Million Dollar Musings: Wednesday, June 19th

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Wednesday, June 19th

Happy Wednesday! Tuesday was looking lonely without Edwin Jackson on the mound, but the Orioles saved us by sending Dan Straily to the mound in “relief.” Fun times in America. We are going to focus on the main 10-game slate tonight, but I’ll take a quick look at the early 5-gamer on DK/FDRFT.

Early Slate Overview

We’ve got two of the best strikeout pitchers in the league on this early slate with Gerrit Cole in Cincinnati and Blake Snell going into New York to face the Yankees. While the Reds are the same type of home run threat against the fly balls of Cole as they were last night against Verlander, it’s just a whole different level of risk for Snell against this loaded Yankees team. Snell has 34% strikeouts against right-handed batters, which is outstanding, but his control is still not consistent, and the Yankees have patience along with all the power. Meanwhile, Gerrit Cole is striking out 40% of lefties and the downgrade in ballpark is evened out by getting to face a pitcher in the NL. If you are playing cash games on this early slate, I would recommend trying to find a way to get up to Cole despite the salary difference. But for pure upside if Snell is on top of his game, he can still get close to matching Cole and at a significant savings.

If you are playing in larger field tournaments or multi entering, I would want as much Cole as possible with Snell being the first pivot, but it also makes sense to use a cheaper SP2. Chris Bassitt against the Orioles, Matt Strahm against the Brewers and Patrick Corbin trying yet again to get a game in Washington against the Phillies. Here is a look at the 2019 stats for this trio:

Chris Bassitt vs Orioles – 23% K, 9.7% BB, 3.68 ERA, 4.61 SIERA
Patrick Corbin vs Phillies – 26.4% K, 8.2% BB, 4.11 ERA, 4.02 SIERA
Matt Strahm vs Brewers – 22% K, 5.5% BB, 4.66 ERA, 4.31 SIERA

I expect Bassitt to be the popular choice here at home against the Orioles, and he would be my lean in cash games out of this group. He has shown elite control along with 53% ground balls and limited hard contact against righties with power and walks to lefties being the downfall. While there are plenty of strikeouts in the Baltimore order, they can also get six lefties in the lineup, and five of them have walk rates above 10%. This is enough of a reason why I am not thrilled about going too heavy on Bassitt in tournaments. His control is so sketchy to lefties with almost a 15% walk rate that the reality of the numbers for this Baltimore team are much better than the perception. This is the type of pitcher and matchup where I’d expect a reasonable floor, but not the kind of spot I’d want to be heavily invested if he’s going to be popular.

We are back to Patrick Corbin one more time. Eventually, they will have to play this game- maybe today! The Corbin salary has not budged on DK, and while he was not in my plans last night, on this slate, the salary becomes useful again. As discussed the past couple days, he has not looked like the same trustworthy ace recently, down to a below average 20.8% strikeouts and 9.2% walks over the past month. But keep in mind that he had a year and a half of consistent dominance prior to that. Even though I was trying to poke holes in Bassitt’s matchup against Baltimore, it is certainly still far easier than Corbin’s against the low strikeout right-handed Phillies. That is enough to keep me on Bassitt ahead of Corbin in cash games with similar skill recently, but in tournaments, I am still going to side with the longer term data and clearly better overall skill set of Corbin.

I would say that Matt Strahm gets a pass on his rough outing at Coors Field, except that it was his first start since a short trip to the IL and he walked four batters in three innings, which is uncharacteristic. His biggest asset this season has been the elite control, and without that, he would be of no interest. His velocity was normal, but for some nonsensical reason, he suddenly started throwing curveballs at the highest rate of his career, just in time for a trip to a ballpark where curveballs don’t curve. I have just no clue whose idea that was, but it was an awful idea and it obviously did not work. If this were a bigger slate, I would say to completely cross Strahm off the list and make him show that he’s at full strength, but due to the lack of cheap options, I have to at least consider him as a tournament SP2. Even if he’s at 100%, the risk from his hard hits to righties still outweighs his upside, but we can just hope that the low walks and average strikeout numbers to righties are enough to let him survive his way to a quality start.

In general, Tyler Mahle is a pitcher I’m interested in for DFS, and if the Astros end up with a mostly right-handed lineup again today, I will throw him into the multi-entry mix, but even with his high 29% strikeouts against righties, he is likely to struggle against the lowest strikeout team in the league, who should get another contact bat back today with Jose Altuve.

You could make a case to throw Zach Davies into this stew as well with his reasonable real life skills against right-handed batters – 51% ground balls, 4.2% walks, but just 17.5% strikeouts. He is not a strikeout pitcher, but the Padres have so many righties that can add a few extra K’s, so he is not far behind Strahm/Mahle.

