Major League Baseball found a loophole in the current collective bargaining agreement by making Thursday games start at 1:05 pm ET, giving teams an extra day of rest for their players. But with this schedule change comes some new problems that may make the MLB Opening Day lineup difficult to predict on April 2nd.
Playing the appropriate matchups is vital whether you’re putting up a fantasy lineup with the top players selected onto your team, picking from a worldwide DFS pool for Opening Day of the 2022 MLB season, or simply attempting to wow your friends with your baseball expertise.
Batter vs. pitcher numbers (BVP) are difficult to understand. Some analysts believe they may be used to forecast outcomes, while others disagree, noting the inherent unpredictability of such tiny samples and methodology changes that render previous findings useless.
We usually fall somewhere in the center, adopting BVP as a starting point without completely committing. Pitchers can have completely different arsenals and fresh methods of exploiting a batter’s flaws. Other times, a hitter has altered his swing or improved his ability to see a flaw. As a result, they aren’t simply ideas; they also feature a confidence meter to assist you along the road.
Let’s get started with the Thursday part of the Opening Day schedule, and we’ll add the DraftKings pricing to aid you in your daily fantasy sports endeavors.
Jorge Alfaro of the San Diego Padres ($3,000) is a catcher.
Jorge Alfaro of the San Diego Padres | Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Madison Bumgarner of the Arizona Diamondbacks is the opposing pitcher.
4-for-9, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 K,.444/.444/.889 BVP Stats
2021 Stats: 72-for-295 (.244/.283/.342), 15 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 11 BB, 99 K,.244/.283/.342
The beauty of this choice is that it doesn’t matter who the San Diego Padres start at catcher since any of their three top possibilities might be used. If Victor Caratini ($2,800) or Austin Nola ($3,100) get the call, they’ve had success in tiny samples against Madison Bumgarner. The former is 3-for-5 with no extra-base hits, while the latter is 3-for-6 with a double thrown in for good measure.
Alfaro, on the other hand, is still the best option because of his bat’s power and his track record versus southpaws. Despite getting 137 less plate appearances than against righties, he slashed.259/.276/.459 versus lefties last year, hitting three of his four home runs.
Nola is most likely to receive the start, therefore confidence is low. If Alfaro, on the other hand, plays…
Pete Alonso, New York Mets, first baseman ($4,800)
Pete Alonso of the New York Mets | Winslow Townson/Getty Images
Patrick Corbin of the Washington Nationals is the opposing pitcher.
10-for-30, 2 2B, 4 HR, 4 BB, 11 K,.333/.412/.800 BVP Stats
147 for 561, 27 2B, 3 3B, 37 HR, 60 BB, 127 K,.262/.344/.519 in 2021
Another batter is up next, facing one of the worst Opening Day starters on the 2022 schedule. Pete Alonso is a more expensive first baseman, but the results more than make up for it.
Throughout his career, Alonso has faced Patrick Corbin more than any other pitcher, and he’s just growing more comfortable in that circumstance. The New York Mets slugger went 4-for-7 with three home runs and two walks in three games versus the Washington Nationals during the 2021 season, going yard in each of those games.
It’s one thing to be locked in against a pitcher, and another to be locked in versus a pitcher.
The ball arcs as high as the home runs he keeps hitting against Corbin on his confidence meter.
Kolten Wong, Milwaukee Brewers, second baseman ($4,400)
Second baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers Getty Images/Kolten Wong | Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images
Kyle Hendricks of the Chicago Cubs is the opposing pitcher.
17-for-47, 4 2B, 2 HR, 3 BB, 5 K,.362/.423/.575 BVP Stats
Stats for 2021: 121 for 445, 32 2B, 2 3B, 14 HR, 31 BB, 83 K,.272/.335/.447
Kolten Wong doesn’t hit Kyle Hendricks for a lot of power, but he makes contact often and seems to have a solid read on the veteran pitcher’s approach. He’s hit lots of singles into the gap and accepted what he’s been given rather than making errors at the bat, and considering how frequently he’s done so, that high-floor attitude should be admired.
