Actually we are gathered here today because fantasy baseball players dig the long ball. But any excuse to find a picture of vintage Maddux...right?
Yours truly spends most of his time on FanDuel, so those are the prices I use. If you know of any screaming values on DraftKings or any other site, feel free to share those in the comments so we all get better, together.
MLB DFS is back! Yours truly will offer up some initial reactions as often as possible. This is not a cheatsheet. And obviously, you aren’t paying for it. It’s just a guy sharing what pops out at him in the first pass. Maybe it tips you off to a situation you can exploit. Maybe you tip me off to a situation I can exploit. We shall see.
Pitchers I like
(R) German Marquez ($9,800) at Miami Marlins
(L) Robbie Ray ($8,400) at Los Angeles Dodgers
(L) Joey Lucchesi ($7,600) vs. San Francisco Giants
Today is the day for the doubters to pay up for German Marquez ($9,800), as he’s out of the thin air of Colorado and nestled within the cozy confines of Marlins Park. I won’t knock it. I imagine Jack Flaherty ($9,300) will be under-owned compared to Marquez, if you’re into that. On the road in Milwaukee is not really how I’d like to roll, but Flaherty has the skill set (read: strikeout upside) to get it done.
The lefty Robbie Ray is interesting at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers were upper third or middling in most statistics against lefty pitchers a year ago, but are now without the big righty bats of Manny Machado, Matt Kemp, and Yasiel Puig. Is the lineup still formidable? Absolutely. But we are just chasing a single day here. The Dodgers might be more popular than they should be after yesterday’s record-breaking eight Opening Day homers. And Ross Stripling should be popular on his own, at home as a favorite. Therefore, I dig Ray on the other side with his massive strikeout potential. Per Baseball Savant, over Ray’s 183 PA versus this Dodgers roster, he has amassed a 37.7% K-rate, a .225 BAA, a .217 xBA, and a paltry 85.1 MPH exit velocity. For reference, Omar Narvaez’s 85.1 AEV ranked 292nd in the MLB a year ago, just ahead of guys like Carlos Gomez, Dixon Machado, and Adam Engel.
Expect a righty-heavy lineup for Los Angeles, as Ray throttled lefty bats in 2018 (.123/.207/.248). Ray’s large blemish a year ago was the ghastly 15.2% walk rate to right-handed hitters...but the top three Dodgers who walked against southpaws last year are gone (Grandal, Dozier, Machado). Plenty of other Dodgers are patient, but losing the top three in walks is still noteworthy to me. No, this pick isn’t for the weak of heart. But it does come with some upside (and some lower ownership, I think).
The Giants were shutout by Eric Lauer (6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 3 SO) and the Padres bullpen on Opening Day. It doesn’t get easier with another lefty in Joey Lucchesi taking the hill today. Lucchesi allowed 23 homers in 2018, and 22 of them were to right-handed hitters. Fortunately for Lucchesi, in the preferred Giants lineup there are only two prominent right-handed bats in Evan Longoria and Buster Posey. Bench (and switch) hitter Pablo Sandoval batted .145 with a .091 ISO against lefties last year, so he’s not scary. Is Yangervis Solarte scaring you much? Yeah, me neither. Point is, there aren’t quality right-handed hitters to be afraid of in this lineup.
Against lefty bats last year, Lucchesi sported a 60.9% ground ball rate and a very good 25.0% hard contact rate. Lefty batters just don’t get the ball into the air against Lucchesi, as last year’s 14.1% fly ball rate is just stupid-low. Lucchesi also struck out 29.0% of lefties and 25.8% of righties...what’s not to love in this space?!? Add in the improved Padres offense that should get to Derek Holland and Lucchesi looks like one of the chalkiest plays of the day.
Hitting Spots to Consider
Any bats you like in Toronto - Lefty Matt Boyd was a trendy late-round pick this year, but he’s also an extreme fly ball pitcher on the road in Toronto, a place that ranked upper third in home runs to lefty and righty bats in 2018. The ball flies out of that park, which means we need to consider guys who can barrel the ball, especially Randal Grichuk and Teoscar Hernandez. For what it’s worth, these two ranked 8th and 9th in barrels per plate appearance (Brls/PA) last year.
On the other side, Matt Shoemaker has been decent when healthy. However, he’s also shown cracks against right-handed hitters, which means Nick Castellanos and Miguel Cabrera are in play. Castellanos puts the ball in the air way more against righties, as his 33.5% ground ball rate from a year ago attests. Everyone is always looking for the RvL matchup, but here is a RvR matchup you can attempt to be sneaky with.
Lefty bats in Milwaukee — Miller Park was the No. 2 spot for left-handed homers last year, behind only Yankee Stadium. Matt Carpenter sticks out for St. Louis, and perhaps Kolten Wong will get the nod again after yesterday’s double-dong effort. The Brewers should trot out four lefties in Yelich, Shaw, Moose, and Grandal. Definitely a tough one for Flaherty. But that’s why he’ll probably be low-owned. I’d be fine with Carpenter as a one-off I think. We’ll see what further research unearths as the day wears on.
Elite plays - Let’s end it with some elite plays. The Angels let everyone down against Mike Fiers yesterday, and the Dodgers were obviously smoking hot. I really like the idea of using Robbie Ray against LA and making sure I weave in some Mike Trout. Which leads me to the two elite plays, who happen to play in the same game...
Mike Trout @ (R) Marco Estrada
Khris Davis vs. (R) Matt Harvey
Matt Chapman, Stephen Piscotty (who homered yesterday), and Justin Bour are also guys we can target for home runs if you’re looking for more of a game stack. But I’d keep it a “mini-stack.” In the absence of clear hitting venues to target today, I may force myself to play more Cardinals and Brewers and see how things fall.
What say you all? A lot of colder weather games are happening today. Are you looking to your domes for offense? If so...which ones? Kind of a “meh” slate at first glance...