Yesterday marked our first profitless effort of the season with these FanDuel MLB DFS Picks, but it wasn’t by much. My main issue on the night was misjudging potential ownerships as many of our players were far too highly owned for GPP use.
I knew Lucas Giolito would see some ownership, and did he ever. That said, He went 5.1 innings and while he allowed three runs, he also struck out 10 and posted 43 FanDuel points with the win in the process. We’ll take that every time regardless of format.
Our four-man Rays stack hurt us the most. None of the four players we used recorded more than Manuel Margot’s 10 FanDuel points and a first-inning double from Mike Brosseau — his only points of the night — was the lone extra-base hit we had among the group. Anything more from those guys and we profit.
Our three-man Rangers stack was largely a one-man show as Nate Lowe homered twice, knocked in four and drew a walk to boot. David Dahl had a two-hit night with a run scored, although both hits were singles while Joey Gallo’s walk was all we would get from him. We had plenty of chances with men on base in that one but couldn’t capitalize.
A 141 isn’t the worst score, but not nearly enough if we want get at or near the top of GPPs.
We’ll look for improved results on an early 1 p.m. ET slate that includes 10 games, so let’s get back to some cash picks and get back into profit territory!
FanDuel MLB DFS Picks – April 7, 2021
P – Kenta Maeda (MIN) – $9,000 vs. DET
Maeda delivered a breakout, Cy Young-caliber 2020 season that saw him post career-highs across the board. His first start of the 2021 season was simply an extension of that work.
Last season — his first with the Twins — Maeda worked to a 2.70 ERA/3.00 FIP while his 2.73 xERA suggests he deserved every bit of his surface figure. Maeda also posted a stout 10.80 K/9 and combined with his tiny 1.35 BB/9 clip his resulting 8.00 K/BB ratio was the second-best among qualified big league pitchers behind only Marco Gonzales and his 9.14 mark.
In his first start of the 2021 season in Milwaukee, Maeda went just 4.1 innings, but allowed just one earned run and struck out five. He did allow six hits and two walks which ran his pitch count up to 88 before he could get his second out of the fifth, but I don’t see that being an issue in this one.
The Tigers have won three of five games including yesterday over these Twins, but they are once again striking out a ton with a 27.2% K-rate, and while it’s a tiny sample in 2021, that K-rate is awfully similar to their 2020 and 2019 numbers in that department. They have some new pieces, but they were one of the worst teams in baseball against righties last season, and they figure to rank in the bottom 10 again this time around.
Detroit is averaging just 3.50 runs per game on the season and Maeda has the backing of a quality offense, so I think he’s a fine cash play at a reasonable cost on this slate.
C/1B – Jose Abreu (CWS) – $3,800 vs. SEA
The White Sox exploded later on in last night’s game and ended up hanging 10 on the Mariners and Abreu was an integral piece of that onslaught.
The 2020 AL MVP mashed a grand slam — his second of the season — in the eighth to really open things up in that one and added a sac fly on the night, giving him five RBI on the night despite logging just one hit. He’s actually hitting just .208 early on, but already has two long balls and nine RBI across the first six games of his season as he is seemingly picking up where he left off from his career-year in 2020.
José Abreu crushes his SECOND grand slam of the year 😱 pic.twitter.com/2Qdw8xpAXu
— MLB (@MLB) April 7, 2021
Abreu takes on right-hander Justin Dunn in this one, and his slam last night indeed came off a righty. He mashed both lefties and righties last season, but his .298 ISO, 1.018 OPS, .424 wOBA and 175 wRC+ off righties was superior to his work against lefties.
For his part, Dunn worked to a 4.34 ERA in 10 starts last season as a rookie more or less right out of Double-A, but also posted a 6.54 FIP, 6.23 xFIP, 6.09 xERA and 6.07 SIERA that all suggest he was wildly lucky to get his ERA down all the way to the mid-4.00s. Dunn has struggled mightily with walks and home runs at the big league level with a 6.88 BB/9 and 1.72 HR/9 across 52.1 big-league frames so far in his young career.
Add in the fact the 25-year-old has one of the league’s worst bullpens from last season behind him and a group with a 5.16 ERA/5.07 FIP so far this season and the White Sox should be able to mash their way to victory again tonight.
