It’s safe to say things got a little messed up when it came to last night’s FanDuel MLB DFS Picks.
Shortly before their game against the Tigers, the Houston Astros announced that they had placed five players on the IL while two of those names came within our stack in the form of Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez. As I related on Twitter, I substituted Jose Ramirez at third over Bregman and Kyle Tucker in the outfield over Alvarez, but it worked out brilliantly in the end.
Our starting pitcher David Peterson was a risky play in order to get some big bats into our lineup, but man did he deliver. Peterson hurled six innings of one-run ball against the Phillies, didn’t walk any and struck out a whopping 10 batters on the night. I mentioned yesterday that he Phillies own a huge K-rate against left-handers on the season, and Peterson carved them up pretty good in that one.
It was a weird night at the plate, however. We actually got very little from our lineup, save from a massive night from Ronald Acuna Jr. He’s just on fire at the plate right now, and while the Braves didn’t torch Nick Neidert and the Marlins, Acuna hit two homers, knocked in four and scored three runs on the night. For good measure, he added a double.
Freddie Freeman singled twice and knocked in one, Michael Brantley added a pair of singles himself and Ozzie Albies walked three times.
Despite the weak night at the dish, Peterson and Acuna carried us near the top of double ups and I managed to win all my head-to-heads on the night.
It’s not often you win so decisively with poor work at the plate, but that’s how the slate played out as we look for back-to-back big nights, only this time with some GPP plays on this five-game main slate!
FanDuel MLB DFS Picks – April 15, 2021
P – Rich Hill (TB) – $7,700 vs. TEX
Pitching options are limited on this short slate, however I think we have plenty of upside here with Hill whether you’re playing cash games or GPPs tonight.
Now, his first two starts haven’t gone particularly well. Hill has allowed four earned runs in each of those two starts, one of which came against the Yankees and the other against the Marlins. His 7.20 ERA is ugly, of course, however the peripherals are much better.
Hill also enters this one sporting a 4.14 FIP, 3.61 xFIP and 2.81 xERA. There’s nothing wrong with the command as he owns a 1.80 BB/9 so far while striking out 9.90 batters per nine innings here in the very early going. The fact he’s yielded just 29.6% hard contact so far in his 10 innings of work is another encouraging mark.
And then there’s the matchup. Hill takes on a Rangers team that ranks 23rd with a .296 wOBA on the season, but also 27th with a 28.7% K-rate on the young season. Their work against left-handers has also been subpar as they rank 28th with a .279 wOBA versus southpaws while their 27.2% K-rate off of them also bodes well for this matchup.
He’s coming in at a cost-efficient price, so let’s give Hill a chance here and see if he can work towards his peripheral numbers in this one tonight.
C/1B – Salvador Perez (KC) – $3,200 vs. TOR
At this point, we actually don’t know who is starting this game for the Blue Jays. With that type of uncertainty, I smell a bullpen game coming from the Jays. While that bullpen has been very good, I believe we can sneak in a Royals stack here against a starter that will, obviously, not be one of the better arms the Jays have on their roster.
So, we’ll start our K.C. stack here with Perez coming off a big game from yesterday against the Angels. Perez played some long ball in that one, hitting his third homer of the season while he’s also scored eight runs and knocked in other eight across his 10 games so far this season. He’s hitting .333 with a 1.036 OPS, .308 ISO and monster 185 wRC+ here so far this season.
He’s white-hot entering this one after homering and adding a double in yesterday’s contest, but he’s also gone 8 for 12 over his last three games with that homer and a pair of doubles in that time.
Even at 30 with plenty of miles on that big frame of his, Perez is raking at the plate and we’re getting a real hot hitter into our lineup with Perez getting us started.
2B – Whit Merrifield (KC) – $4,000 vs. TOR
Any Royals stack has to include Merrifield who is the engine that gets this group going.
The power/speed upside here is strong. Again, we don’t know who is going to start this game for Toronto, but we do know that Merrifield brings a wealth of stolen base potential to the table as stole 12 bases in the shortened 60-game season in 2020 while he also swiped 65 bases between the 2018 and 2019 seasons. He led all of baseball with 45 steals in that 2018 campaign.
The power isn’t elite, but it’s there. Merrifield homered nine times in 60 games last season, a 24-homer pace over a full 162-game season. He also homered 16 times in 2019, but he’s also a complete hitter.
He’s a career .296 hitter for his career and owns a .791 OPS and 109 wRC+ for his career as well. The .152 career ISO doesn’t stand out, but combined with the elite speed out of the leadoff spot. Merrifield is almost always a good look, especially with an uncertain pitching situation going on for the Blue Jays.
3B – Joey Wendle (TB) – $3,400 vs. TEX
This is a little bit of a lofty price to pay for a player like Wendle who doesn’t bring much in terms of home run power to the table, but he’s also raking here in the early going.
I mean, he owns a career .128 ISO, so I’m not going to try and convince you on the home-run power. That said, he has homered once this season, but his excellent .212 ISO stems from him also collecting four doubles on the young season. Wendle is also hitting .303 with an .839 OPS, .362 wOBA and 136 wRC+ so far.
He’ll take on right-hander Jordan Lyles in this one, a pitcher sporting a 4.50 ERA on the season through 10 innings, but he also owns a 6.14 FIP and 5.04 xERA as he’s already given up three homers in those 10 innings and his current 91.8% strand rate is going to regress significantly moving forward.
Lyles has faced 19 left-handed batters so far this season, and has allowed a .353 average, .950 OPS and .416 wOBA against them with a homer allowed in that time as well. For his part, Wendle has hit right-handers for a .345 average, .241 ISO, .931 OPS and 162 wRC+ on the young 2021 season so far.
Add it up and it would appear we have a fine matchup with the hot Wendle against the scuffling Lyles in this one tonight.
