FanDuel MLB DFS Picks – September 16, 2021

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My week-long DFS struggles continued last night as we simply had too many passengers and not nearly enough production throughout the lineup.

I pivoted from Huascar Ynoa to Ranger Suarez due to weather concerns in Atlanta, and Suarez did just fine in turning in six inning of two-run ball with eight strikeouts against just on walk. He left the game up 3-2 and in line for the win, but a shaky Phillies bullpen cost both Suarez and those who rostered him an additional eight FanDuel points.

Pete Alonso clubbed a solo homer off Jon Lester, but he was also robbed of a three-run homer later in the game. If that ball goes over the fence and Suarez earns the W, we cash. Instead, we didn’t and it was mostly due to a lack of production throughout the lineup.

In fact, aside from Suarez and Alonso, only one other player produced double-digit points and that was Austin Hays who had a monster game in hitting a solo home run off left-hander Nestor Cortes before clubbing a two-run homer off right-handed Yankees reliever Chad Green late in the ball game. Those 40.9 FanDuel points came at around 3% ownership.

Nonetheless, we were unable to get hardly anything from anyone else in the lineup, so we’ll once again stick to the research and see if we can get across those cash lines on tonight’s small four-game main slate that actually begins at 5:05 pm ET.

FanDuel MLB DFS Picks – September 16, 2021

P – Framber Valdez (HOU) – $10,100 vs. TEX

I actually considered using the other pitcher in this matchup in Glenn Otto who has racked up a ton of punchouts both in the minors and in his three MLB starts this season, but the Astros simply do not strikeout much at around 20% against righties, one of the lowest marks in baseball. That’s in addition to absolutely raking righties on the road, so we’ll simply go with the top pitcher on the slate in Framber Valdez.

It’s been a nice season for Valdez as he’ll carry a 3.26 ERA/3.96 FIP into this one, thanks in large part to an elite 69.2% ground-ball rate that’s helped him keep the ball in the yard at a real nice 0.78 HR/9 clip. Valdez can have some control issues at times with a 3.88 B/9 on the season and a 4.10 mark for his career, but he’s done some nice work against the Rangers this season, at least from a run-prevention standpoint.

Valdez pitched seven innings of two-run ball with just one walk against seven strikeouts three starts back in Texas, and despite walking six in an outing against them at home on July 24, he yielded zero runs and allowed zero hits in his six innings of work in that one, so the WHIP is still at 1.00 in that outing despite the control issues. That’s 13 frames of two-run ball with 11 strikeouts against the Rangers this season.

Keep in mind the Rangers rank dead last with a .284 wOBA on the season off left-handed pitching and 27th with a .293 wOBA at home against lefties, so Valdez should be able to keep these guys in check despite a solid 22.2% K-rate from the Rangers versus lefties this season.

C/1B – Ryan Mountcastle (BAL) – $3,500 vs. NYY

Hey, they didn’t exactly rake outside of Hays last night against a left-handed starter, and despite just 3.9 projected runs on the board for the Orioles tonight, I like their GPP upside in this matchup.

After all, the Orioles rank seventh with a .341 wOBA at home against left-handed pitching this season and fourth with a .209 ISO in such scenarios, and Mountcastle is a big part of that.

For his part, Yankees left-handed Jordan Montgomery has had a fine season with a 3.71 ERA/3.64 FIP and 0.98 HR/9. That said, he has been a little worse on the road where he’s posted a 4.07 ERA/3.97 FIP, but also a 4.19 FIP/4.24 xFIP and 1.21 HR/9 versus right-handed hitters on the road. Lastly, he was roughed up for seven runs (five earned) his last time out against a Mets team that’s been far inferior to the Orioles at home against lefties this season (17th-ranked .321 wOBA).

So, let’s dial up a four-man Orioles stack that should see low ownership. Despite an 0 for 4 showing last night, Mountcastle has mashed southpaws to the tune of a .254 ISO, .872 OPS, .361 wOBA and 130 wRC+ on the season. At home, those numbers increase to a .287 ISO, .945 OPS, .389 wOBA and 149 wRC+ off lefties.

Lastly, Mountcastle has raked to the tune of a .302 ISO, .898 OPS, .370 wOBA and 136 wRC+ so far in the season’s second half, so he’s most definitely worthy of a look in this roster tonight.

2B – Jonathan Schoop (DET) – $3,200 vs. TB

The Rays will go with a bullpen game for this one tonight, and considering their top-three bullpen work this season, it could be a tough night on the Tigers. That said, we aren’t going to go crazy with a Tigers stack tonight, but rather a mini-stack that is a capable one that will come in at low ownership.

