My cold streak continued with last night’s DraftKings MLB DFS Picks as a couple of quality pitching performances went to waste thanks to some of the worst production we’ve have from our bats all year.
Justin Verlander led the way with a dominant performance that included eight innings of one-run ball to go along with a whopping 12 strikeouts. I mentioned yesterday that the one bat Verlander had trouble with was Jose Abreu, and sure enough Abreu broke up Verlander’s no-hitter with a solo home run – his sixth career bomb off of Verlander.
Our second pitcher Caleb Smith was solid, but he lasted just five innings to go along with two earned runs against and seven strikeouts. He left with a 4-2 lead, but unfortunately the Marlins’ bullpen blew that lead in the bottom of the ninth, robbing Smith of a win.
After that, things got ugly. Our four-man Giants stack actually got off to a good start as Buster Posey singled and Evan Longoria hit an RBI double in the first inning, but that was just about it for that group for the remainder of the game.
My three-man D-backs stack was limited two a two-man stack as Wilmer Flores didn’t start, but we did get a solo home run from J.R. Murphy.
Finally, we also got some nice production out of the one-off outfielder Brian Anderson as he homered and doubled and had a pair of RBI on the night as well.
I’ll look to turn things around on a smaller 10-game main slate tonight!
P – Gerrit Cole (HOU) – $12,000 vs. CWS
After paying $11,400 for Justin Verlander’s elite performance over the White Sox last night, I’m finding it very hard to fade the next man up in Gerrit Cole who has put together a ridiculous strikeout rate in the early going while the combination of a strikeout-prone White Sox team and the win upside behind the big Houston bats has been all over Cole as the slate’s top pitcher tonight. Entering play tonight, Cole sports a 3.56 ERA, however his 2.74 FIP and 2.32 xFIP suggest he’s pitched much better than that ERA figure would suggest. Also attracting me to Cole this evening is his un-human 13.80 K/9 rate on the season. In other words, Cole has struck out 38.3% of the batters he’s faced this season. After punching out 12 times against Verlander last night, the White Sox now rank 28th with a 26.1% K-rate on the season and also 28th with a slightly higher 26.5% K-rate against right-handed pitching. The Astros are favored to win this one around -330 on the moneyline, so the ceiling seems to be unlimited for Cole in this one tonight.
P – Max Fried (ATL) – $8,500 vs. SF
After trying to sneak a low-owned, low-cost San Fran stack into my lineup last night, I am going to target them tongiht as Fried has been real good this season and the Giants are among the league’s worst offenses overall but also against left-handed pitching. Their 3.4 run projection also happens to be among the lowest on the slate, as per FantasyLabs. Fried enters tonight’s contest in the pitcher-friendly Oracle Park in San Francisco sporting a 2.86 ERA while his 3.52 FIP and 3.27 xFIP suggest slight regression moving forward, but are also nice numbers themselves. The Giants aren’t the most strikeout-happy offenses in the league with their 24.6% strikeout rate against lefties ranking 17th, however Fried owns a 9.16 K/9 rate for his MLB career, so the upside ticks up a bit. Also helping Fried is the fact that the Giants rank 29th with a brutal .611 OPS against left-handed pitching and their 66 wRC+ against them is 34% below league average. With the Braves sitting at around -155 favorites to win this one on the moneyline tonight I will take the cross-category upside with Fried at this price.
C – Pedro Severino (BAL) – $3,600 vs. NYY
Last week I rostered the Rays against C.C. Sabathia has the veteran left-hander is in for some massive regression, but it didn’t pan out in that one. I’m hoping for that to come through tonight as Sabathia enters this one sporting a 2.97 ERA, but also a brutal 6.06 FIP and 5.47 xFIP while his .198 BABIP against and 95.5% strand rate are due for monumental regression moving forward. I think we can get the Orioles at relatively low ownership tonight as I will roster three Orioles that hit lefties well, beginning here with Severino who is having a massive season against southpaws. He didn’t hit for much power in very limited time with the Nationals over the last few years, but Severino owns a massive .370 ISO and 1.083 OPS on the season against left-handed pitching while he’s homered three times against lefties in just 27 at-bats against them. There are some attractive low-cost catchers on this slate, but Sabatha is going to get tattooed soon, and Severino’s numbers against southpaws are too big to miss right now.
1B – Renato Nunez (BAL) – $3,800 vs. NYY
First base is always a loaded position, but Nunez quietly has some big-time numbers against left-handed pitching this season and is projected to hit in the cleanup spot in this one tonight. Nunez had a respectable eight homers in 73 games last season and carried a solid .161 ISO with him as well. This season, he’s already matched that eight-homer total in just 46 games and his ISO is up to .185 as a result. That said, let’s make note that Nunez has demolished left-handed pitching to the tune of a .235 ISO and .849 OPS on the season as four of his eight homers have come against left-handed pitching. Furthermore, in 21 at-bats at home against a lefty this season, Nunez is hitting .381 with two homers, a .286 ISO and 1.147 OPS. That last figure is a small sample, but against a pitcher that is due to get lit up very soon, I think I’m going to gladly take those numbers and run, especially at what I believe to be more than a reasonable price considering all factors.
