MLB Grind Down: Monday, March 31

The MLB is back!! What’s up Grinders, are you as excited as I am for Opening Day? This will be the first of many MLB Grind Down’s this season and we are here to get you started off on the right track. Whether you are a daily fantasy baseball expert or new to the sport, it never hurts to get some added research in. Enough of the chit-chat, let’s get into the games!

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The RotoGrinders MLB Grind Down article will give you an in-depth analysis into the MLB schedule. This article will break down the numbers for every single game and give you analysis on which trends you can exploit. While matchups are a major factor in daily fantasy baseball, there are plenty of other factors to consider such as injuries, weather, and salaries.

The analysis should point you in the right direction, but it is still up to you to decipher the information and make your own selections. No sport has more variance than baseball. The best choice is not always the right choice but following the trends will win you money over time.

Note: Any Fantasy Point Average Listed Uses FanDuel Scoring. For more info on FanDuel’s MLB Scoring System, check out the scoring systems section of our FanDuel Review

  • FPAB – Fantasy Points Per At Bat
  • K% – Strikeout Percentage
  • K/9 – Strikeouts Per 9 IP

Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh

1:05 PM Chicago Cubs – ROAD Pittsburgh – HOME
SEASON 0.240 0.702 20.10% 0.54 0.245 0.705 22.40% 0.55
VS. LEFT/RIGHT 0.230 0.687 21.90% 0.41 0.242 0.700 21.80% 0.42
SP STATS Samardzija – RHP Liriano – LHP
SEASON 1.35 4.42 9.08 10.88 1.21 2.88 8.94 13.00
LAST 14 DAYS 1.48 6.39 9.59 8.10 1.05 2.25 7.20 11.67
BATTER SPLITS Note: Batter Splits Below Open in Pop Up Window

Pitcher Grind Down

  • Jeff Samardzija – Samardzija has had a very forgettable spring, but will draw the Opening Day start against the Pirates. This is not a terrible matchup for Samardzija as this will be played in Pittsburgh which is a pitcher friendly ballpark. Samardzija is a high k-rate pitcher that may be a little too risky for cash games, but should be targeted as a GPP play. He’s a pitcher that can both pitch a 9 inning shutout or blow up and give up 7-8 runs in only a few innings. I have high hopes for Samardzija this season, but think he’s an easy avoid today against the Pirates. Rating = 5
  • Francisco Liriano – Liriano was one of the best stories in the majors last season. After bouncing around the league and being the 4th or 5th pitcher in the rotation, Liriano had a breakout season with the Pirates and is now their ace. He had one of the best K rates in the majors last season (8.94/9 IP) and was close to unhittable at home. In 11 games at home, Liriano pitched 73 innings and racked up 71 K’s with a ridiculously low 1.47 ERA and a WHIP under 1.00. He has a fantastic matchup against the Cubs who were the 2nd worst team against LH pitching last season. Rating = 9

Batter Grind Down


  • Starlin Castro – Castro had an awful season last year. He only hit for a .245 average after batting .283 and .307 in the previous two seasons. What was even more puzzling was the fact that Castro couldn’t hit LH pitching last season after batting well over .300 against lefties in the prior two seasons. Castro should bat leadoff and he says that he is 100% healthy heading into the season.
  • Junior Lake – While I certainly don’t love any of the Cubs bats today, Lake was terrific against LH pitching last season and is looking to make a name for himself this yea. Lake hit for a .377 average against lefties last season and has shown great power this spring as he had 4 HR’s, including 3 in one game.
  • Additional Plays: None


  • Andrew McCutchen – If you have never played daily fantasy baseball, you will quickly learn that Cutch is one of the most talented all around players in the majors. Last season, Cutch hit 21 HR’s and stole 27 bases. Cutch batted .302 against RHP last season and hit over .330 at home. He’s one of those players that rarely has a bad game and he should get off to a hot start against Samardzija.
  • Pedro Alvarez – Pedro gets a nice lefty/righty matchup today against Samardzija who gave up 13 of his 25 HR’s to LH batters last season. Alvarez has looked good so far in the Spring and has a great chance to homer here. Last season, he batted .249 against RHP with 33 HR’s. He can’t hit lefties, but we don’t have to worry about that on Opening Day.
  • Neil Walker – Walker is similar to Castro in that he is coming off of a down year after two solid seasons the previous two years. Walker is dirt cheap across the industry and will likely be batting 5th which is a solid spot in the lineup for him. He’s shown some pop in his bat this spring and I think he offers great value at 2B.

