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DraftKings DFS MLB Strategy Advice: Friday (9/4)

Sep 4, 2020

Lots of double-headers being played today, so we are left with just a nine-game Friday night slate. Let’s talk about it.

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Value Pitchers to Target

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Jack Flaherty (STL) @ CHC $9,400 ⭐⭐ Medium
Jesus Luzardo (OAK) @ SD $7,700 High
Dane Dunning (CHW) @ KC $5,800 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ High

Flaherty: What a strange year it’s been for Flaherty. He came out and absolutely dominated the Pirates in his season debut, and then he didn’t pitch again for 26 days. He’s thrown just 18.2 innings this year. The Cardinals essentially rebooted his season after that long COVID-related layoff — they held him to 41 pitches in his first start back, then 64, and then 83. The next logical step in that progression is the big 100, so I’m thinking that Flaherty deserves a 100% workload projection here. If that’s the case, he’s a strong value at $9,400 with his elite 29.4% strikeout rate and 7% walk rate to go with the awesome 0.95 WHIP (all of these stats include 2019). The Cubs are a strong offense (1.73 DK points per plate appearance), but they do strike out at the second-highest rate on the slate (23% when you add up all their individual starters strikeout rates since 2019). For $1,600 less than Darvish, I think Flaherty is my preferred play on this slate.

Luzardo: If we use just 2020 data, the Padres are the toughest matchup in the league. They have scored 2.06 DraftKings points per plate appearance — that’s far and away the highest on the slate. That necessitates Luzardo’s price staying relatively low, and I think $7,700 is a bit too low for a guy with this kind of stuff regardless of the matchup. Jesus has a 26.7% strikeout rate with an 8.6% walk rate, a 3.70 xFIP, and a 1.18 WHIP in his time in the big leagues, so he is more than capable of putting up a very strong number against the Padres tonight. He is not the safest play by any means, but he deserves some consideration.

Dunning: Any pitcher who completely skipped the AAA level to make some starts in the bigs in this odd 2020 season will come with high risk. However, DraftKings has been very sluggish to raise the prices on these young prospect arms. Dunning has thrown 9.1 innings this year and has racked up 14 strikeouts while allowing just five hits and two walks. He has a strong Called Strike Plus Whiff (CSW) rate as well, and he seems to be checking a lot of the boxes early on. The matchup against the Royals is a strong one as well, and the White Sox have allowed his pitch count to approach 90, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Dunning for a 20+ in this spot. That’s an incredible value at $5,800.

Catcher/First Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Jose Trevino (TEX) @ SEA (Kikuchi) $2,700 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Matt Olson (OAK) vs. SD (Davies) $4,900 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Carlos Santana (CLE) vs. MIL (Burnes) $4,200 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Jose Marmolejos (SEA) vs. TEX (Cody) $2,100 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low

Trevino: Obligatory catcher recommendation here. He is very cheap, in a great spot against Kikuchi (who has given up a .875 OPS and a .364 wOBA with a tiny 17% strikeout rate against righties in his career), and he’s not the worst-hitting catcher in the league (I mean he has a horrible .296 wOBA, but trust me, there are worse catchers).

Olson: Davies does not fool lefties. He has just a 14% strikeout rate, an 84% contact rate, and a 7% whiff rate to them since last year began. Add on Davies’ 8.1% barrel rate against lefties, and you have all the makings of Olson hitting one about 490 feet in the first inning here. There is no discount on Olson, but I’m still interested in him at $4,900.

Santana: Low upside as always, but Santana brings a solid floor here against the very erratic Corbin Burnes, who has given up a .951 OPS and a .401 wOBA to lefties since last season. The 10.5% barrel rate is one of the most exploitable marks on the slate. You have great opportunities for a few walks and runs here, with some extra-base upside if Santana finds a pitch to drive.

Marmolejos: This is another case of DraftKings lagging on the rookie pricing. Here we have another guy whose Major League debut was accelerated by the missing minor league season in 2020, but Marmolejos has looked somewhat competent in the bigs thus far. He has swatted four homers in just 51 plate appearances and has managed the strikeouts with just a 23.5% K-rate. He has even attempted a stolen base this year. For $2,100, this is a good bet.

