It’s the first big day of the NFL season, and while most daily fantasy players will be focusing on football, there is still money to be made in baseball. Make sure you do your due diligence when constructing your MLB lineups. It’s easy to get distracted with huge money up for grabs in NFL GPPs. Fortunately, I’ve done most of the research for you, and these players should give you an edge over some of your opponents that might throw a quick lineup together just to get some action on FanDuel. But make sure to check the starting lineups to make sure your players will take the field and earn points!
Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees, $9400 – This pick is contingent on the status of Edwin Encarnacion. Troy Tulowitzki could possibly be done for the season, so Tanaka already gets a bump with Cliff Pennington likely in the lineup instead. Encarnacion is the only Blue Jay that’s had any success against Tanaka. He’s 7/14 with two doubles and a home run, while the rest of the team is 13/91 with 29 strikeouts. Toronto is also a mostly righty lineup, and Tanaka has limited right-handed hitters to a .232 wOBA over the past month, and, as crazy as it sounds, the Blue Jays might have a very ugly lineup today. Also, we know that Russell Martin is not going to catch (Thole catches Dickey), though he could DH if Encarnacion is out of the lineup with his finger injury. In summary, I really like Tanaka today if Encarnacion is out, and he gets a bigger bump if Russell Martin is out as well.
Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox, $12400 – Sale is going to be the chalk pitcher today because he’s always the chalk pitcher on days he’s on the mound. I don’t love him today, but there are honestly no pitchers I’m excited about today. Sale never pitches especially well against the Twins. He has a 1.70 WHIP and 8.26 ERA against them over five starts this season, but he also has 42 strikeouts over 30 innings. The floor is there because of his ability to strike out so many batters, but I would temper my expectations. Tanaka is my preferred option because I think Encarnacion will get a day off, but I can’t fault anyone for wanting to use Sale. I’m only writing him up because I always write up two pitchers and I honestly can’t find anyone better.
Miguel Montero, Chicago Cubs, $2700 – Montero has only caught two straight days, so he should be in the lineup once again today. He’s easily the top catcher option for me. He draws an extremely favorable matchup with Aaron Harang. Harang has been nothing short of awful lately. He’s allowed a .401 wOBA over the past month to left-handed hitters, and he’s pitched to a 5.51 SIERA over the same time period. His swinging strike rate is almost non-existent at 5.5%, and he’s likely going to get knocked around early and often by a lefty-heavy Cubs lineup that has been annihilating bad right-handed pitching. Montero holds a .410 wOBA against righties over the past month, and it sure doesn’t hurt that he has a career line of 13/23 with a home run against Harang. Montero is underpriced at $2700, and is an easy play at an always thin catcher position.
J.P. Arencibia, Tampa Bay Rays, $3000 - Montero is the chalk play at $2700, but Arencibia is worth a look facing a 35-year-old minor-league lefty at $3000. Hill pitched well in the minors, but this Rays team crushes left-handed pitching, and Arencibia has been on fire lately. I think his ownership will be low with some good catching options available, but his power gives him very high upside that plays very well in both cash games and GPPs. He’s on fire right now, and he’s worth riding until he inevitably cools off.
Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs, $4400 – The theme of today’s article is the Chicago Cubs. Rizzo has been swinging the bat well lately, making a lot of hard contact, and hitting righties to a .404 wOBA with seven home runs over the past month. If you need a refresher on how bad Aaron Harang is, go ahead and re-read Miguel Montero’s blurb. Rizzo is an elite play at first base with a manageable $4400 price tag.
David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox, $4800 – Don’t look now, but Ortiz is crushing lefties as well. He hit two home runs off lefty Matt Moore yesterday, and holds a .467 wOBA against lefties over the past month. Ortiz is just locked in, and he’s one of, if not the, hottest hitter in baseball right now. As a team, Boston is crushing left-handed pitchers right now, and Ortiz figures to see plenty of RBI opportunities on his way to yet another big game.
Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox, $3000 – Pedroia will likely be batting second for a Red Sox team that has been terrorizing left-handed pitching for quite some time. He’ll be hitting behind Mookie Betts and his .505 wOBA against lefties over the past month. Two batters behind Pedroia is David Ortiz, who has been crushing absolutely everything thrown at him. Pedroia is in a great position to not only drive in runs, but score some runs himself, and given his long history of hitting lefties extremely well, he’s a very solid play at only $3000.
Logan Forsythe, Tampa Bay Rays, $3600 – The Rays are a team that will likely go overlooked on a full slate of games, but they crush left-handed pitching as a whole, and are likely to give lefty Rich Hill a lot of problems today. The lineup is full of very good right-handed hitters, and Forsythe is one of the best. He’s going to see plenty of good run-producing opportunities out of the cleanup spot, and his .515 wOBA and two home runs over the past month suggest that he has plenty of upside in this particular matchup.
Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs, $4000 – It’s always important not to just assume a right-handed hitter is going to hit lefties better, or a left-handed hitter is going to hit righties better. Many times, righties will have better numbers against right-handed pitchers. This is the case with Bryant, who holds a .468 wOBA against righties with six home runs over the past month. Aaron Harang is just bad against everyone, and he’s allowed a .411 wOBA with six home runs against same-side hitters over the same time period. Harang is likely to get wrecked by a hard-hitting Cubs team, and Bryant is an elite play at third base that many won’t consider due to price and the righty/righty matchup.
Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays, $3400 – Right behind Forsythe is Evan Longoria sitting at a .514 wOBA with three home runs against lefties this past month. He’s been locked in for a while now, and he presents terrific value at a cheap $3400 price tag. I think the Rays are great targets against a minor league lefty, and Longoria has huge upside given the matchup and how well he’s been swinging the bat lately.
Jung-Ho Kang, Pittsburgh Pirates, $3800 – I’m starting to see why Taylor Jungmann had brutal numbers against right-handed hitters in the minors. He just isn’t very good, and I’m firmly of the belief that his early success this season was mostly a fluke. His 9% swinging strike rate over the past month isn’t great, and his 10.9% walk rate is terrible. What’s even worse is his 36.1% hard contact rate that isn’t being mitigated by a high rate of swinging strikes or ground balls (36.6% rate is awful). As was the case in the minors, right-handed hitters are the problem, and he’s allowed a .393 wOBA and three home runs to righties this past month. Kang is crushing righties to the tune of a .387 wOBA with six home runs over the past month, and he’s been especially locked in as of late. He’s another high upside play that could go overlooked today.
Carlos Correa, Houston Astros, $3600 – Correa holds a .458 wOBA with two home runs against left-handed pitching over the past month. Andrew Heaney isn’t terrible, but his .337 wOBA against righties and 30% hard contact rate are nothing to avoid. Correa is an elite hitter against left-handed pitchers, and Heaney has had his fair share of troubles with right-handed hitters. Correa is too cheap for the upside he provides, and he’s a great option at only $3600.
Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs, $4000 – Schwarber is the first player in my lineups, and he is non-negotiable. He’s on fire right now, and he’s posted a ridiculous .493 wOBA with nine home runs against righties over the past month. He’s quickly becoming one of the best left-handed hitters in the league, and he’s facing one of the worst right-handed pitchers. In my opinion, he’s underpriced at $4000, and based on the value he presents relative to that price tag, he simply cannot be faded.
Dexter Fowler, Chicago Cubs, $3200 – I don’t understand why Fowler’s price never moves. He’s been an incredibly consistent, and often high upside play for well over a month now, and he is always in a great position to accrue runs and RBIs because the Cubs have such a great lineup. Obviously I’m going to be targeting both Harang and the miserable Phillies bullpen heavily today due to the matchup and the fact that the Cubs are so underpriced. Fowler’s .440 wOBA and four home runs against right-handed pitching over the past month makes him an extremely easy play at $3200 today.
Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals, $3400 – Over the past month, Werth is crushing lefties and has posted a .479 wOBA to go with three home runs. Marlins starter Brad Hand has been brutal against right-handed hitters, allowing a .450 wOBA and serving up six home runs over the same timeframe. He’s also allowed a 34.8% hard contact rate, which ranks fifth out of today’s starters. Werth is a fantastic, high-upside play in this matchup that is very affordable at $3400.