We’re just one day out from the best day of the year. MLB Opening Day always brings the endless possibility of baseball’s seemingly endless regular season, which is important to remember when the grind sets in after just a few short weeks. Daily fantasy baseball can be fickle at best. The inherent variance in the sport makes it the most difficult to project with accuracy, making Awesemo’s MLB DFS accomplishments year after year all the more impressive. Fortunately, the tools and data that he uses to win so frequently — along with some killer content from the team he put together, if I may say — are all a simple subscription away. With 11 games on the FanDuel slate and nine games on DraftKings, there’s no better time than Opening Day to dive headfirst into daily fantasy baseball than a day with that many quality MLB DFS picks from which to choose. We’re going to look at a couple of previews of the ongoing content you can expect in this space then get into a quick game by game briefing session.
Opening Day slates are typically loaded with talent, with teams coming into the season largely in good health and, for the most part, starting the ace of their pitching staff. Thursday’s slate is no exception, we have a long list of high-end starters who are their team’s number one option, but we also have several extremely strong looking lineups to target; and that’s before we even get to the best lineup in baseball playing at Coors Field.
MLB DFS Opening Day: Top HR Options & Stacks
Home Run Ratings — Preview
Home runs are our holy grail when making MLB DFS picks. Finding the right combination of sluggers who will knock one, or better two, out of the park to drive in the teammates you stack with them is critical to winning GPPs. Identifying the likely home run hitters is trickier than just looking at the big names. Using a model of my own design, based on a blend of several predictive statistics for the batter-pitcher matchup, just like last year, I’m going to give one of the top choices from each team for every main slate of the year in my daily article.
We’ll preview a few of the likely picks, check back Thursday for the full list.
Scale: 5-10 Average; 10-20 Good; 20-25 Very Good; 25+ Great
Boston Red Sox: Rafael Devers — 19.68
Cleveland Indians: Franmil Reyes — 15.69
Kansas City Royals: Jorge Soler — 10.54
Miami Marlins: Adam Duvall — 12.53
Pittsburgh Pirates: Colin Moran — 6.25
MLB DFS Stacks
(Quick note: if it says 1-5 it means hitters 1-2-3-4-5, otherwise I’ll specify spots)
All season long, we’ll be picking a few standout MLB DFS spots and teams to look at for potential plays here. Make sure to check out the ownership projections for critical updates and monitor the top stacks tool throughout the day for changes.
Here’s a preview:
NYY — 9-1-2-3-4 — Frazier, LeMahieu, Judge, Hicks, Stanton
One of the league’s go-to power options, the Yankees lineup will be at home to take on the Blue Jays and southpaw starter Hyun Jin Ryu. The lefty is no slouch, he will be stiff competition for a strikeout-happy Yankees team and he stands a chance of putting up a slate-relevant fantasy performance. In 2020, Ryu was better against right-handed hitters, posting a 3.14 xFIP and a 27.4% strikeout percentage in the split, while managing just 21.2% strikeouts and a 4.04 xFIP against fellow lefties. As with everything from last season, the sample size is smaller than a normal year. Overall, we’re betting more on the side of the firepower and the park factors here.
The Yankees loaded lineup comes into the opener in relative health, and they should be able to unload on early-season pitching. Since the start of the 2019 season, the Yankees active roster is first in baseball, with a .220 ISO against lefties. The team has hit 94 home runs in the split, ranking them fifth in baseball, while their 116 WRC+ also ranks fifth. While the team has several players who will be pushing the boundaries of acceptable strikeout rates this season, the team’s active roster is not at the absolute bottom of the league, they rank 23rd with a 23.4% mark. Although it is telling about the league that their rate is closer to the second place Angels than the last ranked Rangers.
The Yankees lineup will be mostly familiar and mostly expensive, though there are a few unexpected sources of value for those who have not been paying attention all spring. The lineup skews heavily right-handed in all situations, beginning with outstanding leadoff hitter D.J. LeMahieu. The Yankees star second baseman had an excellent 2020, putting up a .226 ISO and a WRC+ 77% above league average, to go with his 10 home runs and .421 on-base percentage from atop the lineup. LeMahieu is a hitting machine who makes things happen for the entire Yankees lineup, he is a key correlation cog.
