Baseball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

03/28/2018
Doug Norrie

Daily Fantasy MLB Basketball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 3/29/18 Opening Day

Ah, Opening Day. When hope springs eternal for every team in baseball and we revel in the glory of the entire season expanding out in front of us. It’s a great time of year and the baseball season offers just another way to expand our DFS horizons. Opening Day is a little different this season with every team playing on the first day and Thursday offers a full day of games. Let's take a look at some value plays for the first day.

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Pitcher

Chris SaleChris Sale FD 11200 DK 12200
Opponent - TB (Chris Archer) Park - TB
FD - 43.34 DK - 24.44
My dad called me in a mild panic on Saturday to tell me Sale had taken a liner off his hip during his final Spring Training start and it looked bad. Such is the way of a Red Sox lifer who still lives and dies with this kind of impending injury news. But Sale is fine and will make the Opening Day start against the Rays. He’s coming off a career season (even for his lofty standards) that included a totally nuts 12.93 K/9 rate and 2.65 xFIP which ranked only behind Corey Kluber for best in the league. Sale will get a Rays’ offense that jettisoned most of its *talent* in the offseason and now has mid-level MLB talent like Carlos Gomez and CJ Cron hitting in the middle of the lineup. He gets the benefit of one of the best pitcher’s parks in Tampa Bay and the implied runline (7, BOS -161) works well in his favor. There are a lot of aces taking the mound on Thursday, but Sale sits right at the top of the group.

Clayton KershawClayton Kershaw FD 11700 DK 11500
Opponent - SF (Ty Blach) Park - LAD
FD - 43.27 DK - 24.43
Kershaw spent another year being Kershaw in 2017, finishing with a 2.84 xFIP (actually kind of disappointing for him) and 10.4 strikeouts per nine in 27 starts. He was once again dominant and starts this season as, by far, the highest opening money line on the day. The Dodgers are a whopping -285 favorite over the Giants thanks the latter putting Ty Blach on the mound (and basically calling it a season). The Giants did improve the middle of their lineup against lefties with the additions of Evan Longoria and Andrew Mccutchen to slot in with Buster Posey, but this is still Kershaw we’re talking about. He’s expensive and possibly a bridge too far on DraftKings, but there’s no denying he has as much upside as any pitcher on the slate.

Garrett RichardsGarrett Richards FD 8000 DK 6800
Opponent - OAK (Kendall Graveman) Park - OAK
FD - 30.92 DK - 15.93
Wanted to give a cheaper option on this Opening Day slate, especially on DraftKings where rostering two expensive arms will be quite difficult. Richards was above average last season. Don’t be completely fooled by the 2.28 with the xFIP actually a full run behind at 3.32. But that’s fine and he struck out close to a batter an inning with a 2.28 per nine walk rate. The A’s have some power in the middle of their lineup, but are incredibly righty-heavy with their best bats. And the middle of the lineup does have some swings and misses in it. He’s a slight favorite, but it’s really the sub-$7K DraftKings salary I’m interested in.

First Base/Catcher

Lucas DudaLucas Duda FD 2500 DK 3800
Opponent - CHW (James Shields) Park - KC
FD - 12.13 DK - 9.09
Duda comes to the Royals after spending time with the Mets and Rays last season. He tied his career best with 30 home runs, sticking as something of a two-true-outcome hitter with the OPS only pushing towards .800 even with all the power. He’ll draw a fantasy gift in James Shields for Opening Day and Royals will be something of a theme for these picks. Shields is terrible, coming off a 5.19 xFIP season, and rates as one of the worst Opening Day starters you’ll see. Duda is incredibly cheap on FanDuel at close to the minimum and if he’s hitting in the middle of the order could wind up being a chalkier play.

