MLB DFS Picks - Covering the Bases: Sunday

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Sunday, August 25th

Happy Sunday, Grinders! I am in for Allan today, and we have a solid 11 game main slate on tap for this beautiful Sunday. This is an intriguing slate with a nice combination of arms and bats, so let’s get right to breaking it down!

Sunday Aces – Four at the Top

Aaron Nola at Marlins – After a shaky start to the year, Nola has steadied the ship quite nicely. His strikeout rate is up to 26.6% for the season, his ERA is down to 3.51, and his xFIP sits at 3.82. He has a 2.48 ERA since the start of July. Of course, the primary appeal today is a matchup against a Marlins offense that ranks near the bottom of the league in most offensive categories. Nola has allowed just two runs over 14 2/3 innings against the Marlins this year, with a 14/2 K/BB ratio in those starts. He has the best combination of safety and upside on this slate.

Shane Bieber vs. Royals – As I wrote yesterday, there’s certainly merit to taking pitchers against the Royals right now. This is an impatient offense that lacks any punch, particularly at the bottom of the order. Their .271 team wOBA in the month of August is now 25 points lower than any other team in the league. There is some natural appeal for Bieber in this spot. He has allowed six total runs over his last three starts, with all of those runs coming on six solo homers. Such is life in the big leagues these days. Pitchers can live with allowing solo home runs. Bieber’s command remains impeccable, as he now owns a 207/34 K/BB ratio on the year. He owns an ERA, SIERA, and xFIP in the low threes for the year. I slightly prefer Nola between the two, but it’s a very close call. Take the pitcher that you like best, and you likely aren’t doing it wrong either way.

Stephen Strasburg at Cubs – There’s a gap between the top two and the next two aces, for sure, but that’s not to say that these next two aren’t capable of putting up a top score on this slate. The Nationals are a red hot team right now, and they are looking to pull off an impressive sweep at Wrigley Field against a Cubs team that came into this series with a 44-19 home record in 2019. Strasburg continues to pitch well as a top arm for Washington, as he has amassed an ERA, SIERA, and xFIP in the mid threes to go along with 28% strikeouts, 6% walks, and a very solid batted ball profile. He does a great job of limiting hard contact, and he should benefit from the weather. It’s cooler in Chicago now, and the wind is blowing in from right field once again today. Keep an eye on projected ownership here. If Strasburg is going to carry sub-5% ownership, he’s a fantastic GPP pivot in this spot.

Trevor Bauer at Pirates – Bauer rebounded from an awful outing with a solid start his last time out against the Padres, allowing two earned runs over seven innings with 11 strikeouts along the way. This has been his calling card all year. He looks dominant and unhittable at times. He looks decidedly underwhelming at other times. The command escapes him far too often for an ace-caliber pitcher. It could very well be a mental thing, as nobody would call Bauer the most stable person in the league. Unfortunately, I’m not a shrink, so I can’t tell you what he will be thinking as he takes the mound today. I do know that he offers plenty of strikeout upside and gets to face a Pirates team that — last night’s 14 run barrage notwithstanding — has been awful in the second half. Bauer is clearly fourth on this list of aces for me, but he’s still in play in GPP formats.

Sunday Aces – Two More With Question Marks

Matt Boyd at Twins – This is a really interesting talking point. On one hand, Boyd has shown the potential to be dominant at times this year, racking up a 31% strikeout rate to go along with a 13.4% swinging strike rate for the year. On the other hand, he has to face a Twins lineup that has tons of pop and now has Nelson Cruz back in the mix. In his age 39 season, Nelson Cruz is putting up video game numbers against lefties, with marks that include a .469 wOBA, a 1.210 OPS, and a whopping .512 ISO. When you combine Boyd’s tendency to give up home runs with the power in this Minnesota lineup, this discussion gets quite dicey. There is absolutely no need to prioritize Boyd given that his form has been more shaky of late, but there is certainly upside to be had if he is on his game. If you are mass entering today, keep Boyd in your pool for a small amount of exposure. If you are only entering a few lineups, I don’t think he is worth the risk given that a win is unlikely with the poor state of the Detroit squad as a whole.

Robbie Ray at Brewers – I generally like the upside potential from Ray, but he is coming off the IL to make his start today. With Arizona falling out of the Wild Card race, they will likely be somewhat careful with their ace. Throw in a tough matchup against the Brewers and a slate with five other ace arms, and this play just doesn’t have much merit. This is an easy pass.

