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DraftKings DFS MLB Strategy Advice: Thursday (9/24)

Sep 24, 2020

Just as quickly as baseball ramped up in July, we’re now rapidly approaching the playoffs. It’s been a strange season, but it’s been great to have some baseball to watch after months without any major sports. We’re hitting what is usually the sweet spot in the season where all statistics start to normalize, and we get a sense as to which players are this year’s superstars, who the breakouts are, and who won’t live up to expectations.

It feels odd to have this point in the season also notate the end of the regular season, but at least we (hopefully) have some great playoffs baseball heading our way. Alright, enough of my ramblings — let’s get into the nitty-gritty of today’s DFS slate.

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Value Plays: Pitcher

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Kwang Hyun Kim (STL) vs. MIL $7,800 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Martin Perez (BOS) vs. BAL $6,700 ⭐⭐ High
Kris Bubic (KC) vs. DET $6,600 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium

Kim has had an excellent first season in the states for the Cardinals. He has a 1.59 ERA on the season (buoyed by a high LOB rate and low BABIP), but even considering some negative regression, he’s still been a solid top of the rotation starter. His previous outing was a little rough, but he still managed to net 7.8 FP during that game against the Pirates. Today, he’ll be hosting the Brewers — the same team he blanked two starts ago while posting 24.2 FP. In 13 innings at home, Kim is holding batters to a .173 wOBA and has only allowed a single walk. The Brewers, on the other hand, are sixth-worst in the league with a 90 wRC+. This should be an easy matchup for Kim.

Perez carries a bit more risk, but he is quite a bit less expensive than Kim. He’ll face an Orioles team that is in the middle of the pack as far as wRC+, although a couple of the Orioles’ batters have fared well in their career against Perez. When pitching at home, Perez has averaged 11.3 FPPG and has a very strong 1.13 WHIP. Unfortunately for Perez, Hanser Alberto has over a .400 career batting average against him, and teammate Renato Nunez has also hit him well (as exhibited by a .333 BA in 15 career at-bats). That said, if you’re bargain hunting at SP, you’re always going to take on some risk. Perez has been relatively consistent for the Red Sox this year, and he could have a modestly successful day against the Orioles.

Bubic has been on quite a tear recently, posting no less than 16.8 FP over his last four starts and allowing only five runs across that span (22.2 innings). Unfortunately for Bubic and the Royals, that hasn’t exactly translated to wins, as he has only one on the season. On the other hand, Bubic will be at home against the Tigers, who rank 23rd in the league in wRC+. Alright, we covered all of the positive stuff. The downside for this matchup is that Detroit ranks first in the league in BA away from home against left-handed pitchers. They’re not hitting for a ton of power in this situation, but they are getting a lot of hits. There’s a bit of risk here given that level of success, but Bubic is a talented rookie pitcher who’s been pitching well lately, so I have some confidence that he can return some value today.

Catcher/First Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Christian Vazquez (BOS) vs. BAL $4,500 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Bobby Dalbec (BOS) vs. BAL $3,800 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Renato Nunez (BAL) @ BOS $3,600 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low

Vazquez doesn’t come cheap today, but it’ll be harder to find a better value play at catcher. While he owns a pedestrian 86 wRC+ at home, that number jumps up to a 110 wRC+ when he’s against right-handed pitching. Across 12 career at-bats against Cobb, Vazquez has managed eight hits. While he doesn’t have any home runs, and he has only one RBI in those at-bats, it’s clear that he sees Cobb very well and has a good shot at a multi-hit game today.

Dalbec, Vazquez’s teammate, has yet to face Cobb, but the situational stats still look pretty good for him today. In his first season in the majors, Dalbec has a 153 wRC+ at home and a 192 wRC+ against right-handers at home. His BA dips a little bit against righties (.250 vs. right-handers, .292 vs. left-handers), but he’s managed to slug .737 against righties at home. For his sub-$4,000 price, Dalbec could be a steal today.

This Boston/Baltimore game is full of great splits to dig through. Nunez is coming very cheap today and has great career numbers against Perez. He has a 166 wRC+ when facing lefties on the road as well as a career .333 BA against Perez in 15 at-bats, which includes two home runs and seven RBIs. To boot, he spends most of his time in the third or fourth slots in the lineup, so he’s in a prime position net some additional RBIs.

