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MLB DFS: Max Fried and the best/worst plays for Monday, July 5th

After a night of fireworks on the 4th of July, we are treated with a nine-game main slate on the first Monday of July.

Atlanta Braves v Miami Marlins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

I hope everyone had a fantastic 4th of July, spending time with family as they conversed about Joey Chestnut breaking his own personal record of 76 hot dogs eaten in a 10-minute span (that is almost eight hot dogs per minute for those doing the math). Amid Chestnut’s glorious moment, you may have dabbled in some MLB DFS before indulging in hot dogs and cheeseburgers yourself at an alarming rate with Sunday’s earlier main slate. Following Sunday’s main slate that began early in the afternoon, we return to a normally-timed nine-game main slate on Monday. With a thin selection of pitching options for us to choose from, let’s dig into who I’m liking at first glance.

Pitching

Favorite pitcher: Brandon Woodruff ($10,400) @ New York Mets

If Jacob deGrom decided he didn’t want to pitch this season, Brandon Woodruff would be in a prime position to win the NL Cy Young award. Ahead of the All-Star break, Woodruff currently boasts an imposing .203 BABIP, a 2.91xFIP, and 0.78 WHIP. The hard-throwing righty has been better on the road where he is recording a 32.3% strikeout rate and a 0.67 WHIP. There’s no doubt that Woodruff has the highest upside among all pitchers on Monday, hence why DraftKings and FanDuel made him the highest-priced pitcher available. Woodruff takes the mound versus the New York Mets on the road, a team that has the fourth-highest strikeout rate, the sixth-lowest OBP, and the 10th-lowest ISO to RHP in the past month.

Second-favorite pitcher: Max Fried ($8,500) @ Pittsburgh Pirates

There are definitely arguments to be made about why you should be wary of using Max Fried on Monday. Fried isn’t a guy that is going to give you double-digit strikeouts, but he makes up for it by limiting the hard contact he’s giving up. In his 12 starts this season, Fried is permitting a 25.3% hard-contact rate to go along with a low 31% fly ball rate. The left-handed pitcher for the Atlanta Braves has five wins on the season, with four of them coming in his last six appearances. Even though the Pittsburgh Pirates don’t strike out often (they are tied for the seventh-lowest strikeout rate to LHP), they have the lowest ISO and wRC+ to southpaws in 2021. So with Fried not giving us many points in the strikeout department, as long as he can limit the damage from guys like Ke’Bryan Hayes and Bryan Reynolds early in Pittsburgh’s lineup, he should be in line for an easy victory on the road.

Least-favorite pitcher: Martin Perez ($8,000) @ Los Angeles Angels

Some guys continue to be overpriced on DraftKings, and with the limited number of top-tier arms on Monday, Martin Perez is extremely overpriced. Perez owns an $8,000 salary on DraftKings and the veteran lefty has shown signs of seeing his numbers decline even further moving forward. Despite his decent 1.07 HR/9. Perez just isn’t making guys miss the ball with a measly 7.4% swinging strike rate. That, coupled with his career-worst 40.1% hard-hit rate, is putting him in a dangerous spot for the rest of the season. The writing is on the wall for things to get even worse for Perez, especially when he squares off against a red-hot Los Angeles Angels squad that has been crushing LHPs recently.

Hitting

Favorite team to stack: San Diego Padres vs. LHP Jon Lester

The San Diego Padres bats seem to be waking up at a perfect time entering the All-Star break. San Diego holds the second-best ISO and the seventh-best wRC+ to LHP in the past month of action. In addition, the Padres have the eighth-highest hard contact rate and the second-highest HR/FB ratio in the same time span to southpaws. San Diego gets to face Jon Lester on Monday, who isn’t the same pitcher he once was. Lester has seen his four-seam fastball hit a career-low 89.6 MPH this season, which has led to a career-worst 15.3% strikeout rate and 1.73 HR/9. The main targets on the Padres are Tommy Pham, Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, and Jake Cronenworth. Mixing in Trent Grisham and Wil Myers is a surefire way to get full exposure to San Diego’s lineup.

Second-favorite team to stack: Los Angeles Angels vs. LHP Martin Perez

Speaking of teams that are hitting LHP with ease, the Angels haven’t had any trouble when going against a southpaw in recent weeks. Over the past month, Los Angeles has the highest AVG, SLG, OPS, ISO, wOBA, and wRC+ to LHP. Across their lineup, the Angels have seven guys that have 20+ plate appearances in the last month that sport a 115 wRC+ or better versus LHP. David Fletcher, Anthony Rendon, Max Stassi, and Shohei Ohtani (5 HR versus LHP in the past month) are easy choices. If you’re looking to have cheaper pieces on the Angels, Taylor Ward, Phil Gosselin, and Jose Iglesias are also worth a look against the Boston Red Sox.

Favorite one-off: Gavin Sheets ($2,600) @ RHP Bailey Ober

When I’m looking for one-off players, sometimes I like using expensive players that give me safe floors. Other times, I’m interested in cheap players like Gavin Sheets that have massive upside given their price. Due to a myriad of injuries to the Chicago White Sox, Sheets has been thrown into the starting lineup recently. In his first five appearances in the majors, Sheets has two home runs, eight RBI, and only one strikeout to RHPs thus far. Despite his limited sample size, Sheets has a .615 ISO, a .364 BABIP, and a 294 wRC+ to RHP to kick start his major-league career. Sheets will bat against Bailey Ober on Monday, who isn’t inducing many swinging strikes with an 8% swinging strike rate. Ober also has an inflated 3.60 HR/9, a 2.30 WHIP, and a .455 BABIP to left-handed batters in his first six outings this season. Besides his splendid numbers so far, Sheets is still only $2,600 on DraftKings, allowing you to make more room for expensive pitching or bats on Monday.

On a slate with a shortage of safe pitchers, who is everyone siding with on Monday?