EARLY PITCHING CLIFF NOTES

Gerrit Cole is ace #1 with Blake Snell being the tournament pivot at a lower price with higher risk but similar upside. It’s basically between Patrick Corbin and Chris Bassitt for SP2, and I have a slight lean to the better matchup for Bassitt in cash games, while preferring the longer term upside of Corbin in tournaments. Matt Strahm and maybe Tyler Mahle or Zach Davies are viable as well, with Strahm and then Davies coming in ahead of Mahle on my list due to matchup.

Early Slate Bats

Oakland A’s vs Josh Rogers

The A’s blew the doors off the slate last night, but that was mostly because the Orioles decided to let Dan Straily come in and throw batting practice in relief. Nonsense. Josh Rogers is a young lefty with scary low strikeouts, just 13% at Triple-A this season, but strong control to go with it. He’s never shown any ground ball ability and has looked like a simply below average minor league pitcher. Between the low strikeouts of Rogers and a terrible Baltimore bullpen, Oakland is the obvious top offense on this slate. I would say to not overthink the matchups and assume they’ll be seeing a mix of righties and lefties. But to start, just go straight to the right-handed power of Khris Davis and Matt Chapman, followed by Stephen Piscotty and Marcus Semien, along with hopefully getting Mark Canha and cheap power from Chad Pinder in the lineup. This whole team is underpriced and tough to fade. The one way you may be able to get a little different without sacrificing upside is to play Matt Olson in your Oakland stacks. He is the most expensive bat in the lineup and being a lefty-lefty matchup should keep his ownership the lowest of the power A’s.

Phillies at NationalsZach Eflin at Patrick Corbin

Zach Eflin has more strikeout ability than Jake Arrieta, but is otherwise a similar pitcher to the guy that had Matt Adams and Juan Soto as close to must plays the past couple nights prior to the rainouts. Eflin has struck out a below average 19.6% of lefties while allowing a .227 ISO on 44% fly balls and 40% hard hits. The price tag on Juan Soto remains far too low for his plate skills and power, while Adams is more of a tournament option in this matchup with his strikeout risk going up against Eflin. You can certainly stack the Nationals here, but only Soto and Adams hit my primary list.

With Corbin’s recent decline, I would be more willing to stack against him on this smaller slate. He’s still too talented of a pitcher for me to want to start picking out individual bats against, but if you were going to, it would be Rhys Hoskins (.281 ISO, 48% HH) and Scott Kingery (.257 ISO, 60% HH). The Nationals bullpen is very beatable, so if the patience of the Phillies can make this a shorter outing for Corbin, the stack has clear upside.

Houston Lefties at Tyler Mahle

Mahle has been good enough against righties, that even with a team like the Astros, I can’t make a strong case to play guys like Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman until you get into stacks. But against lefties, we’re looking at 19.5% strikeouts, 40% fly balls and 41% hard hits. I’ll go right back to Michael Brantley (.207 ISO) and Yordan Alvarez today, with Brantley’s elite contact giving him my edge in cash games and the pure power of Alvarez a top tournament target. We should also get Josh Reddick back in the lineup, though he is far behind Brantley/Alvarez.

Rays at Yankees RightiesBlake Snell at C.C. Sabathia

We have an elite starter in Snell facing an OK starter and an elite bullpen on the other side. The Yankees have so much right-handed power that of course you’re allowed to play some of these guys in tournaments, but I can’t prioritize any hitters against one of the best strikeout pitchers in the league. The lowest K rate of the righty power bats belongs to Edwin Encarnacion, so I guess start there, but we’re really just throwing darts at these guys, knowing any of them have the power to get it out of the park if Snell makes a mistake.

My preferred play here is to hope that Snell brings his A game and Tampa can get enough runs against Sabathia to win this game handily and avoid the best arms in the Yankees bullpen. Sabathia has been up and down this season, but he’s allowed a lot of home runs, 15 HR in 11 starts to go with a 19.7% K rate to righties with high 43% fly balls and 41% hard hits. I would start with Tommy Pham, Avisail Garcia and whichever of Mike Zunino or Travis d’Arnaud gets the start and then start filling in around them with a mix of cheaper bats. It’s very risky to stack against the Yankees, but it’s not a great slate for offense once you get past Oakland, and Tampa has a lot of affordable bats lower in the order.

