FanDuel MLB DFS Picks – September 23, 2020

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Our lineup did some notable damage on last night’s 11-game main slate, but your results would have depended on who you used at second base or perhaps at third base to replace a Marlins mini-stack.

Jazz Chisholm didn’t start in that one, so I decided to take third baseman Brian Anderson out of the lineup as well. I replaced them Ketel Marte and Eduardo Escobar of the D-backs, but the results there weren’t groundbreaking as they combined for just three singles and a run scored, although Escobar provided nice value with two singles and a run at less than 7% ownership.

We didn’t exactly get a great foundation with our GPP starter Tarik Skubal. The results weren’t disastrous as he allowed just two earned runs – both on solo home runs – and struck out six, but he went just 3.2 innings and was pulled for a righty-on-righty situation with the bases loaded in the fourth. That said, while I wanted to see him get a chance to get out the inning, he was nearing 80 pitches and would certainly not have earned a quality start if he were left in.

We get did excellent results from our Braves stack while Marcell Ozuna and Freddie Freeman enjoyed monster nights. Ozuna led the way with two home runs, a double, a single, two runs scored and five RBI. He did so at less than 12% ownership which I found surprising. Freeman also homered, doubled and singled while scoring three runs and notching a pair of RBI. Ronald Acuna Jr. didn’t have a great night as he went just 1 for 5, but that hit was a double and he would score on the Freeman home run. The downside of the stack was a zero from catcher Travis d’Arnaud, which was a shame given he was the lowest-owned player in the stack.

Finally, our Royals stack hurt us. While Adalberto Mondesi tripled, Whit Merrifield recorded just one single. Both were actually robbed of base hits in that one on fantastic defensive plays.

I was able to sneak across the cash line in lower-stakes GPPs, but missed on the higher stakes tournaments by roughly five-point margins.

Now let’s see where to go on tonight’s eight-game main slate!

FanDuel MLB DFS Picks – September 23, 2020

P – Kenta Maeda (MIN) – $10,000 vs. DET

This might be the quietest Cy Young-caliber season of all time. While there’s some attractive pitching options on this slate at various price levels, I think we have to stick with Maeda considering his work on the season but also the elite matchup on tap with the Detroit Tigers.

Entering this one, the Tigers not only rank 28th with a .289 wOBA on the season against right-handed pitching, but their 28.1% K-rate against righties is the worst mark in all of baseball. Keep in mind the power bats of C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop are baked into that wOBA off righties, but both players reside on the IL and are done for the season.

For his part, Maeda enters this one sporting a tidy 2.52 ERA/3.04 FIP/2.73 xFIP on the season to go along with a stout 10.53 K/9 and tiny 1.48 BB/9 on the year. Looking around the league, that 2.73 xFIP figure ranks him fourth behind only Shane Bieber, Jacob deGrom and Yu Darvish while his 7.10 K/BB ratio also ranks fourth behind only Marco Gonzales, Kyle Hendricks and Zack Greinke.

It’s a little interesting to see that the Tigers have given him at least some trouble this season as he owns a 4.50 ERA against them across two starts and 12 innings, going six innings with three earned runs allowed each time. Still, he has 16 strikeouts in those 12 frames, good for a cool 12.00 K/9 clip against the Tigers this season.

Let’s look for the run prevention to crank up a notch and the strikeouts to continue to pile up for the first-year Twin tonight.

C/1B – Anthony Rizzo (CHC) – $3,300 vs. PIT

It took some time to arrange this lineup as there were a few ways I wanted to go, but I think we at least need some Cubs exposure as they take on struggling right-hander Trevor Williams in this one.

Williams takes the mound for the Pirates tonight carrying with him a 6.70 ERA/6.35 FIP in his 10 starts and 49.2 innings of work. That said, I’m a little hesitant to unleash a full four-man stack against him as he’s been been better at home while he owns a 4.90 xFIP and 4.75 SIERA on the season. While still not great, those numbers do point to some positive regression for Williams. Additionally, this is a guy sporting a solid 4.46 ERA/4.56 FIP for his career, so I don’t believe he’s nearly as bad as his surface numbers suggest.

Still, he’s been bitten by the long ball in the form of a 2.54 HR/9, so let’s get some left-handed power into this lineup against him tonight, beginning with Rizzo.

Rizzo played some long ball while the Cubs clinched a postseason berth in last night’s loss to the Pirates, hitting his 10th homer of the season while he sports a .222 ISO, .326 wOBA and 102 wRC+ versus righties this season.

While it’s largely been a down year for the veteran first baseman, he also has stolen two bases while going 7 for 22 (.318) with a homer, three doubles and four walks in his career against Williams, good for a .273 ISO, 1.019 OPS and .427 wOBA off the right-hander.

