This article is part of our DFS NPB series.
We have another compact slate on Sunday like usual, although it does offer one more game than Saturday's compressed two-game ledger. The one extra contest actually makes a notable difference for DFS purposes, giving us a welcome expansion of options, especially on the pitching front, where there is at least one alternative to the most expensive arm on the slate. However, I don't particularly see a big night for offense on the horizon, which does make honing in on the right hitters a somewhat more challenging proposition than on larger slates.
After delving into two pitching suggestions, I'll examine hitters at three fairly different price points across the price scale, along with some alternative considerations. However, I have only one stack that I feel is worthy of suggestion Sunday, although it could pay off nicely against a pitcher that's proven prone to giving up the long ball in the past.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto ($13,300), much like Atsuki Taneichi on Saturday's two-game slate, is the one clear-cut option in a narrow pool of pitching candidates Sunday. Yamamoto will also cost you a pretty penny, but considering he enters Sunday's action with a 3-0 record, 1.82 ERA, 0.71 WHIP and .162 BAA across his first 29.2 innings of the season, he's worth the hefty investment. The right-hander has been virtually unhittable at home as well, where he's garnered two of his victories while recording an 0.53 ERA and averaging an absurd 44.3 DK points per game. Those two home turns have also included 23 strikeouts across 17 innings, and just as impressive, Yamamoto has yet to allow a home run in his four starts. That latter stat is especially relevant when considering the opposition Sunday, as the Hawks check in with an NPB-high 31 homers. Conversely, they've only mustered a pedestrian .253 team average, so there's certainly a bit of an all-or-nothing quality to their attack that Yamamoto is capable of exploiting with his elite swing-and-miss stuff.
Takayuki Kishi ($11,500) is a reasonable pivot off Yamamoto if you simply can't float the cost for the Buffaloes' ace, as the Golden Eagles right-hander has been serviceable over his first two starts and is a cut or two above the other three candidates to choose from if you're not paying all the way up. Kishi was much better against the Marines in his first start of the season (5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 5 K) than his last time out against the Hawks (5 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 5 K), but as just mentioned in Yamamoto's entry, Softbank has the most powerful lineup in the league at the moment. Kishi gets a softer matchup Sunday versus the Lions, which check in with a relatively middling .249 team average and a Pacific League-low 20 home runs. Kishi also certainly has an extensive track record of success to back him up – he boasts a 126-84 career won-loss mark and 3.03 ERA, along with an excellent 0.8 HR/9.
Masataka Yoshida ($7,200) comes at a nice discount over several other sluggers, but he offers just as much upside in a favorable matchup against Hawks starter Akira Niho, whose disastrous start to 2020 includes a 7.36 ERA and three home runs allowed over his first 18.1 innings. Niho has made two of those starts on the road, where he's surrendered eight earned runs on 17 hits and seven walks across 10.1 innings. Niho did churn out a quality start his last time out, but both the long-ball and control issues he's exhibited are exploitable by Yoshida, who boasts an excellent .316/.414/.526 line across his first 26 games that includes 10 extra-base hits (five doubles, five home runs). Yoshida's recent slump (7-for-35 over his last 10 games) should help suppress his popularity to an extent on the small slate, and it's also caused a significant price drop that makes him much more of a bargain if he pays off like he's capable.
Sho Nakata ($6,100) carries a reasonable cost for a player with as much pop in his bat as he carries. The infielder has already slugged eight home runs across his first 26 games, leading to an impressive 25 RBI. The veteran's power surge is par for the course, considering he came into 2020 having recorded 24 or more round trippers in seven of the prior eight campaigns. Nakata has also been a much better hitter at home, where he carries a .282/.362/.487 slash over 11 games, while opposing starter Yuki Ariyoshi, despite a solid start to this season, came into 2020 having allowed a 1.3 HR/9 in his first three seasons.
Eigoro Mogi ($5,300) saw a $400 price drop overnight despite the fact he broke out for 19 DK points on the strength of a two-hit day consisting of a double and a home run against the Lions on Saturday. That performance was simply an extension of a torrid stretch for the leadoff hitter, one that's seen Mogi produce four double-digit fantasy-point tallies in the last six games. Given his discount, he's right back in play, and it's worth noting Lions starter Daiki Enokida, who's making his first start of the season, pitched to a 6.52 ERA and bloated 1.6 HR/9 across 69 innings in 2019. Finally, consider Mogi continues to be at his best on his home field, as Saturday's effort pushed his slash there to .377/.458/.623.
Brandon Laird ($4,600) is the first of two discounted hitters that are going to require a bit of faith to roster Sunday, making him and Christian Villanueva (listed below) primarily tournament considerations. Laird brings plenty of pop (32 or more home runs in four of his first five NPB seasons), and despite his lackluster .247 average this season, he's still launched six round trippers across his first 25 games. Laird definitely has some all-or-nothing qualities to his fantasy production because of what is usually an elevated strikeout rate, but he'll come into Sunday's contest with a four-game hitting streak. However, Laird has only hit one home run in his last 10 games overall, and opposing starter Ryusei Kawano is a left-hander that has displayed just average swing-and-miss stuff (eight strikeouts across 16.1 innings) over the first three appearances of his career.
Christian Villanueva ($4,400) is our second high-upside discounted bat, one that hasn't yet broken out in NPB, but that undeniably has the capability to do so when evaluating his long minor-league and brief MLB career stateside. Villanueva slugged 20 home runs for the Padres as a rookie in 2018, and he hit between 17 and 20 round trippers in four different minor-league stops as well. Much like Laird, hitting for average isn't his strong suit, but Villanueva has hit safely in five of his last six starts and will draw the same appealing matchup versus Ariyoshi as his teammate Nakata.
ALSO CONSIDER: Seiji Uebayashi ($3,800)
Stack to Consider
As mentioned in Mogi's entry, Enokida is coming off a season in which he was hit hard and often, and the Golden Eagles, which boast a Pacific League-high .277 average, certainly have the bats to capitalize.
Mogi's candidacy was already discussed earlier in the article, and the leadoff hitter makes for half of a very cost-effective bookend to this proposed stack. Suzuki follows with a .357/.418/.408 line that includes an even more impressive .413/.465/.476 slash across 16 home games. Suzuki has also thrived against Lions pitching this season, hitting .429 (6-for-14) with five RBI across four games versus Seibu.
Asamura came up empty Saturday in what was an extension of a slump that has seen him hit just .222 over his last 10 games. However, the silver lining is that the power hitter's price has dropped $500 overnight in response, and has come down even more dramatically from a high-water figure of $9,700 during that span. Asamura still offers excellent upside despite the skid, as he's belted 10 home runs over 25 games, eight of those on his home field.
Finally, you can group Romero into a similar category as Asamura, namely, a player who's been quiet lately but has the upside to significantly outpace his current salary. Romero actually does come in with a five-game hitting streak, but given that span includes just one extra-base hit (a double), he's produced five consecutive single-digit DK-point tallies and also went 0-for-5 in the game prior to the start of that sample. In essence, Romero could well have lulled many game-log-watching DFS players to sleep at this point, but he still packs plenty of wallop in his bat and sports a .354/.436/.729 line that's partly comprised of all four of his homers for the season across 13 home contests. Given Enokida's issues with keeping the ball in the park and the fact Romero came into 2020 averaging a homer every 4.4 games over his first three NPB seasons, don't be surprised to see him snap his current power drought Sunday.