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MLB DFS picks for Opening Day, March 29

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Heath explores the early slate of games on FanDuel.

MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Angels at Chicago Cubs Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Opening Day is finally here. I’d dance, except dancing isn’t really my thing. So I’ll just sit here with my coffee and share my thoughts.

I’ll focus primarily on the three-game early slate. That might be weird for some of you, but I actually enjoy the small slates. It’s less research for me and I feel like my decisions are at least vetted before I set my money on fire.

If you’re into it, I completed what I would call overviews of each position (with a DFS focus) leading up to the season. I took a look at outfielders yesterday, and all the links to the other positions are within that effort.

I can’t wait to follow along with every C-Dick at-bat today. I’d say you guys (and gals) have no idea how long I’ve waited for this, except that wouldn’t be true. We’ve all waited all offseason. Now it’s time to sweat out a long, fantastic MLB DFS season.

EARLY SLATE

Jon Lester ($9,300) @ MIA

It all starts with the pitcher, right? Give me Lester at Miami. The Marlins are devoid of MLB talent due to gutting their roster and embracing the rebuild. What remained after the dust settled took another hit with J.T. Realmuto’s recent back injury. Lester is a strong -190 favorite and should be at least the second-most popular choice of the day behind Noah Syndergaard.

Thor gets a matchup against Carlos Martinez, who I happen to like more than the average bear. Syndergaard is a modest -140 favorite at home. This could very well be an extreme pitcher’s duel, but I could see C-Mart stifling the Mets and thwarting Syndergaard’s chances for a win (which is why I like Lester).

All in all, I just plain like Lester the most. He is in the most forgiving park and is pitching against the worst offense on the slate. He also has the best offense of the slate behind him, and they face the uninspiring Jose Urena. I’m all-in with Lester on Opening Day.

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Jordan Zimmerman

Zimmerman is an obvious choice to pick on. He offers a three-pitch mix, including a four-seam fastball, a slider, and a curveball. He threw his slider less and added a changeup last year, but the change was a pitch he barely used. Diminished velocity on his fastball (down to 92.5 mph last year) as well as an ineffective curve ball contributed to his issues. It helps that Detroit’s park is the best environment for hitting, too. I am most interested in Josh Bell, who has reverse splits (a RHH who fares better against RHP). Bell’s walk rate, average, and on-base percentage are all better against right-handers, and his ISO was .211 against both lefties and righties in 2017. As I said in my overviews, most people chase the RvL or LvR split...so when you can find a RvR or LvL, you are doing well for yourself.

After Bell, I actually like Starling Marte, who should hit sixth in the order and (hopefully) have depressed ownership on the small slate. I’ll give Corey Dickerson a chance, but mainly because he does well with sliders and curves—last year’s .219 batting average against four-seamers was downright pitiful. Granted, he still jacked 12 home runs off the pitch, but he’s a bit too boom-or-bust if you’re playing cash games.

Frazier and Harrison don’t offer the power that Gregory Polanco does, plus Polanco gives me more lineup symmetry as he’ll bat closer to the guys I like more. It looks like a 3-4-5-6 grouping is my preference with Pirates.

MAIN SLATE

There is no Washington at Cincinnati game, as that one has been postponed already due to weather. The Nationals battering Homer Bailey will just have to wait a day.

The highest projected team totals belong to Houston (5.06) at Texas, Kansas City (4.98) vs. Chicago (White Sox), and Baltimore (4.93) vs. Minnesota. It’s a popular strategy to use an expensive stack (Astros) alongside a cheaper stack, and I’ll be finding out who makes the most sense to use alongside the Houston Astros.

Right-handed Orioles might be sneaky against Jake Odorizzi. Odorizzi has reverse splits for his career, so using right-handed Orioles would be a smooth move. Jonathan Schoop and Manny Machado are my favorites, so thankfully there’s a utility slot on FanDuel for when I roster Astros...I can use Altuve/Bregman and still put one of my Orioles into the UTIL spot.

That’s about it for right now—more on the main slate later today. Happy grinding out there!