We have a 10-game MLB Tiers fantasy baseball slate for Friday. Something to always remember when playing Tiers is with a player pool so limited, it is likely a large portion of the field is aware of who the “best plays” are. But in a sport such as baseball, where variance reigns supreme, you will need to avoid the chalk in a few spots in order to take down a GPP. Stacking in Tiers where you can is another thing to take advantage of.
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Tier 1SS Trevor Story, COL at NYY
SS Xander Bogaerts, BOS at BAL
OF Mookie Betts, BOS at BAL
OF Aaron Judge, NYY vs. COL
The Yankees are one of the most prolific offenses in the entire league. Over the past 30 days, they have a wRC+ of 126, second in the entire league. Their lineup top to bottom is loaded with power, and that is reflected in their team total of seven in the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium. As an easy stack throughout tonight’s Tiers, that means they likely will be popular this evening.
You should know by now that means I am recommending a fade tonight. And it will be in favor of the rival Red Sox, who are the team ahead of them in 30-day wRC+ and have a massive team total of their own: 6.3. That number has come up 0.6 runs since opening, meaning bettors are expecting tons of runs out of Boston. To get them at expected lower ownership than the Yankees is a situation to take advantage of, and you can stack up to four Red Sox in your lineup tonight in the six tiers (Tiers 2, 5, and 6 also have a player from Boston). That is the route I recommend going this evening.
But which Boston player should you play in Tier 1? Though Betts is the table-setter for Boston, I feel the edge is strongly towards Bogaerts here. Betts has struggled against lefties this season, with a .096 ISO and .310 wOBA. Bogaerts is the polar opposite, sitting at .316 and .417, respectively. He is the perfect play to set up your Tiers teams tonight.
Tier 33B Anthony Rendon, WAS at ATL
1B Josh Bell, PIT vs. PHI
2B/OF Whit Merrifield, KC at CLE
2B/OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr., TOR at DET
1B Edwin Encarnacion, NYY vs. COL
2B/OF Danny Santana, TEX at HOU
Fading the Yankees will be a decision you’ll have to make multiple times tonight, but I think you should continue in a sneaky-good Tier 3. I am a willing gambler in many cases but still do not believe it is worth it to play an average bat against Justin Verlander. You can leave Santana on the bench. Shane Bieber has risen to elite status this year, so you can say the same for Merrifield.
Bell is a batter I’ve been hammering in this piece all year. He is legitimately one of the best hitters in baseball, despite spending his time in a relatively average lineup for a team that is not going to win any popularity contests. That said, he is in a fantastic spot this evening. Jake Arrieta has a middling 4.54 ERA on the season, and he has been especially bad against left-handed bats. He allows a .220 ISO and .392 wOBA against them, 89 and 79 points higher than against righties, respectively. Bell has a monstrous .346 ISO and .431 wOBA when facing right-handed pitching so far in 2019.
Vlad Guerrero Jr. has gotten most of the headlines, but it is Gurriel who has been the most impressive young hitter for the Blue Jays this season. He has 17 homers and five steals in just 60 games played, and Toronto has a 5.7 team total, fourth-highest on tonight’s slate. A big reason for that is going up against Jordan Zimmermann and his 5.02 xFIP. Gurriel has a .245 ISO and .362 wOBA against righties this year. Zimmermann’s favorite pitch when facing right-handed batters is his slider, which he throws about 42% of the time. Gurriel has a .298 ISO and .352 wOBA against that pitch the past two seasons.
Tier 4SS Trea Turner, WAS at ATL
OF Juan Soto, WAS at ATL
2B/3B D.J. LeMahieu, NYY vs. COL
OF Starling Marte, PIT vs. PHI
1B Carlos Santana, CLE vs. KC
OF Oscar Mercado, CLE vs. KC
OF Ramon Laureano, OAK at MIN
LeMahieu has been one of the best hitters in baseball this season, but he is not really an ideal DraftKings play for tournaments. While he will get on base frequently, he is not a major events hitter, and that is where the big scores typically will come from. Since we are fading the Yankees tonight anyway, it doesn’t make much sense to deploy him here. Marte is an interesting play if you are looking to stack with Bell but does not offer a ton on his own to consider as a one-off.
If you wanted to consider an Indians bat tonight, which would be prudent considering their 6.5 team total, I am looking to Mercado. These Cleveland bats find themselves on opposite ends of their platoon splits in this matchup with lefty Mike Montgomery. Santana is a switch-hitter but performs way better against right-handers. His ISO sees a 129-point dropoff when facing lefties. Mercado, meanwhile, is a natural righty, and sees a 36-point boost in ISO.
That Nationals are facing Julio Teheran, who boasts a 4.99 xFIP despite having a 3.71 ERA so far this season. If he is finally going to regress, I’ll take the lefty in Soto to make it happen. He has a .235 ISO and .411 wOBA against right-handed pitchers this year and is a destroyer of fastballs, which Teheran uses 44% of the time to lefties. Soto has a .379 ISO and .472 wOBA against right-handed fastballs for his career.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is amicsta) 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.