Sean Manaea did not have a successful first outing against the Astros. In addition to three of his 14 batted balls leaving the yard (all Barrels), he walked three and struck out only four (9.9 SwStr%) of the 21 batters he faced. His velocity (91.1) was up over half a mile per hour. Manaea walked just eight last year and has a 6.2 career BB%, so we shouldn’t anticipate that being a further issue. With a career 13.5 K-BB% and 89.7 mph EV, he needs to keep the ball on the ground to have much success and he did generate a career 50.3 GB% last year (35.7% vs the Astros). The Astros are still very good and very contact prone against LHP. In fact, Manaea has a sizeable history with this offense. In 183 career PAs, current Astros own a scorching .396 xwOBA with just an 14.2 K% against him. Heck, they just own Manaea…period. Alex Bregman, particularly, has three homers with a .474 xwOBA and 94 mph EV in 34 PAs in this matchup and Bregman isn’t really a standout EV guy. Manaea doesn’t have much of a split with batters from either side of the plate within 15 points of .300 by wOBA and xwOBA since 2019. He could take solace that he’s not the only southpaw that Bregman has manhandled. He’s sitting on a 201 wRC+, .369 ISO against them overall since 2019 and has started the 2021 season with a 185 wRC+ overall. Alex Bregman is one of the top overall bats on Friday night and a bat worth paying up for even if stacking Astros becomes too expensive.
Joe Musgrove had a 33.1 K% last year with an increase in walks (9.6%), a 3.86 ERA and all estimators slightly lower last year. Some prognosticators see the 2020 season as the beginning of his ascension to the next level. His debut for the Padres did nothing to dissuade that notion. He struck out eight of 21 Diamondbacks without a walk or Barrel on 13 batted balls, seven of which were on the ground. His velocity was up (a mile per hour to 93.5), as was his cutter usage (24.4%). Six of his strikeouts came on the 17 sliders he threw though (53.8 Whiff%), a pitch that had a 50.6 Whiff% last year. Musgrove doesn’t have much of a split. Batters from either side of the plate have exactly a .299 xwOBA against him since 2019 though actual wOBA drops RHBs by eight points and increases LHBs by 20. Most importantly, however, is that the projected lineup for the Rangers includes five batters below a 90 wRC+ and three below even a .100 ISO vs RHP since 2019. Only Joey Gallo and Nate Lowe even average more than 92 mph of exit velocity on fly ball vs RHP over that same span. So we have not only a smaller risk, but a lot of strikeouts as well. PlateIQ shows only three batters projected tonight below a 25 K% vs RHP since last season. Other positive indicators include a potentially closed roof in Texas and one of the best defenses in the game behind Musgrove. With four pitchers priced ahead of him, Musgrove may be the top value on DraftKings with a decent chance of being the top arm overall tonight.
Zach Plesac allowed just a single Barrel on 20 batted balls against the Tigers, but also generated just five swinging strikes and four strikeouts among the 26 batters he faced. Last year, Plesac broke, through in just eight starts: 27.7 K%, 14.3 SwStr%, 2.28 ERA. Estimators were more than a run higher, around 3.5, due to .224 BABIP, 91.7 LOB%. Expect some regression (he allowed 9.9% Barrels/BBE), but a 3.90 DRA his only estimator above three and a half. One bit of important optimism for DFS players is that we can expect Plesac to go deep into this game. He faced 26 Tigers in his first start and averaged just about that many per start last season. Cleveland lets their starters work. Also, despite the contact prone attack last time out, the Detroit lineup still projects for plenty of strikeouts with only four in the projected lineup below a 24 K% vs RHP since last season. Not only that, but no batter projected to start tonight is above a 106 wRC+ or .188 ISO vs RHP since 2019 (30 PA min.). The floor here seems to be a quality start the large majority of the time here with the upside of double digit strikeouts. While Plesac is the most expensive pitcher on DraftKings ($9.6K), four pitchers on FanDuel are more expensive.
