DraftKings MLB Lineup Advice: Saturday (8/12)
It was going to be Mad Max night, but mother nature and the Nationals had other plans. Last night’s game between the Giants and Nationals was rained out and will be made up as a doubleheader on Sunday. At the time of editing my initial piece, the Nationals have decided to bump Edwin Jackson back to tonight’s start, and as a result of that, bump Scherzer back a day. I’m leaving the Scherzer analysis in the event they change course since he’d be far and away the top pitching option. I still love the value bats and the other highlighted arms, so they remain, but the edited piece that you’re going to be reading will feature a new SP1 who wasn’t initially highlighted.
Max Scherzer (WAS): $14,000 vs. Giants
*Currently bumped back to Sunday, but the top option if the Nationals change course
Among qualified pitchers this season, Scherzer ranks second in ERA (2.23), first in WHIP (0.85), third in strikeout rate (35.5%) and K-BB% (29.1%), fourth in FIP (2.84), tied for fourth in xFIP (3.08), third in SIERA (2.76), and second in SwStr% (16.0%), according to FanGraphs, and among pitchers who’ve thrown at least 100 innings, he ranks second in DRA (2.05), per Baseball Prospectus. He’s earned his huge salary, and he and the Nationals are -235 favorites in a game with an over/under total of just eight runs, according to Pinnacle. The opposing Giants are one of the worst offenses in baseball and rank 29th in wRC+ (81) and last in wOBA (.293) against right-handed pitchers this season. Scherzer is the no-doubt top pitching option tonight in all game types.
Aaron Nola (PHI): $10,400 vs. Mets
Nola was a popular target in season-long leagues, but after his first nine starts that took him up to June 16, he was the owner of a 4.76 ERA (3.82 FIP, 3.86 xFIP, and 4.09 SIERA), 1.35 WHIP, 7.4% BB%, and 21.8% K%. The underlying statistics indicated better days were likely ahead for Nola, but he’s been unreal. In his last nine starts dating back to June 22, he’s the owner of a 1.76 ERA (2.53 FIP, 3.28 xFIP, and a 3.39 SIERA), 1.04 WHIP, 7.0% BB%, and 28.7% K%. He’s pitched six or more innings and allowed two earned runs or fewer in all nine of those starts. He’s pitched seven or more innings in six of those nine turns. Assuming the Nationals don’t reverse course, Nola’s the top pitching option on tonight’s slate. He and the Phillies are -135 favorites at home in a game with an over/under total of 8.5 runs.
Dylan Bundy (BAL): $8,400 @ Athletics
Bundy’s inclusion isn’t as an SP1 alternative. Instead, the over abundance of value bats makes it easy to flesh out a strong lineup and use the suddenly hot righty with Scherzer (or Nola). The All-Star break appears to be just what Bundy needed. He was roughed up in one of his four post-ASB starts, but the Astros have roughed up their share of pitchers. More importantly, Bundy’s been lights out in his other three turns in the second half allowing just four earned runs in 21.0 innings in those three turns. Even including his clunker, in four starts since the break, Bundy has spun a 3.42 ERA (4.05 FIP, 4.50 xFIP, and 4.12 SIERA), 0.95 WHIP, 4.9% BB%, 22.3% K%, a 12.2% SwStr%, and a 37.8% O-Swing%. He’s coaxing hitters into fishing out of the zone at a high rate and missing bats at an elite clip. He has a dangerous matchup with the A’s, but it’s a high-upside matchup, too. Take a look here at last night’s starting lineup’s numbers against right-handed pitchers this season (they faced a righty last night as well). It’s a high-octane bunch, but there are some massive strikeout rates for the nine hitters. Bundy’s strictly a GPP option, but I think he’ll pair a low-ownership rate with his sky-high ceiling.
Jeff Hoffman (COL): $6,600 @ Marlins
Hoffman’s made back-to-back quality starts in his home digs. He’ll get a break from Coors — where he’s struggled throughout his very young career — with a road tilt at pitcher-friendly Marlins Park. The 24-year-old righty has been solid on the road with a 3.65 ERA (3.40 FIP and 4.45 xFIP), 1.03 WHIP, 5.4% BB%, and 24.2% K% in 37.0 innings spread over six starts this year. The Marlins are a non-threatening matchup ranking tied for 16th in wRC+ (96) and tied for 14th in wOBA (.321) against righties this season, and they rank tied for 24th in wRC+ (90) and 24th in wOBA (.310) at home.
