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The rookies keep on arriving. A week after MLB giddily welcomed Vladimir Guerrero Jr., yet another ballyhooed prospect joined the big league ranks on Friday night. Let’s begin this week’s DraftKings Stock Report by highlighting another future star capable of making an immediate impact.
Nick Senzel (OF, Cincinnati Reds)
Finally. Following an arduous road to the majors that saw him deal with vertigo last year and an ankle injury this spring, Nick Senzel made his long-awaited MLB debut on Friday. DraftKings listed the neophyte at third base for his inaugural appearance, but have quickly moved him to his new home in center field.
Cincinnati helped make his arrival worth the wait, immediately slotting Senzel second in the batting order between Joey Votto and Jesse Winker. That made him a popular play at home against Tyler Beede for $3,800. Given his cozy spot in the lineup, that tame price was never going to stick; he’s already up to $4,300 on Saturday. Such a range still makes him a worthy consideration (particularly at home) in the right matchup. A well-rounded prospect ready for the limelight, Senzel batted .310/.378/.509 in Triple-A last year. He offers power and speed, and changing his mailing address to the Great American Ball Park sure doesn’t hurt.
Anthony Rizzo (1B, Chicago Cubs)
This should give everyone an idea of how suddenly one’s fortune can change early in the season. On Monday, I identified Anthony Rizzo as a buy-low candidate for season-long leagues on the FantasyPros podcast with Bobby Sylvester. It seemed reasonable at the time, as he entered the week batting .214/.353/.449 with five home runs. By now, it’s already impossible to attain him at a discount anywhere. That includes DraftKings, where his price has skyrocketed from $4,500 to $5,100 within the week.
The first baseman has gone deep in each of his last three games. Just like that, he’s hitting a commendable .252/.386/.551 with a 146 wRC+ that would represent his highest clip since 2014. (That’s splitting hairs considering he posted a 145 wRC+ in 2015 and 2016.)
It appears Rizzo responds to April the way Garfield takes to Mondays. Last season, he hit .149 with one homer through the opening month, only to bat .303 with 24 homers going forward. By comparison, his sluggish start this season was nowhere near as bad. It only took one scorching week to erase an early slumber, and Statcast’s .401 xwOBA—taken before going 3-for-3 with a walk and HR number eight on Friday afternoon—suggest the good times have only just begun.
Matt Strahm (SP, San Diego Padres)
Matt Strahm entered the season as everyone’s favorite breakout candidate. Taking stock of his spectacular spring, DraftKings bumped up his price to $9,200 for his opening start against Arizona. He ceded 11 baserunners and five runs in 2.2 innings, crushing all backers with -6.6 DK points.
His price then tumbled to $6,400, and although it has steadily risen since, he has remained a value while belatedly validating the hype. The 27-year-old lefty has allowed five combined earned runs in his past five turns. He has tallied 19 strikeouts to no walks in his past three outings, earning at least 20 DraftKings points each time.
Despite never throwing more than 89 pitches in a start this season, the converted reliever has worked at least six frames in each of those last three turns. He has also yet to meet strikeout expectations with a satisfactory 20.3% K rate and a 9.5% swinging-strike rate nearly two full points below his career average. That could change, however, as he continues to build up his arm strength in a starting role. Per Brooks Baseball, he set season highs in changeup and slider velocity in Thursday’s start at Atlanta.
DraftKings may finally springboard his price just in time to face a Mets offense that has pummeled southpaws to an MLB-high 137 wRC+ behind rookie Pete Alonso. Maybe another setback will make him a bargain again for his next scheduled turn against the Pirates.
J.D. Davis (3B, New York Mets)
This has nothing to do with J.D. Davis‘ performance; he’s hitting .294/.392/.485 in 79 superb plate appearances. We should be talking about the 26-year-old slugger as one of April’s brightest breakout stories. Instead, he’s growing extinct from the Mets’ lineup card.
As a result of Todd Frazier returning from an oblique injury, Davis has started just two of New York’s last nine games. His path to playing time will get even murkier when Jed Lowrie also comes off the IL.
Sitting a talented young hitter like Davis will justifiably prompt some “LOL Mets” jokes, but he’s a DH misplaced on a National League club with infield depth. If only the Astros kept him around—maybe don’t give up on hitters named J.D. so soon—and gave him more than 67 games stretched over two seasons to prove he’s not a Quad-A player. Only those in the deepest of season-long leagues can afford to stash Davis until the next batch of injuries strike. DFS players, meanwhile, can simply wait for a lefty to roll into town. Sporting a career 129 wRC+ against southpaws, he should at least operate the short end of a platoon. That should keep his price tempered when the Mets call his name. Keep Davis in mind any time they face a lefty, even if the next two scheduled are tough ones in Strahm and Caleb Smith.
Brian Dozier (2B, Washington Nationals)
We’re well past dismissing Brian Dozier‘s troubles as a mere slump from a slow starter. He’s batting a putrid .181/.294/.319 through 109 plate appearances. His contract rate has dropped eight points below his career norm to 72.8, which has resulted in a bloated 27.5% strikeout rate.
He has gone nine games without an extra-base hit. Two of them were at Coors Field.
The Nationals have had enough, shoving the second baseman down from second to seventh in the batting order. If he’s not careful, the veteran could get bumped from the starting lineup when Trea Turner returns from a finger injury. That’s assuming Anthony Rendon also makes it back and newcomer Carter Kieboom isn’t still hitting .130 (3-for-23). With a .194 xBA and a steep rise in ground balls, stay away from Dozier until he shows some signs of life.
Collin McHugh (SP, Houston Astros)
The toast of the town three weeks into 2019, McHugh’s ERA has inflated all the way to 4.97 following a trio of unseemly starts.
First Four Starts: 23 IP, 12 H, 5 ER (1.96 ERA), 1 HR, 7 BB, 27 K
Last Three Starts: 15 IP, 17 H, 16 ER (9.60 ERA), 6 HR, 4 BB, 12 K
On the surface, he somewhat calmed the waves Wednesday by ceding four runs over six passable innings against the Twins. Yet this turn offers different glaring signs of concern. His fastball velocity dipped to its lowest mark of the season. As a result, he didn’t induce any of his season-low six whiffs with his heater. With so few swing and misses, it’s no wonder he only mustered two strikeouts.
And yet McHugh has still punched out a quarter of batters faced this season while submitting a .292 xwOBA. Perhaps the good was inspiring enough to offset the bad, or maybe he simply needs more time to fully readjust to the rotation. Most of the damage came via a 10-run shellacking at Texas, so he merits consideration for Tuesday’s start against Kansas City if given a friendly price.
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 Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire)