Last night’s DraftKings MLB DFS Picks once again weren’t good enough to get into the money as too many players in the lineup didn’t produce much, if anything.
Our pitchers had a solid night, especially Justin Verlander who hurled seven innings of one-run ball to go along with nine strikeouts in a win over his former team, the Detroit Tigers.
Eduardo Rodriguez had a much more volatile effort and while he was looking good with 10 strikeouts heading into the seventh inning while allowing just two runs, Rodriguez loaded the bases with none out, was removed from the game, and the bullpen promptly allowed all three of those baserunners to score. His six innings of five-run ball didn’t end up pretty, but I did like the 10 punchouts.
Our Rangers stack did some damage, mostly on the back of Shin-Soo Choo and Nomar Mazara. Choo was hit by two pitches, homered and scored two runs. Mazara enjoyed a four-hit night including a pair of doubles, although he wasn’t able to score any runs. Joey Gallo provided just one walk on the night.
Our Dodgers mini-stack didn’t do much of anything as David Freese posted a zero while Kike Hernandez registered just a single.
Finally, our Mets mini-stack wasn’t much good either, but that was because Wilson Ramos posted a zero. J.D. Davis delivered an RBI double to provide the Mets their only run in a dominant effort from Patrick Corbin.
We need to get things going this week and Thursday is a good night to do so as we look to tackle this small five-game main slate!
P – Marcus Stroman (TOR) – $7,700 vs. CWS
The small slate isn’t deep in pitching tonight and the best arm on the slate in Luis Castillo is facing a red-hot Cubs offense that crushes right-handed pitching, and the game is in a hitter-friendly environment – so I am going to pay down for pitching tonight and pay up for bats. That strategy begins here with Stroman who is enjoying a real nice season with a 3.12 ERA and 3.16 FIP on the season to go along with a so-so 7.79 K/9 rate. Stroman makes his money on the ground as he owns a 59.8% career ground-ball rate, which in turn helps him keep the ball in the yard as he owns a small 0.79 HR/9 clip for his career and an improved 0.52 mark this season. While the strikeout numbers aren’t big, the upside grows against this White Sox team that ranks 26th with a 26% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching this season. The Jays are around -135 to win this game on the moneyline tonight, so I’ll take the increased strikeout upside with the win upside at this cheap price and run with it.
P – Eric Lauer (SD) – $6,800 vs. PIT
Lauer could deliver us some serious value in this one tonight. The Pirates offense is probably better than we thought it would be this season, however their numbers against lefties are weak. Entering play tonight, the Pirates are tied for 28th with a brutal .607 OPS against left-handed pitching while their huge 28.2% strikeout rate against southpaws ranks 26th. Factor in the extreme pitcher-friendly confines of Petco Park in San Diego. After getting the ball on Opening Day, it hasn’t been a great season for Lauer as he owns a 5.75 ERA on the year, but his 4.65 FIP and 4.70 xFIP, although not great numbers themselves, do call for some positive regression moving forward. The good news is that Lauer owns a solid 3.43 ERA at home this season and a ghastly 8.24 mark on the road. His Padres are favored around -125 on the moneyline to win this one tonight and the Pirates have just a 3.6 run projection – the smallest mark on the slate – so I can see some value coming out of Lauer in this one.
C – Yadier Molina (STL) – $4,200 vs. ATL
I had a heck of a time deciding on which catcher to roster in this one, but despite an 0 for 11 against right-hander Julio Teheran for his career, Teheran is allowing plenty of home runs to right-handed hitters this season so I don’t mind a roll of the dice in a Cardinals mini-stack tonight. I believe we can get Molina at reasonable ownership as there is actually some decent catching options on this slate in Willson Contreras of the Cubs, the hot-hitting Jason Castro of the Twins and Omar Narvaez of the Mariners. Molina is hitting right-handed pitching for a rock-solid .173 ISO and .746 OPS on the season while all four of his homers and 10 of his 11 doubles have come against a right-hander this season. Somewhat surprisingly, Molina has also swiped a pair of bases against a right-hander this season after stealing four bases last year and nine the year before. Teheran does allow steals – three this year, 19 last year and 26 the year before – so we actually have some stolen base upside on top of the average and power Molina brings to the table.
1B – Justin Smoak (TOR) – $3,900 vs. CWS
I stacked the Blue Jays against the right-handed Dylan Covey in Toronto recently, and while I got a couple of home run out of it, the stack didn’t rack up a ton of points otherwise. Smoak had a decent outing against Covey as he walked all three times he faced him, so he’s seeing the ball well from the right-hander to be sure. That said, the Blue Jays have a 5.2 run projection tonight – the highest mark on the slate – so I am going to roll out a four-man Blue Jays stack with an 11 mph wind blowing towards center field tonight in Chicago. Smoak is scuffling at the plate right now and has been since late April. That said, I wonder if those struggles at the plate will keep his ownership down with some big bats at first base on this slate. He still hit right-handers for more power than lefties, and Smoak hit righties for a huge .257 ISO and .867 OPS just last season. He’s going to turn it around and tonight looks like a fine opportunity to do so against a pitcher with a 5.91 ERA, 7.41 FIP and 7.76 xFIP on the season.
