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DraftKings DFS MLB Strategy Advice: Saturday (8/22)

by Josh Shepardson | @BChad50 | Featured Writer
Aug 22, 2020

Carlos Santana anchors a Cleveland stack against Matthew Boyd on Saturday.

One stud pitcher is included among the studs worth their salary section, and a trio of interesting arms — to varying degrees — make up a strong value plays section for the position. The value hitters tables feature an unusual number of “low” risk players, and the studs worth their salary features a couple of Cleveland hitters and a pair of hitters with above-average thump against lefties.

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Value Plays

Pitcher

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Alex Cobb (BAL) vs. BOS $7,800 ⭐⭐ High
Justus Sheffield (SEA) vs. TEX $6,500 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Triston McKenzie (CLE) vs. DET $5,400 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ High

 
Cobb is a risky option in a tough matchup — as reflected in his two-star matchup grade — with the highest salary in the table. I wouldn’t suggest going overweight on him, but ignoring his resurgent splitter entirely isn’t advisable, either.

Sheffield is actually my favorite pitching option on this slate, price considered. It’s been tough sledding for him for the most part in the majors, but the once highly-touted prospect has put together back-to-back quality starts in which he’s allowed a total of just 10 hits, two runs (one earned), and one walk with 11 strikeouts in 12.0 innings. He’s kept the ball on the ground with a 47.2 GB% and leaned heavily on his slider (42.2 percent usage), according to FanGraphs. He’s only a medium-risk option because of the small sample of good starts, but his matchup is tantalizing.

McKenzie didn’t pitch last year due to injuries, but he gets a Charmin-soft matchup — despite the blowup performance from the Tigers last night — in his first big-league start. You can check out his MLB Pipeline scouting report for some background information from an actual prospect evaluator instead of me, a layman. It’s unclear how many pitches he’ll throw in his first start, but his tiny salary mitigates some of that risk, and we recently saw both Casey Mize and Dane Dunning each throw an identical 73 pitches in their big-league debuts against each other earlier this week. Perhaps the Indians will handle McKenzie with more caution, but 73 pitches seems like a reasonable rough guess with wiggle room in either direction.

Catcher/First Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Carlos Santana (CLE) vs. DET $4,400 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Eric Hosmer (SD) vs. HOU $3,600 ⭐⭐⭐ Low
Carson Kelly (ARI) @ SF $3,200 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low

 
Welcome to 2020 and the value of lifting the ball, Hosmer. Finally willing to hit the ball in the air with consistency, Hosmer is off to a career-year start at the dish. His salary hasn’t caught up yet.

The Indians are far and away my favorite stack tonight against a struggling Matt Boyd, and Santana typically slots in the heart of the order as the cleanup hitter. Further elaborating on Boyd’s struggles, he’s sporting a 9.64 ERA and 4.49 SIERA with a 3.09 HR/9, per FanGraphs. Additionally, out of 63 pitchers who’ve had a minimum of 100 plate appearances against them this year, Boyd’s .406 expected wOBA (xwOBA) is the highest ceded, according to Baseball Savant.

Second Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Ketel Marte (RI) @ SF $4,500 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Jean Segura (PHI) @ ATL $4,300 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Jake Cronenworth (SD) vs. HOU $2,800 ⭐⭐⭐ Low

 
Marte is looking more like his 2018 self than his super-stud 2019 self, but he’s still a very good option at the keystone in a five-star matchup. I’ll cop to knowing diddly poo about Cronenworth entering the 2020 season. Having said that, the 26-year-old rookie is raking with a .400 OBP, .269 ISO, and 169 wRC+. Elite plate discipline, contact skills, and batted-ball data back it up. Does that sound like a player who should be priced under $3,000? Nah. He’s the top value on tonight’s slate.

Third Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Eugenio Suarez (CIN) @ STL $4,700 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Jean Segura (PHI) @ ATL $4,300 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Kyle Seager (SEA) vs. TEX $3,300 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low

 
Seager is raking this year with a .386 OBP, .240 ISO, and 150 wRC+. Priced like a punt in a plus matchup, he’s a great source of salary relief if you need it. As I construct my preliminary rosters, though, my preference is to use a forthcoming third base option such as Suarez. Cincinnati’s third baseman has pulverized southpaws to a .409 OBP, .268 ISO, and 150 wRC+ since 2017.

