Million Dollar Musings: Wednesday, September 27

CheeseIsGood, a two-time winner of a $1,000,000 first-place prize in DFS, is here to give you his musings on the upcoming MLB DFS slate. Whether you are looking for the top pitchers or the best stacks, Cheese has you covered with an extensive deep dive into his MLB DFS picks.

Happy Wednesday! We’ve got an 8-game slate on tap for tonight, which is again headlined by the Dodgers visiting Coors Field. Be sure to note that while the Marlins-Mets game was originally included in the DK slate, that game is not going to count for DFS.

This ends up as a slate where it is very easy to find the top MLB DFS picks in a no salary cap build, but gets a lot trickier when deciding whether to prioritize the ace pitching or the high-end offenses. Let’s dive in and see what we can figure out.

Wednesday Pitching: MLB DFS Picks on FanDuel & DraftKings

The pitching is strong up top with a trio of aces, but drops off in a hurry after that.

THREE ACES

Gerrit Cole at Blue Jays – 27.4% K, 6.1% BB, 2.75 ERA, 3.61 SIERA
Pablo Lopez vs. A’s – 29.2% K, 6% BB, 3.61 ERA, 3.39 SIERA
Framber Valdez at Mariners – 24.6% K, 6.6% BB, 3.39 ERA, 3.68 SIERA

There could be disagreement over which of these three pitchers is the best real-life pitcher vs. the best DFS pitcher, and I really wouldn’t have any issue with any way you wanted to rank these three in those discussions. My hunch is that with matchup and salary factored in, Pablo Lopez is going to come out as the SP1 in terms of DFS ownership. I totally get it, Lopez is great, he has strikeout upside, and he’s facing the A’s. You only have to go back as far as last night to see what a Twins pitcher can do with his 5 innings against Oakland. I am not in any way down on Lopez, and I will gladly play him in any lineup. However, while it’s just guesswork, I see such a drastically lower innings ceiling from Lopez compared to Gerrit Cole, that I’m on the Cole side of spend-ups.

This is the odd case of final week shenanigans where it actually helps Cole that his team is eliminated, and it hurts Lopez that his team is in the playoffs. The Twins already goof around with innings as much as any team in the AL, and while I can’t say for sure that he couldn’t get 6 innings if all goes perfectly, I know he’s not getting 8-9, which is very in play for Cole. On top of that, as great as Lopez is, Cole has looked more like the old Cole in the 2nd half, with a 29.7% K rate and just 4.4% walks, which are better numbers than we’ve seen from Lopez.

I love both Cole and Lopez, and if possible, I’d just pair them together, but my first choice is the guy who I see as the better pitcher with the considerably higher pitch count ceiling. That is Gerrit Cole.

Framber Valdez is the wild card here, as he is still pitching in a meaningful game and despite being a lower strikeout pitcher than Lopez and Cole, we’ve seen a recent surge with double-digit strikeout games in good matchups. This matchup with Seattle does maintain some strikeout upside, but I’m still just nowhere near putting him in the Lopez/Cole camp just because he struck out 10 A’s and Royals. For me, he’s off the list on FD where the three are priced so closely. But on DK, the salary gap looks just about right. My plan is to just play one of the top three along with a cheaper SP2, and in that scenario, Valdez is still left out in the cold a bit. I always expect a quality start from Valdez and there is absolutely upside, but as just the SP3, he’s not a priority for me.

MID-TIER

Jose Berrios vs. Yankees – 23% K, 6.5% BB, 3.58 ERA, 4.13 SIERA
Griffin Canning vs. Rangers – 26.2% K, 6.7% BB, 4.39 ERA, 3.77 SIERA
Bryce Miller vs. Astros – 22.2% K, 4.8% BB, 4.17 ERA, 4.19 SIERA
Dane Dunning at Angels – 18.9% K, 7.8% BB, 3.88 ERA, 4.59 SIERA
Wade Miley vs. Cardinals – 16.4% K, 7.9% BB, 3.20 ERA, 5.05 SIERA

This quintet is all priced between $7,400-$8,600 on DK. On the FD side, Berrios is priced up a bit more to $9,900, but still a relevant discount from the aces.

While I view Griffin Canning as perhaps a slightly better DFS pitcher than Jose Berrios, the matchup is enough better for Berrios for me to call Berrios my favorite of this bunch. The Yankees are just a couple power threats with plenty of strikeouts surrounding them. Six of the nine batters in the projected lineup are above a 23% K rate and Berrios has been in very good form with a 28:3 K:BB ratio over his last four starts. He’s likely to be the chalk among this group as well, but I’m not overly concerned about it.

I will still filter in some Griffin Canning as well, and if they had similar matchups, I’d be going with Canning over Berrios. I love the pitch count we’ve seen from Canning in addition to a 31% K rate since the All-Star Break. He’s my SP5.

