I seriously can’t believe it’s September. As much as we all want 2020 in the books and behind us, what happened to August? And July, June, May, April and March, for that matter? Time is weird this year, but one thing we know is that we’re running out of it for MLB DFS. September is going to be a wild sprint for MLB teams, and it should be fun to watch. People chasing big GPP scores only have so many more bites at the apple for the season, so it’s time to dig in and see what we can find.
There are several good looking spots on the stacks board today. The Astros were one of last night’s featured teams, and they appear to be going somewhat overlooked so far. They aren’t quite under-owned, but they’re at an easy mark to get above. The Giants are trending well under on FanDuel, but it’s early, and Coors games tend to catch up as we get toward lock. I like Jon Gray to pitch well against them, but if the imbalance between ownership and probability of success remains in place, I’ll definitely have some Giants stacks as well. Still, I don’t want to focus on them here because I don’t like the lineup, and writing about Coors games in a space that is for less obvious plays seems counter-productive most of the time.
Atlanta Braves – 1-2-3-5-6 – Swanson – Freeman – Ozuna – Markakis – Duvall
The Braves are one of the top-ranked teams on the board in the stacks tool on both sites, and they’re trending slightly under-owned on DraftKings and right around the appropriate amount on FanDuel. With one of the Coors teams trending under on that site, I expect some of that ownership to transfer across, so we could see the Braves go under on both sites. In the matchup with Colten Brewer and whatever rides in on the golf cart from the bullpen, I like the Braves’ chances here.
The park suppresses left-handed power somewhat, but Freddie Freeman can overcome that or post a productive game without necessarily hitting one over the wall. Freeman is at .314/.434/.551 with a .237 ISO on the season with a WRC+ 61% above average. There’s no fear in putting Freeman into the lineup. Freeman is pricey on DraftKings at $5,300 and costs just $4,000 on FanDuel. The price and spot in the lineup are right.
Without Ronald Acuna Jr., we’re likely to see Dansby Swanson leading off again. Swanson has been terrific so far this season, delivering on some of his under-the-radar promise we talked about before opening day. With five home runs, a .301/.345/.485 slash and a WRC+ 21% above average, Swanson has been setting the table and producing well on his own and works well with the other hitters in the lineup.
Marcell Ozuna, Travis d’Arnaud, Adam Duvall and Austin Riley are all trending over 10.0 in my home run model today and look like great MLB DFS options. The Red Sox opener yields a fair amount of power to both sides of the plate and then we get into the bumpy bullpen. I like the Braves right-handed hitters chances to get into a few here. The cream of the crop on this list for me is still Ozuna. The outfielder is at .282/.375/.532 on the season with eight home runs and a WRC+ 38% above average in something of a renaissance season after a slightly down year in 2019. The power and ability to drive the ball never went away, and his BABIP is back to normal levels. I’m happy to fire away on a ton of Ozuna shares.
D’Arnaud is a relatively popular catcher on DraftKings but he has come down somewhat with the price increase over the last few weeks. If he’s trending at around 10% like he is now I can work him into some lineups here. Hitting cleanup in this lineup is a sweet spot for RBIs, and the catcher has mostly delivered with four home runs and 18 RBIs, a .218 ISO and a WRC+ 29% above average.
Riley and Duvall typically get more of their power against lefty pitchers, but there’s enough on the table in terms of power yield here that we can get to them. Duvall only really loses his contact skills in the split, his ISO in same-handed matchups is a strong .226 for his career, though the WRC+ 10% below average leaves a bit to be desired overall and is largely a product of the batting average and on-base percentage that are reduced against right-handed pitchers. We’re only looking for him to connect on one that goes out of the park here though, so I’ll take it at his low price. Riley is a similar player, carrying a .213 ISO and WRC+ 16% below average in the split, either or both could go deep here.
Nick Markakis is trending for next to no ownership in the Braves outfield and in the middle of this lineup. The lefty is riding a .368/.429/.596 slash since coming back a few weeks ago. He’s up to 63 plate appearances and has a .228 ISO and WRC+ 74% above average. I’m happy to get some Markakis in my lineup at just $2,700 on FanDuel and $3,600 on DraftKings with minimal ownership.
