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Opening Day Matchups

28 March 2024 • by Bryan Oldham

Opening Day is Baseball Christmas, and it’s finally the most wonderful time of the year. We’ve had a long offseason with some free agency splashes, several big trades, and a lot of hype for all 30 teams. Well, maybe 29 teams (sorry, A’s fans).

Spencer Strider vs Zach Wheeler (Postponed to Friday, 3/29)

Phew, this is a doozy of an opening day matchup. Division Rivals? Check. Arguably the two best fantasy pitchers going mano y mano? Check. Two teams with excellent offenses to oppose said pitchers? Check. 

Atlanta and Philadelphia are two powerhouse teams, perennial contenders who always have a chance of going deep into the postseason. They’ve had stalwarts in their lineups for years, but have seen some of those players move on to other teams (read: Freddie Freeman, Rhys Hoskins, etc). Even so, the consistency is astounding for both squads in the last few years. 

We get a matchup of two marquee fantasy pitchers, both making their first Opening Day starts. Strider, often the first pitcher off the board in fantasy baseball drafts, and Wheeler was likely second or third. Wheeler has become a bonafide ace, even with the Phillies signing Aaron Nola to a huge extension this offseason, and has earned this start. Strider, too, has become a lights-out regular season pitcher, in the Braves tradition of amazing pitchers. 

Get in on some Challenges with these guys ASAP. It’s going to be a great game overall, and I think the Phillies come out on top with a home win on Opening Day

Nestor Cortez vs Framber Valdez

Lefty v Lefty is always fun to watch. The approach at the plate is always interesting for hitters, especially those that swing from the left side. Cortez is the anchor in a Yankees rotation that is down Gerrit Cole, which is really disappointing because watching Cole go back to the Juice Box is always a spectacle.

Now, Cortez gets the privilege of facing the top of the Astros lineup that consists of Altuve, Bregman, Alvarez, and Tucker, in some order. And that’s not to mention guys like Jeremy Pena, Chas McCormick, and Yanier Diaz thrown in there as well. The Houston lineup is stacked. 

On the Yankees’ side, though, Framber Valdez will have to combat the Juan Soto-Aaron Judge double feature, plus a maybe healthy Giancarlo Stanton. That’s nothing to scoff at, and both pitchers will have to stay on top of the ball to induce the grounders they’re known for. 

I will take Valdez in the head-to-head pitching matchup. Got a Challenge available for anyone who wants to bet on Cortez getting through more than 4 innings in Houston.

Justin Steele vs Nathan Eovaldi

Another barn-burner of a pitching matchup, Steele is coming off a career year, while Eovaldi is coming off a World Series championship. Though Steele was injured in his last Spring Training tune up, the knee contusion doesn’t seem to be a concern for the southpaw. He and the Cubs, equipped now with a re-signed Cody Belinger and newcomer Shota Imanaga, could be sneaky contenders for the NL Central. 

Meanwhile Eovaldi leads the Rangers into the first season with a Championship banner in the rafters at Globe Life Field. The AL West is arguably the most competitive division in the league, with 3 contenders at the top. Can the Rangers overcome the fatigue that comes with winning a World Series? Will they be able to withstand the loss of Jordan Montgomery and Max Scherzer starting the season on the shelf?

As competitive as I think the Cubs can be, I’m going to take Eovaldi in this matchup. The adrenaline of hanging the banner, combined with home-field advantage, makes for a nice situation for the Rangers on Opening Night. 

Got another matchup you’re watching? Ready to create your own Social Challenge and put your money where your mouth is! Enjoy Opening Day and the full suite of MLB DFS on Rival Fantasy.

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