Aaron Judge hits titanic blasts when he connects, the only thing standing between him and 50 home runs is his ability to stay in the lineup. Judge saw just 114 plate appearances in 2020 and 447 in 2019, hitting a combined 36 home runs. He is an excellent option for power, in the small sample last season Judge posted a .297 ISO and created runs 40% better than the average hitter. He has the lineup’s second-highest mark in my home run model for Thursday’s opening day.
Aaron Hicks brings dazzling defense and switch-hitting ability to a Yankees lineup that is needy for both. As with most of the team’s outfield, Hicks needs to stay in the lineup reliably and he should prove a good source of production. The outfielder has an underrated skill set, his atrocious .225 batting average stands out to basic box score scanning, but the underlying numbers are appealing. Hicks still managed a .379 on-base percentage last season and is actually one of the team’s more discerning hitters, striking out in just 18% of his opportunities, and only 13% of the time against lefties in 2020. Hicks has power upside, he hit six home runs in his 211 plate appearances last year, putting up a .189 ISO and a 124 WRC+, as a less expensive hitter in the thick of things atop the Yankees lineup, Hicks is likely to be important on Opening Day.
Giancarlo Stanton is the team leader in my home run model at this point in the day and the powerful right-handed outfielder has a strong projection. Another health-sciences experiment dressed as a baseball player, Stanton is perhaps the biggest question mark for a Yankees team loaded with them. He comes into the season after seeing just 94 plate appearances in 2020 and 72 the season before. The expensive former Mike did manage to hit seven home runs in those limited at bats. While we don’t make much of spring training numbers, the 31-year-old did manage to make it through the session, seeing 42 plate appearances and hitting a home run with three doubles and a .914 OPS partly due to drawing six walks. If Stanton is healthy and the timing is there, the power should be as well.
The Yankees lineup keeps on giving for both fans and MLB DFS players, with Gleyber Torres likely to hit fifth. The middle infielder went from the next big thing in New York following his outstanding 2019, to a bit of a reclamation project, following a clunky season in the Upside-Down that was 2020. Torres hit just three home runs in his 160 plate appearances, putting up a meager .125 ISO and disappointing 106 WRC+. Just one year removed from hitting 38 home runs in 604 plate appearances, there is obvious upside in getting to Torres while he is priced-down for last year’s letdown, there is every reason to believe in the talent and long term numbers.
Jay Bruce may be a surprise for some in the Yankees lineup, assuming he is penciled in as the Opening Day starter at first base. Signed to a minor league deal in the offseason, the longtime power bat finally got the opportunity to fulfill his destiny of gingerly placing home runs over the short wall in right field in Yankee Stadium when regular first baseman Luke Voit went down with a knee injury. Replacing Voit’s power in the lineup is a tall order, but Bruce does allow the team to diversify their lineup. In 103 plate appearances in 2020, Bruce put up six home runs and a .271 ISO, though his WRC+ was 17% below average. It is noteworthy that only 18 of those plate appearances came against left-handed pitching, however.
The bottom of the Yankees lineup offers three right handed hitters of very different quality. Third baseman Gio Urshela was found money for the Yankees when they brought him in as a defense-only option whose bat suddenly appeared. Urshela hit 21 home runs in 476 plate appearances in 2019 and followed that with six in 174 opportunities last season. He added a .192 ISO and 133 WRC+ to strong defense at the hot corner, edging out fan favorite Miguel Andujar for the ongoing role.
Catcher Gary Sanchez has power for days, he simply struggles to make contact with the ball with anything approaching regularity. Sanchez went from an all-around good hitter his first few seasons to a lowly .147 hitter in 2020. Those who care about batting average will be extremely turned off by that number, and rightly so, Sanchez was simply not good in 2020. He did blast 10 home runs in his 178 plate appearances, putting up a strong .218 ISO, but his inability to do much else cost him. Sanchez had just a .253 on-base percentage and a WRC+ 31% below average. More miserably, Sanchez struck out in 36% of his appearances last season, an untenable number for any lineup regular. The big right-handed catcher was bad against southpaws in 2020, connecting for just three hits — two home runs — in his 41 plate appearances and striking out 16 times.
