Yesterday was a wild day of MLB DFS scoring, and I think we could see something similar tonight given the Coors game and the matchups with some great teams against some ugly pitching. We’re here to capture big undervalued chunks of that upside, and there look to be several on the board tonight. Value will have a role tonight with some pricey pitching to pay up for as well. I think we can find the salary we need on at SP2 on DraftKings, but on FanDuel we might have to get weird with a stack if we want to pay up to Max Scherzer at pitcher.
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New York Yankees – Lineup Dependent – LeMahieu – Judge – Hicks – Torres – Ford
The Yankees are the second-ranked team for MLB DFS tonight in the stacks tool. With a Coors game on the board that means they rank better than one of the teams playing at elevation roughly a mile higher than Yankee Stadium, but they’re trending toward being under-owned on both sites, dramatically so on DraftKings.
The Braves are starting young Touki Toussaint in this one. Toussaint has been good so far and is a well regarded prospect, but this is a major challenge for him and a step up in class. There are definitely strikeouts available for Toussaint in this lineup, he struck out around 25% of hitters through his minor league career and comes into tonight at 35% for 2020 and 25% for his major league career so far. That’s where the good news is going to end for the Braves.
Looking at Toussaint’s profile on the excellent Baseball Savant is revelatory about the sort of contact that the pitcher is yielding to the hitters he isn’t striking out. The kid currently ranks in just the 38th percentile in the league in exit velocity allowed, the 29th percentile in hard hit rate and a frightening 14th percentile in barrels. This is not a team you can give up that kind of contact to and hope to get through unscathed.
Aaron Judge is the obvious gigantic mountain of a bat hitting second in this lineup. He’s cooled from his home-run-per-game pace that began the season, but Judge has been destroying baseballs all year. The outfielder has a 57% hard hit rate so far in 2020 and is in the 90th percentile in the league in barrels. He has three of the five hardest hit balls in the entire Statcast era. No one puts a move on a baseball like Judge.
D.J. LeMahieu is one of the best pure hitters in the sport. His hit tool is on par with legendary contact hitters like Tony Gwynn, but he is also able to drive the ball with more authority. LeMahieu does an excellent job limiting soft contact and driving the ball to all parts of the field. His on-base skills (.355 career OBP, .426 in 2020) in front of Judge make them one of the better one-two punches in the league. The Yankees batting order will be important in determining how the rest of this stack falls together. I like switch-hitter Aaron Hicks when he’s hitting high up the order, and we could see him land third tonight. After a stellar 2018 that saw Hicks truly break out, hitting 27 home runs and driving in 90, the outfielder missed the bulk of the 2019 campaign and still tends to get overlooked. Hicks is currently sitting in the 93rd percentile of the league in hard hit rate. We have a pattern here.
Luke Voit and Mike Ford could both be in this lineup if Yankees manager Aaron Boone wants to work in Ford’s lefty power with the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium. Both first baseman can absolutely obliterate the baseball when they get the right pitch. Voit hasn’t been my favorite since arriving in the Bronx, but there’s no arguing with the quality he’s contributed to the team and for MLB DFS purposes; the power is obvious and real. Ford is a less-known commodity and someone I’m going to count on for some differentiation if he’s in the lineup and hitting around sixth tonight. Ford hit 12 home runs in just 163 major league plate appearances in 2019, while adding 23 more in 349 plate appearances in AAA. He has one so far in his 21 plate appearances in 2020.
Mike Tauchman is another lefty who could be in the Yankees outfield tonight. I like Tauchman more for differentiation purposes than upside, but if he fits into a stack, he’s certainly usable. Gary Sanchez is losing respect every game at this rate. The slugging catcher’s salary is down to just $2,600 on FanDuel, which is an absolute bargain. I like pairing Sanchez’ savings with the insanely low Crazy Eddie style price on Gleyber Torres. I mentioned Torres here the other day. The kid is an absolute stud bat just out to a slow start in 2020, and this is the type of thing we want to go back to because he’s a known commodity. We want to be early on the turnaround, not a day late.
Note: I’m not going to use them for team 2 here, but the Braves also look great on the other side of this one. They rank well in the stack tool and are going under-owned. There is tons of right-handed quality to throw at Jordan Montgomery in that lineup. I’ll have both sides of this game.
We’re going to try to light-touch a couple spots here for today’s second angle.
Colorado Rockies – 2-6 – Story – Blackmon – Arenado – Murphy – McMahon
The Rockies are landing around where I thought we might see them when discussing the slate of MLB DFS with EMac last night. On DraftKings the pricing and, I assume, the matchup against Zac Gallen is keeping the Rockies ownership down. They rank third on the top stacks tool but are actually going under-owned at this point. This will likely course correct by lock like we saw with Arizona yesterday, but the overall ownership could still fall in short of general expectation for a Coors spot.
So far in 2020 Gallen has ranked in the 23rd percentile in barrels and 30th percentile in exit velocity allowed. The spin rate on his curveball, which he uses to generate grounders, is concerning as well, sitting in just the 33rd percentile. The 25-year-old is also not inducing much soft contact so far this season, only around 10% which could be another sign that the curveball command isn’t where it needs to be. The Rockies could find themselves in an undervalued spot against this pitcher.
Gallen is around the same to either side of the plate, though he walks a few more right-handed hitters than lefties. The Rockies throw a ton of quality in the lineup every day. Only Trevor Story and David Dahl are trending above 10% ownership on DraftKings. Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon are mainstays in Rockies stacks and are both under-owned here. A few picks from this group and putting them together with a Matt Kemp, Ryan McMahon and/or Daniel Murphy make for a dynamic stack. Keep an eye on projected individual ownership as you’re building. These guys work on FanDuel also, but they’ll be more appropriately owned on the blue site.
Chicago Cubs – 9-1-2-3-4 – Happ – Bryant – Rizzo – Baez – Schwarber
The Cubs are another team in what looks to me like a killer spot for offensive production in MLB DFS tonight, but they’re trending toward popularity. If this team comes down in aggregate ownership, I want to go in the other direction with my exposures. They don’t rank as high as I expected in the top stacks tool, but the opportunity for power should be abundant against gas-can starter Adam Plutko. Plutko has a career 2.11 HR/9 mark in 196 career innings in the majors, allowing a 2.47 in 2018 and a 1.81 in 2019. Plutko ranks in the 10th percentile in barrels, 35th in exit velocity allowed and 40th in hard hit rate. This is a pitcher that can be had by power.
The Cubs offer significant lefty pop in the form of Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber. Plutko gives up significant power to lefty bats and only strikes them out at an 11% rate. That’s something of which even a free swinger like Schwarber can take advantage. Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras and Javier Baez can get to anyone from the right side of the plate and Plutko shows no advantage when he’s facing same-handed hitting. Getting to Jason Heyward and Ian Happ could be key points of differentiation for Cubs stacks here. Happ is a player I’ve mentioned numerous times and works well as a wraparound back to the top of the lineup, while Heyward is another lefty bat who, while he never reached his projected potential, can always turn on one for a slate breaking night. Heyward gets more of his quality against right-handed pitching for his career, with a WRC+ 17% above league average.
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