MLB DFS Picks, Spotlight Pitchers & Top Stacks: Bring on the Opening Day Action (March 30)

MLB DFS action on Thursday, March 30, aka Major League Baseball Opening Day, starts at 1:05 p.m. ET with giant contests on DraftKings and FanDuel. Yahoo is going with the late-afternoon game set for their biggest prize pools.

Before you lock in lineups, there are several Stokastic tools that can help identify daily MLB DFS Top Stacks, key pitchers and MLB DFS picks player projections and popularity for DraftKings and FanDuel lineups, including Byron Buxton and the Twins taking on Zack Greinke.

MLB DFS Picks: Spotlight Pitchers and Top Stacks

Today marks a long offseason of waiting and all 30 teams are in action today. There are three waves of games at 1:05 p.m. ET, 4:05 p.m. ET and 10:07 p.m. ET. All of the DFS sites are putting out some major contests, so be on the lookout for any potential overlay.

Spotlight Pitchers

MLB is back after a full offseason and after a Spring Training filled with pitchers “working on new pitches” and plenty of split-squad games, plus countless stories about all the players being in “the best shape of their life!” — today it all counts.

Keep in mind that most starting pitchers are likely to have a soft cap of around 80 to 90 pitches, even veteran aces such as Gerrit Cole, Sandy Alcantara, Corbin Burnes and Luis Castillo. Most staff leaders will be making another 30 to 34 starts this season, so there will be ample time for them to get stretched out and accustomed to a heavy workload.

Some players also will be at an advantage of having played in the World Baseball Classic, while others may be tired out after ramping up earlier than usual. DFS baseball is always a guessing game as a chaotic, “event based” sport, and the first couple turns through the rotations, colder weather and sudden immersion into the daily grind only serve to heighten the variance.

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Afternoon Slate Target: RHP Hunter Greene vs. Pittsburgh Pirates — 4.1 implied runs

  • DFS Salary: DraftKings $7,400 | FanDuel $9,100 | Yahoo $45

Hunter Greene is a viable option for the gigantic main-slate tournaments, and he stands out as an excellent SP2 in all formats on DraftKings. Strikeouts, of course, are the currency of the realm for MLB DFS, and that is a calling card for the young Cincinnati fireballer. In his rookie campaign, Greene logged 24 starts and 125.2 innings, with an absurd 11.75 strikeouts per nine innings. Of course, while he was announcing his presence with authority, much like Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh, he was handing out an abundance of free passes and round-trippers, with 3.44 walks and 1.72 home runs per nine innings.

Pittsburgh is a pesky, though not particularly daunting lineup. Andrew McCutchen is back for a farewell tour, and he will be joined by journeyman Carlos Santana in the heart of the order. This is a disciplined duo at the plate, though their power is most likely to manifest as doubles rather than longballs. Ji-Man Choi, Bryan Reynolds and Oneil Cruz have shown promise, but they would be bottom-of-the-lineup fillers for most playoff-bound teams.

It is going to be in the upper-50s to low-60s in Cincinnati this afternoon, and that should neutralize the extra-base-friendly confines of the Great American Ballpark.

Night Slate Target: RHP Luis Castillo vs. Cleveland Guardians — 3.2 implied runs

  • DFS Salary: DraftKings $7,400 | FanDuel $9,100 | Yahoo $45

The late slate is loaded with pitching options, though that should be no surprise on Opening Day. Gamers are likely to focus on Shohei Ohtani and Julio Urias in their above-average matchups against the Athletics and Diamondbacks, respectively.

Shane Bieber carries solid name recognition; however, the Seattle lineup is one that we are only going to want to target with pitchers in the right circumstances. Zach Gallen would be the third-best option in the six-team West Coast player pool, and it will be interesting to see if gamers notice how top-heavy the Dodgers are this season.

That leaves us with Luis Castillo, who helped propel the Mariners to the postseason after being acquired from the Reds at the trade deadline. It did not take long for Castillo to become a fan favorite, and the only knocks against him are this being his age-30 season and his sometimes-inefficient pitching strategy typically capping him at six or so innings. Only twice in his 11 Seattle starts did he go more than half a dozen stanzas, and both of those occurred in early August.

