This article is part of our FanDuel MLB series.
With only five games on tonight's main slate of games it's pretty easy to find the chalk for cash games: Gerrit Cole ($11,200). Cole is the only stud pitcher tonight. and while Arlington isn't the most pitcher-friendly environment, there aren't too many Ranger bats to worry about. While he didn't pick up the win, The right-hander went six innings in his first start, racking up 10 strikeouts and allowing only one earned run. Cole's 34.5 percent strikeout rate last season with the third best in baseball and his road ERA last season (2.77) was better than at home (2.99). Don't overthink this for cash games, and over/under 2.5 strikeouts for Joey Gallo in this one?
Ross Stripling ($9,300) would be the next consideration for cash games after Cole considering he's almost $2,000 cheaper and has a juicy home matchup against the Giants. On the road last season San Francisco had a .287 wOBA against right-handed pitching, the third-lowest mark in baseball. Stripling and the Dodgers (-210) also have the highest odd to win of any teams on the main slate.
Jameson Taillon ($8,900) should bounce back from a mediocre Opening Day performance (18 fantasy points) despite facing a potent Cardinals offense. Taillon had a much higher strikeout rate at home last season (10.3/9 home vs 7.1/9 road) and his walk rate was lower at home as well by 0.5 BB/9. He's a great GPP play considering he's the third-highest priced pitcher and that, coupled with a lack of success in his first start, should keep his ownership very low for a player with good upside.
Looking at the remaining pitchers, the best one to use in a GPP is probably Julio Teheran ($7,300). Nathan Eovaldi ($7,400) might garner some interest, but a tough matchup plus a poor showing on the road last season (5.14 ERA) make him a pass. Teheran had a respectable 22.4 percent strikeout rate last season and has a good offense behind him to provide run support. At this price he'd need around 32 fantasy points to be a good value. Using him would allow a Houston stack or 2-3 more expensive bats to be used than lineups with Cole.
Starting with the outfield, George Springer ($4,500, career .389 wOBA against lefties) matched up against Mike Minor in Texas looks like one of the better options to build around. He's scored fantasy points in every game in this short season and has at least 18.7 in three of his six contests.
A deep sleeper who may or may not be in the starting lineup is Johan Camargo ($2,000). At the minimum price he could pay off handsomely against southpaw Jon Lester. Camargo, in his short career, has a .384 wOBA against left-handed pitching. He makes a lot of sense in lineups using Cole in GPPs.
Moving on to shortstop, Carlos Correa ($3,200) also has the matchup against Minor and a career .366 wOBA against lefties. Any other shortstop even worth considering in either cash or GPPs is more expensive than Correa. Using multiple Astros in cash games makes a lot of sense tonight.
Looking at third base, it's a coin flip between Justin Turner ($4,400) and Alex Bregman ($4,400) for the top play at the position. Turner is facing Derek Holland while Bregman gets the aforementioned Minor. Turner has a career .351 wOBA against lefties, while Bregman's sits at .391.
If you're looking for a cheaper pivot at third, Turner's teammate David Freese ($2,200) should get a start at first base over Max Muncy with a lefty on the mound. Freese has a .367 wOBA against left-handed pitching for his career, although he will probably get fewer than four at-bats in this one.
Jose Altuve ($4,100) and Enrique Hernandez ($3,800) face Minor and Holland respectively and deserve to be mentioned as solid plays at second base. A decent option to pivot off those two in GPP is Adam Frazier ($3,000). He'll take on Miles Mikolas and should occupy the leadoff spot. At home last season Frazier had a .434 wOBA against right-handed pitchers.
At the first base/catcher spot once again it makes sense to stick with a first baseman in cash games. Taking any of the top three makes a lot of sense: Paul Goldschmidt ($4,700), Anthony Rizzo ($4,400) or Freddie Freeman ($4,200). The fact of the matter is that there may not be enough salary to use any of those players with Cole. Looking at cheaper players, Kendrys Morales ($2,400) sticks out as a good play. Eovaldi's road woes last season were noted earlier, and Morales had a .365 wOBA against right-handed pitching last season.
The most obvious and heavily owned stack tonight will be the Houston Astros, with some combination of Altuve, Correa, Bregman and Springer against Minor. While it'll require some creativity, replacing Springer with Michael Brantley ($3,600) and using those four with Cole could work under the salary cap.
The next most popular stack will likely be the Red Sox in Oakland taking on homer-prone Marco Estrada. Estrada surrendered 29 long balls last season in only 143.2 innings (1.82 HR/9IP), making him a good pitcher to target. Using J.D. Martinez ($4,900), Mookie Betts ($4,700), Xander Bogaerts ($4,000), and Rafael Devers ($3,300) with a mid-priced pitcher will work, but not with Cole. To use Cole with a Boston stack, either Mitch Moreland ($3,100) or Eduardo Nunez ($2,300) would have to be mixed into the lineup. The usual lefty-killer Dodgers are just a hair behind using a Red Sox stack tonight.
The dark horse stack to consider tonight is the Pittsburgh Pirates. While he was fantastic last season, Mikolas gave up three home runs Opening Day and could be in for a much worse season this year. He allowed four home runs over 13 spring training innings, so he may be tipping pitches or just could be off to a slow start. Looking at the Pirates, using a combination of Frazier, Josh Bell ($3,100), Starling Marte ($4,100), Corey Dickerson ($3,600), and Jung Ho Kang ($2,400) in a stack could be the lineup that takes down one of the bigger GPPs.