After a thrilling Opening Day slate — we had four different games go to extra innings — Friday looks to be a bit of a cool down. That’s not to suggest that the quality of the baseball will be poor, but there will certainly be less of it, as we find ourselves with just a six-game featured slate on DraftKings this evening.
Let’s go position-by-position and break down everything you’ll need to know to set your lineups.
Blake Snell, San Diego Padres vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, $9,700 - I’ll be honest, this seems like a slate where it would be wise to pay down at pitcher, but we’ll get to that in a second. For now, let’s focus on Snell, who will making his first start for the Padres since being traded from Tampa Bay. Aside from being burned by the home run — a 29.4% HR/FB rate is insane — Snell was masterful in 2020, striking out 31.0% of regular season opponents and pitching to a pristine 3.06 xFIP across 50.0 innings of work. The left-hander would also appear to have an handedness advantage in this spot, as the Diamondbacks were atrocious versus southpaws last season, with a very similar-looking roster finishing with a 78 wRC+ within the split.
Pablo Lopez, Miami Marlins vs. Tampa Bay Rays, $7,000 - There’s a lot to like under $8K on Friday. You’ve got Jesus Luzardo ($7,900). You’ve got Cristian Javier ($6,500). However, the most tantalizing mix of upside and price tag might just be Lopez. While I don’t believe yesterday’s 1-0 victory is going to be the blueprint for every Rays game in 2021, I do think Tampa has a league-average lineup at best. Heck, last season against RHPs, the Rays finished with a middle-of-the-pack .319 wOBA. They also struck out a lot, which might have carried over into the present if yesterday’s 12 strikeouts were any indication. Over 11 outings in 2020, Lopez struck out 24.6% of opponents, kept 52.2% of batted ball events on the ground and posted a 3.09 FIP. Again, there’s a lot to like here.
Will Smith, Los Angeles Dodgers at Colorado Rockies, $5,200 - There aren’t many expensive options at catcher this evening, but Smith would be the obvious choice in most scenarios, anyway. While Antonio Senzatela ($6,200) somehow survived most of his starts at Coors in 2020, he also was one of only three pitchers to finish the season with an opponent zone contact rate above 90%. That much contact in the altitude is always asking for trouble.
Editor’s Note: Padres C Victor Caratini is not in tonight’s lineup vs. the Diamondbacks.
Victor Caratini, San Diego Padres vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, $2,900 - There isn’t a single stat I could pull that’s suddenly going to elevate Caratini’s status in your mind, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a decent spot for the 27-year-old backstop. Caratini’s proven he’s an MLB-caliber bat in the past — he posted a 108 wRC+ in 2019 — and tonight he’ll step into a left-on-right matchup against Merrill Kelly ($6,700) . In general, just getting any piece of the Padres dangerous lineup is a good call.
Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox at Los Angeles Angels, $5,800 - It’s been over six months, but we finally have the White Sox going up against a left-hander pitcher again. Chicago destroyed LHPs in 2020 and you’d better believe Abreu was a large part of the formula. Heck, Abreu’s been crushing left-handed pitching for the better part of a half-decade. Going back to the beginning of 2017, over a span of 518 plate appearances, the reigning American League MVP is slashing .331/.390/.591 with a 160 wRC+ within the split. Good luck to Andrew Heaney ($7,600). He’ll need it.
Jesus Aguilar, Miami Marlins vs. Tampa Bay Rays, $3,300 - Going back to the start of the 2017 season, Aguilar has sported a .212 ISO and a 125 wRC+ when facing left-handed pitching. Now, Ryan Yarbrough ($8,300) has never been the type of LHP to surrender many home runs — and last year’s 13.3% swinging strike rate opened some eyes — but considering Aguilar’s modest salary and premium lineup spot, there’s some value to be had here. Also keep an eye on Garrett Cooper ($3,400), who has outfield eligibility and hit well versus southpaws in 2020.
Gavin Lux, Los Angeles Dodgers at Colorado Rockies, $4,100 - In 2019, among the 92 pitchers to face at least 200 left-handed batters, Senzatela’s .378 expected wOBA was the sixth-highest mark in baseball. Lux may not have a desired lineup spot this evening, but he has a great handedness matchup and $4.1K isn’t an insane price tag at Coors Field, especially with the Dodgers implied team total as high as it is.
Donovan Solano, San Francisco Giants at Seattle Mariners, $3,200 - Solano hit third against the left-handed Marco Gonzalez in Thursday’s loss to Seattle and proceeded to do exactly what he’d done against LHPs throughout 2020. This guy can just hit southpaws. In fact, going back to the beginning of 2019, Solano is hitting .348 with a .371 wOBA within the split. This evening, the Giants draw another lefty in Yusei Kikuchi ($6,000) and I’d expect to see Solano hitting in the top-third for a second-straight game.
Anthony Rendon, Los Angeles Angels vs. Chicago White Sox, $5,400 - If you haven’t noticed yet, there’s a lot of left-handed pitchers on tonight’s slate, which I’m sure suits Rendon just fine. The All-Star possesses a .418 wOBA within the split going back to the start of 2017 — a stretch where the only qualified hitters with a better mark are J.D. Martinez, Nolan Arenado, Alex Bregman, Justin Turner and Trevor Story. The even better news? Rendon also rakes off of righties, so there’s no worries about a drop off in effectiveness once Dallas Keuchel ($8,700) leaves the game.
Evan Longoria, San Francisco Giants at Seattle Mariners, $3,700 - Hitting lefties is about the only thing Longoria still does at an All-Star level, and he picked up right where he left-off last season with a home run off of Marco Gonzalez last night. Honestly, the entire Giants lineup is sneaky good at hitting southpaws, so Longoria — who owns a 134 wRC+ within the split since 2019 — can be a cost-effective addition to an already cost-effective stack.
Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers at Colorado Rockies, $5,800 - I don’t think this selection needs much justification. Seager posted a .301 ISO against RHPs in 2020, he mashed home runs all Spring, then he reached base four times in yesterday’s opener. Going up against a pitcher that’s struggled versus LHBs and to suppress opponent contact, Seager is worth his nearly $6K price tag.
Jose Iglesias, Los Angeles Angels vs. Chicago White Sox, $3,700 - Allow me to be blunt: Shortstop falls off a cliff quickly on tonight’s slate. This is a position where I’m 100% paying up for someone good, though I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that Iglesias slashed .375/.394/.500 in his 33 plate appearances against LHPs in 2020. Still, make sure you’re saving salary elsewhere.
Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers at Colorado Rockies, $5,700 - There’s no need to get cute on this slate. As mentioned above, Senzatela is the perfect opponent for a Dodgers lineup filled with left-handed power, and I doubt there’s many people in the world who want to hit a home run more than Bellinger after yesterday’s debacle. He’s capable, too. Back in 2019, Bellinger had the third-highest qualified wOBA (.423) and wRC+ (167) against right-handed pitching.
Austin Slater, San Francisco Giants at Seattle Mariners, $3,500 - As you can see, two pretty obvious stacks have emerged on today’s slate. Thankfully, San Francisco’s positional pieces are much cheaper than Los Angeles’, which makes blending the two lineups viable. As for Slater — who hit leadoff for the Giants on Thursday — this all comes down to Kikuchi’s handedness. Slater slashed .316/.469/.658 with a 200 wRC+ in 49 plate appearances versus left-handed pitching in 2020. He’s the dictionary definition of a platoon bat.
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