MLB season is finally here, and FTA is just beginning to create a state-of-the-art experience for all of our subs! As for me, I will continue what I do here – which is daily in-depth research to provide you with the best bathroom reading possible 😉
Today we start with FanDuel’s 14-game main slate which starts promptly at 1 PM EST, and we have a slew of pitching to work through (typical of opening day). There are clear paths to go, so let’s get to it. Make sure to follow me on twitter @jac3600, and use the promo code FTAMarch for 50% off your first month’s subscription.
Justin Verlander, HOU ($11,400)
The presence of Max Scherzer and Jacob DeGrom on this main slate makes it more difficult, but I still think Verlander is the clear top target. The pitching environment is great in Tampa Bay, and the Rays have the lowest IRT on the slate at 2.9 runs. Tampa features at least four LHB in their regular lineup, but Verlander had a 32% K rate against lefties last year (to go along with a 28.9% against RHB. The average K rate baseline for the Rays lineup is 25%, so this is likely my route in cash.
Other options – Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, Aaron Nola, Corey Kluber
Masahiro Tanaka, NYY ($9600)
Tanaka does not have near the floor/ceiling combo of Verlander (or any of the pitchers listed above), but he’s still cash viable if you want a little more offense, and an elite GPP play. Wins and quality starts are big on FD, and Tanaka is a massive -360 favorite with only a 3.1 IRTA against the lowly Orioles. The biggest downside to Tanaka is the depth of the Yankees’ elite bullpen which can sap him of innings, but he’s as safe a play as it gets other than the elite guys.
Other options – Jose Berrios, Carlos Rodon, Luis Castillo, Eric Lauer, Marcus Stroman
Anthony Rizzo, CHC ($4100)
Despite an L/L matchup against Mike Minor, Rizzo joins a long list of Cubs that you’re going to want exposure to today. Rizzo has had a fine career against LHP with a .341 wOBA and .180 ISO against them, but the real factor here is the Texas weather, which is going to be far warmer than anywhere else in the country. Minor struggles with the long ball, and the Rangers bullpen does not project well (29th in xFIP last year).
Other options – Joey Votto, Rhys Hoskins, Luke Voit
Greg Bird, NYY ($2300)
My Yankees get the gold medal for the top offense of the day, which is exciting for me as a fan. They have by far the highest IRT on the slate at 5.9 runs, and are facing Andrew Cashner who posted a 14% K rate and allowed 1.47 HR/9 last year. It’s going to be unseasonably warm in NY, and Bird has a career .219 ISO against RHP and will take shots at the short RF porch.
Other options – Justin Smoak, Kendrys Morales, Justin Bour, Josh Bell
Catcher values – Gary Sanchez, Willson Contreras, Buster Posey
Whit Merrifield, KC ($4100)
Merrifield is going to be a daily top GPP play, but until his price comes down I don’t know if we can play a Royal that expensive in cash. Merrifield has a combined 110 homers and steals the last two years and he had an incredible 5.2 WAR a season ago. He’s a top tier baseball player but you don’t need to invest in cash here.
Other options – Jose Altuve, Rougned Odor
Adam Frazier, PIT ($2600)
We need a definite lineup, but Frazier should be the leadoff hitter in Cincinnati on Opening Day which makes him a decent floor play for cash. Luis Castillo quietly dominated the second half last year but he’s still struggled against LHB, allowing a .222 ISO to them over the last two years. Frazier has speed to go along with a high walk rate, and the price is right at a pretty thin 2B position.
Other options – Yoan Moncada, Josh Harrison, Ian Kinsler, Ben Zobrist
Kris Bryant, CHC ($3800)
Bryant is likely to be my most used hitter on this slate. He’ll be hitting in the heat of Texas against Mike Minor who has allowed a .183 ISO to RHB since the beginning of 2017. In that span, Bryant has crushed LHP to the tune of a .981 OPS and a .297 ISO. He’s a core play for me in cash.
Other options – Jose Ramirez, Matt Carpenter, Miguel Andujar, Matt Chapman
Jung Ho Kang, PIT ($2500)
After a years’ absence from the game, Kang comes in as one of the best GPP plays on Opening Day. We still don’t have an official Pirates lineup, but Kang is projecting to hit fourth or fifth after a sizzling Spring where he hit seven homers. He’s getting a park boost in his favor going to Cincinnati, and Luis Castillo (while he has the ability to miss bats) can also be very HR prone and the Reds’ bullpen projects to be atrocious yet again.
Other options – Travis Shaw, Josh Donaldson, Hunter Dozier, Brandon Drury
Javier Baez, CHC ($3900)
Baez is coming off a breakout year where he had over 100 runs and 100 RBI while also logging a combined 53 homers and steals. That upside plays huge in DFS, and Baez gets the same friendly matchup as described in other Cubs’ blurbs. Baez’s swinging strike rate indicates some regression to his peripherals, but there’s no denying his ability to rack up the counting stats, and he posted a .264 ISO last season.
Other options – Trevor Story, Adalberto Mondesi
Elvis Andrus, TEX ($2800)
On the other side of the ball, Andrus exists for some salary relief. After a monster year with 45 combined homers and steals in 2017, Andrus had a disappointing year last season in only 97 games. He’s fully healthy and likely to hit third with the platoon edge, and Andrus’ speed plays well against Jon Lester who has allowed the most stolen bases of any pitcher since 2014.
Other options – Corey Seager, Jean Segura, Fernando Tatis
Aaron Judge/Giancarlo Stanton, NYY ($4600/$4300)
Judge and Stanton rank ahead of players the likes of Mike Trout on FD where runs and RBIs are weighted heavier than total bases (DK). Unfortunately, they’re also harder to fit in on FD where there’s so much emphasis on top starting pitching, but if you can get one in it’ll do you good. Both are elite plays for a Yankees team with an IRT of six runs and facing the worst SP on the slate, and also what could be the worst bullpen in the league this season.
Other options – Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Charlie Blackmon, Starling Marte, Cody Bellinger, Joey Gallo
Brett Gardner, NYY ($2700)
With Aaron Hicks starting the year on the IL, it’s assumed Gardner will lead off in his stead, which makes him the top cash values on the slate. The likelihood of scoring runs (and even stealing bags) makes his floor sky high at a low cost with the big Yankee boppers hitting behind him, and he’ll also have the platoon edge where he’s surprisingly got a .173 ISO against RHP the last three seasons. I will say that Gardner is a GPP fade for me at high expected ownership and so much reliance on his teammates to drive his upside (unless you’re stacking).
Other options – Randal Grichuk, Teoscar Hernandez, Andrew McCutchen, Yasiel Puig, Jesse Winker, Kyle Schwarber, Kole Calhoun, Leonys Martin, Odubel HerreraFantasy Baseball