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MLB Cheat Sheet: DraftKings Fantasy Baseball DFS Picks, Predictions, Betting Odds for April 1

Steve Buchanan breaks down Thursday’s DraftKings MLB slate with pitching and hitting analysis, odds, lines and prop bets.

Hi, hello and salutations.

I’m not one for long, drawn out intros because quite frankly, no one opens an article and thinks “I want to read 2000 words before getting to the analysis!” So, let’s just be excited that baseball is back, I’m stoked to be providing you with this article Monday through Friday and yeah, let’s crush this MLB season.

As always, feel free to follow me on the ol’ Twitter machine @SBuchanan24.

Set your DraftKings fantasy baseball lineups here: MLB $500K Season Opener [$100K to 1st]


DraftKings Sportsbook Game Notes

Biggest Moneyline Favorite

Note: This section highlights the pitcher whose team is the largest favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook.

Yu Darvish, $10,400, San Diego Padres (-230) vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (+190) — Opening Day features three pitchers (!) who all are favored at -230. Along with Darvish, Clayton Kershaw ($9,500) and Kyle Hendricks ($7,700) are both big favorites against the Rockies and Pirates, respectively. Personally, of the three, I’m on Darvish in a mouthwatering matchup against the Diamondbacks.

When you look at this D-Backs lineup, you’ll chuckle, potentially pour one out for any folks in Arizona and then frantically look at who they’re facing on a given day. If we use the lineup from their last Spring Training game, this team had almost NO power against righties last season. Christian Walker ($3,800) “led” the team with a .185 ISO amongst the eight hitters. This lineup doesn’t strikeout a ton but they also don’t take many walks. Not that it matters anyways, as Darvish has been showcasing pinpoint control over the past two seasons, boasting a BB% of 7.7% in 2019 and 4.7% in 2020.

Now to be clear, I don’t deem Darvish necessary from a fantasy perspective because of all top-tier options on this slate but from a betting perspective, Darvish is a fantastic option to back as a big favorite on Opening Day.

Other notable favorites: Clayton Kershaw ($9,500; -230) vs. Colorado Rockies, Kyle Hendricks ($7,700) vs. Pittsburgh Pirates


Highest Projected Total

Los Angeles Dodgers (-230; 6.5 runs ) vs. Colorado Rockies (+190; 4.5 runs ) — Starting off the baseball season with a series at Coors Field is just dandy. No one is upset about it (until you try to jam in some hitters and then realize you have no salary left for half your roster).

The Dodgers, naturally, are huge favorites and will face German Marquez ($6,800), who wasn’t as bad at Coors as you’d expect last season. While his .330 wOBA wasn’t great, he did produce a 2.98 FIP and only two of the six home runs he allowed. He only faced the Dodgers once last season in LA and went seven innings, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out five. Needless to say, even if Marquez gets out of this game relatively unscathed, the Rockies bullpen were amongst some of the worst relievers in the league last season. They didn’t do much to improve for 2021, so the the 4.92 FIP, 7.2 BB% and only a 16.8% K% from last season is likely to carry over. Taking the over on the Dodgers run total is certainly an option here with this in mind.

Other notable team totals: Boston Red Sox (5.5) vs. Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals (4.5) vs. Texas Rangers


Weather Concerns

Editor’s note: Today’s game between the Red Sox and Orioles has been postponed due to rain.

Toronto Blue Jays @ New York Yankees - 15 mph winds blowing out to left
Cleveland Indians @ Detroit Tigers - 15 mph winds blowing out to center
Pittsburgh Pirates @ Chicago Cubs - 16 mph winds blowing in from left
Atlanta Braves @ Philadelphia Phillies - 16 mph winds blowing in from left
St. Louis Cardinals @ Cincinnati Reds - 14 mph winds blowing



Splits to Start

These stats will reflect 2020 numbers until May 1st.

