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MLB DFS Data (Tuesday 5/7): Stack Boston’s lefty bats

Heath gives you a few highlights for today’s slate of games!

Boston Red Sox v Oakland Athletics Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

I’ll be straight up. Sometimes I start writing something and abandon it. There are a multitude of factors, but mostly it boils down to life is busy and I don’t want to put out something that I haven’t thought much about.

What I want to try doing is spit out some of my first impressions. This isn’t meant to be a novel, nor is it a cheap grab for clicks (GET YOUR FREE DRAFTKINGS/FANDUEL PICKS HERE). Nope. Instead, it’s something I’ll try to engage in as frequently as I can, to the best of my limited time and moderate abilities. I enjoy the conversations that arise due to the lineup decisions we all have to make. So if any of the following makes you think (or rethink) a pick, I have accomplished my goal. Or, if your comment(s) make me think or rethink a pick, that works too, and I say thanks!

I’ll keep it simple, with a couple of headings each time: Pitching, Hitting, and perhaps a Miscellaneous section if/when it applies. On Tuesdays I like to spend time focusing on the Sleeper and the Bust tournament on DraftKings, so that’s the pricing I’ll speak to when it comes up.

PITCHING

Antonio Senzatela has abandoned his changeup in favor of more fastballs this year. He is throwing his heater 71.5% of the time so far in 2019, and it has a mere 7.5% strikeout rate alongside a 10.4% walk rate. Hitters are slashing .310/.394/.500 on the pitch, which is an elite line. Senzatela IS sporting a career-high ground ball rate (56.3%) but his 13.7% strikeout rate is ghastly. He doesn’t make hitters chase (only a 22% O-Swing%) and his 6.8% swinging strike rate would rank second-worst in the MLB if he qualified (Zach Davies is the worst at 6.7%). All of this seems like a horrible combination at Coors Field, despite the woes of the Giants offense.

Maybe this is Senzatela’s best version of himself—induce more ground balls (and that makes sense in Colorado) and give up trying to strike people out. But so far the side effect is way more hard contact (43.8%) and a career-high 20% HR/FB rate. For a guy who doesn’t miss bats and lives (or dies) on location, that makes sense. When he misses, he’ll be at risk of getting plastered. Historically we like right-handers a little more against Senzatela, which brings me to Buster Posey. Posey has a pair of homers and seven doubles against righties so far, with a cool .220 ISO. Everyone is always looking for that RvL split in DFS...but if you decide to stack Giants today, don’t leave off the RvR one in Posey. Or if you pass on this game but want one bat from that side, for me it would be Posey—again, people would prefer that LvR split with a guy like Brandon Belt.

If I’m not paying up for a starter, I’ll be taking a look at Griffin Canning ($8,500) at Detroit, Collin McHugh ($8,200) vs. the Royals, and even Max Fried ($8,800) at the Dodgers. Of those three, I think many will shy away from Fried, but the Dodgers aren’t as potent against southpaws and I like Atlanta’s chances against any southpaw (Ryu). Fried has already conquered a tough Coors Field environment this year and has a sparking 33:7 K:BB ratio. The Braves have a .207 ISO (9th) and .358 wOBA (4th) against lefties. I’m just saying, there’s a chance...

HITTING

Houston Astros against LHP Danny Duffy

Hooray, one of the most obvious decisions of the day! Duffy began eroding last year, and it was primarily right-handed hitters that ate him up (5.14 FIP against him). And what do the Astros have in abundance? Righties! Springer, Altuve, Bregman, and Correa all exist within the top five batting order spots (the lefty Brantley should hit fourth). Duffy’s 11 innings so far this year are too little to speak of, but last year he allowed 23 home runs, and 21 of those came from right-handed hitters. Against righty bats he allowed a .344 wOBA, 1.50 HR/9, and a 44.6% fly ball rate. Brace yourself, Mr. Duffy.

Boston’s lefty bats against David Hess

The 5-7-8-1 stack has some symmetry and will be unorthodox. As an added bonus (depending on how you view things) these guys aren’t cheap. People won’t be falling over themselves to pay $4,800 for Mitch Moreland or $4,700 for Rafael Devers when they can spend that money on Michael Chavis ($4,900) or Xander Bogaerts ($4,800), who bat higher in the order and/or are more “buzzy.” The projected lefties in the aforementioned lineup spots are Devers, Moreland, Bradley Jr., and Benintendi. I’m not saying I’m definitely going in this direction, but it’s something I will explore. But I am definitely playing Mitch Moreland, who still ranks inside the top-25 in ISO in the MLB. Lefty bats have a stunning 62.7% fly ball rate against Hess, and Moreland has solid power in this split. All nine of his homers are against right-handers so far this year, and he’s sporting a solid 18.6% strikeout rate, 11.3% walk rate, and a whopping .357 ISO against righties in 2019. Moreland is in the 40/40/40 club against righty pitching, meaning he’s above 40% in fly ball rate, pull rate, and hard contact rate. And he’s in Baltimore, not the lefty power-sapping confines of Fenway Park. If you don’t consider Mitchy Two-Bags here, the only reason I can see is his price point, which is higher than I thought it would be on DraftKings.

Angels (1-3) against the lefty Daniel Norris

No, I don’t like anyone else for LAA. Fletcher, Trout, and Simmons, and that’s it. Trout is costly but the other two are cheap. As lineup fillers, one-offs, or a three-man stack I think I like them a fair bit. Norris was a member of the 40/40/40 club to right-handed bats in 2018 (again, over 40% in fly ball rate, pull rate, and hard contact rate).

Other quick (hitting) thoughts...

  • Robinson Cano ($3,700) is really cheap and should be batting third against Quantril. Not sure what’s up with that, but I’ll need to explore.
  • Yasiel Puig ($3,900) is in Oakland, which is a bummer. Also, Puig’s entire season has been a bummer. But that RvR matchup against Mike Fiers is worth exploring, especially at Puig’s price point and likely batting order spot. Eugenio Suarez ($4,100) is cheap and powerful, too.
  • Bryce Harper ($4,500) is a little more costly than those two, but a lefty against Dakota Hudson is appealing.
  • Starling Marte ($4,900) is a costly piece but I like his matchup against Adrian Sampson, who has shown reverse splits so far (.304/.368/.609 to righties). Right-handed bats have four homers against Sampson, compared to zero by lefties. He allows 2.04 HR/9 to righties and only strikes them out 14.5% of the time. Sampson is a member of the unfortunate 40/40/40 club to BOTH handedness of hitter—so feel free to use all the Pirates you want in a full stack. But I like taking the best one, who happens to be right-handed.