There’s the hypothetical game people sometimes like to play where you try and think about how you would explain a certain strange situation to another entity. Due to the nonsensical nature of this exercise, generally the second party is an alien, or someone from the past, or a younger version of your own self.
Today, when I opened up tonight’s nine-game featured MLB slate on DraftKings, I was reminded of the latter. Although, I’m not even talking about a drastically younger Garion; we only would have to go back a year to emphasize just how strange it is to see Mike Minor ($11,000), Matthew Boyd ($10,000) and Jake Odorizzi ($9,500) being three of the five most expensive DFS arms on a random Wednesday night in June. It’s a weird world, people.
Let’s dive into the rest of the slate.
StudCharlie Morton, TB at MIN, $10,200 – There’s obviously inherent risk in using any pitcher against the powerful Twins lineup; however, considering the creampuff matchups Minor and Patrick Corbin ($10,600) face this evening, you’d have to believe Morton’s ownership will be exceedingly low for his price range. That’s already enticing regardless of who’s in the batter’s box. So is Morton’s ceiling. The veteran is the American League’s lone active qualified pitcher with a ground ball rate above 50% and a FIP below 3.00. He and Max Scherzer are the only guys in baseball averaging more than 10 strikeouts per nine while also limiting opponent home runs to fewer than 0.7 per nine. Morton’s posted at least 30.0 DKFP in three of his past six outings. When you can project this type of upside as a variance play, you don’t ask too many questions. Other Option: Patrick Corbin ($10,600)
ValueAdam Wainwright, STL vs. OAK, $7,000 – Here’s another example of the same concept. Is Zac Gallen ($7,100) going to be the most popular play in this tier? I would wager he will. Now, I’ve got no issues with the prospect’s viability — I’ll end up having some exposure — but the overlooked Wainwright might be in his ideal matchup on this slate. While the 37-year-old has been putrid on the road in 2019, Wainwright’s managed to maintain a 2.68 ERA and 3.48 FIP in St. Louis. He also has held RHBs to a below-average .274 wOBA, a mark far better than the eye-popping .404 figure he’s surrendered to lefties. Oakland doesn’t have many LHBs. In fact, the Athletics have just 722 left-on-right plate appearances so far this season, the sixth-fewest in baseball. Considering Khris Davis ($3,900) will need to play left field with no DH in a National League park and Robbie Grossman ($3,900) likely will move to the bench to satisfy that move; Oakland might field a lineup with a mere two left-handed bats this evening. That’s great news for Wainwright.
Other Options: Zac Gallen ($7,100), Framber Valdez ($6,900)
StudYasmani Grandal, MIL vs. SEA, $5,000 – Grandal’s earned his status as a $5K backstop. Not only is he in possession of a .380 OBP with a .276 ISO, but he recently was moved up to the leadoff spot for the Brewers; an opportunity that has granted Grandal five plate appearances in each of Milwaukee’s past two games. The switch-hitter was made for a spot like tonight’s, too. He’ll get to bat left-handed versus Austin Adams ($4,500), then right-handed against Wade LeBlanc ($5,800). Considering his wOBA is above .375 from both sides of the plate, neither opportunity is a poor one. Although, when facing the Mariners’ pitching staff, few plate appearances are bad situations for any type of batter. Other Option: Robinson Chirinos ($4,300)
ValueElias Diaz, PIT at HOU, $3,400 – Diaz has yet to showcase the power we saw back in 2018 so far this season, but he still has hit fairly well against southpaws. In 44 plate appearances within the split, Diaz owns a .310 average, while his GB/FB ratio sits at 1.15. That might not seem like much, but, against RHPs, Diaz possesses an underwhelming 50.0% ground ball rate. We’re only one year removed from a .210 ISO when drawing an LHP, so you know Diaz has the potential for big things.
Other Option: Yadier Molina ($3,500)
StudPete Alonso, NYM at PHI, $5,400 – With the way baseballs have been flying out of Citizen’s Bank Park in this series, I’d be remiss if I didn’t get a few shares of Alonso this evening. The fact Nick Pivetta ($7,300) is on the mound for the Phillies doesn’t hurt, either. Pivetta’s been a punching bag for most of 2019, allowing 2.15 home runs per nine overall. However, things get much worse when you isolate his numbers specifically against RHBs. Within the split, Pivetta’s surrendered a .412 wOBA to opponents with an ugly 6.18 FIP to keep as a souvenir. Alonso, who owns a 195 wRC+ in June, is red hot and perfectly suited to take advantage of this matchup. Other Options: Dan Vogelbach ($4,800), Rhys Hoskins ($4,700)
ValueMatt Olson, OAK at STL, $4,100 – If you’re steering clear of Wainwright, Olson becomes a must-play on this slate. As mentioned above, Wainwright has had his struggles with those of the left-handed persuasion, allowing 1.93 home runs per nine and a 44.9% hard contact rate within the split. Yet, Olson getting to leave Oakland behind factors in here, too. Away from the Athletics’ spacious home park, Olson is slashing .304/.407/.725 with a .420 ISO so far in 2019. He’s extremely viable at this price.