Dane Dunning gets the best matchup of any of these top seven pitchers, but he’s also the least talented. Outside of two bizarre outliers in early August, this is just a dude going five innings with well below average strikeouts. He’s also seen the control slipping a bit, adding to the downside. With Texas in must-win mode, I am not expecting a long leash here if Dunning gets in any kind of trouble. And even against the Angels, I do expect some kind of trouble at some point. He’s just an MME leftover for me tonight.

I don’t have any interest in chasing Bryce Miller against Houston in what amounts to a playoff game for the Mariners. He’s just not enough of a strikeout guy to expect anything against the Astros, and like Dunning, they are not going to leave him out there if he runs into any sort of trouble.

The Cardinals are watered down, and Wade Miley has been very good in real-life. I do not care. To me, he’s just not any better than the cheap nonsense for DFS purposes.

CHEAPER OPTIONS

Matt Waldron at Giants – 19.5% K, 6.7% BB, 4.58 ERA, 4.53 SIERA
Emmet Sheehan at Rockies – 24% K, 11.6% BB, 5.13 ERA, 4.78 SIERA
Zack Thompson at Brewers – 25.4% K, 9.1% BB, 4.57 ERA, 3.99 SIERA
Sean Manaea vs. Padres – 25.3% K, 8.8% BB, 4.51 ERA, 3.92 SIERA

Emmet Sheehan had the best DFS start of his short career last week with 9 strikeouts against the Giants. In 10 starts, that was the first time he’s topped 20 DK points and the first time he’s topped 6 strikeouts. If you want to take the one good start over the nine mediocre starts, be my guest. The Coors Field factor evens out the plus matchup, and for me, he misses the cut.

Matt Waldron also had his best start of his even shorter career last week, also picking up what appears to be an outlier 9 strikeouts. This guy was an average strikeout pitcher at Triple-A, and with 19.5% K and 8.1% swinging strikes through 35 major league innings, I’m not buying into the upside. Sure, it’s possible, and I can see a case to just spread out with these cheaper options, but he is not in my primary pool.

Zack Thompson and Sean Manaea have virtually identical skill sets this season in the 25% strikeout range with something close to average control. As Sean Manaea has gotten stretched back out as a starter, his strikeouts have dipped dramatically, but he’s also been real-life fantastic with a 2.85 ERA in 41 innings since the start of August. Maybe there’s something to it, but it looks like it has more to do with a .220 BABIP than anything else. I’m playing him ahead of Sheehan and Waldron, but I really don’t like the drop in strikeouts with borderline control against San Diego.

Zack Thompson has not had the real-life success of Manaea in recent weeks. Over that same time frame since the start of August where Manaea has a 2.85 ERA, Thompson is sitting at a 4.40 ERA. However, Thompson has higher strikeouts with much better control, he just hasn’t had all the batted balls go his way. I don’t love the matchup for either, but I slightly prefer it for Thompson, and I have a little more belief in his talent. It’s a mix and match, and only where necessary, but Thompson will be my first choice among this cheaper tier.

PITCHING CLIFF NOTES

This is one of those slates that would be extremely simple in a no-salary cap world. I would not have any interest in goofing around, and I would just lock button Gerrit Cole and Pablo Lopez on DK, and split them up on FD.

I do plan to get above the field on the aces, with Cole topping my list, and then I’ll toss in some Framber Valdez on DK.

But there are going to be a lot of lineups where the aces just don’t fit. I don’t see a lot of great options below them, but Jose Berrios is the clear SP4, and Griffin Canning is just behind him as the SP5. After those two, it’s throwing darts. You could include Wade Miley along with guys like Dane Dunning and Bryce Miller, but I really don’t want any part of that mid-tier outside of Berrios and Canning until I get into deeper MME.

The cheap stuff is not great, but it’s not much different than the mid-tier leftovers. I prefer Zack Thompson ahead of Sean Manaea, but will play some of both. If you want to goof around with Emmet Sheehan or Matt Waldron and hope that their last starts were the start of something real rather than outliers, that is completely viable. It’s not for me, but it’s a wide open slate once we get past the aces, so sadly, I cannot yell at you.

Wednesday Hitting: MLB DFS Picks on FanDuel & DraftKings

We have a very clear top tier, led by the Dodgers in Coors Field along with both sides of the Cubs-Braves game and the Twins against a below average minor league pitcher.

TOP TIER OFFENSE

LA Dodgers at Noah Davis
Atlanta Braves vs. Jameson Taillon
Chicago Cubs at Darius Vines
Minnesota Twins vs. Joey Estes

The big question on this slate is not who the best offenses are, that’s obvious. The question is with the salary cap and whether to prioritize hitting or pitching. As I look through the slate, I am finding more cheap bats to like than cheap pitching. If I were only building 3-5 lineups, I’d be going with aces and fading the Dodgers and Braves. I can make a case for either type of build, and I am absolutely going to have plenty of lineups with cheaper pitching and these big bats, I just want to point out that my official stance if forced to choose would be to spend up on pitching.