Brewers at PadresZach Davies at Matt Strahm

This is a game where I would completely ignore all angles of it on a full slate, but here, both pitchers and bats have to be at least looked at. Matt Strahm is a guy who has been throwing a ton of strikes to righties and allowing 42% fly balls and 49% hard contact leading to a .212 ISO. I would also not ignore his 18.8% K rate and .200 ISO against lefties as it relates to a contrarian Christian Yelich, who has an obscene .372 ISO against lefties this season and Mike Moustakas who has also hit for power against lefties with a .305 ISO. But for starters, I would be looking at the affordable Lorenzo Cain and Ryan Braun or down to the cheaper Jesus Aguilar or Hernan Perez. I prefer Brewers bats more as individual fill in options as opposed to a full stack. When comparing to the other games on this slate, the low walks of Strahm and the good Padres bullpen don’t stand out as a great stack against until you get pretty deep into multi-entry.

Zach Davies is good enough against righties that we’re just taking fliers on the power upside of Hunter Renfroe, Manny Machado or Franmil Reyes. Those are the three righty Padres who have the fly ball and hard hit ability to offset Davies’ 51% ground balls. Davies is a pitcher without a skill against lefties, but these are just not very exciting lefty bats. Eric Hosmer is completely fine, but still so much of a ground ball hitter that I don’t love him in DFS on any slate.

Baltimore Lefties at Chris Bassitt

As mentioned in the pitching section, I expect Bassitt will be fairly popular, but he has some problems against lefties. He has decent strikeout ability at 24.6%, but he’s walked 15% of lefties while allowing 46% fly balls and 36% hard hits with a .236 ISO. The Baltimore lefties are dirt cheap, and all of Jonathan Villar, Anthony Santander, Chance Sisco, Rio Ruiz and Chris Davis have walks rates over 10%, which gives them on base upside as well as the possibility they’ll have the patience to wait for a good pitch to hit. I rather love them as a stack that is so cheap they make it easy to get to Cole.

EARLY HITTING CLIFF NOTES

Oakland is leading the pack by a wide margin, and they are easy to fit at their salaries. We probably need to worry about ownership here, but if you’re playing cash games or just making one main optimal tournament lineup, it’s overthinking it to avoid Oakland. You can differentiate around them in other ways. In multi-entry, I will absolutely have some lineups without Oakland, where Tampa is my next favorite full stack, followed by both sides of Phillies-Nationals game and then Houston. There are a couple of strong values that we can’t overlook, notably Juan Soto and Khris Davis, and then value bats are not too hard to come by either. You can take a stab at some cheap Reds power in tournaments, with other cheap power upside in guys like Jesus Aguilar, Chad Pinder and the Orioles’ lefties.

Main Slate Pitching

The first thing to note is that I’m writing this as if Max Scherzer is not going to pitch tonight for Washington. As of this morning, his status is up in the air after he hit himself in the face trying to bunt (LOL?). The whole context of the slate changes if Scherzer is added to this list, so we’ll check back in on this later.

UPDATE – So, it sounds like Max Scherzer is going to go tonight. There is all kinds of speculation about whether or not he’ll have to wear a mask, whether his breathing will be affected and if that could affect his pitch count. I have simply no idea on any of that, but what I do know if that Max Scherzer is the best pitcher on this slate, and at least on DK/FDRFT, it’s not that hard to fit him in tonight. I do not think he needs to be forced into cash games with as happy as I am with Rich Hill, but I still rank Scherzer first and would get him if I can. I like him even more in tournaments, where I expect these question marks will keep his ownership lower than usual.

Even if we’re without Scherzer, we’ve got a decent pitching slate tonight, but with only one ace that we are being asked to break open the piggy bank for. Let’s start by comparing that ace, Lucas Giolito, with the rest of the top tier.

Lucas Giolito at Cubs – 31.3% K, 8.3% BB, 2.22 ERA, 3.67 SIERA
Andrew Heaney at Blue Jays – 34.1% K, 6.8% BB, 4.57 ERA, 3.34 SIERA (only 21 innings)
Rich Hill vs Giants – 27.6% K, 5.6% BB, 2.60 ERA, 3.53 SIERA
Zack Greinke vs Rockies – 23.7% K, 3.9% BB, 3.65 ERA, 3.85 SIERA

It’s clear immediately that Zack Greinke doesn’t belong in this ace tier for DFS purposes with his low strikeout rate. He is an excellent real life pitcher, and his ability to pitch deep into games does keep him DFS relevant at times, but for pure upside, he doesn’t match up. He is not completely off my cash game list yet on two-pitcher sites at his fair salary, but the Rockies just aren’t a bad enough team to give him the upside I want as a core play.

The two big questions here are Rich Hill and his pitch count and what to do about the small sample size for Andrew Heaney.
Starting with Hill, he has thrown between 90-104 pitches in five straight starts, going seven innings twice, six innings twice and five innings in the other. His efficiency is more than enough to make 95 pitches count for our purposes. The Giants are middle of the pack in plate discipline against lefties, but way down at the bottom in everything else, ranking 29th in ISO and wOBA. The Giants are so much worse than the Rockies that when adding in the higher K% for Hill and the only moderately higher salary, I prefer Hill over Greinke in all formats.

