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DraftKings DFS MLB Strategy Advice: Friday (9/25)

Sep 25, 2020

Sadly, it’s my last Friday writing these articles for you all (at least for the regular season when we have actual full-sized slates). It’s been a fun ten weeks, and I hope I brought some amusement and financial profit to all of you fine people!

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Value Pitchers to Target

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Dinelson Lamet (SD) vs. SF $9,700 ⭐⭐ Medium
Jose Urquidy (HOU) @ TEX $7,100 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Mitch Keller (PIT) @ CLE $6,000 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium

Lamet: The Giants’ offense has been one of the biggest surprises of 2020. They have scored a strong 1.8 DraftKings points per plate appearance while striking out just 21 percent of the time. That strikeout number isn’t as alarming when you consider Lamet’s 34.3 percent strikeout rate. He has really cut down on the walks this year and has developed into an ace-level pitcher. There is a bit of downside here, given how good the Giants have been, but Lamet’s upside remains. It also helps that this is a seven-inning game, which increases his chances of earning the four-point win bonus.

Urquidy: The Rangers have been brutal down the stretch, and they now sit with a crazy high 27 percent collective strikeout rate for the year. Urquidy faced them ten days ago, went seven innings, and gave up just three hits, one run, and he struck out seven. He doesn’t have a ton of upside, with just a 20.5 percent strikeout rate over the last two seasons, but this price is a bit too low for such a stellar matchup.

Keller: One of the few bright spots for the Pirates’ future hasn’t had a great 2020 season, as he’s missed most of it with an injury. However, he has made two starts since returning and threw six hitless innings while striking out six last time out against the Cardinals. For his short career, he has a very strong 26.6 percent strikeout rate with a not-terrible 8.9 percent walk rate. He is a $7,000+ pitcher that you can get for $6,000 here.

Catcher/First Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Tucker Barnhart (CIN) @ MIN (Berrios) $2,100 ⭐⭐ Low
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) @ CHW (Cease) $4,300 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium

Barnhart: Obligatory catcher pick! Bad hitter, bad matchup, but he is a warm body at $2,100 at catcher, so I’ll take it!

Rizzo: First base is gross tonight. Besides Freeman, the best hitting first basemen all find themselves matched up against really good pitchers, and the guys in better matchups just seem over-priced. Cease has been no slouch himself this year, but he is far from elite, and Rizzo has offered a solid enough floor with his high walk rate that I think this $4,300 price tag is fair, and that’s despite his pretty uninspiring .222 batting average and .758 OPS. I will most likely find a way to get Freeman in my lineups tonight, though, because I don’t see anything to get excited about at first base.

Second Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Ozzie Albies (ATL) vs. BOS (Mazza) $5,400 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ High
Jon Berti (MIA) @ NYY (Happ) $2,400 ⭐⭐⭐ High

Albies: This is a criminally high price tag for a guy without a huge ceiling, but there is almost nothing to like at second base, so overpaying for Albies might be your best option. Albies has a .288 batting average and a .831 OPS this year while chipping in six homers and three steals, so you can do a lot worse here.

Berti: A very cheap price tag for a guy with some huge steal upside. Happ has given up a lot of hard contact to righties as well, with a .803 OPS and an 8 percent barrel rate over the last two seasons.

Third Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Rafael Devers (BOS) @ ATL (Wright) $5,200 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Eugenio Suarez (CIN) @ MIN (Berrios) $3,400 ⭐⭐ High

Devers: Kyle Wright has been just awful against left-handed batters over the last two seasons, and he’s given up a .987 OPS with a .413 wOBA and an 82 percent contact rate. Devers has been much more himself over the last month of baseball than he was at the beginning of the year, so I think that we can play him with confidence tonight. The $5,200 is no discount, but I think it’s a great way to spend money at third base.

Suarez: Eugenio’s average salary this year has been $4,400. He is priced $1,000 below that tonight, so it’s time to jump on — at least in tournaments. He is a boom-or-bust player with a .205 batting average and 15 home runs. Berrios is also pretty tough on righties (.310 wOBA, 13 percent whiff rate), but you don’t often find this level of raw power for such a low price.

Shortstop

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Marcus Semien (OAK) vs. SEA (Kikuchi) $4,200 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Jorge Polanco (MIN) vs. CIN (Mahle) $3,700 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Willi Castro (DET) @ KC (Keller) $3,400 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium

Semien: Kikuchi continues to struggle with righties, as they have now hit for a .361 wOBA with a really high 81 percent contact rate against him in his two-year career. Semien has failed to duplicate his big 2019 season, but he still has a good enough combination of power and speed to be worth a $4,200 tag in a great matchup.

Polanco: The Twins’ shortstop doesn’t bring a ton of upside to the table, as he lacks big power/speed upside, but he is solid at getting the bat on the ball, and he finds himself in a good spot tonight. Mahle has given up a .336 wOBA with a 77 percent contact rate and a high 9.7 percent barrel rate to lefties over the last two years. The Twins are priced very cheaply tonight, so they make for an appealing stack in tourneys — and you can fit Polanco nicely into those stacks at one of his lowest prices of the year.

