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MLB DFS: Bryce Harper and the best/worst picks for Friday, July 9th

Heath likes JT Brubaker and the Phillies in his first pass through some MLB DFS research this morning.

Philadelphia Phillies v Chicago Cubs Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

It’s a Happy Friday, ladies and gents! Today marks the conclusion of the first round of MLB DFS Wars, with Seth Klein and Jamie Calandro sitting pretty in the top two spots and vying for the top prize. Be sure to follow along with the madness on Twitter at @realdfswars. And follow those two touts so you can get smarter. Additionally, we’ll be donating 10% of our buy-ins to Lost Boyz Inc., so if you’re so inclined (and able) you can follow them on Twitter and even donate to a good cause!

As for today, let’s hop to an overview. Here’s what stuck out during my first cup of coffee.


Best play: JT Brubaker @ New York Mets ($6,700)

Alek Manoah—who I wrote up yesterday—is in a favorable spot against the Rays. But he’ll also be more popular than Brubaker, who has a great matchup.

The Mets have a bottom 10 strikeout rate on the year (24.6%) and the 2nd-worst ISO (.138). Over the last month, they have the third-worst strikeout rate (26.0%) and rank 25th in ISO (.144). Over the last two weeks, the Mets are 2nd-worst with a 27.1% K-rate and rank 2nd-worst in ISO (.117). Hopefully the weather holds off here, because Brubaker makes a lot of sense in this matchup and at his price point.

Brubaker has a 4.09 ERA (3.85 xFIP, 4.22 xERA), a minuscule 1.94 BB/9, and and a slightly above average 8.71 K/9. He generates a lot of ground balls too, at 47.7%. Additionally, he’s been better against left-handed bats, allowing a 1.21 HR/9 compared to a whopping 2.14 HR/9 to right-handed bats. Right-handers make much more hard contact (36.0% to 23.1%) and have hit 11 of the 16 homers that Brubaker has allowed. The Mets project to start just Pete Alonso and James McCann from the right side today. I’ll be taking a shot on Brubaker, whose command (lack of walks), ground ball rate, and matchup (i.e. a couple more strikeouts), give him some upside. He hasn’t shown the best form recently, but this is a get-right spot if ever there was one. If you aren’t into Brubaker, make sure to get Alonso and McCann into a contrarian lineup—Alonso’s always a threat for power and McCann has two homers in two at-bats against Brubaker.

Worst play: LHP Cole Irvin @ Texas Rangers

The Rangers are actually one of the hottest teams in baseball over the last couple of weeks, of course thanks to one Joey Gallo. As a unit, Texas ranks seventh in the majors over that time frame with a .200 ISO. That, and the 21.1% strikeout rate ninth-best in the league. Gallo has a whopping 10 homers over the last two weeks, while catcher John Hicks has chipped in with four homers in part-time duty. On the year, the Rangers actually hit for a higher average (.247 to .229) against lefties, and have a comparable ISO (.145 to .157). Gallo has long been a lefty-basher, and this year he’s up to nine homers and a .272 BA in the split. Adolis Garcia (7 HR, .262 BA) has also been formidable. Add in the recent John Hicks hot streak, it’s Nick Solak’s better split (3 HR, .300 BA), Nate Lowe (2 HR, .277 BA), and even Andy Ibanez (0 HR, .450 BA) and it gets dicey. I’m not going to tell you to fully stack Texas, but it’s enough for me to stay away from Irvin.

Irvin has shown plus command (1.69 BB/9) this season, but the strikeout stuff hasn’t been there at all (6.50 K/9). He hasn’t allowed a lot of homers, but that could change today. The Texas hot streak and Irvin’s low K-rate paired with Texas’ recent ability to not strike out have me off of him today.


Best play: Philadelphia Phillies @ RHP Garrett Richards

There are tons of great hitting spots today. Tons. And last night’s eight runs by Philly were all due to a three-homer game by the lefty Brad Miller, who got the spot-start due to the matchup against Adbert Alzolay, who has been much worse against left-handed bats this year. Miller isn’t the only reason to consider Philadelphia, though. Bryce Harper was only 1-for-4 with a double last night, but his three outs were all hard hit, each over 103 MPH. Also, the Phillies are one of the hottest teams in baseball over the last 14 days, ranking seventh along with the Rangers with a team ISO of .200. The team 21.5% strikeout rate is upper third in the league, tied with the 10th-best Pirates. Rhys Hoskins (4 HR, .200 BA), Andrew McCutchen (2 HR, 3 SB, .262 BA), and J.T. Realmuto (1 HR, 1 SB, .171 BA) are all viable for one reason or another. Realmuto’s $3,800 price point is super as the 15th-most expensive backstop. Didi Gregorius (3 HR, .250 BA) has also started to heat up, and he’s just $3,800 as well.

Garrett Richards has a 4.88 ERA (4.95 xFIP, 5.99 xERA) and has really struggled with walks (4.36 BB/9). He’s also got a pedestrian strikeout rate, at 7.17 K/9. So he’s been mostly bad this year, AND he was super-vocal about how MLB’s crackdown on sticky substances affected him. Since MLB announced the crackdown, Richards has posted DK efforts of -9.1, 2.2, and 5.9. He’s thrown 12 13 innings, allowing 17 hits, 11 earned runs, 5 homers, and seven walks against only five strikeouts. Now’s the time to strike, folks.

Worst play: Oakland Athletics @ RHP Jordan Lyles

I think it looks shiny, what with Lyles’ ugly 4.98 ERA. However, Lyles is coming in hot with a pair of 20+ DK efforts in his last two turns. He went six and seven innings respectively, and allowed only three earned runs over those 13 innings. He issued just two walks against 10 strikeouts, and he’s had some good success with his slider this year—a pitch he’s now using a career high 23.7% of the time (compared to just 12.7% last year).

As for the Athletics, they are coming in cold. They managed a pair of runs off of Lance McCullers Jr. and the Houston bullpen last night, good enough to secure a 2-1 victory. But that was due to the outstanding performance of Frankie Montas, not due to Oakland’s bats. Over the last two weeks, the Athletics’ .112 ISO is dead last in the majors, even while the .22.8% strikeout rate is middling (17th-best). But you’ve got multiple regulars batting below .200 over the last two weeks, including Ramon Laureano (.167), Matt Olson (.167), Tony Kemp (.081), Sean Murphy (.156), Chad Pinder (.192), and Seth Brown (.150). They just aren’t hitting, and Lyles has been decent enough (especially lately) to make me only consider Oakland one-offs. No full stacks here, folks.

Who sticks out to you in your first pass, ladies and gents! Let’s get some sharing of opinions in the comments, eh? I’m around all day!