This article is part of our DFS NPB series.
Friday's slate was an interesting one for a few reasons. We unfortunately had another Giants-Swallows rainout the BayStars and Tigers saw their game called after five innings. Then, there was also a particularly impressive pitching performance that helped stymie a formidable lineup – Nao Higashihama flummoxed the powerful Golden Eagles over seven frames before exiting, holding them to one run and helping set the stage for a game-winning home run from Yuki Yanagita in the 10th inning.
As is often the case on the weekends, Saturday's slate is much smaller than usual, with only three early games included. That reduces the cumulative number of suggestions on the offensive side, and there are also only two pitchers that I see as safe recommending. However, even with just six teams in action, there are two stacks that could pay off and are detailed further below.
Atsuki Taneichi ($12,000) is the most expensive among Saturday's six starting pitchers, but he's definitely a strong consideration when factoring in how quick the drop-off is after the top two arms. Taneichi has opened 2020 with three straight quality starts, allowing just four earned runs overall to the Hawks, Buffaloes and Golden Eagles. He allowed one homer in each start, but he also has posted a strong 15:4 K:BB across his first 19 innings of the campaign. Saturday, he'll match up against a Lions offense that has slugged a solid 16 homers on the young season, but that's also limped to a pedestrian .239 team batting average. Taneichi's productive start is an extension of the considerable improvement he displayed in his sophomore 2019 campaign, when he posted an 8-2 record and 3.24 ERA over 26 appearances.
Daiki Tajima ($11,100) has gotten his season off to a similarly impressive start despite not getting much run support from the Buffaloes' inconsistent offense. The southpaw has allowed three earned runs or less in each of his first three trips to the mound, the last two which have qualified as quality starts. Tajima is now averaging 17.7 DK points per game and carries a sparkling 0.80 WHIP into Saturday's matchup versus a Fighters squad that hitting an NPB-low .214. Tajima has also done a markedly better job limiting contact this year compared to his first two seasons, yielding just 11 hits over his first 18.2 frames.
Dayan Viciedo ($8,000) has basically dominated any pitcher put in front of him recently, as he's now slashing .410/.467/.872 with eight extra-base hits (three doubles, five home runs) and 14 RBI across his last 10 contests after homering for the second straight game Friday. The slugger's .325/.369/.649 season line across 84 plate appearances is simply an extension of what he's done the last two seasons, a pair of campaigns when he hit over .300 and averaged 22 home runs and 96 RBI. Viciedo will draw a matchup that could be conducive to extending his hot streak Saturday, as opposing pitcher Hiroki Tokoda has posted a 6.43 ERA and 1.86 WHIP over his first two starts, one which came against the Dragons on June 27 (2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER).
Aderlin Rodriguez ($5,700) is still in the process of hitting full stride at the plate in 2020, but as he demonstrated Friday with a 2-for-4, three-RBI night, he carries the upside of a higher-priced player. Rodriguez has six double-digit fantasy-point tallies in his last 10 games overall, and the fact he slugged a combined 90 homers over his last four minor-league stops stateside while hitting over .300 in two of those stints underscores how much room he may still have for improvement. Another factor in Rodriguez's favor Saturday is opposing pitcher Chihiro Kaneko, who's operated in relief thus far this season and has generated an unsightly 10.57 ERA and 2.22 WHIP over his first 4.2 innings while also allowing three runs (two earned) on two hits, including a home run, to this same Buffaloes team Monday.
ALSO CONSIDER: Shuhei Takahashi ($6,100)
Takahiro Okada ($4,500) is averaging an impressive 9.2 DK points per game, a figure all the more noteworthy when considering his price. The veteran also brings plenty of pop, as he's hit over 20 homers in four different seasons, including two 30-homer campaigns. His .258/.370/.530 line this year certainly still has room for improvement, but Okada seems to be on the comeback trail after two forgettable campaigns in 2018 and 2019. He also draws the same favorable matchup versus Kaneko as Rodriguez and is operating out of the leadoff spot, upping his chances of paying off his very reasonable salary.
Stacks to Consider
ALSO CONSIDER: Adam Jones ($6,700)
Kaneko's sub-par numbers in the early going of 2020 have already been highlighted in Okada's and Rodriguez's entries, with the Buffaloes' 1-2 punch at the top of the order representing some strong value for a modest combined $10.1K in salary Saturday.
Meanwhile, Yoshida is slashing an excellent .375/.458/.597 with eight extra-base hits (four doubles, four home runs) and 12 RBI, and he's been at his best at home with a .407 (10-for-27) average across seven contests. Yoshida may even be a tad lower-owned than merited due to his disappointing night Friday – although the compact three-game slate will likely keep that to a minimum – and he's already decimated Fighters pitching this season to the tune of a .500 average (8-for-16) and average of 13.8 DK points over four games.
As noted above, you can consider the cleanup-hitting Jones to round out the stack, even as the veteran still hasn't come close to delivering on his full potential in his first NPB season. However, prior to his modest 0-for-7 skid over the last two games, Jones hit .333 (11-for-33) over the previous seven contests. His extensive MLB track record (over 50 extra-base hits in seven of his last nine seasons) indicates he's due to make much more impactful contact than he has thus far while lacing just six XBH (three doubles, three home runs) over his first 19 games.
Katsuno is a rookie right-hander that has exhibited an unfortunate penchant for control issues early in his career, as he's already issued nine free passes over his first 16.1 innings (three starts).
Nishikawa is still in the midst of boosting his season numbers to his usual standards (career .294/.338/.434 line), as he's slashing just .259/.306/.379. However, he's hit .308 (4-for-13) across three games against Dragons pitching and has hit safely in six of his last seven games overall.
Suzuki was one of several Carp hitters to disappoint Thursday, but he's still one of the NPB's best bats, as evidenced by his .362/.471/.776 season line. His current 0-for-7, two-game slide notwithstanding, Suzuki brings an abundance of power to the table and is a threat for double-digit fantasy points any time he takes the field.
(UPDATE: Mejia is now out of the lineup, so I've inserted Matsuyama into the stack, he'll hit out of the No. 5 hole behind Suzuki and ahead of Dobayashi and is hitting .400 (12-for-30) over his first eight games.) Mejia is the riskiest of the plays in this stack by far, but he's certainly a more capable hitter than he's demonstrated thus far in 2020 while posting an atrocious .196/.245/.261 line across his first 13 games. Mejia has hit .268 and .259 over the last two seasons, respectively, and he's shown some signs of improvement recently by hitting safely in four of his last five games.
Finally, Dobayashi typically hits a bit further down in the order but manages to often parlay it into superior production. The veteran is slashing .388/.423/.612 line for the season, and he's hit .417 (15-for-36) and averaged 11.6 DK points across his last 10 contests. Like his teammate Suzuki, Dobayashi also underwhelmed Friday with an 0-for-4 night, but he'd hit safely in each of the nine previous games, a span that included five multi-hit tallies.