Andrew Heaney saw his magic come to an end in his last start, striking out just two Rays in five innings, after having piled up 28 strikeouts in his first 16 innings off the IL. I don’t know if it was something in the scouting report or some other decision to shake things up, but he backed off his slider usage a bit and added more changeups, which likely played into the lower strikeouts. The fact is that we just haven’t seen enough to know how much of that strikeout surge was real, but even if we just take him at his career average of 22.4% K and 6.2% walks, I would have some interest in him against the Blue Jays at his salary. And given that I can find reason to believe in at least some of the strikeout increase, I’m still going to call him my favorite tournament option on this slate. The Blue Jays strike out at the 6th highest rate in the league and they don’t have the same type of patience that he had to deal with in his last outing in Tampa. Home runs are absolutely going to be an issue with him, but as I’ve been harping on over and over, I am not playing for run prevention- I am playing for strikeouts. A few solo homers are just not an issue especially at this salary, and I see his strikeout upside as far outweighing his power downside. I’m even happy with him in cash games on two-pitcher sites.

So that brings us back to the high salary of Lucas Giolito. It’s now seven quality starts in his last eight games, and 8+ strikeouts in six of the eight. He’s beaten plenty of strong lineups, so his upside is not thwarted by matchup. (Thwarted!) But still, we have to at least consider the possibility that a team with as much patience as the Cubs can do more of what the Yankees did to him last week, when he walked four batters and made it just six innings. He has walked 10.4% of righties this season, while being more about allowing fly balls with limited hard contact to lefties. My expectation would be that the Cubs try and work the counts as much as possible and between the contact and patience, I just can’t make a case to call Giolito a must play in cash games at this salary. Sure, he is the best real life pitcher we have on this slate (assuming no Scherzer) and he’s very playable in tournaments, but the likely upside is just not that much higher than guys like Hill, Heaney and even Greinke at significantly lower salaries.

Risky Upside

Jon Gray at Diamondbacks
Eduardo Rodriguez at Twins
Kyle Gibson vs Red Sox

This trio of starters are all sitting between 24.8% – 26.1% strikeouts. We’ve got SIERAs from 3.73-4.13, and all of them are players with DFS upside. However, not a one of them has anything close to an ideal matchup tonight.

Jon Gray has been the least consistent of the group, with a 9.6% walk rate and his splits leave him at risk against the lefty bats for Arizona. His numbers against righties are borderline elite with 29.8% K and 52% GB, so I have no problem putting him on the multi-entry GPP list, but assuming a normal lineup for Arizona with four lefties in the top five, the downside is more likely than the upside.

Eduardo Rodriguez and Kyle Gibson square off in Minnesota, and we can try and take some comfort from the fact that the pitching has won out in the first two games of this series, but still these are incredibly dangerous offenses to be trusting good, but not great pitchers against. I am a Kyle Gibson fan and I love that he has continued to improve every season, but I’m just simply not OK with this salary on this slate against Boston. Their roster has the 6th lowest strikeout rate and the 4th highest walk rate against right-handed pitching, and I just can’t find a reason to use him ahead of someone like Zack Greinke at a similar salary.

For Eduardo Rodriguez, even though the walks are down, he still takes a lot of pitches to get through an inning against better lineups and this certainly qualifies as a “better lineup”. The Twins’ projected lineup tonight has a .211 ISO, .370 wOBA and just 16.5% strikeouts against lefties this season. Like Gibson, the 25% strikeout rate of Rodriguez is solid, but not so extreme as to overcome the matchup in the context of this slate.

All three of these guys are multi-entry tournament viable. I just can’t prioritize any of them.

Mid-Tier At Quality Prices

Jon Lester vs White Sox – 22.6% K, 5.6% BB, 4.08 ERA, 4.16 SIERA
Max Fried vs Mets – 21.4% K, 6.4% BB, 4.11 ERA, 4.01 SIERA
Trevor Richards at Cardinals – 21% K, 10% BB, 3.68 ERA, 4.96 SIERA
Daniel Ponce de Leon vs Marlins – career 24.3% K, 11.8% BB, 2.57 ERA, 4.42 SIERA

Jon Lester started out this season looking like the same lucky goose that we saw in 2018, but recently, things have turned sharply in the other direction, as he’s allowed 4+ runs in five of his last six starts and seen his ERA shoot up from 1.16 on May 12th to 4.08 after his last outing. The numbers all say that he is neither of those guys. This is a pitcher who has shown excellent control to both sides of the plate this season with just slightly below average strikeout ability, average ground balls and just slightly elevated hard hits. Everything I see here tells me this is basically an average pitcher who still has the stuff to be decent in real life, which would make him DFS viable in favorable matchups at fair salaries. That is what we have tonight with good pitching conditions at Wrigley (if the rain holds off) and a White Sox team that loses their DH and comes in ranked 28th in ISO against left-handed pitching. I certainly can’t call Lester “safe,” but he does look underpriced if we treat him as an average pitcher. I think he is cash game playable on two-pitcher sites, and even without huge upside, he can be a reasonable tournament play as well.