Kansas City vs. Detroit

1:08 PM Kansas City – ROAD Detroit – HOME
SEASON 0.258 0.688 16.60% 0.54 0.282 0.785 16.90% 0.65
VS. LEFT/RIGHT 0.261 0.696 17.00% 0.40 0.293 0.796 16.20% 0.53
SP STATS Shields – RHP Verlander – RHP
SEASON 1.26 3.21 7.57 11.40 1.33 3.66 8.52 11.53
LAST 14 DAYS 0.91 1.23 7.77 15.33 1.21 3.95 8.86 12.10
BATTER SPLITS Note: Batter Splits Below Open in Pop Up Window

Pitcher Grind Down

  • James Shields – This game features two of the top pitchers in the American League. The total for this game is set at 7 runs, but with these two pitchers, I could easily see this being a 2-1 game that ends up being decided by the bullpen. Shields has looked good in his spring starts and posted a respectable K rate of 7.57/9 IP last season. He does have to face one of the best lineups in the American League though and they have had his number recently. In 5 starts against the Tigers last season, Shields had a 4.96 ERA with only 23 K’s in 32 innings pitched. There are plenty of other aces on the mound today and I’ll be avoiding Shields for the most part. Rating = 5
  • Justin Verlander – Verlander got off to a hot start last season, then inexplicably lost some velocity for a couple of months. But he ended the season on a tear. Since the start of September and into the postseason, Verlander posted a 1.59 ERA and had a K rate of over 11 batters per 9 innings. He also is off to a hot start in Spring ball. Verlander is still one of the top pitchers in the game and will get the Opening Day start over Max Scherzer. If he can get around a few at bats from Billy Butler, he should be in for a stellar outing to open the season. The Royals were near the bottom of the league against RH pitching last season. While the Royals do not K very often, Verlander has so many tools in his bag that he should have no problem racking up the K’s. Rating = 9

Batter Grind Down

Kansas City

  • Billy Butler – I typically don’t love quoting PvB stats, but when the sample size is large enough, I do think they carry some value. Butler is 30/68 against Verlander in his career with 6 XBH’s (1.10 OPS). There aren’t many players in the majors that can say that they have a .441 batting average against Verlander. I won’t be using him in cash games, but I do think he carries some value as a tournament play.
  • Norichika Aoki – Aoki doesn’t have a ton of power, but he gets on base often (.286 average and 15 more walks than K’s last season) and he still has some nice speed for a 32 year old. Last season, he stole 20 bases and he could see some increased opportunities for RBI’s now that he is in the AL.


  • Miguel Cabrera – Miggy should be in for another terrific season, but he won’t have Prince Fielder batting behind him so it will be interesting to see if teams try to pitch around him early in the season. Cabrera is the best hitter in baseball and he should still see plenty of RBI opportunities this season with Kinsler and Hunter batting 1st and 2nd in their lineup. Miggy has had Shields number in the past, going 17/60 with 8 XBH’s against him (1.20 OPS). If you can afford him, get him in your lineups.
  • Victor Martinez – Martinez is a switch hitter, but draws most of his power from the left side of the plate (.315 batting average against RH pitching with 30 XBH’s). I like the lefty/righty matchup and I like the fact that he should be batting clean-up. Martinez is an extremely tough out for all pitchers as he struck out in less than 10% of his at-bats last season.

Washington vs. NY Mets

1:10 PM Washington – ROAD NY Mets – HOME
SEASON 0.247 0.700 20.20% 0.54 0.239 0.683 22.20% 0.54
VS. LEFT/RIGHT 0.258 0.734 19.90% 0.46 0.238 0.679 21.90% 0.41
SP STATS Strasburg – RHP Gee – RHP
SEASON 1.05 3.02 9.56 11.45 1.28 3.54 6.53 9.84
LAST 14 DAYS 1.33 4.50 9.00 9.00 1.25 3.66 7.50 10.40
BATTER SPLITS Note: Batter Splits Below Open in Pop Up Window

