Our rough week continued with last night’s DraftKings MLB DFS Picks as our pitching held up well but our bats simply did not get the job done.
Mike Soroka wasn’t spectacular, but he continued to prevents runs as he allowed just one earned run over six innings of work, however he struck out just four and hit two batters while walking three in the no decision.
Wade Miley delivered plenty of value on the flip side as his increased strikeout upside came through as he punched out seven Rangers over six innings of two-run ball while picking up the win in the process.
Two struggling pitchers who have been allowing plenty of home runs met up in New York last night, so obviously the result is a low-scoring game, right? Both J.A. Happ and Mike Leake enjoyed quality outings and the only player from our Mariners and Yankees stacks who did anything of substance was outfielder Domingo Santana who homered in the ninth innings off of Aroldis Chapman.
We also got just a double from one-off outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., so last night’s lineup left plenty to be desired for sure.
Let’s turn that around on tonight’s big 14-game main slate and see if we can enter the weekend on the right note!
P – Justin Verlander (HOU) – $11,000 vs. TEX
For the second straight night I am going to target the Texas Rangers with a Houston Astros starting pitcher. Now, I want to disclose that I realize the Rangers rank third in wOBA against right-handed pitchers this season and their strikeout rate is roughly middle-of-the-pack against righties, but I am finding it hard not to roll with Verlander as he is the guy who can burst out with something like a 12-strikeout game among any pitcher on this slate. He likely won’t match his huge 12.20 K/9 rate from last season again this year, but he still owns a strong 10.73 K/9 clip while he has pitched to a 2.86 ERA to this point. He’s having trouble with the home run ball with a 1.79 HR/9 clip on the season, but that number shrinks to 1.29 at home. After allowing four earned runs in Texas earlier in the year, Verlander allowed just one while striking out eight in Texas a couple weeks later, so I am going to pay up for the future Hall of Fame right-hander tonight.
P – Zack Wheeler (NYM) – $9,700 vs. MIA
As I’ve done often this season, I am targeting a weak Miami Marlins offense tonight, this time with right-hander Zack Wheeler who is coming off a career season from 2018. Last year, Wheeler pitched to a 3.31 ERA and 3.25 FIP to go along with an 8.84 K/9 rate and was the second-best pitcher in baseball last season in the second half. He has mostly carried over that success after the All-Star game from last season to this year where he’s pitched to a 4.64 ERA, but has deserved a much better fate with a stout 3.11 FIP and 3.68 xFIP while his strikeout rate has jumped to 9.91 K/9 on the year. He has reached double-digit strikeouts in two of his last three starts against a couple of elite offenses in the Phillies and Brewers and allowed just two runs combined in those starts across 14 innings. The Marlins’ .264 wOBA against right-handed pitching is the worst mark in baseball while their 26.8% strikeout rate against them ranks 28th. Fabulous home matchup for the powerful right-hander tonight.
C – Tucker Barnhart (CIN) – $3,100 vs. SF
Now, we have spent big money on starting pitching in this lineup which means we need to find some value stacks and I believe I have found a couple that will work, beginning with Barnhart and the Cincinnati Reds as they take on right-hander Dereck Rodriguez tonight in San Francisco. It’s the second consecutive start against the Reds for Rodriguez, and he was roughed up for eight earned runs on four homers and four walks this past Saturday in Cincy. While that outing came at the hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Rodriguez hasn’t fared any better at home this season with a 5.87 ERA and 6.00 FIP to go along with a 2.35 HR/9 rate, so I think we can target him here again in this one. Barnhart enters this lineup once again as a low-cost, low-0wned backstop who gets on base thanks to a high walk rate, but can also hit for some power with three homers on the young season after hitting 10 last year. He’s also 1 for 2 with a homer in his career against Rodriguez.
1B – Rowdy Tellez (TOR) – $3,800 vs. CWS
I have used the low-cost, low-owned Blue Jays a couple of times to no avail recently, but tonight they have a five-run projection and are facing one of the most targetable pitchers on the slate in right-hander Dylan Covey – the owner of a 6.06 career ERA in 48 appearances – so I think a four-man Blue Jays stack can indeed get the job done tonight. Tellez is slightly cheaper than Justin Smoak and I needed the extra $200 between the two to fit in my two stacks tonight. Even so, Tellez has actually hit right-handed pitching for more power than Smoak this year, albeit not by much, with a .225 ISO compared to Smoak’s .188 mark against righties. Tellez has hit five long balls this season against righties and six overall, so we know there’s power to be unlocked here, especially in the homer-friendly Rogers Center in Toronto. He kicks off what I think will be a powerful Blue Jays stack tonight.
