We have a real nice 10-game main MNLB slate to sort through on this fine Tuesday evening, so let’s dive right in with some cash-aimed picks and back some early-week profits in the process!
FanDuel MLB DFS Picks – April 13, 2021
P – Brandon Woodruff (MIL) – $8,800 vs. CHC
Woodruff is not only becoming one of the game’s elite starting pitchers but also has himself a fantastic matchup as he takes on the Cubs for the second straight start, only this time on his home turf in Milwaukee.
It was just six days ago that Woodruff hurled seven shutout frames while allowing just one hit and zero walks while punching out eight in that one. It was a far better effort than the four innings of three-run ball from Opening Day, but man are these Cubs struggling mightily at the dish right now.
Entering this one tonight, the Cubs rank dead last by a notable margin with a .264 wOBA and 66 wRC+, but they also sit 28th with a monstrous 28.8% strikeout rate on the season as well. They’ve scored more than two runs in just two of their last six games and only six over their last three games total, so there certainly appears to be something to work with here.
For his part, Woodruff has plenty of strikeout upside in this one with a 10.64 K/9 through two starts on the season, this coming on the heels of an 11.12 mark from last season when he also worked to a 3.05 ERA/3.20 FIP/2.86 xERA in 13 starts.
There is plenty of high-end pitching on this slate, but I love this matchup for Woodruff, and the cost allows us to get some big bats into our lineup to boot.
C/1B – Will Smith (LAD) – $3,400 vs. COL
The Dodgers and Rockies get together tonight in L.A. and it’s 26-year-old right-hander Antonio Senzatela toeing the rubber for the road side in this one.
For his part, Senzatela is coming off a solid year. He worked to a 3.44 ERA, and while his 4.57 FIP and 4.64 xFIP are well over that number, those aren’t horrendous totals either, but rather a little subpar. However, my problem with Senzatela in this matchup is that he doesn’t miss any bats with a career 6/07 K/9, a 5.03 mark last season and a minuscule 3.97 mark this season to complement a 5.56 ERA through two starts.
And then there’s bats the Dodgers own such as Smith. The young catcher is off to a hot start, hitting .300 with a pair of homers, a .450 ISO, .481 wOBA and 212 wRC+. In fact, his xwOBA of .551 ranks in the league’s 97th percentile while he also sits in the 99th percentile in barrel rate, 99th in xSLG and 92nd in average exit velocity and well into the 80s in many other Statcast departments.
He’s also been a severe reverse-splits hitters in his MLB career so far, posting a monster .380 ISO, 1.050 OPS, .425 wOBA and 171 wRC+ against righties while 22 of his 25 career homers have come at the expense of a right-hander pitcher.
He’s certainly worth the C/1B spot in your lineup tonight.
2B – David Fletcher (LAA) – $2,600 vs. KC
The other team representing Log Angeles tonight is the Angels as they take on the Royals and left-hander Danny Duffy in this one.
Duffy pitched six scoreless inning in his season debut against Cleveland his last time out, but here’s a veteran arm that’s been on the decline. Duffy’s ERA has been 4.88 or worse in two of the last three seasons while he’s posted FIP figures of 4.70, 4.78 and 4.75 over the last three seasons as well with HR/9 numbers between 1.34 and 1.60 in that time. He’s also struggled some with command as well, so we certainly have a targetable arm here.
Fletcher doesn’t bring much power at all to the table here, but his value is in his contact ability and the fact he hits in the Angels’ leadoff spot ahead of the likes of Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout while Anthony Rendon resides on the IL at the moment.
After all, Fletcher hit .319 with a .350 wOBA and 123 wRC+ last season despite hitting just three homers. He does have speed, but the left-hander Duffy certainly mitigates the run game in a big way.
He’s not off to the best of starts with a .227 average and without a homer on the season, but the Angels are a great look in this one and getting their leadoff hitter in here at this price makes plenty of sense given the cost-efficiency required with some of our bats in this lineup.
3B – Austin Riley (ATL) – $2,200 vs. MIA
Speaking of cost efficiency, Riley is a player we get in here as a one-off as we simply needed a cheap third baseman to complete this lineup after getting our stacks in place.
Riley and the Braves take on Marlins right-hander Pablo Lopez. There is plenty to like about the 25-year-old Lopez, but his road splits are not one of them as he’s been overwhelmingly better at home than he has been on the road so far in his big-league career.
Lopez has made 44 career MLB starts and owns a 3.14 ERA at home, but also a 6.11 mark on the road across 95.2 road frames. The peripherals aren’t as wide, but his 4.95 FIP on the road is still well above his 3.39 mark at home, as is his 1.60 HR/9 on the road compared to a 0.69 mark on the road. Additionally, he was the starting pitcher in Atlanta last season when the Braves hung 29 runs on the Marlins, so this is a matchup we can target here, even if it’s a one-off bat.
Riley has scuffled since bursting onto the scene with 18 homers and a .245 ISO in the 2019 season at age 22. He hit eight homers with a .176 ISO and 88 wRC+ last season and is homerless with a .188 average and 32 wRC+ in a tiny 10-game sample this season.
That said, he has a lengthy track record of hitting for notable power in the minors. He actually hit 33 homers between Triple-A and the big leagues in that age-22 2019 season after regularly posting ISO figures well over .200 and even into the .300s on occasion.
He’ll need a slump-busting effort here, but I believe the matchup is better than what it may appear on the surface.
SS – Corey Seager (LAD) – $3,900 vs. COL
Here come the pricey bats I have been talking about as Seager lines up extremely well for this matchup tonight with the right-hander Senzatela, a pitcher he’s raked in his history against him.
