I’ll be honest – this is a rather unattractive slate. Hitting wise, it’s not so much an ugly slate – it’s not that everyone is in particularly bad matchups – rather – everyone is in awkward spots, where the FanDuel prices don’t quite mesh with the matchups. That would be fine if the pitching included some tasty targets that you would want to build your lineup around. But here, the pitching is yesterday’s brawls ugly. Not only are there no aces, there’s also no #2 pitchers, nevermind the 1-As. But typically a non-ace slate ends up offering plenty of intrigue because there will be mid-range pitchers like Dylan Bundy, who offers you the potential to strike out 12 guys in any given start, or Marcus Stroman, who can be counted on to deliver a safe performance of a bunch of innings without getting shelled, or Julio Teheran, where his lefty/righty splits offer you the chance to roster him if he’s facing a lineup of all righties because of the insane difference in his K rate and BB rate against righties as opposed to lefties. When you’ve got guys like that on the slate, it creates interesting decisions as you try to find the pitcher who is in the best spot that plays to their strengths and negates the weakness. There’s pretty much none of that here. It’s ugly out there today. That said, I consider myself the Joe DiMaggio of DFS blogging – I’m the true professional who always gives his best no matter the situation, because maybe there’s a kid out there reading this blog for the first time. Although kids can’t play DFS. But for those of you who can play, know that you’re going to be making a lot of uncomfortable decisions today. Nothing will be comfortable. Focus on making the optimal choices, even when that’s choosing the least unappealing option amongst the choices out there.
On to the picks…
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Jose Berrios, SP: $9,000 – Berrios stands out as the least bad option in the previously mentioned ugliness. He’s pretty good vs righties with a 16.5 K-BB% compared to 7.9% vs lefties. Luckily the White Sox don’t run a lot of lefties, and the lefties they do run aren’t exactly Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds. Yoan Moncada is probably the best lefty in the lineup and has a lot of raw power, but he doesn’t exactly strike fear into opposing hurlers, plus he strikes out over 33% of the time.
Gio Gonzalez, SP: $8,600 – This pick is simply anti-Rockies. Rockies are a terrible, no good offense, and even though they run a lot of righties, Gio is still solid vs righties with a 14.1 K-BB% over the last 3 years, vs a 13.2% vs lefties. The only hitter to be worried about vs Gio is Arenado and this is away from Coors where he is only 17% above league average the last 3 years. Last year with largely the same team the Rockies were 18% below average on the road and this years team is likely worse with no Mark Reynolds. Not to mention the bottom of the Rockies order is probably going to the pitcher, Pat Valaika, who hits like a pitcher and possibly a LvL Gerardo Parra. This is bad for a AAA team.
Bryce Harper, OF: $5,400 – Over his career, Harper has a .404 wOBA and a .258 ISO vs righties, which is really quite good. Chad Bettis is the defintion of a “meh” pitcher (there’s a bunch of them on the slate today) who doesn’t miss any bats (16.7% career) and Bryce Harper is here to make us forget about the ridiculous brawls that happened yesterday. Well, unless moronic relief pitchers yell at him for not hustling out a pop-up after the team’s been eliminated.
Brett Gardner, OF: $3,100 – Rick Porcello is a pretty decent pitcher, but in this short 5 game slate you’re going to have to make some decisions to play guys vs not terrible pitchers. Brett Gardner vs Rick Porcello is one of those matchups that doesn’t seem all that great, but Porcello is exploitable vs lefties with his 36.8% ground ball rate. And even though Gardner doesn’t have a ton of power, he’s going to bat leadoff – in case I haven’t made it clear – #respecttheleadoff and he’s not Juan Pierre; he has a .346 wOBA and a .156 ISO vs righties the last couple of years.
The Right Handed Bombs Away Yankees – Look, Judge, Stanton and Gary Sanchez are in play vs anyone. This is what happens when you have 80, 80, 70 power guys (20-80 scouting scale). These can drop bombs vs anyone and while Porcello is a very solid pitcher, he does give up bombs to righties the last couple of years where he’s average 1.2 per 9. Given that there should be a lot of value on this slate, playing one of these guys might wind up being correct. I can’t imagine playing Sanchez in cash because he’s just not as good a hitter as the other 2, and I like Stanton over Judge for raw points and since Stanton is priced less because he’s had 2 of the worst games of the season so far and probably all year.
