FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Thursday 3/21/19

Domingo Santana hit a grand slam in the opener, and he's in play for single-game DFS again on Thursday. Which other players should we target on FanDuel?

The 2019 MLB season opened with a bang. Then another bang. And another. And another.

We get to do it all over again tomorrow morning. Gird your loins, ladies and gents.

The Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics wrap up their two-game series at the Tokyo Dome early Thursday morning. The Mariners will try to complete the two-game sweep after a 9-7 victory on Wednesday that featured five total dingers. It's entirely possible they won't stop there.

Thursday's matchup will pit Yusei Kikuchi in his Major League debut against veteran fly-ball pitcher Marco Estrada. Kikuchi allowed just 0.65 homers per nine innings in his career in Nippon Professional Baseball before joining the Mariners, and he allowed just one long ball this spring across 37 batters faced.

Estrada, on the other hand, has allowed 1.41 homers per nine in his career, a number that went up to 1.50 in 2017 and 1.82 in 2018. That 2018 number also came with just a 16.4% strikeout rate, helping explain his 5.64 ERA. Clearly, we're going right back to the Mariners for DFS in game two.

Which specific hitters should we focus on when playing single-game daily fantasy on FanDuel? Let's check it out, starting with some players you should consider in either your MVP slot (a 2x multiplier) or your All-Star slot (1.5x multiplier).

MVP Candidates

Mitch Haniger (FanDuel Salary: $8,500): Because Estrada is a pitcher who relies heavily on his changeup, he exhibits reverse platoon splits with righties bopping him harder than lefties. That leads us back to the right-handed pop in the Mariners' lineup, starting with Mitch Haniger.

Haniger was quiet in the opener, but he was excellent against righties last year with a .219 isolated slugging percentage, 36.6% hard-hit rate, and 38.7% fly-ball rate. That fly-ball rate was actually almost nine percentage points higher than his mark when he had the platoon advantage. Haniger's power-speed combination makes him an ideal pick for your MVP slot.

Domingo Santana ($5,500): It worked Wednesday, so why not run it back with Domingo Santana on Thursday?

It could feel point-chasey to use Santana again after his season-opening grand slam, but the signs were there that we should use Santana even before the game. He has had a hard-hit rate above 38.0% against righties in back-to-back seasons, upping his career mark to 37.6%. Talent has never been the issue; it's all about playing time, which is something that figures to be in his favor with the new club.

If you're worried about Santana being too popular after his impressive start -- a justifiable concern -- there are methods to combat it. Because Santana's salary is so low, he's unlikely to be in either the MVP or All-Star slot for most rosters. Santana showed his upside from the five hole in the opener, so don't be afraid of plugging him into one of the multiplier slots if you want to be a bit different.

Matt Chapman ($9,000): In yesterday's primer, I recommended potentially being wary with Matt Chapman early in the season after he had a pair of surgeries in the offseason.


That oppo taco was one of two extra-base hits for Chapman after he also had a double earlier in the game. Showing that power means we can assume he's over the injuries and look at the numbers he put up against lefties last year.

When a lefty was on the bump, Chapman had a 42.2% hard-hit rate, and when paired with his career 42.9% fly-ball rate against southpaws, it's a recipe for long balls. If you decide to attack Kikuchi in his debut and stack the A's, Chapman and Khris Davis are both lefty-killers you'll want in your lineup.

Value Plays

Dee Gordon ($6,000): Dee Gordon's not going to bop a dinger, and that's largely what we're looking for in these single-game formats. But his spot in the order and stolen-base upside mean we can still look his way to save salary.

Gordon hit from the leadoff spot Wednesday and figures to do so again in the finale. That means he's projected to get the most plate appearances on the team, giving him plenty of chances to get on base and swipe a bag. He did exactly that in the opener, and we shouldn't be shocked if Gordon does the same tomorrow morning.

Ryon Healy ($6,000): Tim Beckham's dinger and delectable bat flip mean he'll likely be a popular value option on Thursday, and that's not a terrible idea. If you want to pivot, though, Ryon Healy's at your disposal.

Healy hit seventh in the opener, right in front of Beckham. That's not an ideal spot -- you could also consider Omar Narvaez at $5,000 in the six hole -- but it's high enough for us to give Healy a sniff. He finished last year with a 34.3% hard-hit rate and 36.6% fly-ball rate against righties, both of which were higher than Beckham's marks. Toss in Healy's low salary, and he looks like a decent outlet to be contrarian.

Chad Pinder ($4,500): Whenever you're peeping a guy who crushes pitchers of a certain handedness, the big concern is that they'll leave the game once they no longer have the platoon advantage. Chad Pinder, though, hit fifth and played all of Wednesday's game, meaning he's very much in play for Thursday against another lefty.

Pinder's career marks versus lefties are -- in a word -- gross. His hard-hit rate is a whopping 47.2% with a 37.7% fly-ball rate, meaning he can punch it into the seats. You do need at least one player from each team on a single-game roster, and using Pinder as your one Oakland hitter would allow you to take your pick of the top Mariners righties.