Tonight should be a lot of fun with twenty-two teams in action. While most of the top pitching options are going in the earlier games, they are also the more obvious ones. This makes tournament roster construction a lot of fun as we will need to dig into the numbers to find some of the better pitching matchups and not just fall back on name recognition. This also means there are a lot of hitters in excellent situations, so we will need to uncover some treasures there as well.
Jose Fernandez – MIA at CLE – $12,000 – Fernandez is by far the most talented pitching option going in the Saturday evening game set, however, at this price point we really need him to surpass 25 DraftKings points. While that is most definitely in the range of potential outcomes, this game is on the road and against an American League team which means that the designated hitter will be replacing the pitcher and Cleveland has been a fantastic hitting team at home this season.
Rick Porcello – BOS at OAK – $11,700 – If I am going to be spending at the pitching position on Saturday night, then I want to target Rick Porcello. Even though this is a road game, the park shift from Fenway to O.co Coliseum works in his favor, as does the 3.5 implied run total for the struggling Athletics who are just playing out the string on their season.
C.C. Sabathia – NYY at BAL – $7,300 – Yes, Sabathia is not the pitcher he once was, however, the Orioles have struggled this season against southpaws and currently have a 79 wRC+ which is the fourth lowest in the MLB this season. Weighted runs created plus is an advanced metric that neutralizes park factors and creates a League-wide scoring efficiency baseline of 100, meaning that the Baltimore batsmen score 21% less efficiently against lefties than the average team. We can see additional evidence of this when we consider Sabathia’s 2.49 ERA and .226 batting average against the Orioles across 25 1/3 innings this season over four starts.
Ivan Nova – PIT vs MIL – $8,900 – We just saw this matchup five days ago in Miller Park when Nova took the Brew Crew for a ride over six innings allowing just one solo home runs and three total baserunners with four strikeouts on 75 pitches. While Nova is not known as a strikeout pitcher, Milwaukee has a 25.1% k-rate against righties this season which is the second highest in the MLB. The Pirates are nearly two-to-one home favorites to garner the victory, which is worth an additional four DraftKings points to the pitcher that earns it.
Nolan Arenado (3B) – COL vs ARZ – $5,600 – All the Rockies and Diamondbacks who are slated to see action tonight in Coors Field make for fine plays, so I won’t belabor the point by listing a lot of them in this article. I do want to call out Arenado as his price tag should keep his popularity in check, and though it is a small sample size of just 69 batters, RHP Braden Shipley has allowed a .397 wOBA and a 49.1% hard contact rate to fellow righties.
Gary Sanchez (CATCH) – NYY at BAL – $4,600 – At some point the clock is going to strike midnight on Cinder-Gary, but as long as he is in SANCHIZE mode, we can keep looking to him as most shy away from the ever increasing price tag. Over his last 41 starts, RHP Kevin Gausman has allowed a 2.02 HR/9 rate to right-handed batters and with this game being in hitter-friendly Camden Yards, we can anoint Sanchez as the premium backstop on this eleven game slate.
Manny Machado (SS/3B) – BAL vs NYY – $5,000 – This is an intriguing matchup for Machado, and while I usually look to him when he is in a righty/righty matchup, he has a long history against LHP C.C. Sabathia with 13 hits in 40 career at bats with four doubles and a home run. Most gamers will pass on this price point and I like Manny as a differentiation play in all formats on Saturday night.
Mike Trout (OF) – LAA at SEA – $5,400 – Don’t let the name recognition of RHP Taijuan Walker keep you away from Mike Trout in this matchup, as we need to see some serious improvement from the Mariners’ youngster before avoiding him anytime soon. This season over 435 plate appearances, Trout has a .436 wOBA and a .270 ISO against same-handed pitchers and he is a tournament difference maker with his power/speed combination.
Daniel Murphy (2B) – WAS at NYM – $5,200 – The revenge tour continues for Murphy against his former squad and he even did well on Friday against RHP Noah Syndergaard with a hit, a steal, a walk and a run scored. The Saturday evening matchup will be much easier with RHP Robert Gsellman taking the mound, and we should see Murphy add to his seven home runs and .418/.450/.885 slash line which was acquired over 55 at bats this season.
David Ortiz (1B) – BOS at BAL – $5,200 – After RHP Zach Neal came in to pitch Friday for the injured Andrew Triggs, RHP Daniel Mengden was thrust into a starting role today. Regardless of which right-handed hurler takes the mound for the Athletics, we want to roll with Big Papi who is going out in style this season with a .436 wOBA and a .360 ISO in lefty/righty matchups.
J.D. Martinez (OF) – DET at KCR – $4,700 – Now that he is once again fully healthy, Martinez is a force to be reckoned with, and this season he has been outstanding against same-handed pitchers with a .406 wOBA and a .970 OPS. RHP Yordano Ventura is talented, but he pounds the strike zone with his pitches and can be taken advantage of by a smart hitter like Martinez.
Matt Joyce (OF) – PIT vs MIL – $4,100 – Keep an eye on the lineups, but if Joyce is taking the field for Pittsburgh we will want him on our rosters. He is a whole new player when he faces right-handed pitching as evidenced by his .401 wOBA and 155 wRC+ this season in 196 plate appearances and RHP Jimmy Nelson has been exploited by opposite-handed hitters all season.
Josh Bell (1B) – PIT vs MIL – $3,500 – Though it will cost us our first base slot and opportunities to take more well-known BIG BOPPERS, the switch-hitting youngster has performed admirably against right-handed pitching this season through 42 plate appearances with an amazing 1.100 OPS and a 198 wRC+. RHP Jimmy Nelson has allowed batters swinging the stick from the left-side of the plate to compile a .358 wOBA and a 35.4% hard contact rate with a below average 16.8% strikeout rate over his last 57 starts. Enjoy the discount!
Wil Myers (OF) – SDP at LAD – $3,800 – LHP Rich Hill is expected to take the mound tonight after having Wednesday’s scheduled start pushed back with his recurring blister issues. Myers is an outstanding option against southpaws with a .390 wOBA and a .240 ISO this season and he is on the cusp of a milestone club with 24 home runs and 25 stolen bases this season which is a testament to his upside in any given matchup.
Franklin Gutierrez (OF) – SEA vs LAA – $3,100 – Surprisingly, Gutierrez did not get the start against LHP Bret Olberholtzer last night, but he should be in the lineup tonight against LHP Tyler Skaggs. This season he has tallied a .376 wOBA and a .230 ISO on the strength of ten home runs and seven doubles in 161 at bats against southpaws. Teammate Nelson Cruz (OF) – $4,000 is also in play at this amazing price, just know that he has been dealing with a sore hand that had gone numb after a check swing last weekend. He did hit a home run Friday night after getting three days off, so that is an indication that things are returning to normal.
Mike Zunino (CATCH) – SEA vs LAA – $2,900 – Sticking with the Mariners, either Zunino or teammate Chris Iannetta – $2,900 is a fine option against LHP Tyler Skaggs and with them both being the same price, we can safely roster them even if the lineup for this late game is not out in a timely fashion since the unique late-swap feature offered by DraftKings can allow us to change players prior to the start of their games.
Ryan Schimpf (2B) – SDP at LAD – $3,800 – Schimpf is a tournament play only in this lefty/lefty matchup with LHP Rich Hill, however, he is an amazing source of power with two triples and two home runs among his six hits in 29 at bats this season against fellow southpaws. If this game gets into the bullpen, there is a good chance the Dodgers run out a right-hander and that improves Schimpf’s potential upside.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is emac) 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.