Labor Day is in the books, however there’s still plenty of baseball left as we have some September baseball remaining before playoff baseball kicks off to begin October.
For now, let’s take a look at tonight’s rock-solid 12-game main slate and see if we can get some dough into our pockets early in the week!
P – Jack Flaherty (STL) – $10,000 vs. SF
Few pitchers in baseball have been as good as Jack Flaherty of late. Furthermore, Flaherty has been dominant all season long at home and his matchup tonight, combined with strikeout upside, presents a very high ceiling for the young right-hander. Entering this one tonight, Flaherty owns a 3.31 ERA, 3.89 FIP, 3.88 xFIP and a 10.52 K/9 clip. However, in 55.1 innings since the All-Star break, Flaherty has been sizzling hot to the tune of a 0.98 ERA, 2.39 FIP, 3.45 xFIP and a big-time 11.55 K/9 rate. Flaherty has allowed two runs or fewer in each of his last 10 starts and one run or fewer in eight of those same 10 starts. At home this season, the Cardinals right-hander has pitched to a 2.67 ERA, 3.57 FIP, 3.33 xFIP and a 10.78 K/9 rate while his walk rate has fallen all the way to just 1.85 BB/9 on the season at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The white-hot Flaherty will take on a Giants team that enters this one ranked 27th with a .300 wOBA on the season versus right-handed pitching and although their 22.9% K-rate against righties is just middle of the pack, there’s plenty of reason to believe Flaherty has double-digit strikeout upside given his work of late. I didn’t have to think too long and hard about using him at a reasonable price in this lineup tonight.
C/1B – Freddie Freeman (ATL) – $4,300 vs. TOR
Usually I aim for GPP lineups with these FanDuel MLB DFS Picks, however tonight’s lineup leans more towards the cash side with Flaherty combined with a four-man Breaves stack that is projected to score a whopping 6.6 runs tonight against Wilmer Font and the Toronto Blue Jays. Font is simply the opener for the Jays tonight as he will likely pitch two innings as he’s done in six of his last seven ‘starts’ with the Jays. Font enters this one sporting a 4.22 ERA, 4.41 FIP and 4.58 xFIP across three teams this season after interestingly pitching for three teams last season as well. The Blue Jays’ bullpen has actually been solid this season ranked 13th overall and 11th since the All-Star break, but their 4.96 FIP ranks 23rd since the break and their 5.12 xFIP since the break ranks 28th, so we have something to work with here. Enter Freeman who is once again having a huge season for the Braves with a .298/.390/.576 slash line with 38 home runs, a .278 ISO and a big 143 wRC+. Freeman owns a .305 ISO, 1.040 OPS, .424 wOBA and 161 wRC+ on the season versus right-handed pitching and a .333 ISO, 1.043 OPS, .422 wOBA and 159 wRC+ on the season versus righties at home. I think I will take those numbers and run.
2B – Gavin Lux (LAD) – $2,000 vs. COL
Our first of two one-off in this lineup, Lux brings a ton of value upside to the table as he takes on right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez and the Colorado Rockies tonight. First of all, Gonzalez has been brutalized between Triple-A and the big leagues this season as he owns a ghastly 8.07 ERA, 7.31 FIP, 6.10 xFIP and a 2.27 HR/9 against in the big leagues after posting a 6.10 ERA, 5.74 FIP and 5.27 xFIP with a 1.55 HR/9 at Triple-A on the season. As a result, the rookie Lux has a big opportunity on his hands tonight. Lux singled on the very first big league pitch he saw last night in his MLB debut after some impressive work in the minor leagues. Lux posted a .392/.478/.719 slash line with a .327 ISO and 188 wRC+ across 49 Triple-A games prior to his big league promotion. Those are some massive numbers. He’s hit 26 home runs and stolen 10 bases between Double-A and Triple-A this season and wound up going 2 for 5 with a double and three runs scored last night in his big league debut. At the minimum price, it seems silly not to be using Lux at a premium position such as second base given his minor league production combined with his MLB debut last night against a pitcher struggling mightily this season.
3B – Josh Donaldson (ATL) – $3,500 vs. TOR
I really believe that we are getting Donaldson at a quality price here tonight as he takes on his former club at home. Donaldson took a chance and bet on himself with a one-year deal with the Braves offseason, a move that is paying off nicely. Entering play tonight, Donaldson has swatted 34 home runs on the season which has provided him a big-time .272 ISO while he’s also produced a 132 wRC+. His best work has come against right-handed pitching, and furthermore, at home against right-handed pitching. Against righties this season, Donaldson has posted a .277 ISO, .925 OPS, .384 wOBA and 135 wRC+. At home against righties, the numbers get cranked up to a massive .378 ISO, 1.177 OPS, .475 wOBA and a 194 wRC+. In layman’s terms, Donaldson has hit half of his home runs (17) at home against right-handed pitching this season. He will very likely to the right-hander Font in his first at-bat before quite likely seeing at least one or two more looks versus a righty. Just in case, Donaldson owns a powerful .211 ISO and 102 wRC+ at home versus lefties this season. There’s absolutely no reason you should be leaving Donaldson out of a Braves stack tonight.
