When you stack two teams and they combine to score one runs, you’re in for a tough night. Add in your pitcher getting lit up and it’s over in a hurry.
Jack Flaherty had an elite matchup on deck last night, but he was absolutely shelled by the light-hitting Brewers. Even when he gave up a pair of first-inning homers, he struck out three and actually had five strikeouts through two innings. It was a full-on meltdown from there, however, as Flaherty ended up allowing a whopping nine earned runs in just three innings of work.
It’s not like our bats did much. I mean, the Mets had plenty of traffic on base against Jake Arrieta early while driving up his pitch count, but couldn’t get the clutch hit and instead ended up flopping aside from a Brandon Nimmo solo home run.
Whit Merrifield led off the Royals with a double against Matt Boyd and even stole third base immediately after, giving us an excellent start to that stack. However, Boyd quickly settled in and while we got some singles and walks from our Royals stack from there on out, they never broke through and were shut out when it was all said and done.
It was perhaps our worst results of the season on the heels of one of our best, so let’s get things turned back around on tonight’s nine-game main slate!
FanDuel MLB DFS Picks – September 16, 2020
P – Jacob deGrom (NYM) – $11,700 vs. PHI
With the way deGrom is going right now, it’s really hard to fade him on this slate tonight.
deGrom takes on a Phillies club that has fared well against right-handed pitching this season, but it’s also a Phillies offense that’s missing two big bats in their lineup in the form of Rhys Hoskins and J.T. Realmuto. Their three best bats include those two names and Bryce Harper, so it’s been a significant blow to this offense and they have largely scuffled in their absence so far.
While the Phillies sport one of the lowest K-rates versus righties, deGrom didn’t have a problem punching out 12 Phillies across seven innings of one-run ball in his second-t0-last outing, and he brings a monster 13.17 K/9 clip into this one alongside his tidy 1.67 ERA/1.96 FIP.
There are certainly cases to be made for other pitchers such as Gerrit Cole, Aaron Civale, Dylan Bundy and even lower-cost names such as Brady Singer, but I’m not fading deGrom given the current state of this Phillies offense.
C/1B – Christian Walker (ARI) – $2,900 vs. LAA
I just stated that there’s a case to be made for right-hander Dylan Bundy as he takes on this D-backs lineup that’s struggled against right-handed pitching this season, but in GPPs I think we can get some righty-mashing D-backs at extremely low ownership coming off a nine-run outburst off right-hander Julio Teheran and the Angels bullpen last night.
Bundy is finally showing the promise he displayed as a prospect with a 2.48 ERA/2.67 FIP on the season while putting his home run woes to rest with a 0.62 HR/9 on the season. He’s still just 27, so perhaps the breakout is real.
Nonetheless, Walker enters this one sporting a .209 ISO, .824 OPS, .349 wOBA and 116 wRC+ on the season. His 17 doubles on the year are tied for second in all of baseball behind Freddie Freeman’s 18 while he also mashes left-handed pitching, so he’s been fairly matchup-proof again this season as one of the more underrated first basemen in baseball.
He’s 0 for 3 in his career against Bundy, but Walker has the ability to deliver some value upside here at what I anticipate will be low ownership on this slate.
2B – Josh VanMeter (ARI) – $2,000 vs. LAA
One of the biggest reasons I went for this D-backs stack is VanMeter who comes in at the second base position at the minimum price despite faring quite well against right-handed pitching in the past, although it’s been a struggle this season.
The former Red is now a D-back and he’s hitting just .216 with an 80 wRC+ in his career across 311 big-league at-bats and is hitting an ugly .103 with a homer and three doubles in 39 at-bats against righties this season. In a larger sample last season, however, VanMeter hit eight homers with a quality .181 ISO and .768 OPS against right-handed pitching in the bigs leagues after hammering righties to the tune of a 1.051 OPS at the Triple-A level.
