DraftKings MLB Lineup Advice: Friday (9/22)
Today’s lineup selections are a youthful group, namely the bats. I’m fading the two biggest ticket arms and turning my attention to a trio of mid to high-end priced options a few thousand less than Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke. The savings are huge for squeezing in some of my favorite hitters.
Masahiro Tanaka (NYY): $10,300 @ Blue Jays
Tanaka’s season got off to a rough start, and homers have hurt him badly this year. However, he’s cut his HR/9 down to a palatable 1.27 in the second half, and in 10 starts in the second half spanning 63.2 innings, he owns a 3.53 ERA (3.36 FIP, 3.07 xFIP, and 3.24 SIERA), 1.08 WHIP, 4.3% BB%, 27.1% K%, 49.7% GB%, and a jaw-dropping 15.4% SwStr%, according to FanGraphs. The 28-year-old’s swing-and-miss ability is elite, and it gives him a sky-high ceiling any time he toes the rubber. The Blue Jays make for a favorable matchup ranking tied for 23rd in wRC+ (90) against right-handed pitchers this year with a 21.0% K%. Tanaka and the Yankees are -165 favorites in Toronto, per Pinnacle, and I’ll gladly anchor my starting pitchers with him at a steep $2,300 discount from Verlander and a $1,800 savings from Greinke.
Jon Gray (COL): $8,900 @ Padres
Gray missed significant time this year on the disabled list, and he had a couple rough starts to open the second half, but he’s been on quite the groove since those two messy turns. Since July 25, he’s made 11 starts totaling 66.1 innings and pitched to the tune of a 2.58 ERA (3.08 FIP, 3.25 xFIP, and 3.51 SIERA), 1.13 WHIP, 5.7% BB%, 25.3% K%, 50.6% GB%, and 9.3% SwStr%. The young righty’s SwStr% has bounced around a bit in that stretch as you can see here, but he hit his high-water mark of 15.9% SwStr% in his last start. Who was his opponent in that start, you ask? The answer is the Padres! The Friars swinging and missing frequently against Gray shouldn’t come as much of a surprise since their 25.0% K% against righties this year is the third highest in The Show. Gray and the Rockies are -159 favorites in a game with a pitcher-friendly over/under total of just 8.5 runs. Gray’s going to be quite chalky, and he’ll be the SP1 on some bat-heavy teams, but my preferred pitcher pairing is Tanaka/Gray, and the duo leaves ample salary cap space to squeeze in all of the forthcoming hitters plus some other unlisted options.
Kyle Gibson (MIN): $8,500 @ Tigers
Gibson’s a nifty pivot off of Gray or a solid SP2 with Gray on hitter-heavy lineup builds. The 29-year-old had some hiccups in his last start, but after coughing up four earned runs in the first and another earned run in the second, he settled in and pitched four scoreless innings, bringing his game line to six innings of 5-earned run baseball on three hits, five walks, and eight strikeouts. Gibson’s fantasy line wasn’t only saved by the punch outs, he also earned a win thanks to an offensive explosion from the Twins. Since being recalled from Triple-A Rochester on August 5, he’s made nine starts totaling 52.2 innings in which he’s recorded a 3.25 ERA (3.52 FIP, 3.64 xFIP, and 3.94 SIERA), 1.25 WHIP, 6.0% BB%, 21.6% K%, 48.1% GB%, and 11.9% SwStr%. He’s ripped off a SwStr% of 11.1% or higher in seven of those nine turns, and he’s struck out five or more batters in six of those nine starts. He’s pitched six or more innings in six straight starts. Also noteworthy during that 9-start stretch, Gibson’s held left-handed batters to a .305 wOBA and righties to a .289 wOBA. The righty’s pitch mix gives him the goods to get lefties and righties out, so his success against both could prove to be sustainable. Opposing starter Daniel Norris‘ control completely abandoned him in the minors, and since rejoining the Tigers this month, he’s walked four batters in four relief appearances spanning seven innings. The Twins should provide Gibson run support, making him a probable winner. Detroit’s roster has been drastically shaken up as they blow things up in the midst of a rebuild, so perhaps their full-season totals aren’t the best measure of what the team is now. Having said that, they’ve traded some serious firepower, yet even with boppers like Justin Upton and J.D. Martinez contributing to their full-season totals before being dealt, the Tigers rank just 23rd in wRC+ (93) against righties and have a 21.9% K% against them. The matchup should be viewed as favorable for Gibson.
Logan Morrison (TBR): $4,100 @ Orioles
I absolutely love repeatedly going to the well when LoMo faces a righty on the road. In 532 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers on the road since 2015, he has a .363 OBP, .299 ISO, and 149 wRC+. Those numbers would be enough to warrant using LoMo at his modest salary against even an average righty, and Ubaldo Jimenez is many rungs lower on the ladder than average. Jimenez has vomited all over himself against lefties this year yielding a .366 OBP, .614 SLG, .405 wOBA and 20 homers to the 296 of them he’s faced.
Yoan Moncada (CHW): $3,900 vs. Royals
Moncada brings a lot of good to the table, but it can often be undermined by his 33.7% K%. The switch-hitter’s high strikeout rate hasn’t kept him from producing at an above average offensive level as his 110 wRC+ indicates, and he’s been excellent since returning from the disabled list on September 5. In 67 plate appearances since then, he has four homers, two stolen bases, a .388 OBP, .230 ISO, 153 wRC+, and 26.9% K%.
Matt Chapman (OAK) : $3,200 vs. Rangers
Moncada’s not the only youngster with a high-strikeout rate who’s produced at an above-average clip offensively to get the nod in the hitter’s section. Chapman has a 30.7% K% in his rookie season, but he’s tallied a 105 wRC+ largely due to his 10.1% BB% and .243 ISO. The slugging third baseman stumbled out of the blocks, but in the second half, he has a .322 OBP, .276 ISO, 121 wRC+, 51.0% FB%, and 37.8% Hard%. He’s been just a tick above average in same-handed matchups this year with a 101 wRC+, but his .251 ISO is exciting. Also, there’s likely plenty of small-sample-size noise going on, but he’s been a monster in 103 plate appearances at home against righties with a .369 OBP, .319 ISO, and 162 wRC+ under those conditions. Nick Martinez is a well below-average starting pitcher, and he’s ceded a .525 SLG, .346 wOBA, and 16 homers to 235 right-handed batters this year while striking out a mere 14.0% of them. Martinez’s struggles missing bats against righties as well as giving up dingers is the perfect combo for deploying Chapman against him.
Matt Olson (OAK) : $5,400 vs. Rangers
Of course, THE Matt of all the Matts on the A’s gets a shout out against Nick Martinez. The right-handed pitcher has allowed a .342 OBP, .503 SLG, and .357 wOBA to left-handed batters, and by now, you’re well aware of Olson’s home-run hitting exploits. Don’t get sticker shock, pay up for the tater mashing rookie.
Eric Thames (MIL) : $4,200 vs. Cubs
Thames started the season on fire and appears to be hellbent on ending it that way, too. Not counting yesterday’s two-hit game in four plate appearances, he has a .421 OBP, .394 ISO, three homers, and a 191 wRC+ in 38 plate appearances this month. John Lackey probably isn’t the best bet to cool off Thames since the righty’s allowed a .340 OBP, .514 SLG, .359 wOBA, and 18 homers to 331 lefties faced this year.