Of course, what he’s done of late has been phenomenal. Seager punished opposing pitcher en route to MVPs in both the NLCS over the Braves and the World Series over the Rays, and kept on going in spring training where he homered eight times. Now, he hasn’t homered in 45 trips to th plate so far this season, but he is hitting .342 with a .391 wOBA and 153 wRC+ so far this season. He’s homerless, but he also has four doubles in just nine games with seven runs driven in as well.
That’s simply his overall work as Seager has mashed right-handed pitching to the tune of a .435 average, 1.160 OPS, .495 wOBA and 221 wRC+ on the season while all four of those doubles have indeed come off a right-handed pitcher.
Additionally, Seager has gone 7 for 17 (.412) with two homers and a double in his career off of Senzatela, a pitcher with a 6.84 ERA across five career starts at Dodger Stadium. Sign me up.
OF – Mookie Betts (LAD) – $4,500 vs. COL
We’ll see how it plays out this year, but Betts was a far superior hitter versus right-handed pitching last season, turning in some rather shocking splits in the process.
Against left-handers, Betts hit just .200 with zero homers, one double, a .018 ISO, .531 OPS and 56 wRC+. However, against righties, the righty-swinging Betts hit .343 with a .354 ISO, 1.061 OPS, .438 wOBA and 181 wRC+. All 16 of his long balls came against righties, but seven of his 10 steals have against lefties. Go figure.
While the career splits now slightly favor righties, it’s always nice to have a player who has raked both pitchers’ handedness in his big-league tenure. Senzatela doesn’t give up many steals, but Betts’ speed alone gives us some stolen base potential here in addition to the power stroke.
He’s raking so far this season, hitting .348 with a .447 wOBA and 190 wRC+ with a homer and a pair of steals as well in just five games. He’s also laced a pair of doubles in that time while he too has mashed Senzatela in their brief history against one another.
He’s recorded just eight at-bats agaisnt Senzatela, but has a homer and a double in that time. Given Senzatela’s work at Dodger Stadium and Betts’ cross-category upside, it’s awfully difficult to leave him out of any cash lineup tonight.
OF – AJ Pollock (LAD) – $2,400 vs. COL
Completing our four-man Dodgers stack here is Pollock, a player I normally prefer against left-handed pitching. However, given his career work against Senzatela, he makes complete sense as the fourth man of this stack with some power and speed potential as well.
It was a big 2020 season for Pollock, one in which he was able to stay healthy for 55 of the 60 games the Dodgers played. He launched 16 homers in that time with two steals, posting a .291 ISO, .364 wOBA and 132 wRC+ in the process. Now, the numbers were certainly far superior versus lefties as he posted a mammoth .473 ISO, 1.185 OPS, .468 wOBA and 201 wRC+ against southpaws in 2020. However, don’t sleep on his powerful .220 ISO or his 105 wRC+ versus righties either, the latter indicating his bat was about 5% better than league average against right-handers.
Given the matchup, I’ll take it. After all, Pollock has gone 7 for 18 (.389) with a homer and three doubles in his career against Senzatela, good for a 1.111 OPS and .333 ISO against the youthful right-hander. His speed isn’t what it was, but he does run from time to time, so add it all together and I don’t mind paying this price given the history between these two players in this matchup.
OF – Mike Trout (LAA) – $4,400 vs. KC
Give me Mike Trout and Mookie Betts into the same lineup against pitchers they rake all day long.
It’s interesting because, like Betts, Trout has been a reverse-splits hitter in his career, although he has Hall of Fame numbers against both lefties and righties. Last season, for instance, he hit just .245 with three homers and a double against lefties compared to .295 with b14 homers and eight doubles against righties. The ISO, OPS, wOBA and wRC+ numbers were therefore greatly skewed toward left-handed pitchers in the shortened 2020 season.
However, the career numbers are far narrower. Trout owns a .239 ISO, .944 OPS, .401 wOBA and 160 wRC+ for his career against left-handed pitching, and he’s certainly had his way with Duffy in their history against one another.
Trout has gone 9 for 20 (.450) with a homer and two doubles in his career against the veteran southpaw, good for a 1.200 OPS and .250 ISO off of him.
Add in the fact that the lefty Duffy is far worse against right-handed bats and there’s no reason not to like Trout in this matchup tonight.
UTIL – Justin Upton (LAA) – $2,700 vs. KC
While a player like Trout we know is going to take against both lefties and righties for the most part, Upton is a guy whose splits need more attention on a season-to-season basis.
For instance, he struggled mightily in 2019 against lefties, then went on to pound them for a monster .313 ISO in the shortened 2020 season. In 2017, he hit lefties for a .344 average, .384 ISO, 1.155 OPS and 202 wRC+. In 2018, it was a .125 ISO, .593 OPS, .265 wOBA and 64 wRC+. At this point, it’s clear his splits have been wildly volatile of late.
Simply put, he’s largely struggled in the early going so far this season, hitting just .194 with one homer, one double and no steals so far this season. He hasn’t ran nearly as much over the last couple of seasons largely due to injuries, and combined with Duffy’s complete lack of stolen bases against, don’t chalk up any stolen base upside here.
Nonetheless, one thing Upton has done in the past is pound Duffy. The now 33-year-old has gone 8 for 19 (.421) with three homers and a pair of doubles in his career against the southpaw, good for a 1.450 OPS and .579 ISO in that sample.
We’re targeting a brutal Rockies bullpen with a full four-man Dodgers stack here, and while the Royals’ bullpen was good last year and middle-of-the-pack so far this season, I believe these matchups against Duffy will prove fruitful as a complementary stack.