We have a huge 14-game slate on tap for tonight with just one contest being held this afternoon (Cubs/Rockies). In case that wasn’t enough to peak your interest, FanDuel is running one of its biggest MLB contests of the early season, a $400K Super Grand Slam with $50K going to the winner.
Clayton Kershaw ($12,800) – There’s very little that needs to be said for Kershaw. He’s the best pitcher in the game and faces a Giants team that is coming off of a three-game series in Coors Field, so it’s very possible they start a bit slow in a park that isn’t nearly as friendly to offense. Kershaw allowed a miniscule .218 wOBA to opposing hitters at home to go along with a 12.4 K/9 rate, so there is a lot to like here. His matchup with Madison Bumgarner does put a damper on his chances at the win, but he’s still a fairly decent sized favorite (-160).
Joe Ross ($7,200) – The Phillies and Padres appear to be the two teams we’ll target most frequently with cheaper streaming options. Ross takes the hill in Philadelphia after a strong debut against the Marlins, and a similar stat line appears to be in order this evening. It’s a little surprising that he’s not a bigger favorite (WAS -143), but Ross has a nice shot at the win against Jeremy Hellickson, who has been pitching over his head to start the year. There isn’t much to fear with the Philly lineup outside of Maikel Franco and occasionally Ryan Howard, so Ross is a viable target in any format. He did struggle more on the road last season, but the sample size is too small to be overly concerned about (just 32.1 IP).
Matt Wieters ($2,800) – Wieters has had more success against LHP over the course of his career and he’ll hit in the middle of the Orioles lineup tonight against Martin Perez in Arlington. This game will be one of the more heavily targeted contests of the night in terms of offense, and for good reason. Neither Perez nor Vance Worley are projected to have good outings and the 9 O/U on the MLB odds board seems a bit low given that matchup.
The catcher position is surprisingly thin given the full slate, so I’ll be rolling with Wieters in all formats. Jonathan Lucroy and Francisco Cervelli will be two mid-range options that I’ll sprinkle into tournament lineups.
David Ortiz ($4,000) – It’s been an incredible start to the season for Big Papi, something not many people expected in his age 40 season. He’s been teeing off on RHP to begin the year and he’ll face a righty tonight that he’s tattooed in previous seasons, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. BvP becomes more important when we’re dealing with “gimmicky” pitchers like Dickey, as he throws his knuckleball almost exclusively – Ortiz is 9-for-34 with 2 2B, 3 HR and 8 RBIs against Dickey over his career. Ortiz’s .413 wOBA and .320 ISO against RHP also suggests that another big performance could be in store tonight.
Tyler White ($3,200) – White has started to slow down after a red-hot start to the year, but I want as much exposure to the Astros offense as I can get. Mike Pelfrey has had some productive seasons in the big leagues but his better years are certainly in the rearview mirror. He owned a dreadful 4.48 K/9 against RHs last season and pitching to contact could be a big problem for him in a hitter friendly environment. Houston has the highest team total of the day, so you’ll want some exposure in all formats.
Also considering: Mark Teixiera (very nice power numbers vs. RHP), Lucas Duda ($2,500 price tag is far too low against a mediocre RHP)
Jose Altuve ($4,400) – Continuing on with the Astros, Altuve is well worth his $4.4K salary this evening. Pelfrey allowed a .388 wOBA to RH bats last year and while Altuve is more of a threat against LHP, he’s still in a great spot tonight as the table setter for Houston. He’s the top overall option at the position tonight (Dee Gordon isn’t too far behind) and I’m perfectly content spending up at second base to acquire his services.
Jason Kipnis ($3,100) – If you aren’t willing to spend the cap to roster Altuve or Gordon, Jason Kipnis is a perfectly suitable pivot at a lower price tag. He’ll face off against Bartolo Colon who has had very little success over the past year plus against teams not in the NL East. Kipnis is similar to Altuve in that he can contribute in basically every stat category, and his numbers against RHP last season (.389 wOBA, .161 ISO, 30.7 hard%) suggest that he’s underpriced for this matchup. The fact that the Indians play at home also works in Kipnis’ favor, as his numbers when at home against a RH are very strong (.458 wOBA, .218 ISO last season).