Conditions appear ripe for the Cleveland offense to break out. Temperatures are comfortable with the wind blowing out and Julio Teheran is on the mound. Teheran was incredibly awful last year and will serve as a place filler in Detroit until Matt Manning is ready. While he allowed just a single run in his initial outing against this same Cleveland offense, he both walked and struck out three with a 5.6 SwStr%. He also allowed three Barrrels (94.7 mph EV). The only good news is that his velocity (90.2) was up a mile per hour from last season. In 118 career PAs against the active Cleveland roster, they have a .380 xwOBA against him. Slugging Cesar Hernandez has faced him in nearly half of those PAs (52) with four HRs and a .462 xwOBA, most of those when Teheran was actually good. Let’s not pretend the Cleveland offense is very good. Nobody in the projected lineup is above a 118 wRC+ and only three exceed a .162 ISO vs RHP since 2019. Jose Ramirez, Eddie Rosario and Franmil Reyes all exceed a 100 wRC+ and .240 ISO though. This is all about the matchup. Teheran used to be a pitcher with wide platoon splits. While that’s no longer true, it’s not because he’s gotten better against LHBs. Batters from either side of the plate are within 10 points of a .330 wOBA against him since 2019 (though LHBs have a .371 xwOBA). The only bad news here is that the Indians tie for the top implied run line on the slate (5.5) and will likely be very popular. With the exception of Jose Ramirez, stacking Cleveland will be fairly cheap and leave your top pitching options on the table with only Zach Wheeler ($10.5K FD) costing more than $10K on either site. While Teheran may not pitch deeply into this game, the Detroit bullpen is nothing to fear either. Fangraphs projected them to be one of the worst relief corps in the majors this year.
Corbin Burnes and Jose Berrios combined to allow one hit and strikeout 23 of the 40 batters they faced in a matchup against each other in their first start. This afternoon, they’re the top pitchers on the board (though Lance Lynn is an alternative) and within $400 of each other on either site. Major advantage Berrios in terms of matchup. The Mariners strike out a ton. While there are a lot of small samples, PlateIQ shows the majority of the lineup above a 25 K% vs RHP since 2019. That may be his only advantage though. Berrios has the stuff to be a star, but has just a 23.5 career K%. Maybe this is the year?
Burnes, on the other hand, seemingly hasn’t had a bad outing since 2019. He beasted 2020 with a 36.7 K% with a 3.20 xERA his worst estimator. His velocity was up half a mile per hour, while his exit velocity dropped three. Against the Twins, his velocity was up an additional two mph (98.1). The Cardinals may not represent the same upside as the Mariners, but they have their flaws as well. In fact, four of eight projected (not counting pitcher) are above a 28 K% vs RHP since last season and just three exceed a .301 wOBA. Sure, this lineup probably has some positive regression looming in several spots, but it’s not an intimidating spot at all. Burnes may also have an environmental advantage as well, as St Louis plays very pitcher friendly, especially in cold weather. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, Burnes is currently projecting for half the ownership of Berrios. Creative players could probably afford both on DraftKings at less than $10K each, but Burnes appears to give daily fantasy players some leverage in a very close matchup here.
Matt Harvey wasn’t awful in his first start for the Orioles (4.2 IP – 2 ER – 0 HR – 1 BB – 4 K – 21 BF) and that’s the most praise you’re going to get at this point. We’re talking about a pitcher who hasn’t had an ERA below 4.86 since 2015 and has exceeded a 7.7 K-BB% just once since 2016. He didn’t allow a Barrel in that first start either (16 BBE), despite a 90.2 mph EV. 2017 was the last time he had an EV below 90 mph. Batters from either side of the plate are above a .350 wOBA and xwOBA against Harvey since 2019. He is the pitcher to attack on this slate outside of Coors (and perhaps including it). While the absence of Xander Bogaerts weakens stacks, it’s not substantial, as just two of nine batters are below a 100 wRC+ vs RHP since 2019. It simply makes them more affordable with the removal of an expensive bat. Christian Vazquez moves up to the middle of the lineup and while he’s expensive (over $5K on DraftKings), he costs less than half of that on FanDuel, where Alex Verdugo is less than $3K as well.
