Travis Shaw

This seven-game afternoon slate features a lot of solid pitching options that leave a lot to be desired at multiple positions. It’s looking like a day with a lot of concentrated ownership on the couple teams in good positions, and weeding out which ones you need to focus on will be a priority. Let’s dig into what spots you should focus on here.

PITCHER

Stud

Blake Snell, TB vs. KC, $10,400 — There are a couple studs to consider on this slate, but Snell is really the only one I think you can consider in both cash-game and GPP builds. His 2.21 SIERA is the top mark on the slate and his 60.67% two-strike percentage is the second highest only behind Chris Paddack ($9,900), who is probably the only other consideration in the upper tier in all formats. Snell faces a Royals team that has been below average in xwOBA and runs scored for the better part of the year, and although they have some good power hitters, Snell’s floor should be secure for a quality start.

Other Options — Chris Paddack ($9,900)

Value

Sandy Alcantara, MIA at CLE, $7,400 — Alcantara was a fantasy darling in the offseason for his strikeout upside and solid home park with the Marlins, but while he has had some bright spots, it’s been a rough start to say the least. He’s allowed 13 earned runs in 15 innings but also has struck out 13 batters in the same timeframe and is inducing swinging strikes at an above-average rate. It should be noted the teams he struggled with were the Braves (114 wRC+, seventh in the league), the Cubs (109 wRC+, ninth in the league) and the Phillies (104 wRC+, 14th in the league) and now has a matchup with the Indians, who have a 69 wRC+ in 2019 and are … bad. Alcantara has the pure strikeout stuff to crush this price tag, and the matchup is one of the best on the slate.

Other Options — Drew Pomeranz ($7,800)


CATCHER

Stud

Yasmani Grandal, MIL at STL, $4,400 — This is an ugly slate to pay up at catcher and you’re going to be in a better position if you decide to save money at the position, but if you find yourself needing to pay up, consider Grandal at the top of the salary list. He faces Adam Wainwright ($7,000), who has been serviceable in 2019 with a 4.52 SIERA and a 9.00 K/9 as well as one of the lower HR/9 rates on the slate at just .95. Grandal has the best raw power at his position and being a switch-hitter helps to platoon him in this spot. In his past 10 games he has three home runs, six RBI and a stolen base to average 9.5 DKFP per game and represents the best bat at catcher.

Other Options — Kurt Suzuki ($3,900)

Value

Isiah Kiner-Falefa, TEX at OAK, $3,300 — Using Kiner-Falefa here is about attacking one of the worse pitchers on the slate with Aaron Brooks ($6,900) having the fourth worst SIERA at a 5.00 and an equally low K/9 at just 6.55. Brooks is also quite home run prone with a 1.64 HR/9 and doesn’t get ahead of batters often with a 44.44% two-strike percentage. Kiner-Falefa was cold at the plate for a while before receiving a couple days off but now has a run in three of his past four games as well as a stolen base and three RBI. He represents a great value at a position with a lot of uncertainty in the premium tiers.

Other Options — Drew Butera ($3,400)


FIRST BASE

Justin Smoak, TOR vs. SF, $4,700 — Smoak represents a fantastic upper-tier play at first base on this slate for his high ceiling in a great matchup with Drew Pomeranz ($7,800) at home in Toronto — a notorious hitter’s park. Technically, Smoak is better against RHPs but the averages are similar in his career and the main reason for the wRC+ difference between his splits is an ISO of .207 vs. RHP and .153 vs. LHP. In this matchup, that doesn’t matter much because of how much worse Pomeranz is against RHBs, giving up nearly three times as many HR/9 (.55 to LHBs, 1.3 to RHBs), and we know it’s better to lean towards the pitcher skills than the hitter capabilities. Smoak has been on fire, as well, with 20+ DKFP in two of his past three games, so ride the hot bat in this one.

Other Options — Paul Goldschmidt ($5,200)

Value

Brandon Belt, SF at TOR, $3,700 — In the same game as Smoak we can find Belt, who offers plenty of power upside of his own at a reduced price. Belt doesn’t get a lot of balls in play with just a .213 batting average, but when he does make contact, it’s solid, resulting in four home runs and nine RBI on the season and good for a .240 ISO percentage. You aren’t going to find power like that down in the lower tiers of positions, and it’s smart to take advantage of him in a plus matchup against Clay Buchholz ($7,300), who has the second worst SIERA on the slate at 5.36 and a paltry 5.06 K/9.

Other Options — Rowdy Tellez ($3,800)


SECOND BASE

Stud

Ryan McMahon, COL vs. WAS, $4,300 — As with the catcher position, it’s kind of difficult for the guys in the upper echelon of second base. Whit Merrifield ($4,600) has a gross matchup with Blake Snell that renders a lot of his on-base upside meaningless; Brandon Lowe ($4,500) has a better matchup but hasn’t responded well to hitting leadoff; Kolten Wong ($4,400) is priced way above his realistic ceiling, and Howie Kendrick ($4,400) has a tough matchup with a right-handed ace, so we basically are down to McMahon as the upside play at his position. It’s not an awful spot to land with McMahon, playing in the best hitting environment on the slate and sporting a .182 ISO percentage and solid 13.7% walk rate giving him a meaningful floor, but it’s still not something you feel great about paying for if you don’t have to. Regardless, he probably leads his position a majority of the time over the long run in this spot and is the right play in cash games.