Shortstop

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Jorge Polanco (MIN) @ KC $4,500 ⭐⭐⭐ Low
Nick Ahmed (ARI) @ SF $3,700 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
J.P. Crawford (SEA) vs. TEX $3,300 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium

 
My top option at shortstop is below. On rosters where I don’t use him, my preference is to spin all the way down to Crawford. Like Seager, he’s in a five-star matchup against Jordan Lyles, who has coughed up a .368 OBP, .525 SLG, and .374 wOBA to 305 lefties faced since last year.

Outfield

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Max Kepler (MIN) @ KC $4,600 ⭐⭐⭐ High
Franmil Reyes (CLE) vs. DET $4,500 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Andrew McCutchen (PHI) @ ATL $3,800 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Kyle Lewis (SEA) vs. TEX $3,300 ⭐⭐ High
Ian Happ (CHC) vs. CHW $3,300 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low

 
I’m fully enamored with Reyes and Happ. “Franimal” went deep last night, and he’s amassed a .382 OBP, .230 ISO, and 142 wRC+ against lefties since reaching The Show in 2018. Happ has elevated to the leadoff gig in the last four games against righties, all contests Kris Bryant missed with a wrist injury. If Bryant is out again and Happ retains his leadoff spot against presumed starter Reynaldo Lopez, he’s a steal. Even if he’s dropped in the order, his salary and excellence against righties would make him worth heavy exposure. In 829 plate appearances against righties since 2017, Happ owns a .361 OBP, .266 ISO, and 129 wRC+.

5 Studs Worth Their Salary

  • Zac Gallen, ARI ($9,600): Gallen is cooking with gasoline this year, spinning a sparkling 2.40 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 6.7 BB%, and 30.3 K%. Toss in his plus matchup with the Giants, and he’s worth his sticker price as the top pitching option on the slate — by a wide margin.
  • Jose Ramirez, CLE ($5,400):  See below.
  • Francisco Lindor, CLE ($5,300): Remember Boyd’s unsightly xwOBA noted above? Yeah, he’s struggling, and Ramirez and Lindor have the bona fides against lefties to help extend Boyd’s immense struggles.
  • J.T. Realmuto, PHI ($5,200): The presence of plenty of value on tonight’s slate opens the door to spending up at catcher. Realmuto’s .217 ISO and 110 wRC+ against lefties since 2017 play extremely well at catcher given the dearth of offensive options at the position. However, I’d still advise punting in cash games and only pay up for the edge at the position in GPPs.
  • Nick Castellano, CIN ($5,100): Castellanos is one of the game’s premier lefty mashers with a .392 OBP, .276 ISO, and 165 wRC+ against them since 2017.

5 Notable Players to Fade

  • Zack Wheeler, PHI ($10,300): See below.
  • Randy Dobnak, MIN ($8,600): Wheeler and Dobnak both appear in this section for essentially the same reason: a lack of strikeouts. They’re simply not worth paying up for with their low strikeout rates.
  • Charlie Blackmon, COL ($5,900): See below.
  • Trevor Story, COL ($5,600): See below.
  • Nolan Arenado, COL ($5,500): Does this trio appearing in one of the last two sections of this piece look familiar? I feel like they’re part of one of those maps with bubbles you answer the question to and follow the corresponding line. Are the Rockies at home? If you answer yes, follow the line to a bubble that instructs you to use them. Are they on the road? Tonight, the answer is yes. Follow that line to the corresponding section that asks, are their salaries reduced to reflect a road game? The answer to that question is no. Until DraftKings adjusts their salary algorithm to throttle back Colorado’s top trio’s salaries in road games, they’re a bad investment.

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Whether you’re new to fantasy baseball or a seasoned pro, our Fantasy Baseball 101: Strategy Tips & Advice page is for you. You can get started with our Sabermetrics Glossary or head to more advanced strategy – like How to Make Custom Fantasy Baseball Rankings with Microsoft Excel – to learn more.

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

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