It’s the first Sunday afternoon slate of the new Major League Baseball season, and DraftKings is bringing the heat with a full set of contests focused on the 10 early afternoon games. Sunday’s games close out the first series of the season in most cases, although there are a few wraparound series that finish up on Monday.
Throughout the morning, 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.
Marcus Stroman, Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers ($9,900) – Stroman joined the Cubs on a three-year contract this offseason and will make his debut for his new team at home vs. the Brewers. Last year, the veteran went 10-13 in 33 starts with a 3.02 ERA and 3.49 FIP, both the lowest numbers he had posted in any full season. He also posted a career-high 7.94 K/9 to average 15.5 DKFP per start. The Brewers have struggled at the plate so far in this series, totaling only four runs on 14 hits with 19 strikeouts over their first two games. Stroman is usually at his best early in the season, and he’s set up to get his Cubs career off to a strong start.
Other Options – Ian Anderson ($9,700), Hyun Jin Ryu ($9,200)
Zach Eflin, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Oakland Athletics ($7,700) – The Athletics have a very depleted lineup after their preseason fire sale, and the Phillies have taken the first two games in this interleague set. They’ll look to close out the sweep behind Eflin, who posted a 4.17 ERA and 3.68 FIP in 18 starts last year but had a run of strong outings before battling right patellar tendinitis, which ultimately required offseason surgery. He looked sharp in his return this spring, allowing only one run in 9 1/3 innings while striking out 11 and walking just two. If had can maintain that kind of command, his strikeout potential gives him a high ceiling in this favorable matchup at home in Citizens Bank Park, where he typically pitches much better than on the road.
Other Options – Kris Bubic ($6,700), Michael Kopech ($5,600)
Nolan Arenado, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($5,200) – Arenado had a solid first year with the Cards last season, swatting 34 homers with a .239 ISO and .336 wOBA. He proved that even without the boost of Coors Field, he can be an elite hitter, and he looks to be poised to further cement that reputation with a strong start this season. He homered on Thursday and had 18 DKFP then collected four hits on Saturday on his way to 28 DKFP. He and the Cardinals are looking to wrap up the sweep in a great matchup against Bryse Wilson ($6,100).
Wander Franco, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles ($5,100) – Franco was a Rookie of the Year finalist last year but was ultimately edged out by teammate Randy Arozarena ($4,900). The 21-year-old was impressive after his much-anticipated midseason call up, hitting .288 with seven home runs and a .348 wOBA in 70 games. He added two postseason home runs and started this season strong as well, going 3-for-7 with a .338 wOBA and a 50% hard-hit rate. That’s a ridiculously small sample size, but he seems very locked in and is in a great matchup to keep crushing.
Other Options – Paul Goldschmidt ($5,500), Carlos Correa ($5,200)
Bobby Witt Jr., Kansas City Royals vs. Cleveland Guardians ($2,100) – One source of value in the early part of the season is rookies proving their way into expanded roles. Witt is considered the No. 1 overall prospect in all MLB, and the Royals seem ready to give him their everyday job at 3B. He started the first two games of the season at the hot corner and hit second in the lineup. He had a key double in his MLB debut, logging 9 DKFP on Thursday, and he also played a key role in the Royals’ win on Saturday with a dazzling defensive play to set up the walk-off win in the 11th. There are no fantasy points for defense, but it does establish him as a key part of the Royals and locks him into a spot that should give him a chance to show his impressive power and speed potential moving forward.
Spencer Torkelson, Detroit Tigers vs. Chicago White Sox ($2,000) – Torkelson is another prospect with a high ceiling after he won the Tigers’ everyday 1B job with a big Spring Training, going 8-for-31 (.258) with eight doubles and a home run. Torkelson was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 MLB draft and quickly sky-rocketed through the minor leagues. He has gone 0-for-6 with two walks and is still looking for his first MLB hit. He entered the season as the No. 4 overall prospect in all of baseball, per MLB Pipeline, and he has an advanced hitting approach and elite power, which will serve him well once he adjusts. He’s still unproven but comes with loads of upside as a regular part of the lineup at the minimum salary.