Other Options — Brandon Lowe ($4,500), Danny Santana ($4,300)

Value

Eric Sogard, TOR vs. SF, $3,700 — Pomeranz’ power splits are wide and they don’t help out Sogard in terms of power, but with how ugly second base is as a whole you have to consider him and his hot streak at the plate. Since being called up with the demotion of Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Sogard has been incredible with at least one RBI in all but two of his starts as well as a hit in every game and multiple in three of the six, giving him 10+ DKFP in four of such contests. Coming off of an 18-DKFP performance with two runs and a home run as well as a walk, he will look to continue against a suspect pitcher in a great hitting environment.

Other Options — Starlin Castro ($3,600)


THIRD BASE

Stud

Nolan Arenado, COL vs. WAS, $5,300 — I think there’s probably some merit in fading Arenado in GPPs just based on perceived ownership, but the matchup is just incredible. If you can fit him, you absolutely should prioritize the star third baseman. Anibal Sanchez ($6,200) had a solid 2018 campaign but even during one of the better recent years he struggled against RHBs, allowing a .295 wOBA and a 1.27 HR/9 as well as a 4.01 xFIP. Thus far in 2019 he’s seen a drop in strikeout rate and a rise in walk rate, increasing his xFIP to 4.96 and signaling decline from a career year. Arenado is coming off a recent 30-DKFP game in Coors and has a great chance to replicate that success here.

Other Options — Matt Chapman ($4,500)

Value

Travis Shaw, MIL at STL, $3,300 — You might not have noticed if you weren’t paying attention, but it would appear Shaw is indeed “back” after hitting three home runs in the past two games. The hits have been solo shots and the Brewers have been getting decimated, but it’s worth taking it into account considering how absolutely brutal Shaw has been at the plate up until recently. We absolutely need to consider this in context and he still is hitting just .211 over the past 10 games, but it’s been consistent all year that the power is still there when he makes contact. If that contact is becoming more frequent, he’s going to go on a wild power surge. Take advantage before his price gets back to normal and deploy him as a cheap flyer for the slate.

Other Options — Brandon Drury ($3,200)


SHORTSTOP

Stud

Paul DeJong, STL vs. MIL, $4,900 — DeJong has been absolutely incredible in 2019 with 17 total extra-base hits including one triple and five home runs as well as swiping a couple of bags and maintaining a solid .337 batting average. Over his past 10 games, the batting average has dipped just a small bit to .326, but he still has two home runs and five doubles and is averaging 10.1 DKFP, which are all fantastic marks for someone that had serious strikeout concerns in 2018. His matchup with Jhoulys Chacin ($6,800) is good on the surface but just neutral deeper down as he always has been better against RHBs in his career with a 3.71 xFIP and .71 HR/9 in the split. DeJong is a great way to spend up on the slate with his combination of batting average and power.

Other Options — Trevor Story ($5,500), Francisco Lindor ($4,700)

Value

Wilmer Difo, WAS at COL, $3,600 — I’m not exactly here to attack German Marquez ($9,000) as even pitching in Coors he has great strikeout stuff and I don’t expect the Nationals to be able to rough him up too badly But I think the Rockies’ bullpen is generally bad and worse at home, so I have no problem taking a cheap Nationals hitter with good contact skills in this spot if not paying up. The Rockies’ relievers have a combined xFIP of 4.6 and a HR/FB rate of 14.3% while allowing a lot of walks at a 4.13 BB/9. Difo started the year badly but has picked it up with a .294 batting average and .441 SLG percentage over his past 10 games, so taking him as a value bat while he is in the middle of a power surge in a great hitting environment would be smart as well as contrarian.

Other Options — Tim Beckham ($3,800)


OUTFIELD

Stud

Joey Gallo, TEX at OAK, $5,400 — Gallo is the epitome of what you want in a GPP play each and every day. The man has four 20+ DKFP games in his past 10 games as well as four games with zero DKFP. He is going to get you everything or nothing in the vast majority of his contests. The matchup with Brooks is dripping with upside as he runs into Gallo’s preferred split against a LHP, where he has a .310 ISO and lower strikeout rate (by lower I mean it’s just 36% compared to 42.2% for RHP but like… still lower). Even playing in one of the worst parks for home runs in the league it shouldn’t affect your choice of Gallo at all considering when he hits a home run it’s not landing just over the fence, it’s getting crushed. That’s what makes him such an incredible play today even in a bad environment. He’s never a cash-game staple, but he should be a priority in your GPPs today.

Other Options — Marcell Ozuna ($5,000), Christian Yelich ($5,800)

Value

Robbie Grossman, OAK vs. TEX, $3,600 — It’s not really a great sign when you are resorting to Grossman for value on a slate, and that should tell you to pay up where you can at outfield and get your value within the infield. Grossman has been mediocre over his past 10 games with a .243 batting average, one home run and just a .727 OPS for 7.3 DKFP per game. Those numbers are enough to keep him in consideration with a matchup against Jesse Chavez ($4,000) and an Angels bullpen that has the worst xFIP in the league over the past week of games at 5.61 as well as a hilariously low 31.5% combined ground ball rate. Grossman becomes a better play at leadoff should he get the nod, but regardless, keep his exposure in check and your expectations tempered even at a low price point.

Other Options — Kevin Pillar ($3,800), Franmil Reyes ($3,800)


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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Multichem) 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.