We’ve got a 13-game featured MLB slate this evening on DraftKings with four of the most decorated starting pitchers of the last 15 years topping the pricing list. Justin Verlander ($12,000) and his recent home run woes square off against the Angels; Jacob deGrom ($11,300) has a divisional battle versus the Phillies; Clayton Kershaw ($10,700) leaves Coors Field behind and draws the Padres; while Zack Greinke ($9,700) looks to take down the Rockies. Still, are any of these household names the best option to build your lineups around?
Anyway, let’s break down everything else you need to know on this Friday in July.
StudMasahiro Tanaka, NYY at TB, $9,500 – Every time Tanaka steps on the mound is an invitation for high variance, but tonight seems like a solid spot for the veteran. Tanaka has faced the Rays on three occasions already this season, holding the team to one earned run across 22 innings of work with 23 strikeouts. It’s not exactly clear why Tampa Bay has struggled so much with the right-hander; though it probably has got something to do with Tanaka’s slider usage. At 38.0%, its the 30-year-old’s primary pitch, and, according to FanGraphs’ data, its the offering the Rays, as a team, have had the most issue within 2019. Really, in general, Tampa Bay has been scuffling lately at the dish. Down Brandon Lowe, Ji-Man Choi and – recently – Kevin Kiermaier; the Rays have mustered just a .300 wOBA and 88 wRC+ over the past 14 days. Being down three left-handed bats is a boost to Tanaka, too. Especially considering he’s held RHBs to a paltry .261 wOBA so far this season.
Other Options: Jacob deGrom ($11,300), Eduardo Rodriguez ($8,700)
ValueDrew Pomeranz, SF vs. STL, $6,800 – I’m not even done writing this paragraph and it already feels like a bad idea, but Pomeranz has actually been decent over his past five outings. Within that span, the left-hander has exceeded 20.0 DKFP in four starts and has also managed to compile a 3.79 FIP to go along with a robust 30.9% strikeout rate. The common denominator in these successful starts has been their location, as all four took place at the spacious Oracle Park. In fact, when you discount Pomeranz’s awful trip to the mound in Dodger Stadium, the veteran posted a 0.90 ERA in June. Well, he’s still at home this evening and the Cardinals still can’t hit, with an MLB-low .282 wOBA across the past two weeks evidencing the struggles. If there was ever a time to trust Pomeranz, its this slate.
Other Option: Julio Teheran ($6,600)
StudChristian Vazquez, BOS at DET, $4,300 – For the entirety of the season, Vazquez has hit left-handed pitching extremely well, posting a 126 wRC+ over his first 76 plate appearances within the split. However, going back to the beginning of May, it doesn’t really matter who is on the mound. Since May 1, Vazquez is slashing .327/.356/.542 with a .214 ISO. Basically, he’ll be in a great position to thrive against the lefty Ryan Carpenter ($4,800) and he’ll still be in a fantastic spot against reliever that comes out of the Tigers’ bullpen.
Other Options: Yasmani Grandal ($4,600), Alex Avila ($3,900)
ValueDanny Jansen, TOR vs. BAL, $3,000 – Can a $3K catcher be chalk on a 13-game slate? Are enough people aware of how well Jansen’s been hitting for a mostly-ignorable Jays squad? I don’t know the answers to these questions; however, with an implied team total of well over five runs, this seems like a good situation to find out. Jansen is 12-for-26 in his last seven contests with six home runs and a 1.712 OPS. Sure, this could all be a fluke, but we are talking about someone who was playing in the MLB Futures Game this time last season. He’s got the pedigree. Plus, it’s just cool to say Jansen’s got a 1.3% swinging strike rate within this span. That’s insane.
Other Option: Josh Phegley ($3,700)
StudJosh Bell, PIT vs. MIL, $5,600 – Here’s something you probably already knew, but didn’t have a stat for: Bell is dangerous when he’s able to make contact. Like, really dangerous. Of the 133 players with more than 200 batted ball events to their name so far this season, Bell’s average exit velocity of 93.3 mph is the second-highest – trailing only reigning National League MVP Christian Yelich. That’s awesome company. So, that begs the question, can Zach Davies ($5,300) get Bell to swing and miss? No. He can’t. Davies owns the fourth-lowest strikeout rate of any qualified pitcher against LHBs in 2019 (13.1%). He’s also surrendered a .427 wOBA to lefties over his past eight starts. That’s ugly.
Other Option: Dominic Smith ($4,900)
ValueBrandon Belt, SF vs. STL, $3,700 – Belt has appeared to enjoy getting moved to the top of the Giants’ order, as the veteran first baseman has collected 10 hits over his past five games. Still for as much as this is about Belt’s recent success, it’s also about Dakota Hudson’s ($7,600) immense issues with LHBs. Among qualified National League pitchers, only Anthony DeSclafani has surrendered a higher wOBA to left-handed opponents in 2019 than Hudson’s .394 mark. Belt should be able to keep the good times rolling this evening.