Pitchers vs. Left-Handed Batters

Worst vs. LHB, wOBA, FIP
Kyle Gibson, .363, 6.78
Luis Castillo, .329, 3.80
Jack Flaherty, .327, 5.15

Best vs. LHB, wOBA, FIP
Kenta Maeda, .231, 3.11
Kyle Hendricks, .241, 3.19
Brandon Woodruff, .256, 3.26


Pitchers vs. Right-Handed Batters

Worst vs. RHB, wOBA, FIP
Nathan Eovaldi, .408, 4.62
Madison Bumgarner, .404, 8.42
Kyle Gibson, .350, 4.36

Best vs. RHB, wOBA, FIP
Brad Keller, .190, 2.16
Kenta Maeda, .201, 2.85
Sandy Alcantara, .215, 2.77


Lineup Starters

Pitcher to Build Around

Kenta Maeda, Minnesota Twins at Milwaukee Brewers $8,300 — Can’t say I’m a huge fan of starting the year off with interleague play but no one cares about my opinion on that. Despite my sentiment, Maeda is in a great spot to pick up where he left off last season, posting new career highs in both K% at 32.3% and swing-and-miss at 17.2%! While the Brewers did bring in Kolten Wong ($4,100) and have a healthy Lorenzo Cain ($3,200), both of whom don’t strikeout much, the rest of the lineup is a major liability. Four of the projected starters (Christian Yelich, Travis Shaw, Keston Hiura and Manny Pina) all ended 2020 with a K% of at least 30% against righties. For reference, the Brewers were the only team in the league last season to have three players with at least 100 plate appearances and over a 30% K%.


Stud Hitter to Pay For

Wil Myers, San Diego Padres vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, $4,700 — We have so many options to choose from on this slate but I wanted to profile Myers, who I think can easily go overlooked. We’ll likely see so many paying up for the Dodgers bats at Coors Field or Padres hitters like Fernando Tatis Jr ($5,700) and Manny Machado ($5,700).

With that in mind, Myers has smashed lefties over the past two seasons and now draws Madison Bumgarner ($7,100) who has really struggled as of late. Last season, Myers posted a .433 wOBA, a .328 ISO and five of his 15 home runs against lefties. As for Bumgarner, as noted in the splits section above, he was annihilated by righties. They tagged him for a .404 wOBA, an 8.42 FIP (how?!) 11 of his 13 home runs (send help) and a 46.7% hard-hit rate. For reference, amongst qualified pitchers against righties last season, that was the second-highest hard-hit rate in the league.


Save Big by Drafting

Joc Pederson Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, $3,400 — The Cubs didn’t do a ton this offseason but they did replace Kyle Schwarber with another power bat in Pederson. He’s an extremely streaky hitter but he comes into the regular season having blasted eight home runs, which tied with Corey Seager ($5,600) for the Spring Training lead.

Pederson will face Chad Kuhl ($5,200), who has struggled against lefties all throughout his career. Last season, Kuhl allowed four of his eight home runs and a 5.08 FIP to lefties. Now, he’ll have to deal with a red hot Pederson, who is the perfect low-risk high-upside bat to target on a slate where salary savings are necessary. Pederson’s overall stats from 2020 are quite ugly but the .223 ISO against righties makes up for it.


Favorite Team To Stack

Editor’s note: Today’s game between the Red Sox and Orioles has been postponed due to rain.

Boston Red Sox vs. Baltimore Orioles (vs. John Means)The Red Sox are in a great spot to open the season offensively and I’m looking to stack em. Stacking this team is very affordable while not skimping out on some favorable splits. The Red Sox added some solid bats that can hit lefties and we should see them in the lineup in this game. Aside from some of the obvious plays like J.D. Martinez ($4,300) and Xander Bogaerts ($5,400) we’ll likely see excellent values with Hunter Renfroe ($3,200), Kike Hernandez ($3,000) and Bobby Dalbec ($4,000). The Red Sox are projected at 5.5 runs, which are one of the highest on the slate other than the Dodgers. With how affordable they are, the ownership will likely follow.

Set your DraftKings fantasy baseball lineups here: MLB $500K Season Opener [$100K to 1st]


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