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DraftKings DFS MLB Strategy Advice: Wednesday (7/29)

by Josh Shepardson | @BChad50 | Featured Writer
Jul 29, 2020

Michael Brantley comes at an incredible price on DraftKings.

There are big price tags abound on tonight’s main slate. It starts right out of the chute with the two aces for the New York baseball teams, and each are featured below. The bargain arms include a grossly under-priced starter who isn’t within the top-10 hitters on tonight’s slate. Offsetting the many costly pitchers are quite a few bargains in the hitting pool, with one player standing out as basically a bingo square due to his inexplicably low salary.

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Value Plays

Pitcher

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Brandon Woodruff (MIL) @ PIT $8,100 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Andrew Heaney (LAA) vs. SEA $7,900 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Joe Musgrove (PIT) vs. MIL $5,300 ⭐⭐ Low

Do you like strikeouts from your pitchers? Of course you do, and you’re in luck with the value pitchers punching out hitters aplenty. Woodruff tallied a 29.0 K%, and Heaney was nearly his equal at 28.9 % in 2019, per FanGraphs. Musgrove brings up the rear at 21.9 %, but his 12.0 SwStr% actually bested Woodruff’s 11.6. Further, he really put his bat-missing stuff to its most effective usage to close out 2019. Over his last five starts and first start this year, Musgrove has turned in a 3.21 ERA, 5.8 BB%, 28.5 K%, 1.13 WHIP, and 3.51 SIERA.

The Brewers aren’t the easiest matchup — as is reflected by his matchup rating — but Musgrove is too talented to be as cheap as he is. He’s a no-doubt selection in cash games and an outstanding GPP pick, too. Woodruff and Heaney boast enough strikeout upside to use as the SP1 on GPP teams, or they can be mixed in as the SP2 behind one of the aces highlighted below in order to be contrarian.

Catcher/First Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Salvador Perez (KC) @ DET $2,600 ⭐⭐ Low
Paul Goldschmidt (STL) @ MIN $4,400 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
C.J. Cron (DET) vs. KC $3,200 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low

On DraftKings, where a catcher is required, getting a cleanup hitter at the position for just $2,600 alone makes Perez worth using as a punt. The fact he’s shaken off the rust from a lost 2019 season and already belted a couple of homers in 2020 is gravy.

Pricing Goldschmidt outside the top-10 first basemen when facing a southpaw is ludicrous. Excluding the three qualified hitters who make the leaderboard for their 2020 work, Goldschmidt ties for 14th in wRC+ (150) against lefties since 2017. Just a bit behind him is Cron at 143. Since he’s $1,200 cheaper than Goldy, there’s a case to be made for splitting usage at the position between the two. Cron is one of the best values on the slate, and I see little reason to deviate from using him or Goldschmidt at first base tonight.

Second Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Tommy Edman (STL) @ MIN $4,400 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Whit Merrifield (KC) @ DET $4,200 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Jonathan Schoop (DET) vs. KC $3,200 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium

A couple of table setters make this group in the form of Edman and Merrifield. The switch-hitting Edman’s track record is small but tantalizing against southpaws. In 93 plate appearances against lefties, he’s recorded a .387 OBP, .282 ISO, and 160 wRC+. Hot out of the gate, Merrifield hit his second homer of the year last night. Additionally, he’s enjoyed a high level of success against southpaws. Both are stronger plays than Schoop, but the former Oriole and Twin comes at a sizable discount and offers power (.229 ISO against lefties since 2017) that makes him a consideration in GPPs — namely for gamers looking to cut salary to get under the cap.

Third Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Josh Donaldson (MIN) vs. STL $4,200 ⭐⭐⭐ Low
J.D. Davis (NYM) vs. BOS $3,800 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Maikel Franco (KC) @ DET $2,000 High

Franco is available at the bare minimum salary and has some pop, as showcased by his two homers Monday. That’s the story behind his inclusion above. As for Donaldson and Davis, both are right-handed hitters who are better against southpaws and draw right-handed starters tonight. However, it’s not as if Donaldson’s 134 wRC+ and .253 ISO against righties since 2017 is anything to sneeze at.

Davis is coming off of a breakout season in which he smacked 14 homers with a .366 OBP, .216 ISO, and 134 wRC+ in 298 plate appearances against righties. Also, a matchup with Nathan Eovaldi could be great. The enigmatic Eovaldi can excel at times with his high-powered arsenal, but he’s coming off of an injury-shortened season in which right-handed batters touched him up for a .345 wOBA.

