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FanDuel DFS MLB Strategy: Sunday (7/26)

by Josh Shepardson | @BChad50 | Featured Writer
Jul 25, 2020
J.D. Martinez

There’s no shortage of solid pitching options with a wide variety of salaries to fit different roster builds. Among the value pitchers highlighted below is one risky young hurler with untapped upside who offers GPP appeal. The value hitters include a handful for the Reds, while the high-priced studs include a couple of Red Sox. One notable member of the Red Sox appears in the notable studs to fade, though.

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Value Plays

Pitcher

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Zac Gallen (ARI) @ SD $8,300 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Kenta Maeda (MIN) @ CHW $7,400 ⭐⭐ High
Mitch Keller (PIT) @ STL $6,500 ⭐⭐⭐ High

 
Gallen offers elite upside at a price that’s below a front of the rotation starter’s salary. The young righty’s 2.81 ERA vastly exceeded his 4.24 SIERA, according to FanGraphs, but he has massive strikeout ability (28.7 K%) and plate discipline numbers that suggest he should cut his 10.8 BB% down immensely this season. The matchup looks quite good in pitcher-friendly PETCO Park (fourth-lowest park factor for runs at 0.904, per our MLB factors). Among Sunday’s likely starting hitters for the Padres, only Fernando Tatis Jr. tallied a wRC+ more than 5% above league average with a 129 wRC+, and just four hitters had a wRC+ north of 100 out of that group. He’s a small underdog with the Diamondbacks at +110 on the moneyline, but the game’s over/under total of only 8.5 runs is the lowest on the slate, per BettingPros consensus Over/Under totals.

Maeda has a tough draw against a talent White Sox lineup, but he and the Twins are -145 moneyline favorites. The game’s over/under total of 10.5 runs is alarming, but Maeda’s a skilled pitcher with top-shelf bat-missing skills. Among pitchers who totaled at least 150 innings last year, Maeda’s 14.6 SwStr% was seventh-best, according to FanGraphs. He also ranked tied for 20th with a 27.1 K%. His 4.04 ERA and 4.06 SIERA were solid if unspectacular, but his strikeout ability plays well in GPPs.

Sticking with the theme of strikeout ability playing in GPPs, despite his many warts, Keller ripped off a 28.6 K% in 11 starts spanning 48.0 innings as a rookie. His 7.13 ERA was ghastly, but his 3.78 SIERA was much more promising. The stuff that made him one of the top-100 prospects according to numerous reputable outlets helped him generate a strong 11.8 SwStr%. The right-handed youngster will toe the rubber against a Cardinals squad that lacks elite left-handed hitters. That’s not to say they don’t have some decent left-handed or switch-hitting batters, but it’s not a group to avoid starting right-handed pitchers against. Keller has GPP appeal at a super cheap price tag that will allow you to spend up heavily on some of the game’s elite hitters in plus matchups today.

Catcher/First Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Matt Olson (OAK) vs. LAA $3,200 ⭐⭐ High
Joey Votto (CIN) vs. DET $3,100 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Jesus Aguilar (MIA) @ PHI $2,400 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium

 
Olson’s home ballpark does his elite power no favors, but he’s still done ample damage against right-handed pitchers even in his homer suppressing home digs. In 501 plate appearances against righties at home in his career, he’s slugged 30 homers with a .265 ISO. If Shohei Ohtani‘s a little rusty in his first regular season start after spending last year rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, Olson has the power to punish him. He’s strictly a GPP option, though.

Votto’s an option in cash games or GPPs. His power has been down in back-to-back seasons with only 12 homers in 623 plate appearances in 2018 and 15 in 608 plate appearances last year, but he’s come out of the chute slugging with a pair of dingers through two games thus far this year. Even in a couple of down years at the dish, Votto’s remained strong with OBP (namely at home against righties), which elevates his floor. His quality of contact and batted-ball profile also remain elite at home against righties.

Aguilar has a few things working for him, starting with calling the two-hole home in Miami’s lineup. He also benefits from playing today’s game in the most homer-friendly ballpark for right-handed hitters (1.259), Citizens Bank Park. He’s already smashed a homer this year, and the righty starter he opposes today, Vince Velasquez, was rocked by right-handed hitters to the tune of a .502 SLG and .349 wOBA last year.

Second Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Brandon Lowe (TB) vs. TOR $2,700 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Kolten Wong (STL) vs. PIT $2,600 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Howie Kendrick (WAS) vs. NYY $2,500 ⭐⭐⭐ Low

 
As a whole, I’m not particularly enamored with the value options at the keystone position. Lowe will open the game facing righty Thomas Hatch making his MLB debut, but MLB’s probable pitchers page indicates southpaw Anthony Kay is expected to relieve him, leading me to believe it’s more like an opener for a few innings situation than a traditional start. Lowe has a sizable platoon split that favors facing right-handed pitching, so maybe he can do his damage before Hatch is lifted.

