It was a pretty low-scoring affair across MLB last night—the Braves and Tigers each managed seven runs to lead all offenses. But that was a travel day and a small slate, and tonight we get a hefty 14-game main slate at DraftKings, beginning at 7:05 PM ET.
Best play: RHP Zack Wheeler vs. Atlanta Braves ($9,800)
This is a classic head vs. heart affair. I’m rooting for the Braves to get hot on this road trip, so they can hopefully remain buyers and make a push for another NL East pennant. But sans the big bats of Ronald Acuña Jr., Marcell Ozuna, and Travis d’Arnaud, it’s going to be a tall order. The Braves’ .183 ISO versus right-handers ranks 4th in the league, but Ronald Acuña Jr. (.308 ISO) isn’t walking through that door again in 2021. The bottom half of this lineup is atrocious, too, no matter how much you try to convince yourself otherwise.
All that, and Wheeler isn’t your ordinary pitcher. He doesn’t allow homers (0.57 HR/9) and he’s 10th in K/9 and 11th in BB/9 among all qualified pitchers. He’s also efficient, ranking 14th in the majors with an average of only 15.18 pitches thrown per inning. He’s also got a hefty 49.5% ground ball rate. I’d consider Freddie Freeman as a one-off, but Wheeler pretty much handles Ozzie Albies (.154 BA, 1 HR, 26 AB), Dansby Swanson (.087 BA, 0 HR, 23 AB), Austin Riley (.200 BA, 1 HR, 15 AB), and Joc Pederson (.167 BA, 0 HR, 12 AB). I’m not wed to BvP much, but this is a quality pitcher against an offense that is up against the wall. My heart is for Atlanta, but my heads says tonight will not be their night against a stud in Wheeler.
Best play: Washington Nationals @ RHP Jorge Lopez
The Nationals are red-hot over the last week, with Juan Soto and Trea Turner doing Soto and Turner things. The Nats’ .261 ISO (5th) and minuscule 15.8% strikeout rate (1st) are pretty stellar over the last seven days. Aside from Soto (5 HR, 12 RBI, .730 ISO) and Turner (1 HR, 2 SB, .348 BA), you can consider Josh Bell (2 HR, .286 BA) and even fill your catcher spot with a quality punt in Tres Barrera (1 HR, .389 BA). Josh Harrison isn’t usually inspiring, but he’s batting .400 with a .280 ISO over the last week, thanks to a whopping five doubles.
RHP Jorge Lopez has a 6.04 ERA, and he’s struggled with homers (1.41 HR/9) and walks (3.93 BB/9). His splits are pretty neutral, too, meaning you can use lefties or righties against him.
Back to the pitches per inning thing (mentioned with Wheeler). If you take 15 or so pitches as the average a pitcher throws per inning, we can assume that the veteran lefty David Price has a clear shot to go five innings for the win today, for only $6,300. I wouldn’t typically take a chance like that, but the Rockies are hot garbage on the road. Consider their ISO/K-rate splits:
Home: .185 ISO (7th), 19.7% K-rate (2nd)
Away: .101 ISO (30th), 25.7% K-rate (25th)
That’s quite the dramatic change on the road, against a veteran who is on the upswing. Price hurled four innings of one-run ball in his last turn, working up to 66 pitches and striking out four batters against one walk. The Dodgers are in the process of lengthening Price due to the rotation losses of Trevor Bauer, Clayton Kershaw, and Dustin May. If he works up to 75 pitches or so today, that should give him an outside chance at a win. You can’t go crazy here due to the pitch limit, but I’m going to take a shot or two at his price point. The Dodgers are heavily favored against RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez, as they should be. I’m liking the dart-throw on Price today, assuming he can leave with a big lead after five quality innings.
I like Michael Brantley in the LvL split against the floundering Kolby Allard, as Brantley’s always good there and he’s under 4K. If Matt Beaty gets the nod and actually bats second for the Dodgers, I’ll be all over that savings. He’s not the most powerful guy, but all four of his homers are against right-handers and that two-hole perch for Los Angeles should pay dividends for only $2,400.
The Reds might be popular against the lefty Wade LeBlanc (rightfully so) but the only Red doing any hitting over the last week is Jonathan India. Maybe you can consider Joey Votto, but he’s $900 more than a guy like Josh Bell, and I just can’t justify that.
Who sticks out to YOU in your first glance, gamers? If I’m not using Price, there are a TON of mid-tier SP2 options today. I like Joe Musgrove at Miami and Jake Odorizzi versus Texas, but the truth is there are multiple ways to go. Figuring out the right bats seems like the key. Duh, right?