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MLB DFS picks for Saturday, March 31

Heath discusses Yu Darvish, Diamondbacks, Hunter Renfroe, and more.

MLB: Spring Training-Cleveland Indians at Arizona Diamondbacks Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

A new year, a new format. I’ll discuss elite, mid-range, and value options for pitching and hitting. I’ll add in some “quick hits” and my overall thought process for this slate at the very end. Let’s do this.

Elite Pitcher

Yu Darvish ($9,400) @ Miami

Darvish against a glorified Triple-A squad that played 17 innings last night—for under 10K? Yep! I initially felt strongly about the Cubs hitters against Odrisamer Despaigne, but I do worry slightly about some sluggishness out of the gate for these hitters today. That’s obviously a great thing for Darvish, who is a massive -230 favorite on the road. Even if Darvish doesn’t snag a win (unlikely) he’ll be ridiculously useful over seven innings or so, and should push for double-digit strikeouts. Despaigne threw 11 pitches in the 17th inning last night and is the scheduled starter for today (for now).

Mid-Range Pitcher

Lucas Giolito ($7,400) @ Kansas City

Giolito will be a popular GPP-pitcher today. I have some interest, just not as much as I do in Darvish. Giolito had a 2.38 ERA over seven starts at the end of 2017, and had a 2.04 ERA and 17 strikeouts over 17.2 innings this spring. The Royals are anything but formidable, too. On sites with two pitchers I’d try to find enough value to pair Giolito with Darvish. But since I play primarily on FanDuel, I am not getting cute today. Giolito is well behind Darvish for me.

Value Pitcher

Brent Suter ($6,200) @ San Diego

Of course, baseball is insane and variable, so we have to consider every angle. If Darvish and Giolito get lit up, maybe Greinke is the play. But Greinke is returning from a groin injury and the humidor continues to be faulty. Also, a few Rockies hitters have some solid numbers against Greinke.

So perhaps the low-priced Suter gets a quality start and a win, and allows you to load up on the bats of your choosing. If I’m digging this deep, I’m okay using Suter against the Padres, who had a team wRC+ of 80 against LHP in 2017 (only the Angels were worse). Sure, it’s a new year, but the big-time San Diego signing was a lefty bat in Eric Hosmer, who has a career .117 ISO against southpaws. So how much will he help, really?

Note: I am not digging that deep today. I am simply starting Darvish.

Elite Stack

Chicago Cubs @ Odrisamer Despaigne

Anthony Rizzo is the play of the day, okay? Don’t overthink it. Despaigne has allowed a .278/.356/.418 slash to left-handed hitters over his career, including a .303/.384/.421 slash to lefties last year.

After Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber and Ian Happ are the powerful lefty bats. Both Schwarber and Happ had walk rates over 11% against LHP in ‘17, but both had strikeout rates around 30% against southpaws. Schwarber had a .276 ISO and Happ had a .286 ISO.

And sure, throw in Kris Bryant for good measure. For what it’s worth, though, Cubs aren’t my favorite stack of the day. They’re just the most expensive and are viewed as elite, so I listed them as such.

Mid-Range Stack

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. German Marquez

What humidor? The D’Backs have scored 17 runs through two games at Chase Field, while the visiting Rockies have managed 10 runs. That’s a grand total of 27 runs scored, in case math makes your brain hurt. The meat of Arizona’s order will cost you a grand total of $14,300 tonight, which is $2,700 less than the Cubs stack will cost you. That’s Paul Goldschmidt, Jake Lamb, A.J. Pollock, and David Peralta, FYI.

The D’backs are hot and they face a right-hander in Marquez who had a 9.82 ERA this spring. Marquez had reverse splits last year, as right-handed bats had a .355 wOBA and 19 home runs against him (.326 and six HRs to LHH). Marquez allows far more hard contact to right-handed hitters (37.9% to 31.2%) and more fly balls to RHH (39.1% to 27.5%). Goldy and Pollock are strong starts today, for sure. The D’backs are my favorite group of the night.


Baltimore Orioles vs. Kyle Gibson, Minnesota Twins @ Andrew Cashner

Normally this section will be a “value stack,” but I can’t get away from this game.

Kyle Gibson had a 28.3 HR/FB% against right-handed hitters in 2017. That’s insane. His career mark vs. RHH is 17.4%, though, which is still poor and far worse than his 9.1% HR/FB rate against lefty bats. That’s not good against a righty-heavy group like Baltimore, who can trot out Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop, Adam Jones, Trey Mancini, and Tim Beckham. For what it’s worth, Jones has four HRs against Gibson in 20 at-bats. I like Arizona as a team stack the most tonight, but if I can weave in a pair of Orioles bats, I will.

Andrew Cashner had a 4.64 K/9 last year. Horrible. Put differently, he struck out 12.2% of hitters he faced. Lefty bats had the edge against him over righties, as they hit far more fly balls (39.5% to 26.2%). Cashner actually limited right-handed bats to a 56.7% ground ball rate, for what it’s worth (not much). The Twins can trot out lefties Logan Morrison, Eddie Rosario, and Max Kepler, as well as upstart Eduardo Escobar. Like the Orioles, the Twins make excellent roster-fillers tonight.

Quick Hits

Cody Bellinger ($3,900) had a higher batting average and a lower strikeout rate against left-handed pitchers last year. He also managed a .297 ISO (12 home runs) and 41.7% hard contact rate against lefties. Come and get you some, Derek Holland.

Jose Abreu ($4,100) has three home runs in 19 at-bats vs. Ian Kennedy. I actually like Kennedy a decent bit today against the Sox, but Abreu is the one guy I’d fear if using Kennedy.

Hunter Renfroe ($2,000) was limited to pinch-hitting duty over the first two games, but will start against LHP Brent Suter today. He was mentioned in my outfielders DFS overview as a lefty-basher, up there with names like Giancarlo Stanton, Justin Upton, Cody Bellinger, and Andrew McCutchen. Only Stanton (15), Upton (12), and Bellinger (12) hit more home runs against left-handed pitchers last year, while Renfroe and Cutch hit 11 apiece. For the site minimum, I am all over Renfroe today. It’s too much upside to pass up.

Kike Hernandez ($2,300) was nearly the forgotten man, but I didn’t forget about you, dude! The outfield values are crazy today, with Renfroe and Kike. Hernandez was one of the top plays against southpaws in all of the MLB last year, as he slugged one less home run than Renfroe, and did so in a part-time role. He’ll probably hit cleanup tonight. Amen.


Darvish and Renfroe or Kike will be staples in my lineups tonight. Cost-saving options like that will allow me to pay up for Diamondbacks and powerful Orioles bats (who I like slightly more than Twins bats). Odubel Herrera ($2,100) is another cheap outfield option I’ll use to work my way up to strong hitters. There’s a lot of value tonight. You should be able to work your way up to Darvish.

Good luck out there, ladies and gentleman.