STLCards' Covering The Bases - MLB DFS Strategy: Saturday, August 13th

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Happy Saturday, Grinders! We have a rare Saturday where the games are highly concentrated on the evening main slate. We have 11 games on the FanDuel and Yahoo slates, while DraftKings is also adding Game 2 of the ATL/MIA doubleheader. This should be a very fun slate, so let’s break it down!


Saturday Night Pitching

Aces Everywhere

Jacob deGrom vs. Phillies
Corbin Burnes vs. Cardinals
Aaron Nola vs. Mets
Yu Darvish vs. Nationals

We have four top tier pitchers on the slate, highlighted by a Jacob deGrom vs. Aaron Nola head-to-head matchup in New York. As usual, let’s take a quick peek at the 2022 data for these four arms.

deGrom – Two starts — 10 2/3 IP, 2.53 ERA, 3 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 18 K
Burnes – 2.45 ERA, 2.89 xFIP, 33% K, 7% BB, 33% hard hits, 16% SwStr
Nola – 3.17 ERA, 2.99 xFIP, 28% K, 4% BB, 31% hard hits, 12% SwStr
Darvish – 3.28 ERA, 3.62 xFIP, 25% K, 5% BB, 28% hard hits, 11% SwStr

When he’s healthy, Jacob deGrom is obviously the best pitcher in the major leagues. The issue is that he is still working his way back to full strength. In his two starts so far this season, he has thrown 59 and 76 pitches. We can realistically expect him to get to the 85 pitch range tonight. Normally, I would shy away from an expensive and popular pitcher with this type of pitch count, but deGrom reminded us of his ridiculous efficiency in his last start. Despite throwing just 76 pitches, he somehow managed 12 strikeouts in 5 2/3 sparkling innings against the Braves.

That last outing from deGrom is the obvious ceiling as long as he remains on a pitch limit, but nobody is complaining about 36 DK and 53 FD points. Still, we can’t expect the same incredible efficiency every time out, and that does have me a little nervous about targeting a chalky deGrom in GPP builds. You can absolutely start with him in cash games.

In tournaments, I love the pivot to Burnes. This is a huge game for the Brewers lest they fall 2 1/2 games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central. They will ride Burnes as long as they can this evening. Burnes has already pitched seven shutout innings against the Cardinals twice this season, with 21 strikeouts in those 14 sparkling innings. The strikeout ability is there, and Burnes will likely carry significantly less ownership than deGrom. I love the ceiling potential.

Nola and Darvish are a notch below deGrom and Burnes. Nola would normally be in the mix, but he draws a tough matchup against the Mets and doesn’t carry the same elite strikeout rate. That said, he does have fantastic command and often pitches deep into games, which does help offset the lower strikeout rate. Darvish is frankly only listed in this tier because he is facing the woeful Nationals. That’s enough to keep him in the mix tonight.

If building multiple GPP lineups tonight, I would absolutely mix and match all four of these pitchers. They are well ahead of the field in terms of talent/matchup combination. I will be most overweight on Burnes in my own individual builds.

The Best Of The Rest

Lance McCullers vs. A’s
Lucas Giolito vs. Tigers
Logan Webb vs. Pirates
Andrew Heaney vs. Royals
Adam Wainwright vs. Brewers
Ian Anderson vs. Marlins (DK Only)
Frankie Montas vs. Red Sox

This is a decent group of secondary arms. Is there anyone that we can eliminate right away before we dig deeper?

Lance McCullers is making his first start of the season due to injury, and Houston will obviously be very cautious with him upon his return. He’s not priced at a discount and simply isn’t a DFS option yet, even against Oakland.

I remain out on Ian Anderson with his massive dip in strikeouts and increase in walks.

