This article is part of our FanDuel MLB series.
The main slate Saturday night starts and stops with Justin Verlander ($10,500). He's the only ace by name recognition and is going to be very heavily owned in cash formats. He actually isn't throwing that well, having allowed seven runs and 13 hits over his last two starts, spanning 10 innings, fanning a batter per frame. The matchup isn't ideal either against a hot Mariners lineup that boasts a .377 wOBA overall. Maybe Verlander is too obvious a play for GPP players, leading to lower than anticipated ownership, and his form has his price as reasonable as possible. But the further down the list you look, the bleaker the choices become.
The rest of the slate is absolutely disgusting, and it's hard to feel confident in any option. The Dodgers had yet to announce a starter at time of submission (it's not the currently listed Hyun-Jin Ryu, $9,400). Adam Wainwright ($8,500) has a nine-point and a 52-point start to his credit, but is in a hitters ballpark in Cincinnati. Sean Newcomb ($7,700) has an unsustainable 1.64 ERA given his 6.54 xFIP. That leaves Merrill Kelly ($8,300) as the top remaining option? He allowed three runs while striking out only three in six frames against the Padres in his first start before dominating the Red Sox. Maybe that volatility makes him a GPP option, but at this price, I'd prefer a more stable floor.
What's left? Not much. Chasing a win could be an option with Jefry Rodriguez ($5,900) against Kansas City and Homer Bailey ($6,600), but his track record isn't impressive. Zach Davies ($6,000) has allowed only two runs over 10.2 innings and may be my best of the worst Saturday. With so few stable options, paying for Verlander feels inevitable, with the only alternative for GPPs being finding the cheapest option whose floor you can stomach.
With so few right options on the mound, there shouldn't be many wrong answers at the plate. As such, don't hesitate to dispense any top-priced bats as you see fit. I'm personally going to take the chalk plays straight to the bottom here in the stacks section and focus as best I can on value bats for Saturday.
A lefty (Jason Vargas, $5,700) faces the Braves, who are southpaw killers, putting everyone in play. Ozzie Albies ($3,700) isn't overpriced, and comes in at $800 less than the second-priced option at the keystone. He should hit leadoff and has a .367 wOBA on the heels of a .384 number against lefties last year. The cheaper play is Johan Camargo ($2,800), who doesn't seem fully adjusted to not playing daily but still put up a .347 wOBA and .213 ISO in this spot last season. Ronald Acuna ($4,800) failed to homer in his fourth straight Friday, but did have his fourth-straight multihit outing and should be an anchor to build around.
Padres' starter Matt Strahm ($6,300) was lit up by Arizona for five runs over 2.2 frames in his opener, and the D'Backs bats have fallen in price recently due to feast or famine nature. They're an affordable stack, and a GPP target as such, but the volatility may make them better for buying just a piece of. David Peralta ($3,600) isn't a lefty masher, but the best blend of floor and ceiling. Ketel Marte ($3,300) is incredibly volatile but owns a .410 wOBA, 157 wRC+ and .274 ISO against lefties since the start of last year. Eduardo Escobar ($3,200) entered Friday with eight hits in his last five games and has a .382 wOBA since coming to Arizona against southpaws.
Current form be damned, Jose Ramirez ($3,400) has far too much upside for this price. He's significantly better against righties, putting up a .410 wOBA, .315 ISO and 159 wRC+ against them last year, and is matched up against the aforementioned Homer Bailey, who allowed a .394 wOBA and 2.29 HR/9 to left-handed bats in 2018.
Texas Rangers vs. Marco Estrada ($6,400)
Oakland A's vs. Adrian Sampson ($6,200)
While there are five games with a total of at least nine, Oakland-Texas comes in at 11, with the A's (-130) only moderate favorites. High scoring and close is the suggestion, which makes for a nice game stack.
Oakland clearly starts with Khris Davis ($4,800), but Marcus Semien ($4,300) is arguably hotter, cheaper, and at a position with less depth. Chad Pinder ($3,600) has four multihit games in his last six, while Robbie Grossman ($3,200) should return to the lineup with a righty on the bump, possibly out of the leadoff spot. There's upside and value here individually, setting up Oakland as an ideal three-man stack.
Texas presents a bit more unevenly, as they can be independently home run dependent. Joey Gallo ($4,300) is your feast or famine option, but building around a surging and healthy Elvis Andrus ($3,400) is very salary-cap friendly. He has six multihit games in 10 April contests. Hot starts from Hunter Pence ($3,000) and Isiah Kiner-Falefa ($2,600) can provide some savings around Gallo or Andrus. The Rangers' lineup isn't stable nightly however, so this could require some adjustments once cards are turned in.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Tanner Roark ($6,700); Paul Goldschmidt ($3,900), Marcell Ozuna ($3,600), Paul DeJong ($4,100), Kolten Wong ($3,500): Goldschmidt at a sub 4k price is ideal, as he's sporting a stable .369 wOBA despite a 31.3 percent strikeout rate. DeJong looks on his way to a breakout year, currently owning a .444 wOBA, .293 ISO and 175 wRC+. Wong is in a similarly great spot, as his .477 wOBA and .406 ISO suggest. Ozuna's .220 ISO and .355 wOBA aren't great, and he's admittedly cold, but his spot in the lineup is stable.