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DraftKings DFS MLB Strategy Advice: Thursday (9/17)

Sep 17, 2020

Paul DeJong has been flirting with a .300 BA this season

The slate today is carved up into three-game pools with two following the classic format (early and late), which I’ll include in my write-up today. The afternoon pool is a short-slate format which skews salaries, so I won’t be touching on those games.

The pitcher pool is really shallow today, so if you go bargain hunting definitely do additional research – there are almost no low-salary pitchers that I would advise using today. I did my best to suggest a few that might save you some money, but outside of the stud pitchers, it could be a rough ride today.

Per usual, keep an eye on the lineup cards when approaching game time, and good luck!

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Value Plays

Pitcher

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Dakota Hudson (STL)  @ PIT $8,200 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Seth Lugo (NYM) @ PHI $7,100 ⭐⭐⭐ High
Kyle Freeland (COL) vs. LAD $6,400 High

 
Hudson is a little pricier than I’d like him to be, but he’s been pitching pretty well this year and tends to fair better on the road. When pitching in away games, his BB/9 drops from 4.29 to 1.69, and his xFIP drops from 4.81 to 3.31. Over his career, Josh Bell is 6/10 against Hudson, though, so there’s some risk here as Bell certainly has the power to go long against Hudson. One thing I’ve noticed about Hudson over his career is his ERA tends to outperform his FIP an xFIP. Typically, this is a sign for a negative regression, but Hudson is now doing it for the third year in a row. It still makes me hesitant to rely on him when he’s pitching well, but for our purposes today I would take a chance on him.

We’re working with a small sample size for Lugo since he’s only started four games (out of 13 appearances) in the 2020 season. However, in that small sample size, as a starter, he’s striking batters out 35.7% of the time and has a 1.93 xFIP. He does carry a .342 BABIP, but that means he should have a positive regression trend as time wears on. He has a difficult matchup against the Phillies and along with the smaller sample size as a starter, I’m going to tag this as a high-risk play. Given some of the really difficult matchups today in the starting pitcher pool, though, you’re going to have to take some higher risk if you want to try to save some salary.

Once I dug below the $7,000 salary mark, I found that every single pitcher had some major red flags. I do not suggest drafting Freeland today if you can avoid it, but if I had to go cheap, I’d take a chance on him. He’s been pitching really well this year (despite a couple of rough outings). Unfortunately for him, the Dodgers are tenth in the league in wRC+ when facing left-handed pitchers in an away game – not to mention they’re at Coors Field. Freeland has had a majority of his success during road games (understandably), so don’t expect much from him today.

Catcher/First Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Luke Voit (NYY) vs. TOR $4,900 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Will Smith (LAD) @ COL $4,600 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Josh Bell (PIT) vs. STL $3,800 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium

 
I know, I know – Voit’s price tag doesn’t scream “value”, but if you watch a lot of baseball (and I’m guessing you do), then you’ll understand why he’s a value play. Voit at home and Voit away is a tale of two batters. Fortunately for us, he’s batting at home today, so that means a 219 wRC+, a .489 ISO, and a 1.221 OPS. Those numbers inflate even more when he’s home versus a right-hander, which is the case today. Oh, he’s also hit 5 home runs in his last 5 games.

Smith is also priced a bit higher, but given some of the tough matchups today, getting a bat of this quality in the catcher slot is worth paying a bit more. Smith is part of a Dodgers’ lineup that is traveling to Coors Field to face left-hander Kyle Freeland. Unfortunately for Freeland, Smith has a 202 wRC+ against lefties, and a 241 wRC+ against lefties while on the road. With numbers like this, Smith should really be the top-priced catcher in the pool, but he’s not, so this is definitely still a value play.

Bell has had his fair share of struggles this year, but he’s been turning his season around as of late. So far in September, he has a 156 wRC+ and a .327 BA. Oh, and Bell is also 6-for-10 in his career against Hudson. This isn’t quite a locked-and-loaded pick, but all of the arrows are pointing up for Bell and his matchup looks like a good bet for him to continue his positive trend.

