This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
Talk about hitting the brakes. MLB gave us all 30 teams in action for the first time on Opening Day, and now Friday we have…five games. Hey, it's a long season (though with presumably shorter games thanks to the pitch clock). First pitch Friday is at 6:40 p.m. ET. Here are my lineup recommendations.
Cristian Javier, HOU vs. CWS ($8,200): Javier is going to be looked upon as an ace for the Astros now with Justin Verlander pitching elsewhere. Hey, he's earned it, as he posted a 2.54 ERA in 2022. In fact, he had a 2.26 ERA at home and held both lefties and righties below the Mendoza line. The White Sox are hoping that better health will boost their offense in 2023, but they finished 19th in runs scored last year.
Nick Martinez, SD vs. COL ($7,300): Martinez mostly pitched out of the bullpen last year for the Padres, but he did pick up 10 starts and had a 3.47 ERA on the season. The Rockies have an uninspiring lineup, and they're away from Coors Field, which changes the landscape for their bats. In fact, San Diego has a top pitchers' park, making things even worse for the Rockies, and better for Martinez.
I feel like we were overly chill about Freddie Freeman ($5,800) slashing .325/.407/.511 in his first season with the Dodgers. Maybe it's because he only hit 21 home runs? When a righty is on the mound, Freeman is always a safe choice, as he has had a .956 OPS against them last year. Merrill Kelly is an innings eater, and while he had a 3.37 ERA last year, that came with a 3.65 FIP. His road ERA was a less impressive 3.75.
Second base is now helmed by Kolten Wong ($4,500) in Seattle, who finished with double-digit homers and stolen bases in both of his years in Milwaukee. He did that last year despite a brutal performance against southpaws. Versus righties, he had an .845 OPS. Hunter Gaddis is surprisingly starting for the Guardians, and the young pitcher carries a reputation of struggling against lefties. In 7.1 MLB innings in 2022 he allowed seven home runs.
Stacks to Consider
Astros vs. White Sox (Lance Lynn): Alex Bregman ($5,100), Kyle Tucker ($5,000), Jose Abreu ($4,200)
Lynn is 35 and is who he is on the mound. He's coming off a season in which he finished with a 3.81 FIP and allowed 1.41 home runs per nine innings. Back in the early days of his career, Lynn did suppress home runs quite well, but that was a different landscape for MLB in general and home runs in particular. Either way, the Astros have as formidable a lineup as you'll find, making it easy to put together an effective stack.
If nothing else, Bregman gets on base. He had a .366 OBP last year, and his issues were largely on the road in 2022. In fact, at home Bregman had a .972 OPS. The lefty Tucker has hit 30 home runs in each of his last two seasons, and he had 25 homers last year. Tucker is a decent bet to go 40/40 this season, and since 2020 he has an .889 OPS versus righties. The lefty is a good bet when a right hander is on the mound. Abreu is new to the Astros, but the career .292 hitter might enjoy the change of scenery. Last year he had an .897 OPS on the road.
Padres vs. Rockies (Kyle Freeland): Manny Machado ($5,400), Xander Bogaerts ($4,800), Ha-Seong Kim ($3,200)
Freeland had a 4.21 FIP last year, and a career 4.40 FIP for good measure. Now, admittedly he had a 6.00 ERA at Coors Field last year and a 3.08 ERA on the road, but since 2020 he has a 3.53 ERA in away games. I'm not concerned about Freeland, and the lefty may serve it up to these three right-handed Padres hitters.
Machado has long been one of the best bats in MLB, and last year he slashed .298/.366/.531 with 32 home runs and 102 RBI. He doesn't really steal bases anymore, but you don't need that when you hit like this, and maybe the bigger bases will change things. Having Juan Soto in the lineup for the full season should certainly help. Bogaerts power dipped last season, but he posted a .307 average with a .377 OBP. Plus, versus lefties he managed an 1.038 OPS. Kim doesn't have power, but he had 11 homers and 12 stolen bases last year, plus 29 doubles. He had a .765 OPS against southpaws in 2022, so this matchup is in his favor.