Welcome back baseball fans. Saturday brings us a full day of baseball with multiple slates and in this article I will breakdown some of my core plays at each position for each early slate(DraftKings).
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With that, let’s jump into the picks.
The Saturday early slate gives us some fine options at pitcher and James Paxton stands out as the top one for me. He is coming off a season where he maybe didn’t get the wins(11) but was excellent with a 3.76 ERA and even better 3.20 xFIP while also posting a career-high 32% K rate and 14.3% swinging strike rate. Today he is a huge -360 home favorite facing an Orioles team that is coming off a season where they scored the 4th fewest runs a year ago and that was with a half season of Manny Machado(traded mid season). There are a ton of K’s throughout the O’s lineup and it showed on Opening Day as three players had at least two K’s. Fire up Paxton in all formats.
Also Consider: Aaron Sanchez(TOR) as an upside value play against a Tigers team that struck out 15 times on Opening Day and are currently sitting with seven on Friday as I write this
There are some nice options in each price range on this slate I will settle right in the middle with Jose Abreu. He went 0-4 in the opener but has been a picture of consistency throughout his five-year career averaging 29 home runs, 80 runs, and 98 RBI. Today he and the White Sox offense also get a plus matchup against Jakob Junis who is a two-pitch pitcher(93% fastballs and sliders last season) and gave up 41% hard contact and a 16.7% HR/FB rate a year ago. At these prices, I will be using Abreu in all formats.
Also Consider: Justin Smoak(TOR)
On DraftKings, it makes sense to just pay up for Whit Merrifield who was bust on Opening Day with a hit, walk, two stolen bases, and two runs. On FanDuel, however, Jose Peraza stands out from a PTS/$ perspective at a $1,200 discount. Pereaza also had a stellar opening day with a single and game-tying home run in the 7th. He hits down in the order(6th/7th) but will be at home in one of the best hitters parks and facing a pitcher who has posted a 4+ xFIP in each of his first three seasons(4.30, 4.49, 4.54).
Also Consider: Whit Merrifield(KC)
My lack of Yankees early in the article is, by no means, a reflection of what I think of them today. They sit atop the implied run projections by almost a full run and it makes sense for a couple reasons starting with their loaded lineup. The other reasons is the matchup as the Orioles will be starting a reliever and running a bullpen game which benefits the Yankees as the O’s finished 2018 with the fourth-worst bullpen ERA. As long as Andujar sticks in the middle of the lineup, he is going to get a ton of opportunities to drive in runs and crush his price.
Also Consider: Brandon Drury(TOR) as a value play at the position
Mondesi has played parts of three season in the majors now but took a huge step forward last year finishing with a .276 average, .341 wOBA, and 114 wRC+. He is now the Royals everyday shortstop and a staple in the two-hole and was one of the top breakout candidates around the industry. He can rack up points in bunches as he can not only hit for average but also has some power combined with a ton of speed(32 steals in 75 games last year). The Royals should be able to put up runs on Reynaldo Lopez who has recorded a 5.22 and 5.75 xFIP the last two years. As with any player who can score points in multiple different ways, Mondesi is a target in all formats today.
Also Consider: Tim Anderson(CWS)
Brett Gardner/Aaron Judge(NYY)
I mentioned above with Andujar that the Yankees will be facing a bullpen game from the Orioles and sit atop the implied run rankings today. Gardner had a disappointing Opening Day and was chalky but as long as he sticks as the leadoff hitter, he is underpriced at the top of this dangerous lineup. Aaron Judge is almost always in play and while most people think of him as a huge upside play, he is coming off two seasons where he tallied a ridiculous .422 and .392 on-base percentage. All things considered, Judge is once again my top overall play on this slate.
Also Consider: Corey Dickerson(PIT)