Thank God it's Friday, which today may also be dubbed as “Happy Kris Bryant Day”. After a glorious Spring Training, followed by a public feud with management that had us all well versed in the verbiage of the CBA and service time constraints, the young phenom is finally bound to arrive at the Show. As someone who owns him on a rotisserie league, today is certainly exciting. Alas, as of midnight ET, he isn't even listed in FanDuel, and even if he becomes available, he is part of the very short early slate.
It will probably take one more day for Bryant to become a fixture (and it will be interesting to see how he is priced), and for today it is probably better to hold out for the afternoon games, which total at 13. Today features a ton of front-line pitching (with 4 hurlers standing at $10,000 or above), and a ton of early-season intriguing matchups. The old adage holds that pennants can't be won in April, but they can certainly be lost. With some teams already in a somewhat state of desperation, this whole weekend should be fun.
Let's go ahead and try to make some money.
Friday April 17
Locks: 7:05ET (Phillies @ Nationals)
Thursday was again a very solid day for our picks, mostly taking advantage of the most favorable stacking options on the schedule. Going safe with Doug Fister was the right call, even if he was only the second best pitcher of the day (John Lackey led the charge with 19 points). Fister produced 13.6 on his own, which served as a good base. The offense was led by the power of Giancarlo Stanton, and went for a total of 19.75 points. Overall, anything over 30 points tends to be good, and especially in a shorter slate.
The only significant rain threats for the day appear in cities with domed stadiums, so we should be safe from any delays or weather issues. Proceed confidently, and consider that Boston is bound to be a bit windy.
Biggest Money Line Favorites
As mentioned previously, there is a nice number of aces going today, and that means that the money lines tend to be skewered heavily in their favor. The Dodgers lead the way, and are at -240 to beat the Rockies despite Clayton Kershaw's struggles. Just a tick behind, the Nationals stand at -230 to beat the Phillies with Max Scherzer on the mound – this one makes a bit more sense. Finally, Seattle is -155 over Texas, starting JA Happ (?!).
As we head to the picks, you'll see that there is a ton of value to be found outside Friday's biggest favorites.
Pitcher – Bartolo Colon ($8,400)
Personal note: I really, really enjoy watching Bartolo Colon. After winning a debated Cy Young in 2005, he won a total of 14 games between 2006 and 2009, and was essentially left for dead as he missed 2010 altogether. And then, in a shocking renaissance that started at age 38 and continues through 42, he has amassed a 53-38 record, 3.53 ERA, and a lot of people wondering just how he does it. Now in his second season with the Mets, he has started really well, and averaged 15 FanDuel point in his first two starts.
On a day with many expensive options, Colon is a great value pick as he gets to pitch at home and against the Marlins, a team he was comfortable against last season. It all depends on personal preference, but on a day with a ton of offense to be had, getting a really expensive pitcher can derail the balance of your team.
Others to Consider: Max Scherzer ($11,000), Jeff Locke ($6,800)
Catcher – Evan Gattis ($2,900)
As mentioned before, runs should appear early and often today, giving us a nice number of stacking options. I really like both offenses in Orioles-Red Sox, the A's, Indians, Astros, Dodgers, and even the Giants. When I mention the Astros, who have been wildly disappointing so far, I do it because they face Jered Weaver, who is no longer an ace and has really struggled in hitters' parks for all of his career. That includes a 4.58 ERA in Houston, with six homers allowed over 17.2 innings. This is why I'm picking Gattis, who finally broke out of his slump and hits way better against finesse pitchers.
Others to Consider: Caleb Joseph ($3,000), Stephen Vogt ($2,900)
First Base – David Ortiz ($3,700)
Don't be fooled by Ubaldo Jimenez's dominant first start – he is still Ubaldo Jimenez. In three starts at Fenway, he sports a ghastly 9.45 ERA. Boston has started the season with some suspect pitching, but the hitting has been there from day one, especially during their opening home series. Ortiz is the center of this cavalcade of stars, and should get plenty of chances to produce.
Others to Consider: Mike Napoli ($3,100), Ike Davis ($2,700)
Second Base – Dustin Pedroia ($3,400)
Pedroia has started the season on a tear, and is the second-best second baseman in FanDuel points so far. However, he is only eighth in price, which is why it is still time to take advantage. As with Ortiz, Pedroia's spot atop the lineup helps, with the potential of stolen bases only adding to his value.
Others to Consider: Alexander Guerrero ($2,900), Jonathan Schoop ($2,700)
Third Base – Luis Valbuena ($3,000)
The lefty has been one of the bright spots for the Astros early, and has enough power to warrant a spot in the middle of the order. With Weaver's well-documented struggles, and a thin bullpen for the Angels, trying to find the 3 requisite Astros for the day looks like a winning proposition. Mix and match as you please, but Valbuena at this price is really tempting.
Others to Consider: Brett Lawrie ($3,000), Pablo Sandoval ($3,500)
Shortstop – Jed Lowrie ($3,400)
The final piece of the Astros puzzle comes from Lowrie, who has been a revelation full of power and timely hitting. He and Xander Bogaerts are the top 2 shortstops in FanDuel in terms of PPG, so you can go with either of them and still be safe. However, Lowrie is slightly cheaper and hits higher in his lineup, so that gives him a tiny edge.
Others to Consider: Bogaerts ($3,600), Brandon Crawford ($2,300)
Outfield – Joc Pederson ($3,500), George Springer ($3,400), Mookie Betts ($3,100)
If we are leaning too much with the Astros and Red Sox, we have to go all the way with them at the outfield, as well. The beauty of picking Colon as the pitcher for the day is that it allows us to have a very deep and balanced lineup, as it shows with these three outfielders.
They all have favorable matchups to start, and also pose the dual threat of power and steals, which is more than welcome in FanDuel. The only knock may be that Pederson hits low in the Dodger lineup, but that hasn't kept him from being a top-15 option among outfielders.
As a final note, I really like today's picks and expect a monster day. But as always, try to conduct your own research and go with what works for you.
Others to Consider: Bryce Harper ($4,200), Hanley Ramirez ($4,200), Angel Pagan ($3,400)