FanDuel MLB DFS Picks – August 20th

Last night was a perfect example of a night to forget with my FanDuel MLB DFS Picks.

I took a risk with rostering left-hander Brendan McKay against a team in the Seattle Mariners that can hit the ball hard but also strikes out a lot, and the former is what ended up taking place. McKay surrendered seven runs (but only three earned) in just two innings of work as he allowed three hits – including two home runs – and three walks with just one strikeout. That’s the worst pitching performance we’ve seen all year in these lineups.

Our four-man D-backs stack did some damage as Ketel Marte continued his breakout season with his 26th home run, a two-run shot. He also added a walk. David Peralta doubled as part of a two-hit night with two RBI and Eduardo Escobar scored a run and walked. Add in a zero from Christian Walker and the overall results for this high-upside, four-man stack were disappointing to be sure.

Our three-man Reds stack was simply brutal as a walk from both Phillip Ervin and Eugenio Suarez was the only contributions we would get from this group.

Lastly, we received some solid value from one-off shortstop Wilfredo Tovar who knocked a pair of singles for us as a minimum $2,000 price.

Let’s put this one behind us and move forward to tonight’s jam-packed 15-game main slate!

P – Sonny Gray (CIN) – $10,400 vs. SD

There’s plenty of arms on this slate that draw your attention including Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg, Shane Bieber and Aaron Nola, but I like Gray as his price isn’t at the level that Kershaw is at over $12K, but the upside could be just as strong as he takes on the San Diego Padres tonight at home. The confines of Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati are of the hitter-friendly environment, however that hasn’t stopped  Gray from twirling a 3.15 ERA, 3.23 FIP, 3.48 xFIP and a big-time 10.62 K/9 at home. The latter three of those numbers are superior to his figures on the road, as is his 3.86 K/BB at home as he’s run into some command issues on the road with a 4.08 BB/9, but owns a nice 2.75 mark at home. Gray has been particularly dominant of late, entering this one tonight riding a three-start scoreless streak as he hasn’t allowed a run over his last 18 innings with 24 strikeouts in that span. His last two outings have come at home and he’s hurled 11 innings of shutout ball in that time with 17 strikeouts to boot. The strikeout upside gets a notch in the right direction tonight as the Padres own the league’s second-highest strikeout rate versus right-handed piching with a K-rate of 26.4% off of them. Given his recent work and the strikeout upside in this matchup, Gray appears to be a nice play on this big slate.

C/1B – Anthony Rizzo (CHC) – $4,200 vs. SF

I actually haven’t stacked against the Giants much this season as they have a top 10 bullpen to back their starters, but I think the Cubs have some real nice upside tonight, as do the oddsmakers at they have a big 5.9 run projection at this point in time. The Cubs will take on right-hander Tyler Beede who has scuffled to the tune of a 5.77 ERA and 5.42 FIP on the season to go along with a 1.85 HR/9 rate. He’s also been touched for a 6.23 ERA on the road to go along with a 5.82 FIP and 1.89 HR/9 clip. Lastly, Beede has posted a 9.95 ERA across three August starts to this point with a 2.64 HR/9 against, so there’s plenty of reason to believe this Cubs team can put some runs on the board in a big way tonight. Enter Rizzo who is once again doing some big-time damage against right-handed pitching with a .240 ISO, .960 OPS, .401 wOBA and a 148 wRC+ against them for the season. He’s seen his ISO dip to .179 at home versus righties, but his .962 OPS, .407 wOBA and 152 wRC+ are all superior at home versus his marks on the road versus righties. Rizzo homered in his last game at Williamsport, the home of the Little League World Series, against the Pirates, his second long ball over his last four games. Let’s look for him to continue to swing a powerful stick in this one tonight.

