Welcome to Opening Day! We will be releasing daily FanDuel MLB Picks articles this season, but we will usually be covering the main slates. As today’s main slate is beginning extra early at 3 PM EST, we will be covering the late slate here on Opening Day. FanDuel’s format has changed slightly as they have combined the C/1B positions while also introducing a UTIL spot. Without any more hesitation, let’s get into the first slate of the MLB season!
P – Clayton Kershaw (LOS) – $11,700 vs. SF
The Dodgers’ ace makes yet another opening day start this evening, and he will face the Giants at home once again. Kershaw endured another quality campaign last season posting a 2.31 ERA, although he posted his lowest innings total in quite some time with just 175 frames pitched last season. His home run numbers we were also up, but that could be said by many pitchers during last season’s spike in that department. He faces a revamped Giants club tonight, however Kershaw was actually a reverse splits pitcher and was worse to lefties last season, meaning the bats of Buster Posey, Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria shouldn’t be as big of a factor as we think tonight. Let’s roll with his huge strikeout upside tonight at home.
C/1B – Edwin Encarnacion (CLE) – $3,500 vs. SEA
Although you could argue the worst pitcher on this slate is the Giants’ Ty Blach, the once-dominant Felix Hernandez is more hittable than ever these days. He pitched just 86.2 innings last season, but his 4.36 ERA he posted was his worst mark since his first full season in the bigs in 2006. Enter Encarnacion who struggled out of the gates with the Indians a season ago, but still managed 38 home runs and a .245 ISO, and actually posted a higher ISO against righties (.262) than he did lefties (.206). He is the first of a four-man Indians stack tonight.
2B – Robinson Cano (SEA) – $3,100 vs. CLE
Rostering anyone against Corey Kluber is a risky play, but I think we will therefore get Cano at some attractive ownership this evening. His age combined with park factors mean his best offensive days are likely behind him, but Cano still hit 23 home runs and fell just short of the century mark in RBIs with 97 on the campaign. Against righties, he produced a very healthy .891 OPS and .208 ISO, so I don’t have much of a problem using him in a Mariners’ mini-stack tonight.
3B – Jose Ramirez (CLE) – $4,000 vs. SEA
Perhaps the highest owned player on the late slate, Ramirez works fine in our four-man Indians stack tonight against King Felix. Ramirez should hit in front of Encarnacion in the three-hole tonight after posting an incredible .265 ISO last season, which was a massive jump from his .150 mark in the 2016 season. He gives you a little bit of everything with 29 homers, 17 steals, 107 runs and 83 RBIs a season ago. He is a quality add anytime you can afford him.
SS – Jean Segura (SEA) -$2,700 vs. CLE
We could go with Trevor Story against a left in this spot, but we will dodge some ownership by using Segura in a mini-stack tonight with Cano. They should hit side by side in the two and three holes tonight as Segura could be a sneaky play. The right-handed hitting Segura actually posted a higher ISO against righties (.132) than he did lefties (.114) last season. Also, he stole 22 bases last season, and could steal more tonight if he gets on against Kluber as Kluber yielded 15 steals last season.
OF – Lonnie Chisenhall (CLE) – $2,100 vs. SEA
We have a couple of big-time value plays ahead beginning here with Chisenhall. Projected to hit sixth in the order, two spots behind Encarnacion, there should be some RBI opportunities ahead of the third baseman-turned outfielder tonight. Chisenhall destroyed righties last season, posting an .857 OPS and an even more impressive .249 ISO against opposite-handed pitching. He hit 10 homers in just 189 at-bats against righties last season, and I will gladly take that at this price tonight.
OF – Tyler Naquin (CLE) – $2,000 vs. SEA
Another value play, Naguin is projected to hit seventh in lineup tonight, right behind Chisenhall, so it’s feasible his RBI opportunities could be aplenty as well. He spent the majority of last season at the Triple-A level, but this is a guy who was in the rookie of the year running in the 2016 campaign. In 2016, he posted a massive .898 OPS and .225 ISO against righties, and the Indians are looking for more of the same out of their center fielder this time around.
OF – Yasiel Puig (LOS) – $3,100 vs. SF
We need to get some exposure to the Dodgers against Ty Blach, and we will get a mini-stack going beginning here with Puig. Interestingly, Puig crushed lefties for a .210 ISO in 2016, but only a tiny .092 mark in 2017. That said, he likely falls somewhere in the middle, but his true value lies in his spot as the third hitter in a powerful Dodgers’ lineup against a pitcher that posted a 5.55 ERA on the road last season.
UTIL – Kike Hernandez (LOS) – $2,200 vs. SF
Here is the tail end of that Dodgers mini-stack as the lefty-mashing Hernandez is slotted to hit in the cleanup spot in the Dodgers’ lineup tonight, right behind Puig. Hernandez absolutely demolished lefties last season to the tune of a massive .309 ISO to go along with a .946 OPS across 152 at-bats. He frequently moved up the lineup against lefties last season, and he will be tasked with that valueable cleanup spot tonight in a favorable home matchup.