Evan GattisEvan Gattis FD 2500 DK 3300
Opponent - TEX (Cole Hamels) Park - TEX
FD - 12.54 DK - 9.55
Even with FanDuel’s shift to a C/1B format we can still consider rostering the former of those two positions (it won’t be often) every once in a while. Like the Royals with Duda, you’re going to see more than a couple of Astros recommended today. A lot of it has to do with Cole Hamels and I’ll get to the reasoning on that a little later in these picks. Gates struggled against lefties last season, but it was out of line with his career numbers in that split. He owns a career .335 wOBA and .800 OPS against lefties and will continue hitting in one of the most prolific offenses in all of baseball. Take him on the cheap for both sites, but especially on DraftKings.

Also consider: Josh Bell against Jordan Zimmermann and Ryan Braun against Clayton Richard, though there are park concerns playing in Petco.

Second Base

Jose AltuveJose Altuve FD 4300 DK 5200
Opponent - TEX (Cole Hamels) Park - TEX
FD - 13.54 DK - 11.23
Altuve is coming off a MVP season that saw him do just about everything you could ever want from a fantasy perspective. He rocked a .957 OPS with 24 home runs, 112 RBIs and 32 stolen bases. He rarely struck out (12.7%) and put the ball in play over and over. Sure, he ran a little hot in BABIP, but his profile will always rate well with that stat considering his contact rate and speed. He’s probably too expensive on DraftKings unless you’re completely punting pitching, but I like the FanDuel price considering the matchup against Hamels. We’re going to recommend the entire top of the order for the Astros against Cole and it’s likely just a matter of who you can fit in cash games.

DJ LeMahieuDJ LeMahieu FD 2800 DK 3900
Opponent - ARI (Patrick Corbin) Park - ARI
FD - 10.68 DK - 8.6
Much has been made of the new humidor going into Chase Field and how that will possibly effect offensive output for a stadium that’s long been one of the league’s better launching pads. The over/under on this game is set at 9.5, the second highest of the day, but I have to believe the non-humidor days would have been around 10.5. Lemahieu had a Coor’s fueled .783 OPS last season (not amazing) but he also spent the year crushing lefties to the tune of a .961 OPS and .363 wOBA. Patrick Corbin is no push over, but DJ rates as a strong top-of-the-order value play with Arenado hitting behind him to sweeten the pot a bit.

Also consider: Josh Harrison hitting second for the Pirates and Ian Kinsler with the new-look Angels.

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Shortstop

Carlos CorreaCarlos Correa FD 4000 DK 4900
Opponent - TEX (Cole Hamels) Park - TEX
FD - 14.46 DK - 11.14
Okay, let’s talk about Cole Hamels. Dude’s stats fell off a cliff last season with the strikeout rate dropping from a career 8.5 per nine to 6.39 in 2017. That’s a terrible sign for a pitcher who was already working the edges. The xFIP jumped to 4.83 and he walked .75 more batters per nine than his career average. Short story: he’s getting old and these kinds of trends for pitchers rarely turn around. Correa is just another Astro who rates as a fantastic option and because of the positional scarcity is possibly the best overall play on the slate. Even with some injuries, he still managed 24 home runs and a .941 OPS in 2017. He crushes lefties and remember, this isn’t your older brother’s Cole Hamels we are talking about.

Tim AndersonTim Anderson FD 2600 DK 3600
Opponent - KC (Danny Duffy) Park - KC
FD - 9.31 DK - 7.79
So on the one hand, Anderson has crazy speed with some power to match. He hit 17 home runs and stole 15 bases in 2017, the kind of leadoff stuff you think would be reaping rewards for years to come. On the other hand, the dude strikes out like he’s got a life bet on the stat, thinks walks are the thing of idiots and finished the season with a paltry sub .700 OPS. He’s a tough cat to figure out. I like the matchup here against Duffy (relatively speaking) and think he should slot into the two hole in the lineup. He’s a boom-bust play because of the propensity to swing at anything moving. But if he makes contact then we are looking at paying value.

