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DraftKings DFS MLB Strategy Advice: Thursday (9/3)

Sep 3, 2020

We’ve made it into September already, and baseball marches on. I honestly was skeptical that the season would make it to this point, but the league continues to try to stay ahead of COVID-19 and put teams on the field. We’ve had a flurry of trades over the past week which makes for some excitement in setting up some new matchups.

There are some shallow positions today, but we’ve done the research for you, so fret not — we have you covered! Keep an eye on the lineup cards today and have your phone at the ready in case you need to make any last-minute adjustments. Good luck!

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Value Plays: Pitcher

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Taijuan Walker (TOR) @ BOS $4,700 ⭐⭐ High
JT Brubaker (PIT) vs. CHC $5,700 ⭐⭐ Medium
Mike Clevinger (SD) @ LAA $8,500 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium

Walker is as low as you can go today at starting pitcher, and he’s worth the gamble at this price. Rostering Walker will free up several thousand dollars in salary compared to most competent pitchers. There’s a major risk here given his well-documented control issues, but with Walker, there’s also a chance you get a very strong outing for cheap. Yes, he’s facing Boston’s tough lineup, however, on the year he’s holding right-handed bats to a .209 wOBA. Unfortunately for Walker, Boston also has a few talented left-handed bats on the roster, against which he’s giving up a .382 wOBA. I’m taking a chance on Walker today and using the major savings elsewhere — it’s work the risk.

Brubaker has had some modest success since appearing in the majors this year. He’s posted six strikeouts in each of his last two starts while the Pirates get him fully stretched out as a starter. In the minors, he exhibited better control than he has so far in the majors, so there is room for improvement as Brubaker gets more comfortable against his big league opponents. He has some difficult matchups in the upcoming game today, however. He struggles against lefties, which doesn’t bode well for him with batters like Rizzo and Schwarber in the lineup today. That said, for this price point, it might be worth the risk to fill out your roster elsewhere. Brubaker has held righties to a .281 wOBA and lefties to a .336 wOBA. Not too shabby.

I know, I know — Clevinger isn’t that much of a value play, but his price has been dropping over his last few starts, and he’s still a little underpriced today. Also, yes, the Angels are a tough opponent, but aside from Andrelton Simmons, the other Angels that have faced him haven’t had much success. Clevinger has had a couple of starts this year where he’s uncharacteristically walked a lot of batters, but his control was on point in his other starts, and the return was big. I’m hopeful that he’ll have his A-game ready for the Angels today.

Catcher/First Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Pete Alonso (NYM) vs. NYY $3,000 ⭐⭐⭐ High
Gary Sanchez (NYY) @ NYM $3,900 ⭐⭐ High
Luke Voit (NYY) @ NYM $4,000 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium

It’s hard to believe Alonso’s DFS price has fallen so far, but that’s where we find ourselves. He has absolutely struggled this year, but at the same time, he has shown signs of a positive regression — especially against left-handed pitching. Despite a .207 BABIP, he’s still managed a 114 wRC+ and .812 OPS against lefties. It’s very possible that his struggles continue, but at this price, it’s hard to not take a chance on such a talented bat.

Sanchez’s price has rightfully fallen along with his struggles this year. However, with a sub-$4,000 price tag and the talent to change a game with one swing of the bat, it’s the kind of gamble I’m willing to take at catcher today. He’s a very high risk to go hitless, but as exhibited in his last at-bat against the Mets, there’s a small chance he nets 20 points with a single swing. The odds are not in our favor that Sanchez turns it all around today, but you could do much worse with this salary. On his career, he hits righties better than lefties, and he’s facing off against Robert Gsellman, who has struggled this year.

Unlike Sanchez, Voit has been swinging a hot bat this year, and particularly against right-handed pitching. Unfortunately for Gsellman, Voit has a 179 wRC+ against righties. He enjoys more success at home than he does on the road, but with an opponent that has really struggled so far, Voit has a prime matchup today. He’s also already had three games this year against the Mets where he’s scored at least 14 points. That isn’t too bad for a guy who will only cost you $4,000.

Second Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Nick Madrigal (CWS) @ KC $3,100 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Jake Cronenworth (SD) @ LAA $3,900 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
DJ LeMahieu (NYY) @ NYM $4,400 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low

Madrigal won’t hit for power, but he’s sure to put up a fight at the plate (sub-3 K% last year at High-A and Double-A). We have a very small sample size at the major league level, but so far, all of Madrigal’s hitting abilities have translated. He owns a 126 wRC+ and is 5-for-8 at home through ten games (all five hits were singles, though). For such a modest price, the risk of a bad game is very low. He won’t light up the stat sheet with home runs and RBIs, but he’s a good bet to get on base and score. Plus, he managed to steal 35 bases last year, so he’s a threat on the basepaths, too.

