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DraftKings DFS MLB Strategy Advice: Thursday (8/27)

Aug 27, 2020

I feel like every one of these writeups needs a disclaimer, with all of the uncertainty these games are facing each day. There are a plethora of reasons why a player might not play or a game might not be played, which seems to follow suit with how this season has developed so far.

Keep an eye on the lineup cards and be ready to make changes to your roster as we approach the first pitch for each game — you never know what’s going to happen today!

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Value Plays: Pitcher

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Sixto Sanchez (MIA) @ NYM $5,100 ⭐⭐ High
Kwang Hyun Kim (STL) vs. PIT $5,900 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ High
Chris Bassitt (OAK) @ TEX $8,600 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium

Sanchez, the Marlins’ top pitching prospect, made his major league debut in his last outing. Not only does he bring the heat (98.5 MPH average velocity on his fastball in his last start), but he exhibited excellent control throughout his minor league career (4.6 BB% in his last minor league season). The downside to this matchup is that he’s facing the Mets, who are third in the league for wRC+ at 120. However, with his control, talent, and price tag, it’s worth taking a chance and utilizing that salary elsewhere.

With only 10.2 innings in the MLB, we have to lean on some of Kim’s KBO stats to get an idea of what kind of pitcher he is. One of his hallmarks with his prior clubs was his control — he kept his BB/9 under 2.00 during his last two seasons. Although he posted respectable strikeout numbers, those haven’t translated quite yet. With all of that said, he posted 21.7 points in his last start and is facing off against the Pirates, who are second to last in the league with a wRC+ of 71. If you’ve read any of my prior articles, with the rampant uncertainty you will face in DFS, I’m a big fan of taking chances on low-budget starting pitchers. Although the Pirates have some really talented batters, they are truly struggling this year, as exhibited by the whiff percentages of Josh Bell and Gregory Polanco (38.4 and 52.7, respectively).

If you want to spend a little more on your pitchers, but you don’t want to totally break the bank, then look no further than Bassitt, who has been very consistent in his DFS production this year. Averaging 15.7 points per game in 2020, Bassitt faces the Rangers, who are last in the league in wRC+ (65) as well as team batting average (.211). The Rangers are sending out Jordan Lyles, who has a 9.25 ERA this year, and that bodes well for Bassit’s chances of netting a W during this start. There are studs that are more of a certainty, but Bassitt has a pristine matchup on paper and should have a decent day.

Catcher/First Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Yan Gomes (WAS) vs. PHI $3,000 ⭐⭐ Medium
Michael Chavis (BOS) @ TOR $3,100 ⭐⭐⭐ High
Eric Thames (WSH) vs. PHI $3,800 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium

The matchup doesn’t favor Gomes, as he struggled more against righties than lefties, but he’s been on a tear lately and has had an excellent month overall. He also cedes starts to Kurt Suzuki, so you’ll have to watch for the lineup sheet, but Gomes is riding a nine-game hitting streak — five of which have been multi-hit games. The Nationals are also facing 24-year-old Spencer Howard, who is the owner of a miserable 6.17 ERA. To be fair, Howard has really impressed in the minors, so I’m sure that he will enjoy success at the major league level eventually. That said, he hasn’t found any consistency this year.

Chavis handles the right-handed side of Boston’s first base platoon, and he should start today against the left-handed Ryu. Both Chavis and his platoon mate (Mitch Moreland) have been doing well in their respective roles this year. Chavis is rocking a 120 wRC+ against lefties to go along with a .276 batting average, but he still has a difficult matchup against Ryu, who has had a very solid 2020 campaign. This is a high-risk pick because of Ryu, but Chavis could still return decent value, especially at this price. If Chavis sits for whatever reason, Mitch Moreland would be likely to make the start.

Like Chavis, Thames is a platoon bat. And like Gomes, he’s also facing Howard. He’s the likely starter today at first base for the Nationals. There’s a little bit of risk here since Thames hasn’t had his usual level of success against righties, but if there’s a matchup to break the slump, today would be it. Thames hit 23 home runs against righties in 2019, and since 2017, he has a 123 wRC+ against right-handed pitching.