Clint Frazier makes for an intriguing wraparound stack option. He is one of the cheaper options on the team, for now, and he provides a strong skillset at what is likely to be low ownership. We know that when we dip to the bottom of the lineup we are likely sacrificing a plate appearance, but the quality of Frazier on his own justifies the move, and getting him with correlation to the deadly top of the Yankees lineup is a strong differentiation play with what will be a popular stack. Frazier has patiently worked his way into a regular role for the first time, in 160 plate appearances in 2020 he hit eight home runs and posted a .244 ISO with a WRC+ 49% above average. Frazier added three stolen bases and has upside for more if he approaches the .394 on-base percentage he put up last year. Make sure to include the dynamic outfielder in some shares of Yankees stacks, he has finally arrived full-time.
MLB DFS Picks: Game Previews
Note: Game totals are yet to be posted. All individual hitter and pitcher stats are from 2020 unless specified; all team hitting stats are for the current active roster across the 2019 and 2020 seasons combined.
Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees
Blue Jays +161
Starter: Hyun Jin Ryu (L) — 2020: 12 starts, 67.0 IP, 26.2% K%, 6.2% BB%, 3.32 xFIP, 1.15 WHIP
Lineup Summary: The young Blue Jays roster is bolstered by the arrival of Marcus Semien and should be poised to take the next step in a relatively loaded AL East this season. The team has recognizable names up and down the roster, with multiple second-generation players including Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., though all eyes will be on Guerrero as he looks to truly break out. The team will have their work cut out for them against Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, though they project well for the situation and several have interesting power marks.
2019-2020 Active Roster Splits vs RHP: .212 ISO (5th), 22.6% K% (12th), 108 WRC+ (8th), 238 HR (3rd)
Starter: Gerrit Cole (R) — 2020 — 12 starts, 73.0 IP, 32.6% K%, 5.9% BB%, 3.38 xFIP, 0.96 WHIP
Lineup Summary: see previous section
2019-2020 Active Roster Splits vs LHP: .220 ISO (1st), 23.4% K% (23rd), 116 WRC+ (5th), 94 HR (5th)
Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers
Starter: Shane Bieber (R) — 2020 — 12 starts, 77 IP, 41.1% K%, 7.1% BB%, 2.04 xFIP, 0.87 WHIP
Lineup Summary: There’s no hiding the fact that the Indians lineup will suffer for the loss of superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor. They are not left bereft of talent, however, with Jose Ramirez still anchoring things in the middle of the batting order. The dynamic switch hitter is joined by newcomer Eddie Rosario and Franmil Reyes, both of whom provide chalky power upside. The lineup also includes sneakier power bats like Josh Naylor as well as on-base run creation contributors like Cesar Hernandez. The matchup against Matthew Boyd has the Indians better hitters standing out as a potential stack option for Opening Day MLB DFS.
2019-2020 Active Roster Splits vs LHP: .173 ISO (24th), 20.9% K% (5th), 103 WRC+ (16th), 79 HR (11th)
Starter: Matthew Boyd (L) — 2020 — 12 starts, 60 IP, 22.1% K%, 8.1% BB%, 4.98 xFIP, 1.48 WHIP
Lineup Summary: The only positive here is that the Tigers will be extremely affordable on Opening Day. One of the worst lineups in the league is facing one of the best pitchers in the game, this one is likely going in favor of Bieber and his massive 41.1% strikeout rate from last year. The Tigers lineup offers a number of strikeout-prone hitters, with the bulk projected for mid-20s strikeout percentages, Bieber should carve them up. Stacking the top of the lineup is easily affordable but ill-advised in this spot.
