It’s that time of year. MLB Opening Day is inching closer and we’ve begun seeing some of the opening day pitchers announced. Below is your pitching primer to the opening day schedule on DraftKings.
Starting Pitcher Analysis
NEW (3/27/2015): Masahiro Tanaka ($9700) vs. TOR – Tanaka has been announced as the Yankees opening day starter and faces a real challenge in his first start of the new year. This Blue Jays lineup is stacked, but the good news is that they are right-hand heavy and they do have some guys who can swing through pitches. Tanaka had a 9.3 K/9 rate in 2014 and while he might get tagged for a few runs, he has great tournament upside with his whopping K-rate.
NEW (3/27/2015): Chris Archer ($7600) vs. BAL – Archer finished last season with 3 consecutive 20 fantasy point games so there’s a little interest in targeting him at such a low price point on opening day. Over his last 10 games last season he had 56 strikeouts in 63 IP so he’s a relatively high K-rate pitcher with upside against an Orioles lineup that has a lot of pop but can also whiff quite a bit. Given the price, he seems like a viable Opening Day play.
NEW (3/27/2015): Yordano Ventura ($7600) vs. CWS – Analysis Coming Soon
NEW (3/27/2015): Jeff Samardzija ($9100) vs. KCR – Analysis Coming Soon
Phil Hughes ($8100) vs. DET – Hughes may be coming off a career season with the Twins, but this matchup leaves a lot to be desired. Facing the lefty David Price on the road, Hughes is sure to be a heavy opening day underdog and has to battle with a Tigers offense that finished second in baseball last season in runs scored.
David Price ($10400) vs. MIN – Price certainly has some intrigue here as he’s in a good spot to pick up the win at home against the Twins. First look says he’s a pretty good Opening Day play, especially at a slightly reduced price tag beyond Scherzer, Hernandez and Kershaw. You may want to proceed with a bit of caution though as the Twins offense was actually 15th in OPS against left handed pitching last season.
Kyle Kendrick ($4200) vs. MIL – Kendrick might be the worst pitching option on the board on Opening Day. It’s too bad that the Rockies have such a bad pitching staff that they need to roll out Kendrick for their opener. It doesn’t help that the Brewers put out a right-hand-heavy lineup that should feast against Kendrick, who allowed a whopping 0.94 HR/9 to right handed bats last season as well as a .259 batting average against.
Kyle Lohse ($7100) vs. COL – Lohse could be an interesting cheap pitching option for the opening slate since he is likely to be a heavy favorite against Kyle Kendrick. The risk here is that he’s pitching in a hitter-friendly park against an offense that has a lot of HR potential. Lohse struggled with the long ball at times last year, allowing 22 HRs in 2014.
Bartolo Colon ($6800) vs. WAS – Bartolo gets the surprise start in Washington for the Mets as New York likely will save Matt Harvey to kick things off in their home opener (to sell more tickets). Bartolo is actually underpriced here and facing an offense that was hot and cold in 2014. The Nationals were 11th in the league in OPS against right handed pitching but did have a 21% K-Rate against righties, leaving him in a decent spot to reach value at this tag.
Max Scherzer ($11500) vs. NYM – Scherzer might be the most popular opening day pick not named Kershaw, and for good reason. This matchup is really juicy against a Mets team that was 19th in OPS against right handed pitching last season. They didn’t have a whopping K% (19.5 vs. righties) but Scherzer is such a work-horse and strikeout dependent pitcher that you can probably put him down for at least 6-7 K’s in this game with more likely.
Felix Hernandez ($11000) vs. LAA – King Felix should be considered a tournament play on opening day as the Angels led baseball in runs scored last season. It’s definitely a tough matchup on paper, but one he dominated in 2014. In 5 starts against the Angels last season, Felix averaged 32.4 fantasy points per game (compared to 24.8 on the year). He also had 47 K’s in just 34 IP against LAA.
Francisco Liriano ($8300) vs. CIN – Liriano will have some easy outs in a lineup that doesn’t have a ton of right-handed bat talent but even with that in mind, I don’t think he’s one of the best available options on Opening Day. This game will be in Cincinnati during the afternoon, which has traditionally been a hitter’s haven. Add in that he’s likely the underdog going up against Cueto.
Johnny Cueto ($9600) vs. PIT – The Pirates have a talented lineup that certainly caused its share of trouble for pitchers in 2014. I’d be concerned about using Cueto, despite his talent, against a lineup that was 4th in MLB last year in OPS against right handed pitching.
Clayton Kershaw ($12400) vs. SDP – Kershaw will likely be the most popular pick of Opening Day facing a Padres offense that was the worst in baseball last season. They did make some quality off-season additions (Upton, Myers, Kemp) and it’s worth noting that most of their pickups are guys who mash left-handed pitching. This is likely in an effort to combat some of Kershaw’s (and Bumgarner’s) dominance in that division. Regardless, he’ll be the biggest favorite of opening day and should be rostered often.
Corey Kluber ($9800) vs. HOU – Kershaw may be the most popular, but Kluber is the top play of opening day. At just $9800 he offers a nearly $3K price reduction from Kershaw while drawing a juicy matchup with the Astros. Houston hasn’t been a good offensive team in years and boasted a league worst 24% K-rate against right handed pitching in 2014. Kluber had the 3rd best K% in 2014 among qualified pitchers as well, striking out 28.3% of batters he faced.
Dallas Keuchel ($6900) vs. CLE – Keuchel could slide under the radar as well as a discount option who has big K-upside. In 2014 he had an 18.1% K-rate. The Indians also struggled against left-handed pitching a year ago. While they didn’t swing and miss at a high rate, they still had just a .672 OPS against lefties – which was good for 5th worst in baseball.
Josh Collmenter ($5900) vs. SFG – Collmenter getting the opening day nod gives a pretty bleak outlook for the pitching staff of the Arizona Diamondbacks. He’s a guy who averaged over 8 K/9 in both 2012 and 2013 but that total dropped to under 6 K/9 in 2014, leaving much to be desired in the strikeout department. It doesn’t help that he starts his season against last season’s World Series champion, and I don’t think he’s a strong option for Opening Day.
Sonny Gray ($8300) vs. TEX – This Rangers team looks like it should be in line with the 2nd half version of last year’s unit, meaning they could struggle heavily. They don’t have a ton of household names in their lineup and the matchup in Oakland should make Sonny Gray one of the better pitching options for opening day.
Opening Day Tournaments