Thursday brings us another full day of baseball with 10 games on the schedule. In this article, I will be looking at some core play at each position for the five-game early slate.
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With that, let’s jump into the picks.
The fact I am leading off with Sonny Gray says a lot about the quality of pitching on the early slate. I do like Bieber who struck out nine Jays in his first start but love the discount, especially on FanDuel, with Gray. He struggled with command in his first start allowing three runs(two earned) while walking four and striking out none but bounced back in his last start. He give up just one earned run on three hits while striking out seven and walking none but go zero run support and thus his second loss.
Today, the Reds are -165 home favorites as they close out the series with the Marlins who rank 24th in wOBA(.283) and wRC+(73) and have scored the second-fewest runs(33) to start the year with a 23.3% K rate. It is a small sample size but the Marlins have also been much worse against righties striking out just over 31% of the time. If the offense can get him some runs today, Gray is in a great spot from a PTS/$ perspective and will be my core pitcher on the early slate.
Also Consider: Shane Bieber(CLE)
While it has been a slow start for Goldy in St. Louis as he is hitting .195 overall, he has shown big upside with six home runs and gotten on base at a .340 clip. Oddly enough, he has also been better against righties in the early going and Walker Buehler has not looked like the same pitcher as last season. Most of my exposure to Goldy will come in GPP formats but if enough value pops up, he makes sense in cash games as well.
Also Consider: Joey Votto(CIN)
Whether you are playing DFS or MLB.com’s “Beat the Streak”, Whit Merrifield is a player that should be on your radar each and every day. He extended his hit streak to 31 games and whether you think that is controversial or not extending over two seasons, it is still impressive. He is the cog that drivers the Royals offense in the leadoff spot and while he doesn’t walk much(4.4%), he doesn’t give away outs to the K either(8.9%). He is an excellent payup in cash games as you pretty much know what you are going to get day in and day out.
Also Consider: Jonathan Villar(BAL)
The Mariners are my top team to target on the early slate and the best part about them is that you can target almost the entire lineup. One player down in the order who has been producing in the early going is Ryon Healy who has at least one hit in 11 of 14 games with three home runs, 12 RBI, and 11 runs scored. The M’s now face Jorge Lopez who has given up five earned runs in his first two starts and it could have been worse with an xFIP 1.3 runs higher than his ERA while giving up 46% hard contact. On a smaller slate like this, I would consider Healy in play in all formats, especially on DraftKings with multi-position eligibility.
Also Consider: Matt Chapman(OAK)
Adalberto Mondesi is a nice GPP option as his price has taken a big jump lately but for cash games, I am looking for a little more value. There are two that stand out with Corey Seager being my favorite for a couple reasons starting with the price on FanDuel and the fact this game has the highest total on the slate. Seager hasn’t found the average(.244) yet but is getting on base at a .367 clip and gets a ton of opportunity hitting near the top of the Dodgers lineup. Today, he faces Michael Wacha who is one of the biggest regression candidates in fantasy baseball as he sits with a 1.54 ERA despite walking 12 batters in his first two starts. Seager is my core play at shortstop on the early slate.
Also Consider: Marcus Semien(OAK)
The Mariners have the #1 offense in baseball over the first two weeks of the season and Santana has played a huge role at the top of the order. He has hits in 11 of 13 games with three doubles, four home runs, 11 runs scored, and a whopping 19 RBI. He got a rest-day on Wednesday and will step back into the lineup on Thursday in a terrific matchup against Jorge Lopez. He posted a 5+ ERA a year ago with two teams and has already given up 11 hits and five earned runs in his first two starts in 2019. The Mariners are my top payup on the early slate and Santana will be my core outfielder in all formats.
Also Consider: Robbie Grossman(OAK) if he is back in the leadoff spot against Dylan Bundy and the Orioles