Today is opening day for six MLB teams, and it is never difficult to pick against an ace. However, I believe we use the term ace a little too loosely. Are we going to call Edison Volquez an ace? The Royals rotation doesn’t jump out with front-end pitching, but Volquez is more like a back-end starter than an opening day guy.
With that said, the reason the New York Mets are my favorite opening night stack is due to Volquez being an equal opportunity offender. He allowed a .302 wOBA to left handed hitters and a .308 wOBA to right handers. That leaves some great opportunity on both ends for the Mets. On top of that, Volquez does walk a good number of guys (72 in 200.1 innings). To go even deeper, Volquez outperformed his FIP and xFIP in ’15, which makes me ever less of a believer.
The Mets haven’t released a line up as of yet, but my favorite targets are Curtis Granderson $4,500, Lucas Duda ($4,200) and Neil Walker ($4,100). On a three game slate, they are all high prices, but it is worth it.
In the coming days, we will go much farther in depth with our stacks, but on a three game slate, I would lock and load against Volquez.
On the pitching side, Francisco Liriano ($9,300) will certainly be one of the chalkier options. He sported a 26.5% K% last season which is second highest on this slate behind Chris Archer. He will face a Cardinals team that struck out the second most against opposing lefties last season. Of course, the Cardinals have made personnel changes, so comparing numbers year-over-year are difficult. However, the core group of the Cardinals order that still exists struck out over 22% of the time versus LHP this season.
This feels like a great opportunity to be contrarian in GPPs for pitchers. No pitcher is more than a -125 favorite (Liriano) and all three games have a Vegas total of either 6 or 7 runs. I suspect Chris Archer ($9,400) will be under-owned as he takes on the Blue Jays offense that is so popular to stack. Archer leads this slate in K% and is one of the league’s top strikeout pitchers. The Blue Jays are always potent, but could be a little soft in the core to start the season. Clean-up man Edwin Encarnacion has been dealing with oblique issues that have kept him out of a large portion of the spring. If he starts slow, that could hinder the Jays ability to score runs out of the gate.