It’s the end of April, and most MLB teams have played about 20 games. That equates to about 1/8 of the 2022 MLB season. What have we learned so far? Both NY teams look solid, especially the Yankees bats, which have gone yard 16 times in the last seven days. Not to be outdone, the Mets pitching staff threw a combined no-hitter on Friday night. Could we see a Subway series come October?
The California teams are also playing well, with all five of them sporting a 0.500 record or better. Maybe a freeway series? The Rust Belt cities are struggling, such as Detroit, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh. It could be a very long season for those four teams.
Let’s use this knowledge to our advantage when building our DFS lineups this weekend. I will target pitchers from teams showing promise and select stacks facing teams who look lost.
As I did last weekend, let’s break down all three Saturday slates.
Very Early/Morning: Miles Mikolas
This one is easy. Arizona cannot hit, and Mikolas is off to a good start with a 1.21 ERA and already two games of 40 or more FanDuel points. This slate is very small, so Mikolas will be highly owned, but you are not going to take Merrill Kelly, who is slightly cheaper than Mikolas and will probably get the loss. I would also avoid Jose Berrios and Luis Garcia since both the Astros and Blue Jays can hit.
Early/Afternoon: Sean Manaea
Don’t be deterred by Manaea’s last start. It was against the Dodgers, and they have arguably one of the best batting lineups in all of baseball. Other than that game, Manaea has been marvelous, with quality starts in his three other games and two wins. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is a pathetic group. During the Pirates’ last six games, they have not hit a single HR and have hit below the Mendoza line. Their OPS over the last seven days ranks dead last among all MLB teams at 0.513. Interestingly Manaea is not even the highest-priced pitcher on FanDuel, but I would rather play him than Shane Bieber or Logan Webb, especially since we are getting a good California team playing a terrible Rust Belt squad.
Main/Evening: Clayton Kershaw
You know the theme here! Take the good West Coast team facing an inept team from the Midwest. This means Clayton Kershaw is your guy for the main slate. Remember that he had a 70-point night on FanDuel right when the season started. I can see Kershaw repeating that success on Saturday night in Chavez Ravine. This represents the late-night hammer you will need to propel yourself into first place in your GPPs.
Very Early/Morning: Toronto Blue Jays
Of course, you can make a case for the Houston Astros, and you might as well grab some pieces from both sides of that game. Still, I like the Blue Jays a tad more. Astros starting pitcher Luis Garcia is quite erratic, and the Blue Jays bats were lively on Friday night. I would focus on the Blue Jays hitters who do well against flyball pitchers.
After all, Garcia gave 251 flyballs compared to 162 groundballs last year. That ratio is more pronounced this year with 30 flyballs and 13 groundballs. I would go with Guerrero (0.944 OPS), Gurriel (0.826 OPS), Springer (0.874 OPS), and Bichette (0.828 OPS). The 2021 OPS against flyball pitchers is displayed next to each batter.
Early/Afternoon: San Diego Padres
The thing I love to do when playing MLB DFS is to pair my starting pitcher with the batters on his team. After all, if they give him the run support he needs, the positive correlation works very well in your favor. Since we are going with Musgrove in the afternoon slate, we might as well attack JT Brubaker, who has a very noticeable difference in performance between right and left-handed hitters.
He has allowed an OPS of 0.619 to righties this season, but that number jumps to 0.828 against lefties. Those splits were not as wide in 2021, but he still showed a tendency to give up more production to lefties. I would fire up the following Padres lefties: Grisham, Cronenworth, and Hosmer. You might as well sweeten the pot with Machado!
Main/Evening: Milwaukee Brewers
As much as I would love to take the big names on the Yankees, that will be too hard to pull off if we are paying up for Kershaw. We can’t have our cake and eat it too, so we will need to find a value stack. That is where we will consider the Brewers. On Friday night, they popped off for 11 runs and knocked it out of the yard 6 times. The core of Adames, Yelich, McCutchen, and Renfroe all performed well, so why not run it back with them today? After all, they face a worse pitcher in Justin Steele than the one they went up against last night. The combined salaries of that core on FanDuel today is just $11,200.
That leaves us with $13,300 in salary cap space if we roster Kershaw. That is plenty of money to find some decent pieces with the Yankees. In fact, you can squeeze in Hicks, Rizzo, Donaldson, and LeMahieu and use up all of the $35,000 salary cap. Perfect!
Don’t get too cute here. Stick with the blue-chip teams and attack the bottom feeders. Like Cobra Kai, show no mercy, and you will end up victorious!
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