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Fantasy Baseball Picks: Yankees vs. Nationals DraftKings MLB DFS Showdown Strategy

Steve Buchanan preps you for Thursday’s 7:08 p.m. ET baseball contest between the Yankees and Nationals with DraftKings lineup strategy and captain’s picks.

At times, it looked as baseball wouldn’t resume in 2020, but we’re now on the brink of the season opener with the New York Yankees visiting the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals. Of course, it wouldn’t be 2020 without something potentially getting in the way, as rain is in the forecast for this evening. How much it’ll affect the game is yet to be determined, but keep that in mind when building your lineups.

Set your DraftKings lineups here: MLB Showdown $50K First Pitch [$10K to 1st] (NYY vs WAS)


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Showdown Strategy

New York Yankees

After throwing 87 pitches in his final tune up leading up to this start, Gerrit Cole ($11,200) is ready for a full workload for this evening. His first start comes against a team that didn’t strike out a ton against righties last season but to be fair, when did that ever matter for Cole? He struck out 40% of the batters he faced last season, which was by far the highest mark in the league. His strikeout upside is immensely high and is worth paying up the high salary for. While the Nationals will be a tough team to strikeout overall, they do have a couple players like Eric Thames ($9,000) and Yan Gomes ($5,400) who had over a 25 K% against righties last season. Cole is not someone to overthink.

When looking at this offense, one name that immediately pops out to me is Aaron Hicks ($7,400). While finding an area to exploit Max Scherzer ($9,400) is tough, there was a particular scenario to capitalize on and that was with lefties at home. Last season, Scherzer allowed a .323 wOBA, a 3.86 xFIP and six of his 17 home runs in that split. Hicks is one of the only lefties in this lineup and boasted a .261 ISO with 10 of his 12 home runs against righties before going down with injury. Brett Gardner ($6,800) is another lefty who could potentially get into the lineup and his .281 ISO against righties was impressive, although I just don’t expect his spot in the batting order to be all that appealing. Gary Sanchez ($8,800) and his .302 ISO against righties was the best on the Yankees to go with an impressive .357 wOBA. Priced $200 less than Thames, who I have zero interest in, doesn’t make much sense here. Sanchez, along with Aaron Judge ($8,600) and Gleyber Torres ($8,200), both of whom dominated righties last year, are my favorite plays in this Yankees offense in this game. I’d much rather take them over the expensive Giancarlo Stanton ($9,600), who is too boom-or-bust for me at this salary. In his short season, Stanton had a 29.1 K% against righties and only a .156 ISO. Stanton can hit them out of the park like the best of them but I’m much more comfortable taking the cheaper plays on the Yankees over him. DJ LeMahieu ($8,000) is another player I’ll be steering clear of. The majority of his power comes against lefties and he’s been working his way back from testing positive from COVID-19.


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Washington Nationals

Despite the tough matchup, I fully expect Max Scherzer ($9,400) to draw a lot of attention. It’s not often that he’s only the fifth-most expensive player in a game, let alone being under $10K. At $9,400, the matchup against the Yankees doesn’t feel as daunting now, does it? They do offer some really good strikeout potential, as Judge, Hicks and Sanchez all had a K% against righties of at least 25%. Of the players expected to be in the starting lineup, only Gardner, Gio Urshela ($7,800) and LeMahieu had a K% against righties under 20%. Is this the time to take advantage of a potentially undervalued Scherzer? It certainly could be but the matchup overall is not an easy one.

The Nationals’ offense, meanwhile, is a tough sell for me. It’s really hard to justify paying over $10K for either Trea Turner ($11,000) or Juan Soto ($10,200) (Editors note: Juan Soto has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss tonight’s game). Believe me, they’re extremely talented players but in no way am I paying up for them against Cole. To be fair, Cole did allow 29 home runs last season and 17 were hit by lefties. So of the two, Soto would be the guy I would choose but the Yankees are priced so efficiently that I have a hard time steering away from that. Even Eric Thames ($9,000) feels way overpriced despite fitting the bill as a large field tournament play to make being a lefty with pop. If I’m looking at the Nationals, it’ll be some of the value plays. Starlin Castro ($5,800) and Asdrubal Cabrera ($6,400) would fall into that category for me. Cabrera has the advantage with the power with his .194 ISO against righties but Castro is a tough guy to strikeout, posting just a 16.5 K% against righties. Castro could end up hitting third in the lineup, which with how he’s priced, would make him one of the better values on the board. Adam Eaton ($6,200) is another player to consider as well. He brings a nice mix of power and speed while hitting from the left side. Eaton is another tough player to punch out and will likely be hitting second. While I’m not going out of my way to stack against Cole, the lefties draw my eye. Howie Kendrick ($8,400) falls into the salary range of most of the power Yankees bats, so he’s nothing more than a likely low owned option to use if you want to mix up your exposure.


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The Outcome

So, who do we captain here? I’d be lying to you if I said I had a total feel for this game. I mean this situation is so unique; playing with no fans, the potential of rain and a universal DH in a National League park. It’s unlike anything we’ve seen before. If one thing remains true, it’s that Gerrit Cole ($16,800) struck batters out at an insane 40% clip last season. He’s your obvious captain that you didn’t need me to tell you. If you want to with a hitter at lower captain ownership, Aaron Hicks ($11,100) and Gary Sanchez ($13,200) are my two favorites. A completely off the board play, at least in this instance, is Juan Soto ($15,300). He’s so expensive in this matchup that it’ll easily shy people away, but his upside would give you a massive edge in a large field tournament if he can crack one off Cole. (Editors note: Juan Soto has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss tonight’s game)

Final Score: Yankees 4 Nationals 2

Set your DraftKings lineups here: MLB Showdown $50K First Pitch [$10K to 1st] (NYY vs WAS)


As a special promotional to start the season, DraftKings is offering a special contest, the MLB Risk-Free $3 [3 Entry Max, $300K + Cash Back!]. There is no risk to play since every entry will earn back at least the $3 entry fee with an opportunity to earn up to $20K for first place.


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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Steveazors) 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 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.