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MLB DFS picks for Tuesday, April 3

Heath discusses the main slate on FanDuel, including Justin Verlander, Kyle Freeland, Bryce Harper, and more!

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to my DFS slant for today. Here are a few things to know:

All pricing refers to FanDuel, as that is where I play mostly. If I ever happen to play at DraftKings or another site and notice a large discrepancy in pricing, I will note that.

Any ISO and/or wOBA numbers that you see in parentheses are career numbers. If a player made gains (or suffered losses) recently, I’ll note that as well.

I’ll generally use the same format, offering an elite, mid-range, and value option for pitchers and for team stacks. At the end, I’ll offer a “quick hits” section where you might find some one-off or some value plays. And at the very end, I’ll attempt to give my thoughts on that day’s particular slate. Who my favorite pitcher is, my favorite stack, one-off, value, etc. Hopefully you get the gist of what I’m trying to do.

Lastly, what you see here is a first look. My starting point for the day. These are the guys I try to use or build from. Often, my thoughts change as I learn more about weather, lineups, and continue to research throughout the day. If I have a major change in my thought process, I’ll comment on this article below and tweet it out from the Fake Teams twitter account.

Elite Pitcher: LHP Clayton Kershaw ($11,500) @ Diamondbacks, Justin Verlander ($10,300) vs. Orioles

I listed the 1A and 1B options together. I wouldn’t normally consider Verlander as strongly as I am today, but the Orioles have been ice-cold to begin the season. Yesterday’s elite pitcher was Charlie Morton, and he was stellar against Baltimore (6.0 IP, 6 SO, 1 W, 1 QS, 46 FDP). Doesn’t Verlander offer the same or higher upside?

Besides being the best pitcher on the planet, Kershaw is a lefty. That nullifies two of the more powerful Arizona hitters in David Peralta (.110 ISO, .290 wOBA) and Jake Lamb (.140 ISO, .253 wOBA). Call me crazy—I’m sure someone will—but I like Verlander slightly more tonight. In the lower-priced GPPs I play, Kershaw will almost certainly command higher ownership. He’s also on the road against a top offense, despite the poor splits for Peralta and Lamb.

If I’m paying up, I prefer Verlander at home against the cold Orioles, which allows me to save $1,200 on FanDuel.

Mid-Range Pitcher: LHP J.A. Happ ($7,100) vs. Chicago White Sox

Much like going right back to the same matchup with Verlander, today I’m taking another lefty pitcher against the White Sox. The Sox were stymied by southpaw Jaime Garcia yesterday, who managed 7 SO, 6.0 IP, 1 QS, 1 ER, and 40 FDP. Happ, a superior lefty, pitched admirably against the Yankees in his first turn. He allowed a pair of runs on four hits, but struck out five and only walked one. His second matchup of the season is much more forgiving, though Jose Abreu and Welington Castillo will need to be worked around. I’ve got faith.

Value Pitcher: Kyle Freeland ($5,600) @ San Diego Padres

Value options are tough to come by today. I don’t feel great once I descend past Happ. Freeland has Petco Park working in his favor today. He also has the red-hot Charlie Blackmon and the Rockies offense backing him against Tyson Ross, who is embarking on the comeback trail today. Freeland managed a 15:4 K:BB during the spring, too. Bad news is, last year that ratio against right-handed hitters was lots of walks to righties. In our favor is the strikeout rate of Wil Myers (28.5% vs. LHP last year) and Freeland’s K-rate to left-handed hitters...Freeland struck out lefty bats at a shiny 27.3% rate last year, posting a 42:8 K:BB ratio. And despite the walks to right-handed bats, he did make them keep the ball on the ground with a 58.9% ground ball rate. Put differently, righty bats only put the ball in the air 24.1% of the time against Freeland last year, spanning 118.1 innings.

Freeland’s ability vs. lefty bats, Myers’ K-rate, and the relative weakness of Myers, Freddy Galvis, and Chase Headley against lefty pitchers (they all fare better against RHP) are encouraging.

Now for the two sides out of my mouth moment: If I’m not using Freeland, I sure do like the low-priced options of Manuel Margot ($2,300), Jose Pirela ($2,200), and Hunter Renfroe ($2,400). It’s called hedging, folks!