Second Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Robinson Cano (NYM) @ PHI $4,100 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Jonathan Villar (TOR) @ NYY $3,800 ⭐⭐⭐ High
Nick Madrigal (CWS) vs. MIN $2,800 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ High

 
On the season, Cano’s numbers look great. However, once you break down his splits, you’ll see that there are some situations you really want to avoid with him. Today is not one of those days! While Aaron Nola is a difficult matchup, Cano has the splits in his favor. In away games versus right-handers, Cano is the proud owner of a 224 wRC+ which is the product of a .327 ISO and .423 BA. I’m still flagging this as a medium risk since Nola is having a great year, but the matchups don’t get much better for Cano.

Villar’s splits and situational stats are not the most exciting numbers to review. There isn’t a ton that I like about the factors today (away, versus a right-hander), except for one. In his career against Tanaka, he’s 4-for-12. Tanaka has been improving as of late, but despite being a quality pitcher, always seems to carry that risk of going off the rails. When he doesn’t have a feel for his command he can have a very tough outing. I’m not really excited about Villar today, but for a sub-$4,000 salary, he’s a decent pick.

Madrigal had a hot start to his major league career before cooling off a little. Still, he’s getting at-bats when the matchups are right and they’re looking good today. Kenta Maeda will be a tough opponent, but Madrigal is seeing righties very well. So far in his career, he has a 128 wRC+ against righties to go along with a .365 BA. I’m flagging him as high risk as there is always a chance he doesn’t make it into the lineup, but if he does play it’s hard to say no to his price tag.

Third Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Gio Urshela (NYY) vs. TOR $4,400 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Isiah Kiner-Falefa (TEX) @ HOU $3,600 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Tommy Edman (STL) @ PIT $4,200 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium

 
Like Voit, Urshela’s situational stats are in their sweet spot when he’s at home against a right-hander. Against righties overall, he has  148 wRC+. That improves to a 185 wRC+ when he’s at home against righties. To pile on further, he has multi-hit games in four of the last five and is riding a six-game hitting streak. Despite a salary spike due to his hot streak, this still fits into a value play in my mind. This is almost a zero-risk play if that were ever a thing in baseball.

While Edman isn’t quite known for his bat, he has been improving with it as of late. He currently has a modest three-game hit streak and has three multi-hit games over the last ten. On the season, he has a 196 wRC+ against left-handed pitching which is bolstered by a 1.115 OPS. He’s facing left-hander Steven Brault who has shown almost no ability to reign in his control and could be on a short leash today.

Kiner-Falefa has had some great games over his last ten, including a four-hit game on September 9th. He’s mostly been batting second in the order where he has a .378 BA to go along with a 165 wRC+ when facing left-handed pitchers. He fares best at home versus lefties, but I’ll still take this matchup on the road at his salary.

Shortstop

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Gleyber Torres (NYY) vs. TOR $4,200 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Paul DeJong (STL) @ PIT $3,900 ⭐⭐ High
Miguel Rojas (MIA) vs. BOS $3,800 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium

 
Following the theme of Yankees hitting righties well at home, Torres is next up. While Torres doesn’t hit righties (112 wRC+) as well as lefties (125 wRC+) on the season overall, at home he hits right-handers to the tune of a 149 wRC+. The Yankees batters really know how to use their home-field advantage when facing right-handed pitching.

DeJong has been flirting with a .300 BA this season and is coming off of a three-hit game on September 14th. Typically, he hits right-handers well (123 wRC+, .812 OPS), but he has a bit more of a challenging matchup today. He’ll be facing Steven Brault, against whom he, unfortunately, is only 2-for-11 on his career. However, I still like him at this price and in this matchup due to Brault’s horrendous control issues this season.

Rojas has had quite a season. He’s been absolutely raking left-handed pitching (286 wRC+, .518 BA) which has been overshadowing the fact that he’s also been doing well against righties (not nearly as well, but still well enough for our purposes). On the season, he’s sporting a 137 wRC+, .288 BA, and .400 OBP against right-handed pitchers. He’ll be facing off against Nathan Eovaldi (Boston’s “ace”?) and is 3-for-3 for his career against him.

