Bronson Arroyo, in his last full season, was a pitch-to-contact innings eater who didn’t walk a lot of guys and had a below average GB rate. Although he wasn’t good by any stretch, the combination of not walking guys, combined with below average K-rates and GB-rates meant that he could still have a role as a back-end starter and innings eater. Except that was 2013 and pre Tommy John surgery. While it’s a great story that he’s back in the bigs now, he now doesn’t do anything well. His walk rate and his GB rate have taken a huge hit, so now you’ve got a guy who walks batters, doesn’t get a lot of strikeouts, and has a truly atrocious GB rate (31.6%). Pitch to contact guys who don’t get ground balls and still manage to walk guys don’t belong in the major leagues. But we’re not the GM of the Cincinnati Reds, we’re DFS players, so as long as the Reds keep trotting him out, I’m going to keep recommending the guys facing him that day. I’m fairly certain anyone reading this is smart enough to know that Matt Kemp ($3,800) is nearly the same hitter he was when he put up 8.3 fWAR in 2011. Wait, what? Yes, it’s true, Matt Kemp has a 160 wRC+ this year and had a 168 wRC+ in 2011 (his wOBA is actually higher this year, .416 to .413). He cut his walk rate from 8.9% to 5.5%, he’s dropped his K rate from 23.1% to 21% (while the league has increased its K rate). But, you might say, he’s got a .398 BABIP this year, that has to be the main driver from the Matt Kemp we knew and loved from his Dodger days and I’d say, you’d be wrong. Shockingly, his BABIP in 2011 was .380. He’s swinging at more pitches in the zone and less out of the zone this year (that’s a good thing) and making more contact on those pitches in the zone. When Kemp was with the Padres, he employed the Padres approach of swing at everything that is remotely close to the plate, and if it’s not, still swing at it. It’s a unique style of hitting that only works for a very select few, and like most of the Padres, he wasn’t good at it. Now, he’s back to the approach he had as a Dodger. He likely won’t continue to put up a .345/.381/.608 line with a .398 BABIP, but he’s a hitter with a solid approach that, while not leading to a lot of walks, is still leading to good counts and then he’s punishing the ball like he did in the year Ryan Braun won MVP. I would expect Kemp to actually start walking more as pitchers start to respect him again and throw more balls out of the zone, and if they don’t, they might just find that Matt Kemp may once again be one of the top hitters in baseball. Kemp is plenty good enough to take advantage of the Reds’ masochistic desire to give the ball to Bronson Arroyo every 5 days.
On to the picks once Matt Kemp takes advantage of the Reds masochistic desire…
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Clayton Kershaw, SP: $12,400 – Look, I don’t need to waste your time quoting stats to show how good Clayton Kershaw is. If you’re reading this article, you know how good he is. And while the Brewers do have a respectable offense against lefties (7th in wOBA against LHP at .335), they also have the DFS-pleasing 3rd-worst K-rate against lefties (25.4%). Kershaw does seem to be pitching to contact a bit more this season (or it’s just a two month blip, or he’s declining), but he’s still striking out 26.5% of batters. So while the slight decrease in strikeouts means that you can fade him in GPPs (quick note: he’s still the best pitcher on the slate), hoping he goes 8IP, 7K, 1ER and you find similar DFS point production from someone else at a fraction of the cost, the fact remains that he’s a cash game lock precisely because the downside for him is 8IP 7K 1ER, which is 46 points (52 if he gets the win). Don’t be too cute in cash games. Roll him and move onto the offense. But you can definitely get cute in GPPs.
Dallas Keuchel, SP: $10,300 – Keuchel is back to his Cy Young winning ways. After a year off, he’s increased his GB Rate from 61.7% to 67.8% and increased his K-rate from 23.7% to 23.9%. The only blip is his increased walk rate, which has ballooned from 5.6% to 6.2%. He’s facing the Rangers, who have “hit” lefties to a .289 wOBA by striking out 25.4% of the time (good for 4th in the league), walking 7.6% of the time (good for 24th in the league) and having below average (.141) isolated power. Adrian Beltre should play and improves the lineup a bit, but it’s still a poor lineup overall vs lefties and Keuchel should be able to slice and dice through the lineup.
