First, a quick Thank You to Todd Zola, Chris Morgan and Chris Bennett for stepping in while I was away for a few recent assigned shifts due to increased media duty.
Fading Coors might be more difficult than usual on Friday’s 15-game slate, as four games have rain in the forecast, and several contests are sitting with over/unders at 8.5 or less.
Within that Colorado-Miami matchup, lower ownership rates with Marlins bats against Jon Gray seem likely, at least compared to the interest in Rockies bats against Wei-Yin Chen.
I’m making a concerted effort to indicate the type of contest I prefer to use players in -- cash (50/50) or tournaments (GPPs) -- which is generally an exercise in estimating ownership rates (or “finding the chalk”) and making sure to have enough variation around the highly-coveted top value plays to have a dangerous lineup.
Remember, a strong cash-game play isn’t necessarily a “bad” tournament play, but too many “chalky” players can create a limiting factor in big-field tournaments.
Your constructive feedback is appreciated, and always welcomed.
For those interested, we’ve started an MLB DFS Slack channel for paid RotoWire subscribers. (There is a season-long one as well.) To join those channels, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cash: Dallas Keuchel, HOU vs. KC ($8,600) -- The Royals are a bottom-10 offense against lefties this season (87 wRC+), and while they haven’t whiffed uncontrollably, they strike out enough for Keuchel to flirt with a strikeout per inning in this matchup. Win probability for Keuchel is extremely high, as the Astros are -310 home favorites against Danny Duffy and company. He faced Kansas City in his last start Saturday, firing six innings without allowing an earned run, and he finished with five strikeouts (47 FanDuel points).
Also consider: Sean Newcomb, ATL vs. BAL ($8,900), Alex Wood, LAD at NYM ($7,400)
GPP: Here’s a quick thought on each of the options I would consider for tournaments...
Newcomb -- The walks are still an issue (4.0 BB/9), but he looks like the 2018 version of 2017 Robbie Ray. As noted above, Newcomb is a viable cash play tonight as well. The Orioles have been a bottom-five offense against lefties in 2018 (83 wRC+).
Wood -- The Mets’ struggles against lefties are well documented (77 wRC+, 25.6% K%). Wood is on the road, but the price is very favorable and the Dodgers are -160 favorites.
Shane Bieber, CLE vs. DET ($6,600) -- It will be interesting to see if Bieber’s extremely low walk rate bites him against top-level bats, as being in and around the strike zone constantly against big-league hitters might lead to regular hit parades. At home, as a -200 favorite, and with the potential for extra swing-and-miss since he hasn’t faced the Tigers yet, I’m comfortable with him as a cheap tournament consideration.
Fernando Romero, MIN vs. TEX ($6,300) -- Romero has more upside than Bieber, but a wider range of outcomes on the downside thanks to inconsistency with his command. Thus far, he’s turned in three starts with 40-plus FanDuel points, and five out of nine turns have resulted in at least 30. The Rangers are still striking out frequently, even with a healthier version of their lineup taking the field in recent weeks (24.9% K% in the L30 days).
Justin Bour, MIA at COL ($3,800) -- A power hitting first baseman with a lefty-righty matchup in Colorado, where the over/under is sitting at a meaty 11.5, for less than $4,000? Sure, ownership rates might be high, but especially in cash-game lineups, it’s tough to justify going elsewhere. Rockies starter Jon Gray is missing a ton of bats this season, but he’s carrying a 6.45 ERA in his home starts, and he’s been unable to go beyond five innings in four of his last six starts.
Top Alternatives: Freddie Freeman, ATL vs. BAL ($4,400), Anthony Rizzo, CHC at CIN ($3,800)
Brian Dozier, MIN vs. TEX ($3,400) -- It’s only a matter of time. Season-long owners are undoubtedly frustrated by the first half that Dozier has put together. At a reduced price, he’ll face Rangers lefty Mike Minor, who has allowed a .275/.336/.523 to right-handed hitters this season, along with 11 of the 12 homers he’s surrendered. Dozier’s lighter-than-expected output against southpaws seems fluky, as he’s slugged more than .600 against lefties in each of the last two seasons.
Alternatives: Jose Altuve, HOU vs. KC ($4,300), Alen Hanson, SF vs. SD ($2,600), Daniel Descalso, ARI at PIT ($3,000)
Max Muncy, LAD at NYM ($3,800) -- Making Nolan Arenado a default recommended play at home against a lefty seems like a cop out, and there may be some interest in going elsewhere in tournaments for fade purposes. The Dodgers continue to reap the benefits of Muncy’s combination of plate discipline and pop, and his production in June (.292/.469/.708) includes a 14.9 FanDuel points per game average over his last 15 games. Zack Wheeler has been close to split-neutral this season, after years of being extremely vulnerable to left-handed bats, but I’m not quite ready to stop matching up dangerous lefty hitters against him.
Alternatives: Nolan Arenado, COL vs. MIA ($5,100), Eduardo Escobar**, MIN vs. TEX ($3,300)
**Check status, he left early Thursday after a HBP in the elbow**
Carlos Correa, HOU vs. KC ($4,000) -- Once again, Correa is $800-$1,000 below the expected price. He’s part of a three-player cluster under $4.5K at shortstop capable of putting up huge numbers Friday, and he may also be a reason that Francisco Lindor ($5,000) cruises by at a low ownership rate against Mike Fiers at the Tigers. In any case, Correa’s excellent splits against lefties .349/.433/.533, and Duffy’s struggles against righties (.274/.361/.513, 16 of 17 homers allowed) this season make this one of the best matchups on the board across all positions.
Alternatives: Trevor Story, COL vs. MIA ($4,400), Non-Newcomb lineups can use a cheap Manny Machado ($3,900) at ATL. Francisco Lindor, CLE vs. DET ($5,000)
Juan Soto, WAS vs. PHI ($3,800) -- Soto is averaging nearly 12 FanDuel points per game through 28 contests as a 19-year-old rookie. Somehow, at a time when we’re more in tune with prospects than ever before, Soto’s run to begin his big-league career feels like it’s not receiving enough attention. In any case, a lefty-righty matchup against Zach Eflin is a decent matchup, and the days of Soto costing less than $4,000 (he’ll probably be a regular $4,500 guy in the near future) are almost certainly nearing an end.
Mitch Haniger, SEA at BOS ($3,300) -- Haniger is shaping up to be a reverse-splits hitter, as he’s been consistently more productive against right-handed pitchers than he’s been against lefties during his time in the big leagues. With a 135 wRC+ against righties (139 in 2017), Haniger enters a Friday matchup against Steven Wright with a chance to do significant damage, especially since Fenway is a better environment for right-handed bats.
Andrew McCutchen, SF vs. SD ($3,200) -- The old and boring outfielders (see also: Upton, Justin and Jones, Adam) continue to bounce around as undervalued options whose matchups steer them into occasional must-play status. Clayton Richard has allowed 10 homers this season -- nine have been served up to righties -- while his wOBA allowed to right-handed hitters is nearly 50 points higher (.320) than his mark against lefties (.271). McCutchen’s splits against lefties are not at the peak levels of his MVP-caliber years in Pittsburgh, but with a 122 wRC+, he’s a strong play at this price point.
Pricey OF to Consider: J.D. Martinez, BOS vs. SEA ($4,300), Michael Brantley, CLE vs. DET ($4,300), Bryce Harper, WAS vs. PHI ($4,100)
Cheap/Mid-Range Alternatives: Joc Pederson, LAD at NYM ($2,400), Wil Myers, SD at SF ($2,600), Lonnie Chisenhall, CLE vs. DET ($2,600)