Baseball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

Doug Norrie

DraftKings and FanDuel MLB Picks for Opening Day Thursday 7/23/20

I can't believe I'm saying this, but Baseball is Back Baby!!! After much doubt, flubbed negotiations, no clear plan for restart and of course an ongoing pandemic the season is set to restart on Thursday. We get two high-profile games with three championship-level squads and also the Giants. Let's take a look at some cash game plays for FanDuel and DraftKings.

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Gerrit ColeGerrit Cole FD 11400 DK 10000
Opponent - WSH (Max Scherzer) Park - WSH
FD - 42.53 DK - 24.13
The offseason was supposed to be about how Gerrit Cole signed a contract worth somewhere around the equivalent of a small country’s GDP and that we’d be wondering how he fit in the old pinstripes. Those were the good old days when life meant something. Anyway, here we are. The Yankees didn't commit $324 million on spec, they liked what they saw out of Cole who spiked his K’s to 13.82 K/9 in 2019 and finished with a microscopic 2.48 xFIP. Dude became something of a cheat code with the Astros and the Yankees bought on that promise. At these prices, it’s fine to take a chance on the shiny new car, Sure, it’s a new situation, but it stands to reason New York wants to go with what works. He doesn’t walk into a great matchup against a strong Nats team but he’s easily the best arm on the slate.

Clayton KershawClayton Kershaw FD 10300 DK 7700
Opponent - SF (Johnny Cueto) Park - SF
FD - 42.26 DK - 22.93
You can feel for Clayton Kershaw. Dude got bombed in the playoffs, a place of great strife for him but that shouldn't dissuade us here. To start this season, Kershaw walks into the best matchup of the two-game slate against the Giants with the best opening win odds at -334. Even with the W slightly diminished on DraftKings, the price is a near-joke. He should be the cash game chalk there with the two pitcher format. While Kershaw has been in moderate decline since his peak in 2015, he’s still striking out more than a batter an inning and limiting the walks (relative to average). The biggest concern here is a very low pitch count, something the Dodgers are guilty of even in the most stable and normal of times. But at his prices, even that risk is built in somewhat for Kershaw.


Catcher/First Base

Max MuncyMax Muncy FD 3900 DK 4600
Opponent - SF (Johnny Cueto) Park - SF
FD - 12.84 DK - 9.5
The Dodgers come into the season with one of the most potent offense in the league and on Thursday draw the easiest matchup against Johnny Cueto. They’ll be the popular stack in cash for sure on both sites. Muncy projects to hit second in the lineup for the Dodgers and is coming off back-to-back elite seasons with a .973 OPS and .889 OPS respectively. Though he k’s at a steady clip, the 16% walk rate over the last two seasons gives him a healthy floor on a game-to-game basis. He was platoon neutral last season, so this isn’t a massive uptick against the righty, but Muncy is still an elite cash game play if he sticks near the top of the order.

Gary SánchezGary Sánchez FD 3300 DK 4400
Opponent - WSH (Max Scherzer) Park - WSH
FD - 9.3 DK - 6.9
Sanchez spent the season on and off the DL in 2019 though he did make the most of his time healthy posting 34 home runs in only 106 total games. Though that did only translate to a mid-.800s OPS thanks to a sub-10% walk rate and a stark increase in strikeouts to a 28% K rate. Those aren’t numbers going in the right direction and we’ll see what a shortened season holds for the 27-year-old. It’s not a great matchup against Scherzer of course, but Sanchez projects to hit 5-6th in a stacked Yankees lineup.

Second Base

Let’s start by saying that second base on this two game slate is a bit of a nightmare on the shorter slate. The highest-projected player is obviously DJ LeMahieu (FD $3500 DK $4500) but the matchup against Scherzer out of the gate, combined with the price does make him a rougher spend-up option even though he’s sticking in the leadoff spot for the Yankees.

Gavin Lux (FD $2700 DK $4000)
is intriguing, especially on FanDuel at sub-$3K, but he’s probably rocking the ninth spot in the lineup for the Dodgers so the plate appearance expectation takes quite a hit even with the good matchup. Gavin Lux (FD $2700 DK $4000)
is intriguing, especially on FanDuel at sub-$3K, but he’s probably rocking the ninth spot in the lineup for the Dodgers so the plate appearance expectation takes quite a hit even with the good matchup. (Update: The Dodgers optioned Lux to start the season. Chris Taylor could get the nod here.)

The “best” options might be some combo of Yolmer Sánchez (FD $2000 DK $2500) or Mauricio Dubón (FD $2300 DK $3100) who should both be in the starting lineup for the Giants. Both qualify for second base on DraftKings and FanDuel though Dubon should roam center for San Francisco. Additionally, with news that both Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria will miss the start of the season, there could be room near the top of the lineup for one or both of these guys to at least pick up some extra plate appearances on the cheap.