Stephen Strasburg, SP: $11,200 – Strasburg’s K-rate is only down to 27.3% from 30.6% last year after his 15 strikeout performance vs the Padres. Strasburg certainly has as much upside as any of the pitchers on this slate as long as he’s trying to strike guys out as opposed to trying ton get ground balls so he can pitch deeper into games. However, there is always that concern he goes for ground balls, which would limit his strikeout upside, and thus his DFS upside. The A’s do strike out a bunch vs righties (24.4%, 3rd in the league) but are overall an above average offense vs righties. Strasburg’s uncertainty, price and going to the AL and having to face the DH leave him just below Keuchel for me.
Michael Fulmer, SP: $9,600 – White Sox vs righties: 6% BB rate, 23.3% K rate, .152 Iso, 80 wRC+. The White Sox as a team hit righties like Tucker Barnhart hits overall, so, Fulmer is a great GPP pivot.
Matt Adams, 1B: $2,600 – If there was one guy who needed to freed from Mike Matheny’s idiotic managerial decisions, it was Matt Adams (well, I guess Kolten Wong, but fine, Adams was #1a or #1b). There’s not too much to explain here – we know exactly what Matt Adams is. He’s a left handed power hitter who can hit righties (.284/.331/.481, for a .349 wOBA) and is truly horrific against lefties (I won’t even list his numbers because they’re that painful to look at). There’s no reason he shouldn’t be starting and in the top half of your lineup any time your team is facing a right handed pitcher. Thankfully the Braves freed him from Matheny (although it’ll be interesting to see what they do when Freeman gets back), and they do exactly what a team should do – play him against righties and sit him against lefties. Bronson Arroyo throws the ball towards home plate with his right arm. That means Matt Adams can hit him. Bronson Arroyo also is bad at getting Major League hitters out, as previously established. That means Matt Adams should destroy him. And, unlike Kemp, who isn’t cheap, Matt Adams will provide that destruction for a very affordable price. I don’t want to use the word “safe”, because sluggers with his profile can easily go 0 for 4 in even the best of matchups, but he also will go 1 for 4 with a HR frequently enough (not to mention there’s plenty of 2-HR games or 1-HR + 1-2B games in the range too) that he’s a perfectly reasonable cash punt and an elite GPP play.
The Other Braves – If you’re looking for a cheap stack, Bronson Arroyo’s aforementioned incredible sucktitude is bad enough that any Brave is playable, no matter how bad they are (and there are some pretty bad players on the Braves) and you can pair one or two other ones with Adams and Kemp to form a not-particularly-expensive stack. Don’t believe me when I say that anyone is playable? Here are the following guys who have gone deep off of Bronson Arroyo this season – Cesar Hernandez, Pat Valiaka (not in Coors), Kyle Freeland (a pitcher, not in Coors) and Denard Span. He belongs in a Geico ad – “If you’re Bronson Arroyo, you give up bombs….it’s what you do”. I would probably focus on the fly-ball hitters if you’re doing that, both because of the aforementioned giving-up-bombs-is-what-Arroyo-does, and second, bombs are what win you GPPs.
Tommy Joseph, 1B: $3,400 – Joseph must be salivating getting to face Ty Blach, a pitcher who can’t miss a bat (5.5% swing and miss rate). Joseph smashes lefties with a .370 wOBA and a .320 ISO, while he’s a little too expensive for cash, he makes a great GPP pivot.
Cameron Rupp, C: $2,200 – All Cameron Rupp does is obliterate lefties. For his career he does .299/.367/.559, which is good for a .390 wOBA. Ty Blach does indeed throw with his left hand. Rupp is also mega cheap at $2,200 and will provide the value you need to get Kershaw and the top bats into those cash games.