Elite Stack: Washington Nationals @ Julio Teheran

Division foes square off in this one, and anyone using Teheran today should be terrified of the scalding Bryce Harper. Harper’s early barrage included a ridiculous line yesterday—4 BB, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R, 44.1 FDP. Remember I said I like Verlander so that I can save $1,200? Harper is the reason why. Harper’s career numbers against Teheran are absurd: 17-for-38 with seven home runs, and six walks against five strikeouts. That’s a .632 ISO and .656 wOBA. Yikes!

This stack is really all about Bryce. But you can include the scorching Adam Eaton, who is left-handed and will bat leadoff. I’d love this stack more if Daniel Murphy were playing, but I like it just fine with Eaton/Harper and then mixing it up with Rendon, Zimmerman, and Turner.

Mid-Range Stack: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Miguel Gonzalez

Miguel Gonzalez is the Oprah Winfrey of fly balls—everybody gets one! No really, his career fly ball rate is 40.4%, but last year he allowed rates of 45.0% to lefties and 43.3% to righties. His K% and BB% were very similar to both handedness, and both types of hitter made over 30% hard contact against him—though it appears lefty bats have a slight advantage. I’ll take Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak for certain if building with Blue Jays, and then weave in Yangervis Solarte, Curtis Granderson, and Randal Grichuk. I like Grichuk over C-Grand.

Value Stack: Philadelphia Phillies @ Matt Harvey

I’ve waited over 24 hours for this matchup. If I can, I’ll have Rhys Hoskins ($3,900) in every lineup I build—and I’ll attempt to use Hoskins alongside Bryce Harper. That’s an expensive outfield duo, but I can save plenty with Odubel Herrera ($2,200). Add in Carlos Santana ($3,500) and you’ve got yourself a powerful trio from Philly. Why the lefties, you ask? Here’s what I said yesterday prior to yesterday’s PPD:

Look, if Matt Harvey returns to ace-like form today, I’m just going to be on the wrong side of things. And I’ll be okay with that. He logged a 6.51 K/9 and an awful 2.04 HR/9 in 2017. Put differently, his 10.9% walk rate and 15.6% K-rate were the worst marks of his career. Lefty bats were his primary kryptonite (2.68 HR/9!) but righties (1.55 HR/9) touched him up, too. I know line drive rates aren’t too sticky even over the course of a full season, but Harvey allowed a whopping 29.8% line drive rate to lefties and LHB hit more fly balls and made more hard contact than RHB did.

I’m loving the lefty trio from Philly, and I like adding in Maikel Franco ($2,500) on the cheap. Franco (.180 ISO, .297 wOBA) is a reverse splits guy and has a solid history against Harvey: 3-for-8 with two home runs. Franco feels like the guy we’ve waited on forever, but he’s only 25 years old and he’s managed home run totals of 25 and 24 over the last two seasons.

Quick Hits:

A.J. Cole is tolerable against right-handed bats, but terrible against lefties. His career slash allowed to LHB is .296/.380/.517 with a .379 wOBA. Disclaimer: 50 innings isn’t a large sample size. But still, he’s getting shelled. Everyone knows SunTrust Park was built specifically for Freddie Freeman’s left-handed bat—today could be a day full of fireworks in Atlanta. Or, Cole could simply walk Freeman four times. Either way, there’s a reason Freeman is the highest-priced commodity at first base on FanDuel. Don’t forget about the lefty Ozzie Albies, either—as if that were possible.

Only five hitters hit more home runs against lefties than Hunter Renfroe did last year. Renfroe batted .316 with only 23 strikeouts against 13 walks vs. southpaws. His career ISO of .378 and wOBA of .441 are nuts. He will be mentioned in this space repeatedly whenever he faces a lefty.


It’s tough to decide where to go today. Paying up for pitching means missing out on some big bats. There are a lot of LvR splits that seem to work today. I wonder if finding that mid-tier pitching option and loading up on hitters is the best way to go, so that’s what I’m going to attempt to do initially. For me, I suppose that means using the lefty J.A. Happ and loading up on the bats I’ve described above. I’ll see what that looks like and then work outward from there.

One final caveat—I’d love Chase Anderson as a sneaky play if he wasn’t at home. His numbers there were higher across the board last year and Marcell Ozuna bashes right-handed pitching. That Cardinals lineup does have some juice.

Anyway, good luck and happy building! Watch out for the weather, as it looks dicey today. Hopefully none of the above calls suffer a PPD. WHO DO I HAVE TO BRIBE TO STACK AGAINST MATT HARVEY?

Let’s chat about today’s slate below if you have questions, thoughts, or suggestions. Peace!