Opening Day is finally here! After a long break between official action on the diamond, we finally have daily fantasy baseball back. The first day of the season is always riddled with aces taking the hill for their teams, so bats can be hard to come by. There are still value options out there though, so let’s dive into some of the best and brightest for Opening Day 2015.
HUGE Opening Day Contests on DraftKings
Corey Kluber vs. HOU ($9800) – Kershaw is the most expensive option of the day (and don’t get me wrong, he makes a ton of sense also) but I’d prefer to save a bit and go after Kluber on Opening Day. The reigning AL Cy Young winner comes at a steep discount from the likes of Kershaw (and my next recommendation) but has a matchup with the K-happy Astros. This Astros lineup hasn’t changed too much heading into this season and I like his chances at racking up 8-10 strikeouts and picking up a W.
Max Scherzer vs. NYM ($11500) – Scherzer is a heavy -195 favorite against the Mets and Bartolo Colon on Opening Day. His numbers speak for themselves, averaging 10.34 K/9 last season at home (albeit a different home) and 25.1 fantasy points per game. He’s going to want to prove he was worth the massive contract he signed in the off-season, plus he’s an absolute workhorse who is unlikely to be coddled in terms of pitch counts in his first outing of the year.
Chris Archer vs. BAL ($7600) – Archer could fly under the radar a bit but his efforts down the stretch of last year were impressive. He finished out 2014 with three consecutive 20+ fantasy point outings against Toronto, Chicago and Cleveland. The Orioles lineup lost its best bat from a year ago in Nelson Cruz but also lost the guy who set everything up from the top of the order in Nick Markakis. They should be a much depleted offensive team and Archer looks ready to have a breakout season overall.
Dallas Keuchel vs. CLE ($6900) – This is a high-risk, high-reward play on Opening Day but the Indians lineup features a TON of left handed bats (including recently acquired Brandon Moss) who don’t hit left-handed pitching particularly well. Keuchel averaged 8.79 K/9 against LHBs last season and held them to just over a .260 wOBA against. He should be able to manage his way around some of the landmines in this lineup and rack up strikeouts against some of the swing-heavy Indians.
Henderson Alvarez vs. ATL ($6200 – The Braves lineup is an absolute abomination after shipping out Jason Heyward, Evan Gattis and the Upton brothers. They’ve waived the white flag on the 2015 season before it even starts, leaving them as prime candidates to be one of the worst offenses in baseball. If he can work his way around Freddie Freeman, he looks like a terrific opening day option.
Buster Posey vs. Collmenter ($4600) – Posey has dominated Collmenter in a relatively small sample size and while some of Collmenter’s advanced L/R splits (.268 wOBA vs. RHBs) don’t play particularly well for Posey, this should be one of the highest scoring teams of Opening Day and Posey will be right in the heart of that order.
Devin Mesoraco vs. Liriano ($4200) – Mesoraco is fairly risky but Liriano faded down the stretch of last season and Mesoraco mashes left handed pitching. Last season he hit .291 with a .924 OPS against lefties while averaging just over a 5% HR-rate. The Reds could be flying under the radar as an offensive whole and Mesoraco should have some RBI opportunities in the opener.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia vs. Teheran ($3600) – Salty is never the exciting play but given how strong the Marlins lineup looks around him, with a nice mixture of speed and power, he could find himself in some prime situations against Teheran. Teheran has struggled a bit with LHBs over the past two years, allowing a .301 wOBA to them and Salty traditionally hits better from the left side of the plate as a switch-hitting catcher.
John Jaso vs. Tillman ($3900) – Jaso should actually lead off for the Rays in the Opener and has a reasonable matchup against Chris Tillman of Baltimore. Tillman struggled a bit with lefties last season, allowing a .299 wOBA against but some of his other metrics would indicate he hit a bit of a lucky streak and he might get knocked around a little more this season. Look for Jaso to set the plate for the revamped Rays lineup and get a bunch of ABs against mediocre Opening Day pitching.
Miguel Cabrera vs. Hughes ($5000) – The BvP stats for Cabrera vs. Hughes are off the charts but those numbers make a lot of sense since Hughes has struggled against RHBs over the last two years. The .321 wOBA allowed to righties in that time is the third worst vs. RHBs among all pitchers going on Opening Day. Cabrera had some injuries down the stretch last year but should be healthy coming into 2015 and ready to mash on Opening Day.
Paul Goldschmidt vs. Bumgarner ($4700) – Everyone’s lasting memory of Madison Bumgarner will be his ridiculously dominant performance in the World Series last year, but at the end of the day this is an above average matchup for Goldschmidt. He’s at home in the hitter-friendly Chase Field. He’s facing a left-handed starter, against whom he posted a 1.115 OPS and .384 average against in 2014. And Bumgarner has a middling .301 wOBA allowed to right handed bats over the last two years.
Adam Lind vs. Kendrick ($4100) – Kendrick might be the worst pitcher going on Opening Day, so stacking up some of the Brewers seems like a strong approach. He particularly has struggled against left handed bats over the last two years (.360 wOBA against) and Lind is one of the few lefty bats the Brewers have at their disposal.
