I’ll get to the FanDuel slate in a minute, but Ohio baseball teams had quite the day yesterday. They started the day in Cleveland, where Lucas Giolito, he of the 5.32 ERA, shut out Cleveland pretty easily through 7.1 innings. Though after years of being sub replacement level, Giolito actually is showing signs of being decent and increasing his strikeout rate from 16.1% to 28.9% in only 23 innings. Then, later in the day, Cincinnati forced Mike Fiers (6.81 ERA and 5.33 xFIP) to throw 131 pitches in 9 innings while getting no hits and managing only two walks. This isn’t new, both teams have been playing like horse poop all year. Cleveland has now tied with the Marlins for most futile offense in the Majors with a 67 wRC+, and the Reds are 25th with a 78 wRC+. Both of these teams were expected to actually have decent offenses and just aren’t any good so far. Anyway, I have nothing to say here, just that yesterday, these 2 Ohio teams were awful and have been awful all year.
On to the picks…
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Chris Sale, SP: $11,000 – Sale’s velo came back last game all the way to 94.05 MPH on his 4 seamer. He pitched 2016 basically at this velocity (averaged 93.64), so we know he can be OK, but is he worth this lofty price on FanDuel? In 2016 he struck out 25.7% and walked 5% with a 41.2% groundball rate. Is that worth $11,000? No, but the Orioles make this a pretty good GPP play, because they have little in the way of power and (.134 ISO) vs lefties, and they strike out at a decent clip (25.8%). I also wouldn’t blame you if you think that the velo spike is a mirage and he goes right back to throwing 91-92, struggles, and GPP the Orioles. Honestly, we’re flying a little bit blind here, which makes this price take tough to handle in cash.
Kyle Hendricks, SP: $8,200 – So far this year the Marlins have a 69 wRC+ vs righties, and they strike out 26.4% of the time. To put that in perspective, that’s the same wRC+ as Billy Hamilton last year, and no one but the Royals wanted him. Hendricks strikeouts are weak (19.4%) but he doesn’t walk anyone (5.4%) and keeps the ball on the ground (47.5%). On this slate, the price combined with the matchup makes him the right choice.
Boston Red Sox – Andrew Cashner, like Martin Perez, is not a pitcher I want to target too often. Outside of last year’s odd 40% rate, Cashner gets ground balls (career 47.9%). But he doesn’t get any swings and misses (15.1%) and he walks guys (9.5%). This year the Red Sox are actually a team that that hits a lot of ground balls (45% vs righties) but since the start of last year, they have been closer to league average of 41%. Either way, Mookie Betts would be the best play as he does the best on the team at getting the ball in the air (35.3% groundballs) with power (.425 wOBA and .257 ISO), except they keep on dropping Red Sox prices and J.D. Martinez (44.1% groundball, .417 wOBA and .257 ISO) at $3,900 is ridiculously, insultingly cheap. Cashner loses a nice chunk of his groundball ability vs lefties (career 40.1%) so the lefties of Andrew Benintendi (.368 wOBA and .177 ISO) and Mitch Moreland (.348 wOBA and .238 ISO) are very good plays, but because Benintendi is only $100 more on FanDuel, I’d prioritize Benintendi over Moreland. Devers (.343 wOBA and .193 ISO) is fine if you land on him, but the rest i’d only use in a stack, and considering that Cashner does walk guys, this is an ideal stacking scenario in GPPs.
Corey Seager, SS, $3,000 – Corey Seager has been below average this year, as he’s hit .234/.331/.359, which is good for a 91 wRC+. But I’m going to assume that anyone reading this understands the basics of sample size. Corey Seager is not this bad. He is not a $3,000 player. He’s facing Mike Foltynewicz, whose velocity is down this year (94.32 from 96.8) and just pounding the zone with reduced stuff. Until Seager’s price on FanDuel gets in line with his actual abilities, he’s going to be in play every day, and a hammer death lock on a lot of those days. In terms of other Dodgers, Justin Turner is still too cheap after his 3 home run day (his wRC+ went from 106 to 129 in one day), Joc Pederson (.383 wOBA and .310 ISO) and Max Muncy (.405 wOBA and .289 ISO) are all very solid plays, since even when Folty is right he throws a bunch more balls (11.5% walks) and doesn’t get as many groundballs (41.1%). And if his velo drop continues, it could get pretty ugly to the point where you just want Dodgers no matter what.
Alex Bregman, 3B: $4,300 – Bregman is facing Jorge Lopez, who isn’t very good, he doesn’t miss bats (18.5%), but he is above average at avoiding walks (7.1%) and above average at getting ground balls against righties (45%). Bregman scoffs at that non elite groundball rate, with a 34.7% groundball rate himself, along with a .410 wOBA and .260 ISO vs righties. He’s the best FanDuel play on the Astros. Michael Brantley (.386 wOBA and .198 ISO) is the next best play. George Springer and Altuve are fine plays, but Springer (49.9%) and Altuve (49.6%) hit the ball on the ground too often. I’m fine if you land on Correa (44.7% groundballs, .325 wOBA and .200 ISO), but he’s not a priority on this slate.
Colorado Rockies – Derek Holland has stealthily been average the last year. He has 24.2% strikeouts, 9.6% walks and 41.4% groundballs. He does however, have an extreme split. Lefties can’t lift him, they have a 64.1% groundball rate vs him compared to righties at 34.2%. And it’s why Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story are 2 of the top FanDuel plays of the day, considering their destruction of lefties in Coors. Story has .431 wOBA and a .309 ISO, and Arenado has a .490 wOBA and a .386 ISO, which are great numbers. Because the Rockies generally have no idea how to build an offense, it’s hard to recommend anyone else. Inexplicably they seem to like groundball hitters like Ian Desmond (59%), or stupidly high strikeout hitters like Mark Reynolds (32.5%). Of the rest of them, Mark Reynolds is actually the one who I don’t mind, since he does have some pop and he’s cheap. Monitor the weather in this game because the weather report right now says it’s going to be sub 40 temps with possible rain and the wind blowing in.
I’m Only Happy When It Rains
It’s going to be a cold day except for Houston, and it may rain in Chicago and Colorado, which is not ideal since we want to play guys from those places. And if Colorado doesn’t rain and it’s just very cold and wind blowing in, Gray is excellent as a GPP play.
Doing Lines In Vegas
If you think Chris Sale’s velo drops back to where it was earlier this year, bet the Orioles team total over of 3.3 (well that’s the implied total based on the spread, I’m guessing the actual total is 3.5). If you think Sale’s most recent start, where he threw 94 was his new normal, well, then bet the Orioles under! Basically, bet whichever way you think the game will turn out. Brilliant!