MLB DFS Picks, Spotlight Pitchers & Top Stacks: SP1s Jesus Luzardo and Zac Gallen Have Strong Matchups (March 28)

The wait is over as the official Opening Day for MLB is upon us. The DFS world is celebrating with a variety of featured slate start times, so know who your favorite sites like DraftKings, FanDuel and Yahoo are handling things today. Before we get to our MLB DFS picks, as always, we will use Stokastic’s tools to help in identifying today’s MLB DFS top stacks, key pitchers and MLB DFS picks. Look to Yu Darvish and Zac Gallen as today’s aces, for the main and late slates.

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MLB DFS Picks: Spotlight Pitchers and Top Stacks | Mar. 28

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MLB DFS Picks: Spotlight Pitchers

Main Slate Primary Pitching Target: RHP Yu Darvish vs. San Francisco Giants — 3.8 implied runs

First Pitch: 4:10 p.m. ET

  • DFS Salary: DraftKings $8,200 | FanDuel $9,200 | Yahoo $36

This will be the second start for RHP Yu Darvish, who tossed 3.2 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Korea last Thursday. The Seoul Series was the first two games for the MLB season, though today is the “full” Opening Day for the league. Darvish logged 72 pitches with three strikeouts, three walks, two hits and one unearned run. Not too shabby against a loaded lineup like the Dodgers, which should make the matchup against the San Francisco Giants seem like a pleasant walk in the park. This is a 1:10 p.m. local start and it will be in the mid-60s, with a light breeze in from left field.

We know the drill with the G-men as they will do their best to get as many hitters in the lineup with the platoon advantage each day. This means we should see LaMonte Wade Jr., Michael Conforto and Mike Yastrzemski. Each of these players is a pinch-hit risk should a lefty come in from the bullpen and since the Padres have three fresh southpaw relievers, it would not be a surprise to see some gamesmanship. Of course, that will happen after Darvish is out of the game, but it is a reminder for those looking to San Francisco mini-stacks for some leverage.

Rookie Jung Hoo Lee will be leading off, though the lefty is no stranger to the game, having played in the KBO for the last seven seasons. He projects as the every-day center fielder and leadoff man, at least while he is able to make contact and get on base. Jorge Soler and Matt Chapman have power in same-handed matchups, but they also bring above-average strikeout rates, which is a bonus for Darvish.

Last week Darvish threw 72 pitches, so the expectation is that he should be able to approach 90 today if things are going smoothly.

Main Slate Secondary Pitching Target: LHP Jesus Luzardo vs. Pittsburgh Pirates — 3.9 implied runs

First Pitch: 7:40 p.m. ET

  • DFS Salary: DraftKings $7,600 | FanDuel $9,100 | Yahoo $45

LHP Jesus Luzardo will be a popular SP2 on DraftKings, where he is at a very favorable salary. For Yahoo, the SP2 punt du jours will include veteran LHP Alex Wood going for the Athletics, 24-year-old Garrett Crochet, who is drawing the start for the White Sox and RHP Frankie Montas who is with the Reds, in a good matchup against the hapless Washington Nationals.

This is mostly a price play as the Pirates will be rolling out a lineup that will boast eight right-handed hitters. Luzardo did have a respectable 26.3% strikeout rate against opposite-handed batsmen last year, but the projected Pittsburgh lineup averaged a meager 18.1% strikeout rate against southpaws. Michael A. Taylor and Jared Triolo each had a strikeout rate north of 30% against lefties, so there is a chance for Luzardo to get a couple from that duo along with a few more from the rest of the lineup for a respectable score on DraftKings, where strikeouts are the currency of the realm.

Late Slate Pitching Target: RHP Zach Gallen vs. Colorado Rockies — 3.9 implied runs

First Pitch: 7:10 p.m. ET

  • DFS Salary: DraftKings $9,300 | FanDuel $9,900 | Yahoo $43

Last season, RHP Zac Gallen made his first All-Star Game, while logging a career-high 34 starts, with respectable numbers across the board. He doesn’t quite get as many strikeouts as fantasy gamers would like, but he is no slouch either with 9.4 per nine innings over the last two seasons, while also limiting opposing hitters to a paltry 0.85 home runs per nine innings.

Charlie Blackmon will be 38-years old soon and he is clearly not the player he was even five years ago. Nolan Jones and Ryan McMahon are the other lefties in the lineup and while this trio fares well against opposite-handed hurlers, those results are also boosted by the thin Coors Field air. For his part, Gallen is mostly splits-neutral, so he should hold his own in this matchup.

MLB DFS Picks: Top Stacks

Main Slate Primary Target: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. RHP Miles Mikolas — 5.1 implied runs

First Pitch: 4:10 p.m. ET

Yes, I know that the Dodgers are an easy recommendation, but there are going to be at least 180 more articles from Your Ol’ Pal this MLB season, so grant me this one dalliance for Opening Day. To the credit of DraftKings, Mookie Betts and Shohei Ohtani are the two most expensive position players, with Freddie Freeman seventh. Of course they better be, since each is a former MVP winner and multi-time All-Star. FanDuel has Betts and Ohtani just $100 below Ronald Acuna Jr. and Freeman falls into line with the eighth largest cap hit.