With that out of the way – Dodgers or Braves?

For me, it’s the Dodgers. This is not a Coors Field thing; this is a Jameson Taillon and the Cubs bullpen are much better than Noah Davis and the Rockies bullpen. I don’t by any means expect Taillon to shut down the Braves, but he’s a solid enough pitcher against righties that I just can’t love the prices on guys like Ronald Acuna, Austin Riley and Marcell Ozuna. I do love Matt Olson and Ozzie Albies, but I’ll use them more as one-offs, as the full Atlanta stack is just crazy expensive.

Assuming something like a regular Dodgers lineup, I heavily favor building around the lefties. It’s a very small sample size, but Noah Davis has a 60% GB rate against righties, and is just nonsense against lefties. Of course I want Mookie Betts, Will Smith and J.D. Martinez in stacks, but my first two in will be Freddie Freeman and Max Muncy, and then the cheaper lefty outfielders are primary plays in or out of Dodgers stacks.

With salary considered, I think I’m putting the Cubs ahead of the Braves as well. Darius Vines is only in the rotation because everyone is hurt. I just don’t see anything that implies he is ready for the majors, and the Cubs are another great offense with slate breaking upside. I am assuming Vines doesn’t pitch deep enough to worry about the splits, and I’m just full stacking Cubs with the best bats I can afford. Because of my desire to spend up at pitching, I’m willing to fade Cody Bellinger if needed and in that scenario, would build around Ian Happ and Seiya Suzuki.

The Twins went nuts last night, and they face a far worse pitcher tonight, with the same nonsense bullpen. Joey Estes was just a 21.5% K pitcher at Triple-A and barely average at Double-A. This looks like the perfect matchup for a team like the Twins, whose only downfall is strikeouts. I don’t love the pinch-hit risk, as this team is a bit like the AL version of the Giants, but they are priced to where just one big swing pays off the salary for anyone in the lineup. On FD, they are an easy secondary stack, while on DK, the cheaper power bats like Matt Wallner and Alex Kirilloff are at the top of my list of one-offs. When I factor in salary, I’m calling the Twins my top offense on the slate.

TIER TWO AND BEYOND

Milwaukee Brewers vs. Zack Thompson
St. Louis Cardinals at Wade Miley
Colorado Rockies vs. Emmet Sheehan
Texas Rangers at Griffin Canning
LA Angels vs. Dane Dunning
SD Padres at Sean Manaea
SF Giants vs. Matt Waldron

I didn’t list the Yankees-Blue Jays or Astros-Mariners here, but I do include Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker and Aaron Judge in my primary pool.
With everyone else in this tier, they are far enough behind my top offenses that I’m either into MME, or looking for salary savers.

In addition to Alvarez, Tucker and Judge, there are a few other big bats to obviously like if salary doesn’t exist – Fernando Tatis, Corey Seager and Paul Goldschmidt to name a few. But what I really want here are affordable stacks or secondary mini-stacks.

That is where the Angels, Rockies, Cardinals, Giants and Brewers come into play.

Dane Dunning is a far below average pitcher against lefties, and nothing but a ground ball lean against righties. With the heavily left-handed Texas bullpen factored in, I am starting with the fly ball righties Logan O’Hoppe and Brandon Drury, followed by Randal Grichuk and Zach Neto before filtering in cheap lefties Mike Moustakas and Jared Walsh. I don’t love this, it’s just about the salary.

Wade Miley perhaps can just make it this one final start and last the season with good luck, but I’m still playing righties against his 14.1% strikeouts and just moderate 46% ground balls. Paul Goldschmidt is the spend up, but the rest of this team is basically free. Guys like Juan Yepez, Andrew Knizner and Luken Baker have power, and then we have close to minimum salary middle infielders at the bottom of the lineup. I don’t love the team, but I love what I can do with my lineup around them.

I’m torn on Milwaukee, but at the very least I am playing Willy Adames and William Contreras in primary lineups. It’s become a good enough lineup against lefties to call them the top team in this second tier, but I don’t like them enough more than teams like the Cardinals and Angels to make up for the salary gap.

In his limited sample, Emmet Sheehan looks like a jabroni against lefties. I love Nolan Jones and Ryan McMahon tonight, and as bad as the Rockies are, I’ll toss in a few stacks around those two.

It’s the usual situation with the Giants against a beatable righty. I love the matchup for Joc Pederson, Mike Yastrzemski, LaMonte Wade and Michael Conforto, but there is something like close to a zero percent chance that they all stay in the game. This leaves me more inclined to just go with some mini-stacks centered around Wilmer Flores and Thairo Estrada, and then mix and match those lefties, and just hope to get lucky either with which ones stay in the game, or which has homered before they leave. My first preference is Mike Yastrzemski.