Schoop hasn’t hit as well lately after being scorching-hot and one of baseball’s best bats for much of the earlier part of the late spring/early summer, but there’s certainly enough thump to warrant a spot in this lineup. Sure, the .158 ISO might not stand out at that numbers has been in decline of late, but Schoop has still launched 20 homers on the season and added another 27 doubles, so the raw numbers are more impressive.

He’s hit left-handed pitching much better than he has righties, but he’s still hit 12 homers, 17 doubles and a triple off right-handed pitching this season, and he could very well see a lefty out of that Rays’ bullpen, but we don’t know how Kevin Cash plans to line up his pitching for this one tonight.

After notching five hits including a homer and a double in a three-game span, Schoop is hitless over his last two games and seven at-bats, but given the projected low ownership and raw power in his bat, I don’t mind giving him a look despite a tough matchup tonight.

3B – Jeimer Candelario (DET) – $3,400 vs. TB

The main reason I included Schoop in this lineup is because I wanted Candelario who should hit one spot behind Schoop out of the projected three-hole tonight.

After all, Candelario has been an absolute beast of late and one of the top extra-base bats in baseball. It was just three games ago on Sunday when he launched two homers as part of a come-from-behind Tigers win in Detroit against this Rays club (and bullpen). The home-run power doesn’t stand out with 14 long balls on the season, but Candelario also owns an MLB-leading 40 doubles on the season as well.

The switch-hitting third baseman has also been superior versus right-handed pitching such as tonight’s opener Louis Head, especially on the road. He’s hit righties for a .178 ISO, .799 OPS, .346 wOBA and 119 wRC+ on the season, otherwise known as 19% more productive than league average. On the road against righties, the numbers play up to a .209 ISO, .846 OPS, .363 wOBA and 130 wRC+, or 30% above league average in such scenarios.

After a so-so first half and little power (.115 ISO), Candelario has posted an impressive .256 ISO, .901 OPS, .380 wOBA and 142 wRC+ since the All-Star break, clubbing nine of his 14 homers and 20 of his 40 doubles — and all three of his triples — in the season’s second half despite making 116 fewer trips to the plate since the break.

Love this play in GPPs this evening.

SS – Taylor Walls (TB) – $2,100 vs. DET

The Tigers send a long reliever-turned-starter Tyler Alexander to the mound opposite the Rays’ bullpen tonight, and truth be told he’s been just fine as well with a 4.09 ERA/4.50 FIP on the season and a 3.68 ERA as a starter, but he’s also allowed 1.51 HR/9 on the season and 1.43 HR/9 as a starter. Furthermore, it’s a 1.78 HR/9 against right-handed hitters on the road, so despite some solid work in a Tigers rotation that’s endured plenty of injuries, home runs have been an issue.

Walls has just one homer in his 162 trips to the plate this season, but showed notable power in the minors of late with eight homers and a .216 ISO at Triple-A this season in 45 games after last hitting six homers and a .209 ISO in 55 games at Double-A in the 2019 season. Alexander has allowed just one steal in 83.2 innings this season, but Walls does have 13 steals in 94 games between Triple-A and MLB and has a track record of plenty of minor-league swipes as well.

More than anything, it’s worth noting that Walls crushed left-handed pitching for a .313 average and 1.033 OPS in the minors this season, hitting four homers and a double in just 48 at-bats off of them.

His low cost allows some high-end GPP bats into this lineup, but there’s some power/speed upside to like about Walls in this matchup with a left-hander tonight.

OF – Austin Hays (BAL) – $2,900 vs. NYY

Last night’s monster performance was certainly something to behold from Hays, but given his work off lefties this season, the multi-homer effort isn’t exactly a shocking development.

Sure, one of those homers last night came off a right-handed Yankees reliever, but his best work has come against lefties and it’s come at Camden Yards.

For the season, Hays has touched up southpaws to the tune of a .298 average, .247 ISO, .878 OPS, .369 wOBA and 136 wRC+ on the season. While the overall production is actually similar off lefties between his work at home and on the road, it’s the power that plays well up at home as his monster .315 ISO at Camden Yards off lefties is well above his still-strong .180 mark on the road. For what it’s worth, he’s also raking off righties at home with a .241 ISO/.870 OPS in such situations.

The better news is that his work has been extremely strong of late. Not only has Hays put forth a .238 ISO/.800 OPS and 115 wRC+ since the All-Star break, the month of September has been particularly potent as he’s posted a huge .434 ISO, 1.087 OPS, .446 wOBA and 187 wRC+ so far this month. In layman’s term, that’s six homers, three doubles, a triple and a .302 batting average in just 53 at-bats for the month.