Wong’s an unexciting option after tallying a 111 wRC+ with a modest .144 ISO last year and owning a similarly ho hum 112 wRC+ and .150 ISO against right-handed pitchers since 2017. Still, those numbers aren’t too shabby, and he’s been slotted in the leadoff role for the Red Birds’ first two games against right-handed starting pitchers. At his salary, he’s a good option in cash games or GPPs — namely if Keller’s struggles carryover to this season.

At the time of writing this late Saturday night, it appears the Yankees are going to go with a bullpen game and start with an opener. Kendrick’s hit cleanup in both games for the Nationals this year, and they’ve faced a right-hander and left-hander through two contests, making it clear he’s entrenched there regardless of the handedness of the pitcher the Yankees open with. Kendrick’s been an above-average hitter against lefties and righties over the last few years with a 139 wRC+ against southpaws and a 124 wRC+ against righties since 2017. He’s my favorite of the second base options in the table. Having said that, Mike Moustakas — who’s the third-most expensive second baseman at $3,500 and, thus, didn’t qualify for the value designation — is my favorite option at the position.

Third Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Eugenio Suarez (CIN) vs. DET $3,200 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Todd Frazier (TEX) vs. COL $2,600 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Brian Anderson (MIA) @ PHI $2,500 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low

 
Would you look at that, another Red makes an appearance in the tables. I’m expecting the Reds to hang a crooked number on the Tigers, and Suarez should have a hand in doing so from the third slot. For his part, Suarez has battered same-handed pitching foes in his homer-friendly (1.162 for right-handed batters) home park. In 684 plate appearances against righties at home since 2017, Suarez owns a massive .285 ISO, 130 wRC+, and tasty 44.0 Hard%.

Frazier is a dinger-chasing play in GPPs at a cheap price in a plus matchup. He’s sandwiched good power seasons against lefties around a dud in 2018 with a .345 ISO in 2017 and .246 ISO last year surrounding an ugly .108 ISO in 2018. Opposing lefty Kyle Freeland was tattooed for a .579 SLG and .383 wOBA by 384 right-handed batters last year.

Anderson’s probably my favorite sleeper-ish hitting option today. I noted opposing starter Velasquez’s struggles with right-handed hitters when discussing Aguilar above, and those struggles aid Anderson’s cause for a fantasy-friendly line today. I’m intrigued by Anderson’s growing fly-ball percentage, uptick in pulled balls, and improving quality of contact against right-handed pitchers on the road. That’s a recipe for an uptick in power, and he saw just that last year with a .218 ISO under those conditions compared to only a .135 ISO the year before.

Shortstop

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Gleyber Torres (NYY) @ WAS $3,300 ⭐⭐ Medium
Carlos Correa (HOU) vs. SEA $3,200 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Bo Bichette (TOR) @ TB $2,900 Medium

 
The cup runneth over with elite young options at the shortstop position to use today. Although, my favorite shortstop option is one of the highlighted studs worth their salary below. Correa gives him a run for his money, though. In 303 plate appearances against southpaws since 2017, Correa’s smoked them for a .419 OBP, .183 ISO, and 154 wRC+. Yusei Kikuchi has reportedly put in a lot of work to improve after a poor transition from NPB to MLB last year, but he’ll have to prove he’s made strides before I bypass using an elite right-handed hitter like Correa against a guy who coughed up a .545 SLG and .374 wOBA to right-handed batters last season.

Torres and Bichette are strictly talent-based plays in less-than-ideal matchups. Both also boast favorite lineup spots with the former hitting third for the Bronx Bombers thus far this year and the latter hitting leadoff for the Blue Jays. They’re both worth mixing in for gamers multi entering GPPs.

Outfield

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Giancarlo Stanton (NYY) @ WAS $3,700 ⭐⭐ Low
Max Kepler (MIN) @ CHW $3,000 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Kyle Schwarber (CHC) vs. MIL $2,800 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Jay Bruce (PHI) vs. MIA $2,400 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ High
Jesse Winker (CIN) vs.DET $2,300 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium

 
I’ve taken some liberties including Stanton as a value play. He’s actually more expensive than one of the studs worth their salary below, but he’s just the eighth-most expensive outfielder. Stanton’s one of the game’s elite lefty-mashers, making him a bargain barely cracking the top-10 outfielders in salary today. Among hitters with at least 300 plate appearances against lefties since 2017, Stanton ranks ninth in OBP (.418), and second in ISO (.379) and wRC+ (188).