The Max Fried story is similar to the Jon Lester story. He is an average at best strikeout pitcher with good control who has seen his ERA shoot up over the past month, allowing 17 runs in his last four starts. His main asset is the 58% ground balls to lefties and the 55% ground balls and 6% walks to righties. Outside of Pete Alonso, who may just be a superstar, I am not scared of this Mets lineup against a ground ball lefty. The projected lineup has a 27% strikeout rate this season against lefties and 26.6% over the past two seasons and only one batter over a 10% walk rate. It’s also mostly ground balls outside of Alonso and Todd Frazier. The game log is ugly, but the skills are decent and the matchup looks like a plus to me. I think he is a clear value on DK/FDRFT at this salary and someone I will target heavily in tournaments. I don’t think it’s necessary in cash games when you can get up to Lester, but I don’t even mind him there if you need it.

I can’t get behind the reverse splits of Trevor Richards against the right-handed power for St. Louis. Richards has allowed a .184 ISO on 43% fly balls and 47% hard hits to righties, and against lefties, his walks are unacceptable at 12.1% along with just 15.7% strikeouts. There is some strikeout upside here, but not nearly enough to outweigh the risk for me.

As far as Daniel Ponce de Leon, he is still trying to discover his control, and until he does, there is no matchup where the upside outweighs the risk. If there were going to be one, sure this would be it, but this guy has walked 10% of righties with just 16% strikeouts in his brief career while also walking 14% of lefties. Even at Triple-A, he had a 12% walk rate and only 19.2% strikeouts. The Marlins are bad, but not this bad. Of course he can go into the multi-entry mix just based on the matchup, but within this tier, it’s as simple as following the control for me. That puts Lester and Fried in a tier ahead of Richards and Ponce de Leon.

Pitching Cliff Notes

I need to re-iterate that at the time of writing this, we still don’t know if Max Scherzer will be pitching tonight. This all assumes he is not, but I’ll check back in later and update if needed.

UPDATE – Around noon, it sounds like Max Scherzer is planning to pitch tonight. With his extreme 39% strikeouts against righties, this is a pretty likeable matchup with only Bryce Harper and Jay Bruce posing much threat form the left side and both of them as high strikeout bats as well. This will move Lucas Giolito further down my board, as I can’t make any case to play Giolito against the Cubs ahead of Scherzer tonight. I am seeing enough value bats that I will try to start with Scherzer in cash games if he pitches, which would mean passing on Rich Hill on two-pitcher sites and going down to at least Heaney, if not Lester or Fried.

UPDATE #2 – Its now 3pm and I’m completely torn on whether or not use Scherzer in cash games, not because I don’t trust him but because I already like my teams with Rich Hill quite a bit. Either way, I’m going to be heavily invested in Scherzer in tournaments tonight as I’m hoping the ‘can he breathe?’ people lower his ownership too far.

I don’t think we’re scraping for salary enough to need to mess with anything cheaper tonight. The only truly cheap options are in Texas or Aaron Sanchez and his poor control against a low strikeout Angels team. The only reason you need to mess with that tier is if you’re trying to get Giolito as well as an expensive stack, and I would prefer to skip down to the next tier of starters before going here.

While Lucas Giolito does look like the best pitcher from a pure talent standpoint, his salary and matchup make him come up short for me tonight. Yes I’ll play him in some tournaments, but in cash games, I much prefer the savings to Rich Hill at home against the Giants along with either Andrew Heaney or Zack Greinke, or even down further to Jon Lester. There is still a lot of guesswork going on with Heaney, but he my personal favorite of this group. On FD, I like Hill as the cash game play, where I prefer Heaney in tournaments.

Going a little cheaper, this trio of Jon Gray, Eduardo Rodriguez and Kyle Gibson are all quality pitchers with some strikeout ability, but their matchups just don’t look right tonight. This is a viable group for multi-entry tournaments at what should be low ownership, but I would rather just go cheaper for the better matchups of Jon Lester or Max Fried.

Outside of Giolito and possibly Heaney, I am not seeing this is as a ‘win it with my pitching’ kind of slate. I will be perfectly happy with a decent score from a cheaper pitcher in the SP2 slot.