2019-2020 Active Roster Splits vs RHP: .145 ISO (30th), 24.6% K% (27th), 84 WRC+ (28th), 153 HR (25th)
Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox
Starter: John Means (L) — 2020 — 10 starts, 43 IP, 23.9% K%, 4.0% BB%, 4.45 xFIP, 0.98 WHIP
Lineup Summary: The Orioles were a bit of a surprise source of MLB DFS production at times in the 2020 season, particularly standout Anthony Santander, who hit 11 home runs in 165 plate appearances before going down with an injury in game 37. With Trey Mancini returning to the lineup, high draft pick Ryan Mountcastle in tow, Maikel Franco signing on in free agency, and another year of growth from outfielder Austin Hays, the Orioles could have an interesting and underappreciated lineup to start the season. They will be fairly cheap on Thursdays slate and could warrant a few stacking shares in their matchup against Nathan Eovaldi.
2019-2020 Active Roster Splits vs RHP: .181 ISO (18th), 23% K% (18th), 95 WRC+ (23rd), 163 HR (22nd)
Red Sox -167
Starter: Nathan Eovaldi (R) — 2020 — 9 starts — 48 IP — 26.1% K%, 3.5% BB%, 3.32 xFIP, 1.20 WHIP
Lineup Summary: Still reeling from the loss of Mookie Betts going into last season, the Red Sox lineup will be strong enough to remain relevant for MLB DFS, with upside for a bit more with their power. The lineup still includes slugger J.D. Martinez, as well as star shortstop Xander Bogaerts and standout young third baseman Rafael Devers, a strong bet to continue his growth at the plate and approach 40 home runs in a full season. Adding Hunter Renfroe to that trio rounds off some veteran quality, while the Sox will continue to add young pieces in an on-the-fly rebuild, with both Alex Verdugo and Bobby Dalbec taking up residence in the regular starting lineup.
2019-2020 Active Roster Splits vs LHP: .215 ISO (5th), 21.4% K% (10th), 112 WRC+ (8th), 107 HR (1st)
Minnesota Twins at Milwaukee Brewers
Starter: Kenta Maeda (R) — 2020 — 11 starts — 66 IP — 32.3% K%, 4.0% BB%, 2.63 xFIP, 0.75 WHIP
Lineup Summary: The first thing that stands out about the Twins likely lineup is that it is unlikely to include slugger Nelson Cruz. Not because Cruz finally aged out of the game at nearly 41 years old, he simply doesn’t play in situations where the Twins do not have the designated hitter as an option. Cruz smashed 16 home runs in his 214 plate appearances last season and has shown no signs of slowing down his massive production at the plate. The lineup takes a hit without him, but still offers upside for power with Max Kepler, Josh Donaldson, Miguel Sano and Mitch Garver. Shortstop Jorge Polanco is in a prove it situation this season after hitting just four home runs in his 226 plate appearances last year, though he has shown significant upside. Outfielder Byron Buxton is likely to be a popular option in Twins stacks as well, a year after hitting 13 home runs in just 135 plate appearances.
2019-2020 Active Roster Splits vs RHP: .221 ISO (3rd), 21.9% K% (8th), 117 WRC+ (4th), 220 HR (9th)
Starter: Brandon Woodruff (R) — 2020 — 13 starts — 73 IP — 31.1% K%, 6.1% BB%, 3.29 xFIP, 0.99 WHIP
Lineup Summary: The Brewers lineup is largely comprised of a superstar with some moving parts surrounding him. Christian Yelich is the premier name in this lineup and one of the most expensive players on most MLB DFS slates. The outfielder had a strong, but not MVP-caliber, season in 2020, putting up 12 home runs in 247 plate appearances and posting a 112 WRC+. He is joined in the heart of the lineup by Keston Hiura, whose vaunted hit tool completely abandoned him for stretches of 2020. Hiura managed to blast 13 home runs in 246 plate appearances, posting a .198 ISO and an 87 WRC+, the Brewers and fantasy owners need more from him. There are not many standout pieces in the Brewers lineup when it comes to MLB DFS. The team has Kolten Wong, Lorenzo Cain, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Travis Shaw in prominent roles.
