Last night’s FanDuel MLB DFS Picks were solid, yet unspectacular as we needed more extra-base power in order to get across those cash lines.
Frankie Montas did a fine job as our starting pitcher as he hurled six innings of three-run ball, struck out four and earned the win over the Blue Jays as the Athletics took that one by a 5-4 final. Montas came in around 4% owned, so we’ll take the 31 FanDuel points and run there.
With Jordan Luplow not getting the nod due to a leg injury against the Royals’ Daniel Lynch, I ended up scratching Jose Ramirez too and went with a full, four-man Cardinals stack while adding Dylan Carlson to the mix. Nolan Arenado led that group as he mashed a three-run homer in that one, and Paul DeJong added a double, a single and a run scored. Unfortunately, that was it in terms of extra-base power for the lineup.
I ended up using Mike Brosseau at second base over Brandon Lower with the lefty Jose Quintana going for the Angels, and he did fine with a hit, a run and a pair of RBI. Auston Meadows’ walk and Randy Arozarena’s two walks and a run were not enough to get our Rays stack over the hump.
Finally, in the spirit of GPPs, I used the righty-mashing Jared Walsh against Tyler Glasnow, but all Walsh could muster was a pair of walks himself.
A 122.2 FanDuel points wasn’t enough at the end of the day as the Rangers/Twins and Indians/Royals wound up playing to high-scoring affairs late, something that sank our lineup to be sure.
Now, the slate expands to 11 games this evening as we’ll look at some more GPP picks in search of improved results!
NOTE**: I am fading Jacob deGrom due to weather concerns tonight in St. Louis.
FanDuel MLB DFS Picks – May 4, 2021
P – Aaron Nola (PHI) – $9,200 vs. MIL
With deGrom in a potential weather situation in St. Louis tonight, we can safely assume that Nola is going to see plenty of ownership on this slate as he takes on the Brewers tonight in Philadelphia. Both parts of the final stages of that sentence are good news.
The matchup is excellent. The Brewers enter this one not only tied for 25th with a .285 wOBA on the season versus right-handed pitching, but their 27% strikeout rate versus righties is the fourth-highest mark in the league. Milwaukee’s lineup did get better yesterday when they activated Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain from the IL while sending the struggling Keston Hiura to the alternate site, but the Crew still managed just three runs against Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez who struck out six in six innings while Phillies pitching combined for 12 punchouts in that 4-3 win last night.
For his part, Nola is enjoying a fine season that’s seen him pitch to a 3.11 ERA/2.63 FIP with a 2.88 xERA, 3.38 xFIP and 3.33 SIERA to boot. He’s striking out 9.32 batters per nine innings and walking just 1.19 while both his strand rate and BABIP numbers are right in line with career norms, so it’s pretty clear he’s pitched well.
The good news is he’s piching at home in this one as his splits have consistently been far more favorable at Citizens Bank Park. Nola has pitched 19.2 innings at home this season with a 1.37 ERA and 18 frames on the road with a 5.00 ERA. Last season, it was a home ERA of 2.50 and a road figure of 4.26 and in 2019 it was a 2.91 ERA at home and a 5.19 mark on the road. For his career, the Phillies’ ace owns a 2.92 home ERA and a 4.07 home ERA. His numbers are far superior across the board at home.
Add in the swing-and-miss nature of the Brewers and there’s not much reason to doubt the Phillies right-hander in this one tonight.
C/1B – Rhys Hoskins (PHI) – $3,900 vs. MIL
In addition to his favorable matchup on the mound, I believe Nola gets plenty of run support in this one by way of the Phillies teeing off on left-hander Eric Lauer in this one as well as an underperforming Brewers bullpen.
Now, Hoskins should see some ownership on this slate, so perhaps we’ll consider this lineup more of an optimal one, although our secondary stack is certainly of the GPP variety. Nonetheless, we’ll start here with Hoskins who has simply bashed left-handed pitching in his young big-league career. The slugger has mashed lefties for a .323 average, .419 ISO, 1.106 OPs, .462 wOBA and 191 wRC+ on the 2021 season so far. Last season, he clubbed them for a .341 average, .390 ISO, 1.241 OPS, .509 wOBA and 223 wRC+. For his career, it’s a .267 ISO, .922 OPS, .391 wOBA and 143 wRC+, but of course the numbers have been even better of late.
For his part, it’s just Lauer’s second start of the season after failing to crack the rotation out of camp. The former Padre pitched five shutout innings in a win over the Dodgers in impressive fashion his last time out, but the career norms are not great. He’s still just 25, but Lauer owns a career 4.67 ERA/4.41 FIP with a 4.74 SIERA. He’s also more of a line-drive/fly-ball type pitcher than a ground-ball artist and there appears to be an 8 mph wind blowing out to left field in this one, perfect conditions for a righty-swinger against the southpaw pitcher.
