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DraftKings DFS MLB Strategy Advice: Friday (8/14)

Aug 14, 2020

Twelve games on the board on this fine Friday, and boy oh boy are there some great plays on both sides of the ball here. No slate so far this year comes close to the amount of juice we see here, and scores should be very high tonight. Let’s march onward.

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Coors Game

I find it easier to write these posts if I just isolate the Coors Field game, get it out of the way, and then move forward as if the game doesn’t exist. So far in 2020, hitters are scoring 1.7 DraftKings points per plate appearance. When those plate appearances are coming in Coors Field, however, that number balloons to 2.1. That is a 24% boost. When you look at the previous five years, you see pretty much the same thing: 1.7 DK points per PA overall, and 2.0 at Coors.

Tonight the Rangers are the visiting team in Colorado, and they will throw out their ace Lance Lynn. I was curious as to how visiting stud pitchers fare in Coors Field, so I went back and looked at every non-Rockies starting pitcher in Coors priced at or above $9,000. In 40 starts, those pitchers have averaged 13 DraftKings points. Pitchers priced above $9,000 have averaged 20 DraftKings points pitching everywhere else. That’s a pretty big reduction that suggests that no pitcher (besides Jon Gray, of course) is immune to Coors Field.

However, Rockies hitters have averaged just 1.73 DraftKings points per plate appearance at home when their opponent starts a pitcher priced at $9,000 or above on DraftKings. When their opposing SP is priced below $9,000, they average 2.08 points per plate appearance. They seem to become a league-average offense in these types of games, but they are priced like an elite unit tonight.

That is the hard data on the Rockies tonight, but I could also offer some general thoughts. One of the biggest reasons that pitchers struggle at Coors is because they cannot get as much spin on their pitches at such a high altitude. Check out this FanGraphs article for more information. Lance Lynn does not rely on spin nearly as much as other pitchers. Last year, 88% of Lynn’s pitches were some form of fastball (he throws what Baseball Savant classifies as a four-seam, a sinker, and a cutter). While he does have quite a bit of spin on those fastballs, and that certainly helps with movement and deception, he is not going to have to rely on a crisp curve to put hitters away tonight. I’m not playing Lynn at $9,000, but there is more than enough there for me to scratch the Rockies off my list at these crazy price tags.

On the Rangers side, things seem much more friendly. The Rockies are not starting Jon Gray or German Marquez, which means full steam ahead. The only thing that really matters now is the price tags. Since we know that hitters gain about 25% in Coors, we could do some math and see by what percentage their prices have changed for tonight’s game and compare to that figure. Here is that rundown.

Only three of the guys in the Rangers projected lineup have seen their prices rise by 20% or more: Todd Frazier, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Robinson Chirinos. The Rangers bats are a full go tonight.

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Value Pitchers to Target

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Sonny Gray (CIN) vs. PIT $9,600 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Aaron Civale (CLE) @ DET $9,300 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Frankie Montas (OAK) @ SFG $8,400 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Spencer Howard (PHI) vs. NYM $4,000 ⭐⭐⭐ High

Gray:  This price is a value to me. The Pirates put nine earned runs on Anthony DeSclafani last night, but even with that ridiculous barrage, their hitters are still averaging just 1.51 DraftKings points per plate appearance (third-lowest on the slate behind the Indians and Brewers). Gray has a 30% strikeout rate since 2019 began with a 1.06 WHIP and a 0.9 HR/9 rate. The Pirates do not strike out a ton, but Gray’s 30+ point upside is still intact — he should be a five-figure starter.

Civale: I have less confidence in Civale than Gray, but the 31% strikeout rate, 3% walk rate, and 45% ground ball are all too much to ignore against the Tigers tonight. The hesitation comes from the fact that Civale hasn’t been this good for very long, he had just a 20% strikeout rate last year, and while I am a believer in the changes he’s made — I can’t put him quite on the same level as the Gray for just $300 less.

Montas: This is the value of all values. Montas has posted a 26% strikeout rate, a 6.6% walk rate, a 1.09 WHIP and a ridiculous 0.6 HR/9 over his last two seasons. He looks every bit as good in 2020 as he did in 2019, and $8,400 is just a criminally low price for someone with this floor/ceiling combination. He is unlikely to lead the slate in strikeouts, but you can’t do much better than this when you consider the price tag.

Howard: Spencer’s first start didn’t go well, as he gave up seven hits and four earned runs in just 4.2 innings against the Braves last week. However, he did throw 81 pitches, which shows that the Phillies are willing to let him take on a full workload. He had a 31% strikeout rate in AA ball last year with a just fine 7% walk rate. The jump from AA to MLB is no joke, and you shouldn’t have any super high expectations out of the chute for Howard, but the upside is certainly there, and the $4,000 price tag mitigates a lot of the risk.

