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FanDuel DFS MLB Strategy Advice: Friday (7/31)

Jul 31, 2020

Kyle Schwarber already owns three home runs against the Pirates’ Trevor Williams, will that number increase tonight?

After another stress-filled week, we’re finally able to settle in and watch some Friday prime time baseball before the weekend again. We’ve got 12 games lined up on the 7:05 pm main slate and we’ve got plenty of big names having favorable matchups to dissect, let’s dive in!

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Luis Castillo (CIN) @ DET $10,100 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Lance McCullers Jr. (HOU) @ LAA $9,000 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Yu Darvish (CHC) vs PIT $9,100 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Sean Manaea (OAK) @ SEA $7,500 ⭐⭐⭐ High
Jon Gray (COL) vs SDP $6,700 ⭐⭐ High

Out of the three big buck pitchers on this slate, I’m really only a fan of Luis Castillo who gets a great matchup against the Detroit Tigers. Castillo has only faced Detroit once in his career and it was last Saturday. The Reds’ ace went six strong innings, giving up six hits while striking out 11 for a great 52 FanDuel points. It’s hard to expect the same results this time around, with the Tigers having an idea of what to expect as well as the location moving to Detroit but that’s not nearly enough to deter me and I like Castillo’s chances of finishing as the top overall pitcher.

The only other pitcher I’m high on tonight is Lance McCullers Jr, who just had a solid first outing back from Tommy John Surgery. Despite only hitting 55 of his 92 pitches for strikes, McCullers managed to go six quality innings and collected six strikeouts. I expect McCullers to take a step forward with his control in his second outing back, and he’ll need it as he faces a much harder Angels lineup despite the absence of Mike Trout.

I have Yu Darvish beginning the best of the rest, who gets a Pirates lineup he’s had success against despite unfavorable matchups. While being full of left and switch hitters, who Darvish surrendered 18 home runs to last season, Pittsburgh has been unable to get to Darvish, hitting just .113/.262/.165 against him across 52 at-bats. He’s the only guy at this price range I would consider taking over the cheaper Lance McCullers Jr.

Getting into risky territory, I’m also interested in Sean Manaea tonight. Manaea struggled in his first outing this season, giving up four earned runs while being unable to finish the fifth inning. He’ll get an easier matchup against the Seattle Mariners that should help get his legs under him after being plagued by injuries ever since his breakout season in 2018. Manaea has previous success against the Mariners, sporting a 3.69 ERA with 51 strikeouts and six wins over 11 games and he’ll look to lock up win number seven tonight.

Lastly, I’m intrigued by Jon Gray despite his sizable risk. Gray, believe it or not, has posted a lower ERA inside of Coors as opposed to out in each of his last four seasons. He does struggle against left-handed hitting there, giving up a .281 batting average, 19 points higher than his away mark but the Padres have much firepower in their left-handed bats, especially with Eric Hosmer‘s status in question. Should Hosmer sit, the Padres could potentially only have Trent Grisham, Francisco Mejia, Jake Cronenworth, and the switch-hitting Jurickson Profar from the left side, who happen to combine for 1-for-16 at Coors Field. There’s a big risk, limiting him to GPP, but he has a solid ceiling and should be fairly low owned.

Catcher/First Base

Freddie Freeman (ATL) vs NYM $4,000 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) vs PIT $3,900 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Joey Votto (CIN) @ DET $3,400 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium

Freddie Freeman is a favorite of mine tonight and he’s in a great spot. Going up against Rick Porcello, who finished with a 5.81 xFIP against left-handed hitters in 2019, Freeman has a good chance to improve on his already solid .455/.571/.455 slash line he has against the former Cy-Young winner. Just a hair below I also really like Anthony Rizzo, who goes up against Trevor Williams who allowed a .561 slugging percentage to left-handed hitters last year. Not to mention that Rizzo crushed right-handed pitching last year, posting a .307 batting average with a very good .240 ISO.

Coming in moderately cheaper than the elite first basemen, I think Joey Votto has a good chance to continue his hot start. While Votto has slowly produced less as he ages, he actually did fairly well against right-handers outside of The Great American Ballpark last year, hitting 10 of his 15 home runs with a .210 ISO against them. Don’t be too concerned about Spencer Turnbull, who despite being solid in his first start of the year, also allowed a slash line of .298/.370/.444 with a .347 wOBA to left-handed hitters in 2019.

Second Base

Jose Altuve (HOU) @ LAA $3,800 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Brandon Lowe (TB) @ BAL $3,300 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Luis Arraez (MIN) vs CLE $2,500 ⭐⭐⭐ High

I’m not in love with the options at second base tonight, with Jose Altuve being the only one I’m truly comfortable with. Altuve and the Astros go up against Matt Andriese, who Altuve owns a home run and an eye-popping 1.778 OPS against through nine at-bats. It also doesn’t hurt that Andriese might not last long in this game, which opens up the exploitable Angels bullpen.

Next, while I’m not in love with Brandon Lowe, it’s hard to deny the spot he’s in. Alex Cobb made a good first step in his hopeful rebound year but it’s impossible to forget how he gave up nine long balls over 12 1/3 innings last season in addition to a terrible 6.39 xFIP against left-handed hitters. Lowe, a left-handed hitter, has been great outside of Tropicana Park. Through 145 at-bats outside of St. Petersburg last season, Lowe posted a .283/.348/.552 slash line with an impressive .269 ISO and 20 extra-base hits. Speaking of impressive stats, did you know that Luis Arraez is 6-for-11 against Mike Clevinger? I like Arraez as a potential value play here. The 23-year old is off to another solid start after making a big splash in his rookie season. While he doesn’t have slate-breaking potential, I like his chances at another multi-hit outing at the low price of $2,500.

