Zack Greinke vs Miami, $10,300
There are multiple ace-like arms taking the bump tonight, so I'd suggest not getting skimpy when considering how much salary to delegate to your starting pitcher. As for Greinke, he separates himself from the pack for multiple reasons. For starters, the pitching environment is positive and Vegas gives him a rousing endorsement. The over/under is set at a paltry 7 runs, and the Dodgers are the biggest favorite on the board this evening (-200). There is no guarantee that the L.A. hurler will get the win this evening, but he certainly has as good of a shot as anyone else. The four points rewarded for the W are crucial on FanDuel. Couple this with the Marlins’ propensity to struggle vs RHPs (22nd in wOBA/22% K rate) and Greinke is my top SP on the slate.
Gerrit Cole at Philadelphia, $9,000
Again, outside of a whacky GPP dart, I'm not planning on getting too cute when it comes to selecting my starting pitcher this evening. Sure, I'd much prefer that this game were to take place in Pittsburgh's more spacious PNC Park, but the Philly bats lack such intimidation that I'm not scared off by the positive hitting environment that is Citizen's Bank Park. The Phillies have the lowest team wOBA and OPS vs RHPs (and it is not all that close). Philadelphia is in the middle of the pack as far as striking out vs righties (14th) and they are rolling out Jerome Williams, who should give up enough runs to well position Cole for the win this evening.
Salvador Perez at Texas, $2,700
There are two positions that are pretty gross this evening, with catcher being one of them. The Royals backstop gets the benefit of a ballpark shift and will take on the overachieving Colby Lewis. We generally like to roll out Perez vs a LHP, but again, options are slim here.
A.J. Pierzynski at Cincinnati, $2,500
Inexplicably the 38-year-old catcher is having himself a bit of a resurgence on the short season. Even more egregious, AJP is finding himself hitting in the cleanup spot for the Braves more times than not (needless to say, it was a rough offseason for Atlanta). I don't expect this success to continue all season long, but in DFS all we care about is tonight, and tonight Pierzynski is cheap, gets a ballpark upgrade, should bat fourth, and again, the position is brutal.
Freddie Freeman at Cincinnati, $3,800
Fab Five Freddie comes into Cincy doing his best Denzel Washington impression, as he's been a "Man on Fire" of late. In his last seven games, the Braves first baseman has racked up 14 base knocks, including an impressive six doubles while throwing in a homer just for fun. I don't totally get it, but teams are still pitching to him (it must be the aforementioned Pierznyski lurking on deck). If you are just short of paying up for Freeman, I'd give Chris Davis a look, as he'll get to take on a homer-prone RHP in a friendly ballpark.
Adam LaRoche at Milwaukee, $2,500
I generally don't look to get cheap when filling out my first base slot (because there are typically multiple elite options), but LaRoche is in an excellent spot to succeed tonight. Opposing SP Marco Estrada yielded a whopping 29 dingers last season (including 14 to lefties). Keep an eye on how the White Sox handle losing their DH in a NL park. It has been suggested that Jose Abreu (another excellent option) may play 3B, which would open up 1B for LaRoche.
Neil Walker at Philadelphia, $3,000
This is one of my favorite plays on the board. Walker is a switch hitter, but he much prefers to hit left-handed off RHPs, and there are few right-handers that are more appealing to take your hacks against than Jerome Williams. The park shift from Pittsburgh to Philly is an additional perk as well. I suspect you are going to find a lot of people on Dustin Pedroia, who gets to face a preferred lefty, and I'll probably have a share or two of him as well, but I favor Walker for just $100 more.
Scooter Gennett vs Chicago White Sox, $2,200
What do you look for in a punt play? Will Gennett hit in a positive hitting environment? Check. An ideal lineup spot? Most likely, as he has found himself in the two-hole of late. Will the splits be in his favor? Yes, the Milwaukee second baseman is a much better hitter vs RHPs. Oh, and he is minimum salary. Jeff Samardzija is not an arm I want to pick on too much, despite his early season issues, but again, prices don't get any cheaper than this.
Evan Longoria vs New York Yankees, $3,800
If you are BvP guy, you don't need me to tell you that the Tampa Bay third baseman has pummeled C.C. Sabathia throughout his career. He’s 24-of-58 with 8 doubles and 6 homers, which is rather impressive. That said, while I'm not one to completely dismiss batter vs pitcher data, I rarely lean on it as my sole justification for rostering a player. That said, Longo has a history of smashing southpaws in general. Couple that with Sabathia's issues with righties and giving up the long ball, and Longoria makes for an appealing option.
Adrian Beltre vs Kansas City, $2,700
Sometimes the analysis is as simple as this: the guy is just too cheap. Sure, Beltre has scuffled a bit out of the gate, but he has shown signs of breaking out of late. In his last seven games he has 9 hits, including 3 2Bs, a triple, and a home run. You likely won't see Beltre's price this low for long. Take advantage of it while you can.
J.J. Hardy vs Toronto, $2,300
Remember when I said that there are two positions that are gross this evening? Well, your likely assumption was correct, and shortstop was the second place I was referencing. With no Troy Tulowitzki available or even a Jhonny Peralta, the position gets awfully thin rather quickly. I'd give a look and consider a guy like Alexis Ramirez or Ian Desmond (more so in a tournament), but I'm perfectly content with rostering Hardy, if I'm in need of some additional savings. He should bat around sixth, be in an ideal park, and again, Marco Estrada has been known to give up homer or two in his time.
Bryce Harper at Arizona, $5,100
Harper is the most expensive outfielder on the slate and it is completely justified. Ten hits, including six home runs in four games, tend to raise someone's asking price. Of course yesterday means nothing in DFS, and all we are concerned with it tonight. Well, tonight he gets the enticing ballpark bump that Arizona's Chase Field offers and he'll get to square off vs a pedestrian RHP. The tricky part is squeezing Harper into our lineups, especially if you are paying up for a SP, but you are going to want to find a way to get some shares of the Washington superstar.
Andrew McCutchen at Philadelphia, $3,800
If you can't quite spring for Bryce Harper, the former Pittsburgh makes for a fine consolation prize. Sure, we'd prefer that McCutchen face a LHP, but he'll have the pleasure of opposing "no home" Jerome Williams, who is an equal opportunity giver, no matter how you choose to swing your bat. The Pirate outfielder has not had an ideal start to the year, but he is carrying a five-game hitting streak into Philly, while banging out a double in four straight games.
Michael Cuddyer at Chicago Cubs, $2,600
This is a good spot to mention the weather in Chicago. Wind affects no other park like it does Wrigley, and it appears that it will be blowing out 15+ MPH tonight. You need to only look to Vegas for confirmation that this will affect the game, as a game between two plus pitchers, Jon Lester and Jacob deGrom, has a 9 over/under. I was generally avoiding the bats here, but now I think they are in play for tournaments. As for Cuddyer, he has the second-highest MUwOBA among all outfielders with an impressive .402. He is as good a bet as any, when it comes to projecting who the wind will help most in Chicago.