Welcome to Opening Day of Major League Baseball! If you’re new to MLB as a daily fantasy sport, I recommend checking out my How To Beat MLB article. Keep in mind that early this season, we won’t have much (or any) data to use that is relevant. We will be making lots of assumptions about players and teams for the 2017 year. As games are played and we can compile recent data, these previews will become more data driven.
Alright! Only three games on the slate today, so your options are limited. In the pitching department, the slate is headline by two left-handed aces in Madison Bumgarner and Jon Lester. I suspect both will be very popular but I am willing to fade Mad Bum. Those are words I will not write often this season, but let’s look at what we have. Bumgarner has to face the Diamondbacks who were the number one offense versus LHP last season (.348 wOBA) with a top 10 walk rate (8.8% BB%) and the league’s top ISO (.201). That’s a really scary proposition, especially at Chase Field which allowed the second most fantasy points per game last season, behind only Coors Field. Finally, over the course of his first eight years in the league, Bumgarner has been a notorious slow starter. His 3.35 ERA in March/April is the worst for any month.
I’d prefer to spend down on Masahiro Tanaka of the Yankees. Admittedly, he’s not a huge strikeout pitcher, with only 7.4 K/9 last season (worst on this slate). However, he has a head on collision with the Tampa Bay Rays who were a massive strikeout team last season, no matter how you slice the season. They K’d the most often versus LHP and third most versus RHP. The good news is that Tanaka rarely walks batters with an excellent 4.5% BB% (best on the slate) and he keeps the ball in the park. Vegas has pinned a 6.5 over/under on this game which is the lowest on the slate.
I’ve already mentioned the Diamondbacks as a solid stack option and would consider the other side of this matchup as well. The San Francisco Giants are going to equally benefit from playing this game at Chase Field. The Giants will face Zack Greinke who was one of the biggest disappointments in the league last season, serving up 23 longballs and sporting a 4.37 ERA in the process. And of course, as the road team, the Giants are guaranteed to bat nine times in this game.