Manny Machado ($4,700) – Machado has gotten off to a nice start in 2016 and will look to continue that trend tonight against Martin Perez and the Rangers. Perez is very good at keeping the ball in the yard (just 2 HRs allowed to RHs in over 60 IP last year), but he’s not missing many bats (4.23 K/9 vs. RHs compared to a 10.06 K/9 vs. LHs last season). Machado has actually had more success against RH pitchers early in his career, but this is certainly not a matchup we need to shy away from in what should be one of the highest scoring games on the slate.
Matt Carpenter ($3,900) – The 3B position is one where I’ll definitely be paying up. If you don’t want to shell out the cash for Machado, Carpenter is a very nice pivot and is actually my preferred target in cash games. He’s very good at getting on base and will rarely leave you with a goose egg, something that holds value when you’re only trying to beat half the field. He turned into an elite hitter against RH pitching last year with a .394 wOBA, .249 ISO and 40.2% hard contact rate, and the matchup with Tim Melville is a great one. Melville isn’t likely to remain in the Reds rotation for long and struggled mightily in his first start, allowing five hits and four walks in just four innings against the Pirates.
Carlos Correa ($4,600) – I don’t see much of a reason not to pay up for Correa this evening. Most of the other appealing options at this spot aren’t priced too far below him (Bogaerts, Lindor), and he’s in a mouthwatering matchup with the previously mentioned Mike Pelfrey. Correa owned a .397 wOBA, .233 ISO and 38.2% hard contact rate when hitting at home against RH pitching last year.
Xander Bogaerts ($4,000) and Francisco Lindor ($3,400) are suitable plays, but I’ll be spending up for Correa if I’m shelling out that type of cap at SS. If you need to go cheap here, J.J. Hardy and Jonathan Villar are both worth a look.
George Springer ($3,500) – Springer’s price has started to fall after a relatively slow start to the year. He’s been more of a force against LH pitching thus far in his career, but I am a fan of targeting him against RH pitchers who aren’t able to rack up strikeouts, a category Mike Pelfrey falls perfectly into. Springer’s 26.5% K rate against RHs last year made him a GPP-only play for the most part, but with Pelfrey owning a 4.48 K/9 rate of his own alleviates a lot of that concern. I can’t fault anyone for not wanting to target Springer in cash games, but I’ll have a ton of exposure to him in all formats. Colby Rasmus ($3,800) is another very strong target in this game, and I may have an equal amount of exposure to him.
David Peralta ($3,500) – This is more of a GPP recommendation, but I really like the upside of David Peralta against the HR prone James Shields. The right-hander allowed 33 HRs last season, 23 of which were hit by lefties, and 15 of those occurred in Petco Park. Shields has trouble with lefties in general as we can see with his .380 wOBA allowed and 4.8 BB/9 rate. Peralta’s ownership percentage will be very low given the park that he’s playing in, but he’s owned Shields to this point in their careers (4-8 in 11 PA with 2 HRs, 1 2B and 3 BBs). While that sample size is incredibly small, it’s pretty clear that Peralta sees the ball well out of Shields’ hand.
Mitch Moreland ($2,700) – We’re going to need to save cap space somewhere, and Moreland gives us a great chance to do that without losing much upside. I frequently target him in GPPs when he’s hitting at home against average RHs, and that’s the case here tonight. Vance Worley hasn’t been terribly effective against LH bats over the past few seasons and isn’t expected to have much success tonight, while Moreland owns very nice power numbers given the $2,700 price tag. Moreland closed out 2015 with a .372 wOBA, .234 ISO and 36.7% hard contact rate, numbers that we don’t often see from someone in this price range.