What a strange day of baseball we had yesterday. SIX games were postponed on the East Coast due to nasty weather, five of which were supposed to be part of the main slate. That drastically reduced our pitching options since most of the big names were no longer available.
The bats were also hard to nail down since only one game exceeded a total of 10 runs, and that took place where we least expected it: Tampa Bay at Seattle. The Mariners had struggled at the plate for most of this week and then exploded for seven runs only to be outdone by the Rays in the 9th inning thanks to Manuel Margot’s 3-run blast.
Needless to say, last night was an oddity for MLB DFS since a score under 200 on FanDuel most likely took down most GPPs. You needed a no-name pitcher like Josh Winder (who was actually featured by our very own Tim Speros in yesterday’s DFS article) or someone like Merrill Kelly, who pitches for one of the worst teams in baseball, to have a decent fantasy day.
You also needed to get lucky with some one-offs like Luis Robert, Manny Machado, or Byron Buxton. However, a Seattle or Tampa Bay stack served you well if you were shrewd enough to roster either Margot or Eugenio Suarez.
We just move on to the next day when playing MLB DFS. Amnesia is a good thing! As usual, there are three slates you can play: very early, early, and main. Given that so many games need to be rescheduled and that there is an extraordinary number of doubleheaders, certain games won’t be featured on either DraftKings or FanDuel. Also, it will be hard to figure out who will be playing since some managers may not want to play certain players twice today and then again tomorrow.
That means I will just stick with analyzing the main slate, which has more stability. Eight games are scheduled for after 4:05 PM PT, with only one of them not making the main slate on FanDuel due to it being the 2nd game of a doubleheader: LA Dodgers at Chicago Cubs. Interestingly, that game made it on the main slate for DraftKings. I am fine with focusing on a 7 or 8 gamer for some Saturday evening MLB action. Let’s get to it!
Main/Evening: Corbin Burnes and Sean Manaea
Not very creative here! Clearly, I am paying up for pitching, and both will be highly owned. However, I think both are dangerous fades since I am not too keen on the cheaper pitching options tonight. Plus, both Burnes and Manaea are facing some weak bats.
For example, the Braves lead the MLB in strikeouts, and we all know that Burnes is K master. Through 28 games this season or 1026 plate appearances, Atlanta has whiffed 261 times. That is a K rate of 25.4%. The Braves have been even worse lately, with a K rate of 27.8% during the last 14 days and 28.5% during the last seven days. In fact, Atlanta has 0.181 BA and 0.552 OPS since last Saturday. Something is off with the defending World Series Champions, and until they can get things right at the plate, keep attacking their lineup, especially with an ace going against them. Burnes is pricey, but a fade could burn you!
As for Manaea, there is some risk since the Marlins are a pesky group. However, Petco Park is the ultimate pitcher’s venue with an expansive outfield and the cool evening temps you can expect from America’s Finest City. No surprise there with the game-time temperature since San Diego is at sea level, and any stadium that is close to a major body of water typically won’t have weather conducive for heavy offense.
Meanwhile, Manaea is a very good pitcher who has come into his own during the last two seasons with a K/BB ratio of nearly 5:1 and averaging at least one K per inning. His 2022 K and BB numbers are not that much different. Even though Miami’s recent offensive numbers are not as bad as Atlanta’s, they are not great. They have been in the bottom ten in OPS since last weekend and have whiffed quite a bit this season, ranking in the top 10 in that category.
Both Milwaukee and San Diego are two of the hottest teams in baseball, with the former going 9-1 and the latter going 8-2 during their last ten games. I expect Burnes and Manaea to each give us at least six solid innings with close to double-digit Ks, at most 2-3 ERs, and the W. Do the math, and you are looking at 30+ fantasy points on DK and 50+ on FanDuel. Don’t fade either one tonight.
Main/Evening: Los Angles Angels and Tampa Bay rays
If you have read some of my earlier work or follow me on Twitter, you might know that I am a big fan of barrel rate, which is a Statcast metric. I used that to my advantage last night by rostering Luis Robert. He is off to a slow start, but his current barrel rate (barrels per plate appearance) is 15.5%, or 11 barrels over 71 plate appearances.
If you don’t know what a barrel is (besides for storing wine or whiskey or decorating your garden!), it is the perfect combination of exit velocity and launch angle and typically results in an extra-base hit. For a batted ball to be considered a barrel, a minimum exit velocity of 98 mph is required. However, the launch angle has to meet a certain threshold. Once a batted ball reaches an exit velocity of 116 mph, it will be considered a barrel if the launch angle is between 8 to 50 degrees. Barrels usually lead to a minimum batting average of 0.500 and a slugging percentage of 1.500. Last year, 84.9% of HRs were barrels, while 61.9% of barrels were HRs.
Robert’s 2022 barrel rate is considered superior (above 15%), and Nathan Eovaldi’s allowed barrel rate is not great at 8% (10% or greater is not good for a pitcher). While Robert’s typically batting statistics are down while Eovaldi’s typical pitching statistics are up, barrel rate is the one magic ingredient you need to find those diamonds in the rough. I don’t believe many DFS players use barrel rate, but you should if you want an edge over the competition. FYI, Robert was owned in about 6-8% of GPPs last night.
So, how will barrel rate help us tonight? Josiah Gray and Marco Gonzalez both rank 21st and 22nd this season, respectively, in barrel rate allowed among qualified pitchers (at least 1.25 PA per batter per game). Both of their rates are 7.4%, and each of them face batters who can easily knock the ball out of the park.
Even though the Angels’ bats are cold, Mike Trout has an incredible barrel rate at 16.3%, and, of course, he is Mike Trout. Max Stassi and Tyler Ward are not too far behind at 12.3% and 9.3%, respectively. I would stack all three and throw in someone in between Trout and Stassi. Maybe a lefty like Shohei Ohtani, Jared Walsh, or Brandon Marsh.
As for Tampa Bay, it’s slim pickings there since all of the Rays bats are struggling in the power category. However, I expect some positive regression this month since Tampa Bay has been excellent at the plate since 2020. Looking at last year’s barrel rate, Brandon Lowe and Mike Zunino stand out. In fact, Zunino had a two-run blast earlier this week in Oakland to send the game to extra innings, which then led to a five-run explosion in the top of the 10th inning to give the Rays the win. I would also consider Margot, Wander Franco, and Yandy Diaz since all three of them are getting on base quite frequently and have an OPS of at least .785.
Here are some sample lineups you can play using the analysis above.
P: Tyler Anderson (note: Chicago Cubs are struggling at the plate, and LA Dodgers are good for the W)
C: Mike Zunino
1B: Jared Walsh
2B: Brandon Lowe
3B: Anthony Rendon
SS: David Fletcher
OF: Mike Trout
OF: Manuel Margot
OF: Kevin Kiermaier
P: Sean Manaea
C/1B: Max Stassi
2B: Brandon Lowe
3B: Anthony Rendon
SS: Wander Franco
OF: Mike Trout
OF: Brandon Marsh
OF: Manuel Margot
UTIL: Yandy Diaz
Again, pay up for pitching and use barrel rate to your advantage when selecting the bats. Good luck tonight!
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