Other Option: Jesus Aguilar ($3,600)
StudJose Altuve, HOU vs. PIT, $4,100 – I can’t figure out why Altuve is this inexpensive. Really, it boggles my mind. Batting in the top third of a lineup that’s nearly back at full strength and has one of the highest implied run totals on this slate, Altuve is the exact archetype of player you’re looking for in DFS. He also is swinging a hot bat since coming off the IL. The former All-Star has seven hits in his past four games, with four of those being of the extra-base variety. I’m not here to suggest Dario Agrazal ($5,300) will be completely overwhelmed tonight, but whether he should be pitching at the MLB-level is up for debate. Other Option: Jeff McNeil ($4,500)
ValueHernan Perez, MIL vs. SEA, $3,400 – Perez should find his way into the Brewers’ lineup tonight with the left-handed LeBlanc expected to throw a majority of the innings for Seattle. Though Perez hasn’t been incredible at the plate so far this season, he still has managed three of his five home runs off of LHPs and sees his strikeout rate drop from 35.0% against righties to just 17.1% when facing a left-hander. With LeBlanc sporting an ugly 6.41 ERA on the road, Perez is a nice, cost-effective piece of a Milwaukee stack.
Other Option: Robinson Cano ($3,000)
StudKris Bryant, CHC vs. ATL, $4,500 – At this point, if Bryant is under $5K versus a left-handed pitcher, you simply play Bryant. In 66 plate appearances this season, Bryant is slashing .291/.409/.727 with a .436 ISO within the split. These are numbers that track throughout the course of Bryant’s career, too; as the third baseman owns a 161 wRC+ against LHPs since his initial call-up in 2015. Dallas Keuchel ($8,000) isn’t the exact archetype of pitcher you generally are looking to exploit, yet the lefty did look understandably rusty in his opening outing of 2019. I’d expect a similar performance Wednesday. Other Option: Alex Bregman ($4,900)
ValueTommy La Stella, LAA vs. CIN, $4,000 – Whatever magic is inhabiting the body of La Stella hasn’t seemed to disappear in June. In fact, the journeyman infielder is slashing .308/.357/.462 with a 47.7% hard contact rate against right-handed pitching within the month. Which means, for the season, La Stella remains in possession of an elite .385 wOBA in 207 plate appearances versus RHPs. Tanner Roark ($7,900) — tonight’s right-hander — has allowed a .374 wOBA to the 163 LHBs he’s faced in 2019. That’ll keep La Stella very viable on this slate.
Other Option: Yuli Gurriel ($3,700)
StudJean Segura, PHI vs. NYM, $4,100 – Segura’s been a little underwhelming in his first-year in Philadelphia, but the one area he’s thrived is hitting against left-handed pitching. In 69 plate appearances within the split in 2019, Segura is slashing .317/.368/.683 with a jaw-dropping .428 wOBA to tie everything together. Also, with a 12.6% strikeout rate and a 5.5% swinging strike rate, you know Segura will at least be putting the ball in play; not that that’s a worrisome proposition against the contact-prone Jason Vargas ($6,600). Other Options: Javier Baez ($4,600), J.P. Crawford ($4,300)
ValueLogan Forsythe, TEX at DET, $3,500 – You might not have realized this, but Forsythe has been making elite contact all season long for Texas. The veteran’s 50.4% hard contact rate is the 11th highest figure in the league among players with at least 200 plate appearances, and Forsythe’s 43.1% sweet spot rate — a measure of how often a batted ball event is between eight and 32 degrees — is the eighth highest. Why is sweet spot rate important? Well, in 2018, hitters enjoyed a 1.099 OPS on BBEs designated as “sweet spot” contact. Anyway, with Boyd having surrendered 2.6 home runs per nine to RHBs in June, Forsythe could be in line for a big night.
StudYordan Alvarez, HOU vs. PIT, $5,200 – Speaking of sweet spots, exactly half of Alvarez’s 38 batted ball events have been between eight and 32 degrees — a rate that would be good for the best in baseball if the rookie had enough at-bats to qualify. He also has had 50% of his BBEs come off the bat at mroe than 95 mph. Basically, Alvarez is really, really good. A notion very much backed up by the 21-year-old’s .462 ISO and 213 wRC+. On a slate where an Astros stacks likely will be justifiably popular, I’d go out of my way to be able to afford Alvarez. Other Options: Christian Yelich ($5,900), Shohei Ohtani ($4,500)
ValueDominic Smith, NYM at PHI, $4,200 – Smith has hit a home run in back-to-back games and now owns a .415 wOBA across his first 124 plate appearances in 2019. Simply put, he’s been hitting too well for the Mets to not find a way to get him into their lineup. He’s got a great chance to hit third long ball in three days against Pivetta, but let’s not ignore how awful the Phillies’ bullpen has been in June, as well. In 191 innings of work, Philadelphia relievers sport a league worst 5.93 FIP and have surrendered 2.21 homers per nine. Essentially, regardless of who’s on the mound, Smith’s in a good matchup.
Other Options: Josh Reddick ($4,000), Kole Calhoun ($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.