I would normally ignore a three-game slate, but this is the first day of MLB DFS in a year. That means yours truly is back to offering his thoughts on the weekend slates here on FakeTeams. Look for my slightly-above-average takes to drop on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
I hope the information offered here is more substantive than merely offering picks. The market is saturated with articles of that nature, and I would like to evolve into something useful enough for people to return to. That will take time to crystallize, but it is my lofty goal for the season.
I generally only put about $5 into play each day, moving between the small single entry tournaments and maybe the $3 Squeeze. It is a low-stakes life, but it is fun to me. My focus is generally more GPP-oriented—in a game with so much variance I find zero appeal in cash games. I would rather lose consistently until I hit it big instead of attempting to grind out cash games. To each their own. Just know that my focus is more on upside than it is safety.
Given the tough matchups for hitters, I want to make certain I use the pitcher with the greatest amount of upside. You can make an argument for any of these front-end starters, but the man with the most upside is...
Chris Archer ($9,400) vs. New York Yankees
Archer was a tale-of-two-halves guy last season, but when the dust settled his numbers evened out just fine. Archer struck out 27.4% of the batters he faced, one year after striking out 29.0% of batters (his career mark is 25.0%). The only outlier in 2016 was an inflated 16.2 HR/FB rate. Archer’s career mark is 11.3 percent, for reference. Meanwhile, Archer’s walk percentage, BABIP, LOB%, SIERA, xFIP, etc were all pretty consistent with his career averages. The main issue was more fly balls becoming home runs, suggesting the young ace was merely unlucky on fly balls last season. Against a young Yankees lineup, his potential for strikeouts is salivating.
I generally pick a couple of pitchers for each slate, but given the three-game setup I am putting all of my eggs into Archer’s proverbial basket and differentiating with my bats.
San Francisco Giants @ Zack Greinke
I like to assume the good folks in “Vegas” know more than I do. The only team with an implied run total over four is the San Francisco Giants, and they are facing the pitcher I like the least in Zack Greinke. That’s enough for me to not overthink things. It’s left-handed hitters you want against Greinke, so that means Brandon Belt ($2,900) and Brandon Crawford ($2,400) are squarely in play. Buster Posey ($3,300) is a righty but is probably a must-have on such a small slate, especially if you plan to stack Giants.
That means the big decision is between Denard Span ($2,800) and Hunter Pence ($2,500) for the last spot. Span is a lefty and using him would likely mean exposure to the 1-2-4-5 hitters in the lineup. Pence is a righty and is only hitting .183 this spring. I think I’ll roll with Span, who has the leadoff spot and the L/R split in his favor.
Anthony Rizzo ($4,100) @ Carlos Martinez
The big lefty is a major consideration if you decide to get creative with your Giants stacks and leave Belt out of the equation. When Carlos Martinez is vulnerable it is to left-handed bats, and Rizzo BASHES right-handed pitching. Last season, 24 of Rizzo’s 32 home runs came against RHP. Rizzo slashed .305/.393/.651 with an ISO of .340 and a .432 wOBA against righties. He also hit tons of fly balls (42.7%) and made lots of hard contact (38.6%) against RHP. Just start the man already.
More World Championship Cubbies @ Carlos Martinez
Call me a rank amateur for the narrative, but the atmosphere for the Sunday night game is going to be insane when the World Champion Cubs take the field against the rival Redbirds. Carlos Martinez will be making his debut as an Opening Day starter. He is a quality starter in the league but is far more susceptible to left-handed hitters. Other than Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber ($3,400) and Ben Zobrist ($3,100) are the possibilities. Can you go wrong with Kris Bryant ($4,400) in the R/R split? Maybe. C-Mart has allowed only 10 home runs and a paltry .226/.295/.299 slash to RHH in 258.0 big league innings.
I will do my best to offer a sample lineup (or two) with each post. Here is the inaugural effort for 2017...it is sure to be interesting on a three-game slate!
Chris Archer, Buster Posey, Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Kris Bryant, Brandon Crawford, Denard Span, Kyle Schwarber, Jarrett Parker. That’s Archer with what should be the 8-1-4-5 Giants stack and the 1-2-3-4 Cubs stack.
Chris Archer, Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Ben Zobrist, Evan Longoria, Brandon Crawford, Kyle Schwarber, Denard Span, A.J. Pollock. A more conventional 1-2-4-5 Giants stack that fades the right-handed Hunter Pence against Greinke. Pence has been ice-cold this spring, anyway. He’ll probably double-dong...
Share your thoughts on the (small) Opening Day slate with me, ladies and gents! Let’s talk about the sort of information that might be helpful in this space, too. I’m an open book. Happy MLB DFS to all.