2B – David Bote (CHC) – $3,900 vs. PHI
I am not going to run out a four-man stack in this lineup but rather a three-man stack, a pair of mini-stacks and a one-off outfielder. The first mini-stack starts here with Bote who lines up against Phillies left-hander Cole Irvin tonight. Irvin has been solid in two MLB starts this season, but I like the numbers Bote put up last season against lefties as well as his 2018 minor league stats against lefties. After being summoned to the big leagues last season, Bote hit lefties for a powerful .216 ISO and .871 OPS with two homers and five doubles across 51 at-bats. Before being called up to the big leagues in 2018, Bote mashed southpaws to the tune of a massive 1.240 OPS with six homers, two doubles and a triple across just 45 at-bats. That is some serious production. In 2019, Bote has hit lefties for just a .154 ISO and .646 OPS, however the previous stats have me believing he will come around. One last thing to mention here is that according to FantasyLabs, there is a 14 mph jet stream blowing out to left field right now – Bote’s pull field – so we could have some help in the home run department thanks to the weather on the north side tonight.
3B – Miguel Sano (MIN) – $4,100 vs. LAA
Another mini-stack I want to use tonight comes from the Twins who take on right-hander Matt Harvey one night after scoring eight runs against Trevor Cahill and co. Sano’s big league tenure has been both powerful, disappointing and controversial off the field. However, he raked in the minors on his way back to the big leagues this season and is off to a fine start in the five games he’s gotten into at the MLB level so far. Sano played just 10 minor league games across three levels this season, but he homered twice and drove in nine runs in that time before homering twice in just five big league games here in 2019. In a tiny 13 at-bat sample size this season against righties, Sano has homered and owns a .385 ISO and .830 OPS against them as a result. He homered in his last start on Monday and he’s also doubled twice in five games this season. Harvey owns a 6.35 ERA on the season and his homer numbers are up again, so I think the red-hot Sano can certainly get to him in this one tonight.
SS – Addison Russell (CHC) – $3,500 vs. PHI
Russell has plenty of controversy surrounding his off-field incidents of late, but I will use him in a mini-stack tonight alongside Bote against the left-hander Irvin this evening. Russell has gotten into just 11 games this season after serving his 40-game ban for domestic violence, but he’s homered once and had a double across just three at-bats against a left-hander this season. Russell’s power dried up last season, but he’s long been a much better bat against lefties and hit them as well as a .245 ISO and .801 OPS in his 21-homer 2016 campaign. Even in 2017 Russell hit lefties for a real nice .184 ISO and .821 OPS, so we certainly know the ability to hit left-handed pitching is there with the Cubs’ middle infielder. Russell owns a powerful .196 ISO in his career against left-handed pitching at Wrigley Field where this one will play tonight with a lot of that having to do with the aforementioned jet stream blowing out to his pull field in left. It appears that wind is in full force tonight and I’m excited to see if we can get a couple long balls out of it as a result.
OF – Marwin Gonzalez (MIN) – $3,700 vs. LAA
Gonzalez is really starting to feel it at the plate after a dreadful start to the season and he is coming off a big night at the dish just 24 hours ago. In last night’s game, Gonzalez went 2 for 5 with a double and a homer while driving in three runs and scoring two of his own. That’s two straight games with a double as he’s gone 5 for 11 with two doubles, a homer, three runs and three RBI over his last two while he has a multi-hit game in each of his last three. He’s also homered three times over his last eight contests. After a brutal April that saw him produce a .090 ISO and .501 OPS, Gonzalez has mashed for a .194 ISO and .979 OPS in the month of May to this point and would seemingly have a nice advantage on Harvey tonight. He sports better numbers against left-handers so far, but Gonzalez’s 2017 breakout saw him hit righties for a huge .230 ISO and .946 OPS before a little bit of a down year in 2018. Nonetheless, Gonzalez is white-hot at the plate right now and despite possible high ownership, I love him in this mini-stack tonight.
OF – Joey Rickard (BAL) – $3,500 vs. NYY
There are a few reasons why I have Rickard here to complete my three-man Orioles stack, but I might also mini-stack this spot with my final outfield spot, and I’ll explain in a minute. Longer stacks have more upside than shorter ones if the team goes off, which is why I am adding Rickard here to anchor our three-man Orioles group. He’s been a solid bat against left-handed pitching in his career as he posted a real nice .213 ISO and .789 OPS against left-handed pitching as recently as last season. His 113 wRC+ off of lefties tells us that his bat was 13% above league average against left-handed pitching, which I really like. Furthermore, while he hasn’t had a ton of extra-base success against him, Rickard has gone 6 for 15 (.400) with two walks in his career against Sabathia, good for an .871 OPS against him in a decent sample. Might as well roll him out against a southpaw pitcher who is going to get touched up any night now.
OF – Austin Dean (MIA) – $3,400 vs. DET
Completing our lineup here is Dean who I believe has the most upside in this price range to fill out the lineup. I noted above that you could mini-stack with this spot as well as outfielder Harold Ramirez mashed lefties in the minors and homered in last night’s game and is affordable to stack with Dean as they are projected to hit side-by-side against Tigers lefty Daniel Norris tonight. Dean has mashed in the minors this season including a 1.052 OPS against left-handed pitching. He also destroyed left-handed pitching to the tune of a 1.104 OPS across 67 at-bats against lefties in Triple-A last season. The numbers aren’t there at the big league level against lefties, although he’s logged just 29 at-bats against southpaws at the MLB level to this point. Norris does have issues with the long ball as evidenced by a career 1.31 HR/9 rate and a 1.58 mark here in 2019, so Dean could be a low-cost source of power considering his minor league numbers against southpaw pitching.