This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
The starting pitchers on Sunday project to be very strong, as only seven have posted a SIERA above 4.50 to this point in the season and only one above 5.0. Add in a high-volume of games in pitcher-friendly parks, and there are a few clear ones to target for batters on the slate. As could be expected based on that analysis, there are a number of reliable pitchers making it possible to pay down to jam in desired bats.
Jacob deGrom ($11,700) is a cheat code and locked-in ace every time he takes the mound this season. His salary is steep, but so is his 48 K%. The only hesitation with rostering deGrom on Sunday is his recent bout with lat inflammation, but he was cleared by the team and should be ready to dominate the Diamondbacks. The Mets inability to give him run support is a literal joke at this point, but there is no bigger mismatch on the slate than going up against Riley Smith.
Kenta Maeda ($8,300) is coming off of his best start of the season and now draws one of the easier – if not easiest – matchups in the Tigers. Not only are they striking out a league-high 30.4 percent, the also rank bottom-five in ISO. There are two downsides to Maeda. The first is that he is back to full value at $8,300 to match his Opening Day status. Secondly, Matthew Boyd has been no pushover this season, so a win isn't necessarily likely.
Kyle Hendricks ($6,900) should offer a safe floor in another one of the easiest matchups across the league with the Pirates. Though not the most impressive from a skills perspective to begin the season, Hendricks should be able to work deep into the game with the possibility of earning a win and getting strikeouts despite not being a dominant pitcher.
Riley Smith has been able to keep balls in the yard through 22 innings this season by only surrendering 0.8 HR/9. However, his skills hardly back up any kind of long-term success, highlighted by a 3.1 K-B% and 25th percentile ranking or worst in max exit velocity, xWOBA and xLSG. That puts Pete Alonso ($5,000) in a strong position to go yard or otherwise produce Sunday.
Nick Solak ($4,700) has always been able to hit left-handed pitching effectively, but his entire profile has taken a step forward this season. Aided by the new ball or not, Solak entered the season was 16 barreled balls in 368 career plate appearances, yet already has 12 this year. Sunday's matchup against Justus Sheffield is no reason for concern and should give Solak the chance to build on his strong start.
Jose Abreu ($4,700) hasn't been able carry over his prolific numbers from 2020 into 2021, but he has been able to continue his dominance over left-handed pitching. Across the very limited sample of 20 plate appearances and 84 pitches, Abreu has managed a .614 xSLG and a 13.3 barrel percentage. Meanwhile, Mike Minor has surrendered 1.8 HR/9 across the last two seasons, a combination which should lead to a loud afternoon for Abreu.
Kyle Schwarber ($3,200) hasn't done a lot to impress since being activated from the injured list, although he's still shown signs of having plenty of raw pop in his bat with a 115.4 maximum exit velocity, good for 96th percentile in the league. Today is a good spot for him to produce as Domingo German has given up nearly 2.0 HR/9 to left-handed batters over his career. Yankee Stadium is also well known for its ability to highlight left-handed power, leaving Schwarber in a strong position to produce.
Nick Senzel ($3,100) has shifted up the batting lineup to leadoff in each of the team's last two games against left-handed pitching. That's already a strong enough reason to roster him given his minimal value. And while Senzel has yet to deliver power consistently early in his career, he has hit lefties hard with a .457 slugging percentage and .181 ISO.
Harrison Bader ($2,800) has always been able to make loud contact (9 percent career barrel rate), but struggled to make consistent enough contact to be a true offensive threat. Very early on in his 2021 campaign, he's managed to strikeout at just a 13.8 percent clip, giving him more opportunity to get on base, steal bases and put the ball over the fence. It may be early season variance on Bader's side, but his salary makes it worth sticking around to find out.
Stacks to Consider
Both starters are very susceptible to home runs. German has been particularly poor against lefties, which opens up the potential for a very powerful yet not all that cost prohibitive stack of Kyle Schwarber ($3,200), Juan Soto ($4,900), and Josh Bell ($3,800).
On the other side, it's also a strong play to roster studs like Giancarlo Stanton ($5,700) and Aaron Judge ($5,000) to pair with paydown opportunities such as Aaron Hicks ($3,200) and Clint Frazier ($3,100). Both the Yankees and Nationals are attainable stacks due to lower-cost players that should still offer the upside to produce.
A lot of games are being played in pitcher friendly parks this weekend, but not this one. Given the relatively poor pitching on either side of the matchup, there is reason to heavily target this game on the slate.
If there is one hitting environment to rival Yankee Stadium this weekend, it's Camden Yards. Dean Kremer has surrendered 2.1 HR/9 and the Red Sox have hung six and 11 runs on the Orioles in the first two games of the team's weekend series. Appealing cheaper options are a little more difficult to find in the Red Sox stack as compared to that of the Nationals or Yankees, making it just a touch less desirable. However, the top-end bats are tough to rival.
It's also worth noting this is a possible game stack to consider and target. Nick Pivetta has pitched well to start the season and limited home runs. However, a 3.23 ERA isn't sustainable paired with a 15.1 BB%. One of those numbers is set for regression, and the Orioles' lineup has a number of players capable of making Pivetta pay for mistakes like Cedric Mullins ($4,700), Trey Mancini ($4,600) and down to Freddy Galvis ($3,500) along with DJ Stewart ($2,600).