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I’ll exclude today’s early games, leaving only five games beginning at 7:10 p.m. EST and later for the main slate. The lack of an obvious top pitching option should leave players with plenty of viable combinations of starters.
Top SP: Jon Gray, COL ($9,300) at SF
It’s hard to trust Jon Gray, so I won’t fault anyone for refusing to play him with money on the line. But on a slate lacking aces, Gray finds himself in a great spot to get back on track. The Giants have been held to a .242 wOBA against right-handed pitching this year, the worst in all of baseball, and their 26% strikeout rate is the ninth-highest against righties. This is likely no fluke, as last year the Giants had the fourth-worst wOBA and fourth-highest strikeout rate against right-handed pitching. Today’s matchup in the pitcher-friendly Oracle Park features the lowest run total of the day, and with the Rockies coming in as road favorites, Gray has a solid chance at a win. Gray had the highest strikeout rate of all pitchers on the slate in 2018 and is fourth among today’s starters in 2019. It’s often not pretty with Gray, but a win and a bunch of strikeouts should leave owners happy.
Honorable Mention: Nathan Eovaldi, BOS ($8,600) vs. TOR.
Value SP: Kevin Gausman, ATL ($7,500) vs. NYM
I don’t view Gausman as a high-upside starter, and the Mets don’t provide the ideal matchup. But at $7,500 coming off an excellent first start, I think it’s worth giving Gausman a chance to see if he can match his season debut. The Mets have a healthy 26% strikeout rate against opposing righties this year, and Gausman struck out 32% of the batters he faced in his first start. The only cheaper option on the slate is Aaron Sanchez going into Fenway Park as a heavy underdog, and with Gausman as a home favorite in Atlanta, his matchup looks much safer. Jeff Samardzija would be an acceptable value play, but if you play him with Gray, it will limit your chances at two wins. Samardzija’s lackluster velocity is a slight cause for concern too. Go with Gausman if you are looking for a cheap pitching option.
Honorable Mention: Jeff Samardzija, SF ($7,500) vs. Rockies.
Dansby Swanson has been on fire at the plate in 2019, especially against left-handed pitching. While his 10 plate appearances against lefties is a minuscule sample, his two home runs, one triple, two singles, one walk, and only one strikeout makes his performance hard to ignore. He’s been moved up to sixth in the lineup, putting him behind a potent middle of the order including Ronald Acuna Jr. and Freddie Freeman, and Swanson has been cashing in on his RBI opportunities. The other top shortstop options on the slate have some concerns, such as Javier Baez and his $5,100 price tag, Trevor Story playing in spacious Oracle Park, and Xander Bogaerts and his unspectacular start to the season. Swanson allows you to roster one of the league’s hottest hitters without breaking the bank. Keep riding him until he shows signs of cooling off.
With a matchup against a right-handed pitcher, Peralta is always in play, as evidenced by his .398 wOBA against righties in 2018 and his .436 wOBA so far in 2019. Today’s matchup looks especially promising as the Diamondbacks face Pedro Avila in his major league debut. Avila spent all of last year in High-A and just recently made his first Double-A start, so this is quite the leap for the Padres’ 22nd-best prospect last year according to FanGraphs. There’s a chance the Padres go to the bullpen early, giving Arizona the potential for a big offensive day. With eight doubles and eight runs in 11 games, Peralta would likely find himself in the middle of the action at a very reasonable price.
DraftKings continues to undervalue Cervelli, as there are 22 catchers with higher price tags in this small slate alone. Cervelli is better against left-handed pitchers, with a wOBA around .350 both this year and last. Quintana was roughed up in his last start, and Cervelli should have plate appearances with runners on base in his prime lineup spot. Cervelli isn’t a high upside option, but at this price, he’s hard to beat. And with a home run yesterday against the Cubs, maybe he’s beginning to warm up. Unless you feel strongly about one of the higher priced catchers, Cervelli is likely your best option.
Lineup Stack: Braves vs. Mets (LHP Steven Matz)
The Braves lineup is full of hitters that can mash lefties, such as the previously mentioned Acuna Jr. and Swanson. Freeman, Josh Donaldson, and Ozzie Albies all had wOBAs over .380 last year and have continued raking against left-handed pitching this year, giving multiple stack combinations for the Braves lineup. Matz isn’t a bad pitcher, but I’m willing to ride the Braves and their .370 wOBA against lefties in this slate. I like Sanchez just a bit too much to pick the Red Sox for the top stack, and Braves hitters can be had at a nice discount compared to Boston’s hitters.
Honorable Mentions: Red Sox vs. Blue Jays (RHP Aaron Sanchez).
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is eriks44) 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.