Castro: A very capable hitter, Castro has hit for a .331 wOBA over the last two years. He finds himself facing Brad Keller tonight, who gives up a ton of contact to lefties (82 percent). The upside is very limited with him, especially given how many ground balls and how much soft contact Keller generates, but Castro is worth more than this price.

Outfield

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Max Kepler (MIN) vs. CIN (Mahle) $4,000 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Alex Verdugo (BOS) @ ATL (Wright) $3,900 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Willie Calhoun (TEX) vs. HOU (Urquidy) $3,200 ⭐⭐ High
Victor Reyes (DET) @ KC (Keller) $2,900 ⭐⭐⭐ High

Kepler: I like the Twins’ lefties tonight, as they have cheap salaries against a pitcher who hasn’t had a ton of success against southpaws. Kepler’s 2020 has been pretty disappointing, and after a roaring start, he’s puttered to a .225 batting average with a .751 OPS. He remains in a prominent spot in the batting order, and I expect the Twins to score some runs tonight.

Verdugo: We have talked about Wright’s struggles against lefties, so there is a lot to like with Verdugo leading off for the Red Sox.

Calhoun: It’s been a brutal year for Willie, but it seems like he’s healthy again, and his price remains uber-cheap. He has racked up five hits in his last four games. While the results haven’t been there as a whole this year, he has enough raw ability to make me comfortable here.

Reyes: Similar to Willi Castro, Reyes is in a good spot against Keller in terms of putting the ball in play, but there isn’t a ton of upside for him here. He is not a home-run hitter, so there isn’t much to like in tourneys, but he is a fine salary saver in cash games, as he should have the opportunity for a couple of hits and maybe a run or two scored.

Studs Worth Their Salary

  • Yu Darvish (SP – CHC) $10,800: The Cubs have clinched the playoff berth, but not yet the division crown — and they have set Darvish up nicely to start their first playoff game next Wednesday. There is enough to play for here that the Cubs should let Darvish go as far as he can. The matchup isn’t the greatest, as the White Sox have been one of the better offenses in the league this year (averaging 1.83 DK points per plate appearance, the second-highest on the slate), but they do a fair bit of striking out against right-handed pitchers (24 percent), and Darvish is a true ace. He is one of just two pitchers on the board with a strikeout rate of over 30 percent, so he remains the highest upside hurler on the board despite the less than great matchup.
  • Carlos Carrasco (SP – CLE) $10,400: Carrasco was hugely disappointing in his first go-around against the Pirates, and he scored just nine DraftKings points. But let’s let other people worry about that. It’s true that the Pirates have been one of the lower strikeout teams in the league (they have just a collective 22 percent strikeout rate), but that’s balanced out by the fact that they are the worst fantasy point producing offense on the slate (1.45 DraftKings points per plate appearance). Carrasco might not have the 10+ strikeout upside, but he is a very safe investment here.
  • Jose Ramirez (3B – CLE) $5,600: Ramirez has ended up in this section of my Friday post almost every single time. He gets another plus matchup tonight, as Keller has really struggled with lefties in his short career. He’s giving up an 84 percent contact rate with a .408 wOBA and a 9.7 percent barrel rate in 137 plate appearances. Ramirez has been incredible this year, and he’s averaging nearly 12 DraftKings points per game — he makes for a great play once again tonight.
  • Freddie Freeman (1B – ATL) $5,400: The Braves are in a great spot tonight against Mazza, who has surrendered a .884 OPS and a .380 wOBA to lefties while striking them out just 15.5% of the time over the last two seasons. Freeman has put up MVP-worthy numbers once again, as he has a .338 batting average and a 1.084 OPS on the year, which makes him one of the safest hitters to play in DFS. There is some risk that the Braves will rest guys this weekend, so give the lineup a look before locking Freeman in.

Notable Players to Fade

  • Clayton Kershaw (SP – LAD)  $10,000: The Dodgers clinched the No. 1 seed in the National League playoffs like 37 weeks ago, so there’s a pretty decent chance that Kershaw gets a relatively quick hook here. It also doesn’t help that he faces an Angels team that has a tiny 17 percent strikeout rate on the year. They are the toughest lineup to strike out on the slate, so I would rather spend the extra money to get to Carrasco or Darvish if you’re spending five-figures at pitcher.
  • Ronald Acuna Jr. (OF – ATL) $5,900: The only reason for the fade suggestion here is that the Braves have already clinched their division and don’t have a ton to play for, so out of pure speculation, I’m worried about Acuna being removed from the game early here. Given his multiple injuries this season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Braves exercise caution with their best player this weekend.
  • Aaron Judge (OF – NYY) $5,700: The Yankees are very pricey tonight, and Alcantara has done a great job against righties over the last two years with a .634 OPS and a .278 wOBA allowed. The Bombers can score in bunches against anybody, but I don’t want to spend this kind of money for a less than great matchup.
  • Fernando Tatis (SS – SD) $5,300: This is a seven-inning game, which means that the Padres’ and Giants’ hitters project for about one less at-bat tonight. We might overlook that if DraftKings-adjusted salaries accounted for it, but they don’t. Of course, Tatis still has some huge upside, as he has smashed this price tag with one swing of the bat several times this year, but I’ll play the odds and spend my money on hitters in nine-inning games 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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