Pitcher List is proud to partner with DraftKings for the 2019 season. We’ll be featuring our top picks for every daily slate through the season and feature articles dedicated to the GPP.
Managers in season-long leagues are taking grossly premature victory laps and just as foolishly freaking out over early duds. DFS players can take a more measured approach, riding the hot hands within reason while carefully monitoring slow starters.
For the three players highlighted in the Stock Up section, upward trends will make them tougher to roster in upcoming DraftKings contests. While both hitters have always drawn attention for their noticeable platoon splits, they’ll now cost a premium regardless of the opponent. The pitcher could suddenly carry a five-figure salary against tougher adversaries.
Those on the downswing, meanwhile, could offer buy-low value for contestants who catch the bounce-back performances at a discount.
Shane Bieber (SP, Cleveland Indians)
Shane Bieber has excelled in each of his two starts. After stockpiling nine strikeouts against the Blue Jays, he hurled seven scoreless frames in a victory over the Tigers. Including a two-inning bullpen appearance to open the season, the popular breakout candidate sports a 1.80 ERA and 0.67 WHIP. He has now issued 132 strikeouts and 24 walks in 20 career big league starts.
The righty has given everyone exactly what they wanted by slashing his fastball usage rate more than 10% (47%) in favor of a far more effective slider. The altered pitch mix and an improved curveball have resulted in a 16% swinging-strike rate and minuscule 65% opposing contact rate. This could be the beginning of a star-making campaign, but DraftKings players should shy away from a likely price uptick.
After feasting on two of baseball’s weakest offenses, the schedule will get much tougher. On Tuesday, Bieber faces the red-hot Mariners, who lead the MLB in wOBA, wRC+, and runs scored. If Cleveland’s rotation continues on turn, he’d then challenge the Braves, Astros, and Mariners again, missing a pair of two-game tilts with the Marlins. If that’s the case, expect some hiccups rather than paying for his hot start. Perhaps even pivot by playing opposing lefties, who torched him to a .383 wOBA in 2018. Then turn back to Bieber when more AL Central foes appear on the schedule.
Mitch Moreland (1B, Boston Red Sox)
An early hot streak is nothing new for Mitch Moreland. Last season, he batted .302/.368/.612 through the end of May before cooling down in the summer. In a season-long column, this would be the time to preach caution and not expect the full-fledged breakout from a first baseman yet to record more than 23 home runs in a season.
DFS players, on the other hand, can simply enjoy the ride whenever the Red Sox face a bad righty. Of course, DraftKings isn’t going to give someone with a .750 slugging percentage who has touched-them-all in four of his last six games. After costing $4,500 against David Hess on Friday night, he requires a $4,800 investment versus hit dispensary Andrew Cashner on Saturday. It wouldn’t be crazy to pay the price surge, especially if Moreland again bats third between Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez. Just don’t make a habit of it against competent opponents.
Chad Pinder (2B/OF, Oakland Athletics)
The days of utilizing Chad Pinder at a discount are over. While there was a brief moment where he looked poised to replace Matt Olson as an everyday contributor, Oakland seemed to squash those hopes by acquiring Kendrys Morales. Not so fast. The 27-year-old has started seven of the last eight games, all from the fifth or sixth slot.
There’s no reason for the A’s to mess with a working formula; Pinder is batting .308/.327/.558 with three homers through 55 plate appearances. While more than one walk would be nice, he has also cut his strikeout rate by more than half to 12.7%. The Statcast superhero has also elevated his exit velocity and launch angle.
A favorite platoon option now costs $4,500 ($300 below top second baseman Jose Altuve) for Saturday’s showdown against Rangers righty Adrian Sampson. Sure, it’s still a weak adversary at Texas, but Pinder was $1,000 cheaper on April 4. While still playable against most southpaws, he’ll no longer fall under the radar in terms of price or ownership rate.
Robinson Cano (2B, New York Mets)
Routinely priced below $4,000 ($3,600 on Saturday), Robinson Cano‘s superb pedigree stands out amid a sea of bottom-of-the order Joe Schmos. It’s awfully tempting to bet on a bounce back from a borderline Hall of Fame candidate who has posted a wRC+ over 110 in each of the last 10 seasons. However, there are troubling signs to heed.
Everybody goes through a slump, so it’s hardly the end of the world to see a career .304 hitter bat .182 through 13 games. The quality of contact is more discouraging than the results. Last year’s stellar exit velocity of 93.1 mph has fallen to 85.0. As a result, his hard-hit rate has fallen from the top-two percentile (51.7%) to deep baseball’s bottom half (22.0%).
On the bright side, Cano has started every game as the Mets’ No. 3 hitter, impeccable real estate batting between the sizzling Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto. A string of vulnerable righties next week (Nick Pivetta, Jake Arrieta, Adam Wainwright) could present an intriguing GPP buying opportunity if his cost keeps tumbling.
Colorado Rockies’ Lineup
The Rockies enter Saturday night carrying MLB’s worst wRC+ (37). For a point of reference, Chris Davis‘ 43 wRC+ represented the lowest rate of any qualified hitter last season. While they have only played five games at Coors Field, they lost all them with 21 combined runs scored to 44 allowed. They have mustered four runs in their last six bouts away from the hitter-friendly paradise.
Such ineptitude requires a full collaboration. Neither Nolan Arenado nor Charlie Blackmon has gone deep through 13 games. Blackmon has barrelled one batted ball, which gives him one more than Colorado’s All-Star third baseman. Highlighted last week, Ian Desmond still sports an atrocious -2 wRC+ without a single run scored. Injuries have finally presented playing time for Garrett Hampson and Raimel Tapia, but both youngsters are squandering the opportunity.
Jeff Samardzija and Drew Pomeranz have already tamed this floundering offense at San Francisco, so keep attacking them with southpaws Madison Bumgarner and Derek Holland this weekend. The Rockies will get a chance to rebound during a seven-game home stretch starting Thursday, but it still might be worth deploying an opposing ace if the Coors factor significantly deflates their cost.
Aaron Nola (SP, Philadelphia Phillies)
Nola Day has not proven a joyous occasion in recent turns. In back-to-back stumbles against the Nationals, Philadelphia’s ace yielded 12 hits and 11 runs (10 earned) over 9.1 innings. After opening the season with eight punchouts, he amassed five combined in both turns.
The command artist has lost his touch. His first-pitch strike rate, which has never wavered below 60% in any of his four big league seasons, has plummeted to 47.7. The 25-year-old’s swinging-strike rate has fizzled to 8.1%, which would also mark a new career low. A fastball that netted a 13.2 pVAL in 2018 has already served up three homers.
Maybe the Nationals just have his number. It’s not time to panic just yet, but there are enough warning flags for skepticism even if his salary slips. Stay away from Nola when his Phillies host a Mets lineup 10th in wOBA against lineups, as of Friday. Something will then have to give when he travels to Coors over the weekend. Even with Colorado’s struggles, he’d have to dazzle against the Mets to even be considered as a contrarian pivot. If he struggles next week, the perfect recovery is right around the corner with his next outing aligning against the Marlins.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is akgould4) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games on which I offer advice. Although I have expressed my personal views on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings, and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
(Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire)