We have a fresh week and a 10-game main slate to tackle, so let’s get right into the picks and see if we can start the week on a profitable note!
FanDuel MLB DFS Picks – July 27, 2020
P – Josh James (HOU) – $6,700 vs. SEA
As most teams play in their fourth game of this MLB season, we’re now dealing with back-of-the-rotation starting pitchers, meaning the list is pretty thin, albeit cost efficient at the same time.
Of the names on the board, I believe James has the best combination of strikeout ability, win potential and value upside. He takes on a Mariners offense that isn’t expected to produce much this season while a dynamite Houston offense faces right-hander Kendall Graveman, a pitcher who last appeared in the big leagues in 2018 – a season in which he pitched just 34.1 innings and posted a 7.60 ERA before being cut loose by the A’s. In other words, the Astros should score some runs today in support of James’ win potential.
For his part, James enters the season at the back end of the Astros’ rotation coming off a 4.70 ERA/3.98 FIP to go along with a huge 14.67 K/9 clip coming out of the Astros’ bullpen. Control issues (5.14 BB/9) didn’t help his cause a season ago, but the flame-throwing James could rack up punchouts in a hurry, something he may need to do as he’s not likely to go terribly deep into the ball game after making just one start a season ago, although all indications are he’s stretched out enough to be a full-time starter this season.
As per the strikeout numbers, the stuff is electric with James, so let’s let him go to work against a weak Mariners offense tonight.
C/1B – C.J. Cron (DET) – $2,900 vs. KC
The Tigers’ offense was largely carved up – as expected – against the likes of Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo and Trevor Bauer over the weekend, striking out in an eye-popping 43.8% of their plate appearances, but nonetheless held in long enough to do damage to the bullpen and win two of three in Cincy.
The best bat on the Tigers over the weekend was indeed newcomer C.J. Cron who homered twice and doubled in the series. Cron’s power has never been in question as he’s hit 55 homers over the last two seasons and owns a career .206 ISO and .465 SLG for the Angels, Rays, Twins and now Tigers.
The good news is that the Tigers will get their first taste of a left-hander starter tonight against the Royals’ Mike Montgomery – and Cron obliterated left-handed pitching a season ago, posting a massive .310 ISO, 1.020 OPS, .412 wOBA and 160 wRC+ – the latter meaning he was 60% above league average versus southpaws in 2019.
His career splits favor lefties fairly heavily as he’s posted a .219 ISO, .820 OPS, m.345 wOBA and 120 wRC+ against them, but clearly has found his stroke against lefties more frequently of late. His bat is spewing confidence at the moment after a white-hot first series of the season, so let’s look for Cron to get to the lefty Montgomery in this one tonight as he’s homered off of him in just two career at-bats against him.
2B – Jonathan Schoop (DET) – $2,700 vs. KC
Next man up in my Tigers stack is Schoop who didn’t hit the ball as hard or as far as Cron did over the weekend, but he had a productive first series as well, hitting .308 with a run scored in that series.
That said, I’m most definitely looking for some power out of the slugging second baseman tonight as he too hits lefties far better than he does righties. Last season, Schoop posted a big-time .286 ISO, .917 OPS, .376 wOBA and 136 wRC+ versus southpaw pitching.
While not every season has been a traditional splits season for the righty-swinging Schoop, he’s flexed big-time muscle against left-handed pitching in two of the last three seasons as he also posted monster numbers against southpaws in the 2017 campaign.
For his part, Montgomery largely struggled last season, posting a 4.95 ERA/5.52 FIP and was rocked on the road to the tune of an 8.19 ERA across 40.2 road frames last season. Interestingly, he actually allowed more damage to left-handed bats, but was still very poor against righties who posted a .420 wOBA and 1.025 OPS off of him a season ago.
At the end of the day, I want right-handed bats that crush left-handed pitching and I believe we have that here with Schoop as well.
3B – Alex Bregman (HOU) – $3,900 vs. SEA
As I noted above in the James section, I expect the Astros to provide their starting pitcher with plenty of run support against the right-hander Graveman who was rocked in his most recent MLB action before catching on with the Mariners this winter.
Of course, Bregman’s case to be included in a DFS lineup is quite simple: he’s an MVP-caliber bat. The 26-year-old was probably the second-best player in the AL last season behind Mike Trout after launching 41 home runs as part of his .296 ISO, .418 wOBA and 168 wRC+ at the plate.
Now, the numbers are superior against lefties, but let’s also not scoff at his .256 ISO, .945 OPS, .397 wOBA and 154 wRC+ against right-hander pitching, either. Indeed, the career numbers are also superior versus lefties, but the numbers against righties are so good that it makes little sense to fade him against a right-handed pitcher, especially one who is projected to struggle, at least for tonight.
As per FantasyLabs, the Astros are projected to score 5.6 runs tonight, tied for the highest projection on the board. Let’s kick off a three-man stack with Bregman as a result.
SS – Niko Goodrum (DET) – $2,500 vs. CIN
Goodrum struggled big-time with strikeouts to open the season, but he did collect his first home run of the campaign while the switch-hitter is projected to continue leading off for this Tigers offense.