Other Options – Nico Hoerner ($3,200), J.D. Davis ($2,900)
Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins vs. Seattle Mariners ($5,800) – Buxton connected on his first home run of the season Saturday after pulverizing the Grapefruit League, going 15-for-32 (.469) with five home runs this spring. He inked a big contract extension this offseason and is out to prove he’s worth it by staying healthy and keeping up high-level production all season. Last year, he had a .340 ISO and .419 wOBA in 61 games. He hit over half his home runs last year in day games, when he hit a torrid .372 with a .398 ISO and .490 daytime wOBA. He and the Twins will be looking to avoid a season-opening sweep at home as they face soft-tossing lefty Marco Gonzales ($7,900).
Kyle Schwarber, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Oakland Athletics ($5,400) – Schwarber may not be the prototypical, speedy leadoff hitter, but he seems locked into that role for the Phillies and can be productive in that spot. He homered in his first Phillies at-bat on Friday and had 23 DKFP while going 2-for-4. He only had two walks with 4 DKFP on Saturday but led off in both contests. He and the Phillies are in a good matchup against Daulton Jefferies ($5,800), who has historically struggled more against lefties in his limited MLB experience.
Other Options – Tyler O’Neill ($5,100), Starling Marte ($5,000)
Josh Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles ($2,600) – The trade of Austin Meadows ($4,700) to the Tigers opened up an everyday role for Lowe in Tampa Bay’s outfield. After going 0-for-2 in his debut Friday, he had a single, a triple and two runs for 15 DKFP on Saturday. He hit fifth in that game against a righty starter and should be in a good lineup spot again in this favorable matchup. Lowe hit .291 with 22 home runs and 26 stolen bases last season at Triple-A and has had solid production in both power and speed at every stop in his journey to the Majors. He’s not as high-profile as the other prospects listed above but seems ready to be a solid contributor.
Hunter Dozier, Kansas City Royals vs. Cleveland Guardians ($2,400) – Even with Witt locked in at 3B, Dozier has still started each of the first two games of the season at DH for the Royals and hit safely in each, going 2-for-7 with a double. Dozier had a very disappointing season last year, but so far this year, he has shown signs of returning to his 2019 form when he posted a .243 ISO, .360 wOBA and 123 wRC+. Dozier had a big Spring Training, going 15-for-37 (.405) with two doubles, a triple and a home run, which was good enough to earn him a spot in the heart of the lineup to open the season. He’s a low-cost, high-upside option in this matchup and can even be a mini-stack with Witt or other Royals bats against the inconsistent Cal Quantrill ($9,400).
Other Options – Clint Frazier ($2,000), Julio Rodríguez ($2,000)
TEAMS TO STACK
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Texas Rangers – The Rangers will give the ball to Martín Pérez ($5,400) to close out their series in Toronto, where the Blue Jays have slugged their way to a pair of wins to open the season. Pérez only threw three innings this spring, but the bigger attraction to the Jays stack is he gives up a lot of home runs, especially to right-handed hitters. Eighteen of the 19 homers Perez allowed last year were to righties, who had a .374 wOBA against him. The top of the Toronto lineup is stacked with right-handed power, with George Springer ($5,200), Bo Bichette ($5,600) and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. ($6,000) leading the way. Teoscar Hernández ($5,000) also has two career homers against Pérez, so stacking up the Blue Jays is definitely an expensive but attractive option Sunday afternoon.
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles – The Rays should also be in a good spot as they finish their series vs. the Orioles, who are planning on having Tyler Wells ($5,200) open with Mike Baumann ($5,700) pitching the bulk of the innings. Baumann gave up 12 runs and two home runs over just 10 innings in his first MLB action last year, allowing righties to mash for a .453 wOBA. The high-priced Rays make sense with Wander Franco ($5,100 - discussed above) and Randy Arozarena ($4,900) bringing plenty of power to the heart of the lineup. You can also get some solid value with Josh Lowe ($2,600 - discussed above) and Francisco Mejía ($3,000), who homered on Saturday.
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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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