Cheaper Stuff

Dallas Keuchel at Mets – After a rocky start to his career as a member of the Braves, Keuchel has finally found his footing. Some rust was certainly to be expected after a long layoff thanks to his holdout to start the year, and Keuchel has now tossed 12 innings of one-run ball over his last two outings. That included one start where he threw six shutout innings against this very same Mets team. The Mets have an average offense against lefties to go along with a strikeout rate that is in the top half of the league. Keuchel is by no means an elite option, and he feels slightly expensive, but he is on the mid-range radar. Things go south in a hurry once you get beyond the aces today.

Martin Perez vs. Tigers – I’m only listing Perez here because he is facing the Tigers. Literally, that’s the only reason his name is showing up in the pitching section. Perez has been poor since the early part of the season and now has an ERA and SIERA approaching 5.00 for the year to go along with below average strikeouts. Meh. But, he’s facing the Tigers! Unfortunately, Perez isn’t a RHP, and the Tigers are at least remotely competent against lefties. I won’t be going here today.

Brock Burke at White Sox – Anything is possible against the White Sox. Kolby Allard had been nothing short of awful in his first taste of big league action, but he mowed down the White Sox last night, tossing 6 1/3 scoreless innings with eight strikeouts on his way to his second big league win. Could Brock Burke follow in those same footsteps? Burke pitched six scoreless innings in his first major league start, and this is a rookie who posted a solid 26.5% strikeout rate between Double-A and Triple-A this season. The control has been an issue at times throughout his journey toward the big leagues, but it’s less of a concern for me against a bad offense. On a slate that doesn’t offer a ton of super cheap pitching options, Burke is a fine salary saver, particularly on sites where you need to roster more than one arm.

Framber Valdez vs. Angels – This spot is particularly intriguing. Valdez has been roughed up in his previous big league action this year, amassing an ERA over five to go along with a massive hard contact rate, below average strikeouts, and 11% walks. However, he has been dominant at times with a massive 38% strikeout rate at Triple-A. As a 25 year-old lefty, he is still learning how to pitch at the major league level. The good news is that today’s matchup is reasonably favorable. The Angels are striking out a little more these days, and they don’t have anyone outside of Mike Trout who can really hit lefties hard. Valdez is clearly not a cash game play, but he’s a good bet to grab a win and could be a nice risk/reward GPP arm if you are feeling frisky.

Sunday Pitching Summary

There are aces galore on the mound today, with options that suit all types of DFS formats. Both Aaron Nola and Shane Bieber are elite plays in any format, as they have favorable matchups against the Marlins and Royals, respectively. Strasburg, Bauer, and Boyd are high upside GPP pivots. The slate doesn’t have a ton to offer for cheaper arms, with the likes of Dallas Keuchel and Brock Burke being the most logical options on that front. I’ve tagged Nola and Burke as my core plays, but I like the potential for all the other arms I listed in tournaments.

Point per dollar rankings:

1) Aaron Nola
2) Shane Bieber
3) Brock Burke
4) Stephen Strasburg
5) Dallas Keuchel
6) Trevor Bauer
7) Matt Boyd
8) Framber Valdez

Sunday Bats – Three Elite Spots

Astros vs. Jaime Barria – Once again, we can play “pick your Astro” as the top overall bat on the slate, as they own a team total close to seven runs once again. It’s yet another day with the team facing an underwhelming pitcher. Most DFS players will lean toward lefty bats against a right-handed arm, but it is worth noting that Jaime Barria has long been a pitcher with reverse splits tendencies. That has continued this year, as Barria has allowed a .424 wOBA to righties along with a massive 44% hard contact rate. This vaults Springer and Bregman to the top of the list, and we’re really splitting hairs between the two. I’ll give the slight edge to Bregman thanks to the fact that he is red hot right now. He is hitting .405 with a .500 OBP and a 1.324 OPS in the month of August. That includes six home rusn and 26 RBIs. Scorching. Yulieski Gurriel has also been swinging a hot bat in the second half and would be my third choice. Of course, you could also add a full stack to the GPP list, as guys like Alvarez and Brantley are capable of taking any pitcher deep.

UPDATE – No Springer in lineup. Altuve leading off. Toro hitting 6th is an interesting value dart.

