It's good to be back. I will admit, I was worried I wouldn't be able to write DFS articles for MLB this season. But we're here now with the first Saturday of the MLB season. This is the first day all 30 teams will be in action. The first game starts at 1:05 PM ET, so if you want to play a full slate you will have to have your lineup in early. Since this is the first Saturday of the season, I am going to look at the full slate. However, I intend to focus on the games starting at 4:05 PM ET or later just in case. Let's take a look at some players to target. It's never too early to get ahead on your DFS winnings!
The season just began, after a lot of weird stuff, so predicting how players and teams are going to perform based on last season's numbers is a little tricky. Nevertheless, I'm all in on Mike Clevinger ($50) against Kansas City. Still, the smart thing to do right now is look how players performed in 2019. The Royals ranked 26th in runs scored despite getting a career year from Jorge Soler that may not be replicable. Clevinger also enjoyed a career season in 2019 by posting a 2.48 FIP. And given his FIP over the last three seasons is 3.21, I'm inclined to believed in him.
Zack Wheeler's ($41) wife had her child earlier this week (congrats to the couple!), which means he is going to be available to start the season. What will he do in his first year with the Phillies? All I know is he produced a 3.47 FIP with the Mets last year and probably possesses more weapons around him now to help him pick up wins. More importantly, the Marlins ranked 29th in runs scored last year and own a pretty unimpressive offense.
If you want to save a little money, Alex Wood ($26) presents a nice option. Yes, last season with Cincinnati went poorly for him, but he only made seven starts. Over his career, he's managed a 3.47 FIP and he's back in Los Angeles' pitcher-friendly ballpark. He's also facing a Giants' team that struggled last season with a .239 team batting average.
Brady Singer will be making his MLB debut for the Royals on Saturday, getting the start against Cleveland. Congratulations, Brady! And congrats to Francisco Lindor ($19), who I don't expect to give Singer too many fond memories of his first start. Even though he got off to a slow start in 2019, the sweet-swinging shortstop picked up 32 homers and 22 stolen bases. That's his second season in a row with over 30 dingers and over 20 swiped bags.
Matt Chapman's ($19) batting average dropped from .278 in 2018 to .249 in 2019, and not coincidentally his BABIP went from a probably-lucky .338 to a probably-unlucky .270. Even with this, he managed to mash 36 home runs for the A's. And despite playing in a cavernous home ballpark, Chapman posted a .926 home OPS in 2019. Dylan Bundy has finally gotten out of the pitching black hole that is Baltimore, but he's still a hurler with a career 4.69 ERA.
Speaking of the Orioles, Alex Cobb slumped to a 11.38 FIP last year. Granted, that was in only three starts. But during the previous season, he had a 4.73 FIP in Baltimore while allowing 1.42 home runs per nine innings. Mookie Betts may be gone, but the Red Sox still have some strong hitters. One of those is Rafael Devers ($20), who broke out with a .311/.361/.555 slash line in 2019. The southpaw slugger is also much stronger against righties like Cobb.
Speaking of lefties for the Red Sox, Andrew Benintendi ($16) is only really ever an option when a righty is starting, and he's even better if you can get him at home. Since 2018, he has produced an .824 OPS versus righties and an .846 OPS at home. Both of these stats are realities today. Plus, the new rule about relievers makes it harder to target Benintendi with a lefty out of the bullpen.
Last year, Jon Gray's ERA dropped from 5.12 to 3.84, but his FIP actually stayed relatively steady (4.02 to 4.05). Also, unexpectedly, he was better at home in Coors Field. Shin-Soo Choo ($17) often leads off for the Rangers, and last year hit 26 homers while stealing 15 bases even though he struggled against lefties. That won't be a problem with Gray on the mound. Let's hope Texas's new home ballpark is as hitter-friendly as the old one.
Sure, Rich Hill impressed with a 2.45 ERA in 13 starts for the Dodgers last season, but also had a 4.09 FIP. He also allowed 1.53 home runs per nine innings, and did I mention he's 40 now? Hill has left Los Angeles - which had treated him well - for Minnesota. You know who is a righty who knows how to go deep? Edwin Encarnacion ($17), who has eclipsed 30 home runs in each of his last eight seasons.
If you want a pitcher with an ERA over 4.00 that allows a lot of home runs, Nova is your man. Why anybody would want a pitcher like that I don't know. For the Tigers, he's just filling out the rotation. The veteran has allowed over 1.40 homers per nine innings in each of his last three seasons, and Cincinnati's ballpark is usually a good play to hit homers. Given that, I'm grabbing two lefties in Votto and Moustakas and the Reds' top hitter in Suarez.
Votto's power has been sapped a bit the last couple of years, but he still knows how to hit. The first baseman has established a career .307/.421/.519 slash line. And he did hit over 30 homers in 2017 as well. Maybe this time off will help Votto find his former power? There's no worry about power with Moustakas, who hit 35 homers in 143 games last year. He also has a .492 slugging percentage against righties since 2018. As for Suarez, he crushed 49 homers last year and produced over 100 RBI for the second-straight season while also managing a .970 home OPS.
Williams looked like a serviceable starter in 2018, but things fell apart last year as his FIP ballooned to 5.11, thanks in part to allowing 1.67 homers per nine innings. Was the ball to blame? Perhaps, but who knows what the ball is going to be like this year? All I know is that he allowed a .335 batting average to lefties, which is why I grabbed Wong among these three recommendations.
Wong doesn't possess a ton of power, but he did have a .361 OBP in 2019. He also stole 24 bases, and players who have that kind of speed and can get on base are always intriguing. That's especially true when they bat ahead of a guy like Goldschmidt. Last year, he hit below .286 for the first time in a full season, but he still hit over 30 home runs. I expect Goldy to bounce back in his second season with the Cardinals. DeJong is the opposite kind of player from Wong. He doesn't get on base much, but he hit 30 home runs as a shortstop. With Williams on the mound, I could see him going yard.