Welcome to the first Monday of the baseball season, or what we used to call it, Opening Day! We have 12 games to pull targets from today and there is some strong, strong starting pitching today, so let’s get crackin’ on this superslate!
Max Scherzer – WAS @ ATL – $12,300 – He’s the second highest favorite, had the 3rd best K% last season at over 30% (30.7) and this Braves Opening Day roster looks like the worst they’ve had since 1987-88, minus Dale Murphy. He was arguably the second best SP in the NL last season, and he’s $600 cheaper than Kershaw with a better matchup and odds to win.
“He was arguably the second best SP in the NL last season, and he’s $600 cheaper than Kershaw”
Madison Bumgarner – SF @ MIL – $9,200 – This is probably a tournament play only since he’s playing in one of the highest O/U games of the day and on the road, but Bumgarner should be able to pick up the win facing off against Wily Peralta. The Brewers do have some really solid right handed bats but given the weather conditions today and the overall talent pool, taking Bumgarner in a dome game where he’s heavily favored seems to offer decent upside.
Felix Hernandez – SEA @ TEX – $8,800 – Felix comes at a discount on Opening Day and he should be able to dispose of a Texas lineup that didn’t heat up last season until the dog days of Summer. Hernandez carries a decent amount of risk as his velocity was dropping towards the tail end of last season but he still has a good shot at a win and seems to have strong bang for his buck on Monday.
Bryce Harper (OF) – WAS @ ATL – $4,500 – This is a really reasonable salary for arguably the best hitter in the game and a top 10 expected power bat of 2015. He matches that power with a 40% fly ball rate, and he gets Julio Teheran, whom he has taken deep three times in 23 AB, with a 1.475, if you like BvP stats. Otherwise, he’s a masher in a good matchup with excellent weather conditions (warm, low density air, wind blowing out to right).
Nelson Cruz (OF) – SEA @ TEX – $4,700 – Cruz and his .459 wOBA against left handed pitching make for a strong option on Opening Day. You’re going to have to target aces regardless of where you draft today, so you might as well try to find the best matchups and exploit them. Cruz is hitting fourth for the Mariners today and his chances of going deep in a hitter friendly Arlington Ballpark are higher than most others at his price range today.
Joe Panik (2B) – SF @ MIL – $4,200 – The Giants are overall in a really good spot on Opening Day against Wily Peralta and the Brewers. Peralta allowed a .361 wOBA and a .820 OPS to left handed batters last season. Panik counters that with his 0.852 OPS against righties in 2015.
Joey Votto (1B) – CIN vs. PHL – $4,600 – Second highest game total thus far for the all-day slate (8) and the highest total in the early games. Votto isn’t as awesome against RHP as Goldy is LHP, but it’s close (.404 wOBA) and even though Hellickson is tough on lefties, Votto still grades out second behind Goldy in first basemen matchup.
Chris Davis (1B/OF) – BAL vs. MIN – $5,100) – And here’s #3 for first basemen, as Davis goes against Ervin Santana at home in Baltimore tonight, which was the #4 park for runs scored last season and second in home runs, Davis’ specialty. Davis finished behind nobody in expected power last season and Santana has consistently been among the leaders in gopherballs every season of his career.
Miguel Sano (3B) – MIN @ BAL – $4,900 – There might be some rain in BAL, but the game does have the highest game total and Sano was top five in expected power last season. Sano hit righties even better than lefties last season.
Byung Ho Park (1B) – MIN @ BAL – $4,400 – If you want to go a bit against the grain on Monday, consider taking the guy that few have heard of. Park will make his debut on Monday and is priced with some of the elite hitters in the game. He has a juicy matchup as well against Chris Tillman who allowed a .747 OPS to right handed batters in 2015.
Ketel Marte (SS) – SEA @ TEX – $3,600 – There aren’t many cheap SS options on the early slate so Ketle Marte might have to do. He gets a decent matchup against Cole Hamels, who can run hot and cold, and he’s hitting second in front of one of the best targets today, Nelson Cruz.
Devin Mesoraco (CTCH) – CIN vs. PHI – $3,200 – Mesoraco gets to tee off against maybe the worst Opening Day starting pitcher, Jeremy Hellickson. Hellickson, a righty for Philadelphia, had reverse splits last season, allowing a 0.825 OPS to right handed batters. The Reds catcher has big HR potential and is arguably the best catcher on the early slate for Monday.
Daniel Murphy (2B/3B) – WAS @ ATL – $3,200 – Murphy makes his Nationals debut on Monday and has one of the better pitcher matchups on the board. Teheran has ace potential but he’s struggled at times against left handed bats, as evidenced by his .301 wOBA allowed to them last season.
Ryan Howard (1B) – PHL vs. CIN – $3,700 – A little pricier than I would have liked, but he did a great job last year re-establishing his power credentials, landing just behind Goldy and in front of Bautista in the expected power metric. Howard is strictly a RHP only hitter now, as his OPS is double that of when he faces a lefty (.802 to .418).
“Howard is strictly a RHP only hitter now, as his OPS is double that of when he faces a lefty…”
Cesar Hernandez (2B) – PHL vs. CIN – $3,100 – Cesar makes solid contact (80%) and has plus running speed to make things happen. Keep an eye on the lineup as he was rumored to be leading off, and if that’s the case, he’s in a great spot with a high game total in a hitter’s park in Cincinnati (6th in runs last season).