We kick off the MLB DFS week with a hearty 10-game main slate as all ball games today are evening affairs across the country.
That being said, let’s get our week started on the right note as we look to bank some dough on some GPP picks despite a Coors Field game in effect!
Side note*: There are two games I’ll be avoiding due to rain issues as the Brewers/Phillies and Dodgers/Cubs game appear to have weather concerns, so we’ll be avoiding those two contests all together, essentially making this an eight-game slate for our picks!
FanDuel MLB DFS Picks – May 3, 2021
P – Frankie Montas (OAK) – $7,500 vs. TOR
There’s little doubt there’s plenty of thunder in the bats of the Toronto Blue Jays, especially coming off that three-game sweep of the Braves over the weekend, but there’s also plenty of positive regression on the table for the right-hander Montas.
Montas enters this one sporting a 6.20 ERA on the season, and his 4.92 xERA, 5.22 FIP and 4.41 xFIP aren’t exactly much to write home about, either. However, much of the damage against him has come via the home-run ball with a 2.19 HR/9 on the season, but keep in mind his 18.2% HR/FB rate is well above his 13.9% career mark.
Also, there’s nothing wrong with the command and the strikeout rate is solid. Montas is walking just 2.55 batters per nine innings on the season against a 9.12 K/9 clip that’s right in line with his 9.05 career mark. Therefore, his SIERA (skill-interactive ERA) is just 4.07, more than two full runs below his surface ERA figure.
Montas has gone six innings in three of his five starts on the season and has registered a quality start all three times he’s cracked the six-innings barrier. Most of his damage stems from a seven-run outing in just 2.2 innings in his first start of the season against a dangerous Dodgers club while he also allowed six runs in four innings two starts back. Otherwise, he’s allowed a combined four earned runs across 18 innings in his three quality starts on the season.
There’s a reason why this Jays lineup is projected to score just 4.1 runs in this one, so take a flier on Montas in GPP tournaments tonight.
C/1B – Paul Goldschmidt (STL) – $3,800 vs. NYM
Given the high price and subpar start to his season, I think we can get Goldschmidt at quality ownership tonight in GPPs.
The goal isn’t to roster poor players at low ownership, obviously, but given his track record, I think Goldschmidt is worth a flier here despite actually not really knowing who is going to start for the Mets in this one tonight.
I’m not going to sit here and pretend this is the Goldschmidt of his D-backs days when he was annually part of the MVP discussion. Things haven’t gone nearly as well in his roughly 250 games in a Cardinals uniform, but this is certainly not a guy that’s going to his .234 all season long with a current .131 ISO that’s going to move far north moving forward.
After all, he hit .304 with six homers, a .387 wOBA and 146 wRC+ in the shortened 2020 season. In 2019, he launched 34 long balls, knocked in 97 and scored another 97 as part of a 116 wRC+. While his power hasn’t arrived in full yet in 2021, let’s keep in mind that Statcast pegs him in the league’s 82nd percentile in average exit velocity and 85th in hard-hit rate. He’s been a little unfortunate given his .293 BABIP is well under his .347 career mark and even below his first two seasons in St. Louis.
I expect more homers and doubles given the Statcast measurements, and with an uncertain pitching scenario with the Mets coming off a wild, exhausting win late last night, I like Goldschmidt here at projected low ownership.
2B – Brandon Lowe (TB) – $3,100 vs. LAA
We’ll go ahead and target another uncertain pitching situation here with a three-man Rays stack beginning with Lowe.
Shohei Ohtani is penciled in to start this one, but his status is somewhat hazy as he was hit in the pitching elbow while batting in yesterday’s contest with the Mariners. Manager Joe Maddon said Ohtani’s elbow was sore afterwards, and therefore I’ll speculate myself that given his injury history with that elbow and how young this season is, my money is on the Angels proceeding with caution and using a spot starter/bullpen game in this one. It’s certainly something to keep an eye on as the day moves along.
Lowe is hitting right at the Mendoza Line with a .200 average on the season, but has shown some pop nonetheless with four homers and four doubles on the season to go along with a decent .163 ISO. However, given his career .240 ISO, we’ll anticipate that figure moving north as well.