Indians vs. Eric Skoglund – The Indians underwhelmed last night against Glenn Sparkman, but they get an immediate chance to make amends today against another hittable pitcher in Skoglund. The Kansas City starter has posted an ERA north of 6.00 over his 88 career major league innings, and he has a 6.14 ERA in eight Triple-A starts this year. In other words, here is no reason to expect a turnaround anytime soon. Fire up your Indians today. Skoglund is not going to miss bats, and he will be at the mercy of BABIP in this one. Franmil Reyes will likely be hitting in the middle of the order, and he owns a .280 ISO against LHP since being acquired by the Indians. That makes him a key value piece for me on this slate. Carlos Santana also has strong metrics with a .411 wOBA and .212 ISO against lefties, and he would be my second choice. The rest of the team has underwhelmed a bit against LHP this year, but it’s very possible that Skoglund won’t be around long in the game. I wouldn’t fault anyone for stacking up Cleveland and including the likes of Lindor and Mercado while banking on that outcome.

Cardinals vs. Antonio Senzatela – The Cardinals are looking for a four game sweep of the Rockies this afternoon, and they have become much more fun to watch in recent weeks. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see the offense continue to percolate today in a matchup against Senzatela, a pitcher who has posted a 6.29 ERA for the year to go along with a laughable 12.3% strikeout rate. Throw in a 10.5% walk rate, and you have all the makings of an offensive explosion. The Cardinals will also likely need to score behind Michael Wacha here, and this game is actually my favorite full GPP game stack of the day (assuming the weather holds off). Senzatela has allowed a .401 wOBA to LHBs this year, but he’s allowing more hard contact to righties. Basically, everyone is in play. Goldschmidt, DeJong, and Ozuna should be able to take advantage of the hard contact woes, and I love DeJong’s power potential in a R/R matchup. Ozuna leads the team with a .379 wOBA and .257 ISO against RHP. It is worth noting that Kolten Wong was injured after fouling a ball off his foot last night. He likely won’t play today, which means we will probably see both Tommy Edman and (gulp) Matt Carpenter in the lineup. Still, I’ll have plenty of St. Louis stacks this afternoon.

More To Love

Phillies vs. Elieser Hernandez – The Phillies have been a downright frustrating squad to try and peg this year, but their offense appears to be hitting a stride now. They have scored 25 runs over their last three games and draw a favorable matchup here against Elieser Hernandez. The Miami starter owns an xFIP well over 5.00 and is allowing hard contact at a 40%+ clip for the year. Both Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto have posted wOBA marks above .400 this month and make for speculative plays based on their current data. Harper has always been a streaky hitter and is a fine option in this matchup. Corey Dickerson has shown a little more power this month and makes for a fine play if he continues to hit in the middle of the order. This offense is never popular, especially when they aren’t playing in the most hitter-friendly environment. Philadelphia makes for a fine “sneaky” GPP stack here.

Diamondbacks vs. Zach DaviesZach Davies got some national attention during the first half of the season thanks to his glitzy surface profile. That ERA in the twos will always attract attention! However, we kept hammering away in this article, stating that the regression would be coming, and that message was consistent no matter whether it was me, Cheese, or Allan writing the piece. Not surprisingly, Davies was unable to sustain a 2.00 ERA with a 15% strikeout rate and a SIERA and xFIP hovering around 5.00. The lucky horseshoe has finally worn off, and we have started to see his numbers regress in the second half. RHBs are making hard contact against him, while his ground ball rate deteriorates against lefties. You don’t necessarily have to full stack against him, but I like any power bats as one-off plays. That vaults Eduardo Escobar (.234 ISO vs. RHP), Ketel Marte (.230 ISO), and Christian Walker (.225 ISO) to the top of the list. I likely won’t go anywhere else with the Arizona offense today, but don’t sleep on the power hitters.

Rangers vs. Reynaldo Lopez – The biggest conundrum I had when starting up the article for today was what to do with this matchup. On one hand, this Texas offense simply isn’t very good without Joey Gallo. On the other hand, Reynaldo Lopez always seems to disappoint whenever he draws a good matchup, and he hasn’t been pitching all that well of late. This is probably a spot where you could get away with fading both sides, but I at least have to mention the hint of upside with the Rangers here. Lopez has a mediocre 32% ground ball rate against LHBs this year, and he has allowed them to sport a .364 wOBA. If you do anything, side with the Texas lefties. In fact, I’ve tagged Shin-soo Choo as a core play this afternoon. He should push for five at bats as the leadoff hitter, and he owns a .380 wOBA and .214 ISO against RHP in 2019. Danny Santana offers power potential. The rest of the group is… underwhelming. I likely won’t do much other than those two bats.