Pitcher Grind Down

  • Stephen Strasburg – Strasburg’s numbers were a bit perplexing last season. He owns one of the best K-rates in baseball and posted an extremely low WHIP of only 1.05. Yet he only picked up 8 wins on the season thanks to the rare run support that he got from the Nats offense. Strasburg also had his struggles on the road, but that doesn’t concern me here. There are few ball parks in the majors that are better for pitchers than Citi Field. Strasburg has looked great in the Spring (1.83 ERA) and draws a terrific matchup against the Mets who were the 4th worst team against RH pitching last season. Strasburg has a great matchup, a high K-rate, and is playing in one of the most pitcher friendly ballparks. He is one of my top plays today and he should be targeted heavily in cash games. Rating = 9
  • Dillon Gee – Gee has had some glaring home/road splits over the last two seasons. At Citi Field last season, Gee posted a 2.75 ERA over 15 starts. On the road, he posted a 4.41 ERA. The good news is that this game will be played at Citi Field, the bad news is that Gee has struggled against LH bats, giving up a .288 BA last season. The Nationals have some powerful LH bats in their lineup and even though this is a pitcher friendly park, Gee is not one of my favorite plays today. Rating = 4

Batter Grind Down


Bryce Harper – Gee was very solid against RH bats last season (.252 batting average with a .666 OPS), but he has really struggled against LH bats. If you are taking any Nats bats, target the lefties. Harper is a beast and he will look to improve on his 20 HR season last year. He’s also a threat to steal bases which always helps his fantasy value. He crushes RH pitching and I love him on Opening Day.

  • Jayson Werth – There are quite a few powerful LH bats on the Nats which bodes well for them today against Gee. Werth hit for a .309 average against RH pitchers last season with 37 XBH’s.

New York Mets

  • I’m not particurlarly crazy about of any of the Mets bats against Strasburg. While they have a few LH bats to throw at him, I think the Burg will dominate this lineup. This will be Granderson’s first game as a member of the Mets, but the matchup just does not bode well for him. Ike Davis and Eric Young both make decent tournament plays, but all Mets’ bats should be avoided in cash games.
  • Additional Plays: None

Philadelphia vs. Texas

2:05 PM Philadelphia – ROAD Texas – HOME
SEASON 0.248 0.694 19.90% 0.52 0.262 0.740 16.80% 0.62
VS. LEFT/RIGHT 0.253 0.701 19.90% 0.41 0.266 0.751 17.50% 0.48
SP STATS Lee – LHP Scheppers – RHP
SEASON 1.04 2.93 8.78 13.64 1.08 1.92 6.80 1.89
LAST 14 DAYS 0.96 2.35 12.13 18.67 0.69 1.17 7.50 1.53
BATTER SPLITS Note: Batter Splits Below Open in Pop Up Window

Pitcher Grind Down

  • Cliff Lee – Lee has looked good during the Spring and doesn’t appear to have lost any velocity on his fastball. He draws an extremely tough matchup against the Rangers in Arlington though. Rangers Ballpark is one of the most hitter-friendly ball parks in all of the majors. That said, if Lee can fan some batters early, he will get his confidence up and the total is only set at 8 runs so this may be a lower scoring game than you would think. Lee had one of the best K-rates in the majors last season (8.7/9 IP) and has the ability to post double-digit strikeouts every time he takes the mount. I’m not sure he makes the best cash game play, but he has a high ceiling and could be used in GPP’s. Rating = 7
  • Tanner Scheppers – Scheppers is not only making his major league debut, but he will draw the Opening Day start with Yu Darvish scratched due to a neck injury. Scheppers has looking good in Spring ball, but he doesn’t have any major league experience and the matchup and ballpark both favor the Phiilies’ bats. Scheppers has a promising outlook as he has a great fastball and a nice curveball, but he has yet to develop that 3rd pitch that he can rely on. The good news is that Scheppers is extremely cheap across the board. He is listed at $5,200 on FD and $4,700 on DK. It’s hard to find better value with all of the aces on the mount. I think Scheppers will struggle with some first game jitters, but I love him as a GPP play with his cheap price tag. Rating = 6

Batter Grind Down


  • Ryan Howard – If the last few seasons are any indication of how he will play this season, you will quickly find that Howard is the Jeff Green of the MLB. By that I mean he will cause a lot of frustration if you roster him often. He is not a consistent player night in and night out and often K’s 3-4 times a game. The good news is that he has looked good in Spring Ball and he is facing a pitcher making his first major league start. Howard hit for a .302 average with 25 XBH’s against RH pitchers last season.
  • Chase Utley – The 35 year old Utley is one of my top plays at 2B today. He did not hit well in Spring ball, but he picked it up in his last couple of games and is trending upward at just the right time. I will take the experience of Utley over the inexperience of Scheppers. Utley batted .302 with 34 XBH’s against RH pitching last season and should be batting 3rd in the lineup.