Third Base

Nolan Arenado (COL) vs SDP $4,100 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Eugenio Suarez (CIN) @ DET $3,100 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ High
Todd Frazier (TEX) @ SFG $2,600 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium

Nolan Arenado hasn’t gotten off to the best start, hitting just .222 with no extra-base hits through five games. I think there’s a good chance that changes tonight in the Rockies’ home opener. While Arenado is a superstar wherever he plays, you can’t deny his numbers are significantly better at Coors Field where he produced a .351/412/.645 slash line in 2019. It doesn’t hurt that the Padres will send out Garrett Richards to the mound, who will pitch for the first time in baseballs’ friendliest hitters park. Another potential breakout I like tonight is Eugenio Suarez, who’s $3,100 salary has just gotten too low to deny. Suarez is off to a miserable start, collecting just two hits across his first 27 plate appearances. Let’s not forget though that Suarez hit a staggering 49 home runs last season, 38 of which came off of right-handed pitchers like Spencer Turnbull, who he’ll face tonight. He’s risky but has a superstar ceiling while being the 12th most expensive third baseman.

Todd Frazier is a cheap power bat I’m a fan of tonight. He’ll play at Oracle Park, where he owns a career slash line of .300/.380/.525 with three home runs. The Giants are expected to roll out Logan Webb, who happened to surrender a rough .551 slugging percentage to right-handed hitters in 2019. He’ll be hit-or-miss but I think Frazier has a decent shot at exiting the yard for a second straight game.


Trevor Story (COL) vs SDP $4,300 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Amed Rosario (NYM) @ ATL $2,900 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Willy Adames (TAM) @ BAL $2,500 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium

Unlike Arenado, Trevor Story is picking up right where he left off, already collecting two long balls through his first five games. He too will get a production boost by moving to Coors Field, where hit slashed .328/.402/.662 and hit 24 of his 35 home runs in 2019. He’s the most expensive Coors bat on the slate which limits his upside, but there’s also a good chance he finishes the best overall Coors player on the slate.

Jumping all the way down below the $3,000 mark, I think Amed Rosario is a sneaky play here against the Braves’ Sean Newcomb. Rosario who is usually a frustrating player on offense actually posted a solid 120 wRC+ with a .821 OPS in 2019 against right-handed pitchers like Newcomb, who he already owns five hits and two doubles against. Another value bat I like at shortstop is Willy Adames, who like Brandon Lowe, greatly benefits from being outside of Tropicana Park. Adames, who broke out for 20 home runs last season, produced a 137 wRC+ outside of The Trop compared to a measly 53 wRC+ inside the dome. Even more eye-popping, Adames’ .903 away OPS was a staggering 347 points higher than that of his home OPS.


Kyle Schwarber (CHC) vs PIT $3,100 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Wil Myers (SDP) @ COL $3,500 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Brett Gardner (NYY) vs BOS $2,600 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Sam Hilliard (COL) vs SDP $3,000 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Mark Canha (OAK) @ SEA $2,900 ⭐⭐⭐ Low

I love the mid-tier bats tonight at outfielder beginning with Kyle Schwarber, who I think is under-priced in a great matchup. Schwarber, like fellow lefty Anthony Rizzo, benefits from the Pirates rolling out Trevor Williams who got tagged by left-handed hitters for a .393 wOBA last season. Schwarber is already very familiar with Williams, who owns a third of the Cubs’ nine home runs against the Pirates’ starter. Wil Myers is another guy who gets the luxury of familiarity tonight by going against Jon Gray, who he’s 14-for-37  against with three home runs and four doubles. That’s not all either, as Myers has a career slash of .359/.416/.667 with 10 home runs and 13 doubles inside of Coors Field.

I like Brett Gardner’s odds of getting things rolling tonight while facing the Red Sox’s Ryan Weber, who surrendered six earned runs against a bad Orioles offense in his first start of the season. Gardner, one of the Yankees’ only left-handed regulars, has the most favorable matchup against the right-hander with a .281 ISO against righties last season. Speaking of ISO, Sam Hilliard posted an absurd .371 ISO against right-handed pitchers in his brief stint in the majors in 2019. Coming in at $3,000, he’s a near value price for one of the better ceilings at Coors tonight.

Finally, I want to mention the Athletics’ Mark Canha, who I think is one of the more underrated hitters in the game today. He gets a solid matchup against right-hander Taijuan Walker who is still knocking off the rust after a lengthy absence to Tommy John elbow surgery, giving up five earned runs in just over three innings in his first start of the year. Canha has always hit righties better despite being one himself, hitting .297 with 18 home runs against them last season. He’s also 3-for-3 with a long ball against Walker.

Three Studs Worth Their Salary

  • Freddie Freeman (1B – ATL) $4,000: Freeman gets a great matchup against a pitcher he’s had success against and struggles against left-handed hitting.
  • Trevor Story (SS – COL): $4,300 Story is firing on all cylinders and hasn’t even played at Coors yet. That changes tonight.
  • Luis Castillo (SP – CIN): $10,100 Castillo runs it back against a team he posted 52 points against his last time out.

Three Notable Players To Fade

  • Trent Grisham (OF – SDP) $3,300: Grisham is a disappointing 1-for-12 inside of Coors Field. That could change tonight but there are better Coors bats at cheaper prices.
  • Jurickson Profar (2B – SDP) $3,000: Profar hit an abysmal .192 against right-handed pitching last season through 354 at-bats and is hit-less at Coors Field.
  • Blake Snell (SP – TAM) $9,500: Snell draws an appealing matchup against the Baltimore Orioles but is on an innings limit as he works up to a full load.

All Advanced Statistics Sourced From Fangraphs.

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Caleb Baggette is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Caleb, check out his archive and follow him @CalebBg9.