Major League Baseball keeps rolling along, and Sunday features an 11-game main slate starting at 1:05 p.m. ET. Scoring has been hard to come by to start the season, but perhaps that will start to change. Each team will be moving on to their No. 3 starter or an opener for today’s contests, so this is the weakest pitching slate we’ve had yet.
Corey Kluber, TEX vs. COL, $10,300 — Kluber has the pedigree of an elite pitcher, but he was limited to just seven starts last year due to an injury. He wasn’t particularly effective in those starts either, pitching to a 5.80 ERA. That said, he still averaged a very respectable 9.59 strikeouts per nine innings, and his 4.06 FIP suggests he was a bit unlucky.
He’ll be looking for a fresh start this season with the Texas Rangers, and he has a dream matchup vs. the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies may be able to slug the ball at Coors Field, but they were absolutely dreadful on the road last season. They ranked dead-last in wRC+ and posted the sixth-highest strikeout rate when facing a right-hander outside of Colorado.
The Rockies have unsurprisingly struggled in the first two games of this series, scoring a total of just three runs.
Kluber should also carry lower ownership than Zack Greinke and Trevor Bauer, which makes him my preferred target for tournaments.
Other Options — Zack Greinke ($10,900), Trevor Bauer ($10,100)
Ryan Weber, BOS vs. BAL, $6,400 — The Orioles bounced back after an embarrassing showing on Opening Day, but it still figures to be a long season for them. Their lineup and pitching staff both rank among the worst in baseball, so they’re going to be massive underdogs in a lot of contests.
That includes today vs. the Red Sox, who will be sending Weber to the mound. Weber is not the most impressive pitcher – he pitched to a 5.09 ERA over 40.2 innings last season – but he’s still a -197 favorite at just $6,400. Historically, pitchers with comparable salaries and moneyline odds have averaged 15.08 DraftKings points per game.
Other Options — Carlos Carrasco ($8,600), Vince Velasquez ($6,900)
Mitch Garver, MIN at CWS, $4,900 — It’s going to be important to monitor the lineups at catcher with most teams playing their third game in a row. That could mean that some of the bigger-name catchers will wind up on the bench. You can’t really go wrong with Garver as long as he’s active. He’s outscored all catchers on the slate over the past 12 months, and he typically occupies a premium spot in the lineup. Garver absolutely dominates left-handers, but he’s no slouch against right-handers either: He posted a .374 wOBA and .327 ISO against traditional pitchers last season. Reynaldo Lopez pitched to a 5.38 ERA and 1.71 HR/9 in 2019, so Garver can do some damage in this matchup.
Editor’s Note: Mitch Garver is not in the lineup for Sunday’s game vs. the White Sox
Other Options — Yasmani Grandal ($4,500), Christian Vazquez ($4,300)
Robinson Chirinos, TEX vs. COL, $3,900 — Chirinos got the day off on Saturday, but he’s expected to be back in the lineup today. That’s great news considering the Rangers’ matchup vs. left-hander Kyle Freeland. Freeland struggled in 2019, posting a 6.73 ERA over 22 starts. That number is obviously a little inflated by Coors Field, but he still limped to a 4.76 ERA on the road.
He was particularly ineffective vs. right-handed batters, allowing them to post a .383 wOBA and average 2.36 HRs per nine innings.
Meanwhile, Chirinos is absolutely deadly vs. southpaws. He posted a .392 wOBA when facing a left-hander last season, and his Statcast data suggests that was no fluke: He averaged a hard hit rate of 54.6% and an average exit velocity of 98.4 miles per hour in those situations.
Other Options — Victor Caratini ($2,900), Any cheap backup playing for a good offense
Ji-Man Choi, TB vs. TOR, $4,200 — The Rays are taking on Blue Jays right-hander Thomas Hatch ($4,000), who is a bit of an unknown. He’s never pitched above the AA level, and he’s not expected to hang around the rotation for very long. Nate Pearson – one of the Blue Jays’ top prospects – is expected to supplant him after a brief stay in the minors.
With that in mind, Choi makes a lot of sense at $4,200. For starters, he occupied the leadoff spot in the Rays’ lineup on Saturday, which gives him the greatest chance of multiple at bats. He also did a lot of damage vs. right-handers last season, posting a .368 wOBA with some excellent supporting Statcast numbers.
Other Options — Anthony Rizzo ($5,000), Paul Goldschmidt ($4,200)
Joey Votto, CIN vs. DET, $3,800 — The Reds’ could wind up being one of the most potent offenses in baseball this season. That makes Votto underpriced at just $3,800.
He’s not the same player that he was in his prime, but he’s still capable of doing plenty of damage vs. right-handed pitchers. He posted a .368 wOBA vs. right-handers in 2019, and he went yard vs. a right-hander on Saturday.