Cronenworth has enjoyed a highly successful debut. While he’s a left-handed batter and is facing Andrew Heaney (also left-handed), Cronenworth has actually hit lefties for a higher average (.360). As for Heaney, he struggled against left-handed bats last year (.386 wOBA), and although he’s doing better this year, he’s still yielding a .271 batting average to hitters on that side of the plate. Cronenworth has had a very high BABIP against lefties (.474), so there’s room for negative regression here, but the price is right for the matchup today.

LeMahieu is a bit more expensive than a typical value play, but paying under $4,500 for a guy flirting with a .400 BA while playing full time is a bargain to me. Oh, he’s also posted a .442 wOBA and a 186 wRC+ against righties this year. Need I say more? He bats first in the Yankees’ high-power lineup, has five hits in his last three games (including two home runs), and is facing a guy who has an ERA over five. Sign me up.

Third Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Bobby Dalbec (BOS) vs. TOR $2,900 ⭐⭐ High
Gio Urshela (NYY) @ NYM $3,600 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Josh Harrison (WSH) @ PHI $3,900 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium

Dalbec has a little ways to go in his development at the major league level, but he’s a patient batter with plenty of pop. He had a big debut, as he netted two hits and a home run, but he has been quiet since then. With the Red Sox all but throwing this season in the bin, look for Dalbec to get plenty of playing time the rest of the way. He’s a high-risk play given his struggles the last two games but is absolutely a threat to go deep every day. If you want to splurge on a big name at another position, Dalbec is an excellent roll-the-dice value play at third.

I’m picking on the Mets today, but the matchup is primed for the Yankees to mash. Urshela hasn’t hit as well as he did last year, but he’s still putting up some very strong numbers. Coming off two multi-hit games and having already amassed 22 RBIs in just 30 games, Urshela has hit right-handed pitching to the tune of a 136 wRC+ and is slugging .554. It’s kind of surprising that he’s so cheap today, but hopefully, that’s why you read this column — so you don’t have to do the research! The main reason he’s priced down is that his season-level of success doesn’t always translate to the road, but I’m confident that he’ll take advantage of the struggling Gsellman today.

Harrison has been really productive in this shortened season, and he’ll look to continue that success today against RHP Eflin. On the year, Harrison has a 166 wRC+ against righties and a 184 wRC+ against righties while on the road. Despite these strong numbers, he doesn’t start every day, so you’ll have to pay close attention to the lineup card as we get closer to the start of the game. However, if he’s not in the lineup and you’re taking a nap, the Nationals almost always pinch-hit him into the game and let him play the rest of the way, so he’s a good bet to get at least some at-bats.

Shortstop

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Adalberto Mondesi (KC) vs. CWS $3,100 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ High
Andrelton Simmons (LAA) vs. SD $3,300 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Javier Baez (CHC) @ PIT $4,300 ⭐⭐ High

I don’t know what’s wrong with Mondesi this year, but he has truly struggled. It’s possible that his price should actually be lower than it is, but he’s such an electrifying player that it’s difficult to say when he’s going to blow up (not if). There’s a lot of risk in picking him today, but he has a very favorable matchup. Dylan Cease has a .370 wOBA against left-handed batters, walks them at a rate north of 4 BB/9, and both his FIP and xFIP are above 5.0 against the same. While Mondesi has been so far off his game it’s difficult to say if he can snap out of it today, but this is definitely a “get right” matchup if there ever was one.

I love Mike Clevinger and suggested him for the game today, but Simmons could put up points. He has assembled a six-game hitting streak and has managed multi-hit games in three of the last four. On top of that, he’s 7-for-14 in his career against Mike Clevinger. Why is he so cheap, then? Well, he’s coming off of a sprained ankle and really won’t do much more than get a couple of hits. He doesn’t hit for power and he doesn’t steal a ton of bases. Even still, with this matchup, it’s a great spot to save a little salary.

I’m not high on Baez today, but shortstop doesn’t have a ton of good matchups on this slate. His salary is hanging in the low $4,000’s due to his struggles, but he’s a really talented player and has shown some signs of life over his last two games. So far in this series against the Pirates, he’s averaged 14.5 FPPG, and that includes a home run last game. You’re likely better off playing it safe on Simmons if you want to save money, but Baez is the high-risk/high-reward play today. He’ll set you back an additional $1,000, but the ceiling on that high-reward is very high.