That leaves us with five options in this tier. Let’s take a peek at their numbers this season:

Giolito – 4.91 ERA, 3.75 xFIP, 26% K, 9% BB, 27% hard hits, 12% SwStr
Webb – 3.17 ERA, 3.43 xFIP, 20% K, 6% BB, 27% hard hits, 11% SwStr
Heaney – 0.64 ERA, 3.35 xFIP, 32% K, 9% BB, 28% hard hits, 15% SwStr (six starts)
Wainwright – 3.42 ERA, 3.95 xFIP, 19% K, 7% BB, 31% hard hits, 7% SwStr
Montas – 3.59 ERA, 3.32 xFIP, 25% K, 7% BB, 30% hard hits, 13% SwStr

For what feels like the 20th time this year, it’s going to be Lucas Giolito chalk night. He is going to be the most popular SP2 on DraftKings for sure, and he will be the most popular pivot away from the aces for those that are looking to go cheaper on FanDuel. It also feels like Giolito has failed to provide a quality performance every single other time he has been popular. The advanced metrics do suggest that he isn’t nearly as bad as his surface ERA indicates, but the command has definitely been an issue. The good news is that a matchup against the Tigers should help, as Detroit is a team that has the second lowest team walk rate in baseball this season (ahead of only the White Sox, ironically). I do understand if you don’t want to play him in GPPs as a chalk pitcher, but he grades out very well in projections.

I don’t love Webb or Wainwright if you are looking for a ceiling game because they are lower strikeout hurlers, but they have reasonable matchups tonight — particularly Webb. I just feel like he’s a bit overpriced for his limited upside.

The other wild card options in this tier are Heaney and Montas. Heaney has been fantastic over his first six starts back from injury, but he he won’t pitch to a .258 BABIP and 4% HR/FB rate forever. However, he’s priced well over $9,000 on both FD and DK and over $40 on Yahoo. That’s just a bit too much for me given that the Dodgers will continue to be cautious with his pitch count.

Montas was absolutely awful in his first start as a Yankee, but it was on a day with a 107 degree heat index in St. Louis. We can give him a pass for that, but the NYY fans will start to turn on him quickly if he continues to struggle, particularly if he struggles against the rival Red Sox. I do like him as a risk/reward GPP option tonight.

Saturday Night Bats

Tier I Offenses

Diamondbacks vs. Jose Urena at Coors Field
Rockies vs. Zac Gallen at Coors Field
Padres vs. Anibal Sanchez
Dodgers vs. Brad Keller
Astros vs. Zach Logue
Yankees vs. Kutter Crawford

The Coors Field game was a relative disappointment on Friday night, as the Rockies and Diamondbacks combined for just 11 total hits in a 5-3 game. We need to take each game separately, though, and I like the Arizona side once again tonight. Jose Urena owns a 6.02 ERA and 5.17 xFIP on the season to go along with a woeful 12% walk rate and 11% strikeout rate. Yikes. Lefties have posted a whopping .384 wOBA against him. Fire up all the Arizona LHBs here. Ketel Marte grades out as one of the top plays on the slate. Alek Thomas, Jake McCarthy, and Daulton Varsho are all very strong plays as well, and I don’t mind the power of Christian Walker even in the R/R matchup given that Urena isn’t a high strikeout arm.

I have less interest in the Colorado side given that they are expensive and have to face a better pitcher in Zac Gallen, but you can always stack them up at home. Otherwise, I don’t think you need to prioritize them individually, perhaps with the exception of top prospect Elehuris Montero, who is hitting .368 this month and remains priced under $3,000 on both FanDuel and DraftKings.

When it comes to building GPP lineups tonight, I will likely be significantly underweight on the Coors Field game. That is because we have other elite offenses in great spots. The Padres face off against Anibal Sanchez, who hasn’t been anything resembling even a league average arm for about three years. He has shown reverse splits over the past three years, allowing a ridiculous .400+ wOBA to RHBs. Manny Machado and Brandon Drury are elite options given these splits, while you can absolutely target the likes of Soto, Bell, Profar, and/or a full stack. This offense has a massive ceiling, especially when you consider Washington’s underwhelming, all right handed bullpen.

Houston could be next in line against Zach Logue, who has a 5.40 xFIP and 17% strikeout rate over his first handful of MLB starts. He does profile as a traditional splits lefty. That makes Jose Altuve the easy top target with his .451 wOBA and .370 ISO to go along with fantastic career numbers against southpaws. Jeremy Pena also has a .200+ ISO this season, and Yordan Alvarez might go underowned in the L/L matchup despite elite splits of his own. Alex Bregman has really struggled this year but can absolutely be targeted as a speculative GPP option.

I’m not sure what to make of the Dodgers against Brad Keller. Keller is merely a league average arm, but he throws strikes and rarely gets blown up. The Dodger bats are expensive. However, they’re also… really good. This will come down to BABIP luck, and I won’t fault anyone for stacking up the Dodgers here.

