The first weekend of the Major League Baseball season wraps up with 10 games on the main slate on DraftKings this Sunday afternoon, which locks at 1:10 p.m. ET. As you build your daily fantasy baseball lineups for whichever contest you choose to play, be sure to check out my top targets from the 20 teams scheduled to be in action.
As always, make sure to keep a close eye on pregame lineups and the latest player news by installing the DK Live app and following DK Live on Twitter (@dklive). I’m also on Twitter (@ZT_Sports), where you can keep up with all my picks as the season continues.
Set your DraftKings fantasy baseball lineups here: MLB $300K Bat Flip [$100K to 1st]
For up-to-the-minute news, analysis, and lineups, download the DK Live app. You also can follow DK Live on Twitter @dklive.
Joe Ryan, Minnesota Twins at Kansas City Royals ($8,600) – The Twins have won each of the first two games of the series by a score of 2-0, allowing six hits with 16 strikeouts in 18 innings. Ryan will try to keep Kansas City’s bats quiet for a third straight game in his first start of the season. He brings a high ceiling after posting a 3.55 ERA and 3.99 FIP in his 27 starts last season with a 9.24 K/9 rate. He went 13-8 in those starts, including an impressive 4-0 in four starts against the Royals with 26 strikeouts in 24 innings, allowing only three runs.
In Spring Training, Ryan looked ready for another monster season, racking up 20 strikeouts in 16 2⁄3 innings while allowing four runs. The 26-year-old righty looked extremely sharp with his new-look slider and a brand new split-changeup, which he added this offseason. He has an extremely high ceiling in this favorable matchup.
Other Options – Kodai Senga ($9,200), Luis Garcia ($8,500)
Jeffrey Springs, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Detroit Tigers ($7,800) – The Rays clearly believe in Springs since they gave him a four-year, $31 million contract extension with a club option for 2027. He moved to the rotation full-time last season and made 25 starts in his 33 appearances. He averaged over a strikeout-per-inning and posted a career-low 2.46 ERA and 3.04 FIP.
Springs looked worth every penny of the extension in the Grapefruit League, allowing only five hits in 14 shutout innings over four starts. He stacked up 24 strikeouts in that span and looked totally dominant. The Tigers should be a favorable matchup in which Springs can keep rolling. In the first two games of the season, they’ve scored just two runs while striking out 16 times.
Other Options – Graham Ashcraft ($7,000), Jared Shuster ($5,300)
Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals ($5,300) – Riley has gone 1-for-6 with three walks in the first two games of the season after another strong showing in Spring Training when he collected three home runs in 18 games while walking 10 times. His plate discipline and power potential always make him a high-upside play. He’s in a great matchup against a lefty (highlighted below) on Sunday afternoon. Last year, he punished southpaws with a .329 average, a .455 wOBA and a 196 wRC+ while swatting 11 of his 38 home runs against lefties as well.
Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays at St. Louis Cardinals ($4,800) – Bichette is also on the favorable side of the splits as he faces lefty Jordan Montgomery ($8,400) and the Cardinals in the rubber game of the season-opening series. Bichette knows Montgomery from his time with the Yankees and went 6-for-11 (.545) with a walk and two home runs in their previous head-to-head matchups. After a scorching Spring Training, Bichette has gone 5-for-10 with a double, a walk and a .526 wOBA over the first two games of the season.
Other Options – Pete Alonso ($5,300), Jeremy Peña ($5,100), Gleyber Torres ($4,800)
Anthony Volpe, New York Yankees vs. San Francisco Giants ($2,700) – Volpe picked up his first two MLB hits on Saturday and added his second stolen base in as many games as well. The dynamic 21-year-old is locked into a regular spot in the Yankees’ lineup and should continue to hit ninth while he adjusts to the Majors. Aside from the first at-bat, though, that actually works out ok for him since he hits in front of the Yankees’ prodigious power producers, which should provide plenty of run-scoring opportunities. His salary is already starting to climb, but it’s still very affordable compared to the upside he brings in multiple facets of the game.
David Hensley, Houston Astros vs. Chicago White Sox ($2,300) – Hensley is another bargain rookie in a good lineup who is worth considering. He is helping to fill in for the injured José Altuve (thumb) and brings nice roster flexibility since he can fit in roster constructions at both 2B and 3B. Hensley hit .345 last year in 16 games in Houston with a .440 wOBA. This year, he has started each of Houston’s two most recent contests, going 2-for-8 (.250) with a walk, an RBI and a stolen base. Last year, he had 20 stolen bases and 10 home runs in Triple-A, so there is a little power and speed potential with Hensley, making him a solid bargain option Sunday afternoon.
