This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
For those who love pitching duels, don't expect to find many across the majors Saturday night. The seven-game main slate on DraftKings carries a slew of bad starters, so offense could reign supreme. Let's dig into the matchups to try and give you an edge over the field.
Justin Verlander ($11,100) is hands-down the top pitcher set to take the mound. He hasn't had the easiest of schedules so far with his three starts coming against the Rays, Rangers and Yankees. Things won't get any better for him Saturday against the Mariners, who lead the league in runs scored by a wide margin. They also rank first in both home runs (37) and stolen bases (19), which is a rare combination. Verlander maintains plenty of strikeout upside and should be the highest owned starter based on the other options, but rostering him does come with some risk.
After Verlander, ownership percentages could go in any number of directions. For those looking to attack matchups, Adam Wainwright ($8,300) might be an option. He'll be facing the Reds, who badly miss Scooter Gennett (groin) and are tied for the fourth-fewest runs scored (42) in the league. However, Wainwright isn't exactly untouchable with his career 8.7 percent swinging strike rate. He also hasn't finished with a WHIP below 1.40 since 2015.
Matt Strahm ($7,300) shined working mostly out of the bullpen last year, recording a 0.98 WHIP and 28.2 percent strikeout rate. He earned a role in the starting rotation right out of spring training, but he's allowed seven runs (six earned) over 7.2 innings over his first two starts. His strikeout upside could make him one of the more popular options, but he faces a tall order against a Diamondbacks lineup that has remained productive despite the loss of Paul Goldschmidt.
One player to maybe take a chance on is Merrill Kelly ($8,500). Kelly spent the last three seasons playing in South Korea and made the Diamondbacks' rotation despite posting a 5.91 ERA and 1.36 WHIP this spring. He started off the season on the right foot by allowing three runs across six innings against the Padres. He really opened some eyes in his second start by allowing one run and recording nine strikeouts against the Red Sox. With a rematch against the Padres on tap, he could be worth the risk in tournament play.
The Rangers already have a hole to fill in their lackluster rotation after Edinson Volquez (elbow) was placed on the IL. They're going to give Adrian Sampson a shot, who had a 4.87 xFIP and a measly 15.8 percent strikeout rate at Triple-A last year. His first start is a tough matchup against the A's, so expect Khris Davis ($5,400) and Matt Chapman ($4,600) to be included in plenty of entries.
This game between the A's and Rangers could be targeted on both sides with Marco Estrada starting for the A's. Estrada has already allowed five home runs across 20.1 innings after giving up 1.8 HR/9 in 2018. He's also finished with a WHIP of at least 1.38 in back-to-back seasons. Don't be surprised to see a heavy dose of Joey Gallo ($5,000) across DFS. Not too far behind him could be the likes of Nomar Mazara ($4,200) and Elvis Andrus ($4,200).
The Mets will be throwing out their fifth starter Jason Vargas against the Braves, which should be appealing to the masses. Vargas allowed a bloated 1.41 WHIP in his first season with the Mets to go along with 1.8 HR/9. He managed to limit the underwhelming Marlins to two runs across five innings in his first start, but he also allowed eight hits with just two strikeouts. The Mets brought him out of the bullpen for his last appearance against the Twins and he was shelled for four runs in one inning. After recording a 162 wRC+ against left-handed pitchers last year, Ronald Acuna ($5,300) should be an extremely popular option. So should Ozzie Albies ($4,500), who had a 141 wRC+ against lefties.
It's going to be hard to resist an A's stack. They have the potential to put up plenty of runs in this game and it would be wise to build around Davis. As far as secondary options go after Davis and Chapman, Marcus Semien ($4,400) and Jurickson Profar ($4,000) stand out as two middle infielders who could provide value at reasonable prices.
Any stack including the Rangers should be built around Gallo and Andrus. Gallo provides a ton of power upside, which is key considering Estrada's propensity to give up home runs. Andrus is also off to a blistering start with a .384 wOBA. Rougned Odor ($3,800) has been terrible with his .221 wOBA and .048 ISO, but this could be just the matchup he needs to smack his first home run of the season. He was unable to play Friday due to knee soreness, so it will be important to monitor his status leading up to first pitch.
Looking for options on the Braves to pair with Acuna and Albies brings us to Dansby Swanson ($4,300), who was significantly better against righties last year (.304 wOBA) than he was lefties (.250 wOBA). Freddie Freeman ($4,800) is also a great target based on his ability to get on base, but the trio of him, Acuna and Albies would do a number on your budget.
Finally, if you're looking for a contrarian tournament stack, the Indians might fit the bill. The loss of Francisco Lindor (ankle/calf) and the lack of moves in the offseason to address their holes has left them with the fourth-lowest OPS (.605) in the league. However, they have a chance to be productive against Homer Bailey and the Royals. Bailey was awful last year with a 1.64 WHIP to go along with allowing 1.9 HR/9 - and he's already given up 10 runs and three home runs across 10 innings this year. Any Indians stack has to be built around Jose Ramirez ($4,800), while Carlos Santana ($4,400), Jake Bauers ($4,000) and Tyler Naquin ($3,700) should also be considered.