The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.
Saturday features a split slate: Both sites have a seven-game main slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET. DraftKings also has a seven-game early slate starting at 1:10 p.m. ET, while FanDuel has a three-game early slate starting at 1:10 p.m. ET and a four-game afternoon slate starting at 4:05 p.m. ET.
Today’s slate features a talented group of stud pitchers, with five players owning price tags of at least $9,000 on FanDuel:
Jacob deGrom, Stephen Strasburg and Carlos Carrasco reside on the early slate, while Yu Darvish and Zach Greinke pitch on the main slate.
Let’s start with the early options. Jacob deGrom is the most expensive pitcher on DraftKings, and he turned in another stellar season in 2017. His earned run average (ERA) jumped a bit to 3.53, but there are signs that he got a bit unlucky. He also increased his K/9 to a career-high 10.85, which ranked seventh among all starting pitchers in 2017.
He leads all pitchers on today’s slate in two key categories: K Prediction (8.6) and opponent implied team run total (3.5). Historically, pitchers with comparable marks in both categories have been strong values (per the Trends Tool):
These aren’t exactly elite marks for his salary, but he might be the safest option on the early slate. He’s especially appealing on FanDuel, where he leads the early slate with a Bargain Rating of 98%.
Strasburg is a solid -160 favorite, but his overall numbers are held back a bit by his matchup with the Cincinnati Reds. They were one of the most underrated teams in the league last season against right-handed pitching, and their projected lineup has struck out in just 22.6% of at-bats against righties over the past 12 months. That limits Strasberg to a K Prediction of 7.5, which ranks just fourth on the slate. He had the eighth-highest K/9 among starting pitchers last season, so it’s a bit surprising to see him that low.
That leaves Carrasco, who represents a solid discount when compared to the two top pitchers on DraftKings. His K Prediction (7.8) and opponent implied team total (3.5 runs) put him right up there with deGrom and Strasburg, but he has the most difficult matchup of the trio vs. the Seattle Mariners. Not only are the Mariners an excellent hitting team — their projected lineup has a .371 wOBA against right-handers over the past 12 months — but he’s also opposed by another quality starter in James Paxton. The Indians are implied for just 3.5 runs as a result, which makes this game essentially a pick ‘em.
On the main slate, Darvish appears to have a clear edge on Greinke. He’s a massive -225 moneyline favorite on FanDuel, where he leads all pitchers with a Bargain Rating of 99%. Historically, pitchers with comparable marks in both categories have been awesome values:
He gets to face a Marlins lineup that was gutted in the offseason and has scored just six runs through its first 26 innings. Pitching in Miami also rewards Darvish with a Park Factor of 84, which is one of the top marks on the slate.
The one area where Greinke looks to be the superior option is in strikeouts. The projected Rockies lineup has struck out in 27.1% of at-bats against right-handers over the past 12 months, compared to just 22.0% for the Marlins. Greinke’s resulting K Prediction of 7.6 is the top mark on the main slate, which increases his value for guaranteed prize pools (GPPs). His ownership projection of 13-16% on FanDuel is also significantly lower than Darvish’s projection of 26-30%.
It’s possible that Paxton is the best value at pitcher today on DraftKings. He’s comparable to today’s stud pitchers with his opponent implied team total of 3.5 and K Prediction of 6.8, yet his $8,200 price tag makes him more than $3,000 cheaper than both deGrom and Strasburg and $2,000 cheaper than Carrasco. Historically, pitchers with comparable K Predictions, opponent implied team totals, and salaries have been solid:
He’s a viable option at SP2 for cash games or at SP1 for those looking to pay up on bats in GPPs.
Luis Castillo is one of today’s most intriguing tournament options. He’s dirt cheap at $6,000 on DraftKings, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 89%, and his K Prediction of 7.7 is the third-highest mark on the early slate. Pitchers with comparable salaries and K Predictions have historically been strong options:
He has a brutal matchup with Strasburg and the Nats, resulting in an opponent implied team total of 4.5 runs and moneyline odds of +147, but that’s why he’s more of a GPP option on today’s slate. He was extremely impressive in 15 starts as a rookie, posting an ERA of 3.12 and a K/9 of 9.87.
Kenta Maeda will likely be a popular option for those paying down on the main slate. He leads all pitchers with an opponent implied team total of 3.3 runs, and he trails only Darvish with his moneyline odds of -200, but his upside might be a bit limited. His K Prediction of 5.1 is the fourth-lowest mark on the main slate, and he pitched five innings or fewer in 18 of 25 starts last season.
Luis Perdomo: He leads all pitchers on today’s slate with a groundball rate of 62% over the past 12 months, resulting in an average batted ball distance of just 193 feet. He typically doesn’t record many strikeouts, but he’s facing a projected Brewers lineup that has struck out in 27.4% of at-bats against right-handers over the past 12 months.
Lucas Giolito: He’s a former top pitching prospect who’s looking to put things together in 2018. He had an impressive spring training, posting a 2.04 ERA while striking out 17 batters over 17.2 innings, and his $7,400 salary on FanDuel comes with a Bargain Rating of 90%.
The Astros are implied for 5.9 runs, which is the top mark on the day by a margin of +0.7 runs. They will undoubtedly be extremely popular, but stacking them in the above 1-2-3-5-8 manner should increase your odds of having a unique lineup.
They get to face Rangers left-hander Matt Moore, who will be making his team debut. He pitched for the Giants last season, and moving from San Francisco to Arlington could be a problem for him. AT&T Park has been one of the most pitcher-friendly venues in the league, and batters had a tremendous amount of success against him when he was on the road last season:
Of course, the Astros aren’t just any team either. They posted the second-highest wOBA and fourth-highest ISO against left-handers in 2017, so they have the potential to do a lot of damage.
On the main slate, the top four-man FanDuel stack belongs to the Los Angeles Dodgers:
The Dodgers are implied for 4.8 runs, which trails only the Cubs on the main slate. They get to face Giants left-hander Derek Holland, whose HR/9 of 2.16 is the worst mark among today’s pitchers. The Dodgers offense features a lot of power — only Yasiel Puig has an ISO below .184 among the stacked batters — which could spell trouble for Holland. Kiké Hernandez is particularly appealing on FanDuel at just $2,300. He has historically destroyed left-handed pitching and has posted a wOBA of .387 and ISO of .296 over the past year.
Hunter Renfroe could be an intriguing punt option today on FanDuel. He’s currently priced at the dead minimum, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 93 percent. He’s facing Brewers left-hander Brent Suter, and Renfroe has destroyed left-handed pitching to the tune of a .441 wOBA and .368 ISO over the past 12 months. He’ll likely be a contrarian option as well given his ownership projection of just 2-4%.
The Pirates scored 13 runs on opening day, and Adam Frazier contributed three hits in the winning effort. He remains minimum priced on FanDuel, which makes him someone worth considering given his role as the leadoff hitter. Historically, minimum-priced leadoff hitters have provided an average Plus/Minus of +2.15.
The Orioles surprised everyone by batting Chris Davis leadoff on Opening Day, which could give him some additional value moving forward. He’s posted an ISO of .244 against right-handers over the past 12 months, so he can do some potential damage with the extra plate appearances.
Good luck on today’s slate, and be sure to check out The Action Network if you’re looking for more baseball coverage!
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Pictured above: (from left to right) Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, George Springer, Marwin Gonzalez
Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA Today Sports