Also consider: Manny Machado against Jake Odorizzi

Third Base

Alex BregmanAlex Bregman FD 3300 DK 4600
Opponent - TEX (Cole Hamels) Park - TEX
FD - 14.03 DK - 11.09
Remember all of the things I said about Cole Hamels and the Astros? They apply to Bregman as well. I’m making the assumption that he hits fifth in the order against the lefty. He could go lower and he’d still be a FanDuel play, though the decision would be a little closer. His .827 OPS last year ranked fine enough all things considered but his work against lefties was the key. In that split he put up a 160 wRC+, .406 wOBA and .974 OPS. In short: he slaughtered southpaws. Let’s wait for the Houston lineup, but if Bregman is anywhere in the top six we can play him without hesitation.

Mike MoustakasMike Moustakas FD 3300 DK 3800
Opponent - CHW (James Shields) Park - KC
FD - 12.74 DK - 9.69
Moose was left in weird contract/ free agency limbo in the off-season but ultimately returned to the Royals and will try to build on a career 38 home run year with an .835 OPS. This was the power we’d been waiting for with Moustakas as his much ballyhooed prospect status was starting to wear thin. But he put it together and should continue to put up numbers in this offense. James Shields, as mentioned, is awful and anytime we can buy low on middle of the lineup bats against the worst pitcher on the slate we need to make the easy call.

Also consider: Jeimer Candelario if he's hitting near the top of the lineup

Outfield

George SpringerGeorge Springer FD 3800 DK 4900
Opponent - TEX (Cole Hamels) Park - TEX
FD - 15.54 DK - 12.05
Blah, blah, blah. Astros. Blah, blah, blah. Camels. You get the idea at this point. Springer should hit leadoff in this matchup and the Ballpark in Arlington rates consistently as one of the best hitter’s parks in the league. Last year it ranked only behind Coors in terms of overall power and it’s five year regressed model https://www.fangraphs.com/guts.aspx?type=pf&season=2017&teamid=0&sort=2,d has it right in the same range. It’s just another reason to stack Astros in this matchup. Springer pushed up towards a 1K OPS last season with a career-best 34 home runs. I love the FanDuel price and he’s near a lock for cash games over there.

Giancarlo StantonGiancarlo Stanton FD 4600 DK 5300
Opponent - TOR (J.A. Happ) Park - TOR
FD - 16.4 DK - 12.22
Aaron JudgeAaron Judge FD 4100 DK 5100
Opponent - TOR (J.A. Happ) Park - TOR
FD - 12.58 DK - 9.51
It doesn’t take some kind of genius to figure out these two are in good spots in this game (and the whole season in general). They’ll hit in the middle of the order for possibly one of the greatest 1-2 punches we’ve seen in the power department. Judge is coming off a “rookie” season with 52 home runs and a 1.049 OPS which would look great expect his new teammate put up 59 home runs in a pitcher-friendly park. This is a historic pairing and will likely just reinvigorate the national Yankee hatred. They are both expensive but but facing a lefty in J.A. Happ in the closed-roof Rogers Centre. Stanton is a generational murderer of lefties and Judge’s struggles last season is likely an outlier. It will take a lot to pony up here but I suspect this is one of the most popular GPP stacks you’ll see.

Matt KempMatt Kemp FD 2100 DK 3400
Opponent - SF (Ty Blach) Park - LAD
FD - 10.62 DK - 8.12
Yasiel PuigYasiel Puig FD 2800 DK 3900
Opponent - SF (Ty Blach) Park - LAD
FD - 11.14 DK - 8.74
And here’s where we are going to need some batting order/ lineup confirmation to make any real judgments. The Dodgers played matchups and righty/lefty splits as well as anyone in the majors last season and could continue to do so with guys like Kemp and Puig in the mix. Kemp ran bad against lefties with the Braves last season (.269 BABIP) but is only a season removed from a 144 wRC+ and .954 OPS in that split. At these prices, if he’s hitting anywhere in the top seven we can consider him in cash games with the Dodgers’ potent lineup.

Puig, at times, batted near the middle of the lineup against lefties season but the results weren’t there. My man was Awwww-ful against southpaws with a putrid .592 OPS thanks in some part to the .198 BABIP in that split. He’s a reverse splits guy for his career, but not in such sharp contrast. Again, let’s wait for the Dodgers’ lineup and then we can think about slotting these guys into our own DFS lineups.

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