Last night’s FanDuel MLB DFS Picks simply did not deliver after a quality outing from Justin Verlander atop the lineup.
Verlander was once again lights-out for the Astros, hurling six innings of shutout baseball to go along with eight strikeouts, earning the win in the process, his 19th of the season.
Our bats did not follow suit. Our three-man D-backs stack was cut to a two-man mini-stack as Nick Ahmed ended up missing last night’s game with a cut on his finger. We didn’t get much at all from Wilmer Flores and Carson Kelly who combined for just a single and an RBI, both of which came from Flores while Kelly posted a zero despite the D-backs putting up six runs on the night.
Our four-man Braves stack also disappointed. Freddie Freeman led the way with a trio of walks and a run scored while both Nick Markakis and Matt Joyce singled, Joyce’s coming with an RBI as well. Josh Donaldson gave us another zero.
The matchups were wonderful and I was excited to field such a high-upside lineup despite paying $12,000 for Verlander, however it just wasn’t meant to be on this night.
Let’s turn our attention to tonight’s 10-game main slate and see if we can enjoy a bounce back night.
P – Gerrit Cole (HOU) – $12,100 vs. TEX
Once again, I cannot fade the pure strikeout upside of a Houston Astros right-hander as Gerrit Cole is far and away the best option on this slate, as is the case on the vast majority of slates on which he appears. After Verlander dominated the Rangers last night, it’s Cole’s turn tonight as he enters this one sporting a 2.62 ERA on the season while his peripherals are actually the best in baseball with a 2.74 FIP and 2.54 xFIP as well – simply outstanding numbers. Cole is also sporting superior strikeout numbers to that of his teammate Verlander a she is punching opposing bats out at an eye-popping 13.66 K/9 figure. As mentioned in yesterday’s piece, that strikeout upside is enhanced by a swing-and-miss Texas Rangers lineup. After whiffing eight times against Verlander last night, the Rangers now sport an increased 25.5% strikeout rate against righties on the season, still the fifth-highest mark in the big leagues. Cole will carry a six-start stretch in which he has reached double-digit strikeouts into this game tonight. Over his last three starts, Cole owns a 0.82 ERA to go along with a 16.36 K/9 clip. There’s absolutely no reason why we should be fading Cole at all at this point, little own in this matchup against a strikeout-happy offense.
C/1B – Dan Vogelbach (SEA) – $3,300 vs. PIT
The Mariners are not my main stack tonight, but I did want some exposure to them against right-hander Dario Agrazal who owns some of the worst peripheral numbers I have seen all season. His surface 4.91 ERA is not good, however his 6.01 FIP and 6.22 xFIP are very bad and his 4.33 K/9 rate is minuscule. Furthermore, Agrazal has been hit hard at home this season with a 5.40 ERA at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, but he also owns a 6.11 FIP and 6.63 xFIP at home to go along with a brutal 1.40 K/BB rate. As a result, let’s get a couple of righty-mashers into this lineup from the Mariners tonight, beginning here with Vogelbach. He’s Seattle’s best bat against righties this season, even if he’s slowed down since a white-hot start. Vogelbach owns a .275 ISO, .874 OPS, .365 wOBA and 132 wRC+ on the season against opposite-handed pitching. The good news is that he has been better on the road against righties outside of his pitcher-friendly home field at Safeco Field in Seattle. On the road, he’s bashed righties to the tune of a .313 ISO, .922 OPS, .380 wOBA and 142 wRC+. After a bad August, he’s picked it back up in September with a .206 ISO, .812 OPS, .359 wOBA and 128 wRC+. The home run upside is just too good to resist with the big slugger in this matchup.
2B – Adam Frazier (PIT) – $2,800 vs. SEA
While the Mariners are not my main stack, their opponent is. It might surprise you to see the Pirates as the league’s ninth-ranked offense versus righties this season, and while Josh Bell and Starling Marte are a big part of that and not likely in tonight’s lineup – at least Bell won’t be – I still want to roster a four-man Pirates stack thanks to their production versus righties combined with cost efficiency against a young right-handed pitcher in Justin Dunn. Dunn had an interesting MLB debut in which he last just two-thirds of an inning and allowing two earned runs despite not allowing a hit. The culprit was a whopping five walks. Dunn has fared well at Triple-A, but his confidence likely isn’t there right now at this level and I want to take advantage. Enter Frazier who may not sport the most power in the world, but his bat is nonetheless a productive one against right-handed pitching. He owns a .786 OPS, .333 wOBA and 105 wRC+ on the season versus righties, but those numbers improve to an .859 OPS, .364 wOBA and 126 wRC+ at home versus righties. Frazier is also enjoying his best month of the season – by far – in September with a .260 ISO, 1.027 OPS, .425 wOBA and 165 wRC+ for the month to this point. I’ll take the value upside and run.
3B – Jose Osuna (PIT) – $2,800 vs. SEA
Next man up in the Pirates stack is Osuna who was usually used in recent years against left-handed pitching, but this year his splits have reversed and he has destroyed right-handed pitching. Entering this one tonight, Osuna sports a big-time .276 ISO versus righties to go along with an .899 OPS, .366 wOBA and 127 wRC+. The numbers remain largely similar at home against righties where he owns a .265 ISO, .864 OPS, .356 wOBA and 120 wRC+. Osuna has largely struggled in the month of September which is a but of a bummer, but when you enter his game logs there is a silver lining. Osuna has recorded a two-hit game in each of his last three contests, in four of his last six and has a hit in five of his last six, including three doubles and six runs scored. He’s displayed an ability to hit right-handed pitching in the minors in recent seasons, and while his previous big league success came mostly against lefties, the fact that he’s pummeling righties this season makes him a lock in my Pirates stack tonight.