Add in the Brewers bullpen currently sitting 18th with a 4.27 ERA but also 27th with a 4.86 FIP and 25th with a 4.59 xFIP and we could be in business with a four-man Phillies stack tonight.
2B – Nick Solak (TEX) – $3,300 vs. MIN
Here’s the GPP portion of the lineup as Solak and the Rangers take on left-hander J.A. Happ of the Twins.
Happ as been fantastic this season while pitching to a 1.96 ERA across four starts and 23 innings and even flirted with a no-hitter two starts back against the Pirates. But boy is regression on its way.
Happ owns a 3.76 xERA, 4.02 FIP, 5.43 xFIP and 5.33 SIERA on the season as well. He’s not missing any bats whatsoever with a tiny 5.09 K/9 on the season, he’s benefited from a minuscule BABIP of .154 despite yielding hard contact more than 40% of the time and his fly-ball rate is an enormous 49.3%, yet he’s allowed home runs on just 6.1% of the fly-balls he’s surrendered despite all that hard contact. Statcast pegs him below league average in terms of average exit velocity against, hard-hit rate, xSLG, barrel rate, whiff rate, chase rate and fastball velocity. Not a great picture moving forward.
For his part, Solak has mashed left-handed pitching this season to the tune of a .349 average, .256 ISO, .996 OPS, .427 wOBA and 183 wRC+. He’s already homered seven times — three against a lefty — while two of his three doubles have come against a southpaw. He’s stolen two bases as well, but both have come against a righty and Happ doesn’t give up much at all in the run game.
Nonetheless, we have a pitcher set to get mashed anytime now, and I’m collecting some lefty-mashing Rangers to deliver that regression tonight.
3B – Alec Bohm (PHI) – $2,600 vs. MIL
We knew regression was coming for Bohm after he burst onto the scene with a .338 average last season on the back of a bloated .410 BABIP, but he’s been better than the numbers suggest and he’s also been very good against left-handed pitching.
He’s hitting just .221 for the season as the BABIP has dropped to .260, but Statcast still gives him credit for a huge 53.8% hard-hit rate the puts him into the league’s 91st percentile in that department while he sits in the 92nd percentile in terms of average exit velocity. That would be why his .342 xwOBA sits well above his .255 actual mark in the early going.
That said, the damage has come against lefties. Bohm has hit .292 with a monstrous .333 ISO, .946 OPS, .381 wOBA and 140 wRC+ on the season versus southpaw pitching while two of his three homers and two of his three doubles have come against lefties as well. He too has pair of steals on the season, but again both came off of righties and the left-hander Lauer doesn’t allow many steals, either.
He’s also expected to hit out of the valuable two-hole for this one tonight, so Bohm would appear to be offering significant value potential at this price tag.
SS – Marcus Semien (TOR) – $3,000 vs. OAK
To be clear, I really would have preferred a four-man Rangers stack here as it fits perfectly with Isiah Kiner-Falefa in this spot, but we need to roster players from three teams, so we had to give somewhere in our Rangers stack and therefore I’ll roll with Semien as he takes on his old club and left-hander Cole Irvin in this one.
Irvin has been a nice find for the A’s (what else is new) as he’s pitched to a 3.67 ERA, and while his 5.45 xERA is elevated, he’s also turned in a 3.48 FIP, 3.93 xFIP and 3.85 SIERA while walking just 1.33 batters per nine innings. That said, this just has more to do with Semien against a lefty than it does anything else.
The early-season 2021 returns favor right-handed pitching, but he’s been superior versus lefties for some time. He still posted a powerful .265 ISO and 115 wRC+ versus lefties during his down 2020 season, but mashed them to the tune of a .230 ISO, .930 OPS, .388 wOBA and 149 wRC+ in his MVP-caliber 2019 season. For his career, his .807 OPS and 122 wRC+ versus lefties are far superior to his work against righties.
The lefty Irvin has allowed just one steal in his 72.1 big-league innings, however Semien already has six swipes on the young season. A’s catcher Sean Murphy has a lethal arm behind the plate, so I’m not advocating for stolen-base potential, but I’m not completely ruling it out as Semien’s legs appear fresh as he’s yet to be thrown out stealing on the season as well.
He’s my top pivot to Kiner-Falefa unless you want to switch out a member of the Phillies stack for some more Rangers GPP exposure in this one.
OF – Andrew McCutchen (PHI) – $3,300 vs. MIL
Next man up in this four-man Phillies stack is McCutchen who is hitting out of that valuable leadoff spot as he continues to torch left-handed pitching even in the latter stages of an impressive big-league career.
McCutchen is hitting just .176 on the season with two homers and two steals as part of a .272 wOBA and 70 wRC+ at the dish. However, it’s all about his work against left-handed pitching in this one for me.
