This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
Welcome to the first Sunday slate after the All-Star break. It's a relatively poor slate from a pitching perspective, which leaves a lot of attractive hitting options on the table. In particular, you'll hear a lot about exploiting left-handed pitchers. This wasn't intentional, as it was spurred by the fact several of the most vulnerable hurlers today just happen to be southpaws.
Zack Wheeler ($9,500) lacks the same strikeout upside and name value of both Max Scherzer and Corbin Burnes, but still draws the best matchup of the trio. Miami lines up as slightly below average against right-handed pitching this season as measured by wRC+ and also one of the most strikeout prone clubs in the league. Both Scherzer and Burnes' matchups are the opposite, as the Reds and Padres are top-third in the league as measured by wRC+ and strike out at much less than the Marlins. Wheeler has also been no slouch with over 30 DK points in five of his last nine starts.
Sonny Gray ($8,200) represents a risky option from the perspective he's coming off the injured list for this start and has struggled to maintain his health throughout the season. However, Sunday's matchup is surprisingly soft on paper as the Brewers strike out at a 25.7 percent clip against right-handed pitching – fifth-highest in the league – and also boast an 89 wRC+ against righties. Gray may not be a great cash game bet, but he should fly under the radar in GPPs and offers the possibility to deliver with the tier above him in terms of value.
JT Brubaker ($6,400) is another case for debate. There are a number of factors that make him an attractive option and they include his salary, park, skills and matchup. He's also the seventh-cheapest pitcher on the slate despite posting the seventh-best strikeout percentage and strikeout-minus-walk rate. Brubaker's biggest weakness is the long ball having surrendered 1.8 HR/9, but he's pitching at home and that will negate the risk to some degree. Finally, the Mets are a middle-of-the-road team in terms of strikeout rate against righties and are posting a well below-average 90 wRC+. While that all points to Brubaker being a strong play, he's allowed 11 earned runs in as many innings across his last two starts. The last matchup he had was against the same Mets team (minus Francisco Lindor) he faces today.
Nelson Cruz ($5,800) continues to defy all aging curve models and faces an excellent matchup. Wily Peralta has the third-lowest strikeout rate among projected starters on the slate, meaning there should be plenty of contact made against him. Don't be fooled by Peralta's 2.08 ERA to this point, as his SIERA sits at 4.46. As for Cruz himself, some power has been sapped from his bat. Even so, he's only striking out at a 17.9 percent rate. That should mean Cruz puts plenty of balls into play, which will give him multiple methods of racking up points.
Wander Franco ($4,900) had sky high expectations after being called up to made his long-awaited major-league debut. He hasn't necessarily met those expectations, no matter how unfair it is to judge him at this point. On the other hand, Franco has shown the ability to crush pitchers when he has the handedness advantage, as all five of his extra-base hits have come against lefties. That's led to a .370 ISO against them. Meanwhile, Drew Smyly has allowed 1.8 HR/9 this season.
Cedric Mullins ($4,500) makes an appearance as a top hitter to roster for the second consecutive Sunday. He and the Royals draw a matchup against Carlos Hernandez, who has walked 15.0 percent of the batters he's faced this year. That's across only 21.2 innings, but it's still an astounding number. Hernandez has struck out batters at a 30 percent clip and has limited home runs, so he doesn't check all the boxes of an outstanding matchup. Nevertheless, Mullins has been tremendous so far and can rack up points with both his bat and legs and will have plenty of opportunity to do so as the Orioles locked-in leadoff hitter.
Andrew McCutchen ($3,400) has endured an up-and-down campaign when facing right-handed pitching. However, that's not the case when he's gotten to see southpaws. In 128 plate appearances against lefties this season, McCutchen has produced a .271 ISO. Confirm that Braxton Garrett is in line to start or throw multiple innings before locking McCutchen into lineups.
Robbie Grossman ($3,200) has also gotten the job done against left-handed pitching this season by posting a .238 ISO and 148 wRC+. He draws one of the best possible pitchers for hitters who can handle lefties in J.A. Happ. The most notable stats from Happ's profile include the fact he's surrendering 1.9 HR/9 and only striking batters out an 18.5 percent clip.
Stacks to Consider
It's difficult to pin down the optimal Giants stack, particularly before lineups are released. Not only is the team battling a number of injuries, but they also mix and match so consistently that it can be difficult to project who will start and where a player will slot in the order. Nevertheless, this is a team to target on the slate as LeBlanc strikes out extremely few batters and regularly allows loud contact. Just wait for lineups to lock so you can select the right players for this stack.
Atlanta's lineup clearly takes a hit without Ronald Acuna. However, they still boast plenty of hitters who can do damage – especially against left-handed pitching. Albies and Swanson have produced .289 and .260 ISOs against southpaws, respectively. As for the matchup, Hill fits many of the qualities we should look for to stack against a pitcher. That includes both high walk and homer rate. Though he can still miss bats, he's looked particularly vulnerable across his last five starts.