Other Options – DJ LeMahieu ($3,800), Jose Miranda ($3,600)
Ronald Acuña Jr., Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals ($6,200) – Acuña blasted his first home run of the new season to lead off Saturday afternoon’s game against the Nats and is 3-for-11 with a stolen base and a .371 after Atlanta’s first two games. He’s in a great matchup again on Sunday against a lefty. He doesn’t quite mash lefties at the same rate as his teammate Riley, but it’s still the right side of the splits for this matchup. Acuña always brings a high ceiling since he can put up big numbers in multiple ways. He looks fully healthy and primed for another big season after having to start last season late following an injury.
Jake Fraley, Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($4,400) – If you’re looking for a midrange play that has some solid upside and is a little contrarian, check out Fraley, who hit in the middle of the Reds’ Opening Day lineup but didn’t start Saturday against a lefty. He did come off the bench with his first homer of the season, though, to help Cincinnati get their first win of the year. Fraley hit .277 against righties last year with 11 homers and a .371 wOBA. He also thrived at Great American Ballpark, where he smashed five home runs with a .375 wOBA. Since I think the Reds could be a sneaky stack, Fraley is a solid midrange target with upside to consider.
Other Options – Byron Buxton ($6,000), Eloy Jiménez ($4,800)
Harold Ramírez, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Detroit Tigers ($2,900) – Like Fraley, Ramírez started on Opening Day but then moved to the bench. Also like Fraley, it had to do with the opposing starter, but in Ramírez’s case, he’s primarily going to be deployed against lefties. The 28-year-old righty hit exactly .300 last year in 120 games with six homers and a .327 wOBA. While he doesn’t have a ton of power, getting someone with so much hard contact is definitely worth considering under $3K. He hit a robust .360 against southpaws last year with two homers and a .382 wOBA. In what should be a good matchup against lefty Joey Wentz ($6,300), Ramírez should be ready to pick up his first hit of the season after going 0-for-2. Don’t worry, though, his swing is just fine, as he showed this Spring Training by hitting .318 over 10 games.
Jordan Walker, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Toronto Blue Jays ($2,500) – Walker and Volpe have been the two most hyped prospects coming into the year, and both have been fantasy bargains in the early going. Walker has started both of St. Louis’s games and has gone 3-for-9 with an RBI and a stolen base. His RBI came in the eighth inning on a clutch two-out single, and that’s when he swiped his first career stolen base as well. He set Spring Training on fire in the early going and forced his way onto the roster even though he never played in Triple-A. Last year in Double-A, he had 19 homers and 22 steals in 119 games, but the 20-year-old has looked comfortable in the Majors so far and will hope to continue bringing good value on Sunday as the Cards face Chris Bassitt ($8,800). Like Volpe, he is still very underpriced for his sky-high potential, so take advantage of his reduced rate while you can.
Other Options – Ji Hwan Bae ($2,900), Oscar Colás ($2,100)
TEAMS TO STACK
Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals – The Braves will take on lefty MacKenzie Gore ($7,400) as they try to close out the sweep of their division rivals in D.C. Gore was a top prospect but had mixed results in 16 games last season, allowing seven home runs, all to right-handed hitters, who hit .263 against him with a .333 wOBA. He finished with a 45.4% hard-hit rate allowed, per StatCast, along with a 4.11 FIP. The Braves hit four home runs and scored 14 runs in the first two games of the series, and they have a strong contingent of righties who hit lefties well led by Riley and Acuña Jr. Sean Murphy ($3,700) and Travis d’Arnaud ($3,900) offer value at an often-tricky catcher slot while Marcell Ozuna ($3,000) and Orlando Arcia ($2,900) are also bargains who come with good upside.
Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates – I like the Reds as a sneaky contrarian stack on Sunday afternoon at Great American Ballpark. They’ll be facing Vince Velasquez ($6,800), who struggled this spring, allowing nine runs in 14 innings while issuing nine free passes and giving up a pair of home runs. Last season, Velasquez served up 11 homers in 75 1⁄3 innings with the White Sox, which was actually a dramatic improvement from 2021, when he allowed 23 homers in 25 games. He’s a fly-ball pitcher who tends to give up a lot of hard contact, setting up well for the Reds. In his career, Velasquez has allowed lefties to post a .350 wOBA against him, so Fraley makes a lot of sense, along with fellow left-handed hitters Terry Friedl ($3,200), Jason Vosler ($3,100) and Will Benson ($2,100), who are all projected to be in the lineup and could be huge value plays if they connect against Velasquez. Whenever the Reds are in a good matchup, it also means Jonathan India ($5,000) and Tyler Stephenson ($3,900) can also be considered since they bring good power from thin positions as well.
Set your DraftKings fantasy baseball lineups here: MLB $300K Bat Flip [$100K to 1st]
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is z.thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.