I’m back to the MLB DFS grind on Monday after taking a break for the Easter holiday. I hope everyone had a fantastic time with family and friends, but it’s back to business as a fun 13-game MLB slate approaches. It’s really just nine-game slate that I’ll be touching on today, of course, but if you’re playing the early slate, I wish you luck.
This is a nice sized slate and there are a lot of bats to consider tonight. Pitching, on the other hand, is quite ugly.
My last MLB DFS picks column didn’t go quite as planned. I should have trusted Zach Greinke as an elite pivot play, but instead I rolled with Yu Darvish as my main arm. He got crushed in Miami against the Marlins of all teams and handcuffed my roster with a lousy 10 fantasy points.
Darvish was not a bad play in terms of logic, as he was the biggest favorite on the board and ended up being 54% owned. Still, he was awful and probably kept you from cashing if you used him.
That was the case with my team, even though I delivered some strong plays in Brian Dozier (21.6), Eric Thames (18), Mike Moustakas (15.2) and Lucas Duda (13).
Those guys got you off to a fine start, while Trey Mancini (6) and Rhys Hoskins (9.5) at least got on the board and weren’t crippling. Nicky Delmonico (0) was my lone gaffe of the night, while Corey Seager didn’t end up playing.
Had it not been for Yu’s epic collapse, this may have been a winning lineup.
Sunday gave me a day to hit the refresh button, so it’s back to the grind as I try to piece together a GPP-winner at FanDuel:
Note: All data based on last year’s numbers from Rotogrinders.com’s PlateIQ tool, unless specified otherwise. Also, be aware that tonight’s Mets vs. Phillies game has been PPD.
SP: Mike Clevinger – Cleveland Indians ($7.7k)
Pitcher is pretty bad again tonight, as there is not one true ace to hang your hat on. Charlie Morton ($8.5k) leads the way and that probably tells you all you need to know.
Don’t get me wrong, Morton was very good in 2017 and remains a viable arm, but he’ll be facing a talented Orioles offense and isn’t exactly elite.
I’m sure Morton is fine, but I don’t feel great about paying $8.5 for him. Instead, I’ll drop down to Clevinger, who is in a pitcher’s park tonight against the Halos.
Los Angeles is a bad team to target for strikeouts usually, but Clevinger did average a K per inning against them in 2017. The Angels have more power than they did last year, but I don’t hate the upside here and Clevinger specifically fared better on the road last season.
He’s a solid value in a pretty good spot and considering pitching is ghastly tonight, I don’t mind hitching my wagon to him. Being a mild -117 favorite at BetOnline tonight doesn’t hurt, either.
If you want a value pick worth taking a look at, consider Atlanta’s Sean Newcomb. Nobody will be on him and if he really did improve his control like a strong spring suggests, he could dice up the Nats tonight.
C/1B: Matt Olson – Oakland Athletics ($3.5k)
The Houston Astros are an obvious stack tonight, but I really like this Rangers/A’s game. On the Oakland side, Olson is tough to deny due to staggering splits (.439 wOBA, .434 ISO) against right-handed pitching. He’s obviously one of the best young mashers in baseball and tonight he’ll load up those nasty splits against Bartolo Colon.
Big Sexy is still alive and kicking in DFS circles at 44 years old, but he’s certainly not an arm to fear. The only issue is his tendency to deliver ground balls and soft contact, but those numbers dip greatly against lefty power (43% fly ball rate, 43% hard contact rate).
Colon has a weak 13% strikeout rate and he’s on the road. Do I really need to go on? I’m interested in Nats, Astros and a pricey Freddie Freeman (and I still could add some here), but all things considered, Olson is one of the top hitting values on the board.
2B: Jose Altuve – Houston Astros ($4.5k)
I don’t need to stack the Astros tonight, but I don’t see much of a way around Altuve. Per usual, 2B is not exactly loaded, so unless some awesome value opens up, I’m probably just eating likely chalk at this spot and paying up for Altuve.
Altuve doesn’t need a big sales pitch, but he is at home and going up against a very beatable arm in Chris Tillman. Tillman’s play dropped off horribly in 2017 and despite usually getting a positive park shift out of Camden Yards, he was abysmal (0-3, 10.87 ERA) on the road.
Health played a hand in Tillman’s down season, but he’s still not an elite pitcher you need to fear – especially on the road against such a nasty offense. Tillman still serves up a ton of hard contact and while he has his best K rate against righties, he offers up monster upside for someone like Altuve in this spot.
Altuve’s hot start to 2018 and his stellar splits (.401 wOBA, 200 ISO) make this an easy call for me.
