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MLB Opening Day Preview

MLB Opening Day Preview
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Welcome to the “LuTable” as I’m now going to start calling it (with or without you!), where Logan and myself tackle a few topics and try not to bicker like an old married couple. Today we’re getting away from DFS previews, but instead tackling a few Opening Day questions. We also tackle the Fantasy impact of Andrew McCutchen‘s haircut. Yes, the Daily Roto team is willing to look at every angle of the game to nail down each player’s Fantasy value. Opening Day is just a few days away, so let’s jump right into it!

Which ace struggles on Opening Day? (Disclaimer: Josh Collmenter does not qualify as an “ace”)

Logan – I think Julio Teheran is going to be the first of many pitchers that leave Marlins Park feeling a bit dissatisfied with their performance this season. Teheran is a stud and is certainly a notch above the Josh Collmenter range of opening day starters, but something about the Marlins gives me some major mojo. They made some solid additions this offseason to shore up an offense that was ready to explode at any moment. Giancarlo starts his season with a homer, and of course my guy Christian Yelich has himself a day. Sorry for your loss, Julio.

Chris – While I don’t think Jeff Samardzija is bad on opening day, I think it’ll be tough for him to get to his typical high Fantasy total. He’s a high strikeout guy facing a team built for contact. The highest K/9 rate on the Royals is Lorenzo Cain, their three hitter, and it’s not even that bad (21.2%). Alex Gordon‘s K/9 sits in the high teens, but other than that there is no real strikeout threat for Samardzija. He’s going to have to work hard for those strikeouts. It’s also worth noting that the Royals added Kendrys Morales and Alex Rios to the lineup giving it a little more pop than last season. Last season just three hitters hit double-digit home runs for them (Gordon, Perez, Moustakas), but this season we could see five with the addition of Morales and a full season of Hosmer.

Who is your contrarian stack?

Logan – The Cincinnati Reds will start their season with Francisco Liriano. I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing. It will be a bit colder than we’d like it to be in the northern parts of the country, but hitters will still have their way in Great American Ball Park; Reds hitters that is. Votto is back, Bruce might be healthy, and Hamilton, Mesoraco and Todd Frazier will be pests at or near the top of the order against Liriano on day one. There will be more popular stacks against arms even worse than Liriano’s, so I think there is a chance to capitalize here.

Chris – I think the Texas Rangers could be a very nice contrarian stack on Opening Day facing Sonny Gray of the A’s. I talked about Gray’s lower K/9 in the American League DFS Preview and I think that is a good reason to target him rather than some of the other aces we’ll be seeing on Monday. Gray’s 7.52 K/9 really isn’t that impressive. 12 other Opening Day starters and 40 starters overall recorded better 2014 K/9s last season. Gray also had an ERA over one point worse at home and opponents slugged almost 100 points better.

Another reason to like the Rangers is the potential power in the lineup led by Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre mixed with some speed at the top in Elvis Andrus and Leonys Martin. Shin Soo-Choo is a high OBP guy who could be hitting in front of the big power hitters and there could even be some power found at a tough position to roster, catcher, in Robinson Chirinos. Chirinos hit 13 home runs last season with a 14.9% HR/FB ratio, which would have ranked him in the top 30 last season if he would have qualified. The Rangers aren’t going to jump off the screen as a great play day one, but they should certainly be considered for contrarians.

Which platoon hitter are you targeting?

Logan – It’s a little early to be able to know how the managerial decisions will flow this season, but I’ll take a stab at this. I’m interested in monitoring the role of Scott Van Slyke in Los Angeles. Last season Van Slyke blossomed as a value DFS play against left-handed pitching (in particular against Wade Miley). He put together an astounding .315 ISO against southpaws last season and will be in there against them as frequent as possible this year. Wade Miley has since departed from the NL West, but there is reason to believe that Van Slyke will find a new lefty to stomp on.

Chris – Dioner Navarro is a guy who could find himself platooning with not only Russell Martin, but with whoever is at first base as well. If the Blue Jays decide to go with Edwin Encarnacion at first, it would allow Navarro to be the DH and likely find himself right behind the big hitters in the six hole. He hit .343 with RISP last season and with guys like Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, and EE in front of him there are going to be a lot of Jays on the pond ready to be driven in. He hit just about the same against RHP as he did LHP, but finds himself as a platoon hitter due to his teammates. He recorded a .272 average and .393 SLG against RHP last season and he’ll be facing one in Masahiro Tanaka if he gets the nod on Opening Day.

True or False: Andrew McCutchen cutting his hair off makes him faster.

Logan – True. I’ve had the opportunity to watch McCutchen a lot during my time in Pittsburgh. The guy can really run. But, when you stop to wonder about the dreadlocks, you have to consider their aerodynamic levels. I feel like a fresh cut will bring out a fresh Cutch. Stolen bases for everyone!

Chris – Oh man. Well… In theory, he’d have to weigh less without those long dreads right? I’m sorry. I can’t do this… The weight of the hair isn’t significant enough, no matter how cool it would be to get faster after something as simple as a haircut. I think McCutchen is in line for an MVP season in 2015, but it’s definitely not because of this. False.

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