When Jacob deGrom gets touched up before exiting after just three innings, you know you’re running bad.
deGrom allowed three earned runs in two innings before leaving with a hamstring issue. It’s just unfortunate as he’s arguably been the best pitcher in baseball this season, but when it rains, it pours.
Our bats weren’t much better. The Royals did a decent job against the Tigers as Whit Merrifield enjoyed a two-hit night and stole two bases. alongside two runs scored. Adalberto Mondesi also collected two knocks while he also stole a base and scored a run. Unfortunately, Maikel Franco and Hunter Dozier combined for a goose egg that really hurt our lineup.
The frustrating part was I stacked three D-backs at minuscule ownership and they scored nine runs once again. The ugly part of it was it was the bottom of the order that did the damage. I mean, Kole Calhoun homered as part of a two-hit night, but Josh VanMeter posted a zero and Christian Walker doubled and scored a run. The likes of David Peralta – who actually rakes righties – and Nick Ahmed – who doesn’t – did the heavy lifting.
Finally, Francisco Lindor walked and scored a run, but deGrom’s outing buried our lineup before we even got a chance on that slate.
Now we’ll turn our attention to tonight’s main six-game slate.
FanDuel MLB DFS Picks – September 17, 2020
P – Shane Bieber (CLE) – $11,900 vs. DET
I haven’t caught a break over the last couple of nights with my pitchers, but if Bieber doesn’t dominate these Tigers tonight, I’ll eat my hat.
I mean, the guy enters this one sporting a 1.53 ERA/2.03 FIP on the season, numbers that have him as t he leader in the clubhouse to win the AL Cy Young award while he’s also being floated around as a potential MVP candidate as well.
Not only are the run-prevention numbers off the charts, but Bieber also owns a monster 14.20 K/9 on the season while he takes on a Tigers team that sits dead last in the big leagues by a notable margin with a 28% K-rate versus right-handed pitching on the season. It’s also a Tigers club that sits 28th with a .292 wOBA on the season off of right-handers to go along with a league-worst 6.8% walk rate off of them.
In other words, Bieber might be the best pitcher on the planet right now and the Tigers not only struggle to score runs off of right-handed pitching, but they are more susceptible to the strikeout than any other club off of right-handers to boot.
C/1B – Paul Goldschmidt (STL) – $3,700 vs. PIT
The Cardinals and Pirates get together for an NL Central clash on this slate and it would appear that the Cardinals have a quality matchup on tap.
Left-hander Steven Brault gets the nod for the Bucs tonight and it the not-so-proud owner of a 5.06 ERA/4.61 FIP/5.24 xFIP on the season while he’s walking batters at a massive 5.74 BB/9 clip. Add in his 5.49 SIERA and it’s clear Brault is a targetable pitcher on this six-game slate.
The Cardinals have also raked lefties this season. St. Louis owns a sixth-ranked .349 wOBA on the season against left-handed pitching while their .206 ISO also ranks sixth, so the power is certainly there off of southpaws.
And then there’s Goldschmidt who has obliterated left-handed pitching this season. All he’s done off of southpaws is post a monster .467 ISO, 1.365 OPS, .545 wOBA and a 251 wRC+ on the season. In other words, his bat has been 151% above league average off of lefties with park factors baked in. For what it’s worth, his 34.8% walk rate off of lefties is exactly double his 17.4% K-rate against them.
Finally, he’s 4 for 11 (.364) with two home runs in his career off of Brault across 14 trips to the plate, so let’s get Goldschmidt into this lineup in rather mandatory fashion tonight.
2B – Eli White (TEX) – $2,100 vs. HOU
Our pitcher costs an arm and a leg on this slate, so we’re going to need to find value and punt somewhere and I am punting at second base in the form of the Rangers’ Eli White.
White has made just 31 trips to the plate in 11 games this season, and the results are not good. He’s hitting just .111 in that time with a cool -7 wRC+. That said, his counting numbers weren’t so bad at the Triple-A level last season as he displayed a power/stolen base combination that plays in the world of DFS baseball.
White hit 14 home runs in his 116 Triple-A games last season and also stole 14 bases. The prior season, he homered nine times and swiped 18 bases. The stolen base potential has been above the power potential in the minors, but he also hit left-handed pitching for a quality .840 OPS at Triple-A last season as he prepares for Astros southpaw Framber Valdez tonight.
Valdez has actually been pretty good this season, but he’s also allowed 13 runs over his last two starts spanning 12 innings. He’s also allowed at least three earned runs in each of his last four starts and at least four in three of those four.
To me, this seems like a solid spot to punt and look for some value upside.
3B – Tommy Edman (STL) – $2,900 vs. PIT
The switch-hitting Edman hasn’t had much success against right-handed pitching this season, but he’s fared quite well against southpaws.
By quite well I mean he’s turned in a monster .346 ISO, 1.115 OPS, .463 wOBA and 196 wRC+ on the season. We’re working with small samples here, but it’s doesn’t change the fact that he’s raked lefties to this point in the season.
Edman burst onto the scene last season with a monster rookie season, but that rookie season included big-time numbers off of left-handed pitchers. He hit lefties for a .321 average, .262 ISO, .964 OPS, .399 wOBA and 151 wRC+ in 2019.
Edman also brings a stolen base element to the table as he stole 15 bases in 92 MLB games last season after swiping nine in just 49 games last season. Brault hasn’t allowed a stolen base in his 26.2 innings this season, but his 11 steals allowed in only 113.1 innings last season is not only a huge number for a lefty, but a big number for any pitcher.
