Being a fantasy baseball player, you quickly realize the pattern of the MLB schedule. Things are a bit weird for the first few weeks with 30 different Opening Days happening and then a bunch of bad weather, but once we get into May things settle down and the schedule becomes consistent. The majority of the weeks see teams getting off days only on Mondays and Thursdays, meaning there will be 15 games on almost all Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. You will see a lot of day games on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, but Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays are almost exclusively night games. That means that the ‘perfect storm’ hits on Tuesdays and Fridays, with 12+ games on the night slate every time. Tonight, we have a 15 game slate, meaning every team in the league is in play here. That may be exciting to some, but it’s tricky for DFS players, and outright overwhelming for DFS writers. Despite that, we’ll do our best here to get a decent handle on the slate, but there will certainly be notable stuff that goes unmentioned.
Expensive (DK Price / FD Price):
Instead of going pitcher-by-pitcher here, I want to take a look at this group as a whole. This is a kind of a strange night. There are 30 pitchers on the board, but only one true ace. Here’s the grouping I’m looking at and their prices:
Gerrit Cole ($12.4/$11.0)
J.A. Happ ($11.7/$9.5)
Rick Porcello ($10.8/$9.0)
Gio Gonzalez ($10.2/$8.8)
Jose Berrios ($9.8/$8.4)
Mike Foltynewicz ($9.4/$8.1)
There’s a big price difference between Cole and Foltynewicz there, so it’s not really fair to clump them together here, but we’re doing it anyways. This is a relatively ugly group of elite pitchers. The top three here are all guys that were regularly priced in the $7k-$9k range last year, but are off to really hot starts. Cole is the cream of the crop here and is head and shoulders above the rest of this group. I don’t love paying that huge price for a pitcher that I expect to regress that is facing a very capable offense (the Diamondbacks have a .349 collective wOBA against righties), but I would much rather pay the extra money to get Cole than play Happ or Porcello. That’s not to say Happ and Porcello aren’t good plays, they have both been magnificent this year, even in the strikeout category (Happ 12.5 K/9, Porcello 8.5), and they both have really great matchups (Happ vs. the Rays, .308 wOBA and a 25.5% collective strikeout rate and Porcello vs. the Rangers who have a .327 wOBA and a 26% strikeout rate), but the prices are just too close to Cole for me to justify them.
Same goes for Gio for me here, although that price is a pretty significant step down from Cole and there’s something to be said for Gio’s consistency, but the ceiling isn’t where I want it to be in this matchup with the Phillies. Berrios is a great tournament play, as he has massive ceiling but has gotten roughed up twice in a row. He takes a 23.8% strikeout rate to face the White Sox who have a 22.9% collective strikeout rate to righties, so there’s big time opportunity here, but I just can’t trust the guy. As for Foltynewicz, there’s just no way I can pay that price with all these other guys here.
Here’s the TL;DR version of all those words:
Cole – #1 option on the board, playable everywhere
Happ – price too close to Cole on DK to justify it, but a strong play on FD
Porcello & Gio – fine, but would much rather have Cole/Happ
Berrios – great tournament play, no go in cash
Foltynewicz – no chance
On huge slates like this, I usually will play the top projected points pitcher on the board (Cole) and then my favorite play from the mid-range. There will always be good value bats to be had with 30 lineups to choose from, so I want to spend a little more on my pitching. The options tonight seem a bit thin to me in this range, but there’s a few guys I’m considering:
Zack Wheeler ($7.1/$6.1) vs. COL: Wheeler has made four starts this year and has performed well in two of them. The two not so great starts were against the strong lineups of the Nationals and Cardinals, and he did post a quality start against the Nats, but his DFS score was lowered by his only two strikeouts. Tonight he faces the Rockies at home, which is a pretty strong matchup. The Rockies have a 23.8% strikeout rate to righties and a 90.4 wRC+. Wheeler’s price might be a couple hundred bucks more than I’d like on DK, but I think he’s the best option in this tier regardless.
Ian Kennedy ($6.7/$7.0) vs. DET: It will not be very often that I recommend Kennedy on a slate larger than 5 games, but this price, matchup, and lack of other options in the price range are making me do it. The Tigers are a punchless offense with just a .299 wOBA to righties since 2017. They don’t strike out a ton (20.8%), but it’s enough to make Kennedy’s 20% strikeout rate worth it. This is a lower ceiling play, but I like the floor for the $6.7/$7.0 tag.
Jose Quintana ($7.6/$7.9) vs. STL: This is a bad matchup for Quintana as the Cardinals have a .375 wOBA and just a 17.8% strikeout rate to lefties, but Quintana’s skills are way above this price tag. He threw seven scoreless innings against the Brewers in his last start and has struck out 14 batters over his last 12.1 innings. I’m not going this route in cash, but I can understand taking a shot in tourneys.
