Well, its Thursday. That means a couple of things around these parts. Thursdays usually involve me hopping on UberEats and ordering a burrito. Thursdays are often the day I fold laundry, as I’m too lazy to do it on Wednesday (the day I do laundry). Thursdays are also the time to start longingly thinking about the upcoming weekend. However, as it pertains to DraftKings and DFS, Thursdays are better known as the day I wake up and write about the Dodgers and whoever the Dodgers happen to be playing. Tonight, it’s the lowly Giants. Huzzah!
Thursdays mean MLB Showdown analysis. Let’s dive in.
Note: All salaries will be Flex prices unless noted as Captain’s Pick prices.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Cody Bellinger is not in the Dodgers’ lineup for tonight’s game.
Los Angeles DodgersThere’s a lot to think about when it comes to Los Angeles’ pitching situation this evening. Julio Urias ($9,600), who has not made an MLB start since April 18, is scheduled to begin tonight’s contest as an opener for Dave Roberts. Urias has yet to exceed 47 pitches in an appearance after being exiled to the bullpen and was on the mound as recently as Monday against this very same San Francisco team. So, regardless of the 22-year-old’s 41 strikeouts in 41.1 innings and his 13.7% swinging strike rate, there’s no scenario where I can see Urias being viable on this slate. He’s only exceeded 8.0 DKFP once in his past 10 outings. There’s simply not enough anticipated volume here to justify the left-hander possessing the fourth-highest price tag of all players.
Caleb Ferguson ($4,000) is another giant question mark. Though there was a report circulating Wednesday that it would be the former 38th round pick set to follow Urias in this evening’s matchup, the timing of said report makes me a little weary. That news dropped roughly two hours prior to first pitch of last night’s 9-2 Dodgers’ victory – a game where the team was forced to use five relievers across eight innings after Rich Hill exited early with forearm discomfort. One of those RPs was Ferguson, who struck out three men on 20 pitches, while also surrendering a solo home run to Mike Yastrzemski ($6,400). Hill is was placed on the the 10-day IL late last night. That means opening up a roster spot for what is sure to be an emergency bullpen arm, possibly someone with some MLB experience like Brock Stewart. In any event, Ferguson entering this game would make for his third appearance in four days. Not only does that limit the number of pitches we could expect the 22-year-old to throw, it makes the chances of him appearing at all a little slimmer. If you’re looking to find some value with Ferguson make sure to keep an eye on Dave Roberts pre-game scrum with the media.
Thankfully, Los Angeles’ bats aren’t a concern. The team owns baseball’s ninth-highest wOBA against LHPs (.334) and, overall, the Dodgers have scored the eighth-most runs in the entire league (391). The biggest reason for this success has been Cody Bellinger ($10,400), a LHB that actually sports a better ISO (.370) and wRC+ (203) in left-on-left plate appearances so far in 2019. Still, we have to account for how effective Madison Bumgarner ($9,800) has been in those situations, too. The veteran has allowed just a .219 wOBA to the 83 left-handed opponents he’s faced this season – that figure standing as the fourth-lowest qualified mark in MLB. Additionally, Bumgarner possesses a 32.5% strikeout rate within the split. Due to these facts, along with the presence of the left-handed Will Smith and Tony Watson in the backend of the Giants’ bullpen, I’ll be mostly avoiding Bellinger, Alex Verdugo ($7,800) and Max Muncy ($10,000) on this slate. I mean, when it comes to the latter, there’s not a ocean close enough to Dodger Stadium, anyway.
