While the Major League Baseball season officially kicked off on Thursday, the big slate begins on Friday afternoon, where 14 games will be played. The action starts at 4:10 p.m. ET with the Braves taking on the Mets and concludes at 10:10 p.m. ET with the Angels facing the Athletics. This article will focus on some of those games with my thoughts and predictions to help you fill out your card on DraftKings Sportsbook. As always, feel free to follow me on the ol’ Twitter machine @SBuchanan24.
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Detroit Tigers (+165) vs. Cincinnati Reds (-190)
- Detroit Tigers as underdogs in 2019: 38-102
- Cincinnati Reds as favorites in 2019: 41-34
The Reds are a team I’ve been looking forward to watching for months. The moves they made this offseason and even dating back to the trade deadline in 2019 have put them in an incredible spot to dominate the NL Central. One of their biggest strengths is going to be facing left-handed pitching, which they will be facing on Friday against Matthew Boyd. One of the biggest issues for Boyd last season was home runs, allowing 1.89 home runs per nine innings through 32 starts. In total, he gave up 39, with 32 against right-handed bats. The Reds added Mike Moustakas and Nick Castellanos to go along with Eugenio Suarez, who’ll give lefties fits this season. For me, we don’t have much to think about here, this should be the Reds in a landslide.
Pick: Cincinnati Reds
Los Angeles Angels (+135) vs. Oakland Athletics (-152)
- Los Angeles Angels as underdogs in 2019: 31-57
- Oakland Athletics as favorites in 2019: 64-36
I’ll admit, I’m not crazy about the Athletics this season. I think at the end of the day, they’re being a bit overvalued. That’s another story for another article, as here, we’re simply focusing on their matchup against Andrew Heaney. Heaney draws a very tough matchup against an A’s team that is oozing with power against lefties. Last season, six players with at least 100 plate appearances against lefties finished with an ISO of at least .216. Like, are you kidding me? Heaney made 18 starts last season and allowed 20 home runs, good for 1.8 home runs allowed per nine innings. His numbers against the A’s weren’t impressive either, allowing six runs on 12 hits through 11 and one third innings. I simply can’t go against the power the Athletics boast in this matchup.
Pick: Oakland Athletics
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Milwaukee Brewers (+115) vs. Chicago Cubs (-130)
- Milwaukee Brewers as underdogs in 2019: 34-34
- Chicago Cubs as favorites in 2019: 69-50
This is a game where I do like an underdog. Another team that I believe is being overvalued is the Cubs and I’m looking to pounce on the underdogs until further notice. Brandon Woodruff is set to take the mound for the Brewers on the road for this start. He’s a ground ball pitcher that exhibits solid control and keeps the ball in the park, allowing a total of 16 home runs through 164 innings over the last two seasons. He’ll be facing Kyle Hendricks, who to his credit pitched very well at Wrigley Field last season, posting a .240 wOBA and a 3.68 xFIP through 92 2/3 innings. The huge advantage here for the Brewers, which I think will be the key to victory here, is the difference in bullpens. It’s going to be the Brewers’ biggest strength and potentially one of the biggest downfall for the Cubs. If this game is close late, the Brewers should be able to break through against the Cubs’ relievers.
Pick: Milwaukee Brewers
Baltimore Orioles (+215) vs. Boston Red Sox (-250)
- Baltimore Orioles as underdogs in 2019: 47-100
- Boston Red Sox as favorites in 2019: 70-56
Look, I understand you didn’t come to this article looking for advice on this game. You don’t need to be a writer or analyst to know that Tommy Milone of the Orioles doesn’t give them the best chance to win this game, or any game for that matter. The Red Sox are massive favorites for a reason but for analysis purposes, I’ll throw some numbers at you. Milone has appeared in 28 games of the last two seasons, 10 of those as a starter. When he’s starting, Milone tossed 53 and one third innings, allowing 16 runs on 30 hits with a 34:8 K:BB ratio. Of those 30 hits, 17 (!) of them went for extra bases! Now the lefty faces a Red Sox team with some true lefty slayers, like J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts and Kevin Pillar. I mean, c’mon now.
Pick: Boston Red Sox
Arizona Diamondbacks (+112) vs. San Diego Padres (-127)
- Arizona Diamondbacks as underdogs in 2019: 42-47
- San Diego Padres as favorites in 2019: 35-36
How about the Padres opening up as favorites for the 2020 season? They were favored 71 times last season but only managed a 35-36 record, which was one of the worst in the league. I’m a big fan of the D-Backs overall but I think this will be a tough spot for them against Chris Paddack. He was fantastic at Petco Park last season, tossing 61 and two thirds innings while allowing a .235 wOBA, a 3.75 xFIP and just seven of the 23 home runs he allowed. As for Madison Bumgarner, he struggled immensely on the road last season as a Giant, posting a .349 wOBA with a 4.91 xFIP and 15 of his 30 home runs allowed through 85 innings. To be fair, Petco Park is a favorable spot for pitchers, but I think Paddack will be able to keep this D-Backs team at bay, allowing just two runs on 12 hits with 20 strikeouts through 16 and two thirds innings last season.
Pick: San Diego Padres
With nine games left for us to choose, this is how I’m thinking they’ll turn out.
Atlanta Braves at New York Mets
Pick: New York Mets
Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays
Pick: Tampa Bay Rays
Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies
Pick: Philadelphia Phillies
Kansas City Royals at Cleveland Indians
Pick: Cleveland Indians
Colorado Rockies at Texas Rangers
Pick: Colorado Rockies
Minnesota Twins at Chicago White Sox
Pick: Minnesota Twins
Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals
Pick: St. Louis Cardinals
Seattle Mariners at Houston Astros
Pick: Houston Astros
San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers
Pick: Los Angeles Dodgers
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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.
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