The one elite offense that I will probably shy away from a little bit this evening is the Yankees. Though he is a rookie, Kutter Crawford has good stuff and decent command, and he is a fly ball pitcher that is hard to string hits together against. The best way to approach this is with one-off power bats. Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo are the obvious choices, while I don’t mind Gleyber Torres and Josh Donaldson if you are looking for some more affordable exposure.

Tier II Offenses

Giants vs. Tyler Beede
Twins vs. Reid Detmers
Braves vs. Marlins bullpen game (DK Only)
Angels vs. Dylan Bundy
White Sox vs. Matt Manning
Rangers vs. Marco Gonzales
Mariners vs. Dane Dunning

These secondary offenses are all quite a step down from the top ones, but we could see some diamonds in the rough here.

A) The Giants are my favorite stack out of this group. They are very affordable on every site and face another weak pitcher tonight in Tyler Beede. Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, and Joc Pederson have all been injured over the past month, so the algorithms have made them affordable. LaMonte Wade is also a great value. As always, there is pinch hit risk with all these lefties, but the point per dollar potential is there for these hitters.

B) Reid Detmers has shown a bit more strikeout ability of late and really isn’t a gas can, but he’s still a hittable pitcher at times with a .305 wOBA and 34% hard contact rate allowed to RHBs. I shall start with Byron Buxton. The only question with Buxton is with his always frustrating injury concerns, but he seems healthy right now. He is up to 27 home runs on the season with a ridiculous .368 ISO and 49% hard contact rate against LHP. I love the matchup, and he’s not going to carry massive ownership. Carlos Correa is very affordable on FD and Yahoo and makes sense as a value shortstop option on those sites. That’s probably the extent of my Minnesota interest.

C) I have no idea what to make of the Braves given that we don’t know who is pitching in Game 2 for the Marlins. It’s tough to stack a team against a full bullpen game, especially on a deep slate. That said, they will also likely carry low ownership, especially since they are only available on DK.

D) Matt Manning is not good. The White Sox offense is also not good, especially against right handed pitching. Jose Abreu (.360 wOBA) and Andrew Vaughn (.348 wOBA) have the best numbers on the team, and even those aren’t all that impressive. Meh.

E) The Seattle/Texas game is one of the most difficult matchups to peg this evening. Dane Dunning and Marco Gonzales are not gas cans, but both are largely league average arms. I’m likely going to avoid both sides of this game on a large slate, though I could see an argument for some of the top hitters on each side or a contrarian full stack.

Saturday Slate Summary

Pitcher Ranks

1) Jacob deGrom
2) Corbin Burnes (my preferred GPP option)
3) Aaron Nola
4) Lucas Giolito
5) Yu Darvish
6) Logan Webb
7) Adam Wainwright
8) Frankie Montas

Offense Ranks

1) ARI
2) HOU
3) SDP
4) LAD
5) COL
6) SFG

Top Spend Up BatsJose Altuve, Juan Soto, Manny Machado, Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Aaron Judge, Byron Buxton, Brandon Drury, Yordan Alvarez, Will Smith, Ketel Marte

Top Mid Range/Value BatsChristian Walker, Alek Thomas, Jake McCarthy, Jeremy Pena, Josh Bell, Elehuris Montero, Brandon Belt, LaMonte Wade, Joc Pederson

Good luck today!

This DFS content is a part of our Premium Content Schedule and designed to help you build better lineups on DraftKings, FanDuel, Yahoo!, SuperDraft, and other daily fantasy contest providers. Access MLB Projections, Expert Rankings, Projected Ownership, MLB DFS Picks, and other Data Tools using this content hub. For our world-class optimizer that offers a suite of tools and information designed to help you crush the competition, please head to LineupHQ!

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About the Author

  • Justin Van Zuiden (stlcardinals84)

  • Justin Van Zuiden, aka stlcardinals84, is a popular RotoGrinders contributor and GrindersLive host who routinely finishes in the top 10 of the TPOY race. He’s appeared in numerous live finals and has logged countless six-figure wins in a host of different sports, including five in PGA. Justin is also a main contributor of sports betting picks at ScoresAndOdds.

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