MLB Top Plays: Opening Day 4/1

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Louis Cangiano
·6 min read
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Pitcher

Gerrit Cole - New York Yankees (vs. Toronto Blue Jays)

Cole has allowed Toronto to hit a mere .164 batting average in 74 prior at-bats. Five players in the Blue Jays lineup today have sub .250 batting averages with multiple strikeouts against Cole. Yes, the way to beat Cole in Yankee Stadium is through the long ball but if they can't touch the ball, there's no chance of hitting one out, right? With Cole, often that's the case, you physically can't touch his stuff. If that's what he's dealing today, Toronto will have a big problem. The NBC Sports Edge MLB Optimizer has Cole for 26.6 fantasy points. With strikeouts counts for more on FanDuel, Cole is seemingly a must-play. Even if he allows a home run or two, his 10 + projected strikeouts should still have him reaching value, even at high salaries around the industry, Basically, if you can afford him, roster him.

Other Pitching Options: Shane Bieber (CLE) & Luis Castillo (CIN)

Catcher

Mike Zunino - Tampa Bay Rays (vs. Miami Marlins)

You’re going to see me write up quite a few Tampa Bay Rays today. This game is taking place in one of the more pitcher-friendly stadiums, not to mention, one of the more ridiculously named stadiums in the league, LoanDepot Park. With that said, the Tampa Bay Rays ended their last three preseason games totaling 29 runs off of 36 total hits. The Rays are dialed in for Opening Day ready to face Sandy Alcantara and the Miami Marlins. Alcantara will take the mound after his 3.0 inning effort, allowing one earned run in his last preseason start against the St. Louis Cardinals. Paul Goldschmidt went deep in the first inning of this start.

In 2020, Alcantara played Tampa Bay twice. He totaled ten complete innings allowing six earned runs off of nine hits. He also walked five batters allowing a .225 batting average over the aforementioned 10.0 IP throughout the 2020 season. If you look at Tampa Bay’s BvP stats against Alcantara they do seem unimpressive. Plus, important starters like Margot and Tsutsugo have yet to face the Dominican right-hander. Alcantara allowed a 4.09 ERA at home and only a 1.80 ERA on the road last season. Lefties are consistently hitting Alcantara better than righties with a .268 allowed batting average last season. Keep in mind, Alcantara only played in seven games all season.

So, why Mike Zunino? Zunino is typically a lower rostered player with a cheap salary (which never made sense to me considering his pop). He’s very much a boom or bust player but at low salaries and low roster percentages, he’s definitely worth a look today on a Rays team that I am very confident in (4:15 PM EST). The Tampa Bay Rays are favored by -140 with a 7.5 O/U Courtesy of Pointsbet.com.

Other Catcher Options: Will Smith (LAD), Yasmani Grandal (CWS) & Gary Sanchez (NYY)

First Base

Yoshitomo Tsutsugo - Tampa Bay Rays (vs. Miami Marlins)

Yoshitomo Tsutsugo saw three times as many pitches from righties as he did from lefties. His batting average was low at .183 with six home runs. The stats that caught my eye were his doubles, triples, and homes which were quite high for only 120 at-bats (vs. righties). The 29-year-old left-handed Japanese first baseman is looking to improve upon his first major-league career where he struggled a bit but had glimpses of success to build on. The Tampa Bay Rays are favored by -140 with a 7.5 O/U Courtesy of Pointsbet.com.

Other First Base Options: Yu Chang (CLE), & Miguel Sano (MIN)

Second Base

Max Muncy - Los Angeles Dodgers (vs. Colorado Rockies)

The most popular investments on today’s MLB daily fantasy slate are going to be the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers are playing at Coors Field which is known to be one of the most pronounced hitters parks in the league. The Dodgers are facing German Marquez and have maintained their stacked lineup from last season including Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, and Will Smith. For now, let’s discuss Max Muncy. Marquez allowed a 5.68 home ERA last season. He also allowed a 5.84 ERA during day games. Marquez faced the Dodgers once last season and pitched pretty well but that game was in Dodger Stadium. This matchup becomes a whole different monster in Coors Field. Marquez has allowed a total of 32 home runs to opposing lefties over the past three seasons. Muncy is a hard-hitting lefty who hit eight of his 12 home runs in 2020 against opposing right-handed pitchers. The Los Angeles Dodgers are favored by -226 with an 11 O/U Courtesy of Pointsbet.com.

Other Second Base Options: DJ LeMahieu (NYY), Cesar Hernandez (CLE) & Kolten Wong (MIL)

Shortstop

Corey Seager - Los Angeles Dodgers (vs. Colorado Rockies)

How many Dodgers are too many today? And, do you really want to be invested in them along with 60 + percent of the field? There’s no definitive answer but all I’ll say is that the Dodgers are clearly the most sought-after team on today’s slate. The O/U is the highest on the slate at 11 and Seager is a powerful left-hander capable of scoring on the basepaths as well (runs & steals). In 2020, Seager hit .322 with 11 home runs against right-handed pitching over 143 at-bats. Corey Seager, safest cash-game play of the day. The Los Angeles Dodgers are favored by -226 with an 11 O/U Courtesy of Pointsbet.com.

Other Shortstop Options: Gleyber Torres (NYY) & Javier Baez (CHC)

Third Base

Cavan Biggio - Toronto Blue Jays (vs. New York Yankees)

Left-handed Cavan Biggio has a solid chance at significantly producing at cheap salaries and low ownership. Cole is an outstanding, hard-throwing, strikeout pitcher. How could you bet against him? Well, for GPP/contrarian sake, there is a valid argument behind rostering Biggio and the Toronto Blue Jays today. Yankee Stadium is a hitters paradise. Yes, it’s currently cold in New York, therefore the ball won’t fly as well. But guess what? I don’t care because if you get a hold of a 98 MPH Gerrit Cole fastball, trust me the weather shouldn’t be the deciding factor. If the Yankee can’t win this game, it will be because of Toronto’s ability to hit the long ball. The Blue Jays have plenty of power. The Toronto Blue Jays are underdogs at +150 with a 7.5 O/U Courtesy of Pointsbet.com.

Other Third Base Options: Jose Ramirez (CLE), Mikel Franco (BAL) & Gio Urshela (NYY)

Outfield

Detroit Tigers Value (vs. Cleveland Indians)

Now that the Baltimore vs. Boston game has been canceled, many daily fantasy players will be trying to find another source of outfield value. The Detroit Tigers are a great place to find this value. In order to succeed on today’s slate, investing in high-end pitchers is a necessity. In order to afford these pitchers, investing in players like Robbie Grossman, Nomar Mazara, Victor Reyes, and JaCoby Jones are viable value plays to ensure lineup flexibility for the rest of your lineup.

Other Outfield Options: Jackie Bradley

Bargain Bin

C Mike Zunino

1B Jeimer Candelario

2B Cesar Hernandez

3B Cavan Biggio

SS Luis Urias

OF Jackie Bradley Jr.

OF Jordan Luplow

OF Randy Arozarena