlander, HOU ($21,900) vs. BAL
Facing a terrible Florida team for the second time this season, Chris Sale would have headlined my second DFS column if Boston’s 6:10 p.m. game against Miami wasn’t left off the main slate. Luckily the evening still offers two elite aces in Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander. Plenty of players will happily spend $24,000 on the Dodgers’s star, but save some money on Houston’s former Cy Young Award winner instead. After tossing six shutout innings to beat the Rangers on Opening Day, Verlander has posted a 1.53 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 76.2 innings (including the playoffs) since joining the Astros. A thunderous lineup has also helped him win nine of 11 starts (with another victory from his ALDS bullpen appearance.) The Orioles, meanwhile, have limped out of the gate with six runs in four games. Runs should also be bountiful on the other end against Mike Wright.
Honorable Mention: Clayton Kershaw, LAD ($24,000) at ARI
Value SP: Jack Flaherty ($11,900) at MIL
Feeling bold? Jack Flaherty makes his first 2018 appearance against a deep Brewers lineup at the hitter-friendly Miller Park. He allowed 10 walks and 15 runs in 21.1 innings last year, so some gamers will prefer to stash Milwaukee’s offense. Here’s the thing: The mid-tier options are bad. Do you have faith in Cole Hamels or Matt Harvey rediscovering their ace form? I don’t. Trust Julio Teheran to handle Washington or Garrett Richards to combat Cleveland? I’ll pass. J.A. Happ nearly adorned this section, but the White Sox ranked fifth in wRC+ against lefties last season before scoring 14 runs (more than the Chicago Bears tallied in five games last season) on Opening Day. As a result, Flaherty stands out as an intriguing high-upside risk for anyone without the funds to instead roster his opponent, Chase Anderson. As one of the evening’s cheapest hurlers, he simply needs to harness the high strikeout ceiling teased in spring training.
When first seeing Freddie Freeman listed between Travis Shaw and Eric Thames at $8,900, I double-checked to see if A.J. Cole is a southpaw. Nope, he’s a righty who has coughed up 10 homers and a .379 wOBA against 242 left-handed batters over his young career. He enters his 2018 debut with a 4.78 ERA and 4.95 FIP in 17 starts. Freeman, a popular MVP candidate, has opened the season with eight walks to one strikeout. He hit .318/.420/.611 against righties last year. So what’s the catch? The eight and nine in his price tag should be reversed, so lock in the first baseman as a top-tier building block.
Hunter Renfroe has lost the bulk of his playing time to Jose Pirela, but that simply makes him more of a DFS gem when a southpaw shows up on San Diego’s schedule. A platoon made all the sense in the world after the outfielder registered a .270 wOBA against righties and .437 wOBA versus lefties during his rookie campaign. His walk % jumped from 4.0 to 10.00 while his strikeout % evaporated from 33.5 to 17.7. Kyle Freeland allowed more long balls (10) and a higher wOBA (.363) away from Coors Field, so don’t fret the Rockies’ starter pitching at Petco Park. Likely to lead off, Manuel Margot also merits attention at the same $5,700 clearance price as Renfroe. Wil Myers only costs $6,300, so playing the entire Padres outfield isn’t a bad idea.
Top Stack: Rangers at Athletics (RHP Kendall Graveman)
I could have picked the Astros against Wright, but when aren’t the Astros a premier stacking choice? Rather than going all in on their studs, consider surrounding Harper and/or Freeman with the affordable Marwin Gonzalez ($7,500) and/or Josh Reddick ($6,400). While their in-state and division rivals holster no superstars on par with Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa, the Rangers are all valued favorably for a manageable matchup at Oakland against Kendall Graveman.
- IF/OF Joey Gallo ($7,400)
- IF Elvis Andrus ($7,300)
- OF Nomar Mazara ($6,700)
- IF Adrian Beltre ($6,500)
- OF Shin-Shoo Choo ($5,700)
Those are nice prices considering their opponent carries a career 4.17 ERA and 5.62 K/9 into Tuesday’s contest. Before going straight to Texas’ left-handed hitters, consider that Graveman has allowed 31 of 52 career long balls to fellow righties, who hit .314/.368/.486 against him last year. Beltre’s price is especially too cheap to pass up, but there’s value across the board. Gallo has a golden opportunity to take a soft-tosser deep, and Choo led off on Monday in the Rangers’ first game against a righty since losing Delino DeShields.
Honorable Mentions: Astros vs. Orioles (Wright); Phillies at Mets (Harvey); Rockies at Padres (Tyson Ross)