Second Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Jeff McNeil (NYM) vs. MIA $3,800 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Robinson Cano (NYM) vs. MIA $4,000 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Hanser Alberto (BAL) @ TB $4,200 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium

McNeil hasn’t had his usual level of success in 2020. That’s likely due to a knee injury that nagged at him earlier in the season and then the lack of playing time due to the coronavirus. However, he’s facing the aforementioned Sanchez today, and he has a career 142 wRC+ against righties. When in the lineup, McNeil also typically bats between first and third, so he is almost always in the thick of the action and has a good chance to net some runs or RBIs.

Cano enjoys the same matchup today as McNeil, and despite his age, he has enjoyed a throwback season so far. Cano is currently posting a 1.145 OPS and 211 wRC+ against right-handed pitching, and he typically bats fifth in the Mets’ lineup. This puts him in the likely position of batting with a runner on (as shown by his 14 RBIs in 20 games this year). Although I listed Sanchez as a value play at pitcher, and I think he still has a good shot at netting some value points with his strikeouts and control, batters like Cano are also in a great spot to score.

Alberto is flirting with standard value at his price tag, but given his matchup today, I think he still qualifies as a value pick. He has a 153 wRC+ against lefties this year and has a 154 wRC+ on the road. Toeing the rubber against Alberto is Ryan Yarbrough. Unfortunately for Yarbrough, he’s pitching at home, where he’s yielded a .370 wOBA. He’s also given up 13 earned runs in 18.2 innings so far in August. It hasn’t been a great stretch for the opposing pitcher, and Alberto will be in a great spot to take advantage of that today.

Third Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Yandy Diaz (TB) vs. BAL $3,500 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Travis Shaw (TOR) vs. BOS $3,600 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ High
Evan Longoria (SF) vs. LAD $3,900 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium

Diaz has had a bit of a dry spell over his last few games after a bit of a hot streak. While left-handed pitchers have been Diaz’s weaker side this year, he still has a 121 wRC+ against them. His opponent, John Means, has given up a .392 wOBA against right-handed batters this year and owns a 10.13 ERA so far. At his current price point, all of these factors make Diaz a solid start today while freeing up salary elsewhere.

Shaw is quite vexing this year. He’s an aging bat who historically has done better against right-handed pitchers, but who hasn’t quite done that this year. With that said, almost anyone facing Boston pitching this year has a good matchup. As I mentioned in my last writeup, during Shaw’s last full season (2018) he hit 30 of his 32 home runs against righties. Assuming he’s in the lineup today, he’ll go against journeyman Chris Mazza, who is getting mashed by lefties to the tune of a .677 wOBA. I’m tagging this as high risk given Shaw’s atypical struggles against right-handed pitching, but the matchup is ripe for a big day for Shaw.

I always have a hard time picking against a premier starting pitcher like Kershaw, but Longoria has a long track record of success against him. In 20 at-bats, Longoria has managed a .350 BA, and he has gone 6-for-9 in his last two games. To boot, Longoria is sporting a 174 wRC+ against left-handed pitchers this year. This matchup checks almost all of the boxes of a locked-and-loaded value pick, with my only reservation being that it’s against Clayton Kershaw.

Shortstop

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Miguel Rojas (MIA) @ NYM $3,800 ⭐⭐⭐ High
Willy Adames (BAL) @ TB $3,900 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Jake Cronenworth (SD) vs. SEA $3,900 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium

At the outset of 2020, I wouldn’t have picked Rojas to have a big year, but it’s 2020, and apparently anything goes. Rojas is rocking a 158 wRC+ against righties this year and has been far more patient than in years past, as exhibited by his 11.4 BB%. He’ll seemingly start the day against middle reliever Robert Gsellman, who likely will not pitch more than two to three innings. This is a higher-risk play given the uncertainty in who Rojas may face after Gsellman, but it certainly looks like he isn’t going to be facing any marquee names on the mound.

Adames has been one of my more consistent value picks this season, and his sub-$4,000 price tag keeps that theme going. Adames is hitting well against left-handed pitching this year: 191 wRC+, .445 wOBA, and 1.039 SLG. As noted earlier in this article, he’s facing Means, who has really struggled against right-handed batters this year. I’m honestly surprised that Adames’ price tag isn’t in the $4,500 range today given all of these factors. I’ll have Adames in as many of my lineups as possible.

