Before we delve into tonight’s 12-game featured MLB slate on DraftKings, a brief English lesson for those reading at home. While you might think sidonglobophobia (the fear of cotton balls) or alektorophobia (the fear of chickens) is the stupidest thing one might be physically able to be afraid of, may I present to you the Word of the Day: Sinistrophobia. What is sinistrophobia? Well, its the fear of left-handedness, with the term “sinistro” derived from the Latin dialect for “left.” For a while I couldn’t come up with any reason why one might fear lefties, but then I took a quick glance at the pitching matchups scheduled for this evening. Seven of the 10 highest salaries on Friday are LHPs. Seven. If that doesn’t make you worry that a left-hander is going to simultaneously ruin your lineups and your night, then I guess you’ve got stronger nerves than I do.
Let’s break it all down.
StudLance Lynn, TEX vs. DET, $11,700 – There’s a serious case to be made that you shouldn’t be paying up for pitching on this slate; but, of the highest-priced pieces, Lynn is in the best spot. Even going back as far as 2017, Lynn has completely shut down right-handed bats. Its LHBs that have given him issues. Well, on that note, it’s possible the Tigers possess the most underwhelming collection of left-handed bats in all of baseball. Of the five men on the roster who have taken more than 50 plate appearances versus RHPs this season, none have a wRC+ above 100 or an ISO exceeding .170. There’s simply nothing to fear here for a pitcher that owns a 2.54 FIP and a 31.1% strikeout rate over his past six outings.
Other Option: Mike Clevinger ($11,100)
ValueSteven Matz, NYM at PIT, $7,700 – Matz will likely be the chalk on this slate, yet, with 12 games to choose from, the hope is his ownership doesn’t get too insane. Now, do I expect the lefty to recreate his five-hit, 99-pitch shutout against these same Pirates from last week? No. Of course not. However, it’s not difficult to see why that occurred and how Matz might again find success this evening. Pittsburgh has consistently been the worst team in baseball at hitting left-handed pitching all season long. They rank dead last within the split in OBP (.282), wOBA (.282), and wRC+ (73). With Matz limiting opponents to a paltry .241 wOBA since the All-Star break, the 28-year-old is in line to extend the Mets’ winning streak tonight.
Other Options: Martin Perez ($7,900), Jason Vargas ($7,400)
StudJ.T. Realmuto, PHI vs. CWS, $4,100 – Realmuto’s been enjoying a power surge since the All-Star break with five home runs in just 66 plate appearances. There are a few different reasons for this, with the veteran backstop increasing both his fly-ball rate and his aggressiveness within that span, but mainly its just been schedule luck. Of the 17 games Realmuto’s caught since July 13, 12 have been in Philadelphia. Citizen’s Bank Park has always been hitter friendly and Realmuto’s no exception to the rule. For the entire 2019 campaign, the 28-year-old possesses a .217 ISO and a .350 wOBA batting at his home field. Add in Ivan Nova ($7,000), who has surrendered a whopping .405 wOBA to RHBs on the road, and you’ve got a great spot to use Realmuto.
Other Option: Jason Castro ($3,900)
ValueRoberto Perez, CLE vs. LAA, $3,800 – There’s an easy way to figure out if you want to use Perez on any given night. Just figure out if the opposing pitcher’s primary offering is a four-seam fastball. If it is, then you’re good to go. Bonus points if said starter happens to be left-handed, too. Perez owns a .362 wOBA off of LHPs in 2019, but the real prize is his .378 average and .487 ISO against lefty fastballs. Dillon Peters ($6,000), a left-hander who has thrown his four-seam in 49.1% of counts versus RHBs this season, definitely fits the description.
Other Option: Alex Avila ($3,600)
StudDaniel Murphy, COL vs. SF, $5,200 – While Murphy’s season-long numbers might make this salary seem questionable, the veteran’s been a completely different hitter since the beginning of June. In 193 plate appearances within that span of time, Murphy’s slashing .326/.361/.539 with a .374 wOBA. It’s a stretch that has also seen the 34-year-old hit .388 with a 1.014 OPS when the PAs come at Coors Field. Considering that recent form – and Shaun Anderson’s ($4,500) modest 12.8% strikeout rate to LHBs – I’ve got no issues with paying up for Murphy’s services this evening.
Other Options: Pablo Sandoval ($5,000), Renato Nunez ($4,700)
ValueAustin Nola, SEA at HOU, $3,900 – We’re only dealing with a 31 plate appearance sample size, but Nola’s early success against left-handed pitching can’t be ignored. The 29-year-old is slashing .393/.452/.857 with a .517 wOBA and a 237 wRC+. Those, as they say, are video game numbers. It’s not exactly a mystery as to what Nola’s attempting to do at the plate, either. Want to know what hunting for home runs looks like statistically? How about a 66.7% fly-ball rate within the split to go along with a 47.6% pull rate? Yeah. That’ll create some ceiling.