Sean Manaea (OAK): $6,200 vs. Orioles
Manaea has been inconsistent this season and has allowed 12 runs — “just” seven earned — in his last two starts spanning only 6.1 innings. However, the start before that he was excellent allowing three runs on seven hits and zero walks with seven strikeouts in seven innings at Toronto. The southpaw’s ability to miss bats hasn’t proven consistent, but over the course of the full season, he’s netted the 14th highest SwStr% (12.4%) among all qualified pitchers. Manaea personifies volatility, but that bat-missing ability coupled with the O’s propensity for punching out makes him a worthy GPP dice roll. Baltimore is tied for the seventh highest strikeout rate (24.3%) against lefties this year, and they haven’t done a heck of a lot of damage against southpaws when putting the ball in play ranking tied for 19th in wRC+ (90) against them. Hoffman’s my preferred SP2 in cash games (and a good SP2 pick in GPPs, too, to be clear), but Manaea is a top-flight pivot with a higher ceiling that plays well in GPPs.
Cameron Rupp (PHI): $3,100 vs. Mets
Rupp is one of two Phillies to get a nod in the hitters section. The right-handed hitting backstop has fared well at Citizens Bank Park against southpaws. In 102 plate appearances against lefties at CPB in his career, he has a .343 OBP, .176 ISO, and 112 wRC+. He’ll face Steven Matz tonight, and Matz has struggled mightily against right-handed batters this season coughing up a .349 OBP, .569 SLG, and .380 wOBA to them. Add it all up, and you’ve got a decent source of salary relief.
Rhys Hoskins (PHI): $2,500 vs. Mets
Speaking of salary relief, Rupp’s new teammate is a steal. Hoskins has hammered upper-minor’s pitching the last two years, and after batting seventh in his MLB debut on Thursday night, he was shot up to the cleanup spot last night. I suspect he’ll hit in the heart of the order again tonight. His lineup spot and right-handedness facing Matz are reasons enough to justify using him as a punt, and that’s saying nothing of his impressive work at the dish moving up the minor-league ladder. In 110 at-bats against lefties at the Triple-A level this year he hit .273/.350/.545 with six homers, 12 walks, and 24 strikeouts, per MiLB.com. Last year, he hit .277/.390/.634 with 10 homers, 21 walks, and 28 strikeouts in 112 at-bats at the Double-A level against southpaws. Sign me up for that kind of production against southpaws at his tiny salary.
Robinson Cano (SEA): $3,600 vs. Angels
Cano’s the third bargain hitter included in today’s piece, and he’s my favorite. Since joining the M’s in 2014, he’s ripped off a .354 OBP, .191 ISO, and 129 wRC+ against righties at home. Those numbers will play well against J.C. Ramirez. The right-handed hurler has had no answer for lefties this year ceding a .352 OBP, .540 SLG, and .373 wOBA to them.
Kris Bryant (CHC): $4,500 @ Diamondbacks
Bryant has hammered lefties since reaching The Show. He’s been at his best against them away from his home digs. In 238 plate appearances against lefties on the road in his career, he has smacked 12 homers with a .429 OBP, .244 ISO, and a 161 wRC+. He’s not visiting just any road venue tonight, either. Chase Field is one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the league. According to the three-year rolling average used at StatCorner, right-handed batters are treated to park factors of 124 for doubles/triples, 124 for homers, and 117 for runs in the desert. Remarkably, the sales pitch for using Bryant doesn’t end there. Patrick Corbin has been a punching bag for right-handed hitters this year yielding a .369 OBP, .517 SLG, and .371 wOBA to them. Bryant’s my favorite hitting option on the slate, and he’s grossly under priced even if he’s not a steal to the degree Cano is.
Cody Bellinger (LAD): $5,300 vs. Padres
With all of these bargain bats (and many I haven’t included), it’s entirely possible to spend up on Bellinger with Scherzer (or Nola) as your SP1 and Hoffman as your SP2. The case for spending up for the thumper isn’t a hard one to make, either. The rookie has a .358 OBP, .348 ISO, and 139 wRC+ against righties at home. Beyond that, he has a dreamy matchup. Jhoulys Chacin has been throwing batting practice on the road this year, and lefties have torched him for a .413 OBP, .655 SLG, and .433 wOBA in his road starts. Those numbers make a few of Bellinger’s teammates excellent plays, too.