Baseball is back and we have a split slate of games with six early and nine in the evening for our FanDuel contests. Tournament prize pools are much larger for the main slate, so that’s going to be the focus of today’s article. Given the season just started, I’ll be looking at last season’s numbers when analyzing pitchers and hitters. Once we get a bit more into the season, I can start incorporating more recent metrics, like hard hit percentage, ground ball rate, etc.
The evening slate is very interesting as we don’t have a true elite pitcher to build around. Kershaw, Sale, and Bumgarner are all pitching early, and our most expensive arms are Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke, neither of whom are in a particularly good spot. Let’s take a look at which pitchers and hitters are in favorable situations tonight.
Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals, $9000 – I’m a big Martinez fan, and I’m likely going to end up rostering him a lot this season. I’ll also be targeting Atlanta often because they lack power, have trouble scoring runs, and will be losing quite a few more games than they’ll be winning. The win is extremely important on FanDuel, so we want to be confident that our starting pitcher is in good position to win. Atlanta is starting their best pitcher, Julio Teheran, and given how weak the Cardinals’ lineup looks, they may have trouble scoring some runs as well. I’d like my starter to be more of a lock to earn the win, but it’s hard to have any confidence in any of today’s pitchers in that regard. I do believe the Cardinals will win because they’re the better team and Martinez is the better pitcher, so hopefully the Cardinals score some early runs and put Martinez is in position to earn the 12 points.
Cole Hamels, Texas Rangers, $10500 – I know I mentioned in my intro that Hamels wasn’t in a great spot, but he’s also my number two behind Carlos Martinez. I just can’t comfortably recommend one of the cheaper pitching options because of them just aren’t very good and carry little upside. The Angels were mostly dreadful against left-handed pitching last season, and offseason pickups like Yunel Escobar and Andrelton Simmons aren’t going to change that. Aside from Mike Trout, nobody on this team hit lefties well last season. Hamels will face a mostly right-handed lineup against whom he has solid strikeout numbers. I think he has a decent shot at the win as the Rangers have a tough lineup. Opposing starter Garrett Richards is good, but not great, and Texas should be able to give Hamels three or four runs of support.
Derek Norris, San Diego Padres, $3000 – Norris is the easy top catcher play as he’s facing a lefty at Coors Field. His numbers were down last season, but he has a solid history of terrorizing left-handed pitching. Rockies starter Jorge de la Rosa struggles with righties, allowing a 33.1% hard hit rate while walking 10.7% of the batters he faced. Padres righties are in a very nice spot tonight, and obviously they all get a huge boost because they’re playing in Colorado.
Additional Plays: Nick Hundley
Wil Myers, San Diego Padres, $3600 – Myers sported a solid .362 wOBA against lefties last season, though the power was a bit lacking. Coors Field should certainly help in that department. One of the themes all season will be trying to get as many Coors Field batters in your lineup as possible. These games are always going to have the highest projected totals, and there’s just no sense in fighting the environment, especially in cash games. I’ve already touched on Jorge de la Rosa’s struggles right righties, and given San Diego’s best hitters are all right-handed, I expect them to give him a lot of trouble today. First base is surprisingly thin tonight with Paul Goldschmidt and Anthony Rizzo drawing poor matchups, so I like taking Myers in a favorable matchup in the best hitter’s park in the league.
Scooter Gennett, Milwaukee Brewers, $2800 – Gennett is on fire to start the season, and he’s already two home runs. Astros starter Doug Fister was brutal against lefties last season, posting a 5.03 xFIP with an awful 12% strike out rate and equally as awful 36.8% ground ball rate. If you can’t strike guys out, you’d better be keeping the ball on the ground, and Fister can do either. Miller Park is a great place to hit, and while Milwaukee’s lineup looks bleak most days, this is a nice situation for them. At just $2800, Gennett is an easy play at second base for me.
Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays, $3000 – In terms of matchups, nothing is really jumping out at me at third base. I try to match a hitter who crushes a particular handedness up with a pitcher who struggles with the same handedness as that hitter, but nothing is really matching up today. However, Orioles starter Mike Wright is simply brutal. Of today’s starters, Wright posted the highest xFIP against both lefties and righties. Against righties he allowed a hard hit rate of 30.7%, struck out just 14.6% of the batters he faced, walked 9.7% of batters, and served up five home runs in just 23 innings pitched. Longoria had a poor season against right-handed pitching, but this one of those instances where the opposing starter is so bad that nearly everyone on the team is a solid option.
Trevor Story, San Diego Padres, $4000 – What do I even say? He’s the hottest hitter in the league, he’s breaking new rookie records every day, and he already has six home runs in his first four games as a major league player. Obviously this pace will stop, but it’s clear that Story can hit. A matchup against lefty Drew Pomeranz isn’t the time for me to jump off the train, and despite his expensive $4000 price tag, he’s going to be extremely high owned. You can fade him in tournaments and hope that he finally doesn’t hit a home run, but I’ll be rolling with the herd in cash games.
Matt Kemp, San Diego Padres, $4000 – Here is your number one play of the day. I’ll be forcing Kemp into my lineups, and it’s not only because he’s a right-handed hitter that’s historically crushed lefties and happens to be facing a lefty at Coors Field. Some BvP numbers you simply have to pay attention to, and Kemp’s career numbers against Jorge de la Rosa are a perfect example of that. He’s 22/48 lifetime with five home runs, six doubles, a triple, and only six strikeouts. I just can’t ignore that, and given I already liked Padres righties today, Kemp is a lock for me.
Corey Dickerson, Tampa Bay Rays, $3200 – I love Dickerson today batting cleanup for the Rays against Mike Wright. Dickerson crushed right-handed pitching in Colorado, and he gets to hit in the extremely lefty-friendly confines of Camden tonight. Camden is one of the best parks in the league for lefty power, and Mike Wright is a terrific matchup for anyone with a pulse. Wright allowed a 5.52 xFIP to lefties last season with an anemic 10.9% strike out rate. He also allowed four home runs in just 21 innings pitched. The Rays are not normally a team I look to, but Dickerson is in a terrific spot tonight, as are the Rays in general.
Preston Tucker, Houston Astros, $2500 – Tucker should be in the lineup tonight against righty Wily Peralta. Peralta is dreadful against lefties, allowing a staggering 38.1% hard contact rate while striking out just 10% of the lefties he faced. He’s bad, and Tucker has been hitting the ball extremely well to start the season. Priced at just $2500, he’s an excellent source of both upside and cap relief that can help you to roster the more expensive Coors bats.