Rockies vs. Michael Wacha – I mentioned above under the Cardinals section that I love the idea of stacking this COL/STL game today. Something has to give here. The Rockies are one of the worst offenses in the league away from Coors Field — posting numbers that rival the Tigers and Marlins in terms of futility. However, they also get to face a pitcher that is easily the worst starter on the St. Louis staff. The Cardinals have been looking for a reason to get rid of Michael Wacha. He has actually been somewhat passable over the last few starts, but I expect that to end sometime soon. After all, Wacha owns a 5.19 SIERA, a double digit walk rate, and below average strikeouts. He is allowing hard contact to hitters from both sides of the plate. Colorado is an elite team to stack in tournaments today, as most DFS players will ignore them on the road, especially considering that Arenado, Blackmon, and Story don’t come cheap. Throw in a hitter from the bottom of the order for some salary savings, and you have a high upside GPP stack.

Rays power vs. Dylan Bundy – Tampa’s offense profiles much better against a pitcher like Bundy than they did last night against John Means. This team is much more capable against RHP, and it’s a case where they seem to come together nicely as a team. They don’t have one superstar, but there also isn’t a major weakness in the lineup. Austin Meadows continues to lead the way with a .383 wOBA and .262 ISO against RHP, while Eric Sogard has been a pleasant surprise with elite numbers of his own since joining the Rays. Tommy Pham and the now healthy Avisail Garcia add some power potential, which is what we are looking for against a homer-prone pitcher in Dylan Bundy. This offense isn’t at the top of my list today, but one-off power is certainly in play.

Reds vs. Dario Agrazal – The Reds got absolutely demolished on Saturday night, and the Reds and Pirates are simply playing out the string at this point while the other three NL Central squads battle it out for first place. The Reds should be able to put up a little more fight offensively on this Sunday in a matchup against Agrazal, who simply doesn’t have the stuff to excel at the MLB level. He posted mediocre numbers in the minor leagues this year and owns a 6.25 xFIP to go along with a strikeout rate under 11% in his major league data set. The problem is figuring out how to attack the spot. I will approach it the same way I did yesterday, even though that didn’t work out. The best way to attack this will be through attempting to find value. Josh VanMeter is still priced at a dirt cheap $2,700 tag on FanDuel, and he has been hitting at the top of the order often against RHP. He owns a solid .359 wOBA against RHP and is a key value piece on FanDuel. You could also throw Derek Dietrich into the value mix given his cheap price tag now that he is healthy, but his numbers have lagged since the late spring. Of course, Aristides Aquino homers against everyone, so you certainly play him as well. His numbers include a ridiculous .442 wOBA and .492 ISO against right-handed pitching. As with yesterday, I likely won’t go for a full stack, but the value pieces are intriguing as one-off plays.

Nationals vs. Cole Hamels – This isn’t a priority spot for me, as I respect Hamels enough to generally avoid picking on him. However, it’s worth noting that Hamels has scuffled a bit since returning from the injured list, and the Nationals have scored approximately 1,534 runs this week. Okay, I had to go look it up. The Nationals are 11-2 over their last 13 games, and they have scored 114 runs in that stretch. That equates to 8.77 runs per game. That’s… a hot offense. I would not fault you one bit for riding the wave here. If you want to try to pick out individual bats, Anthony Rendon leads the way with a .412 wOBA and .286 ISO against LHP for the year. Both catchers also have strong splits against LHP, so whoever starts there would have some appeal on DK. I also found out yesterday that Adam Eaton is using “Spanky” on the back of his jersey for players’ weekend. The more you know…

Braves vs. Steven Matz – This is not a spot I will be looking at today, as Matz has been very good in the second half. The Braves also have a watered-down lineup right now, but they continue to score runs. I certainly wouldn’t fault you if you wanted to take a look at Acuna, Albies, and/or Donaldson here, as all three have solid track records against lefties. They are reasonable low-owned GPP options on this larger slate.

Sunday Offense Summary

This should be a fun slate, and there are a number of different ways you can go offensively. Here is what I will be doing:

Core Play Tags = Alex Bregman, Shin-soo Choo, Franmil Reyes (value)

Team Stack Rankings:
1) Astros
2) Cardinals
3) Indians
4) Phillies
5) Rockies
6) Reds
7) Diamondbacks

Good luck today!!

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