Other Options: Joey Votto ($3,800), Jose Abreu ($3,700)
StudJose Altuve, HOU vs. SEA, $5,000 – We’re all aware of the fact that Altuve’s been a much better hitter since returning from the IL in mid-June, but even knowing that can’t prepare you for his numbers against left-handed pitching within that stretch of time. In 35 plate appearances versus southpaws dating back to June 19, Altuve is sporting a .580 wOBA to go along with a .903 slugging percentage. That almost doesn’t even compute in my brain. With Yusei Kikuchi ($5,000) having allowed 1.89 home runs per nine to opponents through his first 22 starts, there’s no reason to think Altuve won’t continue wreaking havoc on this slate.
Other Options: Jonathan Villar ($4,600), Whit Merrifield ($4,400)
ValueCesar Hernandez, PHI vs. CWS, $3,500 – While I will always claim to be a genius, you don’t need to be one to know that using the leadoff hitter of a team with a massive implied total is sound logic. It doesn’t hurt matters that the switch-hitting Hernandez has created all his power as a left-handed hitter so far in 2019, either. Set to face the right-handed Nova, Hernandez has hit all eight of his home runs this season from the left-side of the plate. Combine that with the fact that his OPS is 132 points higher at home, and you’ve got a great way to save some salary on this slate.
StudVladimir Guerrero Jr., TOR at BAL, $4,500 – It’s very possible that using Guerrero tonight is a square move, but I’m just not sure how to avoid the surging rookie in this particular matchup. Going back to July 19, Guerrero is slashing .417/.472/.813. Within that same span of time, the 20-year-old leads baseball in RBI (21), sits third in wOBA (.521), and also sits third in wRC+ (234). Recency bias is a powerful drug, but this isn’t just about Guerrero, either. Aaron Brooks ($4,800) has given up five earned runs in each of his past two outings and Baltimore’s bullpen is among the weakest in the league. It all lines up.
Other Options: Miguel Sano ($4,900), Josh Donaldson ($4,300)
ValueLuis Arraez, MIN vs. KC, $3,900 – Arraez, who has hit second and cleanup within the past five days in Rocco Baldelli’s ever-changing lineup, has destroyed right-handed pitching so far in 2019. In his 118 plate appearances within the split, the 22-year-old is batting .358 with a 35.1% line drive rate. That should be of great concern to Glenn Sparkman ($5,500). Sparkman has been unable to pitch effectively away from Kauffman Stadium, especially to LHBs. In fact, Sparkman has surrendered an eye-popping 4.76 home runs per nine to lefties on the road. That’s exceedingly awful.
Other Option: Jake Lamb ($3,800)
StudCarlos Correa, HOU vs. SEA, $4,600 – Correa’s stats haven’t jumped off the page since he returned from a prolonged absence, but, if there’s one thing he’s done effectively all year long, its hit left-handed pitching. In his opportunities versus southpaws in 2019, the former top prospect owns a 176 wRC+ and a 60.0% hard contact rate. He’s also underperformed his metrics according to expected wOBA. Because of the quality of contact he’s made, Correa possesses a huge .457 xwOBA – the sixth-highest mark in baseball among players with at least 50 plate appearances within the split. That means trouble for Kikuchi.
Other Option: Jorge Polanco ($4,700)
ValueBrandon Crawford, SF at COL, $3,700 – We’ll have to wait and see if Crawford’s able to suit up in this game after jamming his shoulder against the Phillies on Thursday; however, if he is, he’s obviously a target with a salary under $4K at Coors. Not only is Crawford .198 ISO on the road 122 points higher than his mark at Oracle Park in 2019, but Peter Lambert ($5,200) has been unable to subdue LHBs all year. Lambert has surrendered a .414 wOBA to lefties over his nine MLB outings.
Other Option: Leury Garcia ($3,800)
StudMax Kepler, MIN vs. KC, $5,200 – Its been a mission to keep Kepler in the ballpark since the weather warmed up. Dating back to the beginning of June, Kepler has hit 13 home runs off of right-handed pitching, with his 30th of the season coming Thursday off of the Marlins’ Jordan Yamamoto. All told, in his last 154 plate appearances within the split, Kepler possesses a .348 ISO and a .397 wOBA. With all of Sparkman’s aforementioned flaws, it’s hard to imagine Kepler not having a viable performance this evening.
Other Options: David Dahl ($5,200), J.D. Martinez ($4,800)
ValueDavid Peralta, ARI vs. WAS, $4,000 – Its been a tough year for Peralta, full of IL trips and injuries, but he’s healthy once again and he’ll step into a fantastic matchup this evening with Joe Ross ($5,700). The right-hander is making his second emergency start of the season and it’s not hard to see why the Nationals are only doing this out of necessity. Ross has faced 50 LHBs so far in 2019. Those 50 men have compiled a jaw-dropping .474 average and .530 wOBA. Considering Peralta still possesses an above-average .372 wOBA off of RHPs, he’s an easy value play on this slate.
Other Options: Domingo Santana ($4,000), Aaron Judge ($3,900)
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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.