It’s that time in the MLB season where teams are making desperate moves to make a push for the playoffs or the World Series. The trade deadline is less than a week away, giving us something else to pay close attention to in MLB DFS. A guy you were eyeing all day for your lineups could be traded, forcing you to alter your entire lineup (I’m totally not venting after I had to make changes to my lineup when Nelson Cruz was traded this past week). While we wait for more trades to be conducted in the coming days, we have a small seven-game main slate on DraftKings to get the week started.
Favorite pitcher: Shohei Ohtani ($9,200) vs. Colorado Rockies
Luis Garcia comes in as the highest-priced pitcher on DraftKings on Monday and I was tempted to list him as my favorite pitcher. But after some consideration, I believe Shohei Ohtani can give us similar — or even more — upside at a slight discount from Garcia. Ohtani comes into Monday’s game with a 31.1% strikeout rate compared to Garcia’s 28.5% strikeout rate, giving him a bit of an edge in the strikeout department. Even though Garcia has a favorable matchup against the Seattle Mariners on the road, Ohtani gets a chance to face a below-average Colorado Rockies lineup away from Coors Field. Despite Colorado’s average numbers across the board this season, they are actually the worst team in a lot of metrics on the road. The Rockies boast the sixth-highest strikeout rate, along with the lowest AVG, OBP, and ISO when playing in a stadium not named Coors Field in 2021. Walks have been one of the only issues for Ohtani this season, producing 4.44 BB/9 so far. However, if he can limit the free passes for Colorado’s batters, he could be in for a high-scoring output on Monday night.
Least-favorite pitcher: Kyle Hendricks ($9,700): vs. Cincinnati Reds
What has Kyle Hendricks done recently to warrant him being the second-most expensive pitcher on DraftKings? On the blue site (FanDuel), Hendricks is the fifth-highest priced pitcher on the main slate at $8,700. When I’m spending nearly $10,000 in salary or even above $9,000 for a pitcher, I’m looking for upside, mainly in the strikeout category. I usually ask myself what pitchers could offset allowing runs by fanning guys at a decent pace if I’m paying up for someone. Seeing that Hendricks has a paltry 17.5% strikeout rate with 1.53 HR/9 this season, there is absolutely no upside to rostering him on Monday. Yes, Hendricks gets to face a Cincinnati Reds team that doesn’t have Nick Castellanos available. While that may be true, the Reds still have a lineup that can do damage, especially in a warm Wrigley Field. Typically I’m not one to use BvP as a source for MLB DFS, but Cincinnati’s roster owns a .216 ISO, a .385 wOBA, and a .377 OBP versus Hendricks in 191 plate appearances. There’s absolutely no way anyone would ever catch me spending nearly $10,000 in salary on Hendricks.
Favorite stack: Toronto Blue Jays @ RHP Nick Pivetta
I really tried my hardest to stray away from listing the Toronto Blue Jays as my favorite team to stack, but it’s impossible not to like them on Monday. The Detroit Tigers could be a popular team as they square off against Michael Pineda or people could lean toward the Cruz-less Minnesota Twins as Matt Manning draws the start for the Tigers, who has a measly 10.5% strikeout rate and a 1.46 WHIP. When Detroit is high-owned, I tend to be underweight on them due to how bad they can be on certain nights. And while I’ll have shares of the Twins, the Blue Jays are in a perfect spot against Nick Pivetta at Fenway Park. Toronto has faced Pivetta three times this season, producing 4+ runs in each meeting, hitting five home runs versus the RHP of the Boston Red Sox. Besides Pivetta’s woes against the Blue Jays, Toronto is one of the best hitting teams to both sides of the plate, slashing .267/.328/.465 against RHP in 2021. One way to slightly differentiate from others on a small slate is by using some of the players in the latter part of Toronto’s batting order.
Favorite one-off: Adam Engel ($3,300) @ LHP Mike Minor
The Chicago White Sox have endured a flurry of injuries this season, paving the way for Adam Engel to see more time in the lineup. Engel has responded by posting his career-best strikeout rate (15.7%) and a career-high .279 ISO thus far. Amid Engel’s solid campaign, he’s been a bright spot for the White Sox with his bat, and he’s been extremely superb against southpaws this season. In 25 plate appearances versus LHP this season, Engel has a low 12% strikeout rate, a .261 ISO, and a stellar .360 wOBA. Engel should be in the lineup on Monday as Chicago takes on lefty Mike Minor. Minor is allowing 1.61 HR/9 at home and a .459 slugging percentage when facing righties this season. At $3,300 on DraftKings, Engel is a nice way to save some salary in the outfield. I’m also not against inserting Andrew Vaughn into your lineup if you’re looking to save more salary, as Vaughn comes in at a cheap price of $2,600.