In an unsurprising twist, we’ve got a lot of information to cover for tonight’s 14-game featured MLB slate on DraftKings. There are four high-ceiling pitchers with salaries above $10K, Dallas Keuchel ($8,300) is making his 2019 debut with the Braves, and we’ve got an Albert Pujols ($3,900) revenge narrative eight years in the making if some approaching storms can hold off. Think you can handle all of that? Well, be warned, because that’s just barely scratching the surface.
Let’s break it all down.
StudTrevor Bauer, CLE vs. DET, $11,100 – Bauer’s issue all season long has been his inability to generate swing and misses at the same clip as last year. Case and point, where his slider, curve, cutter, and changeup all carried whiff rates above 15.0% in 2018; only his slider (20.2%) can claim the feat so far in 2019. Now, that’s not something that’s going to magically amend itself overnight, however, as we saw in his last start, being opposed by the Tigers is the closest thing we have to a quick-fix. Bauer racked up 42.9 DKFP in nine scoreless innings, taking advantage of a lineup that sports baseball’s highest swing rate (53.2%), highest chase rate (39.3%) and highest swinging strike rate (14.6%) during the month of June.
Other Option: Chris Sale ($12,000)
ValueMartin Perez, MIN at KC, $7,600 – Its been quite a while since Perez returned massive value on a slate, but things have looked a little better in his past two starts. Despite the presence of eight earned runs, the left-hander has struck out 14 combined opponents the past two times he’s taken the mound; the direct result of inducing 29 swings-and-misses within that span. Really, the only thing that took him down in his last outing against these very same Royals was clustering. Perez walked just one batter and did not surrender a single extra-base hit in 6.2 innings versus Kansas City; yet said free pass and four of the six hits he did allow all came in the second frame. Considering the Royals own the American League’s lowest wOBA when opposed by a lefty (.284), I doubt they get that lucky again.
Other Options: James Paxton ($8,100), Aaron Nola ($8,000)
StudRoberto Perez, CLE vs. DET, $3,900 – Look, did I think Perez – not Jose Ramirez ($3,500) – would be the one carrying the Indians’ offense this season? No. No, I did not. Yet, it’s hard to argue with the results, especially Perez’s success against left-handed pitching. In 62 plate appearances, the 30-year-old backstop is slashing .302/.403/.660 with a .436 wOBA. I’ll concede his 60.0% HR/FB ratio within the split probably won’t sustain, but Perez has been making quality contact a lot lately. He’s worth a look against Matt Boyd ($9,700).
Other Option: Robinson Chirinos ($4,300)
ValueElias Diaz, PIT vs. SD, $3,400 – Here’s the thing: You want to use Diaz against left-handed pitching whenever possible. Going back to the start of last season, not only does Diaz sport a .336 average and a 133 wRC+ within the split, but he also possesses a 3.3% walk rate and a 10.6% strikeout rate. Essentially, he’s hyper-aggressive when drawing a southpaw and the results of that approach warrant that mentality. It doesn’t hurt that Eric Lauer ($6,100) has surrendered a .369 wOBA to opponents away from Petco Park, either.
Other Option: Chance Sisco ($3,300)
StudFreddie Freeman, ATL at WSH, $4,900 – Nationals Park is a good place to hit. It was the fifth-best home run park according to ESPN’s metrics last season and once again ranks inside the top 10 in 2019. This might explain why Stephen Strasburg ($10,500) struggles pitching at home so much. Strasburg’s allowed 2.06 long balls per nine in Washington so far this year and, dating back to the beginning of 2018, he possesses a vulgar 4.91 ERA across 110 innings in the Nation’s Capital. Still, anyone could be taking the mound for the Nationals this evening and I’d like Freeman’s price. The Braves first baseman is simply on a torrid pace the past few weeks. Since May 8, Freeman’s hitting .340 with a .359 ISO and an eye-popping 57.3% hard contact rate. Not bad for a 171 plate appearance sample.
Other Option: Jay Bruce ($4,700)
ValueBrandon Belt, SF at ARI, $4,000 – As you could probably imagine, Belt becomes a different hitter when the opportunity to get out of the spacious Oracle Park presents itself. This season, on the road, the veteran owns a .365 wOBA and a .254 ISO – the latter figure sitting 120 points higher than Belt’s modest mark at home. However, this would all mean nothing if not for Taylor Clarke ($6,800). The rookie RHP has surrendered a .391 wOBA to opponents as a starter at the MLB level, a number that’s not all that shocking when you consider Clarke’s propensity to allow barrelled balls. In fact, among the 222 pitchers with at least 90 batted ball events, Clarke’s barrel per BBE rate of 12.4% is the 11th highest in baseball.