Another thing to keep in mind here is the stolen base upside. Since the beginning of the 2018 season, Bundy’s 35 stolen bases allowed is the fourth-most in all of baseball and his seven allowed this season is the second-most. Interestingly, deGrom has allowed the most this year and the second-most since the beginning of 2018.
Nonetheless, VanMeter does have a steal this season but he also stole 17 bases between Triple-A and the big leagues last season with nine steals in his 95 games a season ago.
To me, we’re actually getting some quality power/stolen base potential at the minimum price despite the tough matchup with the breakout right-hander.
3B – Maikel Franco (KC) – $2,900 vs. DET
This Royals stack disappointed me last night but they get another crack at a left-hander pitcher as they now sit 16th with a decent .322 wOBA on the season versus righties.
The Royals take on rookie southpaw Tarik Skubal of the Tigers and while Skubal was one of the best pitchers in all of minor league baseball in 2019, his big league tenure is off to a rocky start, as is to be expected for a young pitcher in his first tour of the bigs. He’ll enter this one sporting a 7.27 ERA, but also peripherals that don’t look pretty either in the form of a 5.80 FIP, 5.37 xFIP and a 5.04 SIERA. He’s also dealt with walks issues with a 4.15 BB/9 and home run woes with a 2.08 HR/9.
Additionally, while he’s went at least five innings in two of his five starts, he’s also went 2.1 innings or less in three of the five, so we could very well see a big chunk of a Tigers bullpen that ranks 26th with a 5.29 ERA on the season.
Enter Franco who drew a pair of walks last night but also owns a .367 average, .908 OPS, .399 wOBA and a 152 wRC+ on the season against lefties. Unfortunately, the power has been almost exclusively against righties as he owns just a .100 ISO versus lefties, but also a career .182 mark against both sides, so expect him to flex some more muscle against lefties moving forward.
That said, he’s likely to get at least a couple at-bats against a righty in this one as well, so it’s nice to see he hits both sides for equal power throughout his career.
SS – Adalberto Mondesi (KC) – $2,800 vs. DET
Mondesi was on a tear in the home run department last night and missed a homer by a couple feet foul down the left field line off Boyd last night. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, but was hot both at the plate and on the basepaths entering last night’s contest but unfortunately went 0 for 4 on the night.
Still, he’s homered four times over his last eight games while he’s also stolen a whopping six bases in that time. Add an additional three games and he’s stolen eight bases over his last 11 games.
He now has an MLB-best 16 stolen bases on the season and he’s attempted four steals against a lefty, although he’s been successful just twice. He hits lefties for quality power, however, in the form of a big .263 ISO on the season while his bat has just been far superior versus left-handed pitching this season.
Skubal has allowed two steals in his 17.1 innings so far, and if we extrapolate that over a full 180-inning season, that’s 21 stolen bases allowed a huge number to begin with and a massive one for a lefty.
So, while Mondesi gets on base at a far higher rate against lefties this season, hopefully he gets on and terrorizes the Tigers on the basepaths in this one tonight.
OF – Kole Calhoun (ARI) – $2,900 vs. LAA
The matchup is tough on paper, but we’re getting a guy who has absolutely killed right-handers this season and a guy also coming off a two-homer game with five RBIs in last night’s 9-8 win over the Angels.
Entering this one, Calhoun has mashed right-handed pitching for a massive .316 ISO to go along with a .906 OPS, .380 wOBA and a 137 wRC+. He’s also walking at an elite 15.6% clip against righties, for what it’s worth.
I like that last night’s outburst snapped a dry spell. Calhoun had just one hit over his previous three games and just eight hits over his previous 18 games, so I’m certainly looking for that three-hit effort to ignite a hot streak moving forward as it was just his second multi-hit effort since way back on August 18.
He hasn’t stolen a base this season, but given Bundy’s inability to stop the running game, I’m giving him a sliver of stolen base upside. He stole 10 bases over the last two seasons, so while he doesn’t run much, it’s not out of the realm of possibility, either.