Teoscar Hernandez was the other main offseason acquisition, being signed off the free agent market after a solid season in Seattle, after being a key cog in Toronto for several years. Hernandez is someone to target against lefties, so he is not a priority against RHP Miles Mikolas. Catcher Will Smith has a bat that rivals half of the starting first basemen in the league and Max Muncy is always a fun DFS roster, since he swings from his heels and is an extra base machine … when he makes contact anyway.

Mikolas is the third oldest member of the starting rotation for St. Louis, which does not bode well for the Cardinals postseason prospects. He limits walks but has a below-league-average strikeout rate. When he is not able to induce ground balls, there is a risk of opposing power hitters smoking line drives and longballs.

Main Slate Secondary Target: Cincinnati Reds vs. RHP Josiah Gray — 4.9 implied runs

First Pitch: 4:10 p.m. ET

Last year, RHP Josiah Gray was able to cut his home run per nine innings from 2.34 over his first 219.1 innings, down to 1.25 in a season-high 159.0 innings. He also saw his strikeouts fall from 9.44 to 8.09. This spring he was off to a slow start with 16.1 innings spread across five outings. He did rack up a 13.78 strikeout per nine innings rate, but he issued a walk for every two punchouts and suffered a 6.61 ERA, though it was also on a .410 batting average on balls in play.

The Reds do have a decent amount of power up and down the lineup with the entire starting nine projecting for at least a .400 slugging rate. Contact will be an issue, though considering the Great American Ballpark facilitates round-trippers, we should see crooked numbers quite often from both teams in this stadium.

Last year everyone except for catcher Tyler Stephenson an oft-injured second baseman Jonathan India had a .175 or better isolated power against right-handed pitching. The tradeoff was four members of the projected batting order also struck out 28% or more of the time, but this is a dangerous matchup for someone like Gray.

Spencer Steer and Jake Fraley are budding stars, and veteran Jeimer Candelario should be a steadying presence as a switch-hitter in the heart of the order. It will be interesting to see how Elly De La Cruz continues to develop or if he was a flash in the pan with a torrid first few weeks in The Show. Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Will Benson can be used to round out full stacks. This team has reinforcements on the horizon as well when Matt McLain and TJ Friedl are able to return from injury.

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Late Slate Target: Arizona Cardinals vs. LHP Kyle Freeland — 5.2 implied runs

First Pitch: 10:10 p.m. ET

When LHP Kyle Freeland isn’t pitching at Coors Field, he is often times bringing those results with him on the road. Last year in his age-30 season, Freeland had an all-time low 40.0% ground ball rate and 5.43 strikeouts per nine innings, while his 1.68 home runs per nine was the second worst mark in his career. In a wild twist, over the last two seasons, his walks, strikeouts, home runs allowed and ERA have all been worse away from Coors Field.

Ketel Marte and Christian Walker have had sustained career success against Freeland, which is great, considering they are two of the more prominent hitters for the Diamondbacks. Corbin Carroll was amazing last year, winning the National League Rookie of the Year award, while also finishing fifth in the MVP race. Though he does not do as well against fellow lefties, he is a stolen base threat when he is on board and he should get a couple of at bats against right-handed relievers.

Gabriel Moreno is a tremendous way to fill out the catcher requirements on DraftKings and Yahoo, while also being a differentiation play on FanDuel. Eugenio Suarez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. can be sprinkled in for full stacks, but they are not a priority.

Other DFS and Sports Wagering Opportunities

Tonight we can look to Nathan Eovaldi in the sports wagering market for the under on his 5.5 strikeouts prop. The True Odds feature on OddsShopper shows that erstwhile ace has -135 “true odds” to fall shy of that threshold, and the -115 odds currently available at PointsBet are actually working against the book for a lofty 7.5% expected return on investment (ROI). This is further buoyed by the -150 line offered for the same wager on “sharp’ book Pinnacle.  .

Eovaldi turned 31 this winter and the last two seasons he has averaged 8.35 strikeouts per nine innings, compared to his stellar 9.56 rate across the three preceding seasons. Aside from the established Christopher Morel and the inexperienced Michael Busch, the rest of the Cubs have a belo-league-average strikeout rate against right-handed hurlers, since the start of last season.

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Final Thoughts for Thursday, March 28 — MLB DFS Picks

Weather is already impacting the slate with the Milwaukee Brewers at New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies postponed until tomorrow. Other than some chilly early spring temperatures, the rest of the docket should be good to go.

Before you finalize your MLB DFS picks, check out today’s Stokastic MLB Live Before Lock, at 2:00 p.m. ET, get 30% off the Stokastic MLB Packages including DFS Sims, Lineup Generator and Data, with promo code DINGER.

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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