Second Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Donovan Solano (SF) vs. COL $4,000 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Hanser Alberto (BAL) @ BOS $3,700 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Christian Arroyo (BOS) vs. BAL $3,400 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium

Solano doesn’t hit for a ton of power, but he has been swinging a hot bat this year. He’ll be teeing off at home against right-handed Chi-Chi Gonzalez. Solano really excels at home, as exhibited by his 148 wRC+ and .900 OPS. He’s very aggressive at the plate (5.2 BB%), but Gonzalez has had awful control this year to the tune of 5.02 BB/9. Even though Solano comes at a slightly higher price, this is an excellent matchup for him.

Alberto rakes against lefties. When facing left-handed pitching this year, Alberto has a .356 BA, a .376 wOBA, and when you dig further into his road stats against lefties, those numbers just get better (.476 BA, .437 wOBA, 181 wRC+). He’ll be joining his Orioles teammates against Martin Perez. In 12 career at-bats against Perez, Albert has a .417 BA with one homer and three RBIs. As you’ve found, I try to find value below that sweet spot of $4,000, and Alberto fits the mold perfectly today.

Arroyo has only been with the Red Sox big league squad for 11 games, but he’s been quickly contributing. Facing Cobb today, Arroyo looks to improve on his impressive stats against right-handed pitching. During his 11 games with the Red Sox (and one game with Cleveland), Arroyo has a 205 wRC+ against righties. He’s posting a 1.143 OPS and a really impressive .318 ISO. The big factor in risk here is the sample size — we don’t have a ton of data on Arroyo in the majors (or with his current squad), so he comes cheap. I would take the chance and utilize those savings elsewhere on a player that’s worth their start-status salary.

Third Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Evan Longoria (SF) vs. COL $4,400 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Maikel Franco (KC) vs. DET $4,100 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
David Bote (CHC) @ PIT $3,100 ⭐⭐⭐ High

Longoria isn’t the player he once was, but he’s still been a very productive bat for the Giants. While facing right-handed pitching isn’t quite his forte, his teammates have hit righties well (and some particularly well against Gonzalez). This will put Longoria in an excellent position to net some RBIs at home today. When batting at Oracle Park this year, Longoria has managed a 136 wRC+, a .305 BA, and 19 RBIs in 22 games.

Franco faded with the Phillies before moving on the Royals for the 2020 season, and he’s has had a consistently productive season with his new team. He’ll be facing Michael Fulmer for however long the Tigers leave him on the mound (as he recovers from Tommy John surgery), against whom Franco is 1-for-1 with a solo home run. On the season, Franco has a .272 BA against righties and has hit all of his home runs against pitchers on that side of the rubber. When at home facing right-handed pitching, Franco also boasts a 140 wRC+.

With Kris Bryant nursing an injury, and with the Cubs likely to manage his work carefully at this point in the season, David Bote is the likely candidate to cover third base today. Due to his barely-above-the-Mendoza-line batting average, Bote will come incredibly cheap, but also carry and proportionate level of risk. The trick with Bote this year has been avoiding him when the Cubs are playing at home. Luckily, today they are on the road against the Pirates. Although Bote has not had particular success against the Pirates, when he’s on the road, everything clicks at the plate: 148 wRC+, .375 OBP, .299 ISO. It also doesn’t seem to make a difference if he’s facing right- or left-handed pitching, as all of his road stats are excellent.

Shortstop

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Dansby Swanson (ATL) vs. MIA $4,600 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Paul DeJong (STL) vs. MIL $4,300 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Willi Castro (DET) @ KC $3,400 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium

Alright, so Swanson is breaking my general rules a little bit with his price, but hear me out. Swanson is hitting .360 at home, has a .439 wOBA, and a 175 wRC+. When he’s at home against right-handed pitching, all of those numbers take a slight uptick. According to DraftKings, during home games, he averages 5 FPPG more than when he’s on the road. He has struggled a little bit against the opposing pitcher today, but given his success at home (and considering the fact that many of his teammates have hit well against this pitcher), I still take Swanson as a value pick here.