Andrew Benintendi, OF: $3,100 – Alec Asher has a career 7.9% swing and miss rate, Alec Asher has a career 35.4% GB rate. The only thing Alec Asher does well is throw strikes. You know what happens when someone throws nothing but strikes but can’t miss bats and only gives up fly balls? They get hit and get hit hard. Asher’s 5.01 xFIP this year and career 5.25 xFIP are nice reminders in case you forgot. Benintendi was awful in May, but his .217 BABIP came with similar hard hit % as April when he had a .365 BABIP. He’s one of the top plays on the day and at $3,100 he’s likely a cash lock.
Giancarlo Stanton, OF: $4,100 & Marcell Ozuna, OF: $3,800: Patrick Corbin struggles to get righties out (8.9% K-BB% this year) and Stanton over his last 3 years hits lefties for a .381 wOBA and a .277 ISO. Marcell Ozuna over his career hits lefties for a .367 wOBA and a .211 ISO. Both are solidly in play, but I wouldn’t stack too many Marlins since Corbin is pretty solid vs lefties and the Marlins will likely struggle stringing together an offense if they alternate Rs and Ls – while solo HRs are still perfectly fine for DFS purposes, 2 for 4 with two singles and no runs or RBIs isn’t worth the price tag here.
Corey Dickerson, OF: $4,300 – Christian Bergman struggles to miss bats (13.6% K%) and doesn’t keep the ball on the ground (37.5% GB Rate) which is perfect for Dickerson, who’s been terrorizing opposing pitchers this year and over his career has terrorized righties for a .379 wOBA.
Logan Morrison, 1B: $3,700 – While Morrison has always been a solid hitter vs righties (career .335 wOBA vs righties) he has really taken it up a notch this year with a .383 wOBA vs righties. Overall he’s just hitting the ball much harder this year (43.2% hard contact this year compared to 32.6% career), and hitting it in the air a lot more (jumped from career 36.5% fly balls to 45.5% this year). It looks like Logan has joined the fly ball revolution and he’s learned to tap into his raw power to become a very very solid hitter.
Detroit Tigers – The Tigers get to face Derek Holland who combines a below average strikeout rate with an average walk rate with extreme fly ball tendencies. For cash games, you want to use righties who have power. Castellanos, Cabrera, JD Martinez and Justin Upton qualify here and the only reason I’m not including Victor Martinez in cash games is because FanDuel finally put an end to the charade that Victor at catcher was, putting him far more reasonably at 1B. At that position, I’d rather just pay up for Miguel Cabrera or drop down to Matt Adams. If Andrew Romine is leading off, you should just play him because when he’s leading off, you just have to #RespectTheLeadoff at his price.
Kole Calhoun, OF: $2,800 – This is one of those really easy plays when you need to get Kershaw into cash games, that there’s no point in writing more here. I would note that Kyle Gibson probably isn’t going to be someone you want to full stack against since he does get ground balls and is decent vs righties in his career.
I’m Only Happy When It Rains.
It might rain in Miami, which is a shocker, I know, but lucky for us, they have a retractable roof to hide the monstrosity from passersby from space.
Doing Lines In Vegas
The Rays at -106 on the road versus Seattle seems wrong. Yes, they’re on the road, but Odorizzi is far superior to Bregman and their offense is far superior to the Mariners offense. Home field advantage matters, obviously, but not this much. Further, the implied run total is 4.3, so those of you who bet on off-shore websites should have access to a Team Total that is either going to be 4.0 (with over juiced a bit) or 4.5 (with under juiced a bit). Either way, I’d comfortably take the over on it.
If the Royals are leading off Alcides Escobar, they shouldn’t be -104 vs anyone, let alone a very good Cleveland Indians team, but then again, they are managed by a witch, so gambling against a witch puts you in a hot cauldron.