SS – Trevor Story (COL) – $3,300 vs. LAD
He’s a one-off here in this lineup, but I have a suspicion we can get an elite bat here in Story into this lineup at low ownership as the lowly Rockies take on the Dodgers.
The fact that he’s not off to a great start also bodes well for the expected low ownership. Story enters this one hitting .265 on the season, but he’s also without a homer and has just one steal through 12 games. He owns a .290 wOBA, but his expected .378 wOBA is a much more encouraging number as it’s actually above his .366 career wOBA.
That said, the Statcast metrics are solid. They aren’t elite, but Story ranks well into the league’s 70th percentile in categories such as hard-hit rate, barrel rate, xSLG, xBA, average exit velocity and sprint speed.
Let’s keep in mind the power/speed combination here is elite. Story homered 11 times with 15 steals in 59 games last season and also homered 72 times with 50 steals over his last two full seasons between 2018 and 2019. That’s a 36-homer, 25-steal season each time. Very good.
He’ll take on left-hander Julio Urias in this one, so it also helps that Story is a career .310 hitter off lefties, but also with a monstrous .307 ISO, 1.001 OPS, .415 wOBA and 146 wRC+ versus southpaws for his career.
Let’s see if he can deliver here at what I believe will be suppressed ownership tonight.
OF – Jorge Soler (KC) – $2,900 vs. TOR
We’ll get back to our Royals stack here with Soler who brings plenty of power to the table despite a tough start to his season.
Soler enters this one with just one homer on the season, but he’s also hitting just .129 with a .254 wOBA and 58 wRC+ through 40 trips to the plate so far. However, there’s certainly a history of hitting for plenty of power while his bat has generally been very productive throughout his big-league tenure.
Soler owns a career .220 ISO and 113 wRC+ for his career, but also keep in mind this guy homered 48 times in the 2019 season with a monstrous .304 ISO and 136 wRC+ to boot. We’ll also note that he has largely been a reverse-splits hitter of late. In other words, the righty-swinging Soler posted a huge .318 ISO, .939 OPS, .384 wOBA and 139 wRC+ in that 2019 season against right-handed pitching and followed that up with a .223 ISO and 110 wRC+ against right-handers last season as all eight of his homers in 2020 came at the expense of a right-handed pitcher.
He’ll certainly face plenty of right-handed pitching in this one regardless of who starts for the Jays, so let’s see if can get himself a slump-busting effort this evening.
OF – Andrew Benintendi (KC) – $2,500 vs. TOR
Here’s a guy that’s been tough to figure out of late as he continues to struggle despite a change of scenery from Boston to Kansas City in the offseason.
Benintendi was a hot prospect straight out of Double-A when he entered the bigs in the 2017 season at just 22 years of age, hitting 20 homers with 20 steals in 151 games that season. He followed that up with 16 homers, 21 steals and a career-high 123 wRC+ in the 2018 season, but it’s been downhill since.
His 2019 season was solid, but unspectacular, then he cratered to a .103 average with zero homers in 14 games last season before a rib injury ended his season. So far here in 2021, the lefty-swinging Benintendi is hitting just .225 and without a homer so far in 10 games. He’s now gone 24 games without a homer.
That said, he has stolen three bases this season — two over his last two games and all three coming over his last four — and is coming off his best offensive game of the season in which he went 2 for 5 with a double and a steal last night against the Angels.
He’s hitting out of the two-hole in this one, so let’s see if Benintendi can build off of his best game of the 2021 season in this one tonight.
OF – Austin Meadows (TB) – $3,600 vs. TEX
After completing our Royals stack, let’s get to completing our Rays stack here as Meadows leads off the Rays against the right-handed Lyles tonight.
After a 2019 season that saw him garner some early-season MVP attention, Meadows’ 2020 season was a disaster. He hit .291 with 33 homers, a .268 ISO and 143 wRC+ in that 2019 season in 138 games, but followed that up with just four homers, a .205 average and 87 wRC+ across 36 games last season.
That said, his 2021 season has been productive. He’s hitting just .238, but Meadows has three homers, a .909 OPS, .396 wOBA and 159 wRC+ on the season. His expected wOBA is actually .443, which ranks in the league’s 89th percentile, as per Statcast.
Of course, the lefty-swinging Meadows has been excellent against righties like Lyles for his career, posting a .236 ISO, .877 OPS, .366 wOBA and 134 wRC+ for his career against right-handed pitching. Also, keep in mind there’s stolen base potential here. Meadows swiped 12 bases in that breakout 2019 season, and despite stealing just two last season, Lyles has a history of giving up some steals and has one against in 10 innings here so far in 2021.
Out of the leadoff spot for these Rays against what is a weak starter and even weaker — and beat up — bullpen, Meadows is an excellent look on this slate.
UTIL – Randy Arozarena (TB) – $4,000 vs. TEX
Completing this lineup and Rays stack is Arozarena who, like Meadows, brings an excellent combination of power and speed into this lineup.
We know his historic postseason run from last season, and while his start to the 2021 season so far isn’t eye-popping, he’s still been a very productive hitter. I mean, he’s hitting .289 with two homers, a steal, a .350 wOBA and 128 wRC+ so far this season. This comes after he homered seven times with four steals in just 23 regular-season games with the Rays last season before going bonkers in the playoffs.
It should be noted that his production is inferior against right-handers as he’s generally mashed left-handed pitching both in the minors and at the big-league level. However, he still hit righties for a .250 ISO, .817 OPS, .349 wOBA and 126 wRC+ last season, but the stolen base potential is obviously increased against right-handers as well.
He’s slated to hit second in the Rays’ lineup behind Meadows, so we certainly have a dynamic combination atop that Rays lineup against one of the weakest pitching staffs in baseball this season.