2B – Cesar Hernandez (PHI) – $2,500 vs. BOS

After selecting Gray as my pitcher and a four-man Cubs stack to lead the bats in this lineup, I had to be selective with the remainder of my picks from a salary standpoint as there wasn’t a ton to spend on each player at that point. However, I’ve discovered a cheap, low-owned mini-stack that could pay some big dividends in a favorable matchup tonight, beginning here with Hernandez. Hernandez’s Phillies take on the Red Sox and left-hander Brian Johnson in this one tonight, he of a ghastly 6.45 ERA, 5.95 FIP and 5.99 xFIP on the season to go along with a big 2.01 HR/9 against as well. He’s been hit hard by right-handed bats in his brief time in the bigs this season, and the switch-hitting Hernandez will indeed swing from the right side against him. The power is improved from the left side of the plate, although he’s smacked eight of his 23 doubles versus a lefty and he’s hit eight overall home runs and stolen seven overall bases to give us some power/speed upside here. Usually I only use him versus righties, but given how poor Johnson has been versus right-handed bats and the fact that he’s going to be part of a mini-stack at low ownership, I’ll roll the dice on the Phillies’ second baseman tonight.

3B – Sean Rodriguez (PHI) – $2,200 vs. BOS

We will complete the Phillies mini-stack here in short order as Rodriguez looks to give us some value tonight against the struggling Johnson. Rodriguez has always made his big league money hitting left-handed pitching for notable power. For this season, he’s hitting .267 with a .222 ISO, .842 OPS, .356 wOBA and 119 wRC+ against left-handed pitching. When we compare that to his .154 average, .059 ISO, .437 OPS, .201 wOBA and 18 wRC+ versus righties, we can see why Rodriguez starts almost exclusively against left-handed pitching as he’s done throughout his lengthy big league tenure. In layman’s terms, Rodriguez has smacked all three of his homers against lefties in 45 at-bats with zero homers across 34 at-bats versus righties. The 34-year-old also posted a massive .356 ISO at Triple-A this season in limited action with an even 1.000 OPS versus left-handed pitching. He rarely plays an entire game as he is mostly replaced when a right-handed reliever is summoned to face him, but the second-last time he did get four at-bats in a game, Rodriguez knocked three hits including a home run. He’s struggled in mostly pinch-hit duty since, but I’m still digging the upside we are getting for a lefty-masher at a near-minimum price versus a struggling left-hander tonight.

SS – Javier Baez (CHC) – $4,100 vs. SF

Next man up in our Cubs stack is Baez who has superior numbers versus left-handed pitching, but I still very much want him in this stack versus a right-hander as well as he’s mashed them too. He does own a massive .333 ISO and .998 OPS versus left-handed pitching, but Baez also sports a .240 ISO, .824 OPS, .337 wOBA and 106 wRC+ versus right-handed pitching. He’s hit 20 of his 28 homers versus righties as well as 30 of his 34 doubles, but for some reason the Cubs have faced so few left-handers this season that the eight homers and four doubles he’s posted versus lefties have his numbers soaring against them. The stolen base upside is there as well with 10 steals on the season, but interestingly only three of those have come at the expense of a right-handed pitcher. That said, Baez has fared much better at home versus right-handed pitching, thanks in part to the famous jet stream that blows out to left field – Baez’s pull field – at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Baez owns a big-time .302 ISO, .961 OPS, .392 wOBA and 142 wRC+ versus right-handed pitching at home this season. After slumping for a few games, Baez went 2 for 5 with a double and a run scored in the game at Williamsport on Sunday night, so let’s look for him to build on that multi-hit effort in this one tonight.

OF – Kyle Schwarber (CHC) – $3,300 vs. SF

Continuing our four-man Cubs stack is Schwarber who simply loves himself some right-handed pitching. Schwarber’s 28 long balls on the season are just two shy of tying his career-high of 30 set in the 2017 season, and 24 of those 28 long balls have come against a right-handed pitcher like he will face tonight in the Giants’ Tyler Beede. Schwarber doesn’t hit for much average at all which drags down his OPS and wOBA despite some strong walk numbers, however the raw power is what we are here for as he owns a .276 ISO versus righties to go along with an .835 OPS, .342 wOBA and 109 wRC+ versus opposite-handed pitching. Despite Wrigley Field not being the most hitter-friendly venue for left-handed hitters such as Schwarber, he still loves mashing righties at home as he sports a .296 ISO, .918 OPS, .373 wOBA and 129 wRC+ versus righties at home compared to a .257 ISO, .760 OPS, .315 wOBA and 91 wRC+ on the road versus righties. Schwarber has absolutely taken off in the second half of the season as we have seen before with him. Since returning from the All-Star break, Schwarber has posted a massive .344 ISO, .900 OPS, .368 wOBA and 126 wRC+. In a good example of a low average but lots of power, three of Schwarber’s last five hits have left the yard. Look for more of the same against a right-handed pitcher allowing his fair share of home runs.

