DraftKings MLB Lineup Advice: Friday (5/19)
Tonight, I’ve built a cash games roster anchored by a lights-out ace. He is costly, but there are some bargain bats available to surround him with, and a reasonable number of fairly affordable SP2 options, too. I settled on a sub-$8,000 SP2 in a great matchup, but there are other alternatives I’ve highlighted in the honorable mentions.
Chris Sale (BOS): $13,000 @ Athletics
I’m not sure it’s possible for Sale to have done a better job endearing himself to Red Sox Nation to open his first year in Beantown. He’s made eight starts spanning 58.2 innings and dazzled with a sparkling 2.15 ERA (1.80 FIP, 2.32 xFIP, and 2.18 SIERA, per FanGraphs, as well as a 1.28 DRA, according to Baseball Prospectus), 0.77 WHIP, 5.9% BB%, 38.8% K%, and filthy 16.1% swinging strike percentage (SwStr%, 10.2% is league average this year). The Red Sox are sizable -188 favorites, according to Pinnacle, at a pitcher-friendly park, in a game with a 7.5 runs over/under opposing a mediocre offense. Oakland ranks tied for 16th in wRC+ (91) against lefties this year, and their 23.9% K% against them is the sixth highest. Sale should have little trouble tallying a big fantasy point output tonight.
Michael Wacha (STL): $7,800 vs. Giants
The competition was fierce for SP2 tonight, but I landed on Wacha. He’s bounced back from a forgettable 2016 with a 3.19 ERA (3.42 FIP, 3.61 xFIP, 3.71 SIERA, and 3.27 DRA), 1.15 WHIP, 6.2% BB%, and 23.5% K%. The righty’s 10.0% SwStr% is around league average and his best since 2014, and his changeup gives him a put-away pitch. Brooks Baseball has Wacha’s change generating a career-best 24.32% whiff percentage this year. His assignment tonight looks easy on paper. He’ll be facing the visiting Giants. San Francisco ranks dead last in wRC+ (70) against right-handed pitchers this year, and their current form isn’t much better checking in 29th with a 71 wRC+ over the last two weeks.
- Luis Severino (NYY): $8,800 @ Rays
- Gio Gonzalez (WAS): $8,600 @ Braves
- Nate Karns (KC): $8,000 @ Twins
Carlos Ruiz (SEA): $2,400 vs. White Sox
Ruiz’s numbers at the plate are brutal this year, but we’re talking about a very small sample size of only 50 plate appearances. He’s a defensible punt because catcher isn’t loaded with great alternatives, and he’s been quite good against lefties. Since 2014, Ruiz owns a .389 OBP, .155 ISO, and 130 wRC+ against southpaws. Those numbers are befitting of a salary that’s more than just $400 above the minimum, making Ruiz a bargain even though he’s off to a slow start.
- Jonathan Lucroy (TEX): $3,700 @ Tigers
- Alex Avila (DET): $3,200 vs. Rangers
- Jason Castro (MIN): $2,800 vs. Royals
Yuli Gurriel (HOU): $3,300 vs. Indians
I think there are two plays at first base. The obvious one is rolling with bargain choice Yuli Gurriel as I’m suggesting. The other is spending all the way up to Paul Goldschmidt against soft-tosser Jered Weaver in lieu of ponying up for a certain big-ticket outfielder I’ll be discussing below. Getting back to Gurriel, he has just 204 plate appearances against righties in MLB, but he’s been rock solid with a .338 OBP, .147 ISO, and 116 wRC+ in same-handed showdowns with fellow righties. Looking at just this year’s work against righties, he’s been even better with a .352 OBP, .158 ISO, and 129 wRC+ in 108 plate appearances. The Astros are -137 favorites at home in a game with an inviting over/under total of nine runs.