Shortstop

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Corey Seager (LAD) @ HOU $4,400 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Jorge Polanco (MIN) vs. STL $3,800 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Paul DeJong (STL) @ MIN $3,600 ⭐⭐ High

Seager is the first Dodger to make an appearance, but a couple of his teammates are included in the Studs Worth Their Salaries section below. The sweet-swinging lefty shortstop will be part of a loaded lineup greeting right-handed rookie Cristian Javier for his first MLB start. He’s pitched one inning of relief this year for the Astros, but he has just 11 innings of Triple-A experience and only 74 innings in Double-A, all tallied last year. This will be about as challenging of a first start as imaginable for a pitcher with such limited action against upper minor-league talent, let alone big-league talent. For Seager’s part, he’s quite good against right-handed pitchers with a .363 OBP, .197 ISO, and 123 wRC+ against them since 2017.

Polanco has nearly been Seager’s equal during that time frame with a 121 wRC+ against righties. The switch-hitting shortstop is nestled nicely into Minnesota’s lineup in the three spot, following the aforementioned Donaldson and a forthcoming value outfielder, and directly in front of another forthcoming value outfielder. Suffice to say, I’m a believer in the Twins hanging runs against Daniel Ponce de Leon tonight. Ponce de Leon’s 3.70 ERA last year looks rather fluky compared to his 4.74 SIERA.

Outfield

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Nelson Cruz (MIN) vs. STL $4,400 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Max Kepler (MIN) vs. STL $4,100 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Jorge Soler (KC) @ DET $3,600 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Alex Dickerson (SF) vs. SD $3,400 High
Michael Brantley (HOU) vs. LAD $3,000 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low

The suspense is over; Kepler and Cruz were the two Twins hitters I teased above while touting Polanco. Cruz is aging like a fine wine and already has a monster game on his 2020 resume with a double-tater showing Sunday following “just” one homer on Saturday. Kepler also mashed a couple of taters in Minnesota’s season opener.

The other especially noteworthy player in the table, Brantley is a must-roster option in cash games and basically should come auto-filled in DraftKings lineups at his laughable salary. Brantley should realistically be priced at least $1,500 higher, and gamers likely aren’t going to miss DraftKings’ mispricing.

5 Studs Worth Their Salary

  • Gerrit Cole, NYY ($11,400): Cole blew the field out of the water last year with a 39.9 K% that was 4.5% better than the second-highest mark among qualified starters. He should have little trouble mowing down an underwhelming O’s lineup tonight.
  • Cody Bellinger, LAD ($5,300): Bellinger is a top-10 hitter against righties, and he’s squaring off with a pitcher making his MLB debut with fewer than 100 innings of upper minor’s experience. Expect the reigning NL MVP to rudely greet Javier.
  • Shohei Ohtani, LAA ($5,200): Ohtani’s first regular-season start on the bump since Tommy John surgery was an unmitigated disaster, but the two-way stud mashes righties with a career .359 OBP, .282 ISO, and 149 wRC+.
  • Max Muncy, LAD ($4,900): I could copy and paste Bellinger’s write-up for Muncy. Look for the Dodgers to take out some pent-up frustration over Houston’s sign-stealing scandal on the rookie hurler.
  • Fernando Tatis Jr., SD ($4,900): Tatis Jr.’s electrifying rookie season came to an early end, but he’s picking up where he left off. Johnny Cueto‘s inability to miss bats at this stage of his career could come back to bite him in the butt against Tatis’ powerful bat.

5 Notable Players to Fade

  • Jacob deGrom, NYM ($12,000): For full disclosure, I’m tinkering with some Cole/deGrom double-ace GPP builds and not hating them. Having said that, a more balanced roster makes sense in cash games. That makes Cole the play and deGrom the fade.
  • Christian Yelich, MIL ($5,900): If Yelich was at home tonight, I’d consider him at this salary against Musgrove. He’s not. Pass.
  • Gary Sanchez, NYY ($5,600): Most of the Yankees are a tick overpriced, but Sanchez is the easiest fade of the bunch since punting catcher is such a popular daily baseball move. Asher Wojciechowski held right-handed batters to a ho-hum .314 wOBA. There will be nights to pay big bucks on Sanchez to get an edge at a bad hitting position, but tonight’s not that night.
  • Freddie Freeman, ATL ($5,500): Charlie Morton held lefties to a .293 wOBA last year. I’m not paying out the nose for Freeman for a poor matchup when I can spend down on the value options highlighted above.
  • Jose Altuve, HOU ($5,500): In all honesty, I could have picked any of Houston’s right-handed batters. Altuve just so happened to be the guy I selected. Young right-handed flamethrower Dustin May held the 84 right-handed batters he faced last year to a paltry .210 wOBA. No thanks to spending up on Houston’s right-handed hitters for that dreadful matchup.

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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.

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