This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
As we enter the midweek, we're back to a split slate, where there are both several games in the afternoon and traditional evening slots. Even so, we have 16 teams to choose from on the main card, with plentiful and balanced options among both the hitting and pitching pool.
Pablo Lopez ($9,900) was deemed a risky pick in season-long leagues due to his poor health track record. That's not something we need to worry about in the DFS context. A matchup against Washington is also not concerning, as they have the fourth-lowest ISO and rank in the bottom-third of the league in wOBA. The primary drawback to Lopez is that his price has skyrocketed, so any type of value is gone. Joe Ryan ($9,600) has also had a tremendous start to the season. He's a relatively soft tosser but has still put up a near 27 percent strikeout rate. He could fade as teams start to see him multiple times, but a matchup against Detroit is a near exact repeat of what was said about Washington (trade a better wOBA for Detroit for more strikeout upside). Shohei Ohtani ($9,000) is also priced among the top tier, but curiously below both Lopez and Ryan. He's worth playing in cash games, but is likely to be extremely popular in tournaments, so I'd probably pivot to lower-tier options in those contests.
Charlie Morton ($8,200) and Jordan Montgomery ($7,500) are the values on the slate. Of the two, I'd take Montgomery due to the fact that he's squaring off against Baltimore. However, in a large-field tournament, paying up a bit for Morton is a nice play due to the roster rate likely concentrating around Montgomery. For hitter-heavy lineups, I wouldn't mind playing this duo together.
The primary punt play is Jakob Junis ($6,000), though Michael Pineda ($6,800) also merits at least some consideration. Junis faces the Athletics, and he seems to have benefitted from some of the Giants' magic with pitchers.
Austin Riley ($4,100) is verging on a value play at his price, but he also belongs in the category as a top hitter. Mark Leiter has a very limited sample in the majors, but he has a career 2.0 HR/9 across 121.1 innings. Of course, Matt Olson ($5,000) and any Atlanta hitter is viable, but Riley checks in as a particularly interesting intersection of skill and value.
Mike Trout ($6,100) doesn't come with that same discount, but he's deserved that with his performance. He takes on Zach Plesac, who has had strong results, but he still has only a 14.5 percent strikeout rate. When Trout makes contact, good things happen.
Rafael Devers ($4,800) hasn't been terrible to start the season, but he hasn't delivered power as expected. Ross Stripling has suppressed quality contact very well to start the season, but I'll bet on his less inspiring track record over the very small sample we currently have.
For those who read this column consistently, I hope it's become clear I don't often walk down narrative street. However, Joey Gallo ($3,300) ended his home run drought Tuesday. He's the type of hitter to mash once he gets on track, and at this price I'm willing to be a little less analytical for one spot in my lineup.
Nathaniel Lowe ($3,500) has the potential to be one of the best power hitters if he learned to lift the ball. The fact that he doesn't creates problems in season-long leagues, but in DFS we can take advantage of the fact that the rest of his profile is excellent and hope he runs into a home run. Lowe is also locked into the cleanup spot in the Rangers' order against righties, so he doesn't need to go yard to return value.
Stacks to Consider
It shouldn't be a surprise to see Atlanta as the top stack on the slate. The nice thing is that Riley and Ozuna both remain underpriced, which makes it relatively easy to roster this group with strong starting pitchers. However, between the great matchup and reasonable cost, this stack won't sneak by anyone.
Shohei Ohtani is slated to pitch, so, unfortunately, is not available as a hitter. I still like the Angels stack, primarily because I'm not buying Plesac's start. He has only a 16.5 percent strikeout rate across the last two campaigns – lowest among the pitching pool. From a game theory perspective, the Angels aren't likely to get the attention they deserve because of Plesac's surface stats and because Atlanta is cheaper to roster.
Toronto let me down on Tuesday, but I'm back for more. Michael Wacha has a 4.39 SIERA paired with a .114 BABIP and 98 percent left on base rate. The latter two stats are entirely the cause of his hot start to the season. Sometimes boiling down pitcher analysis down to BABIP and expected stats is overly simplistic, but those numbers are so extreme we know they have to regress. As was discussed with the Angels, Wacha's success likely will make the Jays less popular than they should be.