DraftKings Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Opening Day

Chris Sale takes the mound on opening day to face a Tampa Bay Rays team that's not afraid to strikeout. Who else should we target on the DraftKings main slate?

Every day is unique for daily fantasy baseball, which is both a blessing and a challenge. Although we can’t simply plug and play our favorite studs day in and day out, each slate presents us with a chance for a new gem to vault us up the leaderboards.

Through the use of numberFire’s tools, we can better identify the players primed to succeed each day, making the process of filling out a lineup just that much easier. In addition to our custom optimal lineups, you can check out our batting and pitching heat maps, which show the pieces in the best spot to succeed on that slate. Put on the finishing touches with our games and lineups page to see who's hitting where and what the weather looks like, and you'll have yourself a snazzy looking team to put up some big point totals.

Which names stand out for today on DraftKings? Let’s check it out, starting with the pitchers.

Pitchers to Target

High-Priced Pitchers

Chris Sale ($12,200 on DraftKings): Chris Sale is the most expensive pitcher on the main slate and with good reason. He leads the slate or is near the top in all stats we're going to be interested in when trying to decide on our starting pitchers. In 2017, Sale had a 36.2 percent strikeout rate, which leads all pitchers on this slate, and a swinging strike rate of 14.9 percent, also the top mark. Other stats that Sale leads the slate on based on 2017 numbers are his 12.93 strikeouts per nine innings (K/9), 1.81 walks per nine innings (BB/9), 2.45 fielding-independent pitching (FIP), and 2.58 skill-interactive earned run average (SIERA). He is taking on a Tampa Bay Rays team that struck out a league-high 25.9 percent of the time and ranked 25th in runs scored.

Aaron Nola ($9,400): Aaron Nola could be one of the chalkier pitchers on the slate given his price and matchup. He had solid numbers last season with a 26.6 percent strikeout rate. The projected lineup for the Atlanta Braves on opening day does not look like it will be very menacing outside of Freddie Freeman. While the 2017 Braves did not strikeout much against right-handed pitchers -- just 19.2 percent, which ranked third best -- they had just a .147 isolated power (ISO), which was 28th in the majors and a .312 weighted on base average (wOBA), which was 24th.

Low-Priced Pitcher

Garrett Richards ($6,800): Garrett Richards is severely mis-priced on the opening day main slate. Richards has pitched just 62.1 innings since 2015 due to having Tommy John surgery. He doesn't have the same kind of strikeout rate as some of the aces on the board, but his 25 percent strikeout rate in 2017 is certainly something to like, especially at his price. Playing in Oakland is a solid park for pitchers, and the Oakland Athletics have pretty much the same roster heading into this season, at least on the high-end. This means looking at their 24.4 percent strikeout rate against right-handed pitchers last year still paints a pretty good picture as to what to expect. The one worry is that the Athletics did have a .201 ISO against righties, which ranked first in the majors, but if Richards can just get the Athletics to swing and miss, then he should be okay.

Hitters to Target

High-Priced Hitters

Giancarlo Stanton ($5,300): Giancarlo Stanton is arguably the hitter with the most power in the majors. He just hit 59 home runs last season with 31 coming in his home field of Marlins Park, which is one of the worst parks for right-handed power. On opening day, Stanton is going to take on J.A. Happ, a lefty, in the Rogers Centre in Toronto. Stanton's numbers against lefties last season were insane. He had a .480 wOBA, .441 ISO, and a 1.213 OPS against lefties last season, and although Happ induces weak contact, he could be in for a world of trouble against the power bats of the New York Yankees.

J.D. Martinez ($4,800): J.D. Martinez signed an extremely lucrative deal with the Boston Red Sox this offseason after coming off an incredible 2017 season. Thursday, he is taking on Chris Archer, who is certainly not a pitcher you would think about targeting with your batters. However, despite Archer's elite strikeout numbers, he can get into trouble. Last season, Archer had a 39.4 percent hard-hit rate and average exit velocity of 90 miles per hour, both of which are the worst on the slate. Although Martinez is better against left-handed pitchers, he still dominated righties last year with a .402 wOBA and .351 ISO. Tropicana Park is not the most ideal spot for hitters, but with the power that Martinez brings, no park can really contain him.

Carlos Correa ($4,900): Carlos Correa crushed left-handed pitchers last season and is lucky enough to face a lefty on opening day in Cole Hamels. In 2017, Correa had an insane .445 wOBA and .217 ISO against lefties, though those were much higher than his career marks. Hamels struggled to strike batters out last year with an abysmal 17.1 percent strikeout rate, so it is not surprising that he had a 4.90 SIERA, which is tied for the third worst on the slate.

Value Hitters

Lucas Duda ($3,800): Lucas Duda hit for a ton of power against right-handed pitchers last season. His .360 wOBA and .298 ISO are great indicators of this, and on Thursday, he is in a prime matchup against a pitcher who struggles to keep the ball in the park. James Shields will be pitching for the Chicago White Sox, and he was a disaster last season. Shields allowed 2.08 home runs per nine innings, which is the worst on the slate. His 43.5 percent fly-ball rate is among the worst marks on the slate, as well. Shields struggled even more against left-handed batters as his .388 wOBA and .554 slugging allowed to lefties in 2017 are both disastrous. While Kauffman Stadium is not that great for left-handed hitters, the matchup against Shields should offset this in favor of Duda.

Trey Mancini ($3,600): Trey Mancini is expected to bat fifth for the Baltimore Orioles on opening day and has a pretty good matchup against Jake Odorizzi. The game will be played at Camden Yards, which is a great park for right-handed power. Mancini had a .293 average against both left-handed pitchers and right-handed pitchers last season, but most of his power came against righties. He had a .362 wOBA, .223 ISO, and hit 19 home runs against right-handed pitchers compared to a .316 wOBA, .127 ISO, and 5 home runs against lefties. Odorizzi is a great matchup because he had 15.5 percent home run per fly ball rate and a 36.8 percent hard-hit rate along with a slate-worse 204 feet average distance for hits. Essentially, Odorizzi gave up a ton of power, and that is going to put Mancini in a prime position to utilize his biggest strength at the plate.

Cesar Hernandez ($3,900): Cesar Hernandez is not known for his power, but he gets on base. He had a solid .294 batting average and .373 on-base percentage in 2017 and plays on a Phillies team that is more likely to kill you with the small ball than with power. They have some power this season, though, and are taking on Julio Teheran, who does struggle with the long ball. He allowed 1.48 HR/9, which makes sense considering Teheran had a 39.8 percent fly-ball rate last year. Hernandez is unlikely to hit a home run, but there is a good chance that he is on base when somebody else does.