This article is part of our DFS NPB series.
We have a very interesting two-game slate on tap Saturday, which naturally is going to narrow our choices down and also make ownership percentages much more of a factor. The fact the Lions-Golden Eagles matchup carries a double-digit projected run total will also funnel DFS players to those two clubs even more, creating an additional x-factor. Then, there is really only one pitcher I trust from the four that will be in action, but the dubious track record of the other three equates to a number of bats worth considering.
As customary, I'll also suggest hitters at three fairly different price points across the price scale, along with some alternative considerations. Then, with the aforementioned fireworks expected in the Seibu-Rakuten clash, both squads make my stacks list Saturday.
Atsuki Taneichi ($13,200) has comfortably exceeded 20 DK points in two of his first four starts of the season, and he garnered a solid 16.7 in his first turn of 2020 as well. On such a small slate, it's often best not to roll the dice on less talented arms, and Taneichi's matchup against the Fighters only makes him all the more appealing. Despite their surprisingly strong showing Friday, Nippon still comes into Saturday's game with a league-low .222 team batting average to go along with its poor 9-14-2 mark. Taneichi has been a bit more hittable on the road thus far and has allowed four home runs across his first 25 innings, but that's likely an outlier, considering he came into 2020 with a strong 0.9 HR/9 over his first two seasons. Finally, consider Taneichi also offers some nice strikeout upside – factoring in his 25 whiffs across 25 frames this season, the right-hander owns a career 9.4 K/9.
Hideto Asamura ($9,000) has been relatively quiet in five of his last six games, and he's hitting a modest .257 across his last 10 contests overall. Perhaps that stretch will help nudge his ownership down just a tad on the small slate, with his elevated price possibly having the same effect. Saturday may prove to be a day when Asamura justifies the heavy investment, however, as he'll get a crack at opposing starter Wataru Matsumoto, who's pitched to a 6.64 ERA and allowed five home runs across his first 20.1 innings of the season. As opposed to Taneichi, Matsumoto's troubles keeping the ball in the park parallel his previous body of work, as he also surrendered 11 round trippers across 85.1 innings during his 2019 rookie NPB campaign. It's also worth noting that despite his recent struggles, Asamura has been at his best at home, where's he's slashing .327/.456/.855 and has slugged eight of his 10 homers for the season.
Hotaka Yamakawa ($6,600) is a mid-price option worth considering on the other side of the potential Lions-Golden Eagles offensive showcase. The veteran is one of NPB's most prolific mashers, as he came into 2020 with back-to-back 40-homer campaigns. He's also already launched seven round trippers this season in 23 games, helping lead to an average of 10.3 DK points that often warrants a higher salary. What's more, Yamakawa has thrived on the road, where his .320 average over eight games is 96 points higher than his home figure. Yamakawa is sporting a jaw-dropping .541 on-base percentage in that sample as well, while opposing pitcher Takahiro Shiomi has posted a 6.61 ERA and allowed three home runs over his first 16.1 innings this season while getting blown up for 11 earned runs in 9.1 frames during his first two home starts.
Seiya Inoue ($5,200) is much more suited for tournaments than cash games, as he admittedly checks into Saturday's action in the midst of a deep funk. The veteran outfielder has hit just .154 (6-for-39) across his last 10 games, although two of his six homers on the season have also come during that stretch. Inoue is capable of much better production than he's offered recently, however, considering he launched 24 homers apiece each of the last two seasons and slashed .292/.374/.506 back in 2018. He could be in good position to snap out of his doldrums Saturday versus opposing starter Takayuki Katoh, a southpaw who sports a 6.08 ERA and 1.4 HR/9 through his first four starts, and who posted a 1.1 figure in the latter category over a larger sample last season as well.
ALSO CONSIDER: Eigoro Mogi ($5,700)
Shohei Suzuki ($4,000) is bargain-priced and draws the same appealing matchup as his teammate Yamakawa versus Takahiro Shiomi. The second-year outfielder has also been outstanding at the plate thus far this season, slashing .356/.375/.533 across 48 plate appearances and rapping out four extra-base hits (two doubles, one triple, one home run) during that span. It's worth noting the majority of Suzuki's success has come on the road as well, where he owns a .400/.421/.629 slash and average of 10.4 DK points over 10 games.