That said, he’s mashing right-handed pitching, as usual. Even of Ohtani starts, Lowe owns a .239 ISO, .879 OPS, .381 wOBA and 156 wRC+ on the season versus righties. He’s been awful against lefties in a small 2021 sample, but also owns a .233 ISO and .102 wRC+ versus southpaws in his career, so even if a lefty spot starter comes in, I’m fine with this play.
He’s also hot entering this one with a a four-game hitting streak going, but he’s also 5 for 11 with a double over his last three, so that batting average is already on the rise. Let’s see what he can do for us even if Ohtani gets the nod in this one.
3B – Jose Ramirez (CLE) – $4,100 vs. KC
It’s an exciting night for Royals fans as one of their top prospects Daniel Lynch has been summoned to make his MLB debut in this one against the Tribe. However, this also marks Lynch’s first true game action since pitching at the High-A level in the 2019 season, so this is a guy that can certainly be targeted here, even if we get Ramirez at elevated ownership.
After all, Ramirez is off to a blazing start. He’s among the league leaders with eight homers and a monster .323 ISO on the season and has stolen four bases as part of a 165 wRC+, a figure one tick above the 164 mark he posted while getting some MVP love in the shortened 2020 campaign.
So far this season, the damage has mostly come against righties as he has one homer and one double as part of a .111 ISO versus lefties, but that hasn’t always been the case as I expect the splits to narrow moving forward. Last season, all he did against lefties was hit .386 with an eye-popping .544 ISO, 1.407 OPS, .563 wOBA and 265 wRC+. Over the course of his career his split have been about dead even with a ever-so-slight edge versus righties, but the numbers are fantastic either way and he’s not afraid to run against lefties with 38 career steals off of southpaw pitching.
Lynch has a fine minor-league resume, but he’s not going to be long for this game and the Royals’ bullpen owns a 20th-ranked 4.34 ERA on the season, so Ramirez would appear to be a fine play coming off a 2-2 game with a homer, two walks and an hit by pitch yesterday afternoon.
SS – Paul DeJong (STL) – $3,300 vs. NYM
If you look at the .172 batting average DeJong carries into this matchup tonight, you’re shaking your head. That said, we’re not here for batting average as the power has been there and the underlying metrics are strong.
DeJong has six homers and a double as part of a strong.204 ISO on the season, a mark that is nearly identical to his career .205 mark. Additionally, DeJong also ranks in the league’s 84th percentile in barrel rate, 64th in xwOBA, 72nd in xSLG and 66th in sprint speed. No, not elite numbers, but given the fact that his tiny .169 BABIP is more than 100 points below his .290 career mark and we can see clear positive regression, even if the hard-hit rate is down.
Still just 27, he’s cooled following a hard start to his career. He homered 25 times in just 108 games as a 23-year-old rookie in the 2017 season, hit 19 as a sophomore and 30 in a full campaign in the 2019 season. He scuffled last season and has obviously struggled to get on base this season, but again, his .358 xwOBA for the season is well above his current .292 actual wOBA, so more positive regression evidence there as well.
His last two games have been his season in a nutshell as he’s just 2 for 8 in that time, but both hits came in extra-base form with a homer and a double.
He’s still hitting in the heart of that Cardinals lineup, so let’s see if some more positive regression — or more power — can be had in this one.
OF – Jordan Luplow (CLE) – $2,800 vs. KC
This guy could very well see some ownership on this slate given that word is definitely out on the fact that he absolutely demolishes left-handed pitching.
Like many in this lineup, the batting average is ugly at .183. However, the power is elite with six homers, a .350 ISO and 141 wRC+ on the season as well. He’ll face a southpaw to begin this one in Lynch, and Luplow has clobbered lefties to the tune of a .313 ISO, .881 OPS, .383 wOBA and 151 wRC+ on the season.
In his last full season in 2019, Luplow pounded southpaws for a enormous .422 ISO, 1.181 OPS, .474 wOBA and 200 wRC+. Clearly, dude likes himself some left-handed pitching.
That said, there’s more good news here. With Lynch likely to be used cautiously in this one, we’re likely to see a good portion of the K.C. bullpen here, which means facing righties as well. Therefore, let’s revel in the fact that’s he’s also mashing right-handers this season with a .393 ISO, .829 OPS, .348 wOBA and 127 wRC+. He’s seen a little more time against lefties, but he’s homered three times against both lefties and righties as the splits this season are far more even than in year’s past, and even with some regression likely against righties, the pinch-hit possibility is certainly lower this season than it had been previously.