Kepler smacked a couple of homers in the season opener, and Minnesota’s leadoff hitter against righties has turned into quite the slugger against righties. Last year, he whipped up new career-highs in ISO (.281), Hard% (43.9%), and Pull% (54.8%) against righties. His newfound power stroke should serve him well against Reynaldo Lopez. The hard-throwing righty yielded a .493 SLG and .364 wOBA to left-handed hitters last year.

Schwarber continues the trend of slugging outfielders. He hit his first homer of the year yesterday, and he’s ripped the cover off the ball against righties at home in his career. In 740 plate appearances against righties at home since debuting in 2015, he owns a .365 OBP, .299 ISO, and 139 wRC+. Last year, he was outstanding under those conditions with a .376 OBP, .324 ISO, and 145 wRC+. Give him a further bump in value if the weather report indicates the wind’s blowing out at Wrigley Field.

Bruce is a tater chase option on the cheap. He bounced back from a forgettable 2018 in which he totaled a .146 ISO against righties to power up for a .310 ISO against them last year. Unsurprisingly, his resurgent power was accompanied by a bounce back in hard hits kicking his 33.7 Hard% up to 43.3% against righties last year. His power will get a lift from playing at Citizens Bank Park (1.179 for homers for lefties) and facing Jose Urena. Urena coughed up a .544 SLG and .376 wOBA to lefties last season.

Winker’s a platoon outfielder, but he holds the platoon advantage against a righty today. Yesterday with the Reds facing a righty, he hit leadoff. Assuming he hits atop the order again today, I’ll look past the likelihood of him being lifted for a pinch-hitter against a lefty reliever later in the game to roster his outstanding numbers against righties at home on the cheap. In 346 plate appearances against righties at home in his career, Winker’s popped off a .420 OBP, .227 ISO, and 154 wRC+.

5 Studs Worth Their Salary

  • Carlos Carrasco CLE ($9,100): Cookie’s my favorite pitcher today. The Royals were shut out in the opener and punched out 14 times against Shane Bieber. They scraped together a win but scored only three runs yesterday, and Mike Clevinger held them to two runs on four hits and zero walks with six punchouts. Kansas City’s offense is dreadful, and Carrasco’s bat-missing prowess (28.1 K% and 14.9 SwStr% in 2019) should befuddle them.
  • Corey Kluber TEX ($8,900): Kluber’s 2019 season was cut short due to injury after a bumpy seven starts. He was awesome in 2018, though, and the Rockies are horrendous on the road and no great shakes against righties, either. That’s good enough to make Kluber a viably GPP pivot off of the similarly priced Carrasco and an alternative to the cheaper options featured above.
  • J.D. Martinez BOS ($4,000): When Martinez faces a southpaw — especially a below-average one like Wade LeBlanc — fire up the game’s far and away top lefty killer.
  • Alex Bregman HOU ($3,900): Bregman’s the most accomplished lefty-killer of Houston’s elite right-handed hitters, and he owns a .415 OBP, .295 ISO, and 177 wRC+ against them since 2017.
  • Xander Bogaerts BOS ($3,600): Bogaerts is a strong stack/hook option with Martinez or a great play on his own if Martinez receives a day off (really, that’s the only excuse not to use Martinez).

5 Notable Players to Fade

  • Blake Snell TB ($10,200): Snell would make this section even if he was expected to be cut loose, but he’s the easiest fade imaginable with him reportedly on a “tight pitch count.” Pass.
  • Patrick Corbin WAS ($9,400): Corbin’s plenty good enough to turn in a solid start even in a tough matchup, but the Yankees boast an elite collection of right-handed hitters/lefty-mashers who should make it a tough turn for him today. The only argument for using him is being contrarian, but that’s a poor argument in this case.
  • Rafael Devers BOS ($3,700): Devers could make me look dumb for including him here and excluding him from a stack with his touted teammates above, but he’s a below-average hitter against southpaws and a poor standalone play. He’s semi defensible in a stack, namely since he could do damage against Baltimore’s poor bullpen, but I’m fading him.
  • Paul Goldschmidt STL ($3,600): Goldschmidt’s .228 ISO and 130 wRC+ against righties since 2017 are good enough to warrant consideration, but those numbers slipped to a .199 ISO and 108 wRC+ last year. In a stack against Keller he’s usable, but he’s too rich for my blood against a righty as a one-off option.
  • Keston Hiura MIL ($3,100): I’m a big fan of Hiura, but I’m not a fan of a matchup with sinkerballer Tyler Chatwood. The veteran righty’s merely a fringe starting pitcher, but he’s tough as nails against righties having yielded just a .219 SLG and .288 wOBA to them in 2018 and holding them to a .296 SLG and .261 wOBA last year.

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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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