2019-2020 Active Roster Splits vs RHP: .173 ISO (22nd), 24,2% K% (24th), 97 WRC+ (19th), 225 HR (7th)
Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs
Starter: Chad Kuhl (R) — 2020 — 9 starts — 46 IP — 22.3% K%, 14.2% BB%, 4.98 xFIP, 1.36 WHIP
Lineup Summary: The Pirates have the potential to be a sneaky offensive weapon for MLB DFS. They have several hitters with underappreciated contact skills, including Bryan Reynolds, 2019’s Rookie of the Year runner-up. In 2020, Reynolds crashed to a .189/.275/.357 slash with a .168 ISO and WRC+ 28% below average. Under the radar, Reynolds was among league leaders in both hard contact and in limiting soft contact, and he increased his average launch angle by from below seven degrees to more than 10.5 degrees. This trend will have to continue, but if it does there is power upside in Reynolds’ bat. His teammate Colin Moran rates similarly for underappreciated pop. They will be joined by Ke’Bryan Hayes, a highly touted young player as well as Pirates mainstay Gregory Polanco. There are moving parts in the Pirates lineup that help keep them cheap, they could prove a valuable secondary stack to build in alongside the big pay-up options.
2019-2020 Active Roster Splits vs RHP: .148 ISO (29th), 21.4% K% (4th), 89 WRC+ (27th), 91 HR (30th)
Starter: Kyle Hendricks (R) — 2020 — 12 starts — 81 IP — 20.3% K%, 2.5% BB%, 3,78 xFIP, 1.00 WHIP
Lineup Summary: The Cubbies should be in the driver’s seat for their home matchup against Kuhl. Last season the right-hander had a wildly unsustainable 14.2% walk rate that this team should be able to take advantage of, while he was limited to a 22.3% strikeout rate. The Cubs are fully healthy, though they saw Kyle Schwarber‘s powerful but unreliable lefty bat depart for D.C. in the offseason. Cubs stalwarts Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo make for a fine first two clicks in any Cubs stack against any pitcher. Following them with Javier Baez, Willson Contreras, Ian Happ and Joc Pederson rounds off a powerful high-end stacking option on the most highly favored team of the day.
2019-2020 Active Roster Splits vs RHP: .202 ISO (8th), 22.9% K% (15th), 109 WRC+ (7th), 236 HR (4th)
Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies
Starter: Max Fried (L) — 2020 — 11 starts — 56 IP — 22.3% K%, 8.5% BB, 4.05 xFIP, 1.09 WHIP
Lineup Summary: The Braves were one of the bigtime upside teams for MLB DFS action last season, and they stand poised to deliver for daily fantasy baseball once again. The team is loaded with quality from both sides of the plate, and their right-handed hitters were excellent handling same-handed pitching through last season. The Braves are headlined by Ronald Acuna Jr. who should not be an unfamiliar name. The emerging superstar is a 40/40 threat with the potential to break a 50/50 season given full health and a green light to run that much. Acuna is joined by excellent second baseman Ozzie Albies atop the lineup. The duo is followed by Freddie Freeman who had another tremendous season in 2020, putting up a .341/.462/.640 slash with a .299 ISO and a WRC+ 87% above average. With Marcell Ozuna hitting 18 home runs behind him in the lineup, it’s no wonder Freeman had such a strong opportunity to see good pitches. Beyond Ozuna we get one of baseball’s better offensive catchers in Travis d’Arnaud, emergent slugging shortstop Dansby Swanson, who could see another bump in power this season, and Austin Riley, who brings a highly touted bat of his own.
2019-2020 Active Roster Splits vs RHP: .200 ISO (10th), 22.3% K% (10th), 108 WRC+ (9th), 226 HR (6th)
Starter: Aaron Nola (R) — 2020 — 12 starts, 71 IP, 33.2% K%, 8.0% BB%, 1.08 WHIP
Lineup Summary: The Phillies are running back very much the same lineup that they posted for most games last season. The true standouts on the team are in the top end of the order, beginning with the aging but still always underrated Andrew McCutchen. The outfielder had another solid season in 2020, with a .253/.324/.433 slash but 10 home runs in his 241 plate appearances, for a .180 ISO and a 103 WRC+. Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper add plenty of thump to the middle of the lineup, as does star catcher JT Realmuto, who is simply a tier or two above the other options at the position. In 2020, Realmuto had a .266/.349/.491 slash with a .225 ISO and he created runs 25% better than the average. The Phillies lineup rolls with stacking options including Didi Gregorius, sophomore Alec Bohm and Jean Segura.