Corey SeagerCorey Seager FD 3200 DK 4400
Opponent - SF (Johnny Cueto) Park - SF
FD - 10.98 DK - 8.31
Like I said, this is kind of an all-Dodgers sort of slate the way things are shaking. The problem is that you’ll simply run out of slots in your lineup to run all of them. Seager came back to play almost a full season in 2019, though failed to live up to his first three seasons in the majors from 2015-2017. Those years had him as a mid-800s ((and much better) OPS guy who hit for power and drew his share of walks. 2020 he finished with an .818 OPS and the walk rate dipped some. But he is a good price on both sites and should hit around 6-7 when LA faces righties.

Brandon CrawfordBrandon Crawford FD 2300 DK
Opponent - LAD (Clayton Kershaw) Park - LAD
FD - 6.83 DK - 5.23
This line of thinking follows along with what I said about Sanchez and Dubon. At some point, for salary relief you may need to dip into the Giants’ well and save a few bucks. And similarly with the former two, it makes sense that there will be some wiggle room in the lineup because of Belt and Longoria sitting. That’s the good news on Crawford. The bad news is he was brutal last season, posting a mid-.600’s OPS after five-straight years of .700+. Some of that was BABIP-related with his number more than 20 points off his career average. He’s been platoon neutral for his career, though I get that it’s grasping at some straws because of the overall numbers. Again, a price play and nothing more.

Third Base

Justin TurnerJustin Turner FD 3100 DK 4100
Opponent - SF (Johnny Cueto) Park - SF
FD - 12 DK - 9.07
Sick of Dodgers yet? I hope not because we still have a couple of more to go after this one. But that’s what happens when their 6.5 implied runs are the best on the slate by a lot. They face off against Johnny Cueto who’s spent the better part of the last two seasons injured and when we was pitching, doing it at a below-average level. This is just the makings for the cash stack with the other three pitchers on the slate all aces. Turner has been better for his career against righties in a reverse platoon, posting a .363 wOBA in that hand. He should hit third or fourth in the lineup and is a good price on both sites.

After Turner it gets pretty bad. For that reason, when prioritizing Dodgers, he gets up pretty high in the ranking simply because the drop-off after him is so stark. Maybe we get a Pablo Sandoval (FD $2100 DK $3500) sighting if he takes over the hot corner for the Giants in place of Longoria.

Carter Kieboom (FD $2200 DK $3700)
could be a pure punt on FanDuel if he makes the starting lineup, but hitting last for the Nationals would make the DraftKings’ price tough to stomach.


Mookie BettsMookie Betts FD 4200 DK 4900
Opponent - SF (Johnny Cueto) Park - SF
FD - 14 DK - 10.57
Cody BellingerCody Bellinger FD 4500 DK 5100
Opponent - SF (Johnny Cueto) Park - SF
FD - 14.37 DK - 10.72
As promised, we still have a couple of more Dodgers on the list. LA will finally get a chance to premiere Betts who they pulled off a blockbuster trade for last offseason. He projects to hit leadoff and has been nothing short of a superstar over the last two seasons with Boston posting 1.078 OPS in his 2018 MVP season will a .915 OPS to follow it up last year. He’s expensive, sure but plenty worth it as possibly the safest cash play on the slate considering the numbers and his slot in the lineup against the worst arm. No real reason to think too hard about this play and he stands to be the chalk outfielder.

Meanwhile, the only think “dinging” Bellinger comparatively is that he’s a little more expensive and could hit cleanup, three slots lower in the lineup. Dude was of course amazing last season with a 1.035 OPS, 14% walk rate, 16% K rate, and 47 home runs. A season that rightfully garnered him the NL MVP trophy. Stacking both is ideal, though because of the price and lineup slot I’d slightly lean Betts here.

Victor RoblesVictor Robles FD 2600 DK 3700
Opponent - NYY (Gerrit Cole) Park - NYY
FD - 9.13 DK - 7.02
I don’t mind taking a cheap shot on Robles even in a brutal matchup against Cole. The former had a ton to like from a fantasy perspective in his first full season, putting up 17 home runs and 28 stolen bases. Though the OPS is on the lower side and dude never walks, the fantasy numbers hold up because of the swipes. Even if he were to hit sixth or seventh in the lineup, I think the speed gives him enough upside at these prices.

And as noted before, keep an eye out for how the Giants run with their lineup. If Steven Duggar moves up in the lineup he could make an okay cheap option.


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