2B – Eric Sogard (TOR) – $4,400 vs. CWS
I was a little hesitant to roster Sogard in this lineup considering he is due for some notable regression considering his hot start to the season compared to his career numbers, but against a real poor pitchers and hitting out of the leadoff spot I’m having a tough time fading him in this Blue Jays stack. For what it’s worth, I also really like Kolten Wong at this position tonight and you could stack him with Molina and one of my outfielders as well. Nonetheless, I will go with Sogard here as he owns a big .409 OBP on the season and his 12.2% walk rate is actually higher than his 10% walk rate. He is bringing power to the table with four homers and a .237 ISO on the season, but that is already a career-high and I don’t expect it to continue much longer, although it could against Covey who is due to give up even more homers than the 1.69 Hr/9 he has yielded to this point. He’s actually bringing some nice cross-category upside to the table as he has two steals as well this season and as many as 11 in a big league season. I’ll stick with Sogard considering the on-base ability, pop and stolen base upside against a weak pitcher tonight.
3B – Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (TOR) – $4,100 vs. CWS
Perhaps this Blue Jays stack will see more ownership than we think as I can see a lot of owners flocking to Guerrero now that he is off the schnide with a two-homer game on Tuesday in San Francisco. Pitchers beware now that this guy has some confidence, and the fact that he powered up twice in the league’s least hitter-friendly park is quite impressive as one went to dead-center field. There isn’t a whole lot to say about this guy other than the fact he posted video game-type numbers in the minor leagues pretty much right from the get-go as an 18 year-old. He’s still only 20, but I can see Vladdy go on a serious run here, especially now that he is in a very hitter-friendly environment with the wind blowing out tonight at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago. He has been moved up the two-hole for this one tonight and brings a wealth of cross-category upside to the table as a result.
SS – Jorge Polanco (MIN) – $5,000 vs. SEA
I have plenty of money to work with tonight given my low-cost pitching, so I am going to use a couple of higher-priced Twins in this lineup against Mariners right-hander Erik Swanson tonight. Swanson has had a couple of nice outings mixed in with a couple of disastrous ones as he enters this one with a 6.35 ERA, 5.36 FIP and 4.90 xFIP. He’s allowed home runs at a 2.22 HR/9 clip so far and he hasn’t been able to rack up strikeouts either. Enter Polanco who is enjoying a fabulous season for the Twins as he’s already blasted eight home runs on the season and owns a .293 ISO and 1.022 OPS as well. Polanco is also white-hot at the plate entering this one as he’s 5 for 12 (.417) with a homer, a triple, three runs scored, two RBI and a stolen base over his last three games. Against right-handed pitching this season he owns a massive .320 ISO, .1095 OPS and a .451 wOBA on the year while he also owns a .316 ISO and .1079 OPS for the month of May and a .483 ISO and 1.357 OPS on the road against right-handers. Sign me up.
OF – Randal Grichuk (TOR) – $4,200 vs. CWS
I will complete my lineup here with Grichuk who homered off of Covey when we rostered him a week ago. The power against right-handed pitching is nothing new for Grichuk as he now owns a .233 ISO and .759 OPS on the season against right-handers while he owns slightly higher numbers against righties than he does lefties for his career. Grichuk isn’t going to register a high OPS given his inability to hit for a high batting average, but the ISO numbers speak to his power. He’s been extremely consistent in his power numbers in his career as he’s homered between 22 and 25 times in each of the last three years with that 25-homer season coming last year in his first season in Toronto. He has seven homers on the year so far so he is well on his way to another 25-ish homer season. He wasted no time in touching up Covey with a first-inning homer in Toronto last week and I’ll look for the power to continue in this one tonight.
OF – Marcell Ozuna (STL) – $5,000 vs. ATL
Braves right-hander Julio Teheran is worse to left-handed hitters, however as I mentioned in the Molina section he’s already allowed six home runs to right-handed bats and Ozuna is a reverse-splits hitter who has obliterated right-handed pitching this season while he owns fantastic career numbers against Teheran. This season against right-handers, Ozuna has put together a massive .286 ISO and .862 OPS on the season and posted a massive .268 ISO and .955 OPS in his breakout 2017 season against right-handed pitching. In his career against Teheran, Ozuna has gone 17 for 45 (.378) with three homers and two doubles to go along with a stolen base. I like the power numbers as he owns a .244 ISO and even 1.000 OPS against Teheran, but I also like the large sample size as we know he owns this righty. He’s having an All-Star season, so I’ll take Ozuna to go along with Molina in this mini-stack tonight.
OF – Eddie Rosario (MIN) – $4,700 vs. SEA
Completing this lineup and our Twins mini-stack is Rosario who is once again having a big year for the Twins – his biggest year yet, in fact. Perhaps one of the most underrated players in the game, Rosario already has smacked 13 home runs on the season and owns a .285 ISO to boot. He has just one steal so far, but he has stolen at least eight bases in each of the last two years and as many as 11 in a single big league season, so we know he can run. The power numbers against lefties look better so far, but I’m not arguing with a huge .269 ISO against right-handers either, especially since he is most certainly a traditional splits hitter given his numbers over the last two years of his career – his two breakout seasons. Safeco Field in Seattle isn’t the most hitter-friendly venue in baseball, so I didn’t want a full Twins stack tonight, but I very much like what we have in this high-priced mini-stack to be sure.