Opening Day is finally here!
Well, sort of anyway, as we have a three-game slate to kick off the 2017 campaign. On behalf of the Daily Notes staff, we’re excited for the next 182 days as we have a couple of changes in store to improve your fantasy baseball experience.
With so much DFS content elsewhere on the site, we’re going to focus primarily on daily-lineup season-long tips. In addition, we’re going to ramp up coverage of points-based leagues. Don’t worry, we’ll continue to provide a projected game score ranking for all the starting pitchers, as well as team hitting ratings based on the matchups each day.
The first area you’ll observe a major shift is in the pitching notes. You’re obviously going to start the top-end hurlers, so our task is helping you find the waiver wire gem or giving you the confidence to activate a lesser arm from your reserve. In addition, we can spend some bandwidth on an area that’s been missing from recent season’s notes: the bullpen. Many like to deploy a strategy using dominant relievers, so we’ll do our best to identify those likely to contribute to that day’s ledger.
The other aspect most affected by the new format is hitting notes. We’ll no longer concentrate on hitting stacks, instead unearthing under-the-radar hitters to strengthen your lineup. We’ll highlight power hitters, those in a great spot to steal a bag as well as lesser hitters on a team likely to light up the scoreboard that day.
As always, I’ll be happy to address questions regarding the day’s slate in the comments section, including those on players not covered. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter @ToddZola if you prefer, though my answers usually require more than 140 characters.
Since it’s Opening Day, there are no difficult starting pitching decisions; they’re all active. Zack Greinke owners might be a little skittish based on a rough spring featuring reduced velocity, but he’s facing a less-than-daunting San Francisco Giants lineup devoid of a big power threat. Jarrett Parker mans left field with Eduardo Nunez holding down the hot corner, a couple of spots usually occupied by boppers.
Depending on your league rules, Sunday is a great spot to put relievers in your lineup to provide some whiffs and support ratios. A great place to look is the Tampa Bay bullpen, as they’re likely to try to get Chris Archer off to a great start after his 9-19 record last season. With Brad Boxberger sidelined, Xavier Cedeno and Erasmo Ramirez are the bridge to closer Alex Colome.
Projected game scores
Note: W-L, ERA and WHIP are full-year 2016 statistics. GS is the projected game score for the pitcher.
Let’s find one player at each position with less than 50 percent ownership in ESPN leagues in a favorable spot.
Derek Norris, Tampa Bay Rays (1.5 percent ownership): Norris doesn’t enjoy the platoon advantage against New York Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka, but his only competition for a low-owned backstop is Jeff Mathis or Chris Iannetta, at home facing Madison Bumgarner. Tanaka is prone to the long ball, while Norris is a fly-ball hitter.
Logan Morrison, Tampa Bay Rays (0.8 percent ownership): Morrison is the only candidate meeting the criteria, landing in a decent spot. He’ll likely hit in the meat of the Rays’ order, and holds the platoon edge against Tanaka. Morrison has slammed 30 of his 31 homers the past two seasons off right-handed pitching.
Joe Panik, San Francisco Giants (31.0 percent ownership): Panik has been hitting down in the order this spring, though it remains to be seen if that’s the where he’ll bat come Opening Day. Still, beggars can’t be choosers on such a short slate, and at least Panik benefits from the platoon edge against Greinke.
Jhonny Peralta, St. Louis Cardinal (2.4 percent ownership): Peralta’s ownership is tempered as he’s expected to split time at the hot corner with Jedd Gyorko. In fact, if Gyorko gets the Opening Day nod, insert him into this tough spot, facing Jon Lester. Both Peralta and Gyorko will look to take advantage of the platoon bump against the veteran southpaw, who’ll be without his favorite battery mate, the retired David Ross.
Chris Owings, Arizona Diamondbacks (8.0 percent ownership): As expected, Owings prevailed over Nick Ahmed and Ketel Marte for the Snake’s starting shortstop job. He got there on the strength of his stick, and will need to hit to keep the gig. Getting off to a hot start will be a challenge facing Bumgarner, but at least he hits right-handed against the left-hander.
Corey Dickerson, Tampa Bay Rays (23.0 percent ownership): Dickerson is the third Ray to make the list — and could be the most enticing of all. He’ll hit near the top of the order, and swing a powerful stick against Tanaka.
Brandon Drury, Arizona Diamondbacks (47.0 percent ownership): Owings’ keystone partner, Drury qualifies in the outfield as well as third base. He’ll pick up second base eligibility once he plays 10 games, and it won’t be long before his ownership is north of 50 percent. In fact, if available, he’s not just worthy of this spot-start, but with multiple position eligibility, Drury’s a nice piece in leagues with daily lineup moves.
Jose Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals (0.8 percent ownership): Here’s your long shot play of the day. Martinez mashed his way onto the Redbirds’ 25-man roster, ostensibly as the fourth outfielder and backup first baseman. In the off chance Martinez gets the start, he’ll hold the platoon edge against Lester. Plus, Martinez has the ability to take advantage of Lester’s difficulty controlling the running game, which will be something to watch as the former Boston hurler develops a rapport with his new battery mate, Willson Contreras.
Notes: Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher’s past history (three years’ worth as well as past 21 days) as well as ballpark factors. “LH” and “RH” ratings account only for left- and right-handed batters, respectively. Weighted on-base average (wOBA) is the primary statistic used in the calculation. Ratings range from 1-10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. So, for example, a 10 is a must-start rating, while a 1 should be avoided (if possible); a 1-2 is poor, 3-4 is fair, 5-6 is average, 7-8 is very good and 9-10 is excellent.