“It’s the most wonderful timeeeeeeee of the year” – Andy Williams
The fantasy baseball season has finally arrived, folks! After what felt like an incredibly long offseason, DFS baseball has come back into our lives. We kick it all off with a Sunday three-game slate, which is what I’ll cover here. As always, you can reach me on the ol’ Twitter machine @SBuchanan24.
Madison Bumgarner – SFG vs. ARI – $11,200 – Pitching is always at a premium on Opening Night, so Bumgarner is leading the way should come as no surprise. Bumgarner will be facing a very familiar D-Backs lineup that didn’t make many changes over the offseason. This is essentially the same team that owned a 23.3 K% against left-handed pitching last season, which ranked the sixth-highest in the league. The D-Backs did hit left-handed pitching well with a .348 wOBA, but struggled against Bumgarner last year, amassing just 12 hits in 79 at-bats with three home runs and 31 strikeouts.
Other Options – Jon Lester ($10,600)
Masahiro Tanaka – NYY vs. TB – $8,800 – Tanaka quietly put together a solid 2016 campaign, averaging 18.3 FPPG with a 7.4 K/9 and a .265 wOBA on the road. He’ll open his 2107 season in the pitcher-friendly Tropicana Field, putting him in a great spot on Opening Day. Tanaka faces a familiar Rays lineup that doesn’t change much from last season. In his two games at the Trop last season, Tanaka threw 13 innings, allowing four runs on nine hits with a K/9 of 6.2. With his strikeout potential and the Rays projected lineup owning an average K/9 of 25.2% against RHP, Tanaka is certainly a value at $8,800 here.
Other Options – Chris Archer ($9,200)
Buster Posey – SFG vs. ARI – $4,400 – I certainly don’t live and die by Spring Training stats, but Zack Greinke isn’t exactly giving us much hope that he can bounce back this season. He opens up at home where he was torched last season, allowing a .335 wOBA with a .462 SLG and 10 of his 23 home runs allowed. Hitting near the heart of the order, Posey is a fine play at his price point.
Other Options – Kyle Schwarber ($4,300)
Chris Iannetta – ARI vs. SFG – $2,500 – Iannetta going up against Bumgarner certainly isn’t the sexiest matchup on this slate, but you can’t complain about the $2,500 salary. If you’re looking to punt a position, Iannetta could be your guy here at catcher. He’s hit lefties well over the course of his career and ended 2016 with a .331 wOBA against them. In a hitter friendly park like Chase Field, I think he’s could be worth a flier.
Other Options – Willson Contreras ($3,400)
Anthony Rizzo – CHI vs. STL – $4,900 – Rizzo is the most expensive hitter on this slate, and rightfully so. After putting up some monster numbers in 2016, he looks to continue that trend against Carlos Martinez on Opening Night. Martinez struggled with the long ball at home last season, allowing 12 of his 15 home runs at Busch Stadium with 10 of those coming off the bat of a lefty. On top of that, they tagged Martinez for a .336 wOBA and a .452 SLG in those situations.
Other Options – Paul Goldschmidt ($4,600) Brandon Belt ($4,200)
Greg Bird – NYY vs. TB – $3,200 – It’s hard to predict just which Chris Archer will show up for the 2017 season. Will it be last year’s disaster? Or will he go back to his dominant self once again? If you’re thinking more of the same from last year, Bird could be your guy. Reportedly hitting third in the Yankees lineup, the young lefty has hit seven home runs in 55 Spring Training at-bats, and 15 extra base hits total.
Other Options – Logan Morrison ($3,200)
Ben Zobrist – CHI vs. STL – $4,000 – Second base isn’t exactly filled with solid options on this slate, so, to me, Zobrist feels like a no brainer in this spot. He ended the 2016 season with one of the league’s highest walk rates (15.2%) and the league’s best contact percentage. Facing Martinez, who as we mentioned, struggles against LHB, I think Zobrist is well worth his $4K salary, especially when he’s projected to bat in the heart of this dynamic Cubs lineup.
Other Options – Joe Panik ($3,900)
Jedd Gyorko – STL vs. CHI – $3,400 – I’m not thrilled with throwing Gyorko in this spot, but the options are extremely thin here. He’s coming off a power outbreak last season, belting 30 home runs but only amassing 59 RBIs. Lester was certainly no stranger to giving up a long ball, with 21 allowed on the season, with seven of those coming at home against righties. On a limited slate, Gyorko a decent punt play at best.
Other Options – Starlin Castro ($3,300)
Kris Bryant – CHI vs. STL – $4,800 – I know, I’m going out on a limb here with this pick. Pairing Bryant and Anthony Rizzo is likely going to be a favorite play on this slate, and how can you think otherwise? Bryant was a force the entire season, owning a .382 wOBA against right-handed pitchers with a .523 SLG and a .372 OBP.
Other Options – Matt Carpenter ($4,000)
Chase Headley – NYY vs. TB – $3,000 – Even with hitting at Yankee Stadium for half the season, Headley hit better on the road in 2016. Facing the volatile Chris Archer, Headley still possesses some power. Archer allowed 30 home runs last season, even though only 10 of those came at home.
Other Options – Ronald Torreyes ($2,400)
Eduardo Nunez – SFG vs. ARI – $4,100 – Nunez had a breakout 2016, highlighted by his 40 stolen bases. He does have a bit of a shoulder issue at the moment, but if you can grab a quick five points for a stolen base from him, he’ll be worth the salary.
Other Options – Aledmys Diaz ($3,800)
Starlin Castro – NYY vs. TB – $3,300 – Castro had a nice power bump in 2016, but the rest of his overall numbers took a bit of a dip. At another relatively weak position for this slate, Castro is certainly serviceable at his $3,300 price point. I just wouldn’t expect a big game here.
Other Options – Brad Miller ($3,600)
Hunter Pence – SFG vs. ARI – $4,300 – Pence is healthy (for now) and slotted into the heart of the Giants lineup for Sunday. He’ll be taking on Zack Greinke in his personal house of horror at Chase Field. Greinke ended up allowing a .340 wOBA to righties at home last season with a .474 SLG and a .331 OBP
Other Options – Kyle Schwarber ($4,300)
Stephen Piscotty – STL vs. CHI – ($3,800) – I love this spot for Piscotty with a potentially (for this slate, at least) low ownership. Piscotty tailed off in the second half of the season but still managed a .406 wOBA against lefties with a .552 SLG with eight of his 22 home runs.
Other Options – Brett Gardner ($3,700) Steven Souza Jr. ($3,500)
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.