  • Even though this game is being played in Texas, I’ve found that targeting batters against Cliff Lee is not a strategy that works often. The current roster of the Rangers has not had any success against Lee with the exception of Prince Fielder but he only has 8 career at-bats against him which is tough to rely on. In this case, you should ignore the solid PvB numbers from Fielder and avoid the lefty/lefty matchup.
  • Additional Plays: None

Atlanta vs. Milwaukee

2:10 PM Atlanta – ROAD Milwaukee – HOME
SEASON 0.252 0.731 22.40% 0.59 0.254 0.714 19.70% 0.57
VS. LEFT/RIGHT 0.252 0.735 22.60% 0.48 0.250 0.702 18.90% 0.42
SP STATS Teheran – RHP Gallardo – RHP
SEASON 1.18 3.09 8.34 11.63 1.37 4.23 7.13 9.14
LAST 14 DAYS 1.00 3.72 8.95 12.70 1.23 4.85 8.31 9.00
BATTER SPLITS Note: Batter Splits Below Open in Pop Up Window

Pitcher Grind Down

  • Julio Teheran – Teheran is coming off of a terrific season. The 23 year old has a high K-rate (8.3/9 IP last season) and he can pitch deep into games. His matchup against the Brewers isn’t great as Miller Park is one of the most HR friendly ball parks in the majors, but Teheran was basically unhittable against RH batters last season (.201 batting average). I’m not crazy about the matchup though, especially with Ryan Braun back in the lineup. His price is fair across the industry, but I find myself looking elsewhere for cash games. Rating = 6
  • Yovani Gallardo – Gallardo is one of the worst Opening Day starters on the schedule. He lost a lot of velocity on his fast ball last season. In the previous two seasons, Gallardo had a very high K-rate of 9/9 IP, but last season his K-rate dropped to 7.1/9 IP. Gallardo had an ERA over 4.00 at home last season and the Braves have a lot of firepower in their lineup. This ball park yields plenty of HR’s and I think it will be bombs away for the Braves bats today. Rating = 4

Batter Grind Down


  • Jayson Heyward – Gallardo gave up a .729 OPS to LH bats last season Heyward will continue to bat lead-off for the Braves. While this likely means less RBI’s for Heyward, he will see extra at-bats and could steal a few extra bases this season. Heyward had his struggles on the road last year, but was a very streaky player and he’s swinging the bat well right now.
  • Freddie Freeman – Freeman crushed RH pitching last season to a tune of a .334 batting average and 19 of his 23 HR’s. Gallardo does not scare me in the slightest and Freeman should have plenty of RBI opportunities in this one. I don’t often call for a dong, but Freeman is my favorite player to hit one on Opening Day.


  • Jean Segura – I think a lot of people will be sleeping on Segura today. Not only is he not a household name, but he is facing the tough Teheran. That said, Segura led the NL in batting for most of the season last year and stole 44 bases. If he can get on base, look for him to be aggressive.

Grind Down: Page 1 – Page 2

About the Author

  • Derek Farnsworth (Notorious)

  • Derek Farnsworth, aka Notorious, is one of the most recognizable names and faces in all of DFS, thanks in large part to the great advice he gives on a daily basis in’s Grind Down for NBA and MLB as well as the First Look column that gives a preview of the day’s games from a DFS perspective. Before joining the RotoGrinders team, Derek received a Masters Degree from the University of Utah. When he’s not busy providing content, he’s dominating the industry as evidenced by his consistent top rankings in multiple sports. Farnsworth provides expert analysis for RotoGrinders Premium members on a daily basis during the NBA season and has also been nominated for five different Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association (FSWA) awards.

    Interview after $100,000 Win


  • sclement21

    RG Twitter & Newsletter Alerts

    Good stuff. Mike Olt rakes LHP. Doubt Valbuena plays.

  • Cameron

    RG Co-Founder

    • 2014 FanDuel NFL Survivor Champion

    • 2016 RG Season Long Champion: NFL


  • judgelandis

    Been anxiously waiting the first wisdom from the Notorious one!

  • jtwfantasy

    No NBA grinddown then I guess :(

  • Putz

    Good, NBA is dead to me.

  • JHols1nger

    Great job, but I would reconsider fading Prince completely check his splits vs lefties last season.

  • Diggz11

    Opening Day in Cincinnati is a sight and experience everyone should get to enjoy. Daily fantasy baseball is back baby! Go Reds!

  • Fortyoz40

    Good stuff…..I’m so ready!

  • Notorious

    Lead RG Analyst

    • 67

      RG Overall Ranking

    • Ranked #50

      RG Tiered Ranking

    • 2018 DraftKings FBBWC Finalist

    • 2013 FanDuel WFBBC Finalist


  • Ryan138

    woot woot

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