Tyler Anderson probably deserves a bit more on his strikeout rate (15.8%, 10.1 SwStr%), but still had non-FIP estimators a run and a half above his 4.37 ERA last year. Statcast was a bit more sympathetic (4.77 xERA, .321 xwOBA) due to just 5.8% Barrels/BBE (86.8 mph EV). In his first start, also against the Cubs, he produced seven strikeouts on 23 swings and misses over 91 pitches in addition to an 86.6 mph EV on batted balls. He threw a lot of cutters (36.3%), burying them down and in against RHBs and complemented them with four seamers up and changeups away. The heat maps of his first start are truly things of beauty, but perhaps not something he can keep up on a consistent basis. Also of note, the spin rate was up significantly on most of his pitches. Other points of interest are that current Cubs combine for a .252 xwOBA and 27.3 K% over 77 PAs and that Pittsburgh greatly diminishes RH power. While the top half of the Cubs’ lineup is tough (three batters above a 120 wRC+, .200 ISO vs LHP since 2019), the bottom half includes three players below a 75 wRC+ against southpaws in addition to the pitcher’s spot. At just $6.6K on DraftKings, Anderson is the most interesting secondary piece if paying up for Corbin Burnes or Jose Berrios today.
Every player in the Mets’ lineup has at least a 99 wRC+ vs RHP since 2019 and five of the first six (Lindor is the exception) are above a 120 wRC+. Jonathan Villlar is the only batter in the lineup below a .180 ISO. Nick Neidert, who Fangraphs projects with a 45 Future Value grade with back end of the rotation upside, has faced just 34 major league batters. His 41 AAA innings in 2019 produced just an 8.0 K-BB%. This is a spot to jump on some of those affordable Mets bats, particularly Brandon Nimmo, who continues to be an on-base machine and is within $400 of $3K on either site. We’re not generally looking for walks from our DFS lineups, but those could turn into runs, which have more value at a low price.
Lucas Giolito is your top pitching option on Tuesday night. While there are a few comparable pitchers at the top of the board tonight, a couple of factors tip the scales in Giolito’s favor. First, he looked exceptional in his first outing. His velocity was up nearly a mile per hour (94.9), while he struck out eight of 20 Angels with a 19.5 SwStr%. While Tyler Glasnow looked great as well, Giolito did this against a good, contact prone offense, while Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish struggled. Of course, Kershaw was at Coors, but his velocity was down and he doesn’t have an easy matchup tonight, while Darvish should bounce back, but faces a contact prone Giants’ lineup.
The second factor in Giolito’s favor is the matchup. The Mariners strike out a ton and play in a negative run environment. Lastly, consider that Giolito is the third most expensive on either site. Glasnow is $200 cheaper on DraftKings, but pitches at Fenway (and is still a fine choice by the way), while Kershaw is $600 less on FanDuel. A possible Cy Young contender in a great matchup as only the third most expensive pitcher makes for tonight’s top pitching choice.
From a run prevention standpoint, German Marquez allowed the Dodgers only one over four innings at Coors on Opening Day. That may seem like a success, but he also walked six and generated just a 5.4 SwStr%. Nine of 13 batted balls were on the ground though. Let’s not hold one start against the best offense in the worst park against him too long, but Coors has always caused problems, despite a career 17.2 K-BB%. Despite no split in FIP and even a lower career xFIP at home, his ERA is half a run and his wOBA 50 points higher at Coors. The conditions are a concern tonight. In fact, it might be an optimal night to fade Coors altogether…except for one key bat. And that bad belongs to Ketel Marte. Marte punished the baseball in March and continued his assault on San Diego pitching to start the season (340 wRC+). Even with last year’s struggle, he still has a 134 wRC+ and .217 ISO vs RHP since 2019. LHBs have a .323 wOBA, but .351 xwOBA against Marquez since 2019 as well. The key here is that Marte is not priced up for Coors on DraftKings, at an affordable $4.6K. Keep an eye on the forecast and if it looks like this game is more likely to play than not, Marte is the bat you need in your lineups.
Adbert Alzolay started throwing a slider over his last two outings last year and the development of the third pitch beside his fastball and curveball may have helped him earn a rotation spot. He struck out 29 of 87 batters last year, but with just a 10.7 SwStr%, while also walking 13. He struck out 32% in 15 AAA starts in 2019 too though. His spring training was a bit of a train wreck, allowing nine earned runs over 7.2 innings. The Cubs seem to see the upside here though. Small sample size alert, but LHBs smashed him since his callup (.355 wOBA, .357 xwOBA). While the Brewers don’t have a lot of LH bats, the few they do have are interesting tonight. There weren’t a ton of runs scored last night, but the ball left the yard several times under similar weather conditions. The elements add up for Milwaukee LHBs to have some success here at likely low ownership. Consider that Christian Yelich still has a 159 wRC+ and .306 ISO vs RHP since 2019, despite his struggles since last season. Much more affordably though, are Kolten Wong (105 wRC+ vs RHP since 2019) atop the lineup and Omar Narvaez (113 wRC+), who has started the season with a 223 wRC+ and costs less than $3K on either site. In fact, aside from Yelich, the Brewers offer a cheap stacking opportunity for those paying up for pitching tonight.