SS – Adalberto Mondesi (KC) – $3,100 vs. DET
Our second and final one-off on the night is Mondesi whose Royals take on left-hander Daniel Norris and the Detroit Tigers tonight at home. Not only will he be facing Norris, but we always have to keep in mind that the Tigers’ bullpen is among the very worst in baseball this season with their 5.00 ‘pen ERA ranking 24th while their 5.19 bullpen FIP ranks 29th. As a result, I am loving Mondesi who gives us plenty of cross-category upside out of the projected – and valuable – two-hole tonight. After missing seven weeks with a shoulder injury, Mondesi returned yesterday and all he did was go 4 for 5 with two runs scored and a whopping three stolen bases against the Orioles. Now, Mondesi’s work this season hasn’t been good against lefties as he’s hit for just a .124 ISO and .632 OPS against them, but that’s in an April-July sample given the injury. Last season, Mondesi posted a .289 average, .233 ISO, .834 OPS, .354 wOBA and a 123 wRC+ against lefties, all of which were superior to the same figures versus righties. He’s actually stolen 11 of his 34 bases this season against a lefty as well, however keep in mind that he will face righties out of that brutal Tigers bullpen as well. The ceiling is always high with the young shortstop tonight.
OF – Ronald Acuna Jr. (ATL) – $4,200 vs. TOR
Next man up in our four-man Braves stack is Acuna whose power and stolen base potential is arguably the best in baseball. Acuna has clubbed 36 home runs on the season and swiped 33 bases as well. His overall numbers probably aren’t good enough to be considered in the NL MVP race considering he’s hitting under .300 at .282 and his ISO sits at .230 compared to some massive ISO figures from Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger, but he’s a DFS beast. Even when he’s not hitting for power, he’s dangerous. For instance, Acuna went 0 for 4 with a walk against the White Sox on Sunday, but still scored two runs thanks to stealing two bases. That’s still a good DFS night. Acuna is actually hitting .282 against both lefties and righties, and while the power is improved versus lefties, he owns a .214 ISO, .859 OPS, .361 wOBA and a 120 wRC+ against righties as well. The stolen base upside is significantly higher against righties as he’s stolen 30 of his 33 bases at the expense of a right-handed pitcher. Finally, we have to like the fact that he’s going to hit in the leadoff spot, the most valuable spot in the lineup tonight. Let’s take all of above and roll with it to lead off our Braves four-man stack tonight.
OF – Matt Joyce (ATL) – $2,400 vs. TOR
Completing our four-man stack is Joyce who could deliver some quality value at a real nice price tonight. He’s made his big league money off of his ability to hit right-handed pitching for power, and he’s enjoyed a nice season this year despite not hitting for a ton of home run power. He does have five home runs in 177 plate appearances on the season, and owns a decent .160 ISO as well. However, he also owns a 15.3% walk rate which has him sitting with a huge .395 OBP and a 122 wRC+. In other words, Joyce’s bat – with park factors included – has been 22% more productive than league average thi season. All five of his home runs have come against right-handed pitching as he also owns an .844 OPS against them with a 122 wRC+ to boot. However, he’s also hit lefties well in a small sample with an .830 OPS and 121 wRC+ against them on the season as well. Joyce has been getting some regular reps at the plate of late and he’s made good on the opportunity with an .878 OPS, .380 wOBA and a 133 wRC+ for the month of August, although he went hitless in three September place appearances. Given the price and the fact he’s going to be the last man to hit in this stack, some extra-base production from Joyce would go a long way for this lineup this evening.
OF – Khris Davis (OAK) – $2,900 vs. LAA
The Oakland A’s continue to fight for their playoff lives as he take on right-hander Jaime Barria and the Los Angeles Angels tonight. Barria enjoyed a wonderful season between Triple-A and the big leagues last season, however this season has been an outright disaster for the young right-hander – at both levels. Barria was absolutely destroyed for a 9.68 ERA, 7.02 FIP and a 6.43 xFIP across 10 starts at the Triple-A level this season before posting a 6.10 ERA, 5.48 FIP and a 5.07 xFIP at the big league level this season. He posted a 2.98 HR/9 at Triple-A before a 2.18 mark in the bigs this season. Enter Davis who has fallen off a cliff this season in terms of his home run power with just 19 on the season after hitting at least 42 in each of the last three years. However, Davis has picked it up at the plate of late as he’s gone 6 for 11 (.546) with a homer, a double, four runs scored, two RBI and three walks over his last three games. This hot three-game stretch comes after recording just one hit over his previous nine games (seven starts). We have a red-hot bat facing a struggling pitcher and the A’s are projected to score 5.5 runs tonight, so Davis kick off an A’s mini-stack for us tonight.
UTIL – Seth Brown (OAK) – $2,600 vs. LAA
Perhaps he could go under the radar given the big bats on the A’s on a big slate, however Brown has has an absolutely monstrous season at Triple-A this year prior to his promotion, so I’m liking his chances of getting to the struggling Barria to cap a mini-stack tonight. At Triple-A this season, Brown posted an eye-popping .337 ISO on the back of 37 home runs while he also scored 101 runs, drove in 108 and stolen eight bases to boot. He hasn’t hit for much power in the big leagues yet, but Brown is also hitting .423 with a .982 OPS, .419 wOBA and 168 wRC+ across the first 27 plate appearances of his big league career to this point. Against right-handers such as Barria, Brown posted a 1.017 OPS at Triple-A this season as his massive .663 SLG was the leading factor in that figure. Brown is hitting .450 with three doubles and a 1.076 OPS so far against right-handers across 20 at-bats in the big leagues to this point. The big league sample is small, but Brown pummeled right-hander pitching at Triple-A and given Barria’s struggles at both levels this season, Brown figures to be a big-time value candidate on this 12-game main slate tonight.