The Padres and Rangers are the two best teams in this tier, but they are also the two teams who are priced more like the top tier offenses. This leaves them in the MME bucket, though completely viable in any format.

HITTING CLIFF NOTES

Similar to what I said on the pitching side, this would be a very simple slate if there was no salary cap. You could just play the Dodgers and Braves, maybe sprinkle in some Cubs and a couple other elite power bats and move on with your day.

But you can’t do the aces and the top offenses, which makes my lean to start with cheaper bats, putting the Twins at the top of my list. The rankings below are in a world of no salary cap, just know that I’ll be leaning more to the salary savers in my primary lineups.

STACKS – Dodgers, Braves, Cubs, Twins, gap, Brewers, Rangers, Padres, Rockies, Cardinals, Angels, Giants

INDIVIDUAL BATSFreddie Freeman, Max Muncy, Matt Olson, Mookie Betts, Yordan Alvarez, Aaron Judge, Fernando Tatis, Will Smith, Ozzie Albies, Kyle Tucker, Ronald Acuna, Corey Seager, Ryan McMahon, Nolan Jones, J.D. Martinez, Cody Bellinger

SALARY SAVERS

FDMichael Harris, Eddie Rosario, Mike Tauchman, Willy Adames, Josh Donaldson, Carlos Santana, Jordan Walker, Tommy Edman, Max Kepler, Matt Wallner, Alex Kirilloff, David Peralta, Logan O’Hoppe, Wilmer Flores, Mike Yastrzemski, Joc Pederson, Garrett Cooper

DKEddie Rosario, Mike Tauchman, Miles Mastrobuoni, Jordan Walker, Luken Baker, Juan Yepez, Andrew Knizner, Mark Canha, Blake Perkins, Alex Kirilloff, Matt Wallner, Trevor Larnach, David Peralta, Jason Heyward, Logan O’Hoppe, Mike Moustakas, Randal Grichuk, Garrett Cooper, Mike Yastrzemski, Patrick Bailey

Image Credit: Getty Images

CheeseIsGood, a two-time winner of a $1,000,000 first-place prize in DFS, is here to give you his musings on the upcoming MLB DFS slate. Whether you are looking for the top pitchers or the best stacks, Cheese has you covered with an extensive deep dive into his MLB DFS picks.

Happy Wednesday! We’ve got an 8-game slate on tap for tonight, which is again headlined by the Dodgers visiting Coors Field. Be sure to note that while the Marlins-Mets game was originally included in the DK slate, that game is not going to count for DFS.
This ends up as a slate where it is very easy to find the top MLB DFS picks in a no salary cap build, but gets a lot trickier when deciding whether to prioritize the ace pitching or the high-end offenses. Let’s dive in and see what we can figure out.

Wednesday Pitching: MLB DFS Picks on FanDuel & DraftKings

The pitching is strong up top with a trio of aces, but drops off in a hurry after that.

THREE ACES

Gerrit Cole at Blue Jays – 27.4% K, 6.1% BB, 2.75 ERA, 3.61 SIERA
Pablo Lopez vs. A’s – 29.2% K, 6% BB, 3.61 ERA, 3.39 SIERA
Framber Valdez at Mariners – 24.6% K, 6.6% BB, 3.39 ERA, 3.68 SIERA

There could be disagreement over which of these three pitchers is the best real-life pitcher vs. the best DFS pitcher, and I really wouldn’t have any issue with any way you wanted to rank these three in those discussions. My hunch is that with matchup and salary factored in, Pablo Lopez is going to come out as the SP1 in terms of DFS ownership. I totally get it, Lopez is great, he has strikeout upside and he’s facing the A’s. You only have to go back as far as last night to see what a Twins pitcher can do with his 5 innings against Oakland. I am not in any way down on Lopez, and I will gladly play him in any lineup. However, while it’s just guesswork, I see such a drastically lower innings ceiling from Lopez compared to Gerrit Cole, that I’m on the Cole side of spend ups.

This is the odd case of final week shenanigans where it actually helps Cole that his team is eliminated, and it hurts Lopez that his team is in the playoffs. The Twins already goof around with innings as much as any team in the AL, and while I can’t say for sure that he couldn’t get 6 innings if all goes perfectly, I know he’s not getting 8-9, which is very in play for Cole. On top of that, as great as Lopez is, Cole has looked more like the old Cole in the 2nd half, with a 29.7% K rate and just 4.4% walks, which are better numbers than we’ve seen from Lopez.

I love both Cole and Lopez, and if possible, I’d just pair them together, but my first choice is the guy who I see as the better pitcher with the considerably higher pitch count ceiling. That is Gerrit Cole.

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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.

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