2019-2020 Active Roster Splits vs LHP: .220 ISO (T-1st), 22.4% K% (16th), 114 WRC+ (6th), 80 HR (9th)
Arizona Diamondbacks at San Diego Padres
Starter: Madison Bumgarner (L) — 2020 — 9 starts, 41 IP, 15.8% K%, 6.8% BB%, 5.85 xFIP, 1.44 WHIP
Lineup Summary: The Diamondbacks are a pretty bad lineup in a pretty bad spot, going up against one of the league’s top strikeout artists, Yu Darvish, who will be making his debut in San Diego. The top 2020 home run hitter in the projected Opening Day lineup for Arizona is Christian Walker, who managed to knock seven out of the park in his 243 plate appearances. None of the other Diamondbacks hit more than five. This team struggles with power and will be unlikely to find it against Darvish. Even as a value play, they are not among the top options, stacking the top of the lineup including David Peralta, Ketel Marte, Walker and Eduardo Escobar would be the approach for the insistent, and there could be sneaky power upside in Pavin Smith‘s bat.
2019-2020 Active Roster Splits vs RHP: .190 ISO (14th), 21.8% K% (6th), 96 WRC+ (20th), 205 HR (13th)
Starter: Yu Darvish (R) — 2020 — 12 starts — 76 IP, 31.3% K%, 4.7% BB%, 0.96 WHIP
Lineup Summary: On the flipside of this contest, the Padres are expected to be one of the best teams in baseball and they have a loaded lineup. Leading off with Tommy Pham, who was in and out of the lineup last year but still managed three home runs and six stolen bases in just 125 plate appearances, is a strong start. The Padres follow Pham up with young superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. who exploded in 2020 with 17 home runs and a .295 ISO in his 257 plate appearances hitting in front of Manny Machado who hit 16 home runs of his own in his 254 opportunities. Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers add veteran know-how and some interesting pop to the later part of the lineup, while the bottom end is occupied by a few moving parts. Ultimately the stack resides largely in the first six spots in the lineup for those going to it in a great spot against the seemingly done-for Bumgarner
2019-2020 Active Roster Splits vs LHP: .196 ISO (10th), 22.3% K% (15th), 124 WRC+ (1st), 65 HR (21st)
Los Angeles Dodgers at Colorado Rockies
Starter: Clayton Kershaw (L) — 2020 — 10 starts — 58 IP — 28.1% K%, 3.6% BB%, 0.84 WHIP
Lineup Summary: It’s unfair of the MLB DFS gods to open the season with one of the sport’s best lineups in Coors Field. The Dodgers will be the massive chalk for the Thursday Opening Day main slate, and with good reason. They project spectacularly well for the spot, despite the matchup against Rockies ace German Marquez. The right-hander had a good 3.67 xFIP in home starts last year, putting up a 21.2% strikeout rate that matched his mark on the road as did his 7.3% walk rate. Marquez is good, even at home, the Dodgers lineup is better. The loaded stack starts with Betts up top and doesn’t stop until it reaches Chris Taylor at the bottom, we can go to any part of the lineup with confidence, though we drop potential plate appearances as we do. Getting to shares of underpriced Cody Bellinger seems like a good idea while he is there. Bellinger is very much more the slugger who belted 47 home runs in 660 plate appearances with a .305/.506/.629 slash in 2019 than he is the .239/.333/.455 hitter who managed 12 last year. Corey Seager and Justin Turner make excellent stacking partners above Bellinger in the projected lineup, as do Will Smith, Max Muncy and A.J. Pollock behind him.