As for Nick Kingham, I’m sure some people will play him, but I’m not one of them. As a Pittsburgh guy, I can tell you that not a lot was expected from Kingham the last few years. He has not had really great numbers in the minors over the last few years and never profiled as a high strikeout guy. I think a lot of people will see what he did in his first start and assume he’s much better than he is, so I won’t be going there.
German Marquez ($6.2/$6.0) vs. NYM: Marquez isn’t great overall, but starting away from Coors Field with a price tag this low, you have to consider him. In three road starts this year he’s thrown 17 innings, allowed a single run, and struck out 16. Those are really strong numbers. If you read my post yesterday, you saw me recommend Julio Teheran against these Mets due to the fact that their big time lefties (Conforto & Bruce) have been struggling this year which made Teheran much more appealing. Turns out that Conforto and Bruce did nothing and Teheran had a brilliant outing. The same is true tonight, Marquez is much too cheap.
I can’t bring myself to recommend anybody else down here.
I see no reason to not pay up for Cole or Happ in cash games tonight. On Draftkings, I think Cole & Wheeler/Marquez is a great combination and should let you get the hitters you want. As for tournaments, I’d probably avoid Happ/Porcello and have some Berrios, Quintana, and maybe take a couple random flyers on guys I didn’t talk about to diversify – that’s some quality advice there, right? Lol. Moving on to hitters!
Hitting Matchups to Exploit
Twins righties vs. Carson Fulmer: Fulmer has given up a .391 xwOBA, a 1.30 WHIP, a 5.84 xFIP, and 1.42 HR/9 to righties since 2017. There will be no Miguel Sano in the lineup tonight, but Brian Dozier ($4.6/$3.3) and Eduardo Escobar ($4.0/$4.0) are strong plays tonight.
Royals lefties vs. Francisco Liriano: Surprisingly, Liriano has allowed a .378 xwOBA, a 5.52 xFIP, a 1.73 WHIP, and 1.16 HR/9 to lefties in 93.1 innings since last year. There are going to be tons of third base options tonight, but Mike Moustakas ($4.2/$3.3) could be a really low owned option that could help somebody win a tournament.
Tigers lefties vs. Ian Kennedy: More blah here, as the Tigers really don’t have lefties you’re excited to roster. Jeimer Candelario ($3.9/$3.5) and Leonys Martin ($3.9/$2.9) aren’t elite plays, but they’re considerable given the matchup (Kennedy has allowed a .378 xwOBA and 2.05 HR/9 to lefties since 2017)
Yankees lefties vs. Josh Tomlin: Tomlin has given up a .376 xwOBA, a 1.55 WHIP, and 2.03 HR/9 to lefties in 66.2 innings going back to last year. Brett Gardner ($3.5/$3.1), Aaron Hicks ($3.7/$3.6), and Didi Gregorius ($5.0/$4.4) are firmly in play here.
Angels lefties vs. Mike Leake: One of the lowest splits strikeout rates on the board, Leake has just a 12.5% strikeout rate to lefties. He also gives up a ton of hard contact with a .374 xwOBA. He keeps the ball in the yard with just 1.0 HR/9, but Shohei Ohtani ($4.7/$3.7) has shown incredible home run ability in limited playing time, and Kole Calhoun ($3.0/$2.2) and Luis Valbuena ($3.1/$2.6) make for good value plays.
Nationals righties vs. Nick Pivetta: Pivetta seems to be a different pitcher this year than last, but it’s hard to overlook the 2.24 HR/9 he’s allowed to righties since 2017. Most of that damage was last year, but I’m still going to have interest in Ryan Zimmerman ($3.7/$2.7), Trea Turner ($4.6/$4.2), and Howie Kendrick ($3.7/$3.5) tonight.
The highest implied run totals belong to the Yankees (5.58), the Athletics (4.98), the Red Sox (4.88), and the Twins (4.85). We’ve talked about the Yankees and Twins already. The Red Sox face Bartolo Colon, who has somehow been good this year with a 2.87 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP. This guy was one of the worst pitchers in the league over the last two years, and nobody will be surprised if he gives up a bunch of runs in a hurry against this potent Red Sox lineup tonight. A Sox stack doesn’t come cheap, but it’s a good idea nonetheless. The Athletics face Andrew Cashner, who hasn’t been good this year but has only had one real blow-up performance, that was in his last start against the Tigers. For the last two years, he has a .344 xwOBA allowed, a 5.21 xFIP, a 1.35 WHIP, and 0.99 HR/9 allowed (although that number is 1.26 against lefties). Matt Olson ($3.9/$2.8), Jed Lowrie ($4.5/$4.3), and Matt Joyce ($3.1/$2.5) are my favorite plays in this matchup.
This is a really tough slate tonight. Not only are there 30 teams to choose from, there really aren’t a lot of obvious matchups to exploit on either side. With all of this working against us, I think it’s wise to play a little bit less money tonight and save some for a slate we can get a better hold on.
That’s it for me, I’m off to the weekend. Good luck everybody!