A nice seven-game early slate presents itself this Wednesday. There are really only four pitchers worth looking at, as the rest of the field has major risk concerns. There are plenty of hitting options on the small slate, so spending up shouldn’t be an issue. Determining ownership is a little more tricky on hitters on early slates because the lineups won’t get released for every team before lineup lock. Be sure to double check your players are all starting as managers can get funky with lineups during day games.
Robbie Ray (ARI): $12,400 @ SFG
Far and away the best starting pitcher on the board, Ray won’t come cheap. However, as we touched on earlier, there are a lot of value hitters available this afternoon. The Giants were once a team to be feared due to their very discipline approach and ability to string together hits and runs. Lately, they have been a top team to pick on. The Diamondbacks starting pitchers have mowed the Giants down with ease and will turn to one of their best starting pitchers. Ray is off to a fantastic start in 2018 carrying a 34.7% strikeout rate. San Fran has struggled with breaking balls and Ray has two very good pitches in his arsenal. On the season, he is tossing his slider 17.7% and his curveball 18% of the time. Assuming his command is on today, Ray and the D-Backs should cruise through this one.
James Paxton (SEA): $10,400 @ KC
The Seattle Mariners are in Kansas City taking on Danny Duffy. After showing an explosion of offense last night, look for the Seattle bats to continue producing runs. Paxton rebounded nicely from his opening start where he struck out seven over five innings of work. If Paxton can induce his groundballs like he did last season, the power-hitting lefties of Lucas Duda and Mike Moustakas should be held in check. The Mariners ace is a great secondary option and pivot off of Lance McCullers Jr., who will likely flirt with the highest ownership on the day.
Kyle Gibson (MIN): $7,100 vs. HOU
As a salary-saving, low-owned GPP pitcher on DraftKings, you can look to Kyle Gibson as an option. Although his last outing was a little shaky, he had a brilliant season debut against the Baltimore Orioles. Gibson is a groundball pitcher and does not get a lot of strikeouts. His ceiling is fairly limited, but has a high enough floor to give you stable fantasy production at a very reasonable price. What is interesting is that to start the season, the Astros are ranked 29th in K% at 26.4%. Last night, teammate Jake Odorizzi pitched six innings while striking out four batters and recorded the win. Something similar could be in line for Gibson.
Chalk – High Owned Stacks
1.) Colorado Rockies
It seems so repetitive to continue writing up this team. So I will keep it brief. The Rockies in Colorado are always in play and are always going to be high-owned. There is certainly reason to fade, especially during the start of the season when the weather is cooler. However, with the altitude, the air is thinner making pitches break less and balls that are hit, simply go further. It will always be a GPP nightmare when Coors Field is on the slate.
2.) San Diego Padres
In the same hitting ballpark, the San Diego Padres have been putting up runs against the home team. Although the bats are not nearly as attractive to roster, the 1-6 hitters are in play against German Marquez. The Padres could roll out five left-handed hitters in the top six which would give the starting pitcher issues. San Diego is cheap to stack and you can pair with the high tiered pitchers.
3.) Houston Astros
The third highest owned stack should fall with the Houston Astros. The star-studded lineup will garner ownership just based on the names alone. With the cold weather, high price tags and lack of runs being produced in Houston, this should be an easy fade.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Chicago White Sox, once again, are turning to veteran James Shields as their starting pitcher. Through two starts in 2018, Shields has a 2% strikeout rate. Once regarded as a top end pitcher, Shields has seen a velocity drop in all of his pitch types and an increase in HR/9 consistently since the beginning of his career. The Rays have been a strikeout team with a lot of power over the last two years, but with James Shields on the mound, the K’s won’t be there. Load up on the power hitting bats (more specifically the righties) at what should be lower ownership.
The Braves have struggled to score runs against the Nationals after running into two extremely hot pitchers. A.J. Cole does not have the upside of Max Scherzer, nor Stephen Strasburg. #HotTake. Cole had a rough debut in Philadelphia allowing 10 hits against, 10 earned runs, two homeruns, and three walks, through just three innings pitched. In 2017, left-handed hitters hit Cole hard with a .414 wOBA. The Braves have some pesky bats in the lineup, with one power hitting lefty, Freddie Freeman. Lock in the first baseman and look to build around the star.
Bryce Harper $5,700 vs. ATL
Charlie Blackmon $5,700 vs. SD
Carlos Gonzalez $4,500 vs. SD
Hunter Renfroe $4,000 @ COL
Manuel Margot $3,900 @ COL
Mitch Haniger $3,500 @ KC
Ender Inciarte $3,400 @ WAS
Nick Markakis $3,100 @ WAS
Carlos Gomez $3,000 @ CWS