2019-2020 Active Roster Splits vs RHP: .233 ISO (1st), 19.8% K% (2nd), 126 WRC+ (1st), 230 HR (5th)
Starter: German Marquez (R) — 2020 — 13 starts, 81 IP, 21.2% K%, 7.3% BB%, 3.83 xFIP, 1.26 WHIP
Lineup Summary: The Rockies will benefit from their home park all season, just like in other years, only this year they will have to do so without superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado, who finally extricated himself from the Mile High City for the greener pastures of St. Louis. Arenado’s departure leaves a canyon in the middle of the Rockies lineup, though C.J. Cron will try to fill at least some of the power production. Stars Charlie Blackmon and Trevor Story still sit in the heart of the Rockies lineup, and there is plenty of speed in Raimel Tapia and Garrett Hampson, making the top of the projected lineup an interesting target overall, though primarily just in Coors Field games like Thursday. Ryan McMahon and Brendan Rodgers are both playable from later in the lineup, in smaller shares of an already lightly distributed stack.
2019-2020 Active Roster Splits vs LHP: .187 ISO (15th), 26.2% K% (27th), 89 WRC+ (30th), 72 HR (15th)
St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati Reds
Starter: Jack Flaherty (R) — 2020 — 9 starts, 40 IP, 28.8% K%, 9.4% BB%, 3.42 xFIP, 1.21 WHIP
Lineup Summary: The Cardinals got their man, making one of the loudest splashes of the offseason in acquiring Arenado to man the hot corner. The superstar is coming off a year that saw him post a .253/.303/.434 slash with just eight home runs in 201 plate appearances, a downturn from his usual production by any measure. The new team and fresh opportunity could be just what Arenado is looking for, and he should benefit from hitting in a quality lineup. The spot is not great overall for St. Louis, they are facing the Reds’ ace Luis Castillo, who is coming off a strong year, but several of the Cardinals hitters project well and could be in a very low-owned spot. Combining Arenado with Paul Goldschmidt is an obvious start, adding Tommy Edman‘s power and speed upside to the mix makes sense from the leadoff spot, as does adding Paul DeJong at shortstop, though we have a number of options at that position. Tyler O’Neill would likely be the last stop on the way down the Cardinals lineup, the masher went just .173/.261/.360 last season, but he managed to hit seven home runs in his 157 plate appearances.
2019-2020 Active Roster Splits vs RHP: .171 ISO (25th), 23% K% (17th), 92 WRC+ (25th), 166 HR (21st)
Starter: Luis Castillo (R) — 2020 — 12 starts, 70 IP, 30.5% K%, 8.2% BB%, 2.82 xFIP, 1.23 WHIP
Lineup Summary: The Reds should be an interesting team for MLB DFS purposes this season. They have a few intriguing players and significant power upside with several proven mashers in the lineup. Joining mainstay Joey Votto — who had a bit of a bounce-back season last year, hitting 11 home runs in his 223 plate appearances — will be hard-hitting Jesse Winker who hit 12 home runs in his 183 opportunities. Winker posted a solid .255/.388/.544 slash with a .289 ISO and WRC+ 46% above average and should have the team’s leadoff spot to himself to start the season. Veterans Mike Moustakas and Eugenio Suarez add a ton of pop from the middle of the lineup, while blue chipper Nick Senzel seized the center field job with a big spring, reminding everyone of why he was a popular prospect on the way up. The spot against Flaherty isn’t an easy one, but this is a good lineup with reasonable pricing and strong projections, they make an interesting target for stacks.
2019-2020 Active Roster Splits vs RHP: .210 ISO (6th), 24% K% (22nd), 100 WRC+ (18th), 222 HR (8th)
Texas Rangers at Kansas City Royals
Starter: Kyle Gibson (R) — 2020 — 12 starts, 67 IP, 19.3% K%, 10.0% BB%, 4.36 xFIP, 1.53 WHIP
Lineup Summary: It takes a bad team to be this significant an underdog to this Royals squad, but the Rangers are just that bad a team. With not much to love about their lineup as a whole, we have to pick and choose a few pieces in case someone forces us to roster Rangers. One of the team’s go-to bats is the big man in the middle of the lineup, Joey Gallo, who hit 10 home runs in 226 plate appearances last season. On the downside, Gallo managed a slash of just .181/.301/.378 and he is not underpriced. David Dahl adds reasonable power and speed upside from the two spot in the lineup, while there is no truly projectable upside in players like Nick Solak, Rougned Odor or Ronald Guzman. The Rangers bad lineup is in a bad spot against Brad Keller, who is excellent at keeping the ball on the ground and in the ballpark.
