Opening Day is behind us, but we’ve still got a small main slate on Day 2 of the 2022 MLB season. Here’s a look at some of my favorite DFS plays for Friday’s action.
For additional picks across all MLB games, find me on Twitter @Nick_Friar.
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Sean Manaea, San Diego Padres @ Arizona Diamondbacks ($9,400) - While Max Schezer ($10,200) absolutely has a chance to go off vs. Washington, I don’t feel comfortable turning to him after his hamstring acted up. He’ll do fine however long he pitches, but this issue is how long will he go.
Given that and how the value options look on this slate, Manaea is the guy to turn to. The Diamondbacks put together a little late magic on Thursday, but they were largely kept quiet throughout Opening Day. That’s pretty much what we’re all expecting from them coming into the year, making them a prime team to target when the price is right on pitching.
Manaea is coming off one of his best full-length MLB seasons. As much as he had a 3.91 ERA, his 3.66 FIP indicates he pitched better than that. Furthermore, the lefty rocked a 25.7% strikeout rate over 2022 to go with his strong 5.4% walk rate.
Other Options – Max Scherzer ($10,200)
Reid Detmers, Los Angeles Angels vs. Houston Astros ($6,600) – The Astros are generally a lineup you want to stay clear of with your pitching, but there’s really not a whole lot else to choose from on the bump from a value standpoint. (You’d think most teams would roll out their No. 2 starters on Day 2 of the MLB season.)
That said, Detmers is supposed to turn into something. He’s the Angels’ No. 1 prospect, MLB.com’s No. 4 pitching prospect (No. 1 among lefties) and MLB.com’s No. 21 overall prospect. Between his low-to-mid 90s fastball from the left side and his curve-change combo, the Angels need this guy on the staff now if they intend to compete.
And it’s not like this is the rookie’s first taste of big-league baseball. Now, he didn’t exactly thrive throughout his five MLB starts in 2021, but at least he’s not getting thrown to the wolves for the first time on Friday. In fact, Detmers has seen this lineup before, and it’s the only MLB club he has success against in 2021 (six inning, three hits, one run and six strikeouts).
Other Options – Reiver Sanmartin ($7,800)
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays vs. Texas Rangers ($5,900) – The MVP campaign starts here. On Day 1, he’s slated to go toe-to-toe with the cheapest pitcher on the slate, Jon Gray ($5,400), in front of his home crowd. Could there be a better setting?
Also, Guerrero mashed right-handed pitching last season (1.020 OPS) after taking a step back in the regard in 2020. And with Toronto adding to the supporting cast around him it’s only going to be harder to pitch around Guerrero in 2022.
Jake Cronenworth, San Diego Padres @ Arizona Diamondbacks ($4,900) – Although he has yet to do much damage against Merrill Kelly ($6,200), Cronenworth’s play against right-handed pitching last season indicates that’s bound to change. The lefty smacked 17 homers and 20 doubles off righties throughout 2021, helping lead to an .815 OPS against them. With him right in the middle of San Diego’s lineup, that type of power could lead to some serious run production, too.
Other Options – Shohei Ohtani ($6,300), Bo Bichette ($6,000)
Eric Hosmer, San Diego Padres @ Arizona Diamondbacks ($3,900) – He had a down season last year, but Hosmer still has some left in the tank, as he showed on Thursday. Now that he’s lower in the lineup, he should get more pitches he can work with while still getting run-producing opportunities. And while Kelly is better against lefties than righties, Hosmer has a .346 average and .909 against the Arizona starter.
Tyler Stephenson, Cincinnati Reds @ Atlanta Braves ($3,300) – There’s a whole mess of cheap options at catcher on Friday. Stephenson is the way to go because he’s still in a run-producing spot in Cincy’s lineup despite his low price. Charlie Morton ($8,400) could still have himself a nice outing, but Stephenson won’t be an easy out. Plus, he can handle whatever Atlanta’s bullpen throws at him (relative to his price), posting an .814 OPS against lefties last season and a .788 OPS against righties.
Other Options – Luke Voit ($4,000)
Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels @ Houston Astros ($6,100) – Spring Training didn’t exactly go well for Trout, and he only had a modest 1-for-3 showing on Opening Day. But whether it’s him or Shohei Ohtani ($6,300), the Angels’ top bats are in a spot to go to work vs. Houston. Trout gets the edge for me with Ohtani coming off a double-duty day.
Trout has also seen Jake Odorizzi ($5,800) more than Ohtani, which always plays into a hitter’s favor. While he only has one extra-base hit against the Houston right-hander, the Angels center fielder is 5-for-13 against him. So, he sees the ball well out of Odorizzi’s hand — in a decent amount of 2021 outings, a fair number of other hitters did, too.
George Springer, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Texas Rangers ($5,600) – Springer’s 2021 average against right-handed pitching (.253) could be a non-starter for some on Friday when compared to his average against lefties (.282). Good, let them stay clear from him while we look at his superior ISO (.299) against righties.
Springer will be the first to get a taste of Gray in a Rangers uniform, and it wouldn’t be a shock if the center fielder tried to jump on the first pitch to send a message across the league. Springer went after the first pitch over one-third of the time in 2021, maintaining the trend he started in 2019. Gray threw a strike on the first pitch in almost two-thirds of his chances in 2021.
Other Options – Nelson Cruz ($4,900), Shohei Ohtani ($6,300)
Wil Myers, San Diego Padres @ Arizona Diamondbacks ($3,800) – Myers hasn’t done much against Kelly in his limited chances, but I like attacking the Arizona righty too much. Myers doesn’t rock right-handed pitchers, but he still hit 13 home runs against them in 2021. Also, Kelly has reverse splits, giving up 14 homers to righties last season while they posted an .835 OPS.
Kole Calhoun, Texas Rangers @ Toronto Blue Jays ($3,200) – I love watching Jose Berrios ($8,900) go to work, but too much has me liking Calhoun on Friday. In eight plate appearances against the Toronto righty, the OF has a double, two singles and a walk, and Berrios has only punched him out once. On the whole, Calhoun hits righties well. He only had a .778 OPS against righties in his injury-riddled 2021, but he posted an .879 OPS against them in 2020 and a .816 against them in 2019.
Other Options – Jurickson Profar ($2,800)
TEAM TO STACK
San Diego Padres @ Arizona Diamondbacks – I may have tipped my hand a bit on this one already. Kelly is too easy of a target to not stack against at the start of the season. As much as he has some strong numbers against a few of San Diego’s hitters, the value this lineup presents with the track record some of these guys have is too much to ignore against Kelly.
Other Options – Toronto Blue Jays vs. Texas Rangers
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