This article is part of our DFS NPB series.
Following what turned into a five-game slate Friday night due to the rainout of the Carp-Tigers contest, we have a four-game slate Saturday on DraftKings due to the two later games not being included.
An evenly more modestly-sized schedule than usual naturally narrows down the available options and makes ownership in tournaments even more of a consideration. Fortunately, there are still multiple strong pitching options due to some poor offenses making an appearance on the slate. Likewise, some faltering arms set up several hitters for potentially big nights, and even with just four games overall, we've identified two stacks that could pay off.
As usual, I've highlighted three pitchers and hitters at different price points to consider, along with some additional cost-savings bats that merit attention. The pair of stack breakdowns identify a handful of hitters who haven't exactly duplicated past production yet this season, but who nevertheless find themselves in favorable situations which could result in them rewarding those who take a chance on them in tournaments.
Tsuyoshi Wada ($12,000) carries the highest price for a pitcher on the four-game slate despite the fact he was touched up for five earned runs over three innings by the Lions his last time out. That lackluster outing combined with Wada's exorbitant salary may cause his ownership to take somewhat of a hit Saturday, making him a particularly intriguing, high-upside play for tournaments. Wada did handcuff the Marines over six innings in his first start of the season back on June 20, netting an impressive 22.1 DK points. He now draws a lackluster Fighters squad that comes into the matchup with a Pacific League-low .216 team batting average. Despite his uneven start this season, Wada has a well-established track record in the league that includes eight seasons with double-digit wins and brings a solid amount of strikeout potential, especially versus a Fighters lineup that's had trouble making consistent contact.
Daichi Ohsera ($10,700) has been absolutely lights out over his first two starts, racking up 29.8 and 27.4 DK points against the Baystars and Dragons, respectively. Ohsera came into 2020 with three consecutive double-digit win seasons, and he's opened the campaign with two complete games after recording a career-high six in 2019. The right-hander has an excellent chance of extending his blistering season-opening streak of elite performances Saturday, considering the opposing Tigers check in with a Central League-worst 2-10 record and NPB-low .201 team batting average. Hanshin has also slugged a Central League-low nine homers, adding to Ohsera's appeal as an arm poised to overdeliver despite a five-figure salary.
Kazuto Taguchi ($9,700) serves as an appealing cost-saving option on the short slate in a matchup versus a Dragons squad that's hit an NPB-low seven home runs over its first 12 games. Taguchi is coming off a pair of seasons with 4.00-plus ERAs and endured a particularly difficult 2018 campaign when he went a career-worst 2-8, but he's opened 2020 in fine form. The veteran southpaw has a 1-0 record and a 2.70 ERA, having particularly shined in his first start of the season against the Tigers when he posted 17.1 DK points over five innings. The long ball has been one of Taguchi's biggest Achilles heels during his career, but Chunichi's aforementioned lack of power thus far helps mitigate that risk on paper.
ALSO CONSIDER: Takayuki Kishi ($10,600)
Seiya Suzuki ($8,000) has bounced back from a rare two-game slide by going 3-for-8 with a double, an RBI and a run over his last two games, boosting his average back to 12.3 DK points per contest. The capable veteran brings a bit of everything to the table, and considering he hasn't even been truly let loose on the basepaths this season after swiping a career-high 25 bags last year, he may not yet have hit his ceiling. Suzuki is slashing an impressive .349/.429/.791 across his first 49 plate appearances and already has five round-trippers after slugging 26 or better in each of the last four seasons. Opposing left-handed pitcher Yuta Iwasada makes for a solid target as well, considering he carries a 5.40 ERA and 1.60 WHIP into Saturday's game and has occasionally had trouble keeping the ball in the park over his career.
Gerardo Parra ($7,100) is enjoying his transition to the Japanese version of the game after a long career in MLB, as he's slashing .300/.378/.525 over his first 45 plate appearances. Parra is even showing off a little pop, as he's already slugged a trio of homers. Saturday, he'll get a crack at Dragons starter Kazuki Yoshimi, who's seemingly been on a downward slide since 2017 and comes into Saturday's contest with a 5.00 ERA and a meager two strikeouts over his first nine innings this season. Parra has whiffed at a bit of an atypical clip early (26.7% strikeout rate) after proving to usually be an above-average contact hitter stateside, but a hurler with as pedestrian swing-and-miss stuff as Yoshimi could prove the cure for what's ailed the outfielder thus far.