Ryan Howard vs. Buchholz ($3700) – Howard struggled in spring training and all of last season, so why is he a sound play on Opening Day? Well it’s all about the matchups and with the depth of pitching talent taking the field on Opening Day, there aren’t a ton of teams worth targeting. Going after the Phillies left handed bats against Buchholz is one of the few strong matchups for bats.
Dee Gordon vs. Teheran ($4300) – Dee Gordon was moved to the Marlins in the off-season and while Teheran isn’t a cake matchup for Opening Day, he does struggle at times against left handed bats and Gordon just needs to get on base once or twice in a game to wreak havoc by stealing bases. I like the lineup around him and if he gets on he should rack up points in a hurry.
Chase Utley vs. Buchholz ($4100) – I mentioned it earlier with Howard, but this is one of the better batter matchups on Opening Day. Buchholz has allowed a .351 wOBA to left handed pitching over the last two seasons and Utley had a .286 average against RHPs in 2014.
Joe Panik vs. Collmenter ($3400) – Panik serves as a reasonable punt on Opening Day hitting high in the Giants order against Collmenter in a hitter-friendly park. He finished last season playing well in the postseason and looks poised for a breakout year.
Nolan Arenado vs. Lohse ($4200) – Lohse had a strong season last year, but he continues to struggle with allowing the long ball. Some of it has to do with throwing in Miller Park (where he throws on Opening Day) but it also has to do with leaving balls up in the zone. He’s allowed a .644 OPS to RHBs over the last two years and while Arenado feasted on left handed pitching last year, he still had an impressive .777 OPS against righties as well.
Chase Headley vs. Hutchinson ($4100) – The Yankees should be able to tee off against Drew Hutchinson on Opening Day. Yankee Stadium is primed for power hitting lefties, which just so happens to be what Hutchinson struggles with the most. Hutchinson is allowing an .811 OPS to LHBs over the past two seasons.
Brett Lawrie vs. Gallardo ($3700) – Gallardo has some reverse splits, allowing a .743 OPS to right handed bats over the past two years. I don’t love the revamped A’s lineup but Lawrie was a guy that Billy Beane saw a lot of promise in when he dealt Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays this off-season. Lawrie should be in the heart of that order and has high upside for Opening Day at a cheap price point.
Troy Tulowitzki vs. Lohse ($5000) – Tulo leads the way as far and away the best SS play on Opening Day. Tulo gets a mediocre opposing pitcher in a hitter-friendly park. His price tag is a tough pill to swallow, but balancing some of the value pitchers listed above should leave some space for Tulo who is capable of a 20+ fantasy point season opener.
Asdrubal Cabrera vs. Tillman ($3800) – Asdrubal is one of the cogs in the revamped Rays lineup with a reasonable Opening Day matchup against the a fore mentioned Chris Tillman. Tillman has allowed a .299 wOBA to LHBs over the past two years and Cabrera has a slightly better OPS (.697) hitting from the left side of the plate.
Danny Santana vs. Price ($3600) – Obviously David Price is a guy that can scare you off of an opposing lineup, but Danny Santana feasted on left-handed pitching in 2014. He hit .301 with a .785 OPS against lefties last season and while the matchup isn’t ideal, he has good upside at a very reasonable price point.
Hanley Ramirez vs. Hamels ($4500) – HanRam makes the move to the outfield and while watching him try and learn the new left field position should be entertaining, his abilities at the plate should outweigh potential field struggles. He mashes left handed pitching (.869 OPS against lefties last year) and should be able to get after Hamels a couple times.
Carlos Gomez vs. Kendrick ($5000) – Kendrick is AWFUL against left handed bats but he’s not much better against righties like Gomez. He’s a 5-tool player who can set the table for what should be the highest scoring lineup on Opening Day. The price point is steep but he’s one guy worth squeezing into your opening day lineups.
Bryce Harper vs. Colon ($4200) – Harper will be in the middle of what should be one of the more popular lineups to stack on Opening Day. This game has an 8 O/U with Washington being a heavy favorite, making the Nats one of the best lineups worth targeting on Monday. His price is reasonable as well.
Anthony Gose vs. Hughes ($3500) – Gose should be leading off in front of an absolutely stacked Tigers lineup. With Miggy, V-Mart and Kinsler hitting behind him, he’ll be relied on to get on base and swipe bags. If he does that, he can rack up points while getting driven in by Miggy and company.
Seth Smith vs. Weaver ($3800) – Jered Weaver gets another year older and his numbers have worsened almost every year for the past three. Smith mashes right handed pitching and I like this Mariners lineup to get after Weaver for at least 4 or so runs on Opening Day.
Adam Eaton vs. Ventura ($3800) – Eaton is listed here because his price point doesn’t reflect the talent available. Remember that Ventura threw all the way into the World Series of his rookie season, so a sophomore slump could certainly be in order and Eaton will be ready on Opening Day to mash RHPs like he did all last year.