In our earlier slate of games, Cronenworth has been consistently swinging a hot bat. He’s hitting righties very well this year (188 wRC+) and has managed a very impressive one-to-one walk to strikeout ratio against the same. He’ll be teeing off against Taijuan Walker, who has a 7.28 FIP and .396 wOBA against left-handed bats so far. Cronenworth also has the luxury of batting in the Padres’ impressive lineup, which gives him protection and therefore pitches over the plate.

Outfield

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Kevin Pillar (BOS) @ TOR $3,000 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ High
Manuel Margot (TB) vs. BAL $3,100 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Adam Eaton (WSH) vs. PHI $3,200 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Matt Joyce (MIA) @ NYM $3,600 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ High
Alex Verdugo (BOS) @ TOR $3,600 ⭐⭐ High

Although Pillar has typically been known for his defense, he’s really picked up the pace on offense in recent years. So far on the abbreviated season, Pillar has a 128 wRC+ against lefties, and despite Boston’s pitching struggles, their offense is still capable of racking up some runs. Pillar is also a threat to steal, as he’s logged 14 or more stolen bases for five straight seasons.

I just can’t say no to Margot. The guy can fill a stat sheet with the best of them this year, but he carries a budget-friendly price tag due to the daily uncertainty about where and if he’ll play. Again, I’m picking on Means, but he’s been awful this year, especially against righties. While Margot has hit right-handed pitching better this year, if you go back to last year, he’s likelier to rake against lefties. In 2019, Margot managed a 139 wRC+ against left-handed pitchers. He’s also always a threat to add some points with the stolen base.

Next up, we have Eaton, who faces off against the struggling Howard. While Eaton’s bat has been MIA against lefties, he’s managed a 120 wRC+ against right-handed pitchers. Although Eaton went 0-for-4 in his last game, he had averaged over 17 points per game in the three games prior. I really like Eaton today as a value pick. He should have a decent day, and with his price, you can upgrade at a shallower position when crafting your perfect lineup.

Joyce has always been a patient hitter, which means that he has a good chance to get on base and score even when he’s struggling. Fortunately, he hasn’t been struggling this year — he’s hitting righties really well so far (141 wRC+). He’s going to start his day against Gsellman, though as I noted earlier, he likely won’t be in the game for more than a few innings, so the risk here is a bit higher due to the unknown factors that might follow. Even still, Joyce has a very modest price tag and an excellent matchup (at least for his first couple at-bats).

Verdugo carries the same price tag as Joyce, but he doesn’t have as great of a matchup. On his career, he’s pretty average against left-handed pitching (104 wRC+), but he’s also managed a .298 batting average as well. He carries the risk of starting the day on the bench, so you’ll want to keep an eye on the lineup sheets and be ready to swap in another one of our picks. Still, if you’re getting to that last spot in your lineup and need to keep it under $4,000, you could do a lot worse than Verdugo. Plus, when he gets on base, he’s always a threat to make a play.

5 Studs Worth Their Salary

  • Dinelson Lamet (SD) $9,800: Lamet has been on fire this year and deserves a salary above $10,000. He’s definitely worth his price today.
  • Fernando Tatis Jr. (SD) $6,000: If anyone is worth over $6,000, it’s Tatis Jr. He’s been capable of everything this year.
  • Juan Soto (WSH) $5,900: Soto has been crushing the ball this year and is worth every penny. He’ll keep it rolling today against Howard.
  • Mike Yastrzemski (SF) $5,800: Despite facing Clayton Kershaw, Yastrzemski is still worth his salary, since he hits lefties so well.
  • Nelson Cruz (MIN) $5,700: The ageless Cruz has a pristine matchup today, and despite an 0-for-8 stretch, he’s primed for a big day.

5 Notable Players to Fade

  • Max Scherzer (WSH) $10,900: Scherzer hasn’t been his typical lights-out self and is a bit overpriced today.
  • Brandon Lowe (TB) $5,600: Lowe has had an excellent year, but has cooled off as of late.
  • Max Muncy (LAD) $5,500: Muncy still holds a lofty pricetag despite his struggles, and I’m just not buying into him yet.
  • Bryce Harper (PHI) $5,500: Harper has also had a very strong season, but he has been cool lately faces Max Scherzer.
  • Matt Olson (OAK) $5,300: For a guy who is hitting home runs and not doing much else, $5,300 feels a bit pricey.

All advanced statistics are courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball Savant.

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Tyler Burgess is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Tyler, check out his archive and follow him @ty_burg.

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