Oftentimes I’ve tried to sell people on the MLB Showdown format based on scope. You don’t want to have to keep track of 15 games? You don’t want to have to analyze the splits of 30 different teams and pitchers? You don’t want a random grand slam from a slap-hitting shortstop to send you on tilt? Well, if you answered “yes” to any of those questions, Showdown is indeed for you.
However, I never imagined the first thought I’d have when breaking down a one-game slate would be honest relief over the elements. With truly awful summer weather constantly plaguing the East Coast and making DFS owners sweat postponements, it’s nice to look at an entire schedule and see just two words: San Diego. It’s a temperate paradise where it never rains. It’s also the site of this evening’s matchup between the Padres and the Nationals.
Let’s break it all down.
Note: All salaries will be Flex prices unless noted as Captain’s Pick prices.
— The underdogs have won each of the past four games between the Nationals and Padres.
— Each of the Padres’ past five games have gone OVER the total runs line.
— The Nationals have won four games in a row.
— Games at Petco Park average a total of 7.9 runs.
— The average winning margin at Petco Park is 2.7 runs.
Stats provided by DraftKings Sportsbook
San Diego Padres
Joey Lucchesi ($9,800) has been on quite the run across his past seven starts. Within that span of 40 innings, the young left-hander owns a 3.66 FIP, a 51.2% ground ball rate and a WHIP of exactly 1.00. Additionally, he’s struck out 25.5% of the opponents he’s seen and limited the batted ball events he’s allowed to a mundane .259 wOBA. In short, we very well might be in the midst of a breakout. Yet, life and sports are all about timing; and while one could make the argument a streaking and engaged Lucchesi is bad sequencing for Washington, it’s equally true this Nationals lineup is not the same collection of bats that struggled throughout most of April. Over the past two weeks, with healthy versions of Anthony Rendon ($10,800) and Trea Turner ($8,400) in tow, Washington ranks third in all of baseball in both wOBA (.369) and wRC+ (127). The team hasn’t been striking out across this stretch, either. The Nationals’ 18.4% strikeout rate is the fourth-lowest mark in the league, a fact easily correlated with an 8.7% swinging strike rate — the lowest figure in the National League.
You also have to wonder a little bit about familiarity. Lucchesi clearly has a pair of above-average pitches with his sinker and his changeup, but that’s pretty much all he brings to the table from an arsenal perspective. So, like most starters with limited offerings, the left-handed does find himself suffering from diminishing returns as he makes his way through a batting order. His FIP shoots from 1.80 the first trip through to 4.19 the second time around. It jumps even further, to an eye-popping 6.16, on trip No. 3. This is by no means outside the ordinary; however, specific to Lucchesi, acclimatizing one’s self with his unique delivery from the wind-up at-bat by at-bat seems important, too. Considering he already haspitched against Washington in 2019 — and was held to only 5.0 DKFP over four innings — I have my doubts about Lucchesi’s viability on this slate.
As for the Padres’ positional players, San Diego’s complete lack of left-handed potency should actually serve the team well this evening. Patrick Corbin ($10,600) might be coming off his worst start of the season and he might possess an ugly 4.96 ERA on the road, but he remains one of the league’s most dominant pitchers in left-on-left situations. Corbin’s struck out a whopping 36.8% of the LHBs he’s seen so far in 2019, while allowing just three extra-base hits within the split to those fortunate enough to make contact. That pretty much eliminates Eric Hosmer ($7,200) from anyone’s build — the man who has accounted for 62.8% of the Padres’ left-on-left plate appearances this year.
The right-handed bats to focus on are Hunter Renfroe ($9,000), Wil Myers ($7,400) and Manny Machado ($6,400). Machado, in particular, has had an otherworldly campaign against southpaws. Over 44 plate appearances, the All-Star is slashing .389/.500/.917 with a .528 ISO. A lot of that success can be attributed to a massive 64.0% hard contact rate within the split; though it has to be noted it’s Myers who leads the team — and the National League — in this category with a mark of 68.4%. Fernando Tatis Jr. ($7,800), expected to be activated from the IL this afternoon, has enjoyed success versus LHPs, too. However, his salary doesn’t quite reflect a player who hasn’t stepped into an MLB batter’s box since April 28.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Tatis (hamstring) will return to the lineup tonight batting leadoff.
Despite the lack of left-handed hitters for Corbin to exploit, there’s still a lot of reason to like to former Diamondback in this spot against the Padres. Really, all you have to do to see the upside here is understand the nature of San Diego’s boom-or-bust offensive philosophy. While the Padres are one of only nine teams to sport an ISO above .200 when facing left-handed pitching in 2019, they pair that distinction with the National League’s highest strikeout rate within the split (27.3%). I mean, we’re talking about a team that leads baseball in strikeout rate overall (26.9%) and possesses the league’s lowest contact rate at 73.5%. None of this should really be a shock. Yet, while they’d normally offset these negatives with their constant ability to go deep; Corbin’s not the most generous pitcher in that regard. In fact, among the 125 starters to have thrown at least 150 innings since the beginning of 2018, Corbin’s surrendered the seventh-fewest home runs per nine (0.78). He’s never been a pitcher that’s easy to barrel-up, which leads us to his go-to pitch: the slider.
With a 37.0% usage, Corbin throws his slider more often than any of his other pitches. As he probably should. After registering an ungodly 30.2% whiff rate with the offering last season, Corbin’s “only” induced a 23.7% mark with his slider so far in 2019. Opponents lucky enough to make contact also have mustered just a .277 slugging percentage off of the breaking ball. It’s a really, really good pitch and one that frustrates even the most accomplished lineups on a good day. However, it has the chance to be special on this specific slate. According to FanGraphs’ pitch value metrics, the Padres have been the third-worst team in baseball at hitting sliders so far this year. The two clubs worse? The lowly Tigers and Marlins. That’s not exactly the type of company you want to be keeping when it comes to offensive statistics.
Finally, when it comes to the Nationals’ bats, there is no shortage of right-handers to choose from. That’s not to downplay what the left-handed Juan Soto ($9,600) has been able to do this season versus a left-handed pitcher; however, Lucchesi’s held LHBs to a .202 wOBA and a 62.8% ground ball rate. It’s likely in everyone’s best interest to not get too cute. Washington leads the National League in batting average (.290), wOBA (.361) and wRC+ (122) when drawing a southpaw. Rendon and his .357 ISO within the split are a huge reason why. As is the surprising success of Howie Kendrick ($10,200), who carries a .436 wOBA when facing an LHP into this matchup. Still, if you’re looking for a few more frugal options, the Nationals can provide. Kurt Suzuki ($7,600) owns a .304 ISO in his 24 plate appearances against LHPs in 2019 and, if Brian Dozier ($6,000) is able to play through a forearm issue Thursday, the veteran possesses a .425 wOBA in right-on-left situations.
For as much as I’d like to bestow Anthony Rendon ($16,200 CP) or Patrick Corbin ($15,900 CP) with 1.5x value on this slate, using your Captain’s Pick on lower-tier options like Manny Machado ($9,600 CP), Wil Myers ($11,100 CP) and Brian Dozier ($9,000 CP) simply opens up a far more balanced approach to lineup construction. I’d advise not going too heavy with San Diego bats, as I think this is a contest where Washington finds more offensive success, but pairing one or two pieces with Corbin isn’t the worst idea in the world — especially with how often the Nationals’ bullpen has struggled in 2019.
Final Score: Washington 6, San Diego 3
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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.