Goodrum’s splits from 2019 were rather interesting. He hit for more power against righties, but his .927 OPS, .388 wOBA and 143 versus left-handed pitching absolutely towered over his figures against righties.
If we go back to the 2018 in which Goodrum made his mark as a full-time big leaguer, it’s the same story. His power was better versus righties, but almost all of the remaining offensive numbers were superior versus lefties. Of course, the main goal is to get as much power as we can, however Goodrum’s bat is overall superior versus lefties and if he wants to get on base ahead of Schoop and Cron tonight, I’m all for it.
While there’s potential with the bat, there’s also potential on the basepaths as Goodrum has stolen 12 bases in each of the last two seasons and nine of the 24 steals in that time have come against left-handed pitching.
It would appear that there’s enough evidence to support a case for value potential for Goodrum out of the desired leadoff spot tonight.
OF – George Springer (HOU) – $3,900 vs. SEA
Like Goodrum, Springer will handle leadoff duties for his club tonight against Graveman and the Seattle Mariners.
Of course, there’s plenty more upside in terms of the power that Springer brings to the table as he’s coming off a career-high 39-homer season while his .299 ISO, .400 wOBA and 156 wRC+ from a season ago all represent career-highs as well.
His bat didn’t get off to a great start over the weekend, however Springer did collect his first homer of the season, albeit off of a left-handed pitcher and he typically hits for more power against lefties.
That said, last season he actually turned in some reverse-splits and indeed fared better versus right-handed pitchers. Springer posted a .322 ISO, .999 OPS, .407 wOBA and 161 wRC+ versus righties a season ago. The edge in the career splits goes to left-handed pitching, but clearly Springer is quite capable against same-handed pitching as well.
For an Astros team sporting that elevated projected run total, getting their powerful leadoff hitter – with some stolen base potential – is probably a good idea.
OF – J.D. Martinez (BOS) – $4,000 vs. NYM
After I selected my pitcher and put forth my Tigers and Astros’ three-man stack, I was still loaded with funds that allowed me to grab a pair of elite one-off hitters, making this lineup a very strong one for head-to-head plays especially but also strong for other cash games as well.
Martinez opened the season with a monster outing on Friday, although neither of his two hits over the following two games went for extra bases. Nonetheless, there is, of course, plenty of power potential here with a guy who has hit 79 home runs over the first two seasons of his Red Sox tenure to this point, hitting the ball over the Green Monster like it’s his day job.
While Martinez is in the conversation of the best bat in baseball versus left-handed pitching and will face a right-hander starter tonight in the Mets’ Michael Wacha, Martinez actually posted a reverse-splits season in the 2018 campaign – his first with the Red Sox. In that year, he posted a .315 ISO, 1.051 OPS, .434 wOBA and 175 wRC+ versus righties, all of which were superior to his numbers against lefties. He reversed that trend thoroughly last season, however, hitting lefties so well it was almost a no-brainer to roster him against any and all southpaws.
Still, he’s plenty capable against both pitchers’ handedness, and I’ll use my excess funds on the slugger with pleasure tonight.
OF – Christian Yelich (MIL) – $4,400 vs. PIT
Yes, I could even afford the most expensive position player on the board as Yelich and the Brewers take on left-hander Steven Brault and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Brault isn’t expected to go deep into the game, and we aren’t sure yet who will follow him after he’s like to go two or three innings, but for now I like the matchup with Yelich.
Despite swinging from the left side himself, Yelich has enjoyed success against Brault, going 4 for 11 (.364) with a double and a homer against him in their history against one another.
His numbers were predictively superior versus right-handed pitching last season when he hit 44 homers and stole 30 bases, but Yelich still posted a .277 ISO, .936 OPS, .383 wOBA and 136 wRC+ against southpaw pitching. Again, he may only face Brault once, so its likely he faces a right-hander at some point tonight as well.
He was able to swipe nine of his 30 bases last season off of a lefty and went 100% on stolen base attempts against them as well. For what it’s worth, he’s almost never caught stealing, posting a 93.75% success rate on stolen base attempts a season ago.
He has his first homer of the season under his belt, so now let’s look for No.2 and potentially more this evening.
UTIL – Jose Altuve (HOU) – $4,000 vs. SEA
Again, my use of James combined with the low-cost Tigers stack allowed me to pay up for some big-time bats in this lineup and Altuve is the icing on the cake as he forms a 1-2-3 stack with Springer and Bregman against the Mariners.
The 2017 AL MVP enjoyed a nice bounce back campaign last season as the 2018 season wasn’t up to his high standards. Despite missing time and appearing in just 124 games, Altuve his 31 homers and posted a .252 ISO, both of which went down as career-highs for the diminutive second baseman. He didn’t steal as much with just six swipes on the season, but I’d venture a guess and say he’s likely to run more this season now that he’s back to full health.
The numbers were better against lefties as they have been for much of his career, but he still owned a .219 ISO, .849 OPS, .355 wOBA and 125 wRC+ against righties last season and he’s enjoyed success against Graveman in the past, going 9 for 25 (.360) against him with a pair of doubles, a homer and three stolen bases against him.
I think it’s safe to say there is a ton of upside in the meat of the Astros’ order against the right-handed Graveman.