DraftKings Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Thursday 3/28/19

It's Opening Day, so let's enjoy it and roster Mike Trout. Who else should we consider on 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 the DraftKings main slate? Let’s check it out, starting with the pitchers.

Pitchers to Target

High-Priced Pitcher

Justin Verlander ($11,000 on DraftKings): Well, baseball is back and although his age is getting up there, Justin Verlander still comes into this slate as one of the best options on the table. Verlander's 34.8 percent strikeout from 2018 leads the entire DraftKings main slate. In addition, he had a phenomenal 2.63 skill-interactive earned run average (SIERA) and 0.90 WHIP — both of which also lead the slate. His high strikeout rate gives him elite upside on opening day, but facing another ace in Blake Snell keeps his likelihood of a win a bit lower than normal.

Hyun-jin Ryu ($9,200): He has a career 21.8 percent strikeout rate, but in 2018 Hyun-jin Ryu saw that increase to an elite 27.5 percent which ranked among the top 20 starting pitchers with at least 80 innings pitched. He also has the second-best SIERA on the slate with a 3.18 mark in 2018. One issue he has run into is keeping the ball in the park when he gives up fly balls as his 11.8 percent home-run-to-fly-ball (HR/FB) rate is a bit concerning. However, as with Verlander, the strikeout rate was very high last year and gives him upside to allow for a couple earned runs and still maintain a solid score. The Los Angeles Dodgers are -170 favorites which bodes well for Ryu to pick up the win.

Low-Priced Pitcher

Eric Lauer ($5,600): This is a bargain-basement pick if I've ever seen one. Eric Lauer is dirt cheap at just $5,600 on DraftKings and has a home matchup against the San Francisco Giants. The Giants a not a team that is expected to be any threat offensively, but Lauer doesn't contribute much in the strikeout department as his 19.8 percent strikeout rate is modest at best. He was a bit unlucky last year with a .332 BABIP, but that could be explained with his slate-worst 27.5 percent line-drive rate. Maybe he is just a bad pitcher because a 4.34 ERA and 4.51 FIP indicate that he kind of got what he deserved. This doesn't seem like a glowing recommendation, but if Lauer can go five innings and minimize the damage to pick up the win, he could pay off his dirt-cheap price tag.

Hitters to Target

High-Priced Hitters

Mike Trout ($5,600): It's opening day and everybody wants to use Mike Trout! It's probably true, so there could be some inflated ownership on Trout with a lot of new players wanting to just jam him in. However, he obviously completely crushes right-handed pitching, and a matchup against Mike Fiers is one to get excited about. Trout had an incredible .457 weighted on-base average (wOBA) and .338 isolated power (ISO) against righties in 2018. Fiers struggled keeping the ball in the park last season. When you're giving up an 89.3 mile-per-hour average exit velocity and a 43.2 percent fly-ball rate, it is no surprise that Fiers had a 14.1 percent HR/FB rate. This is a great matchup for Trout despite the game being played in Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

Khris Davis ($4,900): On the other side of this matchup, we have the reigning home run champion. Khris Davis hit 48 home runs in 2018 which led the Majors by 5. His home ball park did not hold him back as he hit 23 in 310 plate appearances in Oakland while hitting 25 in 344 plate appearances on the road. He smashed right-handed pitching last season with a .374 wOBA and a .315 ISO and is taking on Los Angeles Angels right-hander Trevor Cahill this afternoon. Cahill was great at keeping the ball down and inside the park as he had a 53.4 percent ground-ball rate. However, those balls do get hit hard, as his 39.3 percent hard-hit rate would indicate, so if Davis gets a hold of one it will be gone.

Javier Baez ($4,800): 2018 was a breakout season for Javier Baez where he showed he can be an elite power/speed guy. Whether that carries over is another question entirely as everything went right for him last season. However, it is hard to ignore 34 home runs and 21 stolen bases with a .290 AVG. The Chicago Cubs and Baez have a solid road matchup tonight against the Texas Rangers and their opening day southpaw Mike Minor. Minor struggled last season, giving up a 37.9 percent hard-hit rate and 44.9 percent fly-ball rate which resulted in a not-so-great 12.1 percent HR/FB rate.

Value Hitters

Buster Posey ($3,900): Remember all of the negative things I said about Eric Lauer? Those would be the reasons why Buster Posey is an option today. Lauer struggles to get strikeouts and gives up an absurd 27.5 percent line-drive rate. Posey didn't bring much power against lefties in 2018 with just a .138 ISO, but he did have a very solid .361 wOBA. In addition, Posey has an elite .391 OBP that helps make up for what he might not get in power or home runs, as he can get on base and pick up RBIs and runs.

Franmil Reyes ($3,700): It was just a couple years ago when Madison Bumgarner was a pitcher you locked in to use almost every slate. Well, now he is somebody that you can consider taking bats against. In 2018, Bumgarner struggled mightily and had a slate-worst 41.6 percent hard-hit rate. Now, he managed to keep the ball in the park for the most part with an 0.97 HR/9 rate, but his 22.4 percent line-drive rate is concerning. Franmil Reyes had plenty of success against left-handed pitching last season with an elite .437 wOBA and excellent .253 ISO. In addition, he had an impressive .426 OBP against southpaws, although it is worth noting that these numbers were in just 94 plate appearances.

Jung Ho Kang ($3,400): He has been out of the Majors for two full seasons, but when he was here in 2016, Jung Ho Kang was a great source for power. Now, he typically sold out for power, but 21 home runs in 370 plate appearances is nothing to brush off. While he's 31 years old with less than 900 plate appearances in the Majors, he was smashing the ball in spring training. He led all of spring training with 7 home runs, though he had just 11 total hits for a .250 AVG. So while he sells out for the home run, that is okay because you don't mind a boom-or-bust play at this price.

Ryan Sheppard is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Ryan Sheppard also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username donkshow_. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.
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.