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What you need to know for Opening Day's MLB games
by Mike Sheets
The New York Mets kick things off against the Washington Nationals and Patrick Corbin, who was arguably the worst pitcher in baseball last year, stumbling to a 5.82 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP across 31 starts. The left-hander was also highly ineffective against right-handed batters, surrendering a .302/.359/.562 line and a .387 wOBA. This sets things up well for a pair of lesser-rostered righties - J.D. Davis (1% rostered in ESPN leagues) and James McCann (3% rostered) - to do some damage with the platoon advantage.
With so many aces on the slate, there aren't many widely available hurlers, but Madison Bumgarner (11%), who has shown an uptick in velocity this spring, deserves at least some consideration as a streaming option. The San Diego Padres were below-average against lefties in 2021, and their lineup looks a little soft on paper with Fernando Tatis Jr. sidelined. Chase Field also suppresses homers.
The Cleveland Guardians lineup isn't overpowering, but it still provides a cheap, under-the-radar stacking opportunity against Zack Greinke and his pitch-to-contact approach. Bobby Bradley (2%) provides the power, Andres Gimenez (3%) brings the speed, and Steven Kwan (1%) offers a little bit of everything after having hit .328 with 12 dingers and six steals in 296 at-bats between Double- and Triple-A in 2021.
On a day that's filled with staff aces, JT Brubaker of the Pittsburgh Pirates stands out as someone we want to attack. The right-hander sported a 5.36 ERA last season, including an ugly 7.57 mark in the second half. Brubaker's biggest problem was his inability to keep the ball in the park, as his 2.03 HR/9 would have ranked worst in baseball if he had enough innings to qualify. Harrison Bader (25%), Yadier Molina (21%), Paul DeJong (3%), and perhaps even 42-year-old Albert Pujols (3%) should take advantage of one of Thursday's most favorable matchups.
Rowdy Tellez (3%) may be part of a first-base platoon this season, but he'll be in the heart of the Milwaukee Brewers lineup on Thursday with right-hander Kyle Hendricks taking the hill for the Chicago Cubs, giving him appeal as a streamer or DFS option. The lefty slugger consistently makes hard contact, and Hendricks looks like one of the more exploitable hurlers on the slate. After being drilled for a 4.77 ERA over 32 starts last season, the veteran's spring performance (9.53 ERA in 11 1/3 IP) doesn't offer much hope for a turnaround.
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Starting pitcher rankings for Opening Day
Best Sub-50% Rostered Hitters for Opening Day
Best and worst hitters from the day are generated by THE BAT X, a projection system created by Derek Carty using advanced methods like those used in MLB front offices, accounting for a variety of factors including player talent, ballparks, bullpens, weather, umpires, defense, catcher pitch-framing, and lots more.
Andrew McCutchen (MIL, LF -- 48%) at Hendricks
Amed Rosario (CLE, SS -- 47%) at Greinke
Wil Myers (SD, RF -- 11%) at Bumgarner
Brandon Nimmo (NYM, CF -- 42%) at Corbin
Omar Narvaez (MIL, C -- 34%) at Hendriks
Pavin Smith (ARI, RF -- 7%) vs. Darvish
Worst Over-50% Rostered Hitters for Opening Day
Carlos Santana (KC, 1B -- 74%) vs. Bieber
Tommy Edman (STL, 2B -- 95%) vs. Brubaker
Salvador Perez (KC, C -- 100%) vs. Bieber
Nick Madrigal (CHC, 2B -- 63%) vs. Burnes
Dylan Carlson (STL, CF -- 86%) vs. Brubaker
THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Opening Day
Prop of the Day
Zack Greinke Strikeouts: Over/Under 3.5 (-135/+105)
THE BAT X sees Greinke putting up 4.3 strikeouts for this matchup (on average), while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 57.9% of the time. THE BAT X believes there is positive value on the OVER.
The Guardians rank as the most strikeout-heavy offense on today's slate.
Cold weather is strongly correlated with less offense (and more strikeouts), and the weather report calls for the second-lowest temperature on the slate at 48 degrees.
THE BAT X projects Greinke to be the 16th percentile when assessing his strikeout talent.
Greinke's 88.3 mph fastball velocity since the start of last season ranks in the 9th percentile among starting pitchers.