Still, that leaves many viable positional pieces on Los Angeles’ roster. Justin Turner ($8,000) has a long history of mashing left-handed pitching and the veteran is slashing .323/.395/.519 overall since the beginning of May. Chris Taylor ($6,000) is locked into a top five batting order spot versus LHPs and is coming off a two-home run performance on Wednesday. David Freese ($9,400), current owner of a career-best .296 ISO, will be forced into a more aggressive approach thanks to Bumgarner’s minuscule 5.2% walk rate. Then, there’s Kike Hernandez ($7,200). Hernandez has only a 38 wRC+ dating back to May 1, yet he still showcases an impressive 49.1% hard contact rate in his 70 plate appearances versus southpaws. It’s one of the reasons he remains able to tout an above average .377 expected wOBA within the split. There’s also the matter of Hernandez registering 24 hits in his 48 at-bats against Bumgarner. Take from that what you will, but the important thing to remember is Hernandez’s mix of pedigree and lineup positioning.
San Francisco GiantsGetting a sense of Bumgarner’s viability is truly a massive element of this slate – especially with no Dodgers’ pitchers in consideration. However, while Bumgarner has only surrendered more than three earned runs once in his past nine starts, the best way to sum up his DFS output would be the shrug emoji. Despite a decent 3.58 ERA, 24.0% strikeout rate, and the fact that he’s pitched at least six innings in every outing; the former World Series MVP has averaged just 17.5 DKFP in this recent run. Even more underwhelming is the realization that Bumgarner has exceeded 20.0 DKFP on one lone occasion since May 12. Though, to be fair, that was his most recent start against this very same Los Angeles team. Still, maybe the floor is more important than the ceiling in this particular Showdown iteration. The run total for tonight’s contest is 7.5. In Bumgarner’s last 28 starts versus the Dodgers – including his last two outings this season – the over has only hit seven times. San Francisco can’t produce runs, as evidenced by a .281 wOBA, and both teams feature a bullpen inside the upper-half of the league in terms of quality by ERA. If you believe this is going to be a low-scoring script, the safety of Bumgarner suddenly becomes appealing. I wouldn’t be looking for 100% exposure, but the 29-year-old lefty is on my radar this evening.
Unfortunately, selecting a few Giants’ hitters is just as complex a proposition as everything else on this slate. With Los Angeles clearly designating tonight’s tilt as a bullpen game, most handedness splits must be thrown out the window. It also leaves us with question marks about how Bruce Bochy will fill out his lineup card. Donovan Solano ($4,600) is an immediate value play if San Francisco throws out its platoon RHBs in accordance with the left-handed Urias. Solano has hit atop the order when the Giants draw a southpaw and he’s returned a .333/.412/.400 slash line in 34 plate appearances within the split so far in 2019. Tyler Austin ($6,800) is another option in this scenario, with the former Yankees farmhand owning a career .293 ISO when getting the opportunity to face left-handed pitching.
Aside from that duo, you’re simply left to look for any San Francisco bat that doesn’t fall off a cliff within one particular split. Brandon Belt ($7,600) has been far more effective against right-handed pitching so far this season; however, he does sport an enticing .263 ISO and .373 wOBA when facing any pitcher away from Oracle Park. Joe Panik ($5,200) has a chance to leadoff for the Giants and has actually hit LHPs at a superior clip than RHPs through his first 264 plate appearances. Plus, you can at least be sure Kevin Pillar ($7,400) is going to attempt to put the ball in play with the league’s sixth-highest swing rate (56.4%) appropriate evidence of his aggression in the batter’s box. We’ve watched San Francisco play baseball for the better part of three months now. It shouldn’t be a shock that they lack inviting DFS options.
THE OUTCOMEI do believe that this will end up being a relatively low-scoring affair. The Dodgers have consistently produced at more dangerous levels when drawing right-handed opposition and the Giants simply can’t hit at all. With that being the case, using your Captain’s Pick on Madison Bumgarner ($14,700 CP) isn’t as crazy as one might think. There’s more than enough reasonable price tags on the board in the form of Hernandez, Taylor, or Solano to make up the salary and there’s a good chance that a solid, yet unspectacular six-inning outing from Bumgarner is the highest output we get on this slate. If that’s not the direction you want to go, Justin Turner ($12,000 CP) and Brandon Belt ($11,400 CP) also make for decent plays a 1.5x value.
Final Score: Los Angeles 3, San Francisco 1
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.