3B: Anthony Rendon – Washington Nationals ($3.5k)
Usually 3B is stacked, but on this slate it actually feels really weak. That may make it difficult for me to fade Rendon, who absolutely mashes southpaws (.449 wOBA, .320 ISO) and faces a beatable arm in Braves pitcher, Sean Newcomb.
Newcomb is said to have improved across the board going into 2018, but last he was seen, he had serious control issues. That’s bad news against a stacked Nats team, while Newcomb also served up a good amount of hard contact against righties a year ago.
I do fear an improved Newcomb enough to refrain from a full Nats stack, but the Washington bats that destroy righties are very much in play in this spot. If you’re seeking a little extra value, consider Matt Davidson ($3k) against Jaime Garcia.
SS: Carlos Correa – Houston Astros ($4.2k)
I don’t mind trying out Corey Seager ($3.5k) at a discount, but he’s off to a poor start and is facing a solid pitcher tonight. I’ll just pay up for another Astro, as Correa benefits from all of the data Altuve does and is at home with a great matchup.
The splits are just as good with Correa, too. He’s bringing a nasty .377 wOBA and .238 ISO to the table and is absolutely raking to start the new season.
OF: Charlie Blackmon – Colorado Rockies ($4.5k)
Blackmon is a fun hammer to close out this slate. He’s not in the best park, but he destroys right-handed pitching (.422 wOBA, .292 ISO) and is facing a guy in Bryan Mitchell that doesn’t have an imposing K rate and can give up some hard contact. Blackmon could dong here, but he doesn’t even have to to end up being a terrific play.
George Springer could give you an elite Astros stack and he’s $700 cheaper, while Bryce Harper or J.D. Martinez are also viable plays. I’m rolling with a red hot Blackmon and hoping he can carry this team to a big win in the night’s final game.
OF: Matt Joyce – Oakland Athletics ($2.4k)
I really am interested in this Oakland game and much like Olson, Joyce gives you another lefty bat that destroys righties (.355 wOBA, .249 ISO). Joyce is at home and obviously taking on the aging Colon, so this is a very nice matchup on paper.
Joyce is a fly ball hitter in a pretty nice setting tonight and he’s also dirt cheap. There aren’t that many guys at this price range that I covet at OF and he helps piece together a team I love.
OF: Curtis Granderson – Toronto Blue Jays ($2.1k)
I honestly loved the idea of using Granddaddy before I got to this point in my build process, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t forcing him onto my roster. I got to him fairly organically, but I’m excited to use his solid splits (.340 wOBA, .254 ISO) against a volatile pitcher in Reynaldo Lopez.
Lopez has some talent and was once regarded as an interesting strikeout pitcher, but his K rate hasn’t been staggering in the pros. It’s been way worse against lefties (10%!) and he offers up way too much hard contact and a high fly ball rate (53.6%!) to that side of the plate.
That’s all good news for Granderson, who donged Lopez in just two plate appearances. I’m hunting for a cheap homer in this spot, but just make sure Granderson is actually active and batting in a decent spot in the order.
Util: Joey Gallo – Texas Rangers ($2.6k)
I’ll close this thing out with another power bat from this (hopefully) fun Rangers/Athletics showdown. Gallo is the king of one-off mashers, as he can send one deep no matter the arm or setting. Fortunately he’s looking at a pristine spot, where his gaudy splits against righties (.354 wOBA, .333 ISO) could be put on full display.
Gallo has an absurd K rate and can often struggle to even make contact, but when he does it tends to be a moonshot. I worry less about the K concerns in tonight’s matchup, as Andrew Triggs is not a scary strikeout guy and sees a slight dip in the K department when facing left-handed hitters.
This is a solid spot for Gallo to go nuts, while Triggs also happens to see his hard contact and fly ball rates worsen against lefties. Ultimately, Gallo is just too cheap when you look at his splits, the matchup and his overall upside. Just make sure he’s got a solid spot in the order.
Overall, my main strategy is to work in a couple of Astros and Nats picks and hope these A’s/Rangers plays go low-owned. There’s a very good chance Washington and Houston bats see crazy exposure due to the pitching on this slate, so I think avoiding full stacks gives you a chance at getting a leg up over GPPs.
Hopefully Clevinger can deal a solid game (hoping for roughly 35 fantasy points) and this Rangers/Athletics game pops off a bit. If you want to go a different route here, you could drop from Blackmon to Springer, Rendon to Davidson and Correa to Seager.
Doing that would allow for more balance and you could then close this roster out with a safer trio of Adam Eaton, Andrew Benintendi and Avisail Garcia. I honestly like both routes, but nobody is “safe” in MLB. I think the lineup you see here offers loads of upside and should also be quite contrarian. That could lead to a big win tonight if things go my way.
Love or hate my MLB DFS picks for Monday night? Let me hear it in the comments below!