Last night’s FanDuel MLB DFS Picks were a mixed bag of production and frustration.
We ended up on the right side of the Jose Berrios/Robbie Ray debate as Berrios was very good in his outing against the visiting White Sox. The right-hander hurled 7.1 innings of two-run ball to go along with eight punchouts, earning his 13th win of the season in the process. Ray went six innings and actually allowed just one hit, but he walked four, struck out seven and received a no-decision.
Our four-man Cubs stack showed out as they scored eight runs against Kevin Gausman and a struggling Reds bullpen. The big hit came from Kyle Schwarber who clubbed a three-run home run off of Gausman in the first inning. Nicholas Castellanos stayed hot with yet another double – his 55th of the season – while he added a pair of RBI as well. Ben Zobrist delivered solid value with a pair of singles, a run scored and an RBI while Nico Hoerner chipped in a single and a run scored. I like the production we received here.
The frustrating part of the lineup came in the form of our three-man Brewers stack. Milwaukee scored five runs, but Cory Spangenberg of all players did the damage with a triple and a homer. Yasmani Grandal posted a zero, Mike Moustakas gave us just one walk while Eric Thames delivered value with a single, a double and a run scored.
All told, it was a good lineup with the exception of two players, but I’ll take these results and the profits attached.
Let’s turn our attention to tonight’s big 14-game main slate and see if we can make it two in a row!
P – Justin Verlander (HOU) – $12,000 vs. TEX
I really did look around to see if I could squeeze some value out of another pitcher on this slate for GPPs, but the truth is I simply cannot fade Verlander in this matchup as his strikeout upside is just massive against the swing-and-miss Texas Rangers. Not only is Verlander entering this outing as the AL Cy Young favorite thanks to his 2.58 ERA, 18 wins and massive 12.01 K/9 rate, but he takes on a Rangers team that owns a 25.4% K-rate versus right-handed pitching this season, good for the fifth-highest mark in all of baseball. Verlander is very familiar with this Texas lineup as he’s had his fair share of outings against them this season. Tonight will mark the sixth start of the season for Verlander against these Rangers, and he’s pitched to a 2.70 ERA with a 11.70 K/9 rate against them across the first five. However, if we take out his first start of the season against Texas – and second start overall – in which he allowed four earned runs and struck out just four, Verlander owns a 1.73 ERA and a 12.12 K/9 clip against them over his last four starts including a 12-strikeout effort against them in his last start against the Rangers. Considering I’ve found a quality lineup even with the pricey Verlander at the top, I think we all need to be rolling with the future Hall of Famer tonight.
C/1B – Freddie Freeman (ATL) – $3,800 vs. PHI
It’s an NL East clash tonight in Atlanta as the Braves take on the Phillies in hopes of buring the Phillies once and for all in the NL playoff race. I believe they will do just that tonight behind a strong offensive performance against right-hander Vince Velasquez and a weak Phillies ‘pen. Velasquez owns a 4.95 ERA and 5.44 FIP on the season while allowing home runs at a big 2.08 HR/9 clip. He also owns a 5.40 ERA and 5.69 FIP on the road to go along with a 4.19 BB/9 rate that is miles higher than his 2.43 mark at home, so I’m all in on a four-man Braves stack in this one tonight, beginning here with Freeman. It’s been a year of mashing right-hander pitching for the long-time Braves first baseman as he’s posted a big-time .291 ISO, 1.030 OPS, .420 wOBA and a big 159 wRC+ against righties here in 2019. The numbers are quite similar at home, however the power jumps to a .317 ISO at SunTrust Park versus righties, a venue that caters well to left-handed power hitters such as Freeman. He doesn’t have many extra-base hits against him, but Freeman has gone 9 for 26 (.346) with a pair doubles in his career against Velasquez. He also snapped a mini-slump with a double his last time out, so let’s look for Freeman to build off that effort against a struggling pitcher tonight.
