After a full slate of afternoon games to enjoy, Major League Baseball and DraftKings are back with what should be a fun Saturday night slate of baseball as well. There are five games on the evening schedule, starting with the Nats-Mets game in Washington, D.C. Four N.L. West teams join in the action at 8:00 p.m. ET, and the late-night hammer is the Astros and Angels from Anaheim.
Stay locked into the DK Live app, and you also can follow DK Live on Twitter @dklive for the latest news and analysis leading up to the first pitch. You can also let me know what you think of these picks, ask any questions and find more bargain-specific content on my Twitter @ZT_Sports.
Chris Bassitt, New York Mets at Washington Nationals ($8,000) – Bassitt will make his Mets debut after being acquired from the Athletics this past offseason. Since he has been pitching in the relative anonymity of Oakland, mainstream fans may not realize how outstanding Bassitt has been. Over the past three seasons, he has gone 27-11 with a 3.26 ERA and 3.80 FIP. He has allowed under 0.9 home runs per nine innings over each of the past two years and set a new career-high with a 9.10 K/9 rate last season. He looked very sharp this Spring with nine strikeouts and three earned runs allowed in 9 2⁄3 innings. He went five innings in his most recent Spring Training start, so he should be ready for a typical workload in his first start of the season.
Other Options – Justin Verlander ($9,600), Joe Musgrove ($9,400)
Tony Gonsolin, Los Angeles Dodgers at Colorado Rockies ($6,800) – The obvious fear factor is that Gonsolin takes the ball for his first start of the season at Coors Field, the most hitter-friendly park in the league by a wide margin. However, at this salary on this slate without many other great value plays, I think Gonsolin has enough upside to overcome that downside. He went 4-1 in 15 starts while logging a 10.51 K/9 rate that shows how high his upside can be. He has a very small sample size with only two career games at Coors but has only allowed three runs in nine innings while striking out 13. The Rockies have a few power bats but lack depth, so I don’t think that they’re a must-avoid even at home until the weather warms up and the ball really starts flying in the rarified air.
Other Options – Vladimir Gutierrez ($6,500), Joan Adon ($4,000)
Freddie Freeman, Los Angeles Dodgers at Colorado Rockies ($4,800) – It will still take a while to get used to Freeman in a Dodgers uniform, but his bat plays regardless of uniform or where he’s playing, and the fact that he’s at Coors Field gives him a big boost. He went 1-for-3 with a walk and 9 DKFP in his Dodgers’ debut yesterday after a strong Spring Training. He has six home runs and 12 doubles in his 36 career games at Coors, and he’s on the right side of the splits against German Márquez ($7,600), who allowed lefties to hit .265 with a .326 wOBA last season.
Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves vs. Cincinnati Reds ($4,700) – After breaking through last season, Riley looks poised for another big year. He started the season with a home run as part of his 3-for-4 performance on Thursday and then went 0-for-3 but had a pair of walks and a run scored on Friday. Riley has a very solid plate approach and the power to make pitchers pay if they miss their spots. He had 33 home runs and a .365 wOBA, so getting this middle-of-the-order bat in a favorable spot for under $5K is a good deal.
Other Options – Shohei Ohtani ($5,900), Trea Turner ($5,500)
Jeremy Peña, Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels ($2,300) – Peña is the Astros’ top prospect and is expected to take over for Carlos Correa this season. While he may not match Correa’s production right out of the gate, he’s a very good player with good power upside. The 24-year-old went hitless in his MLB debut on Thursday but bounced back with a big 3-for-5 game Friday night that featured his first MLB hit, his first MLB home run and 22 DKFP. He brings awesome power and speed potential and is a great value play at this salary.
Robinson Canó, New York Mets at Washington Nationals ($2,400) – Canó is definitely at the opposite end of his career arc from Peña, but he has shown he still has some pop left in his bat after missing all of last season due to a PED suspension. He hit .316 with a .228 ISO and .376 wOBA in the abbreviated 2020 season and started this season going 3-for-7 with three singles, a walk, two runs scored and two RBI for a total of 19 DKFP in his first two games. The 39-year-old doesn’t bring the same power upside that he did in his prime but is still a very solid hitter in a good lineup to grab under $2,500.
Other Options – Tyler Stephenson ($3,200), Mike Moustakas ($2,800)
Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers at Colorado Rockies ($5,100) – Betts had a slow Spring Training but was ready when the games counted, going 1-for-5 with nine DKFP in the Dodgers’ 5-3 win. He went 15-for-42 (.405) with six doubles and an average of 12.5 DKFP in his eight games last year at Coors Field. He is expected to hit leadoff atop a stacked lineup in Denver, so there’s a lot to love about building around Betts.
Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels ($5,000) – After an impressive postseason last year, Tucker looks ready to continue crushing in the heart of a stacked Astros lineup. The 25-year-old lefty hit a pair of bombs Friday night on his way to 32 DKFP and seems ready to shake off a quiet Spring Training. We haven’t seen Noah Syndergaard ($8,600) pitch much lately, but when he last pitched a full season in 2019, he let lefties hit .266 with a .314 wOBA against him.
Other Options – Juan Soto ($6,000), Yordan Alvarez ($4,800)
Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers at Colorado Rockies ($2,600) – Bellinger was emerging as one of the best fantasy bats in all of baseball after his Rookie of the Year performance back in 2019. However, he has dropped off dramatically and only had a .137 ISO and .281 wOBA in 95 games last year. Still, getting this much power potential in this lineup at Coors Field is too good a salary to pass up.
Jurickson Profar, San Diego Padres at Arizona Diamondbacks ($2,400) – The Padres got a huge game from Profar in Friday night’s 3-0 victory over Arizona. Profar drove in two of those runs with his first home run of the season and added a walk on his way to 21 DKFP. I think the Padres’ whole lineup should be in a good spot (see below), and grabbing Profar at this price seems prudent.
Other Options – Nick Senzel ($3,000), Gavin Lux ($2,800)
TEAMS TO STACK
San Diego Padres at Arizona Diamondbacks – The Padres will face Zach Davies ($6,000), who had a very good season in San Diego in 2020 but struggled last year with the Cubs, going 6-12 with a 5.78 ERA, a 5.45 FIP and an ugly walk rate of 4.6 free passes per nine innings. This spring, he allowed four runs and two home runs in 7 1⁄3 innings. His splits have been pretty bad against both lefties and righties, so this is a great spot to target some of the affordable power in the Padres lineup like Luke Voit ($3,700), Trent Grisham ($3,900), Jake Cronenworth ($4,100) and even Eric Hosmer ($3,500), who is 3-for-5 with a double and a home run against Davies in their previous meetings.
Cincinnati Reds at Atlanta Braves – While it’s no Coors Field, Truist Park was one of the top 10 most hitter-friendly parks last year by almost every metric. The Reds’ environment looks right and the opponent will be Kyle Wright ($7,100), who has a 6.56 career FIP which exactly matches his 6.56 ERA. Wright has been especially hittable for lefties, allowing eight home runs in 158 batters faced with a .422 wOBA. Last season, he faced 20 lefties and gave up five home runs with a .495 wOBA. The matchup sets up well for the Reds’ left-handed hitters with Joey Votto ($5,100) and Tyler Naquin ($4,000) as good middle-of-the-order options while Mike Moustakas ($2,800) is a solid value.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is z.thompson) 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.
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