Opening Day is here! Baseball returns with a bang on Monday, with a huge slate of games to keep us entertaining throughout the day. Here are my top FanDuel picks as you craft your lineups.
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers, $11,700
On a day full of elite options to choose from, I'm going to do my best to roster the shiniest of all the available toys. You could make an argument for at least five arms to be worthy of your one SP roster spot, but the minimal difference in price is having me look to pay all the up for the Los Angeles ace. Kershaw is the starting pitcher in a game with a paltry over/under (6), while his Dodgers are a strong - 180 favorite on the MLB odds board. This does not bode well for the Padres. Sure, San Diego improved their offense in the offseason with the addition of guys like Justin Upton and former Dodger Matt Kemp (REVENGE!?!?!), but this isn't likely to be the spot to justify those moves. Don't get cute if you are playing cash games (H2H/50-50s). Elite arms are much more predictive than bats. Roster Kershaw, or someone of a similar ability, and move on.
Henderson Alvarez, Miami Marlins, $7,400
Look, I can go ahead and recommend a guy like Corey Kluber or Max Scherzer here, but I can't see how that would be all that helpful. If you are looking to squeeze in a power bat or two, Henderson could be your guy to help you get there. I wouldn't unleash him in my cash games, but he's on my tournament radar. Again, its opening day, so pretty much every pitcher is going to cost you as teams are rolling out their aces, but I don't think Alvarez should be (tied for) the fourth-cheapest starting pitcher on the slate. After a rough offseason, the Braves lineup is basically Freddie Freeman and a cast of misfits. As for Alvarez, no he doesn't have a massive upside, but he was excellent pitching in friendly Marlins Park last season. Six innings, four or so punchouts, a couple earned runs, and a W is a plausible game log. This would more than satisfy his cap friendly asking price.
Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants, $4,300
You're going to hear this a lot this year; Buster Posey absolutely smashes LHP. Well, he's not facing a southpaw this evening, but I still think giving him a look is justifiable. Opposing pitcher Josh Collmenter is one of the weakest arms taking the bump and Posey will benefit greatly from the sweet park bump that Chase Field offers. If you are a fan of BvP (batter vs pitcher) stats, the San Francisco All Star has an impressive history vs Collmenter, as he's 11-for-18 with a double and three dongs in his career, while never once striking out. Posey's salary is a little tricky to squeeze in your cash games where I suggest you splurge on your SP, but he's an elite tournament option this evening.
John Jaso, Tampa Bay Rays, $3,100
The Tampa Bay catcher is back to the team that originally drafted him, although he's actually slated to get most of his run as the team's starting designated hitter. He has a list of things going in his favor today to make it worth giving him a gander. Namely an appealing lineup position (batting leadoff), an economical price, getting to face a subpar "ace", and he gets to face a much preferred RHP. All of these reasons make Jaso a de facto cash game catcher.
Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks, $4,800
No, I'm not taking crazy pills over here. Sure, it would seem that way since I'm recommending a bat vs Madison Bumgarner, which does not feel like a +EV move. Before you come at me with pitchforks, let me drop an asterisk on Goldy. I'd only consider unleashing him as a GPP contrarian play because so few people will roster him, and he has the ability to be a separator in tournaments. We love to roster Goldschmidt at home and vs a LHP, as his numbers are just silly under that scenario, but again, this is only a swerve play and not suitable for your H2H rosters.
Adam Lind, Milwaukee Brewers, $2,800
It’s hard not to love the asking price/situation that the former Blue Jay finds himself in this evening. Lind will take his first swings as a Brewer in about as optimal a situation you can ask for on opening day. He'll get to take on Kyle Kendrick, who is a much preferred RHP, is probably the day's most vulnerable arm, in a game with the highest over/under on the board, with the Brewers heavily favored, and in a positive hitting environment. You can buy all of that for the low, low price of just $2,800. Rostering members of the Brew Crew makes a lot of senses today, with Lind as one of their prime targets.