2B – Cavan Biggio (TOR) – $3,100 vs. TEX
We targeted the Rangers’ Kyle Gibson with some Royals on Opening Day in K.C. and boy did they light up the veteran right-hander as his disastrous 2020 season has leaked into the 2021 campaign.
Last season, Gibson worked to a 5.35 ERA/5.39 FIP in his first season with the Rangers after signing a lucrative three-year deal while his 5.70 xERA suggests he was indeed that bad. Gibson struggled with the long ball with a 1.60 HR/9 on the season but also saw his walk rate balloon to 4.01 BB/9, a bad combination in terms of run prevention. Gibson was torched for five earned runs on four hits and three walks in all of 0.1 innings pitched on Opening Day.
Enter Biggio who is part of that elite young Blue Jays core. His big league career is off to a fine start as he’s posted a .189 ISO, .790 OPS, .344 wOBA and a 116 wRC+ across the first 164 games to his career. The latter figure suggests his bat has been about 16% above league average so far while he’s also got some speed with 20 steals in those 164 contests.
Gibson does allow some steals with five against in 67.1 innings last season, but I also like the fact we’re targeting a poor Rangers bullpen that not only was one of the worst in baseball last season but one that is missing a handful of key arms to begin the season with closer Jose Leclerc out for the year with Tommy Johny surgery. Massive ceilings here with the Jays.
3B – Yoan Moncada (CWS) – $3,100 vs. SEA
If Moncada was going to bounce back from a disappointing 2020 season, it hasn’t happened for him yet across the first six games of the 2021 campaign.
It wasn’t a horrendous 2020 season, but one that saw him slip to a .160 ISO and 96 wRC+ on the heels of a .233 ISO and 140 wRC+ from the 2019 campaign. While his walk rate increased, so did his strikeout rate which has been the single-biggest issue for him in the bigs so far.
This season, he’s hitting just .182 with a double in six games to go along with a massive 42.9% strikeout clip so far. He has walked 17.9% of the time, but let’s look for the power/speed combination to arrive in this one. Once the top prospect in baseball, Moncada hit 25 homers at the age of just 24 in that 2019 campaign and still owns a career .186 ISO in the bigs. He also swiped 10 bags in that 2019 season and has 25 across the first 401 games of his career.
While those are not eye-popping numbers, get this: Dunn allowed a whopping 13 steals in just 45.2 innings last season after allowing four in just 6.2 innings in 2019. Add it up and he’s allowed an eye-popping 17 steals in just 52.1 innings so far in his big-league career, or about one every three innings. That’s incredible.
Add in the home run woes and there’s power and stolen base upside here to spare.
SS – Bo Bichette (TOR) – $3,200 vs. TEX
Next man up in our three-man Blue Jays stack is Bo Bichette who launched a mammoth home run despite the losing effort in last night’s contest with the Rangers.
— Justin Groc (@jgroc) April 7, 2021
The home run was his second of the season while he’s added a double to his ledger across the first five games of the season with an .886 OPS and 134 wRC+ to get things going.
The power is real. At just 23 years of age entering the season, Bichette owns a career .248 ISO across the first 80 games of his big-league career. He’s now homered 18 times in those 80 games, good for a 36-homer pace if he were to play in all 162 games. His ISO numbers weren’t quite as high during his ascension to the big leagues, but he did put a power/speed combination on display as he stole as many as 32 bases during his 2018 Double-A season.
Bichette has stolen eight bases through those 80 MLB games so far, good for a 16-steal pace across 162 games. A 36-homer, 16-steal season is borderline superstar status, and combine the fact he’s a career .304 hitter with a 134 wRC+ so far at the ripe old age of 23, and we indeed likely have a potential superstar on our hands here.
There’s no way he’s sitting out of my Blue Jays stack tonight.
OF – Luis Robert (CWS) – $3,500 vs. SEA
If we’re talking about the best combination of power and stolen base potential in this lineup, or perhaps the entire slate, it’s gotta be Robert as he enters his sophomore 2021 season.