ALSO CONSIDER: Takeya Nakamura ($4,700)
Stacks to Consider
ALSO CONSIDER: Hiroaki Shimauchi ($6,600)
As mentioned in Asamura's entry, Matsumoto has been very hittable this season, and the Golden Eagles come with an impressive .277 team batting average that supports their NPB-best 15-9 record.
Mogi represents a great way to start the stack, as the leadoff hitter is now sporting a six-game hitting streak following a 2-for-4 night Friday that led to 17 DK points. The outing was Mogi's fourth double-digit fantasy-point tally in the last six games, as he's responded to a recent benching prior to that stretch in fine form. Mogi has also done his best work at home by far, as he now carries a .368/.456/.561 slash at Rakuten Semei Park Miyagi, where he's also hit both of his homers for the campaign.
Suzuki may have only one homer, but his .358 average and .415 OBP speak to how productive he's been overall. He's also tormented Lions pitching for a good chunk of his success, as he owns a .455 average and five RBI in his first three games against Seibu this season. Like Mogi, Suzuki is also a much better home hitter, boasting a .417 average over 15 games there thus far. Finally, consider the veteran may be due to exhibit some pop soon; he came into 2020 with double-digit homers in two of the prior three seasons and at least 50 extra-base hits in all three of those campaigns, yet he's laced just two doubles and one homer in 110 plate appearances during the current season.
The reasoning behind rostering Asamura was already discussed in his entry earlier, and Romero is a potential steal as the fourth and final component of the stack. The pricing algorithm has seemingly been busted when it comes to the slugger for most of the season, as it's hard to believe he can be had for well under $6K with a .342/.419/.618 season slash and 13 XBH (nine doubles, four homers) in his first 21 games. Romero is also hitting .364 and averaging 11.2 DK points over 12 home games, and he carries a four-game hitting streak into Saturday's contest despite some quiet performances lately.
ALSO CONSIDER: Shohei Suzuki ($4,000)
I'm not quite as high on the Lions on the other side of the matchup Saturday, but they're also certainly still worth considering when factoring in the game carries an elevated projected total of 10 runs. Furthermore, Seibu just popped for 10 runs in Friday's game, meaning they could catch a bit of a fatigured Golden Eagles bullpen in addition to their good starting pitching matchup.
Tonosaki often operates out of the No. 3 spot and makes for a solid stack starter, even as he comes in with a .238/.347/.333 line. Despite this season's struggles, the veteran sports a career .262 average and .432 slugging percentage, and he came into 2020 having hit a combined 44 home runs across his 262 games the last two seasons. Tonosaki is well below that pace this season with only one homer in his first 23 games (99 plate appearances), and a matchup against a hittable left-hander may be just what the doctor ordered for the right-handed-hitting masher.
Yamakawa was already discussed earlier, while Nakamura is an intriguing value option. Nakamura owns a solid .270/.365/.444 line over 19 games, and while he's only recorded a pair of homers so far, that, too, is an outlier figure that's bound to rise. Consider the veteran came into 2020 with a whopping 415 career round trippers, including between 21 and 37 in each of the last six seasons. His lackluster numbers in the power department this year are therefore highly suspect , but they could certainly lead to him being only modestly popular despite the two-game ledger.
Finally, Kuriyama could thrive despite the same-handed matchup versus Shiomi, as the veteran outfielder hasn't been fazed by much this season. Kuriyama is slashing .329/.437/.521 over 22 games, and he's shown some nice pop with eight (five doubles, three homers) of his 24 hits going for extra bases. Kuriyama has also been at his most productive from a fantasy perspective on the road, where's he's averaging 10.5 DK points in eight games, and where he's hit .400 (4-for-10) against Golden Eagles arms in three contests.