2B – Derek Dietrich (CIN) – $4,500 vs. SF
I have had a ton of success rostering Dietrich this season, especially the most recent time I did so when he homered twice, knocked in six runs and stole a base for me one week ago today. That two-homer game started a streak of three straight games with a homer and he also homered in last night’s game in Oakland. Now, he’s up to 10 long balls on the season and has absolutely pummeled right-handers to the tune of a massive .471 ISO and 1.105 OPS on the season with all 10 of those dingers coming at the expense of a right-handed pitcher. I also like the fact that his homer last Saturday came against Rodriguez who is clearly dealing with a home run issue after a stellar rookie season last year. He’s had more success at home this season, but I think I will take his .342 ISO and .988 OPS against right-handers on the road as well. He’s the most expensive bat in the lineup, but for good reason.
3B – Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (TOR) – $3,700 vs. CWS
Guerrero Jr. has been part of my recent Blue Jays stacks and hasn’t done much at all as his big league struggles continue. That said, there is simply no way these struggles last much longer as we are all well aware of his eye-popping numbers from every level in the minor leagues. Guerrero Jr. is hitting just .162 in the early going this season and his slugging percentage of .189 is atrocious and just slightly under the .700 mark he put up in Triple-A this season prior to his big league promotion. Of his six hits on the season, just one of them has gone for extra-bases and that was back in his MLB debut on April 26th. Still, there is every reason to believe the breakout is coming soon and when it does, look out. Tonight is a good opportunity for that to take place against the right-hander Covey who has not enjoyed much success at all at the MLB level. Hopefully we can get a struggling yet powerful bat at low ownership tonight.
SS – Jose Iglesias (CIN) – $3,600 vs. SF
Iglesias may not sport the most power in the league, but he’s enjoying a quality year at the plate and I might as well use him in the middle of this three-man Reds stack tonight against Rodriguez. He does have a pair of homers and a stolen base on the season and is coming off a career-high 15 steals from last season, so perhaps we can nab some stolen base upside with him tonight. Nonetheless, he’s hitting .286 with a .748 OPS on the season. He’s registered four hits over his last four games with two of those hits going for doubles while he also has a triple, three runs and four RBI in that span. He didn’t start the game last Saturday when the Reds obliterated Rodriguez, but he certainly has the scouting report from his teammates on the struggling right-hander. Let’s hope Iglesias can use his bat-handling skills to get on base, steal a base and score a run or two in this one tonight.
OF – Randal Grichuk (TOR) – $3,800 vs. CWS
Another player that has frequented theses lineups lately, Grichuk has big power against right-handed pitchers like Covey despite hitting from the right side of the plate. He has five home runs on the season, and it’s nice to see all five of those have come against right-handed pitching and he owns a rock-solid .190 ISO against righties on the season as a result. That said, he owns a much more powerful .245 ISO for his career against right-handed pitching, a figure that sits a little above his .222 mark against left-handed pitching. Given his history of production, we know where this guy will be at season’s end. He won’t hit for a ton of average (career .248 mark), but he owns a very powerful .238 ISO for his career and has hit at least 22 home runs in each of the last three seasons including a career-high 25 a season ago. Add in his ability to hit same-handed pitching for power and Grichuk should be all over it tonight.
OF – Billy McKinney (TOR) – $3,400 vs. CWS
Completing our four-man Blue Jays stack is McKinney who is starting to feel it at the plate after a rather slow start to his season. He’s hitting just .240 with a .130 ISO and two home runs on the season, but McKinney has picked it up of late. He has two hits over his last two games, but both have gone for extra-bases with a double and homer in that time. The homer came in Wednesday’s game against the Twins, or his most recent game. He’s picked it up by going 5 for 10 with a double, homer, two runs and an RBI over his last four games. I mean, he’s hit right-handed pitching for a real nice .183 ISO and .755 OPS in his very young big league career to this point and he hit for a rock-solid .790 OPS and .217 ISO last season after coming over from the Yankees to the Blue Jays at the trade deadline. There isn’t much speed to be had here, but McKinney should be a decent source of power and I believe we have him during a hot streak at the moment, so let’s try and squeeze some value out of him tonight.
OF – Marwin Gonzalez (MIN) – $3,400 vs. DET
The Twins have been the most powerful team in baseball to this point, although Marwin Gonzalez hasn’t been much of a part of that thanks to a slow start at the dish. That said, he’s a lot like McKinney in the sense that he has picked it up at the plate of late and is looking more like the player that he was with the Houston Astros the last couple of seasons. He’s hit 39 home runs over the last two seasons and has just two so far this year. However, after posting a dreadful .501 OPS through March and April, Gonzales is hitting .310 with a .333 wOBA and a much-improved .739 OPS so far in May, although the extra-base power hasn’t shown up much this month. That said, he will take on right-hander Tyson Ross who was beat up for five earned runs in just 1.1 innings against the Royals his last time out, so I certainly believe there is value to be extracted here as well.