Joe Panik, San Francisco Giants, $2.400
There is a pretty decent chance I'm going to find myself punting at the second base position today. Again, elite SPs are pricey and you are going to need to spend down in several spots to roster one, so here we are. I'm not sure about the speaking softly part, but rest assured, Joe Panik will never be confused for Theodore Roosevelt when it comes to the carrying a big stick part. That said, the San Francisco second baseman is expected to have a prime lineup spot (second) vs one of the day's weaker SPs, and has the benefit of taking his hacks in a premium hitting environment. That is about all you ask for when paying down and punting a position.
Dan Uggla, Washington Nationals, $2,200
Speaking of taking hacks, may I present Dan Uggla. Look, I don't want to roster him any more than you do, but again, concessions must be made somewhere. Sure, his better days are behind him, and the only reason he's even getting an opportunity is because of the injuries to the Nationals lineup, but he still has those Popeye arms and it’s not like he can't run into a Bartolo Colon fastball, and take him deep. As with all the players you roster, make sure he is in the lineup, but if he is, I suspect I'll have a share of Uggla, for better or worse.
Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies, $3,500
Sure, we prefer to roster Arenado at home and vs a LHP and we're getting neither today in Milwaukee. That said, I've been picking on Colorado's Kyle Kendrick, but it’s not like the Brewer's Kyle Lohse needs to be feared or avoided. Chicks dig it when Lohse is on the mound, as he tends to give up the long ball. To be precise, he's yielded 48 in his last two seasons for Milwaukee. That would be a lot. Some would go so far as to call it a plethora. I like the chances of (at least) one Rockie taking the Brewer starter deep, and Arenado is on my short list of candidates to do so.
Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers, $3,400
Staying in the same game, for $100 cheaper, you can roster the other guy at the hot corner and throw one more dart at the vulnerable Kyle Kendrick. I'm feeling like I might get for cyberbullying here, but picking on the pedestrian Colorado hurler is warranted. Kendrick is the worst pitcher going today, in an unfriendly ballpark, and Ramirez is primed to bat cleanup for the Beermakers.
Jace Peterson, Atlanta Braves, $2,200
Not to be confused with the more heralded Joc Pederson from the Dodgers (or the slightly less desired J. Peterman of Seinfeld fame), Atlanta's Jace Peterson is worth considering for the same reasons as our cheapie second baseman. Opportunity and price. He's expected to hit second in the Braves putrid lineup, is minimum salary, and comes with extreme speed upside. Peterson had a rough go of it in his cup coffee for the Padres last season, but he stole a pile of bases in the minors, and the Braves, if for no other reason than having no one else, are going to give him a chance in an ideal spot.
Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers, $4,100
One more Brewer for the road. Few players had a more forgettable 2014 than Braun, as he was dealing with a multiple public relations issues with his PED suspension, and possibly more importantly, a nagging thumb injury. I generally don't care so much for Spring Training stats, but it’s reassuring to see that the Milwaukee slugger raked and looked like his old self. His old self had a price tag that could lurk in the 5K area, so the way I see it, we're getting him at a bit of a discount today. No, he doesn't get to face a LHP (as we'd prefer), but I've already let it be known how I want to pick on Kyle Kendrick, so much so that I'm boldly deeming Ryan Braun as my Dong of The Day, and calling the dinger.
Angel Pagan, San Francisco Giants, $2,900
Keeping pace with my Milwaukee recommendations, I have one more Giant for the road as well. The injury to Hunter Pence presumably has Angel Pagan with an appealing spot in the order (likely third), and he has more power than you think. No one thinks of him as big threat to go yard, but if you look at his career numbers, the Giants outfielder has racked up a respectable 49 dongs in 862 ABs. Of course he's done this over the course of nine seasons, which helps disguise his underrated process to homer. This isn't to say that he will do say today, but as previously stated, the ballpark is conducive to potential fireworks, and I'm not exactly a Josh Collmenter believer.
Anthony Gose, Detroit Tigers, $2,500
This is less about Gose's ability and more about his opportunity. It’s expected that the brand new Tiger will hit lead off, and with guys like Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez lurking behind him, that is pretty much his best selling point. That, and if he does find himself on base, Gose has wheels and is a candidate to swipe multiple bags when things go his way.