- Paul Goldschmidt (ARI): $5,200 @ Padres
Josh Harrison (PIT): $3,500 vs. Phillies
At first blush, Harrison might look like an odd inclusion facing a righty. Typically, I prefer to use Harrison only against lefties. Tonight’s matchup is an exception. Jeremy Hellickson is yielding a .589 slugging and .383 wOBA to right-handed batters this year, and outside of last year’s excellence and early-career success against righties, he’s struggled against them. Hellickson has coughed up six homers to just 95 righties faced, and that plays into the hands of Harrison’s new fly-ball approach. Harrison has a 45.0% FB% against right-handed pitchers this year with a solid 32.9% Hard%. He also owns a positive run value against changeups in 2015, 2016, and this season, and Hellickson leans on his changeup 32.9% of the time this year, per FanGraphs.
- Brandon Drury (ARI): $3,700 @ Padres
Eugenio Suarez (CIN): $3,700 vs. Rockies
Suarez has been with the Reds since 2015, and he owns a standard platoon split. Since 2015, he has a .354 OBP, .229 ISO, and 130 wRC+ against southpaws. Tonight’s opposition, Tyler Anderson, has been knocked around by righties this year allowing a .363 OBP, .589 slugging, and .401 wOBA to the 138 of them he’s faced. This is a good matchup, and when you factor in the 10% bump for homers righties enjoy at Great American Ball Park, per StatCorner’s rolling three-year average, Suarez is a steal.
- Justin Turner (LAD): $3,700 vs. Marlins
Elvis Andrus (TEX): $3,600 @ Tigers
I didn’t list an honorable mention at shortstop, but that’s because he resides in this roster’s outfield. If you opt not to use Andrus, spinning to a certain OF/SS eligible Dodger is the way to go. The presence of Andrus’ alternative in the outfield essentially pitted Andrus against teammate Delino DeShields (an OF honorable mention) for a spot on this roster. Andrus is better against lefties than DeShields, and that tipped the scales in his favor. Since 2014, the shortstop has a .348 OBP, .141 ISO, and 109 wRC+ against southpaws. Lefty Daniel Norris has surrendered a .371 OBP and .341 wOBA to right-handed batters this year, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. He’s also allowed a ridiculous 45.6% Hard% to righties, and he’s been unable to put the brakes on baserunners allowing five stolen bases in seven starts.
Bryce Harper (WAS): $5,600 @ Braves
I foreshadowed the presence of a big-ticket item in the outfield, and here he is. He’s returned to the world-beater form that helped net him National League Most Valuable Player hardware in 2015, and he ranks first in OBP (.491), sixth in ISO (.368), and second in wRC+ (213) among qualified hitters this year. R.A. Dickey is struggling mightily with the long ball this year coughing up 1.90 HR/9, and homers were an issue for him last year, too, allowing 1.49 HR/9.
Nelson Cruz (SEA): $4,200 vs. White Sox
I’m dumbfounded by Cruz’s salary against a lefty. Yes, I’m aware Jose Quintana isn’t a garbage lefty, but Cruz is one of the premier lefty mashers in baseball. Among qualified hitters since 2014, he ranks tied for sixth in OBP (.409), second to only Eric Thames 38 plate appearances against lefties in ISO (.311), and second only to Thames again in wRC+ (182) against lefties. Forget one of the premier lefty mashers in baseball, Cruz is THE best lefty killer in the game. He’s showing no signs of slowing down in general this year, either.
Kiké Hernández (LAD): $2,800 vs. Marlins
If you didn’t figure out who would fill the last outfield spot based on Andrus’ write-up, shame on you. Seriously, though, Hernandez is a platoon hitter who’s carved out a niche for himself in the bigs thanks to defensive versatility and the ability to punish lefties. For daily fantasy purposes, his fielding versatility doesn’t matter, but his .360 OBP, .247 ISO, and 139 wRC+ against lefties since 2014 do. He’s likely to be a popular punt for other gamers who also use Sale.
- J.D. Martinez (DET): $4,700 vs Rangers
- Lorenzo Cain (KC): $4,100 @ Twins
- Josh Reddick (HOU): $3,600 vs. Indians
- Delino DeShields (TEX): $3,500 @ Tigers