DraftKings MLB Lineup Advice: Friday (9/8)
Max Scherzer headlines the pitchers and is featured below, but there are a few other high-upside arms who look poised for big nights, too. My favorite hitting selections for tonight are a relatively inexpensive bunch with the most expensive option suggested commanding only $4,700 of salary while two of the five choices are under $4,000.
Max Scherzer (WAS): $13,300 vs. Phillies
Scherzer and the Nationals are huge favorites at -326, per Pinnacle, and the game’s over/under total is only 7.5 runs. I’ll save myself the effort of spelling out Scherzer’s excellence and simply state he’s a punch-out machine (35.1% K% for the year) whose dominance this year has him positioned well to take home the National League Cy Young Award hardware and is backed by his 2.87 FIP, 3.12 xFIP, 2.83 SIERA, according to FanGraphs, and a 2.17 DRA, per Baseball Prospectus. The Phillies are a soft matchup for the righty as they rank tied for 23rd in wRC+ (89) against right-handers this year with fifth highest strikeout rate (23.7% K%) against them. Even with a hefty salary — which he’s earned — he’s the top option in cash games. His enormous upside is worthy of attention in GPPs, too, but the next two pitchers coming up are my preferred GPP pairing while the fourth arm is the value SP I’d advise using with Scherzer.
Lucas Giolito (CHW) : $8,300 vs. Giants
Giolito is one of the most highly touted prospect arms since I began following prospects closely about a decade ago. Prospect coverage has grown a ton in that time, but getting back to Giolito, he hasn’t seamlessly developed into a superstar like many expected. He doesn’t throw as hard as he did prior to Tommy John, but the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft’s 16th pick is still only 23 years old and has dominated in three starts spanning 20.0 innings for the Pale Hose this year. In those starts, he’s recorded a 2.25 ERA (4.83 FIP, 3.76 xFIP, 3.77 SIERA, and 4.76 DRA), 0.80 WHIP, 5.3% BB%, 23.7% K%, and 12.4% SwStr%. He’s used a four-pitch mix of fastballs, sliders, curves and changes to tie hitters up, per FanGraphs’ PITCHf/x data. Giolito and the White Sox are -110 favorites, and the game’s over/under total of nine runs isn’t terribly intimidating. The visiting Giants are 29th in wRC+ (83) against righties and just one tick above Rockies from bringing up the rear.
Marcus Stroman (TOR): $9,100 vs Tigers
I’ve been critical of Stroman being a bit overrated at times in the past, but his salary is a steal tonight for what he offers. This year, he has a 3.08 ERA (3.84 FIP, 3.57 xFIP, 3.83 SIERA, and 3.46 DRA), 1.31 WHIP, 7.1% BB%, 19.9% K%, 61.0% GB%, and 10.2% SwStr%. His SwStr% is just a tiny bit below the league average of 10.3% this year, yet his strikeout rate is almost two ticks below the league average of 21.6%, so there’s probably a bit more strikeout potential for him than his sub-20% K% suggests. He’s been in fine form over the last 30 days with a 2.63 ERA (4.09 FIP, 3.30 xFIP, and 3.64 SIERA), 1.17 WHIP, 4.4% BB%, 19.5% K%, 55.3% GB%, and 10.6% SwStr%. The visiting Tigers have blown up their roster over the summer in the midst of a full-blown rebuild, and these are the since-2015 numbers for the starting position players when the Tigers faced a right-handed pitcher on Wednesday. Stroman and the host Blue Jays are -219 favorites in a game with an over/under total of nine runs, and he’s a great — albeit likely a chalky — play tonight.
Seth Lugo (NYM): $5,800 vs. Reds
If you’re using Mad Max, it’s important to find a tolerable yet cheap SP2 option so you can have some money left to spend on quality hitters. Lugo fits the bill, even if his 5.00 ERA this year suggests otherwise. The advanced metrics such as his 4.12 FIP, 4.43 xFIP, 4.51 SIERA, and 5.59 DRA aren’t overly encouraging, but a few of them are semi-palatable. He allowed four earned runs and 10 baserunners (eight hits and two walks) in just five innings in his last start at Houston, but he did record six strikeouts with a 12.0% SwStr%. If you go back to his start before — which was his first off the disabled list after hitting the 10-day DL in the middle of August — he’s managed a 10.3% SwStr% with 11 strikeouts in 8.2 innings in the two starts combined. It’s a tiny sample, but there’s at least something decent for him to build on. The Reds are tied with four other teams for the eighth highest wRC+ (101) against righties this year, but Lugo’s case for usage is aided by pitching at home. Citi Field is a pitcher-friendly environment, and the Mets are basically in a pick ’em (-106 favorites) in a game with an over/under total of nine runs. The ceiling isn’t exciting with Lugo, but with such a tiny salary, hitting value is within reach.
Mike Zunino (SEA): $3,300 vs. Angels
Teammate Nelly Cruz is also one of my favorite plays, though, not featured. As for Zunino, since last year, he’s totaled a .256 ISO and 110 wRC+ against right-handed pitchers. His power plays well against Ricky Nolasco. The right-handed hurler has coughed up 22 homers, a .594 SLG, and .393 wOBA to 335 righties faced this year.
Edwin Encarnacion (CLE) : $4,700 vs. Orioles
The Indians are steamrolling opponents during their win streak that was extended to 15 games last night, and Wade Miley‘s not the man to slow them down. Miley has ceded a .380 OBP, .464 SLG, and .363 wOBA to right-handed batters this year, and Encarnacion is built to add to Miley’s woes with a .384 OBP, .225 ISO, and 131 wRC+ against southpaws since 2015.
Rougned Odor (TEX) : $3,700 vs. Yankees
Odor is a flawed hitter, but he’s hit the ball with authority at home against righties since breaking out last year. Since last season, the slugging second baseman has a .278 ISO in 446 plate appearances at home against right-handed pitchers. Opposing starter Masahiro Tanaka has been quite homer prone this year surrendering new single-season highs in HR/9 (1.69) and HR/FB (20.0%). The Yankees are -155 favorites, but that still leaves plenty of projected scoring for the home underdog Rangers in a game with an over/under total of 10 runs.
Jake Lamb (ARI) : $4,600 vs. Padres
Lamb’s under priced in a great matchup against Jordan Lyles. The 26-year-old right-handed pitcher has been knocked around by lefties this year, and the 103 of them he’s faced have belted six homers with a .408 OBP, .606 SLG, and .424 wOBA. Since breaking out last year, Lamb has a .366 OBP, .297 ISO, and 41.1% Hard% against righties at Chase Field. Lamb is my top pick to reach the seats tonight.
Matt Olson (OAK) : $4,500 vs. Astros
Speaking of reaching the seats, Olson’s done that a whopping 38 times this year with 23 in 343 plate appearances at the Triple-A level and 15 more round-trippers in 150 plate appearances in the Majors. The math is simple, he’s hitting one homer every 10 plate appearances this year in The Show. The lefty slugger has launched 13 of his 15 homers against righties. He’s eaten up righties with a .339 OBP, .370 ISO, 153 wRC+, 46.5% FB%, and 40.3% Hard%.