Add in his 3 for 5 with a stolen base off Brault combined with his spot as the projected leadoff hitter and Edman looks like a fine play on this slate tonight.
SS – Paul DeJong (STL) – $3,100 vs. PIT
With Kolten Wong out of the lineup at the moment, the Cardinals have re-arranged their batting order and it appears DeJong is set to hit in the valuable two-hole for this one tonight.
Now, the numbers are largely not pretty against left-handed pitching. DeJong enters this one not having an extra-base hit off a lefty in his 14 trips to the plate against them this season, but he does own a 21.4% walk rate against them in that time. He’s also been a reverse-splits hitter for his career, but has displayed pop versus lefties in the form of a .184 ISO off of them, but he too brings some stolen base potential to this matchup with Brault.
DeJong isn’t a speedster by any means, but he did steal nine bases last season and he has a stolen base off Brault in his 14 plate appearances against him.
The power is going to arrive against lefties at some point here, so let’s ensure that DeJong gets a shot hitting behind Edman in this stack tonight.
OF – Michael Brantley (HOU) – $3,200 vs. TEX
Over the course of his career, it’s reasonable to think that Brantley has been one of the most underrated players of his era.
I mean, year after year this guy puts up fantastic numbers, including this one in which he’s hitting .295 with a .204 ISO, .369 wOBA and 138 wRC+. He’s only hit four homers, but he’s also racked up 15 doubles to rank among the league’s best in that department.
All that said, he’s crushing right-handed pitching once again, which is to be expected for the lefty-swinging outfielder. He’s posted a .333 average, .215 ISO, .952 OPS, .406 wOBA and 163 wRC+ on the season versus right-handers here in 2020. Not known for his speed, he’s also stolen a base this season.
And the matchup is excellent. Brantley takes on Rangers right-hander Jordan Lyles in this one. Lyles is the owner of the worst ERA in baseball among pitcher who have hurled at least 40 innings this season at a cool 7.80 mark. He’s allowed a big 1.90 HR/9 in his 42.2 frames of work and is fooling no one in the form of a minuscule 5.70 K/9.
In other words, let’s look for Brantley to rake in this one.
OF – Kyle Tucker (HOU) – $3,300 vs. TEX
It’s been a coming out party for the highly-touted Kyle Tucker here in the 2020 season.
Tucker has launched eight long balls and stolen five bases on the season as part of his .263 ISO, .337 wOBA and 116 wRC+ on the season. While he’s actually been able to flex some muscle against left-handed pitching, the numbers are superior versus righties to be sure.
Against righties this season, Tucker owns a .272 ISO, .867 OPS, .354 wOBA and 127 wRC+ and while he’s hit four home runs against both lefties and righties so far, all nine of his doubles have come against a right-handed pitcher, as have all five of his stolen bases.
This production shouldn’t exactly come as a surprise. He was pegged as a future star in this league for a long time while he hit 34 homers and stole 30 bases in just 125 Triple-A games last season. he went on to homer four times with five steals in 22 MLB games in 2019.
Lyles doesn’t give up a ton of steals with just two allowed in 42.2 innings this season and four in 141 innings last season, but the power/speed combination here is quite attractive as it always is with Tucker, but against a pitcher struggling mightily at the moment, that combination should play up in this one.
OF – Josh Naylor (CLE) – $2,300 vs. DET
Another value play was required and after I filled in my Cardinals stack, Houston mini-stack and Eli White, I had a spot open in the outfield with $2,300 to spend. Of the candidates in that range on a smaller six-game slate, I believe Naylor is the best choice.
The matchup is solid against former No.1 overall pick Casey Mize who owns a 5.85 ERA/4.84 FIP on the season across five starts and 20 innings. While he surely has a bright future ahead of him as a potential ace, Mize is enduring a turbulent first taste of big-league action to this point.
Additionally, Naylor is also set to face a good chunk of this Tigers bullpen, a group that ranks 26th with a 5.26 ERA on the season as Mize has maxed out at 5.1 innings this season, a number he reached in his last start against the White Sox.
Naylor came over from the Padres in the Mike Clevinger deal, but he hasn’t done much this season with a .219 average, .259 wOBA and 57 wRC+ with just one homer and one steal in 32 games. That said, this is another highly-touted prospect that hit .314 with a .233 ISO, .392 wOBA and 125 wRC+ in his last taste of minor-league ball in the 2019 season across 54 games.
I don’t see him receiving much ownership on this slate, so a big night for Naylor would be a big boost to this lineup tonight.
UTIL – Rangel Ravelo (STL) – $2,500 vs. PIT
Completing our four-man Cardinals stack here is Ravelo who has clobbered left-handed pitching in a small sample this season with the big club.
Ravelo enters this one sporting a .400 ISO, .985 OPS, .408 wOBA and 160 wRC+ on the season against lefties, but those figures derive from a 13 plate-appearance sample. That said, it’s likely best to look at his minor-league numbers against lefties as he’s appeared in just 38 MLB games to this point.
Last season at Triple-A, Ravelo raked left-handed pitching to the tune of a 1.035 OPS in 79 at-bats against them with six doubles and five homers in that time. The now 28-year-old isn’t exactly a prospect at this point, but he’s posted a wRC+ of at least 111 in each of his last three Triple-A seasons.
Brault is allowing a career .816 OPS and .351 wOBA with a 1.20 HR/9 against right-handed bats and Ravelo is projected to hit in the cleanup spot in this one, and if that projected lineup holds up we will get a 1-4 lefty-raking Cardinals stack against a struggling southpaw into this lineup tonight.