At last, baseball is finally back! Happy Opening Day. This article will cover the five-game DraftKings early slate starting at 1:05 p.m. eastern. You'll see my top pitchers and bats consider building your lineups around, generally in cash and single entry contests. Buckle up, enjoy the show, and make sure to check out all of the great MLB content we'll have today and ALL SEASON LONG!
Jacob deGrom (NYM)
Coming off a Cy Young season, deGrom was rewarded with a contract extension just the other day to stay with the Mets. Jake has pitched great in his career at Nationals Park striking out 62, walking 11, allowing 39 hits, and posting a 2.56 ERA in 52.2 innings spanning eight starts. In three starts against the Nats last season, deGrom went at least six innings in all three (20.1 total) and struck out 25 while allowing just 17 hits and four earned runs. His counterpart in Max Scherzer is obviously no slouch, but I'll take the discount with deGrom.
Masahiro Tanaka (NYY)
Tanaka should be the chalk pitcher on this slate in a home start against the Orioles who may lose more games than any other team in history this season. Tanaka always has the potential to get blown up at any given time against anyone, this much is true. However, he brings with him a ton of K upside against a lineup that, first of all, sucks, and second of all is full of strikeouts. The only issue I have here is that I would expect Gary Sanchez to be catching today. Over his career, Tanaka's numbers are significantly worse throwing to Sanchez than anyone else that has caught him, but Baltimore is so weak that I can look past that blemish here. At $9,300, Tanaka is the fourth-highest priced pitcher on the slate in arguably the best matchup, and I use the term "arguably" very loosely.
Marcus Stroman (TOR)
Stroman is the SP2 option I'm looking hard at in a home matchup against the Tigers. While Stroman had a rough go of it last season, I'm a believer in him and his stuff and ability to compete. He's a ground ball machine (63 percent to lefties, 61 percent to righties in 2018). He didn't allow an alarming amount of hard contact last season but for a guy that can't rely on the strikeout, he has to limit his walks, something he had trouble doing last season. Stroman pitches well today and earns a win paying off his friendly $6,900 price tag.
Bats to Build Around
My top bats on the slate.
Matt Carpenter (STL)
Carpenter is expected to leadoff for the Cards today and is in line for a good matchup against Brewers starter Jhoulys Chacin. Chacin allowed a 39.3 percent hard contact rate along with a 35 percent fly-ball rate to lefties last season. In his career at Miller Park, a park that already caters to lefties, Carpenter is a .285 hitter (61-214) with 17 doubles and 10 home runs.
Bryce Harper (PHI)
All offseason all we heard was where is Bryce Harper going to sign? The charade that is free agency came to an end finally when Harper signed with the Phils to stay in the N.L. East. Bryce has historically shown up on Opening Day with a .417 career average, a double, and three home runs over his career. Braves starter Julio Teheran suffered against lefties allowing a .320 wOBA, 38 percent hard contact rate, and 44 percent fly-ball rate. Oh, and to make matters worse in this spot for Teheran, Harper has owned him going 18-40 (.450) with three doubles, eight home runs, 11 walks, and just five strikeouts over his career.
Paul Goldschmidt (STL)
Much like his new teammate, Carpenter, Godly has had a great deal of success in Miller Park. Over 23 games at the home of the Brewers, Goldy is a .420 hitter (37-102) with 10 doubles and eight home runs. He was able to hammer righties to the tune of a .384 wOBA, .230 ISO, and a 45 percent hard-hit rate. Outside of last season, when Goldy struggled early, he's gotten off to hot starts and I expect him to do just that with his new team this season.
Justin Smoak (TOR)
Smoak is a nice value bat to consider in a great matchup against Jordan Zimmermann. Smoak posted a .370 wOBA, .257 ISO, 40 percent hard-hit rate, and 47 percent fly ball rate against righties last season. Zimmermann struggled with lefties surrendering a .342 wOBA, 1.94 HR/9, a 40 percent fly ball rate, and a 17.4 HR/FB rate.
Favorite value bat: Marcell Ozuna (STL)
Low owned home run: Travis Shaw (MIL)
Weakest position on the slate (generally a position that I'll look to save on): Catcher - Yasmani Grandal (MIL), Wilson Ramos (NYM), Yadier Molina (STL)