Catcher/First Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Austin Nola (SEA) HOU (Framber Valdez) $3,100 ⭐⭐ Medium
Carlos Santana (CLE) DET (Ivan Nova) $4,300 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Dominic Smith (NYM) PHI (Spencer Howard) $3,500 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium

 

Nola: This guy has the fifth-highest wOBA (2019-2020) of all catchers on the slate (Garver, Perez, Contreras, Realmuto ahead of him), and yet he is one of the cheapest. Since last year he has a .344 wOBA with a pretty impressive 23% strikeout rate and 8.2% walk rate. He is an above-average hitter, and he’s priced like a normal catcher. Take advantage.

Santana: While the strengths don’t really match up well here between Santana and Nova (Santana walks a ton and Nova hardly walks anybody), there will be all kinds of contact opportunities in this spot for Santana. The Indians have a really nice run projection tonight against a guy who has just a 14% strikeout rate with a .364 xwOBA against. Nova has been especially bad against lefties, with a 13% strikeout rate and a 1.7 HR/9 rate. Carlos doesn’t give you tons of upside since he’s more of a walk-and-doubles kind of hitter, but there should be RBI opportunity presented to him tonight – and the price tag hasn’t come up for this nice spot.

Smith: I don’t like recommending guys just because they’ve had a few good games in a row, but there might be a little more to it than that with Smith. He has always been viewed as a guy with tons of potential, and the dude just turned 25 years old. He has found regular at-bats with the Mets this year with the universal DH and Cespedes opting out, and he’s taken advantage to the tune of a .262/.353/.667 triple slash line. He has a 12% walk rate and a 24% strikeout rate to boot, so he seems like a much more polished hitter than what you’ll usually find in the mid-3000’s.

Second Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Keston Hiura (MIL) CHC (Tyler Chatwood) $4,400 ⭐⭐ High
Cesar Hernandez (CLE) DET (Ivan Nova) $4,100 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Josh VanMeter (CIN) PIT (Chad Kuhl) $3,000 ⭐⭐ High
Andres Gimenez (NYM) PHI (Spencer Howard) $2,800 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium

Hiura: Price drop alert! Hiura has been in the $4,800 range all season long, but now he’s fallen to $4,400. While his production has not been great thus far, Hiura has a rare power/speed combination that’s hard to find at $4,400. Nobody really knows what Tyler Chatwood is all about after two completely elite starts, followed by one of the worst we’ve ever seen, so I’m not all over the Brewers or anything, but I’ll take a stab at the discount on Hiura here.

Hernandez: The same story as Santana above, I am not a huge fan of Hernandez for DFS just because of the lack of power; I typically want someone who can pay off their salary in one swing. However, Hernandez is hitting leadoff against Nova, so he’s got tons of on-base and steal potential. He is more of a cash-game play for me, but he’s a good one nonetheless.

VanMeter: He is a coin flip at best to be in the lineup tonight, and if he is, he won’t be at the top of it. That said, he’s got big-time home run potential here at $3,000. VanMeter hit 14 homers in 211 plate appearances in AAA last year before getting the call to the bigs, where he hit eight more in 260 plate appearances. He did all that while walking at a good clip, and that has continued this year as he’s drawn three walks in 25 PAs. For $3,000, you can do a lot worse.

Gimenez: Another guy who has benefited somewhat from the weird season, Gimenez has found his way into the Mets’ regular lineup despite never seeing any AAA action. He has taken advantage, as he’s hit .286 so far with five steals! A base knock and a steal pays off this salary by itself. There is also the chance that Gimenez finds himself in the top third of the lineup tonight after the injury to Jeff McNeil. If he hits in the top three spots of the lineup, he is a set it and forget it play in my eyes.

 

Third Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Kris Bryant (CHC) MIL (Brandon Woodruff) $4,200 High
Alec Bohm (PHI) NYM (Jacob deGrom) $2,100 High

Not much to like at third base tonight at this point, I’ll probably try to find the money for Kiner-Falefa in Coors.

Bryant: Bryant has a bum wrist and a date with one of the nastier pitchers in the league, but price is king, and $4,200 is too low for Bryant. For his career, he has been a $4,700 player on average. The recent performance and tough opposition might justify the price drop, but I’m always interested in buy-low situations.

Bohm: Quite possibly the worst match-up possible, but if you need a “super punt,” Bohm isn’t a bad bet to luck into a long ball here. He is the Phillies top-ranked prospect and doubled in his big league debut last night. This is strictly a price play that will help you spend up elsewhere.

Shortstop

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Francisco Lindor (CLE) DET (Ivan Nova) $5,200 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Jonathan Villar (MIA) ATL (Kyle Wright) $4,100 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Chris Taylor (LAD) LAA (Patrick Sandoval) $3,400 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium

Lindor: A bit too much for one of the best hitters in the league in a great spot. Forget the slow start to 2020 he’s had, buy in here.

Villar: While Kyle Wright is a talented pitcher, he has tons of trouble throwing strikes, proven by his 15% walk rate over the last two seasons. Villar has lots of stolen base upside here if Wright throws him four wide ones.

Taylor: He hasn’t found himself in the lineup a ton this year, but he continues to produce when he’s in there. In 70 plate appearances so far this year, he has hit .288/.400/.407 with a homer and a steal. The lineup spot usually stinks, and Sandoval is by no means a bum pitcher, but Taylor has some great upside at $3,400 nonetheless.