Other Option: Renato Nunez ($3,600)
StudDanny Santana, TEX vs. CWS, $5,000 – What’s not to love about Reynaldo Lopez ($5,800)? Not only has the 25-year-old surrendered a .401 wOBA to opponents away from Chicago so far this season, but he’s been equally awful against both left-handed and right-handed batters. Plus, no qualified pitcher possesses a higher fly ball rate (49.4%). He’s truly a generous, generous man. Santana won’t be shy about taking advantage, either. In 145 plate appearances against RHPs in 2019, Santana’s put up some gaudy numbers, including a .254 ISO and a .394 wOBA. He’s one of the major reasons that Texas owns the highest implied team total on this slate.
Other Option: Ketel Marte ($5,500)
ValueBrian Dozier, WAS vs. ATL, $3,700 – As much as Keuchel’s not generally the archetype of pitcher I’d suggest picking on in a DFS capacity, we should acknowledge that this is his first MLB start in almost nine months. That has to matter a little bit, right? Plus, nothing but the handedness of an opposing pitcher seems to matter to Dozier at this point. The former Twins 2B has crushed lefties this season to the tune of a .375/.435/.750 slash line with a 201 wRC+. He’s also got a 45.2% fly ball rate within the split. If anyone in a Nationals uniform is going to elevate Keuchel, Dozier would be the guy.
Other Option: Joe Panik ($3,400)
StudRafael Devers, BOS vs. TOR, $5,000 – You’ll have to keep an eye on Devers’ status as we get closer to first pitch – he did leave Wednesday’s game with a tight hamstring – however, if the sophomore is in the lineup, he’s in a great spot against Trent Thornton ($7,100). In his rookie campaign, Thornton’s allowed a .355 wOBA and a 1.59 home runs per nine to those of the left-handed persuasion. Devers, a lefty, has also been scorching hot at the plate since the beginning of May. In that time, the 22-year-old is batting .329 with a .288 ISO. There’s not much more you can ask for.
Other Options: Anthony Rendon ($5,300), Eugenio Suarez ($4,100)
ValueWillians Astudillo, MIN at KC, $3,500 – Along with the Rangers, the Twins are one of two clubs to have an implied team total above six runs on this 14-game slate. This is the direct result of Jakob Junis’ ($6,300) 4.96 FIP and the Royals’ bullpen owing an ugly 4.71 ERA. Astudillo, who was recently recalled from Triple-A, has four hits in his first two contests back with Minnesota. He also never gets cheated at the plate. Astudillo’s spot in the batting order might not be ideal, but this is a fair price for an aggressive hitter in a fantastic lineup.
StudJorge Polanco, MIN at KC, $4,600 – If we really want to get specific about Junis’ weaknesses – of which there are many – he’s been torched by LHBs so far in 2019 to the tune of a massive .370 wOBA. In fact, across his past eight outings, Junis has surrendered a 50.8% hard contact rate to left-handed bats. For Polanco, who has showcased almost all of his power from the left side of the plate this season, this is an ideal matchup.
Other Options: Elvis Andrus ($5,000), Manny Machado ($4,700)
ValueDidi Gregorius, NYY vs. HOU, $3,800 – After some immediate success coming off the IL, Gregorius is hitless in his past 14 plate appearances. No matter, as his matchup is pristine against Brad Peacock ($7,800). Left-handed bats have given Peacock grief all season long and it’s not all that difficult to figure out why. The RHP’s best pitch is his slider. He uses it 35.4% of the time against RHBs and it’s limited them to a .298 slugging percentage. Lefties, on the other hand, are slugging .433 off of the offering; not to mention .641 off Peacock’s fastball. He’s in the midst of a slump, but, at this price, Gregorius is viable.
Other Option: Jonathan Villar ($3,800)
StudMike Trout, LAA at STL, $5,800 – They might not end up playing this one, but Trout’s having one of those months where you’re afraid to not have him in your lineup. In 87 plate appearances in June, Trout has a 1.309 OPS and a .515 wOBA. You know, normal baseball stuff. He’s also 11 for his last 21 with six extra-base hits. Trout’s so good, Kawhi Leonard endured four innings of a Blue Jays game just to watch him play. I’m not sure how Michael Wacha ($5,000), who has surrendered 3.00 home runs per nine to RHBs, plans to stop Trout if the rain doesn’t.
Other Options: Max Kepler ($5,000), Shin-Soo Choo ($5,000)
ValueYasiel Puig, CIN at MIL, $4,400 – Since returning from a brief shoulder injury in late May, Puig has raked. In the 96 plate appearances the former Dodger has taken from May 24 on, Puig’s slashed .286/.323/.582 with a .297 ISO and a 55.9% fly ball rate. He’s hunting home runs and if he can’t do it at Great American Ball Park, Miller Park isn’t too awful a substitute. There’s also the matter of Chase Anderson ($6,600). In his last five outings, Anderson’s faced 50 RHBs. Those batters compiled a jaw-dropping .522 wOBA and 59.5% hard contact rate. Puig should most definitely take advantage.
Other Options: Justin Upton ($4,100), Aaron Hicks ($3,800)
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
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.