Monday’s main slate is an eight-game shindig with the first games not starting until 7:10 EST. Late starts with night baseball—you gotta love it! On the weather fronts, it feels like precipitation follows the Rockies everywhere they go. Luckily, the wet stuff should still allow for the completion of the game. Now, as far as a slate overview, there are definitely starting pitching tiers that jump out: Tier 1 (aces), Tier 2 (value), Tier 3 (meh), and Tier 4 (stack against). Obviously, we are grabbing from Tier 1 and Tier 2; so all that pitching capital will drain the team salary quickly. Next, we will toss two established bats with big power upside to pair with an under-priced slugger. And finally, find the stack facing off against a Tier 4 pitcher that can go BOOM! Enjoy and good luck!
Top SP: Gerrit Cole, NYY ($10,900 DK, 12,300 FD) at TEX
No fooling around today, as far as pitching is concerned. We have Cole on the mound, and that means he is our SP1. First things first, the strikeouts! Cole has a 13.33 K/9, which makes him the top arm on the slate. To make things even easier for Cole, the Rangers vs. RHP strike out at the third-highest rate in the MLB (27.1%). Besides being the mayor of Whiff City, Cole also goes deep into games and giving up minimal quality contact. Tons of strikeouts, no walks, no hard contact? Yeah, this is the pitcher to bring home lots of DFS points, regardless of cost.
If you think Cole might be rostered a little too much, Darvish and Buehler take the mound as well. Both have the same chance to overtake Cole as the top SP. Let’s look at them as 1a and 1b options. Is either of them worth the small savings to get a little different? I don’t think so, but both have the high K upside to shove tonight.
Value SP: Yusei Kikuchi, SEA ($7,800 DK, $9,000 FD) vs DET
First, Kikuchi stands out as the top value SP by quite a bit. While I like the matchups for Fried and Alzolay, they are a great distance behind him. Additionally, before I take either of them over Kikuchi, the thought of double-tapping two top SPs comes to mind as a decent strategy. The challenge with that strategy is you’ll have a tough time squeezing in all the hitting.
Back to Kikuchi, the Mariners pitcher has a sparkling 32.2% CSW and 9.2 K/9. Both metrics help indicate that strikeouts are a strong suit of Yusei’s game. Additionally, Kikuchi keeps the ball low and batted ball events get driven into the ground at a 51.7% clip. A huge benefactor to his success today will be the matchup. The Tigers strike out at a league-high 33% rate and an insanely low 55 wRC+. In conclusion, there is just too much that lines up to pass on this value SP.
OF Aaron Judge, NYY ($5,600 DK, $3,600 FD) at TEX
Besides parking 12 balls into the bleachers, Judge is a Statcast darling. The batted ball metrics are off the charts. He touts a .614 xwOBAcon and 58% hard-hit rate. Let’s jot some percentile ranks on the page because they are crazy. Currently, Judge is in the 99th percentile or better in the following: Barrel%, xBA, xSLG, xwOBA, and AVG Exit Velocity. Basically, when he puts bat to ball, it is met with thunderous results. If there was a player to break the slate wide open with a pair of HRs, it might as well be Judge.
SS Javier Báez, CHC ($5,700 DK, $4,100 FD) vs WAS
Another bat with massive quality of contact skills is Báez. His barrel rate tips the scaled at 15.6%, which is the 93rd percentile in the MLB. Again, like Judge, Javy has a robust .480 xwOBAcon, which basically means anything he makes contact it’s well struck and doing destruction. However, we know the downgrade for Báez—the strikeouts. Fortunately, things might work in his favor today. He squares off against his former teammate Jon Lester—who has less than a 16% strikeout rate and relies on contact to make an out. That is not a good approach against a free swinger like Báez.
Shortstop is really depleted for the slate. Outside of Báez and Trea Turner, you’re going to run into some issues finding the same level of high-end production. Don’t get too cute. Pay up for one of the two; or, take the total punt play option close to lock times.
Honorable Mentions: Trea Turner, SS ($5,800 DK, $4,000 FD) at CHC.
Value Batter: Andrew Vaughn, CWS ($2,400 DK, $2,300 FD) at MIN
The sportsbooks still aren’t giving Andrew Vaughn any respect. No problem at all; we will keep slotting him into 1B on FanDuel, and OF on DraftKings. Since acquiring full-time plate appearances, we have seen Vaughn’s production swing in the right direction. Additionally, the barrel rate is 12.5%, and his .423 xwOBAcon is well above the league average. Furthermore, in a small sample, Vaughn has mashed LHP to the tune of a .304/.484/.609 slash line and 1.093 OPS.
Top Stack: Cleveland Team at LAA (LHP Patrick Sandoval)
Cleveland has been no-hit by a left-handed pitcher twice. The ball club features so many dynamic hitters too. Somehow they manage to walk 10% of the time and only strike out 20.6% as well. Something there isn’t adding up, and Cleveland might have been very unlucky for a couple of nights. We will take the leap of faith on the Cleveland stack and hope the Patrick Sandoval is a perfect place to get right. After all, Sandoval carries an ERA north of 6.00 with an 8.31 FIP-ouch! Tack on a BB rate over 15%, and it could be a short outing for Sandoval. Cleveland’s salaries should be low enough to smash into a build that is already loaded with firepower.
Honorable Mentions: SEA vs DET (Mize), CHC vs WAS (Lester), MIN vs CWS (Keuchel).
Featured image by J.R. Caines (@JRCainesDesign on Twitter and @caines_design on Instagram)