Sunday may have brought us the official Opening Day, but Monday brings us a 9-game slate that’s spread throughout the afternoon. I’ll get you set for the first big slate of the year, and as always, you can get me on the ol’ Twitter machine @SBuchanan24.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Diego Padres – Clayton Kershaw ($12,800)
No surprise that Kershaw is the heavy favorite on this slate – I mean when wasn’t he last year? He faces the strikeout happy Padres to open the season at Dodger Stadium no less. Against left-handed pitchers in 2016, the Padres were second in K% at 25.3% and could very well end up with similar results in 2017. In two games against the Padres last season, Kershaw owned a 12.9 K/9 in 16 innings, allowing four hits and one walk. I don’t think I need to hype up Kershaw anymore here; he’ll continue to be one of the top options all season long.
Philadelphia Phillies vs.Cincinnati Reds – 9 Projected Runs
Opening Day for the Phillies and Reds will feature Jeremy Hellickson taking on Scott Feldman in this matchup. Hellickson is coming off a very respectable 2016 campaign and is looking to continue that in 2017. In two starts against the Reds last year, Hellickson went 13 innings allowing three runs (zero earned) on seven hits with a 15:1 K:BB ratio. For what it’s worth, Hellickson has been lit up in spring training allowing 19 runs (16 earned) in 24.1 innings.
It will be interesting to see how the Phillies’ offense fares after acquiring Michael Saunders and Howie Kendrick during the offseason. Their first test is against Scott Feldman on Opening Day: Part Two. Feldman spent the majority of 2016 in the bullpen, having started only five games in 2016. Feldman has never been a big strikeout guy, so his ceiling is limited here. At $5,300 he could be utilized with Kershaw to save some money, but nothing more.
Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Boston Red Sox – 9 Projected Runs
The Pirates and Red Sox will open the season with some interleague play at Fenway Park. Gerrit Cole will take the mound for the Pirates, coming off a rough 2016. Cole will face a very dangerous Sox lineup, even with the loss of David Ortiz. Cole is at a decent price point for this game at $7,400 but still needs to show he has something left in the tank. Cole allowed a .337 wOBA on the road last season with a .355 OBP, which certainly helped explain his issues with walks, owning a 2.79 BB/9.
Opposing Cole will be the reigning Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello. He was at his best at Fenway Park last season, owning a .278 wOBA with a .364 SLG and .277 OBP to opposing hitters. Porcello was also able to limit the long ball at the hitter-friendly ballpark, allowing just 8 of his 23 home runs at Fenway. At $8,800, Porcello feels like high value on this slate.
1) Philadelphia Phillies vs. Cincinnati Reds (Great American Ballpark) – A 50% chance of rain comes into play somewhere around the 4th inning. This game also features a 13mph wind blowing in from right field.
2) Detroit Tigers vs. Chicago White Sox (Guaranteed Rate Field) – This game has a high chance of being delayed/canceled. Rain will be in the forecast the entire night and will not let up until late in the evening.
Park Factors are ranked on a scale of 1.000. Anything above 1.000 is favorable towards the hitters. Anything below that mark favors pitchers. All stats come from the 2016 season.
- Fenway Park – Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Boston Red Sox – Fenway Park checks in as the number one ballpark on this slate. Last season, all offensive categories were favored here except walks.
- Target Field – Kansas City Royals vs. Minnesota Twins – Target Field is our second most favored ballpark for this slate. Just like Fenway Park, all offensive categories are getting the seal of approval here except walks.
- Dodger Stadium – San Diego Padres vs. Los Angeles Dodgers – As if Clayton Kershaw doesn’t make it unfavorable enough, Dodger Stadium didn’t favor one offensive category in 2016.
- Guaranteed Rate Field – Detroit Tigers vs. Chicago White Sox – Although it’s doubtful this game will be played (make sure to review the weather), Guaranteed Rate Field only favored home runs and triples.
Splits to Start
Pitchers vs. Left-Handed Batters
|Worst vs. LHB||OPS||AVG||Best vs. LHB||OPS||AVG|
|Scott Feldman||.891||.325||Clayton Kershaw||.309||.138|
|Gerrit Cole||.870||.329||Danny Duffy||.449||.183|
|Edinson Volquez||.799||.284||Rick Porcello||.600||.225|
Pitchers vs. Right-Handed Batters
|Worst vs. RHB||OPS||AVG||Best vs. RHB||OPS||AVG|
|Kevin Gausman||.812||.288||Clayton Kershaw||.529||.201|
|Edinson Volquez||.788||.288||Julio Teheran||.564||.212|
|Danny Duffy||.760||.252||Noah Syndergaard||.581||.228|
Batter vs. Pitcher Splits
|Hitter||Opposing SP||AB||FP/AB (Fantasy Points Per At Bat)|
|Welington Castillo||Marco Estrada||23||2.82|
|Giancarlo Stanton||Stephen Strasburg||38||2.8|
|Jose Abreu||Justin Verlander||29||2.75|
Pitcher to Build Around
Rick Porcello – Boston Red Sox vs. Pittsburgh Pirates – $8,800 – I think Porcello gives you the best bang for your buck on this Opening Day: Part Two slate. At just $8,800, Porcello pitches at home against a team that is unfamiliar with him. Last season at Fenway, Porcello averaged 20.5 FPPG in 16 starts. While Clayton Kershaw is certainly the top option on this slate, Porcello gives you some breathing room to fill out the rest of your lineup.
Heavy Hitter to Pay For
Daniel Murphy – Washington Nationals vs. Miami Marlins – $4,500 – Murphy was a force against right-handed pitching last season, and he’s in a solid spot on this slate. Last season at home against righties, Murphy owned a .414 wOBA with a .608 SLG and a .393 OBP. Facing Edinson Volquez, who struggled against lefties last season to the tune of a .346 wOBA allowed and 11 of his 23 home runs.
Save Big by Drafting…
Neil Walker – New York Mets vs. Atlanta Braves – $3,600 – The kryptonite for Julio Teheran has always been left-handed batters. Walker, being a switch-hitter, fits this mold perfectly. Walker has some pop, belting 15 of his 23 home runs against righties last season. At $3,600, he’s an excellent cheap play to fill the tight 2nd base position.
Stack Em Up
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Cincinnati Reds (Scott Feldman) – I like this Phillies’ offense this season. The addition of Michael Saunders and Howie Kendrick blends well with Tommy Joseph, Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco. Feldman has always been a shaky starter, and I think this stack will be a bit overlooked today. Herrera is the most expensive hitter on the team ($4,200) and this is an affordable stack.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Steveazors) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. 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.