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FanDuel DFS MLB Strategy Advice: Thursday (7/23)

by Jon Mathisen | @eazymath | Featured Writer
Jul 23, 2020

Rejoice, baseball fans! The MLB is finally back after a long, excruciating three and a half month wait. There are only two games scheduled for Thursday’s “Opening Day” so the player selection pool is limited. There are a lot of unknowns with these two games being the first of the season and we have no 2020 statistics or hard trends to follow. So we’ll look to invest in more proven and reliable players that have a good chance of paying off. There is still some perceived value out there, too, so we’ll cover it all. Let’s get into it.

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Value Plays: Pitcher

Clayton Kershaw (LAD) vs. SF $10,300 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Gerrit Cole (NYY) @ WSH $11,400 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Max Scherzer (WSH) vs. NYY $10,700 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium

While Gerrit Cole is tempting, he’s making his first start on a new team against the defending World Series champions at a hefty price tag. Granted, the Nationals aren’t the same team they were in 2019, but they still have a formidable offense. My advice, go with Kershaw and use the extra $1100 to bolster your offense. Kershaw is in the best position to grab a win at home against a familiar opponent, who he’s historically dominated (1.74 ERA, 0.868 WHIP, and 23 wins in 47 career starts). The Giants are also missing Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, and Evan Longoria. Max Scherzer, by far, faces the most difficult task of trying to hold down the vaunted Yankees lineup. While he is facing them in his home park he’s still susceptible to giving up the long ball and that spells trouble against the Bronx Bombers.

Value Plays: Catcher/First Base

Max Muncy (LAD) vs. SF $3,900 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Gary Sanchez (NYY) @ WSH $3,300 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Eric Thames (WSH) vs. NYY $2,400 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ High

Muncy is the best option here, but he’s also the most expensive. He’s done the majority of his damage against righties and has a pair of doubles in four career plate appearances against Johnny Cueto. Sanchez is an interesting option with considerably more risk. He’s never faced Scherzer in his career but has plenty of table setters in front of him, which should give him RBI opportunities whenever he steps to the plate. Thames is a boom/bust play (he’s 2-for-14 against Cole in his lifetime), but all it takes is one swing for him to pay off. There is 0-for-4 downside here, but he’s a righty specialist who can go yard at any time. Saving money by employing him as your C/1B will allow you to spend up elsewhere.

Value Plays: Second Base

DJ LeMahieu (NYY) @ WSH $3,500 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Starlin Castro (WSH) vs. NYY $2,500 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Howie Kendrick (WSH) vs. NYY $2,500 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low

On the surface, 2B appears to be pretty weak, but there are a few sneaky good options. LeMahieu’s status for Opening Day is still up the air after returning to the team last week following his recovery from COVID-19. If he does indeed play, he’s likely to lead off, which gives him the most potential ABs and a good chance to score some runs. His price tag is a bit steep given the uncertainty of his matchup. Starlin Castro looks to be the best value at the position. He’s 6-for-19 in his career against Cole with no extra base hits and a walk. Cole is obviously elite, but we’ll take Castro’s .316 batting average head-t0-head for his affordable price tag. Howie Kendrick has proven to be a clutch performer in his Nationals career and is projected to hit clean up or fifth. He’s looked solid so far in summer camp and should have some RBI opportunities, despite the tough matchup. You could do much worse for $2,500.

Value Plays: Third Base

Justin Turner (LAD) vs. SF $3,100 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Gio Urshela (NYY) @ WSH $2,800 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Miguel Andujar (NYY) @ WSH $2,700 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium

Justin Turner is 12-for-32 (.375) with two homers and three doubles in his career against Johnny Cueto. This game sets up perfectly for Turner, who will hit in the middle of the Dodgers lineup in a game where they are favored at home. The price is right, don’t overthink this. There isn’t that much to like about Urshela’s matchup considering he’s facing Scherzer, but he did log a .895 OPS against righties last year. Andujar slugged .534 against righties in his last full season (2018). It’s pretty much a coin toss between the two Yankees but Turner is the play here.

Value Plays: Shortstop

Corey Seager (LAD) vs. SF $3,200 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Trea Turner (WSH) vs. NYY $3,600 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Chris Taylor (LAD) vs. SF $2,400 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ High

Corey Seager has excelled against Cueto in their career head-to-head matchups going 12-for-36 (.333) and taking him deep three times. He obviously lacks the stolen base upside of Trea Turner, but the $400 dollar price difference makes Seager an appetizing pick. Turner’s speed and hitting atop the Nats order give him a great chance of reaching base and he’s always a threat to swipe a couple of bags and that makes him very valuable in this limited slate. He also has a career .250 batting average (3-for-12) against the Yankees ace. Chris Taylor will likely hit towards the bottom half of the Dodgers lineup but that could set up some nice RBI opportunities. He has a .250 career batting against Cueto across 12 at-bats and isn’t a bad value pick if you’re looking to spend big bucks elsewhere.

Value Plays: Outfield

Aaron Judge (NYY) @ WSH $4,100 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Mookie Betts (LAD) vs. SF $4,200 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Juan Soto (WSH) vs./@ TEAM $4,000 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Joc Pederson (LAD) vs. SF $2,800 ⭐⭐⭐ High
Mike Yastrzemski (SF) @ LAD $2,500 ⭐⭐⭐ Low

There’s always a risk of a goose egg against a pitcher like Scherzer, but Aaron Judge has been tearing up summer camp and historically has feasted on right-handed pitching. Betts is an on-base machine and has slugged 105 of his 139 career home runs against righties–he also has three hits in six career appearances against Cueto.  Peterson has struggled against Cueto in his career, only notching two hits in 20 at-bats but every single one of his 36 home runs in 2019 came against right-handed pitching. The boom is worth the potential bust at his price tag if you’re low on cash and need to fill your final OF spot. Yastrzemski is a low risk/low reward play with a .667 batting average (2-for-3) in a very limited sample size against Kershaw. He also had an eye-popping .943 OPS against lefties last season.

5 Studs Worth Their Salary

Cody Bellinger (LAD): $4,500. The reigning NL MVP has a .353 batting average (6-for-18) in his career against Cueto.
Corey Seager (LAD): $3,200. He owns Cueto in their head-to-head matchups and has lots of RBI upside.
Justin Turner (LAD): $3,100. Historical domination against opponent hitting in the middle of a stacked lineup.
Brandon Crawford (SF): $2,300. He has struggled against Kershaw in the past but could get lucky facing a familiar opponent. Just a dart throw.
Aaron Hicks (NYY): $2,600. A fair price for a piece of the dangerous Yankees lineup. Arguably the best OF value under $2700.

5 Notable Players to Fade

Max Scherzer (WSH): $10,700. The second-most expensive player on the slate facing one of the toughest lineups in baseball, no thanks.
Johnny Cueto (SF): $6,600. Don’t be fooled by the cheap price, this is a brutal matchup coming off a lost year in 2019.
Gary Sanchez (NYY): $3,300. He’s never faced Scherzer, and there are better places to spend your money.
Gleyber Torres (NYY): $3,400. Torres is great, but it’s a tough matchup and there are better options at SS.
Kike Hernandez (LAD): $2,600. The price tag is cheap, but he’s really struggled against Cueto and righties in general.

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Jon Mathisen is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Jon, check out his archive and follow him @eazymath.