2B – Wilmer Flores (ARI) – $2,600 vs. MIA
I certainly need to find some value in this lineup with the pricey Verlander at the top and pair of expensive Braves bats, and I’ve found a three-man value stack from the Diamondbacks on this slate, a team projected to score 5.1 runs tonight against left-hander Caleb Smith and a weak Marlins bullpen. There’s a few items working in the D-backs’ favor tonight. One, they rank third in baseball with a .353 team wOBA versus left-handed pitching, thanks in part to the players in this stack. Secondly, after a nice start to his season, Smith has been hit hard of late, posting a 4.81 ERA since the All-Star break with a 6.39 mark in August and a 4.76 mark so far in September. Finally, Smith owns a 4.77 ERA, 5.87 FIP, 5.05 xFIP and a 2.59 HR/9 rate on the road compared to a 3.56 ERA, 3.90 FIP, 4.33 xFIP and a 1.23 HR/9 rate at home. The home run rate is more than double on the road than at home. Enter Flores who is once again mashing left-handed pitching this season to the tune of a .340 average, .309 ISO, 1.023 OPS, .420 wOBA and a 160 wRC+. Those are some very elite figures. He also owns lefties for an even better .380 ISO, 1.186 OPS, .482 wOBA and massive 200 wRC+ against lefties at home. There’s just a ton to like about the matchup here against the struggling Smith.
3B – Josh Donaldson (ATL) – $3,400 vs. PHI
Next man up in our Braves stack is Donaldson who is putting himself in a nice position to earn some big bucks as a free agent against this winter, thanks in large part to his work at home against right-handed pitching in 2019. Donaldson has certainly mashed right-handers overall as part of his reverse-splits this season as he’s posted a .280 ISO, .931 OPS, .387 wOBA and 137 wRC+ on the season against opposite-handed pitching, although he’s posted powerful numbers against lefties as well. Still, his best split is at home against righties – by far. At SunTrust Park versus right-handed pitching this season, the former AL MVP has posted an eye-popping .397 ISO, 1.209 OPS, .486 wOBA and 202 wRC+. In other words, his bat has been 102% more productive than league average at home versus righties this season. This matters as Donaldson just isn’t the same hitter on the road where he’s posted a .193 ISO and .719 OPS against righties this season. Donaldson is enjoying a big month of September to boot as he’s posted a .289 ISO, 1.016 OPS, .425 wOBA and 162 wRC+ for the month to this point with the latter figure tying July for his most productive month of the 2019 season. Sign me up all day here with the veteran slugger.
SS – Nick Ahmed (ARI) – $2,500 vs. MIA
Keep an eye on the confirmed starting lineups as we move forward throughout the day as Ahmed left last night’s game with a cut on his finger after taking a grounder off of it, but he was confident post-game that he will play tonight and he’s been a horse this season for the D-backs, so I believe he will start this game tonight. That’s a good thing because there is plenty of upside in his bat in a matchup against the scuffling Smith. Ahmed has seen his pop increase since the start of the 2018 season, and that’s been the case here in 2019 as well, mostly against left-handed pitching. He will enter play tonight sporting an impressive .256 ISO, .961 OPS, .394 wOBA and 143 wRC+ on the season versus right-handed pitching. The news gets even better as his best split – by far – is at home versus lefties where he’s touched them up for a .328 ISO, 1.110 OPS, .447 wOBA and 178 wRC+. Heck, we even get some stolen base upside with Ahmed tonight as he’s stolen seven bags on top of his 18 homers. He’s not having a terribly productive month to this point, but I believe in the numbers he’s posted at home versus lefties – even more so against a pitcher who has struggled on the road and of late as well.
OF – Nick Markakis (ATL) – $2,600 vs. PHI
Next man up in our Braves stack is Markakis who simply doesn’t get the credit he deserves for how good his bat continues to be against right-handed pitching. He doesn’t get much attention due to the general lack of home run power as he owns just a .159 ISO versus righties this season and has slugged just nine homers in a league where the long ball is on the rise to be sure. That said, he still owns an .856 ISO, .363 wOBA and 121 wRC+ versus righties this season. His bat is 21% better than league average versus right-handed pitching. A common theme in this lineup as been players playing in their best split, and that is the case with Markakis as well. The veteran outfielder has been very good at home versus righties where he’s posted a .184 ISO, .936 OPS, .395 wOBA and 142 wRC+. He’s also been very good since missing roughly six weeks of action with a fractured left wrist – usually a tough injury to return from. In three games since returning, he’s gone 7 for 14 (.500) with a double, two runs scored and three RBI. Simply has not missed a beat. He’s also a .400 hitter with a double in 20 at-bats against Velasquez in his career. At this price, there is a ton of value to be unlocked with Markakis tonight.