Wladimir Balentien ($6,700) was the hero Friday with a key two-run home run for the Hawks in their victory, the slugger's third round-tripper over the last two games. The veteran has long been one of NPB's most prolific sluggers, topping out at a whopping 60 homers back in 2013. After a dreadfully slow start to the season, Balentien certainly appears to be rediscovering his stroke, and he's offered a reminder of his vast fantasy upside already this season with three tallies of greater than 20 DK points, including a season-high 36 two games ago. Balentien's price likely won't be this far under $8,000 for very long if he continues trending up, and his matchup Saturday against the Fighters' Takayuki Katoh may help him do just that. The left-hander has generated an unsightly 5.63 ERA over his first two turns, failing to throw more than four innings in either start while issuing a trio of walks in both games.
ALSO CONSIDER: Jose Pirela ($7,800)
Eigoro Mogi ($5,600) saw a seven-game hitting streak snapped against the Dragons on Friday, but he's still averaging a solid 8.8 DK points per game and owns an impressive .314/.390/.451 line over his first 57 plate appearances. The five-year veteran has been a solid contact hitter throughout his career and has boasted some decent power on occasion, so he carries strong upside for his salary. His leadoff-hitter role only serves to enhance his overall appeal, even in what shapes up as a tricky matchup on paper versus Marines starter Atsuki Taneichi.
Shota Dobayashi ($4,400) continues to carry a bargain-basement price despite boasting an excellent .412/.429/.647 line across his first nine games. Dobayashi only appeared in a pinch-hitting role Friday against the Swallows, but he still extended his hit streak to six games and has hit safely in all but two games this season. As a bonus, he draws the same attractive matchup as aforementioned teammate Seiya Suzuki against southpaw Yuta Iwasada, setting up Dobayashi for a potentially handsome return relative to his salary.
Stacks to Consider
Yoshimi shouldn't prove to be much of a challenge to make contact against, which spells trouble for him against a Giants squad with co-league-leading 15 home runs and a .280 team batting average. Gerardo Parra is a good one-off option against him as described above, but a 2-3-4 stack with the players listed here is certainly worthy of consideration as well. Because of some early struggles, two of those players could be even lower-owned than merited.
Number two hitter Sakamoto has yet to truly break out, as he's slashing a relatively modest .260/.327/.460 his first 13 games. However, he slugged a career-high 40 homers in 2019 while hitting over .300 for the second straight season and his third time in four campaigns overall.
Maru, slotted in the number three hole, has likewise underachieved thus far, as evidenced by his unsightly .188/.278/.271 line. Nevertheless, there have been signs of a forthcoming rise, with Maru having notched double-digit fantasy-point tallies in three of his last five games. The 31-year-old has hit .291 or better and launched between 20 and 39 homers in each of the last four seasons, so his early numbers over a small sample look very much like an outlier.
Finally, cleanup option Okamoto's ownership is likely going to be through the roof, considering he comes in with a jaw-dropping .460/.518/.840 line through 13 games. He's made double-digit fantasy-point tallies the norm, and he could well help Sakamoto and Maru cross the plate on more than one occasion in what could be a big night for the Giants offense.
Shota Dobayashi ($4,400) is another attractive and much cheaper piece from this lineup that can also be deployed, as spotlighted earlier in the Bargain Bats section. However, he's further down in the lineup than the Carp's 1-4 hitters listed above.
Pirela continues to enjoy his adjustment to NPB arms, posting a .353/.365/.510 line over his first 11 games. The former MLB player is already averaging 9.1 DK points per game and can be an excellent table-setting asset.
Kikuchi and Nishikawa are two NPB veterans that are still finding their respective groove in 2020, but each has the ability to outpace their early numbers. Kikuchi's current .233/.283/.326 line is a far cry from his .261/.313/.406 slash line in 2019 as well as his career .271/.315/.391 marks. He brings solid power and stolen-base production to the table as well, with double-digit homers and steals in six of the last seven seasons.
Nishikawa's .286/.333/.429 line through 10 games gives him a better start than Kikuchi, but he still has some slight room for improvement considering he's hit .296/.339/.437 over the course of his career. Nishikawa has also upped his homer totals in each of his last three seasons, topping out at 16 in 2019.
Suzuki rounds out the group as the cleanup hitter, with a breakdown of his candidacy as a strong target Saturday outlined earlier in the article.