Other Options: Jake Lamb ($3,900), Justin Smoak ($3,700)
StudJeff McNeil, NYM vs. PHI, $4,700 – Not many are as hot as McNeil is coming into tonight’s matchup with Vince Velasquez ($7,500). Dating back to June 18, McNeil is slashing .426/.462/.754 with a .501 wOBA over 65 plate appearances. I mean, it’s hard to pick out a stretch where a .349 batter isn’t putting up good numbers, but the power we’ve seen from McNeil across the past three weeks has turned him into a DFS revelation. With Velasquez possessing a .373 wOBA away from Philadelphia so far this season, I doubt he’s the one to put an end to McNeil’s torrid hitting.
Other Option: Ketel Marte ($5,200)
ValueLuis Arraez, MIN vs. TEX, $3,700 – Few pitchers have had as difficult a time going on the road as Adrian Sampson ($7,300) in 2019 – especially when Sampson is starting. The 27-year-old right-hander has faced 93 batters under these conditions and has allowed those opponents to compile a massive .444 wOBA and 56.5% hard contact rate. That’s great news for the Twins and Arraez, who, in the past four games, has hit both leadoff and clean-up for Minnesota. It’s unclear where he’ll be in Rocco Baldelli’s lineup tonight, but I’m willing to bet it’ll be a high-leverage spot. What more can you ask for at this price?
Other Option: Chad Pinder ($3,600)
StudAnthony Rendon, WAS vs. KC, $5,200 – The Nationals are one of three teams with an implied team total of above six runs on this slate. A big reason for that is Brad Keller’s ($6,700) recent struggles pitching on the road, but another is the fact that Rendon remains the best hitter in baseball that doesn’t get nearly enough respect. In terms of generating barrelled balls, on a per plate appearances basis, Rendon is tied with Mike Trout for the best rate in the league at 11.9%. Rendon also owns a .350 ISO and a .440 wOBA when getting the opportunity to hit at Nationals Park in 2019. That’s all very, very good.
Other Option: Matt Chapman ($4,900)
ValueJosh Donaldson, ATL vs. MIA, $3,900 – Always the streaky hitter, Donaldson has home runs in each of the Braves’ past two games. That alone makes this price point seem a little odd, but the numbers only continue in the former MVP’s favor. In his 122 plate appearances facing a right-handed pitcher at SunTrust Park this season, Donaldson is slashing .330/.434/.699 with a .369 ISO. Sure Jordan Yamamoto ($8,600) has pitched amazingly through his first four career starts, but he’s also an extreme fly ball archetype who’s expected wOBA is 72 points higher than his actual performance. He might just be due to blow-up.
Other Option: Justin Turner ($3,900)
StudJorge Polanco, MIN vs. TEX, $4,500 – Despite some underwhelming recent numbers, Polanco remains entrenched in the two-spot in the Twins’ order. Additionally, he continues to sport a .252 ISO and a .396 wOBA when getting the opportunity to face a right-handed pitcher and bat from the left side of the plate. With Sampson’s struggles on the road and the Rangers’ bullpen owning a 4.82 FIP across the past 30 days, Polanco is a vital element of any Minnesota stack.
Other Options: Trea Turner ($5,300), Xander Bogaerts ($5,100)
ValueFreddy Galvis, TOR vs. BAL, $4,000 – It’s unclear where exactly Galvis will slot into Toronto’s batting order this evening, but there’s no denying that the veteran switch-hitter has been red hot as of late. Galvis has six-extra base hits across his past four games and, for the season, he owns a .224 ISO when getting the chance to face right-handed pitching. The Jays have scored at least six runs in eight-straight contests. Galvis has been a huge part of that and he should be again this evening against Baltimore’s exploitable pitching staff.
Other Option: Chris Taylor ($3,900)
StudMike Trout, LAA at HOU, $5,000 – Look, I’m not saying you should go out of your way to pick on Justin Verlander ($12,000), but can you remember the last time you only had to pay $5K for Trout? He’s actually only been priced below $5,200 once this season and that was on May 25 against Mike Minor and the Rangers. Verlander has also been susceptible to the long ball so far in 2019, surrendering 1.98 home runs per nine to RHBs for the entire year and 3.14 per nine within the split over his last four starts specifically. It’s simply hard to ignore the savings.
Other Options: J.D. Martinez ($4,800), Yordan Alvarez ($4,600)
ValueMichael Brantley, HOU vs. LAA, $4,000 – Felix Pena ($6,700) has had his problems with LHBs in 2019. Expected to pitch a majority of the innings behind Noe Ramirez ($4,000) this evening, Pena has surrendered a .379 wOBA to left-handed bats for the season and owns an ugly 6.08 FIP within the split. The numbers get even worse when you just isolate the month of June, where Pena allowed the 40 lefties he faced to compile a jaw-dropping .912 slugging percentage. Brantley hasn’t hit with much power the past six weeks, but tonight’s matchup could easily change that.
Other Options: Victor Robles ($3,900), Alex Dickerson ($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.