Votto has an exploitable matchup vs. Spencer Turnbull, who surrendered a 43.6% hard hit rate to left-handed batters last season.
Other Options — Mitch Moreland ($3,900), Jesus Aguilar ($3,500)
D.J. LeMahieu, NYY @ WAS, $4,300 — This is just a criminally-low price tag for LeMahieu, who was nothing short of one of the best hitters in baseball last season. He was at his best vs. southpaws, posting a ridiculous .451 wOBA and 182 wRC+. He averaged 11.68 DraftKings points with a comparable salary when facing a left-hander, which is excellent production at $4,300.
LeMahieu faces a tough matchup vs. Patrick Corbin, but Corbin has shown some vulnerability vs. right-handed batters. They posted an average exit velocity of 95.4% when facing Corbin last season, resulting in an expected wOBA of .319.
Other Options — Jose Altuve ($5,000), Brandon Lowe ($4,600)
Jose Peraza, BOS vs. BAL, $2,700 — It’s going to be tough to avoid Peraza at just $2,700. That is basically free, and he’s expected to occupy to No. 5 spot in the lineup for a team with an implied team total of 6.6 runs. Historically, batters with comparable implied team totals, lineup spots, and salaries have averaged 9.60 fantasy points per game.
He’ll also be on the positive side of his batting splits vs. Wade LeBlanc ($6,000), who is frankly not very good. He allowed a dismal .360 wOBA to right-handed batters last season.
Other Options — Kolten Wong ($3,700), Cesar Hernandez ($3,600)
Alex Bregman, HOU vs. SEA, $5,100 — Some people were worried about Bregman and the Astros heading into this season – BANG! BANG! – but they’ve averaged 7.5 runs through their first two games.
They have another exploitable matchup today vs. Yusei Kikuchi ($5,400), who pitched to a 5.46 ERA last season. He was particularly dreadful vs. right-handed batters, allowing them to post a .385 wOBA.
That bodes well for Bregman, who is one of the best hitters in the league vs. southpaws. He posted a .482 wOBA and .395 ISO vs. left-handers last season, thanks in part to a hard hit rate of 50.7%.
Other Options — Eugenio Suarez ($4,500), Yoan Moncada ($4,400)
Yoshi Tsutsugo, TAM vs. TOR, $3,600 — Tsutsugo didn’t waste much time making an impact in Major League Baseball, going yard in his first career game. He was a strong hitter Japan, clubbing at least 28 HRs in each of the past three years, and he’s going to be asked to fill a big role for the Rays this season. He batted third in his first game, and he should occupy another premium spot today.
Editor’s Note: Yoshi Tsutsugo is not in the lineup for Sunday’s game vs. the Blue Jays.
Other Options — Ian Happ ($3,600), Todd Frazier ($3,200)
Xander Bogaerts, BOS vs. BAL, $4,600 — Paying up for virtually any member of the Red Sox is fine today, but Bogaerts is one of the best options of the bunch. He was one of the best-hitting shortstops in baseball last season, and his advanced metrics suggest he should’ve posted even better numbers vs. southpaws. He averaged a hard hit rate of 46.6%, resulting in an expected wOBA of .379.
Other Options — Francisco Lindor ($4,500), Carlos Correa ($4,400)
Didi Gregorius, PHI vs. MIA, $3,500 — I’m a little bit torn on this one. On one hand, rostering Gregorius after hitting home runs on back-to-back days feels like the definition of chasing points.
On the other hand, Gregorius is in another good spot. He’s expected to bat fifth for the Phillies, who are currently implied for 5.3 runs. He’ll also be on the positive side of his batting splits vs. Jose Urena, who surrendered a .380 wOBA to left-handed batters last season.
Other Options — Jorge Polanco ($4,000), Kevin Newman ($3,400)
J.D. Martinez, BOS vs. BAL, $5,000 — There’s a good chance Martinez will be the highest-owned player on the slate. He was owned in nearly 30% of DraftKings tournament lineups on Friday, and he’ll be in a very similar spot today.
He’s taking on a mediocre left-hander, and Martinez absolutely feasts on left-handed pitching. He crushed southpaws to the tune of a .546 wOBA and .482 ISO last season, both of which ranked first in the league among qualified hitters. No batter on the slate has a higher ceiling.
Other Options — George Springer ($5,300), Bryce Harper ($5,100)
Jason Heyward, CHC vs. MIL, $3,100 — The Cubs/Brewers game is going to be an interesting one to monitor. The wind conditions at Wrigley can have a huge impact on the total, and if the wind is blowing out, there could be plenty of offense.
Regardless, Heyward looks like a strong option at just $3,100. He fared well against right-handed pitchers last season, and Freddy Peralta struggled with allowing HRs last season (1.59 HR/9).
Other Options — Max Kepler ($4,100), Jesse Winker ($3,500)
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mlamarca) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.