Second Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Ketel Marte (ARI) @ SF (Anderson) $4,800 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Jeff McNeil (NYM) vs. PHI (Arrieta) $3,500 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Nick Solak (TEX) @ SEA (Kikuchi) $2,900 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low

Marte: This isn’t a great ballpark to play hitters in, but Marte leads my rankings at second base anyway. He has continued to put balls in play at a crazy high rate, and he gets a very exploitable matchup with Anderson tonight. Righties have a .871 OPS with a .364 wOBA against Anderson since 2019 while making contact 79% of the time. Marte has a high floor tonight, even without the enormous ceiling that you can get elsewhere for this kind of cash.

McNeil: I’m not sure what DraftKings is waiting on for McNeil, as his price has been in the mid-$3,000 range since his return from injury. He has looked just fine, racking up ten hits in his last seven games. While he has yet to hit a ball out of the ballpark or steal a base this year, he still has enough upside to justify a price tag of $4,000 or so. Arrieta has been really bad against lefties since 2019, giving up a .911 OPS with a .380 wOBA and a 9.4% barrel rate since last year. Sign me up for some McNeil until they get that price right.

Solak: The only thing that might keep me off of McNeil is Solak, who is inexplicably priced at $2,900. He has not quite found the power stroke in the majors, with just seven homers in 278 plate appearances, but he has shown strong plate discipline this year with a 17% strikeout rate and a 9% walk rate. We have already talked about Kikuchi’s struggles against righties, so I’m all aboard the Solak train if he once again hits in the top third of the Rangers’ lineup.

Third Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Max Muncy (LAD) vs. COL (Senzatela) $5,100 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ High
J.D. Davis (NYM) vs. PHI (Arrieta) $4,000 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Aledmys Diaz (HOU) @ LAA (Bundy) $2,000 Medium

Muncy: He doesn’t really have a “value” price, but there isn’t much to love at third base tonight, so I’m throwing him on here. The Dodgers are the premier offense on the board tonight, and Muncy is a prominent figure there. The risk is that Senzatela really has a good outing (he does that from time to time), and you end up spending $5,100 on a dud. Muncy might not offer the floor you want at this price range, but he remains a good option to fill in your 3B spot tonight.

Davis: This price is probably about right for Davis, and Arrieta is no slouch against righties. However, the Mets are one of the better value offenses of the night, and Davis has a lot of different ways to score points. He is a great contact bat and draws a lot of walks. I’ll probably find a way to spend way up at third tonight, but Davis is a fine option at this price.

Diaz: There’s no reason to play a bad hitter against an elite-looking pitcher other than they’re priced at the bare minimum. If you want to load up everywhere else, you can punt away 3B with Diaz here and hope for some good luck.

Shortstop

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Didi Gregorius (PHI) @ NYM (Porcello) $4,400 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Elvis Andrus (TEX) @ SEA (Kikuchi) $2,300 ⭐⭐⭐ High

Gregorius: With a .311 wOBA and a .309 xwOBA since 2019 began, Gregorius is far from an elite hitter, but he does make a lot of contact these days (144% strikeout rate), and he draws a strong matchup tonight. Porcello has given up a 9% barrel rate to lefties with a .793 OPS while allowing contact 86% of the time. There’s a decent chance that Gregorius gets into one tonight and smashes this price tag with one swing of the bat.

Andrus: There is almost no chance that Andrus homers tonight, as he might be the lightest-hitting player in the league at this point in his career, but this is also the lowest price tag we’ve ever seen for him. Kikuchi gives up enough contact to feel decent about Andrus finding his way to a couple hits, and the steals upside is still there.

Outfield

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Michael Conforto (NYM) vs. PHI (Arrieta) $4,800 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Alex Dickerson (SF) vs. ARI (Clarke) $3,900 ⭐⭐⭐ High
Joc Pederson (LAD) vs. COL (Senzatela) $3,400 ⭐⭐⭐ High
Michael Brantley (HOU) @ LAA (Bundy) $3,400 ⭐⭐ Medium
Tim Locastro (ARI) @ SF (Anderson) $2,600 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ High

Conforto: We’ve already talked about Arrieta’s struggles with lefties, and Conforto always offers big power upside against righties, so this is a phenomenal spot for him.