Outfield

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Christian Yelich (MIL) CHC (Tyler Chatwood) $4,800 ⭐⭐⭐ High
George Springer (HOU) SEA (Yusei Kikuchi) $4,600 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Nick Markakis (ATL) MIA (Pablo Lopez) $3,700 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
A.J. Pollock (LAD) LAA (Patrick Sandoval) $3,400 ⭐⭐ Medium
Robbie Grossman (OAK) SFG (Johnny Cueto) $2,700 ⭐⭐ Low

 

Yelich: He’s been a lot more himself over the last eight games, with a .424 on-base percentage to go with three homers and a steal. The matchup with Chatwood is not a scary one, and you are still getting that discount on him after his brutal start to the year.

Springer: Kikuchi has been very friendly to right-handed bats with a .370 wOBA against and 1.8 HR/9. If Springer is back on top of the lineup, he’s a great value play at a season-low $4,600.

Markakis: Lopez has shown flashes of brilliance in his young career, but overall, he’s been pretty miserable against lefties. Southpaws have hit .292 against him with 1.5 HR/9 and have stuck him with a 1.51 WHIP. Markakis comes with little upside but a nice floor given his contact abilities.

Pollock: Can you explain why a dude slugging .643 in one of the best lineups in baseball is priced at $3,400 tonight? I can’t.

Grossman: Perpetually too cheap. When he gets into the lineup, he produces. He’s hitting .311/.466/.600 this year with three homers in just 58 plate appearances. You probably shouldn’t expect a homer from him tonight in Oracle Park against Cueto, but I’m always interested in someone this talented under the $3,000 mark.

Studs Worth Their Salary

  • Gerrit Cole (SP – NYY) $11,000: 39% strikeout rate, 6% walk rate, 2.62 xFIP over the last two seasons, and now a matchup with a Red Sox offense that averages just 1.67 DraftKings points per plate appearance. Make yourself a cole-powered lineup tonight.
  • Mookie Betts (OF – LAD) $5,600: The three homers last night might actually be a reason to fade Betts. Why? There is no evidence that a good game affects your production the next night, and some people will be chasing that game. However, the price is justified here for a guy who can score fantasy points in as many ways as Betts can. The matchup is fine against Sandoval, and Betts has a great floor leading off for the Dodgers.
  • Charlie Blackmon (OF – COL) $6,000: I know I basically already said this is a fade earlier, but if you’re going to play a Rockies hitter against Lynn, it should be Blackmon. His stats are video game numbers this year with a .474 average, a .506 on-base percentage, and a minuscule 11.4% strikeout rate.
  • Mike Trout (OF – LAA) $5,800: Who has two thumbs and doesn’t care that Trout is just 2/13 with no homers against Kershaw in his lifetime? This guy! Nobody will be on Trout tonight, and getting the best hitter in the league at almost no ownership is a great tournament play.
  • Max Kepler (OF – MIN) $4,600: I like anybody who can put the ball into the air against Junis, and Kepler does just that. He had a 47% fly-ball rate last year and a 49% rate this year, all the while limiting strikeouts with a career 18% strikeout rate. The price is high for Kepler here, but I think he’s a good bet to put one over the fence tonight.

Notable Players to Fade

  • Jacob deGrom (SP – NYM) $11,600: It’s true that the Phillies have been a great offense this year (1.85 DraftKings points per plate appearance), but that’s not the reason I’m telling you to fade deGrom. The reason is that Cole is $600 cheaper. Unless you’re playing multiple lineups or you want to spend nearly half your salary allotment on pitching tonight, I don’t see why you’d choose deGrom over Cole.
  • Clayton Kershaw (SP – LAD) $10,600: Same reasoning as the deGrom explanation, why go with a 27% strikeout rate Kershaw when Cole is just $400 more? The fade becomes even easier when you see the matchup against the Angels who have scored 1.75 DraftKings points per plate appearance and have that murderer’s row of Trout-Rendon-Ohtani to deal with.
  • Dinelson Lamet (SP – SD) $9,200: Lamet has been incredible this year, and he owns a ridiculous 33% strikeout rate over the last two seasons. However, at $9,200, I think you’re assuming too much risk. He has a 9.2% walk rate over the last two seasons and is prone to the quick-hook if things aren’t going right. The Diamondbacks are no push-over offense, and there are just too many other great pitchers on the board tonight to go down this road.
  •  Aaron Judge (OF – NYY) $6,200: He is banged up and overpriced. I can’t justify paying $6,000 for many players, and certainly not for a guy with a 31% strikeout rate. I’ll look at Judge once he’s back near $5,000 again.
  • Nick Castellanos (OF – CIN) $4,800: I don’t know if Chad Kuhl is getting the respect he deserves, he has a really strong arm and has pitched awesome this year with a 34% strikeout rate and an 8% walk rate. His curveball is just sickening and has a 57% called strike plus whiff rate this year. I’ll be steering clear of the Reds tonight.

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Jon Anderson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Jon, check out his archive and follow him @JonPgh.

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