He’s 2 for 9 with a double in his career off Montgomery, but with the way he’s swinging it at the moment I have another good feeling about this matchup tonight.

OF – Trey Mancini (BAL) – $3,100 vs. NYY

Mancini didn’t play last night after leaving Tuesday’s contest with an abdominal issue, and he’s apparently still day-to-day at the moment. We’ll keep an eye on his status moving forward today, but for now I’ll pencil him into this lineup as it would really help if he indeed suited up this evening.

It’s been a big season for Mancini especially all things considered, but for this particular matchup it’s the work off lefties — especially at home — that we’re after. We’ll also get to his work off Montgomery for his career.

All Mancini has done off lefties this season is post a big-time .263 ISO, .931 OPS, .390 wOBA and 150 wRC+ on the season. Despite making 142 more trips to the plate against righties, 11 of his 21 homers, 14 o f his 31 doubles and his lone triple this season have come off a left-handed pitcher.

That said, Mancini has tortured left-handed pitching for a massive .341 ISO, 1.032 OPS, .427 wOBA and 175 wRC+ at Camden Yards this season, so the production at home has been rather unworldly off southpaws.

Finally, it’s certainly worth noting that Mancini has enjoyed his time against Montgomery, going 9 for 21 (.429) with a homer in his career off of him, which also happens to be the largest sample size of any current Orioles off the Yankees’ lefty.

OF – Anthony Santander (BAL) – $3,400 vs. NYY

Completing a four-man Orioles stack tonight is Anthony Santander who has actually been one of the team’s best bats at home against lefties of late, but the switch-hitter also fares well against right-handed pitching.

I mean, we won’t split hairs as he’s just simply been far better at home than on the road. While he’s scuffled mightily to a .119 ISO, .622 OPS and a 69 wRC+ on the road (31% below league average), Santander has mashed for a .286 ISO, .866 OPS, .362 wOBA and 131 wRC+ at home (31% above league average).

Against lefties such as Montgomery, he’s posted a .233 ISO, .834 OPS, .354 wOBA and 126 wRC+ at home, and hopefully he gets some swings in against a righty as well with a monster .313 ISO off righties at home to boot. Over the last 30 days and 25 plate appearances off leftie-handed pitching at home Santander has a .454 wOBA, .500 ISO, 1.112 OPS and 193 wRC+, or four homers, seven runs and five RBI in those 25 trips to the plate.

After a weak first half that saw him post numbers 24% below league average, Santander has raked for a .248 ISO, .841 OPS, .355 wOBA and 126 wRC+ in the season’s second half. We have plenty to work with here.

UTIL – Mike Zunino (TB) – $3,300 vs. DET

We’ve seen some seriously eye-popping numbers in this lineup, especially from the O’s and their work at home off lefties as all four of those guys are in a real nice spot tonight. That said, the most eye-popping splits come from Zunino who has been fantastic as one of the top all-round backstops in baseball this season.

Despite hitting just .203, Zunino has pounded 30 long balls on the season as part of a monstrous .346 ISO alongside a .350 wOBA and 127 wRC+. Zunino has seen nearly double the plate appearances against righties this season, but 15 of his 30 homers, eight of his 10 doubles and both of his triples have come off a lefty.

So, add it up and Zunino owns a complete absurd .548 ISO, 1.318 OPS, .530 wOBA and 248 wRC+ off lefties this season. Tropicana Field is largely regarded as a pitcher’s park, but not for Zunino who has mashed for an even better .587 ISO, 1.408 OPS, .557 wOBA and 267 wRC+ off lefties at home this season. I mean, the guy has 11 singles and 15 home runs off a left-handed pitcher this season, with the elite slugging percentage and low batting average contributing to that unworldly ISO figure.

He owns a .353 ISO here in the month of September and homered in yesterday’s loss to the Blue Jays, predictably his only hit over the last five games.

Sorry, Tyler Alexander, but Zunino is a must for me.

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Brenton Kemp / Author

Brenton is a lifelong sports fan who resides in Ontario, Canada. Brenton is a fan of most all sports but specializes in hockey, baseball, football, basketball, and golf. He’s a fierce researcher with a strong appetite to deliver accurate and relevant facts that in turn have led to past success with picks and DFS advice across the board. Brenton’s biggest goal is to deliver readers with the picks and advice that can build their bankroll. He takes great pride in his success and loves nothing more than to share that success for the benefit of everyone involved.

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