Minnesota Twins – After being a top prospect out of Harvard Westlake HS and drafted in the first round by the Nationals, Giolito has not met expectations and in fact was described to me by a scout as a “better Mark Appel.” This is not a good thing since Appel has been awful and subsequently retired. Giolito doesn’t get either lefties and righties or righties out. He has a 6.2 K-BB% against lefties and 5.2% vs righties. He has a 40.5% GB rate vs lefties and 43.5% vs righties. Obviously, you want to target anyone who is carbon based vs Giolito and luckily the Twins are chock full of carbon based creatures. Although I question Joe Mauer – someone who did as many commercials as he did may not actually be carbon-based. Dozier (.357 wOBA and .239 ISO vs righties the last 2 years) and Sano (.344 wOBA and .230 ISO vs the righties the last 2 years) are the 2 best hitters on the team, but Eddie Rosario (.216 career ISO vs righties) and Logan Morrison (.208 career ISO vs righties) have some pop vs righties and are the best values. If Kepler is up top in the lineup, he’s another carbon based Twins player who’s a very good value and has some pop (.343 wOBA and .212 ISO).
Mike Trout, OF: $5,300 & Justin Upton, OF: $3,800 – The 2 best hitters on the Angels are facing Ian Kennedy, who is Home Run Oprah. He has given up 1.7 HR/9 over the last 3 years and because he has a split, it drops all the way to 1.6 vs righties, so we want to fish for homers vs Kennedy. Mike Trout only has a .415 wOBA and a .268 ISO vs righties and is the obvious top play of the slate. Upton has a respectable .350 wOBA and a .229 ISO vs righties the last 3 years and is the clear 2nd play on the Angels. In terms of the other Angels, I can’t imagine paying $3,400 for Albert Pujols. Other Angels hitters, they are either really expensive (Cozart) or not good enough to justify in cash (Though Kinsler may return and bat leadoff, bringing in some serious #respecttheleadoff given his price). I don’t really have much to say about Shohei Ohtani outside of, $4,000 is a lot to pay for an 8th hitter, but in Angels stacks for GPPs? Yes please. Oh, actually, I do have something else to say about him – the day he gets moved to 4th in the order (and Pujols goes down to 5th), he’s going to be like 75% owned presuming it’s a reasonable matchup. That day, you should fade him in GPPs.
Lucas Duda, 1B: $2,700 – Nick Tropeano is a walking (12.2%) disaster against lefties with a 10.2 K-BB% and a 32.8% ground ball rate. Duda has some power with a .260 ISO vs righties and walks (13.2%) so he should be pretty safe cash game play at such a cheap price.
Mike Moustakas, 3B: $3,700 – Moustakas, obviously, is known for his power and he doesn’t disappoint in that department with a .502 slugging and a .229 ISO vs righties the last few years and even though he’s expensive he’s a great GPP play and might be the cash 3B considering how odd 3B is in this slate with awkward expensive plays and no real value, at least as of now.
Franchy Cordero, OF: $2,000 – With Manny Margot hurt, this recommendation is based purely on the fact that he may be batting leadoff and is priced at the stone minimum. I am a full believer in #respecttheleadoff, so anytime you can get a leadoff guy in any matchup that isn’t egregiously bad for stone-min, you have to consider it. Stratton is an OK pitcher to target – the career 40.2% GB rate is below average and steamer projects him for a below average 16.7% K-Rate and a below average 9.5% BB-rate. Unfortunately, Stratton’s possibly bomb-giving-up tendencies may be neutered by a projected 17-20 mph wind blowing in, but again – stone minimum leadoff hitter. My best guess is that on this slate you won’t need him since the lack of an attractive pitcher in the $10K or higher range, but price pointing into him is fine because #respecttheleadoff.
I’m Only Happy When It Rains
No rain. That should make me unhappy, but we’ve got a lot of a different weather issues so that’s good enough to bring me some joy. There’s lots of wind out there today, of the 5 games, 4 are projected to have 15+ MPH winds. Washington out to center, Boston out to center, Royals out to left and San Diego in from left. If any of those kick into high gear, it could get interesting.
Doing Lines In Vegas
I have to marginally cheat here. The line I like the most is actually in a game not on the slate – it involves the St. Louis Cardinals at -140 versus the Cincinnati Reds in the “what scheduling genius saw the recent wave of teams starting games at 6pm for various reasons, analyzed the various factors, and decided that it would be a good idea to put the game at a time that negates all of the benefits from the early start time (for example, being more attractive for families to take school aged children to, but still is really annoying to deal with as both a fan and a DFS player simply because it throws off the cleanliness of 7:05 start times” game. Wacha is a far superior pitcher to Romano, and while the Cardinals offense isn’t anything special, it’s noticeably better than the “Joey Votto and 7 guys who could easily retire tomorrow and no one outside of Cincy would notice unless there was an actual article on a national news site about it” offense. Although they’re still better than the Rockies. Blackmon (as long as his Shang-Tsung powers are still there) and Nolan deserve better than this.