The Guardians did see Castillo in Spring Training, though that was two weeks ago and should not be considered a knock against the Mariners ace. Enjoy the leverage against the field, kick back and welcome MLB DFS into our daily routine for the next six months.

Top Stacks

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Afternoon Slate Target: Minnesota Twins at RHP Zack Greinke — 4.7 implied runs

In a bit of a surprise, the Kansas City Royals brought back Zack Greinke, who will be pitching in his 20th season. Last year he lucked out with a 3.68 ERA while striking out only 4.8 hitters per nine innings. Yes, that is correct … he basically struck out one batter every other inning. Though he is clearly at the back of the Kansas City rotation, he is getting a “veteran” Opening Day start. Spring Training was not kind to the 39-year-old hurler as he notched a 7.02 ERA in 16.2 innings across five appearances.

Byron Buxton is an amazing hitter, when healthy. Those last two words are something that make the Minnesota fans cringe and start to tear up. In his last 436 same-handed matchups, Buxton has crushed opposing pitchers with a .316 ISO. While he does not run as much as he used to before all of his various injuries, the power numbers are eye-popping enough by themselves.

Trevor Larnach is the cheat code on Thursday, as he is projected to bat in the middle of the order and he is just $2,200 on FanDuel and $2,500 on DraftKings. While he is slightly above average against righties, the lineup slot and salary make him a core option in stacks or as a one-off. Max Kepler and Carlos Correa will be the veterans at the top of the order, and they each have solid numbers against right-handed pitchers. Joey Gallo and his all-or-nothing approach makes for a strong tournament option from the bottom third of the order, as Greinke is the perfect pitcher for him to take out of the ballpark.

Late Slate Target: Los Angeles Angels at LHP Kyle Muller — 4.3 implied runs

Sadly, DraftKings and FanDuel do not seem to care about employing the technology to roster Shohei Ohtani as a hitter on the days he is also the starting pitcher. There should be no worries, however, as there are a few new faces improving the Angels lineup, in addition to some familiar ones. Mike Trout is still one of the best hitters in the league, particularly against southpaws, and it is OK if he is no longer the base-stealing threat of his younger days.

Anthony Rendon feels like a new face, but he has actually been with the Halos for three injury-marred seasons. In his final season with the Nationals, he was an All-Star while also leading the league in doubles and RBIs across 146 games. In his 157 games for Los Angeles, he has yet to reach those same counting stats. He looked solid in Spring Training and is someone who may be off the radar for the average gamer.

Those who have been drafting best ball and season-long leagues are aware of the hype for Taylor Ward, who is an intriguing hitter but in a “show me” season. He should get plenty of good pitches with Trout, Rendon and Ohtani behind him. Hunter Renfroe has light-tower power against hitters of both handedness, but he has always performed better with the platoon advantage. It will be interesting to see if Brandon Drury can continue to build on his hot spring start, though he tends to be a streaky player who could easily flame out once again.

Final Thoughts for Thursday, March 30

Today there is wall-to-wall baseball. Be sure to register for contests early, as the main slate locks at 1:07 p.m. ET this afternoon. Be sure to get all the updated information on the Stokastic MLB Live Before Lock show starting at 12 p.m. ET, brought to you by Bet365.

Eric MacPherson
Eric "EMac" MacPherson won the 2007 Fantasy Baseball grand prize (trip for two to the MLB All-Star game) in the Roto format on ESPN. He won again in 2008, this time in the H2H format. As one of the early adopters of daily fantasy sports, EMac has been providing content for baseball and basketball as well as both professional and college football since 2012 for a variety of websites including DraftKings Playbook, FanVice, RotoWorld, Daily Fantasy Bootcamp, and RotoGrinders. He is well into his third decade of fantasy sports and has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Follow him on Twitter @EMacDFS or contact EMac by emailing [email protected].

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