So far here in 2021, McCutchen has touched up left-handed pitching for a much-improved .276 average, .207 ISO, .805 OPS, .345 wOBA and 117 wRC+ — all far superior to his work against righties. In 2020, he hit lefties for a .283 average, .267 ISO, .944 OPS, .402 wOBA and 153 wRC+. In 2019, it was a was a .294 average, .840 OPS, .371 wOBA and 129 wRC+ against left-handed pitching, although the power was down a little bit versus lefties that season, but you get the picture.
Not many active Phillies have seen much of Lauer, but McCutchen’s 10 plate appearances are the most on the team in this matchup. The good news is that he is 5 for 8 (.625) with a triple and two walks in his career with Lauer. Out of the valuable leadoff spot, McCutchen’s work against southpaws and Lauer specifically could give us a nice jump on this stack tonight.
OF – Joey Gallo (TEX) – $2,800 vs. MIN
Next man up in our three-man Rangers stack is Gallo who I am hoping can build off a productive night at the plate from last night’s contest after a slow first month to the season.
I mean, Gallo is never going to hit for average as he owns a career .210 mark, and he’s actually beat that mark with a .234 average on the season while drawing walks at an insane 20.5% clip, boosting his OBP, OPS, wOBA and wRC+ in the process. That said, Gallo went 2 for 5 with a homer in last night’s loss to the Twins, but it was just his third homer of the season. That’s the department I am hoping can catch fire into this matchup tonight.
After all, we have a two-time 40-homer guy on our hands here, and his 22 homers from 2019 in just 70 games were a whopping 51-homer pace in a 162-game season. The guy owns a career .280 ISO at the plate, but is sitting with only a .117 mark on the season, a number I expect will much much higher, and in short order.
I’m also not worried about the lefty-on-lefty matchup here. Gallo has never had a problem with left-handed pitching, even this season. In fact, all three of his homers have come against left-handed pitching as he’ll carry a .222 ISO, .959 OPS, .421 wOBA and 179 wRC+ on the season versus lefties into this one. For his career, Gallo has hit lefties to the tune of a .290 ISO, .838 OPS, .355 wOBA and 118 wRC+, numbers that are even better than his figures against right-handed pitching.
Perhaps a home-run binge has been set into motion after last night, so let’s see if he can make it two in a row tonight.
OF – Adolis Garcia (TEX) – $3,200 vs. MIN
The decision to eliminate a player from this stack came down to Kiner-Falefa or Garcia as I wasn’t about to leave Solak or Gallo out. I went with Garcia as I believe he has more home-run upside than Kiner-Falefa despite the latter still hitting five homers to the former’s six. Neither player has hit lefties well in a small 2021 sample, but Garcia has a minor-league track record of mashing lefties while Kiner-Falefa never hit for much power at all prior to this season.
Garcia has hit six homers this season, two of which came against a lefty. He still owns only a .158 ISO, 593 OPS, .253 wOBA and 63 wRC+ on the season across 40 trips to the plate against lefties, but let’s look a little deeper.
In the 2019 season — his last action prior to 2021 given the cancellation of the 2020 minor-league season — Garcia’s splits were even as he posted an .818 OPS versus lefties and was one tick better with an .819 mark off righties. The guy homered 32 times that season at Triple-A, by the way. In 2018, he posted a .921 OPS against lefties but only a .747 OPS against righties, also at the Triple-A level, only this time in the Cardinals organization.
So clearly, he’s not lost against lefties, and he’ll face one that is about to get torched, whether it’s tonight or some other time soon. We’ll obviously hope it’s the former as we’ll look for what should be a low-owned Rangers stack to cash tonight.
UTIL – J.T. Realmuto (PHI) – $3,400 vs. MIL
Completing our four-man Phillies stack is yet another lefty-masher in the form of J.T. Realmuto who is having himself a season after re-upping with the Phillies in the offseason.
Realmuto enters this one sporting a .309 average, .906 OPS, three homers, two steals, a .389 wOBA and 145 wRC+ on the season. His xwOBA is actually all the way up to .450 while Realmuto ranks in the league’s 95th percentile in that department as well as the 96th in xBA and 93rd in xSLG. Additionally, he ranks in the 87th percentile in barrel rate but also the 84th in sprint speed, a rarity for a catcher to be sure. Still, there isn’t much stolen-base upside against Lauer, but we do have some speed in this lineup tongiht nonetheless.
That said, the work against lefties has been excellent. Realmuto has clobbered southpaws to the tune of a .364 average, 1.007 OPS, .438 wOBA and 176 wRC+ on the season. All three of his homers have come against righties, but four of his five doubles have come against lefties. He also hit lefties for a .386 average, .205 ISO, 1.091 OPS, .469 wOBA and 197 wRC+ in the 2020 season, so we know the guy loves himself some left-handed pitching.
This Phillies group could very well see some ownership given all of the above, but we can find ways to utilize this lineup in both cash and GPP contests tonight.