This Indians mini-stack is projected to hit 2-3 in this lineup (Luplow – Ramirez), so let’s see if they can rough up the rookie in his debut this evening.
OF – Austin Meadows (TB) – $3,100 vs. LAA
We’ll get back to our Rays three-man stack here with our next couple of picks as Meadows is once again projected to hit in the leadoff spot, at least as long as a right-handed pitcher gets the start.
We have a major low-batting average, high-power trend going in this lineup and Meadows is no different. He’s hitting just .215 on the season, but Meadows has five homers and a .226 ISO to his credit, a figure that is a few ticks below his career .232 mark. Meadows also has a .339 wOBA that is miles below his .393 expected mark as the Statcast figures come in quite favorably.
Statcast pegs Meadows in the league’s 79th percentile in average exit velocity, 85th in xwOBA, 80th in xSLG and 80th in barrel rate. Not the best of the best, but he’s basically been in the league’s top 20% in a handful of advanced metrics, especially when it comes to generating power.
We’ll hope the lefty-swinging outfielder sees plenty of right-handed pitching in this one. Meadows owns a .247 ISO, .817 OPS, .352 wOBA and 136 wRC+ on the season versus righties and a similar .237 ISO, .871 OPS, .364 wOBA and 134 wRC+ agaisnt righties for his career. That said, he also owns a .220 ISO and 111 wRC+ for his career against lefties, so the power goes both ways.
He homered yesterday to break 0ut of a mini-slump and it was his first in nine games, so let’s see if he can flex some more muscle out of the valuable leadoff spot regardless if Ohtani goes or not.
OF – Randy Arozarena (OF) – $3,200 vs. LAA
Completing our three-man Rays stack here is Arozarena who has disappointed a little bit this season under massive expectations given what happened last season, especially in the historic playoff run he enjoyed.
He’s homered just three times with a .131 ISO on the season, and his .400 BABIP is going to dip significantly. He owns a .332 wOBA, but also a .264 expected mark. His xwOBA, xBA and xSLG are all in the bottom 10 percent of the league.
That said, he’s also in the 88th percentile in average exit velocity and 81st in hard-hit rate, figures that help explain the big early-season BABIP. However, the run game is also a very big part of the equation as Arozarena has swiped three bases on the season and ranks in the league’s 81st percentile in terms of sprint speed. He actually stole a base yesterday despite going 0 for 3 with a walk on the day while he’s now 0 for 10 over his last three games.
He’ll look to see some left-handed pitching as he’s posted a big .206 ISO, .948 OPS, .409 wOBA and 175 wRC+ on the season against lefties, and while it’s a small sample, he also crushed lefties last season as well.
He has some concerning numbers to be sure, but with the speed and power mix here, I have no problem using Arozarena to cap a three-man Rays stack tonight.
UTIL – Nolan Arenado (STL) – $4,000 vs. NYM
Completing this lineup and our three-man Cards stack is Arenado who has fit in nicely in his new digs in St. Louis.
He’s not lighting the world on fire at the plate, but Arenado does own a powerful .209 ISO on the season with four homers, nine doubles and a triple on the season. He actually added that triple in yesterday’s contest while also doubling and knocking in three in that 12-5 blowout of the Pirates.
Now, the underlying metrics aren’t great. He’s actually been below league average in many as the questions about his bat outside of Coors Field remain. Arenado had a big gap between his home and road splits in his career to this point, and his 2021 season so far has been more of the same as he’s been good, but not elite as a Cardinal at the plate.
Still, the theory here is similar to Goldschmidt. The slate isn’t stacked with high-end pitching after Tyler Glasnow and Walker Buehler (rain), but here’s an expensive bat that isn’t lighting the world on fire despite his power certainly being there this season.
I also like the fact the Mets’ bullpen is in a bit of disarray in addition to the uncertain starting pitching scenario. They’ve been very good this season, but the Mets used five different relievers in last night’s wild win, including closer Edwin Diaz who left the game with an injury. It’s a quick mental turnaround for this pitching staff and if it happens to be a bullpen game, we’re in great shape here in my opinion.