2019-2020 Active Roster Splits vs RHP: .168 ISO (26th), 26.5% K% (30th), 82 WRC+ (29th), 129 HR (27th)
Starter: Brad Keller (R) — 2020 — 9 starts, 54 IP, 16.3% K%, 7.9% BB%, 4.33 xFIP, 1.02 WHIP
Lineup Summary: The Royals lineup has a few intriguing pieces for speed and power, in typical Kansas City fashion. While they may not come together to form a very good real baseball team, the Royals could have interesting MLB DFS upside on the right slates. Whit Merrifield, Andrew Benintendi and Adalberto Mondesi offer a tantalizing mix of mid-grade pop and the ability to steal bases. Merrifield and Mondesi combined for 36 last season, though the Red Sox import Benintendi added just one to that tally (he stole 10 bases in 2019). The trio is followed in the lineup by mashers Carlos Santana, Salvador Perez and Jorge Soler. Perez managed 11 home runs in his return to action last season, while Soler hit eight in just 174 plate appearances. Stacking the speedy top-end of this lineup could be a sneaky approach to starting the season.
2019-2020 Active Roster Splits vs RHP: .163 ISO (27th), 21.9% K% (7th), 92 WRC+ (24th), 182 HR (19th)
Tampa Bay Rays at Miami Marlins
Starter: Tyler Glasnow (R) — 2020 — 12 starts, 67 IP, 19.3% K%, 10.0% BB%, 4.36 xFIP, 1.53 WHIP
Lineup Summary: The Rays are always an intriguing lineup, given the team’s propensity for keeping baseball games interesting with their blend of power and speed. The team will be playing in a National League park, so it is noteworthy that they will be without their designated hitter, though it is difficult to forecast that spot with the dynamic way this lineup comes together. Overall the top end of the batting order is appropriately priced, with Randy Arozarena, last year’s playoff breakout star, leading the way. Leadoff man Austin Meadows had a dramatically down year in 2020, going just .205/.296/.371 with four home runs in 152 plate appearances, but he hit 33 home runs and swiped 12 bases in 591 plate appearances the year before. Betting on the larger sample seems like a safe gamble with this player. Brandon Lowe, Yandy Diaz and Yoshi Tsutsugo provide some additional upside for power and interesting positional eligibility to the mix, with Lowe looking like the standout in the group at his price, which is particularly low on FanDuel.
2019-2020 Active Roster Splits vs RHP: .154 ISO (28th), 24.6% K% (26th), 102 WRC+ (15th), 163 HR (23rd)
Starter: Sandy Alcantara (R) — 2020 — 9 starts, 54 IP, 16.3% K%, 7.9% BB%, 4.33 xFIP, 1.02 WHIP
Lineup Summary: The reconstituted Marlins look just frisky enough to wreak havoc on MLB DFS lineups all season long. With an influx of veteran talent and some up and coming players, the Marlins will be in play on the right slate. Thursday’s Opening Day matchup against Glasnow is not likely to be such a slate. The pitcher had a fantastic 2020, striking out 38.2% of hitters in his 11 starts, following the 33.0% he whiffed in 12 starts the year before. There are a significant number of strikeouts available in the Marlins lineup, and Glasnow has an opportunity to cruise to a big score. Getting to under-owned Marlins does have some appeal, however, as a few of their players are likely to be low owned but still bear reasonable power expectations. Adam Duvall is always in play against same-handed pitching. The right-hander hit 16 home runs in 209 plate appearances last season, 13 of which came in his against right-handers. Jesus Aguilar possesses power upside, while Starling Marte brings speed and mid-range pop from the two spot in the lineup. Corey Dickerson has value from the leadoff spot, while young Jazz Chisholm could be a sneaky day one value play at the minimum price on FanDuel and close enough to it on DraftKings. The high-end prospect had a 62 plate appearance cup of coffee in the Show last season, hitting two home runs and stealing two bases, while striking out 30.6% of the time. Like the rest of the Marlins stack, he would be a dart-throw of a play on Thursday’s MLB DFS slate.
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