He’s only 1 for 10 in his career off of Bundy, but with the way he’s hit righties this season and coming off a huge night at the plate, I’ll look for Calhoun to keep swinging it in this one tonight.
OF – Whit Merrifield (KC) – $3,300 vs. DET
The Royals’ inability to score runs last night was anything but Merrifield’s fault.
In fact he stayed red-hot against a Tigers team that he destroys as he went 2 for 5 with a double and a stolen base. He was cut down at the plate in the first inning after his double and steal of third, or else he could have had an even bigger night.
The power/speed combination here is fantastic as he’s homered nine times this season while last night’s stolen base was the eighth of his season. He’s hit lefties for a .194 ISO, .822 OPS, .353 wOBA and 121 wRC+ on the season, and while he destroys Matt Boyd, he also just ravages any and all Tigers pitching.
In his career against Detroit, Merrifield owns a .988 OPs across 318 plate appearances. In his career at Comerica Park, all he’s done is post an even better 1.016 OPS across 172 plate appearances. I mean, we’re not exactly working with small sample sizes here, folks. Certain guys hit certain teams far better than others and it’s blatantly clear that Merrifield just clobbers Tigers pitching.
Given Skubal’s home run and stolen base issues in his brief big league tenure to this point, I’m all over the Tiger-killing Merrifield with his power/speed combination playing up in this matchup tonight.
OF – Hunter Dozier (KC) – $3,200 vs. DET
I went with Sal Perez in last night’s stack given the way the positions shook out in my stacks, and it wasn’t the worst thing in the world as Perez singled and doubled last night. That said, Dozier is the superior bat versus left-handed pitching.
During his 2019 breakout campaign, Dozier blasted lefties for a .265 ISO, .915 OPS, .376 wOBA and a 135 wRC+ while also walking at a nice 12.3% clip against southpaws. He was injured to start this season, but he’s off to a white-hot start versus lefties as he’s gone 7 for 12 with three doubles against them to this point.
Believe it or not, there’s also stolen base potential here for the 6’4″ 220-pound Dozier. In addition to Skubal’s two steals allowed in 17.1 innings, Dozier has actually already stolen three bases himself this season in 33 games played. The speed has kind of come out of nowhere given he stole just two bags in 139 games last season, but Statcast has him ranked in the league’s 79th percentile in top sprint speed, so he certainly has the wheels to do some damage on the basepaths himself in this one.
While I expect this group to get to Skubal, I also believe they can rough up a Tigers bullpen that has been one of the worst in baseball of late.
UTIL – Francisco Lindor (CLE) – $3,300 vs. CHC
I had some solid funds left to nab a high-end player in this utility spot, and I’m going with Lindor as he takes on left-hander Jon Lester and the Chicago Cubs tonight at Wrigley Field.
Lester is coming off a nice outing against the Brewers, but still owns a 5.05 ERA/5.10 FIP/5.05 xFIP on the season to go along with a 4.77 SIERA and 1.78 HR/9. All those figures essentially confirm he just hasn’t been that good here in 2020.
On the other hand, Lindor has enjoyed a solid season, even if the home run power hasn’t shown up against lefties. Lindor has yet to homer off a lefty this season in his 48 at-bats against them, but is hitting .333 with four doubles in that time while he’s stolen four bases overall including one against a southpaw pitcher.
Additionally, he’s hit Lester well in the past and is coming off a big night at the plate. Last night, Lindor tied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-run home run while he also stole a base as part of his three-hit night. He’s now gone 5 for 9 with a homer, a double, a stolen base, three runs scored and five RBI over his last two games.
Furthermore, he’s gone 4 for 11 (.364) with a homer in his career off the veteran Lester.
Add in his spot atop the Indians’ lineup and I’m digging Lindor as a one-off player in this lineup tonight.