Outfield

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Dominic Smith (NYM) @ PHI $4,500 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Clint Frazier (NYY) vs. TOR $4,300 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (TOR) @ NYY $4,200 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Jeff McNeil (NYM) @ PHI $3,900 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Byron Buxton (MIN) @ CWS $2,700 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium

 
Smith will be facing Phillies ace Aaron Nola today and therefore carries some risk, but has been swinging a hot bat this year – particularly against right-handed pitching. When facing righties, Smith has a 179 wRC+, a .311 ISO, and a 1.050 OPS. Across 24 career at-bats against Nola, Smith is hitting .250 with one home run, so he hasn’t hit Nola quite as well as he typically hits righties, but it’s still a favorable matchup for Smith.

The “Yankees at home” train rolls on with Frazier. Not only is Frazier raking at home with a 216 wRC+, when he’s at home against a right-handed pitcher, that line jumps to 229 wRC+. On the season, regardless of location, Frazier still has a 181 wRC+ against right-handed pitchers. He’s also spent a lot of time in the cleanup spot of the Yankees lineup, which should give him some good opportunities for RBIs.

Gurriel has been rolling this season and hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. In September, he has a 183 wRC+ and a .440 wOBA. On the season as a whole, when playing in away games versus right-handed pitching, he has a 172 wRC+ with a slugging percentage of .651. To me, his salary seems like a bargain given the situational numbers.

Many of the left-handed Mets batters have great splits against righties only to struggle against Nola. McNeil breaks that trend. The proud owner of a 166 wRC+ against right-handed pitching this year, McNeil is also 6-for-21 against Nola, good for a .286 BA. Although McNeil really stumbled out of the gate this year, he’s been red hot in September. So far this month he has a 242 wRC+ and six multi-hit games over his last ten. Two of those multi-hit games were three-hit performances.

Somehow only 26, it feels like Buxton has been in the league for a decade – always showing flashes of more, but never quite delivering on a consistent basis. He’s been red-hot as of late, as evidenced by his 175 wRC+ in September and five home runs in the same time span (11 games). When playing on the road against right-handed pitching, Buxton is hitting .342 and has a 208 wRC+. Given his hot streak, he’s an absolute steal at his salary today.

5 Studs Worth Their Salary

  • Shane Bieber, CLE ($10,900): Seemingly a lock for 20+ FP, Bieber is absolutely worth his salary today.
  • Mookie Betts, LAD ($6,000): The only knock against Mookie this year is he hasn’t hit lefties as well as you would hope. Even still, Betts at Coors Field. I’ll take at least one home run.
  • Francisco Lindor, CLE ($5,700): Hot or cold, Lindor can stuff the stat sheet. He’s been hitting at a fairly consistent rate all year and is almost always worth his salary.
  • DJ LeMahieu, NYY ($5,400): Seven hits in the last two games and bats .444 at home. Lemahieu is almost in value territory with those numbers.
  • Rafael Devers, BOS ($5,300): Devers had a slow start to the year but has really come on strong lately. He’s returning his salary and then some.

5 Notable Players to Fade

  • Framber Valdez, HOU ($9,200): He’s had some horrendous games lately and is not performing at the level his salary dictates.
  • Cody Bellinger, LAD ($5,700): He’s occasionally showed some signs of life, but Bellinger just doesn’t look right this year.
  • Max Muncy, LAD ($5,700): Muncy is getting priced at his 2019 production it seems. He’s hitting home runs, but really not doing much else.
  • J.D. Martinez, BOS ($4,600): Two hits and a home run last night – he’s showing that he has a pulse, but he’s just not there yet.
  • Giancarlo Stanton, NYY ($4,400): It feels weird to say Stanton is a fade at this price, but he doesn’t have a single hit at home this year.

All advanced statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.

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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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