SS – Kevin Newman (PIT) – $3,200 vs. SEA
Like Frazier, Newman might not sport the most power in the league but he certainly brings a productive bad and a speed element to this lineup tonight. It’s not as if the power is non-existent as he had clubbed 10 long balls on the season, but his .134 ISO isn’t great and he hasn’t hit for much power at all throughout his minor league career. That said, Newman has handled right-handed pitching very well this season despite hitting from the right side himself. Entering this one, he owns a .142 ISO, .834 OPS, .353 wOBA and 118 wRC+ on the season versus righties. Nine of his 10 home runs and 15 of his 20 doubles have come against a right-handed pitcher. He’s also hitting .326 versus righties on the season. What I like here is the stolen base upside given the fact that he’s getting on base at a healthy .368 clip versus righties this season. Newman has swiped 15 bases in 2019, 13 of which have come against a righty. Also, Newman is red-hot at the plate. The guy is actually carrying a 19-game hit streak into this one – if you count only his starts as he went hitless in a pinch-hit appearance in early September. For the month, he’s hitting .348 with an .890 OPS, .382 wOBA and 137 wRC+. Add it all up and there’s a lot to like about the Pirates’ shortstop in this one.
OF – Brian Reynolds (PIT) – $3,400 vs. SEA
Completing our four-man Pirates stack is Reynolds who is having a big season with the Pirates after beginning the season at the Triple-A level. After a white-hot start in the minors that included five homers and three steals in his first 13 games – and a massive 195 wRC+ to boot – Reynolds was summoned to the big leagues where the power continued along with the impressive overall production. Reynolds has clubbed 16 homers and swiped three bags in 127 big league games this season and his 136 wRC+ is a big number. The damage against right-handed pitching is superior for the switch-hitting outfielder as he owns a .198 ISO, .941 OPS, .396 wOBA and 146 wRC+ against righties on the season. The numbers at home against righties are quite similar. The good news with Reynolds is that he’s also having success against lefties as well, making him matchup-proof for the when the bullpen inevitably enters this game. After recording just one hit over a four-game stretch, Reynolds went 2 for 5 with two doubles, a run and an RBI in his most recent outing. Let’s look for him to build off of that effort in this one tonight.
OF – Jake Marisnick (HOU) – $2,200 vs. TEX
My Mariners mini-stack gets completed in the utility spot of this lineup, and in the meantime I will be rostering a pair of cost-efficient outfielders that are of the one-off variety. That begins here with Marisnick as he brings a rock-solid combination of power and speed to this lineup tongiht with 10 homers and 10 stolen bases on the campaign while playing in a part-time role with only 302 plate appearances on the season. The good news here is that Marisnick’s best work not only comes against lefties – like he will face against Rangers southpaw Kolby Allard – but also against lefties at home where this one will take place tonight at Minute Maid Park in Houston. The low batting average sucks down many of the advanced numbers, but Marisnick has hit lefties for a powerful .206 ISO on the season. He also owns a huge .271 ISO at home against lefties to go along with a .775 OPS, .323 wOBA and 104 wRC+. One downside here is that Marisnick has swiped all 10 of his bases against right-handers this season, but the lefty Allard has allowed two steals in just 37.1 innings on the season. Nevertheless, the power is real against lefties and I’ll look for that to show through and give us some value in the process.
OF – Jake Cave (MIN) – $2,400 vs. CWS
Of the remaining outfielders at the $2,400 price tag or under, Cave is my pick of the bunch as his bat has been productive this season against both lefties and righties this season despite swinging from the left side. The numbers are actually better against lefties, however it’s a small sample size as he’s mostly used against righties in this powerful Twins lineup. Cave owns a decent .156 ISO, .737 OPS, .322 wOBA and 99 wRC+ on the season against righties. However, his bat is much more productive at home as he’s posted a .169 ISO, .817 OPS, .354 wOBA and 120 wRC+ at home against right-handed pitching this season. Cave impressed in his big league time last season with a .208 ISO and 109 wRC+ in 2018, and while he hasn’t been able to quite replicate that same success this season, I very much like this bat at home at this price. After struggling for much of September, Cave has notched at least one hit in two of his last three starts, so perhaps the confidence is turning around a little bit. Nonetheless, he takes on a right-hander in Ivan Nova who is again being pasted by the opposition with a 9.47 ERA over his last four starts, so let’s feel good about the upside with the young outfielder tonight.
UTIL – Omar Narvaez (SEA) – $2,800 vs. PIT
I absolutely love the value we are getting here with Narvaez at this price considering how he’s fared against right-handed pitching this season as well as the ugly, ugly numbers at Agrazal is sporting across his 12 starts and 13 big league appearances this season. While I mentioned that I was grabbing the Mariners’ top bat versus lefties with Vogelbach above, we are grabbing their second-best bat against righties with Narvaez in this spot. The lefty-hitting catcher is hitting .296 with a .213 ISO, .861 OPS, .360 wOBA and 129 wRC+ on the season against right-handed pitching. The numbers go down just a hair on the road against lefties, but I’m not concerned as the dude is raking in the month of September to this point. For the month, Narvaez has posted a .314 ISO, .975 OPS, .402 wOBA and 157 wRC+. If the month ended right now, it would go down as his best month of the 2019 season. Narvaez went 3 for 4 with a homer, two runs and two RBI his last time about as has gone 9 for 18 (.500) with three homers, a double, five runs and six RBI over his last four starts. The bat is white-hot, he loves hitting righties and he faces a struggling one in this matchup. I love the upside that this Mariners mini-stack is bringing to the table.