While DeJong’s power disappearance has been a huge disappointment this season, he has still managed some impressive numbers in the right situations, which can be highly beneficial for DFSers as his other struggles keep his salary down. The first plus today is that he’s playing at home, where he has managed a 139 wRC+, a .313 BA, and a .874 OPS. The second is that he plays against Corbin Burnes today, who he has knocked around in the past. Against Burnes, DeJong is 4-for-9 with one home run and four RBIs.

Lastly, we have Castro, who will be on the road against the Royals. On the road, Castro has managed a .323 BA, nine runs scored, and ten RBIs, all in 18 games played. He will most just make some contact, but if you’re digging around the sub-$3,500 range, that might be all you need out of this position.

Outfield

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Alex Dickerson (SF) vs. COL $4,200 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Michael Brantley (HOU) @ TEX $4,100 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Alex Verdugo (BOS) vs. BAL $4,000 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Michael Chavis (BOS) vs. BAL $3,300 ⭐⭐⭐ High
Jackie Bradley Jr. (BOS) vs. BAL $3,200 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium

Dickerson has enjoyed a momentously successful campaign for the Giants this year and has been a key cog in their lineup. He’ll carry a .307/.381/.606 slash line into the game today at home, where he boasts a 207 wRC+. He’s as much of a sure thing today as (almost) anyone.

Brantley is one of those guys who can stuff the stat sheet with blow-up games every now and then. He’s got some pop and some speed, and this year, he’s also hitting for average. He’s found more success this year against right-handed pitching (which he’ll start the day against), where he has a 165 wRC+. The only situational stat that gives me pause is that he tends to struggle on the road, but I still like him at this price point, given his success against righties.

Verdugo has really excelled leading off for Boston this year. At home, he has a 135 wRC+, a .393 OBP, and is slugging an even .500. Batting leadoff has also lead to Verdugo scoring 26 runs in 30 games when in the top slot. Verdugo has also gone 3-for-5 in his career against Alex Cobb.

Chavis has had a pretty tough year, and his season-long stat line tells most of the tale. However, when you’re looking to save a few bucks in DFS, sometimes you sift through the struggles to find a silver lining. After Chavis rode an 0-13 cold streak, he snapped out of it in a big way with a two-home run performance against the Yankees on 9/20. In the subsequent two games, he’s hit two doubles with one run scored and two RBIs. Those aren’t lighting-the-world-on-fire numbers, but they could be a sign of better things to come.

Boy, I’m going to look stupid if the Red Sox lose this game. At least when you’re playing DFS, you only really want to benefit from individual success, so that’s what we’re shooting for in this game. JBJ has hit for an uncharacteristic .280 this season and has a .294 career BA against Cobb. He’s also on a three-game hitting streak, which was kicked off by a 4-for-5 showing against the Yankees. Usually, I’d flag JBJ as a high-risk pick, but given his improvements lately, I’m upgrading him to medium-risk.

5 Studs Worth Their Salary

  • Lance Lynn (TEX) $9,300: While Lynn had some struggles against the Astros last game, he’s been red-hot since, and I expect him to get the better of them this time.
  • Mookie Betts (LAD) $6,200: It’s a tough pill to swallow to spend this much on one player, but if you’re going to do it today, take Betts.
  • Freddie Freeman (ATL) $5,500: Freeman has been as consistent as they come — and consistently good.
  • Ozzie Albies (ATL) $5,500: Albies has been red-hot and has four straight multi-hit games (and six in his last ten games).
  • Xander Bogaerts (BOS) $5,300: He’s riding a seven-game hitting streak, during which he’s managed four multi-hit games. He’s as productive as it gets at shortstop this year.

5 Notable Players to Fade

  • Cody Bellinger (LAD) $5,800: We know how talented Bellinger is, but given his performance this year, I still can’t support his price tag today.
  • Rafael Devers (BOS) $5,500: I’m a Red Sox homer, and I love Devers, but he’s hitting .125 in 16 career at-bats against Cobb.
  • Max Muncy (LAD) $5,300: Muncy has hit a couple of home runs lately, but I can’t get behind his salary just in hopes of him getting a home run.
  • Whit Merrifield (KC) $5,300: Merrifield is an excellent hitter, but he only has two extra-base hits in his last ten games.
  • Tommy La Stella (OAK) $5,200: La Stella has only two games scoring more than 9 FP in his last ten games, including four games with 3 FP or less.

All advanced statistics sourced from 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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