OF – Matt Joyce (ATL) – $2,400 vs. PHI
Completing our four-man stack is Joyce who has made his big league money hitting right-handed pitching throughout his journeyman career. The batting average is actually very good against both pitchers’ handedness, however he’s logged just 20 at-bats versus lefties with a .300 average to show for it. Against righties, however, he’s hit .293 and the power is much better with a .185 ISO, but also an .884 OPS, .379 wOBA and 132 wRC+. The bat is so productive versus righties thanks to a big 16% walk rate that has his OPS, wOBA and wRC+ figures soaring. once again, we have a hitter hitting in a very productive split with Joyce. At home against righties, the numbers improve to a .203 ISO, .952 OPS, .404 wOBA and 148 wRC+. His walk rate is actually lower at home than on the road, but I’ll gladly take the increased power and overall production as a result. We also have Joyce enjoying his best month of the season here in September as he’s posted a .241 ISO, 1.011 OPS, .428 wOBA and 164 wRC+ for the month to this point. It’s a tiny sample, but it’s worth noting that he’s also 2 for 2 with a homer and a walk in his career against Velasquez. I’ll take the value and run in what should be a productive four-man Braves stack this evening.
OF – Mark Canha (OAK) – $3,200 vs. KC
I had $3,200 left for an outfielder after rostering Verlander, my Braves stack and a three-man D-backs stack, and of that group my pick of the litter is Canha who is having a breakout season at 30 years of age. I was also tempted to go with the Indians’ Franmil Reyes given his big-time power, however I like Canha’s splits as he takes on right-hander Jorge Lopez and the Kansas City Royals tonight at the O.Co Coliseum in Oakland. Entering play tonight, Canha has posted reverse splits here in 2019. He owns a .285 average, .247 ISO, .940 OPS, .395 wOBA and 153 wRC+ versus right-handed pitching this season – all of which are superior to his figures versus lefties. This is not a recording, but we once again have a player enjoying his best split in this matchup. Canha has owned right-handers at home this season where he’s posted a .258 ISO, 1.058 OPS, .442 wOBA and 184 wRC+. That wRC+ figure is far-and-away his best split of them all. After a white-hot August, Canha has slowed down at the plate in September. However, he’s scored a run in three consecutive games and has a two-run homer in that time as well. Keep in mind Lopez owns a 5.44 ERA and 1.62 HR/9 on the season, so I’ll take Canha’s favorable splits against a targetable starting pitcher tonight.
UTIL – Carson Kelly (ARI) – $2,500 vs. MIA
Completing this lineup and our three-man D-backs stack is Kelly who has done some serious damage against left-handed pitchers this season. Kelly has enjoyed a real nice season after coming over from the Cardinals in the Paul Goldschmidt trade this winter. In his first full season in the bigs, Kelly has posted a .247 ISO overall with 18 home runs despite logging fewer than 350 plate appearances across 105 games to this point. That said, the bat has been surreal against lefties who he has owned to the tune of a .363 average, .325 ISO, 1.156 OPS, .462 wOBA and a 187 wRC+. That’s so very impressive in your first full season in the big leagues. For the very first time in this lineup, we have a hitter not hitting in his best split. That said, I don’t think I’ll argue too much over Kelly’s .220 ISO, .977 OPS, .397 wOBA and 145 wRC+. It’s a little bit of a bummer that Kelly has endured a real tough month of September to this point, but there’s a silver lining as he snapped a six-game hitless streak with a hit and a run scored just last night. He’s also 1 for 2 with an RBI and a walk in a tiny sample against Smith. Given the price and the stack, I am loving the value Kelly brings to the table in a very attractive matchup tonight.