OF – Ian Happ (CHC) – $3,100 vs. SF

Last man up in our Cubs stack is Happ who certainly has plenty of pop in that bat. Happ has spent most of the season at the Triple-A level as a casualty of a numbers game in the Cubs outfield, however despite not exactly tearing it up at Triple-A with a .189 ISO and 96 wRC+, Happ has posted big-time numbers in his big league tenure this season across hi 62 plate appearances. He owns a .291 ISO and 133 wRC+ at the big league level this season with four long balls to his name. The switch-hitting utility man owns a .278 ISO, .937 OPS, .390 wOBA and 140 wRC+ in his brief big league time this season versus right-handed pitching. He burst onto the scene in 2017 with 24 home runs after a mid-season promotion, and switch-hitter owns superior career numbers versus righties with a .242 ISO, .845 OPS, .355 wOBA and a 120 wRC+ versus righties compared to a .171 ISO, .713 OPS, .303 wOBA and 86 wRC+ versus lefties. He’s yet to swipe a base in the big leagues this season, but did have nine stelas in 99 Triple-A games this season and has 16 stolen bases in 279 big league games for his career, so we do have a touch of stolen base upside here as well. I’ll take the cross-category upside here to anchor our stack tonight.

OF – Lane Thomas (STL) – $2,300 vs. MIL

I will be completing this lineup with a pair of one-off outfielders, beginning here with Thomas who takes on left-hander Gio Gonzalez and the Milwaukee Brewers tonight. Gonzalez has been fine this season and isn’t a pitcher I target often, but almost all of the damage against him comes from right-handed bats and Thomas has very good numbers against lefties both in the big leagues and minor league level this season. Entering this one tonight, Thomas is 4 for 8 with a homer and a triple versus left-handed pitching in a tiny big league sample this season. He also attempted a steal versus a lefty, albeit an unsuccessful attempt, but does have a steal off of a righty. However, the 23-year-old did post an .826 OPS versus lefties in the minors this season where he also found success on the basepaths with 11 steals to add to his 10 home runs. Two of his 11 steals in the minors were off of left-handed pitching. Thomas does have a history of the valuable power/speed combination in his minor league career as he homered 27 times and stole 17 bases across two levels last season and has double-digit steals in the minors in each of his two previous years. I think we’ll get him at low ownership on this slate and I am excited to see if he can deliver some big-time value against a southpaw pitcher.

UTIL – Joc Pederson (LAD) – $2,900 vs. TOR

Completing our lineup tonight is Pederson who carries a ton of value into this game at this price. The Dodgers are set to take on right-hander Sean Reid-Foley, a rookie for the Blue Jays who owns a 3.00 ERA in six starts and eight appearances at the big league level, but also a 4.88 FIP and massive 6.18 xFIP to go along with a huge 5.70 BB/9 rate as well. Furthermore, Reid-Foley was brutalized at the Triple-A level with a 6.26 ERA, 5.53 FIP and 5.31 xFIP to go along with a massive 6.80 BB/9 rate as well. Clearly, he’s due for some big-time regression in the big leagues after being roughed up in the minors this season. As is usually the case against a right-handed starter, Pederson is projected to hit in the leadoff spot tonight. He loves himself some right-handed pitching as he owns a huge .272 ISO, .851 OPS, .354 wOBA and 121 wRC+ versus righties on the season while all of his 24 long balls have come against a righty. He’s a lot like Schwarber in the sense that he doesn’t hit for a big average but rather big-time power. He’s also like Schwarber in the sense that he mashes righties at home with Pederson owning an eye-popping .381 ISO, 1.026 OPS, .416 wOBA and 161 wRC+ at home versus righties this season. I think I will take that type of production out of the valuable leadoff spot tonight.

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.