Martin Perez has increased his strikeout rate to around 18% each of the last two years, which still isn’t much, especially with last year’s 10.7 BB%, but the Red Sox brought him back anyway, despite not clearing a 4.50 ERA in any of the last four seasons. His only usefulness is in an 86.2 mph EV since 2019, but even then, his ground ball rate dropped to 38.5% last year, resulting in 14 Barrrels in 62 innings last year. Luckily for him, only eight of those left the yard or the results would have been even worse. Difficult to see what Boston sees in him. There are plenty of strikeouts in this Tampa Bay lineup, but some right-handed thump as well. Against RHBs, Perez has allowed a .344 wOBA since 2019. While Manuel Margot hasn’t typically been one of those sluggers (.129 ISO vs LHP since 2019), he does have a 125 wRC+ vs LHP over that span. He also hit five HRs last post-season and has started the 2021 season with a 220 wRC+. Perhaps he’s ready to take his game to the next level. Regardless, he may be one of the better values on the board tonight, projected in the leadoff spot, as he could be on base when the more expensive thump behind him comes to the plate.
Jose Quintana pitched just 10 innings over four outings last year and comes to Los Angeles after a 4.68 ERA in 2019 with a matching 4.57 xERA and 4.50 SIERA. He has a career 21 K%, but has cleared 22% just once in his career. He also has a career 8.4 SwStr%, but has only matched that mark once in his last four seasons. In 2018, he had a matching xERA and SIERA. The trajectory seems to be slowly downward with his last above average was in 2017 and even then, his ERA and xERA slightly exceeded four. It’s difficult to believe that he’ll be able to turn it around and become anything much more than that this point in his career. Even worse news, Quintana has particularly struggled against RHBs since 2019 (.333 wOBA), The Houston lineup is projected to include four batters above a 125 wRC+ against LHP since 2019 and three above a .250 ISO. We know about the damage Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman inflict on southpaws, but Yuli Gurriel (126 wRC+, .259 ISO since 2019) may be the value play here, costing at least $1K less on each site.
Brett Anderson looks like the kind of pitcher you want to attack on the surface. RHBs have a .325 woBA and .364 xwOBA against him since 2019 and he had just a 15.8 K% last year, which is in line with his career rate. And while there are some additional things we should consider while rostering Chicago bats here, including Anderson’s heavy ground ball lean (51.4% vs RHBs, higher vs LHBs last year), his likely smaller workload and Milwaukee’s great bullpen and strong defense, the weather at Wrigley tonight just demands your attention. Winds are blowing out to left-center, further favoring RHBs, and those who have access to Weather Edge (premium subscription required) are seeing some eye popping numbers. Despite overall struggles in recent seasons, Kris Bryant has still brought the hammer against southpaws with a 163 wRC+ and .299 ISO vs LHP since 2019. He’s also started the season hot with a 230 wRC+ against Pittsburgh pitching this weekend.
Matt Moore pitched just 10 innings in 2019 before spending last year in Japan. Once a top three prospect along with a couple of guys named Trout and Harper, Moore has disappointed with just a 20.7 K% and 4.51 ERA in 894.2 major league innings. It’s been reported that he was occasionally hitting 95 mph in Japan, maintaining an average velocity around 93 mph with 98 strikeouts in 65 innings (2.65 ERA). That said, the Mets pounded LHP last year (115) and all they’ve done is add Francisco Lindor and James McCann to that lineup. Moore doesn’t have much of a split. Batters from the left side have a .334 wOBA against and .324 from the right side over his career. The entire projected Mets lineup is above a 100 wRC+ against RHP and Lindor is the only RHB below a .200 ISO. The park plays very generously to RH power. Of course, your top target is Pete Alonso (126 wRC+, .309 ISO career vs LHP), who absolutely stung the ball this spring as he looks to rebound from a sophomore slump.