2B – Adam Frazier (PIT) – $2,500 vs. CHC

We needed to get some cost-efficiency into this lineup and while the matchup with Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks isn’t great and the Pirates are projected to score just 3.3 runs in this one, I think we can eek some value out of Frazier tonight.

It hasn’t been a great season for the 28-year-old as he’s hitting just .214 with a weak 67 wRC+ on the season, but Frazier does have some pop in his bat and some speed on the bases as well. He hit 10 homers and stole five bases a season ago but he’s also homered five times this season and swiped a bag to boot.

While the numbers aren’t pretty against lefties or righties, the lefty-swinging second baseman far been far better against righties, clubbing four of his five homers and all four of his doubles against right-handed pitching. His lone steal has also come against a righty, although it should be noted that he’s also been caught stealing three times by righties, so his 25% success rate isn’t exactly optimal. Additionally, while he’s had some issues holding runners in the past, Hendricks hasn’t allowed a steal in 70-plus innings this season and Willson Contreras is one of the best in the business throwing runners out, so Frazier’s stolen base potential is murky at best.

I’ll admit it, he’s almost entirely here due to his work against Hendricks in the past. I hate to rely solely on batter vs. pitcher stats, but in a thin crop of second basemen, I was glad to see that Frazier has gone 8 for 18 (.444) with a homer, two doubles and two walks in his career off Hendricks, good for a .278 ISO, 1.222 OPS and .520 wOBA off the 2016 Cy Young winner.

Hopefully that success against Hendricks moves Frazier up the lineup for this one, perhaps in the leadoff spot.

3B – Rafael Devers (BOS) – $3,800 vs. BAL

At the end of the day, I decided to unleash a full stack with the Red Sox as they take on young Orioles right-hander Dean Kremer in this one.

Really, it doesn’t have a whole lot to do with Kremer. By that I mean I realize the right-handed Orioles No. 10 prospect has posted a 1.69 ERA/2.36 FIP in his three starts and 16 innings this season. That said, I also see that he owns a 4.41 FIP and identical 4.41 SIERA while allowing 41.7% hard contact and a massive 47.2% fly-ball rate as well. He’s shut down a powerful Yankees lineup twice in three starts and a quality Rays lineup in the other, but I see regression here and the Red Sox, despite a brutal season, are a good candidate to deliver it.

The Sox enter this one ranked seventh in baseball with a .334 wOBA against right-handed pitching this season while their .348 wOBA at home also ranks seventh. They also hung eight runs on this Orioles pitching staff in last night’s win and have now scored 18 runs over their last two games. I prefer to stack right-handed bats at Fenway considering the homer-friendly confines to that side of the park, but I see an 8 mph breeze blowing out to right for this one, which bodes well for lefty-swinging bats such as Devers.

The 2019 AL MVP candidate is crushing right-handed pitching this season to the tune of a monster .309 ISO, .936 OPS, .390 wOBA and 146 wRC+ on the season, this coming after a slow start.

He’s the hottest Red Sox hitter over the last month, posting an overall .304 ISO, 1.019 OPS, .426 wOBA and 170 wRC+ over the last 30 days to boot. It would appear he’s in a big spot in this one tonight.

SS – Xander Bogaerts (BOS) – $3,700 vs. BAL

Next man up in this four-man Red Sox stack is Bogaerts who is a right-handed bat that can take advantage of the extra-base potential with that Green Monster in left field tonight.

It seems like the Lindor’s, Baez’s and Tatis Jr.’s of the world get much of the attention in what has become a loaded league at the shortstop position, but please don’t sleep on this guy. I mean, he’s once again enjoying a big season across the board with 10 homers and seven steals as part of his .201 ISO, .833 OPS, .355 wOBA and 121 wRC+. In fact, those numbers are actually the worst he’s produced over the last three seasons, including this one.

I do realize the numbers are superior versus lefties, but the splits have also slowly evened out as the season has gone along with he’s still posted a strong .185 ISO, .326 wOBA and 102 wRC+ on the season versus righties. Six of his 10 homers and six of his eight doubles, as well as six of his seven steals, have come against right-handed pitching.

He’s also feeling it at the plate right now as he’s carrying a six-game hit streak into action with seven runs scored and four steals over his last seven games as well.

At this point he’s as reliable at the plate as it gets and I think he’s a great candidate to get to a young pitcher in this matchup.

OF – Alex Verdugo (BOS) – $2,900 vs. BAL

Let’s keep this Red Sox stack rolling as the lefty-swinging Verdugo gets set for leadoff duties in this one while looking to keep an excellent first season with the Red Sox going.