First, we’ve documented Dunn and his home run and stolen base woes. Add in Dunn’s serious command issues and walks aren’t the worst thing for Robert or Moncada in this lineup as it simply gives them a chance to swipe second base, at least.
However, if Robert’s 2020 season was any indication, he’s going to be a power/speed monster in his big-league career. The 23 year old homered 11 times and stole nine bases while finishing second to Seattle’s Kyle Lewis in the AL Rookie of the Year voting, only because of a disastrous September. So far in 2021, Robert has a homer and a steal in his six games, but he’s also hitting a quality .292 with an .828 OPS and 132 wRC+ so far in the early going.
That homer actually came in last night’s 10-4 win in Seattle while he added a single as well in that one for his second two-hit game of the year. Robert is projected to his second in this lineup tonight, so he’s technically our leadoff guy here.
There’s simply too much power and speed here to be fading the elite young Robert in this matchup tonight.
OF – Teoscar Hernandez (TOR) – $3,400 vs. TEX
Hernandez might not be the most complete player in the Jays lineup as his defense is questionable, but boy does he have some light-tower power in that bat and some speed to boot.
Hernandez burst onto the scene with 22 homers in his first full season with the Blue Jays in just 134 games, good for a .229 ISO that season. He followed that up with 26 more homers in nine less games in 2019, posting an increased .242 ISO in the process. In the shortened 2020 season, he took his power to a whole new level with 16 homers in just 50 games, posting a monster .289 ISO while his 143 wRC+ was by far a career-high for the now-28-year-old. It’s a small sample, but that’s a cool 52-homer pace in a 162-game season.
Hernandez also stole six bases last season in those 50 games, showing an increased stolen-base ability has he also stole six bases in 2019, but in 75 more games. He’s essentially stolen 12 bases over his last full MLB season if we combine 2019 and 2020.
He’s not off to a scorching-hot start with a .250 average and 73 wRC+ in five games, but he does have a homer in that time for his lone extra-base hit of the campaign so far.
Nonetheless, we’ll certainly get his power into this lineup against a guy who allowed plenty of gopher balls in the 2020 season.
OF – Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (TOR) – $2,600 vs. TEX
One player who may get lost in the limelight through no fault of his own this season is Gurriel Jr. who has RBI projections in the 90s on this stacked Blue Jays lineup.
I mean, there’s nothing to dislike about his game. Gurriel has hit for plenty of power since joining the club in the 2018 season, homering 42 times in just 210 games with a career .217 ISO so far. He’s also a career .286 hitter with an .829 OPS, .348 wOBA and 119 wRC+ and is still just 27 years old this season.
It certainly hasn’t been the best of starts for Gurriel which is why we see him at the price tag. He’s hit just .250 with no extra-base hits or steals in four games and 16 trips to the plate. He not going to walk much, but he’s going to hit for average and power while he brings a sprinkle of stolen-base potential into this lineup with 10 career steals in those 210 games.
The righty-swinging Gurriel’s bat has more or less played up against lefties, but he did post reverse-splits last season and hit righties like Gibson better than he did southpaws. He’s still well above average for his career against righties, and given the cost he’s allowed us to get a lineup chock-full of power and speed into cash games tonight.
UTIL – Yasmani Grandal (CWS) – $3,300 vs. SEA
My only regret here is not getting Vladdy Guerrero Jr. into this lineup, but I’m not fading Abreu at first and we have Moncada at third. You could fiddle around with the positions and find a way to get Guerrero into the lineup, but I don’t mind getting Grandal in here at all as he brings plenty of power to the table.
Grandal hit between 22 and 28 homers with ISO figures between .212 and .249 from 2016-2019 before dipping to eight homers and a .193 ISO across his first 46 games in a White Sox uniform last season. That said, he’s off to a flying start this season with a homer, four runs scored and five RBI across his first four games of the season with a typical monstrous walk rate of 16.7% which has matched his K-rate in the early going.
Over the course of his career, Grandal’s splits are fairly even. The switch-hitter has had years where he mashed righties, years where he’s mashed lefties, but more or less he’s got plenty of upside regardless of who’s on the mound.
With light rain in Seattle, the roof is closed today, so without a weather concern in place let’s get this hot White Sox stack into this lineup and watch them rake a weak Mariners pitching setup today.