Dickerson: Taylor Clarke gives up tons of contact against lefties, as he’s surrendering an 83% contact rate with a 9.7% barrel rate to them since 2019. Dickerson is a very inconsistent player, and he never projects super well at home, but there is some upside in the tank here.

Pederson: I’ll apply the reasoning for the Muncy play here — Senzatela usually gives lefties some pitches to drive.

Brantley: While Bundy has been phenomenal since joining the Angels, he has been more “good” than “great” against lefties. Getting one of the game’s best contact hitters in the heart of one of the game’s best lineups for $3,400 just seems criminal. I’ll ignore the matchup here and play Brantley.

Locastro: One of the game’s fastest players, Locastro offers some big stolen base upside if he leads off for the Diamondbacks once again tonight. We’ve talked about Anderson’s lack of strikeout ability, so Locastro should be able to get a few balls into play tonight and rack up some points with those legs.

Studs Worth Their Salary

  • Yu Darvish (SP – CHC) $11,000: This is as high of a price on a pitcher as we’ve seen in 2020, but it still seems a bit low. Darvish has easily cleared the 20 point mark in every start since his first of the year, and he has flirted with 40 already. He has an elite strikeout rate (31.2% since 2019), a strong walk rate (7.1%), and the match-up is just fine (Cardinals averaging 1.6 DraftKings points per plate appearance – fifth lowest on the slate). Darvish is easily the top projected SP on the board.
  • Bryce Harper (OF – PHI) $6,100: This is a crazy high price for Harper, but it’s not undeserved against Porcello, who has been touched up by lefties late in his career. The floor/ceiling combination is huge for Harper here, and he is probably my favorite bat on the slate.
  • Cody Bellinger (1B – LAD) $5,500: The Dodgers will likely maintain the highest projected run total throughout the day today, and Bellinger is the key cog in the lineup tonight. Senzatela has given up a .367 wOBA with a minuscule 13% strikeout rate to lefties since 2019. Lots of that has to do with Coors, surely, but I like Bellinger nonetheless in Dodgers Stadium.
  • Jose Ramirez (3B – CLE) $5,400: Burnes has been hit around by lefties in his career, and he has a .401 wOBA against them. Add in the huge walk problem he has, and it’s a great night to play one of the elite power/speed combinations in baseball. There is both big homer and steal upside here tonight because of how often lefties reach base against Burnes.
  • Christian Yelich (OF – MIL) $5,200: Yelich gets a subpar matchup with Carrasco tonight, but his ownership rate should be very low, which makes Yelich appealing. He has been a much more successful hitter since his early-season slump, as he racked up a .400 on-base percentage while homering at a 50-homer rate in his last 25 games. He is also still running when he gets onto first, as he swiped two bases on Wednesday.

Notable Players to Fade

  • Dylan Bundy (SP – LAA) $10,400: Yes, Bundy’s numbers make him look like one of the best pitchers in the league, but I’ll leave it for other people tonight against the Astros, who have a collective strikeout rate of just 17%.
  • Dustin May (SP – LAD) $8,700: Don’t let the elite ERA, WHIP, and matchup with the Rockies at home fool you. May simply does not have the strikeout rate (19%) to justify even this price tag.
  • Fernando Tatis (SS – SD) $5,600 and Manny Machado (3B – SD) $5,500: These guys have been two of the best hitters in baseball this year, but I’m not very interested in betting against Luzardo, who has allowed righties to hit for a tiny .307 wOBA with a 71% contact rate since his career began. Luzardo is one of the better pitchers in baseball, so I’m off the Padres for now.
  • Chicago White Sox: This is kind of a crazy thing to suggest, as the White Sox have a strong run projection and have just been crushing the ball all year. However, their prices tonight have ballooned up like David Blaine.  Everybody other than Encarnacion, Mazara, and Madrigal is priced at $4,900 or above. Brady Singer is also pretty tough on righties, which the White Sox lineup is full of. I’m not saying that you should play Singer or bet on the Royals, but I’ll leave these high prices for the field to gamble on.

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