Verdugo was the main prize coming back Boston’s way in the Mookie Betts trade with the Dodgers and he’s done a nice job of at least quelling some of the Red Sox faithful that were not fond of trading their 2018 AL MVP superstar away.

Against right-handed pitching, Verdugo has posted a .224 ISO, .916 OPS, .387 wOBA and 144 wRC+ on the season while he’s stolen all four of his bases against righties as well while five of his six homers and 11 of his 15 doubles have also come against a righty. For what it’s worth, he’s not just a righty killer as he’s hitting .348 with an .849 OPS, .373 wOBA and 134 wRC+ against lefties too, so this guy is a true everyday future star in this league, and soon.

He too is red-hot at the plate as he’s notched at least one hit in each of his last nine games, but also in a whopping 36 of his last 39 games. Let that sink in for a second. He also has a multi-hit effort in three of his last four with nine hits in that time. Dude is raking.

It’s actually pretty surprising we can get him at a sub-$3K price tag, so let’s roll with the wildly consistent bat of the 24-year-old Verdugo tonight.

OF – J.D. Martinez (BOS) – $3,300 vs. BAL

The Red Sox and Martinez are certainly baffled by his struggles here in 2020 after he’s been a top-10 bat in this league for pretty much the last six seasons or so dating back to his breakout 2014 season with the Tigers.

So, why does he appear in this lineup? Well, considering the talent, you weren’t going to keep him quiet all season long and while we’re running out of time in the final week of the regular season, it appears Martinez is finally heating up.

Last night, the former 40-homer guy went 3 for 5 with two doubles, a run scored and an RBI. That effort came on the heels of homering against the Yankees on Sunday and a two-hit day on Saturday against the Yanks as well. Add it up and Martinez has gone 6 for 14 (.429) with two doubles and a homer over his last three games. Heck, he even stole a base on Friday against the Bombers as well.

While his six homers are disappointing, the guy still has 15 doubles on the season, a number that sits in a lengthy eight-way tie for the fifth-most in baseball and the second-most in the American League alongside Verdugo, Devers and two others. That’s encouraging.

To me, all these numbers mean more to me than his season-long splits, although it should be noted that 11 of those 15 doubles and four of the six homers have come against right-handed pitching.

When he’s hot, Martinez is one of the best bats in baseball, and as noted, he’s hot.

OF – Gregory Polanco (PIT) – $2,600 vs. CHC

I’m going to go ahead and pair Frazier with Polanco as part of what I assume will be a low-owned mini-stack given the tough matchup on deck with Hendricks.

I like the pop with Polanco but there’s also a stolen base element here. He’s swiped three bases this season and has six over his last 88 games dating back to last season, which is about a 11-steal season in a normal 162-game campaign. He was running far more before injury woes took their toll from the 2017-2019 seasons, however.

Still, he’s clubbed six homers on the season, five of which have come against a righty.

Yes, the numbers are brutal on the whole as he’s hitting .143 on the season and owns a ghastly .533 OPS versus righties. That said, he also has a .180 ISO against righties, a rather strong figure. Not world-beating, but a .180 ISO is very solid.

That said, I’ll once again admit that, like with Frazier, this play is certainly BvP-related. In his career against Hendricks, Polanco has gone 12 for 31 (.387) with two homers, three doubles, a walk and a whopping five stolen bases across 33 plate appearances. That amounts to a .290 ISO, 1.071 OPS and .447 wOBA against the veteran righty.

If Frazier and Polanco can somehow find some extra-base power and/or stolen bases in this one, it would be a huge boost to this lineup tonight.

UTIL – Kyle Schwarber (CHC) – $2,900 vs. PIT

Completing our lineup and Cubs mini-stack is Schwarber who has the raw power to keep Williams’ home run woes going in this matchup tonight.

I mean, this guy has light-tower power. He’s never likely to hit for a high average, but he’s long been a righty-masher in the form of a career .275 ISO, .861 OPS, .358 wOBA and 123 wRC+ against right-handed pitching. That includes a 13.2% walk rate that’s helped mitigate a high 26.7% K-rate against righties.

Many of his numbers this season are on the down side, but the power remains. He’s slugged 10 homers and six doubles on the season for 16 extra-base hits. Eight of the 10 homers and all six doubles have come against a righty as he’s put forth a powerful .238 ISO on the season against right-handed pitching.

Like Rizzo, he’s also been successful in the past off of Williams. Schwarber has gone 8 for 24 (.333) with three home runs and a double against his division rival, good for a massive .417 ISO, 1.179 OPS and .487 wOBA in this matchup for his career.

Let’s hope the BvP gods are with us for our Cubs and Pirates mini-stacks and let’s keep the Red Sox rolling to get this lineup near or at the top of GPPs tonight!

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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.