Furthermore, Hendricks has been terrible in spring training, so there’s no reason to believe he’ll improve on last year’s 4.77 ERA and 1.35 WHIP (which included an MLB-worst 200 hits allowed). He’s only pitched 11.1 innings in four spring outings, with a 9.53 ERA and 1.77 WHIP to his credit.
Wong isn’t likely to go yard against Hendricks, but he’s a safe bet with a track record against a pitcher on the verge of disappearing.
Confidence meter: High for the floor, but not so much for a high-ceiling play.
Nolan Arenado, third baseman, St. Louis Cardinals ($5,900)
Nolan Arenado of the St. Louis Cardinals | Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images
JT Brubaker of the Pittsburgh Pirates is the opposing pitcher.
5-for-11, 4 2B, 1 HR, 1 BB, 1 K,.455/.500/1.091 BVP Stats
151 for 593 in 2021, 34 2B, 3 3B, 34 HR, 50 BB, 96 K,.255/.312/.494
We’ll give ourselves one real star, with a price tag to match.
Nolan Arenado is one of the finest in the game, and he’s dominated JT Brubaker in the few occasions they’ve met, all of which have been during the 2021 season. Even though the 28-year-old starting pitcher possesses a nasty slider that can strike out even the greatest hitters, not much has changed since then.
Brubaker has a 92.9 mph fastball that gets shelled, and Arenado, despite doing most of his damage last year against offspeed pitches, is prepared to take advantage. When the approach is thus predictable, he can still catch up to the “hot,” as seen by his 11 at-bats yielding five extra-base hits, one of which left the yard.
Confidence meter: As high as you’d anticipate when selecting a real superstar.
Paul DeJong, St. Louis Cardinals ($3,900) is a shortstop.
Shortstop with the St. Louis Cardinals /Getty Images/Paul DeJong | Michael B. Thomas
JT Brubaker of the St. Louis Cardinals is the opposing pitcher.
3-for-7, 1 2B, 2 HR, 2 K,.429/.429/1.429 BVP Stats
2021 Stats: 70-for-356 (.197/.284/.390), 10 2B, 1 3B, 19 HR, 35 BB, 103 K
This is one of those “who else are you going to go with?” choices.
Only Fernando Tatis Jr. (out for the foreseeable future), Francisco Lindor (a great but expensive option against Patrick Corbin), Nick Ahmed (not likely to start), Edmundo Sosa (not likely to start), and Alcides Escobar (not buying the minimal success) are among the shortstop options with multiple hits against the opposing starter.
So, it’s DeJong.
The 28-year-old hasn’t been able to repeat his All-Star season in 2019 and finished last season below the Mendoza Line, but his bat still has enough power to connect with a Brubaker meatball and convert it into a no-doubter.
The confidence meter is at an all-time low.
David Peralta of the Arizona Diamondbacks ($3,200) is an outfielder.
David Peralta of the Arizona Diamondbacks | Norm Hall/Getty Images
Yu Darvish of the San Diego Padres is the opposing pitcher.
9-for-22, 3 HR, 2 BB, 5 K,.409/.458/.818 BVP Stats
126 for 487 in 2021, 30 2B, 8 3B, 8 HR, 46 BB, 92 K,.259/.325/.402
Wil Myers ($3,400) is enticing since he’s hit home runs on six Madison Bumgarner pitches, but he’s only batting.232 in 56 at-bats against the southpaw. With a.563/.588/1.000 slash line over 16 at-bats, Andrew Benintendi ($4,100) is intriguing, but it’s typically best not to target someone facing Shane Bieber, particularly as he seeks to rebound from a dismal (and not fully healthy) 2021.
As a result, David Peralta is the obvious pick to face Yu Darvish, who never quite regained his stride when MLB started cracking down on sticky stuff. From the beginning of July through the completion of the regular season, the 35-year-old threw 70.1 innings and managed just a 6.65 ERA (5.05 FIP) and 1.31 WHIP despite his outstanding strikeout stats.
Darvish has looked much better in spring training, but he still faces a risk against a seasoned hitter with a career average of.286 that rises to.409 in this matchup.
Medium on the confidence meter, although with a burner that runs a little hotter than claimed.
Unless otherwise stated, all stats are courtesy of Baseball Reference, Fangraphs, and Baseball Savant. Swish Analytics provided BVP data and DraftKings pricing.
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