Giancarlo Stanton, DH (NYY)
You didn't forget Giancarlo Stanton can mash, did you? Well if you did, he reminded everyone of his prodigious power in the first inning of Thursday's opener at Washington, taking a Max Scherzer heater 460 feet into the left center field bleachers. It left his bat at a 32 degree launch angle with a 112.2 miles-per-hour exit velocity. Stanton wasn't done, adding an opposite-field RBI single off Scherzer in the 5th, finishing the rain-shortened game 2 for 3 with a home run and three RBIs. Stanton looked locked in, and when he is healthy and seeing the ball well, he is the most dangerous home run threat in the game. In his 59-home run season in 2017, Stanton's swinging strike rate was a career-low 12.5%. It was only his second season with a contact rate over 70 percent. His swing is so prodigious that moderate contact is going to lead to some eye-popping numbers. Right now he's healthy, and DraftKings didn't lower his value coming off some major injuries (he cost $9,600 on Thursday), but a hot Giancarlo Stanton could dominate a 60-game season.
Gerrit Cole, SP (NYY)
Cole was excellent in his Yankees debut, tossing five one-hit innings with rive strikeouts. The only blemish was a first inning home run by Adam Eaton. He threw 75 pitches before the rain cut the game short, but he exhibited all the reasons the Yankees inked him to a nine-year, $324 million contract. Even modest regression from last year's 20-win season would be spectacular. While Cole's fastball has improved, it's his slider that helped him develop into a Cy Young candidate. On Thursday, he threw his slider 25.3% of the time. That rate would be the highest usage of his career, which will probably be a good thing.
Eduardo Rodriguez, SP (BOS)
Rodriguez was shut down from all baseball activities after dealing with "minor complications" from COVID-19. Rodriguez was back with the team after testing negative for the virus, but Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said the team 'discovered something that we need to make sure we get rid of.' Coming off a career year, Rodriguez is now a huge fantasy question mark, especially because the young lefty had yet to work his way up to be ready for a large pitch count before this latest news. While the team was planning on starting him Opening Day, he wasn't going to last long in the outing. But now there are questions: how serious is this latest setback? How long will he need to get back on the mound? Will he be able to reach full strength before the end of the shortened season? If you own him, it's probably best to hold on until at least next week, when the team says he will be reevaluated. However, a 60-game season means fantasy owners cannot be as patient as other seasons. After a season where Rodriguez's sinker carried him to a career-high 48.5% groundball rate, we may be forced to wait until next year to see just how much further his retooled arsenal can go.
Nick Madrigal, 2B (CHW)
It wouldn't be the return of major league baseball without service time issues. Nick Madrigal is one of the highly-ranked prospects to start the season off a major league roster. The team says Leury Garcia is a better option currently than the former No. 4 overall pick. We'll see if that's still the case a week from now. Madrigal is expected to get promoted at some point this season, and he could become an immediate boon for fantasy teams, especially in batting average. His incredible EYE will translate to major league pitching. His old-school, hit-the-ball-on-the-ground-and-run approach isn't going to change when he gets promoted. He'll steal some bases, but he doesn't have elite speed. He'll get on base a ton. He will NOT hit home runs. He hit four total homers across three minor league levels in 2019.
J.D. Martinez, OF (BOS); DraftKings - $4,800
Martinez had another phenomenal season in 2019, and yet you can get him at a sliver of a discount on Friday. He is tied for the 11th most expensive outfielder at $4,800 on DraftKings. This is despite being matched up against Orioles starter Tommy Milone, who finished 2019 with a 4.84 xFIP, and he was especially vulnerable against righties. Conversely, Martinez crushes lefties. He led all of baseball with a 242 wRC+ against southpaws in 2019. His ISO was an unconscionable .482. The Red Sox lineup is weaker, but Martinez should thrive on Opening Day.
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