Outfield

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Jackie Bradley Jr. (BOS) vs. TOR $2,900 ⭐⭐ High
Jay Bruce (PHI) vs. WAS $3,000 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Jurickson Profar (SD) @ LAA $3,400 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Adam Eaton (WSH) @ PHI $3,600 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Ian Happ (CHC) @ PIT $4,000 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low

Bradley Jr. is not known for his bat. He’s an excellent defender and provides some pop at the plate, but he also goes through some serious cold spells. He’s not lighting the world on fire this season (89 wRC+), but he has very quietly been consistently hitting since August 8th. Since that point, he’s gone hitless only four times out of twenty games. He tends to hit low in the lineup, so he doesn’t have as many opportunities to snag some RBIs. That said, if you’re getting between a single and a home run for less than $3,000, that’s a pretty solid value pick. Bradley Jr. is always a high-risk pick, but I like the price tag today given his recent success.

Bruce doesn’t hit lefties this year — he literally has one hit against left-handed pitching. That’s okay though, as it helps keep his salary down and allows us to play the matchups. Facing off against RHP Anibal Sanchez, Bruce is primed for a solid day. Versus righties this year he has a 190 wRC+ bolstered by .521 ISO and 1.146 OPS. On the other side of the matchup, Sanchez has struggled against lefties, as exhibited by his .401 wOBA against.

I’ve been waiting for Profar to take off this year, and he’s finally getting hot. With seven hits over his last three games, Profar is averaging 17 FPPG over that stretch. Despite his struggles, on the season he still has a 121 wRC+ against left-handed pitching (which is what he’s up against today). In his career, Profar is also 5-for-13 against his opponent, Andrew Heaney. All in all, Profar looks like an absolute steal at his price tag today.

Eaton has had a mixed bag of results this year. Coming off a 2019 campaign that saw him score over 100 runs, the Nationals were likely looking for more out of Eaton than what they’ve seen so far. His struggles against lefties have been his downfall and this may ultimately see him pushed into more of a platoon role. However, he’s been a serviceable bat against righties (111 wRC+, .343 wOBA). Conversely, his opponent today, Zach Eflin, has had most of his struggles against lefties. He’s yielded a .488 wOBA and .372 BA against batters on that side of the plate. While Eaton might not blow up today, he’s in an excellent position to more than return his price in value.

Happ is on quite a bit of a tear lately — he’s managed multi-hit games in four straight contests. During that span, he has averaged 21.25 FPPG. While he’s had success against lefties and righties, he’s particularly crushed right-handers (194 wRC+, 1.135 OPS). While his opponent (Brubaker) has done admirably against lefties, look for Happ to take advantage of this matchup today — and for his DraftKings salary to continue to rise.

5 Studs Worth Their Salary

  • Zack Greinke (HOU) $10,000: There aren’t many pitchers much more reliable than Greinke. His salary is well justified — you can set it and forget it.
  • Mike Trout (LAA) $6,200: Trout has a challenging matchup today, but even still is worth his salary.
  • Juan Soto (WSH) $5,600: Soto has enjoyed a sparkling 2020 campaign so far, and despite having no hits over his last two games, I’m confident that he’s worth his salary.
  • Rafael Devers (BOS) $5,400: Devers’ bat has really come to life as of late, and he has an excellent matchup today.
  • Fernando Tatis Jr. (SD) $5,400: I’m not sure how Tatis Jr.’s salary is this low, but I’d say it’s a bargain — he’s worth of a $6,000+ price tag.

5 Notable Players to Fade

  • Lance Lynn (TEX) $9,400: Lynn has had a miraculous season so far, but he has started to cool off recently. I don’t think the troubles are here to stay, but he’s not truly as lights out as he was to start the year.
  • Yoan Moncada (CWS) $5,800: Moncada is one heck of a player, but I think his salary needs to be knocked down a few hundred dollars for now. He has not had that great of a season.
  • J.D. Martinez (BOS) $5,300: Martinez has had a rough go of it this year and is battling a hand injury. I won’t doubt that he goes on a tear at some point, but this salary is too much right now.
  • Ketel Marte (ARI) $5,200: Marte only has one home run on the season and is going up against Clayton Kershaw. His salary should be in the mid-to-high $4,000’s today.
  • Yasmani Grandal (CWS) $5,000: As far as catchers go, Grandal is a decent bat, but is in no way worth a salary this high.

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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