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SP: Nick Pivetta, PHI ($7,700) vs. MIN
This is a really fun eight-game slate. There’s no standout ace option, so it’s a kind of pick your poison situation tonight. It stands to reason that Kevin Gausman ($9,000) should be reasonably popular considering he’s the biggest favorite going (-168 as of this writing) and gets the Marlins. But we are talking about a guy in Gausman who has a career strikeout rate just over 21%, so while I think the floor is perfectly fine, I’m not overly convinced there is a big ceiling here especially in his first game back. So to me, he’s an interesting arm to consider fading in tournaments.
Enter Nick Pivetta. He’s your classic boom/bust type guy, or Cherry Bomb as Nicholas Pollack likes to call it. But at his price point, there is really nice profit potential if we get one of those boom games. He wasn’t good his first time out, but he’s got some things going for him especially on this slate when there isn’t a really strong pitching field to pick from. Considering last year’s numbers, Pivetta has the second-highest strikeout rate and strikeout-to-walk ratio to Colin McHugh, who pitched entirely out of the pen in 2018 anyway, meaning we have to take his numbers with a grain of salt. Pivetta will get the Twins here, and as a visiting American League team, they’ll be without the designated hitter tonight, which probably means no Nelson Cruz. So one less great bat to worry about.
SP: Pablo Lopez, MIA ($6,600) at ATL
Most will be looking at the other side of this game for pitching, but don’t overlook how good Pablo Lopez has been both in the spring and in his regular season debut against the Rockies. In that game, he generated 19 swinging strikes. He showed off a good arsenal, throwing his curveball for strikes and getting whiffs with his changeup. This is a tough draw; Atlanta is certainly a very good offense, but really what it comes down to for me is I just think he’s priced too low considering the talent he’s shown in an albeit limited sample. Worth noting here too that there has been reverse line movement since opening, and the Braves’ implied team total has dropped.
1B: Justin Bour, LAA ($4,100) vs. TEX
He’s batting .056 and has one hit so far, so I’m not sure too many will be looking his way. But this is a really plus draw for Justin Bour. Lance Lynn has long had big-time struggles against lefty hitters. Looking back at last year’s numbers, his sinker, which he threw 33.4% of the time, had an xwOBA of .430 against left-handed batters. In his first start, Lynn opted to throw a few more cutters, so perhaps he’s finally found the panacea to his lefty woes. I’ll still side here with Bour, who has had a wOBA of .390 or better the past two years against fastballs from RHP.
OF: Ryan Braun, MIL ($4,200) vs. CHC
Of the pitchers taking the mound tonight, Jose Quintana had the lowest swinging-strike rate at just 8.1%. That’s no surprise as Quintana’s strikeout rate, outside of an outlier 2017, has long settled in at a very pedestrian 21%. Year-to-year platoon splits can be very noisy, but it’s hard to simply ignore how much Ryan Braun has crushed lefties the past two years posting an xwOBA of .494.
1B: Anthony Rizzo, CHC ($4,700) at MIL
Brandon Woodruff had a reasonable first start with five innings pitched, five strikeouts, and two earned runs. But he only managed 25% called strikes+whiffs, which is fairly mediocre. I think Woodruff might be a guy to pick on as a starter in certain spots. Anthony Rizzo is a little underappreciated on most nights as one of the more complete hitters in the game today, and he could certainly do damage against the relatively inexperienced Woodruff here.
Tournament Stack: PHI vs. MIN (RHP Jake Odorizzi)
Boston should be fairly popular against Zack Godley, who is no stranger to blowups. But a lot of the team’s appeal as a stack will depend on whether J.D. Martinez starts or sits on the road in the NL with no designated hitter. Regardless, I have a lot of interest in the Phillies. Jake Odorizzi was fantastic in his last start, notching 11 strikeouts across six innings. But if you’ve been playing MLB DFS for a while, you may be thinking this was likely a mirage against a really weakened Indians lineup, and I would tend to agree. For his career, he’s been a pitcher who has skewed more toward fly balls. That could present a big problem at Citizen’s Bank Park against a great lineup.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is sammybaugh) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games on which I offer advice. Although I have expressed my personal view 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 nonpublic information.