Wednesday Night Bats

Indians at RangersAdam Plutko at Joseph Palumbo

The Indians went nuts last night even with Francisco Lindor skipping the party. The Indians are a flexible lineup thanks to their three switch hitters and the addition of right-handed outfielders Oscar Mercado and Jordan Luplow. Palumbo has made just one major league start, and while we don’t know much about him yet, the minor league numbers were strong enough that I am not thrilled about going crazy with bats against him. He struck out 30.8% of batters at Double-A this season and had a lot of ground ball ability lower in the minors. The real trouble here is he has completely skipped Triple-A, so we just don’t know how much of his strikeout ability will carry over at this level. It’s enough question that I don’t see it as necessary to pay up for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Santana in cash games today. I rather spend my salary against known quantities. The case is stronger for a Cleveland stack, both due to the possibility that Palumbo is over matched at this level as well for the possibility of getting into the Rangers bullpen.

We have a little more sample size on Adam Plutko if we pull back and look at 2018-2019 numbers, as that now puts him up to 103 career innings. The numbers are pretty straightforward as to what we’re getting here. He is an extreme fly ball pitcher with low strikeouts to lefties and average strikeouts to righties. This is stackable if you want, but against a strike throwing fly ball pitcher, this is a place I’ll come to pick out individual power bats. Shin-Soo Choo (.269 ISO, 47% HH) tops my list here, followed by Nomar Mazara (.155, 50% HH), Danny Santana (.214 ISO, 46% HH) and Ronald Guzman (.248 ISO, 41% HH). I touched on this briefly last week, but in general, when facing extreme fly ball pitchers, we don’t necessarily want fly ball hitters. That is where lazy pop ups come from and I will lean towards line drive hitters with hard hit ability against fly ballers. This does not be any means take Rougned Odor and Asdrubal Cabrera off the list, but it does leave them behind these other Texas bats for me tonight, particularly in cash games.

Pittsburgh Pirates vs Jordan Zimmermann

Detroit is bringing Zimmermann and his low strikeouts off the IL tonight. In the very limited sample size this season, he was walking 14% of lefties while throwing most of hittable strikes to righties with 15.5% K and low 4.2% BB. He hasn’t allowed a lot of hard contact by living around the edges of the zone, but he’s mostly missing it against lefties, so we can hope to see either base runners from the walks or more hard contact if he has to find more of the plate. If we pull back to last seasons numbers to get more sample size, the strikeouts are a below avera 19% to both sides, the fly balls are over 40% to both sides and the hard hits are simply average. I love Josh Bell and his .348 ISO individually, but otherwise I am more interested in stacking here against Zimmermann and this bullpen.

Washington Nationals vs Jake Arrieta

I’ve been trying to play Nationals lefties against Arrieta for two days now, and maybe we can finally get there tonight. We’ll need to see how the early game plays out in terms of bullpen usage and then lineup for the evening game, but assuming a normal Nationals lineup, I will go right back to Juan Soto as a core play at his DK/FDRFT salary and Matt Adams on FD. One more time and on this cut and paste – Arrieta has struck out just 14.5% of left-handed batters and while he’s at 61% ground balls to righties, that falls to just 41% to lefties. Anthony Rendon and his extreme 52% fly balls will remain in my tournament pool, but this is all about lefty power with Juan Soto (.222 ISO) and Matt Adams (.284 ISO). The Phillies have just one lefty in the bullpen right now, so we can hope for Adams to keep the platoon advantage all night. The Nationals are stackable, but I want home runs, so that leaves me mostly on the trio of Soto, Adams and Rendon.

Dodgers Righties or Stack vs Drew Pomeranz

Pomeranz has looked better in his last two starts, but this is still a two-pitch pitcher with sketchy control who has allowed a .240 ISO to right-handed batters this season. He is not nearly as bad as his 6.43 ERA would suggest, but he’s nothing more than average against righties, and the Dodgers have some very cheap bats that look clearly underpriced on this slate. Most notably, Enrique Hernandez (.191 ISO, 17.5% K, 53% HH) would be a near must-play at least on DK/FDRFT if leading off. We’ve also got a cheap Chris Taylor with his .230 ISO and 41% hard hits. I’m always more hesitant to play David Freese in cash games with his pinch hit risk, but he’s a great addition to the affordable Dodgers stack. Justin Turner is also a little too cheap everywhere with his strong plate skills and huge hard hit ability against lefties. Pomeranz is a similar pitcher against lefties, and while I mentioned this a few days ago, it bears repeating. The two highest ISO’s on this Dodgers team this season against lefties belong to Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy. They will naturally be under owned even in Dodgers stacks because of the salaries and the lefty-lefty matchups, so I would get them in there.

Angels Stack at Aaron Sanchez

Sanchez’ lack of control has sent him to several disastrous outings this season, and backed by a bad bullpen and facing a team with the best plate discipline in the league against righties, it’s easy to see how this could lead to another jabroni-level outing for Sanchez. The Angels active roster has the 2nd lowest strikeout rate and the highest walk rate in the league against righties and for a pitcher with poor control, that is obvious trouble. It also makes it tougher to pick out individual bats when we just don’t know which guys might see pitches to hit. If they are piling up base runners, at some point he’s going to have to throw strikes, and when he does, I first want fly ball hitters against him. It’s definitely a stack every which way, but I’ll start with Mike Trout (51% FB, 52% HH), Kole Calhoun (40% FB, 48% HH), Tommy La Stella (36% FB, 41% HH) and Justin Bour (47% FB, 35% HH).

Atlanta Righties vs Steven Matz

Matz is a decent pitcher and ideally not someone to pick on. But this Braves team is just flat out good at hitting baseballs. The splits aren’t significant for Matz, so you can keep Freddie Freeman on the list, but mostly I’m looking at the 36% fly balls and 42% hard hits allowed to righties along with his propensity for allowing stolen bases to put Ronald Acuna (.311 ISO, .451 wOBA) and Ozzie Albies (.217 ISO, .404 wOBA) on tonight’s target list. I have no problem throwing in Austin Riley, Dansby Swanson or Josh Donaldson, but this isn’t a team I’ll be coming for individual bats after Acuna and maybe Albies.

Red Sox at TwinsEduardo Rodriguez at Kyle Gibson

We touched on these pitchers, as they are both well above average pitchers with the ability to post quality starts even against good opponents. I would say that I’m not going to mess with this game in cash tonight, except that Mookie Betts really shouldn’t ever be $4,400 on DK and he is playable at that salary. For the season’s Gibson’s strikeouts are up at 27.5% to righties, so other than the elite contact skills of Betts, these righties are left for stacks only. Against lefties, Gibson is down at a more moderate 22.1% K while allowing 40% hard hits with just above average 48% ground balls. That is still a pretty good pitcher, but I would consider Rafael Devers (.225 ISO) as a tournament option here.

Eduardo Rodriguez can be tough for righties to square up with his mix of changeups and cutters, but there is such obscene power in this Twins lineup that I have to have interest in at least Nelson Cruz with his goofy .425 ISO and 74% hard hits in this seasons small sample size against lefties and a .322 ISO and 56% hard hit rate since 2018. Jorge Polanco (41% HH), Mitch Garver (36% HH) and C.J. Cron (40% HH) make the tournament list as well, but this game is not near the top of my list tonight.

Rockies at DiamondbacksJon Gray at Zack Greinke

I don’t have interest in stacking against Zack Greinke, but knowing he will be in the strike zone and not limiting hard contact or fly balls does give me some one off interest in Trevor Story (.286 ISO) and Nolan Arenado (.233 ISO). Greinke has been much better against lefties this season, leading me to the righties ahead of guys like Blackmon, Dahl and Murphy.

On the other side, we also have some clear splits to take advantage of. Jon Gray has struck out 30% of righties along with 51% ground balls, so outside of full stacks, I am not interested in Arizona righties. But against lefties, it’s lower 22.3% K, high 13.3% walks and no ground ball lean. The trio of Ketel Marte (.246 ISO, 47% HH), David Peralta (.257 ISO, 39% HH) and Eduardo Escobar (.222 ISO, 37% HH) are right back near the top of my tournament list tonight, either on their own or together in mini-stacks.

Cardinals Righty Power or Stack vs Trevor Richards

Richards is not a terrible pitcher and he has some strikeout ability against righties, but he has been very reverse splitsy with hard hits and fly balls to righties, and leaving the comfort of home could leave him at some risk against a team like the Cardinals. So far this season he’s allowed a 43% fly ball rate and 47% hard hits to righties, while the Cardinals have a trio of mashers in the middle with Paul DeJong, Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna all over 43% hard hits against righties. DeJong in particular has improved his contact skills this season, down to 17% K, along with catcher Yadier Molina and his 12.3% K. Because of Richards’ spotty control and a beatable bullpen, a stack is in play, but I start with righty power.

UPDATE – The Cardinals are rolling out a different lineup, but it gives us some more salary options tonight. Paul Goldschmidt and Yadier Molina get the night off, but this moves Jose Martinez up to 3rd and get rookie Rangel Ravelo batting 5th around minimum salary. Ravelo has strong numbers at Triple-A with 16.9% K, 26% line drive and a .210 ISO. In 2018, he struck out just 12.3% of the time and has hit over .300 three straight minor league seasons. I am playing him tonight.

Cheap Marlins Stack at Daniel Ponce de Leon

De Leon has had such ridiculous control issues that I am finding some reason to like these very cheap Marlins bats, particularly on DK, where they will allow you to get anything else you want. There’s never a great reason to love this team, but Curtis Granderson, Brian Anderson and Garrett Cooper have made their way onto my list as has the full stack in some tournaments.

Hitting Cliff Notes

There are a couple spots that I much prefer for full stacks, and a couple spots I prefer individual power bats in tournaments. As far as cash games, I’m looking at DK/FDRFT value outfielders like Juan Soto and Mookie Betts, Shin-Soo Choo on FD Dodgers righties Enrique Hernandez, Justin Turner and Chris Taylor on all sites.

As far as the full stacks, the Angels top my list followed by the Indians, Dodgers, Nationals and Cardinals. I like picking out individual power bats in Arizona, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Texas.

I’ll add in a few one offs where the full teams don’t fit with guys like Pete Alonso and Jose Abreu joining names like Trevor Story, Nolan Arenado and Ronald Acuna.

Now that it sounds like Max Scherzer may be making the start tonight, there’s a little more reason to try and find some cash game values, such as:

FD – Matt Adams, Gregory Polanco, Justin Bour, Jordan Luplow, Ronald Guzman, Nomar Mazara, Curtis Granderson, Rangel Ravelo Enrique Hernandez, Justin Turner, David Freese, Chris Taylor

DK/FDRFT – Adam Eaton, Gregory Polanco, Justin Bour, Justin Upton, Jose Ramirez, Ronald Guzman, Kyle Schwarber, Andrew Benintendi, Jose Martinez, Rangel Ravelo, Curtis Granderson, Enrique Hernandez, Chris Taylor

Yahoo – Gregory Polanco, Justin Bour, Jose Ramirez, Danny Santana, Ronald Guzman, Javier Baez, Curtis Granderson, Jose Martinez, David Peralta, Enrique Hernandez, Chris Taylor

Meet the Experts Content Posting Times

Image Credit: USA Today Sports Images

About the Author

  • Dave Potts (CheeseIsGood)

  • One of the preeminent baseball minds in all of fantasy, Dave Potts, aka CheeseIsGood, has won contests at the highest levels of both season-long and DFS. He is a two-time winner of a million dollar first place prize in DFS; having won the 2014 FanDuel baseball live final and following that up by taking down a DraftKings Millionare Maker Tournament in 2015. In addition, he’s won the Main Event championship in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship and the NFBC Platinum League, which is the highest buy-in entry league. His consistent success in the NFBC tournaments recently earned him a prestigious spot in their Hall of Fame. Dave can also strum a mean guitar while carrying a tune and if you’re lucky, you’ll see him do so on one of his GrindersLive appearances. Follow Dave on Twitter – @DavePotts2.

Comments

  • jsams4

    Great Stuff as always Cheese… You mentioned facing FB pitchers in Texas… Do you also consider the IFFB% (PLATE IQ) when facing FB pitchers and would you need more sample size of IFFB rate when using this metric?

  • jettyray

    Max is a tough SOB and breaking his nose does not affect his arm. Because of the swelling, you are reduced to being a mouth breather for a few days. It has been documented that breathing through your mouth while exercising reduces stamina. Understanding that we are not physicians, do you have concerns about his ability to go late into the game because of this? Those extra innings always add to Max’s value.

  • CheeseIsGood

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    @jsams4 said...

    Great Stuff as always Cheese… You mentioned facing FB pitchers in Texas… Do you also consider the IFFB% (PLATE IQ) when facing FB pitchers and would you need more sample size of IFFB rate when using this metric?

    I use the IFFB% of the pitchers with the 2-year sample size. It is a very real stat and shows which fly ball pitchers are good at inducing ‘easy fly ball outs’. With the guys in this Texas game though, we don’t have enough sample to matter yet.

  • CheeseIsGood

    MLB Premium Director

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    @jettyray said...

    Max is a tough SOB and breaking his nose does not affect his arm. Because of the swelling, you are reduced to being a mouth breather for a few days. It has been documented that breathing through your mouth while exercising reduces stamina. Understanding that we are not physicians, do you have concerns about his ability to go late into the game because of this? Those extra innings always add to Max’s value.

    This is something that I really can’t even speculate on . It would just be a completely random uneducated opinion on my part. I’m just going with it’s Max Scherzer and if he’s pitching, I’m playing him. But if you wanted to pass on him in cash games due to this I would completely understand. I’m not even decided yet if I’m using him or Hill.

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