Johan Camargo is a player I never get to who typically goes out and does good things every time I say something bad about him, so I’ll try to remain neutral. He’s carrying a .202/.245/.394 slash on the season with a WRC+ 34% below average on the season, in 248 plate appearances in 2019 he hit seven home runs and had a .151 ISO and WRC+ 33% below average, but I hear his breath smells like flowers.
Ender Inciarte is not much more than a way to get different at the bottom of this lineup these days. At just $2,200 on FanDuel and $3,000 on DraftKings, I don’t hate him as a wraparound play, but his .275 on-base this year isn’t helping that case in his limited 91 plate appearance sample. The career mark of .336 is a bit more workable. The speed seems to be back a bit, with four stolen bases so far on the season despite the limited time on base. Inciarte stole at least 15 bases in each of his first five seasons, going over 20 three times in that span.
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Baltimore Orioles – 1-2-4-6-7 – Alberto – Santander – Nunez – Sisco – Mountcastle
I really like the Mets on the other side of this one and will have more shares of that team than this one, but they’re a popular choice today. I believe EMac covered them in Spotlight Hitters, though, so pop over there for his takes. Michael Conforto is my home run pick for the day, but that’s my last word on the Mets bats. Their starting pitcher we need to discuss. Ariel Jurado just arrived in the Todd Frazier deal with Texas and will be making his 2020 debut tonight in Camden Yards. The pitcher is what traditional baseball scouts and the analytical community both refer to as “not good.” Over his 177 big league innings the hurler has a 13.2% strikeout rate and a 5.01 xFIP while allowing 28 home runs (1.42 HR/9 career; 1.57 to righties). This is a pitcher that we can target with bats, I just wish we had a better opposing offense to work with overall.
The Orioles rank 12th overall on both sites on a 12-game, 24-team slate. This is a play more on the fringes, but I think we can make it work against this pitcher and an overworked Mets bullpen. The Orioles were a friskier team early in the season, but the gleam is off a bit and they’re drawing essentially zero ownership in a relatively good spot. The pricing on DraftKings is a bit difficult to swallow, but they’re largely free on FanDuel. Starting off with second baseman Hanser Alberto up top is fine but not my preferred approach to this team. The slap-hitter is riding a .321/.342/.450 slash with just a .129 ISO but has a WRC+ 13% above average and has been doing a good job setting the table. He’s fine, and I don’t object if you want to work him into your second base spot.
Anthony Santander brings a big switch hitting bat to this one, he’s slipping back off the radar after not hitting a home run in a week or so, which works well for MLB DFS purposes. Hopefully the public forgets him completely in this spot. The slugger has always been expected to bring power, with a 60-grade raw power rating in traditional scouting, the questions were always about his ability to put bat on ball and generate game power. He’s been providing answers all season. The outfielder is at .271/.320/.593 with a .321 ISO and a WRC+ 35% above average. His 10 home runs are among MLB leaders, while his 13 doubles tie him for first in baseball.
First baseman Renato Nunez is another power bat that I like to get to in Orioles stacks. His 2020 hasn’t reached the heights of Santander’s, but he’s put up quality numbers so far with a .271/.336/.496 slash, .225 ISO and WRC+ 22% above average. The 31 home runs he hit in 599 plate appearances in 2019 interest me here as well, we know there’s upside in this bat. Nunez has the Orioles highest mark in my home run model for the day and costs just $4,500 on DraftKings and $3,200 on FanDuel.
Shortstop Jose Iglesias hits between the two thumpers and is doing well getting on base ahead of Nunez with a .416 on-base percentage over his 77 plate appearances in 2020. His .317 mark in 530 opportunities in 2019 is more who he is, though, and the .119 ISO and WRC+ 16% below average last year would be atypical numbers for a three hitter on most teams. That this season’s WRC+ is sitting 63% above average is probably more of an anomaly than an improvement.
The projected lineup has two catchers in it, with Chance Sisco catching and Pedro Severino occupying the DH spot in the lineup, creating interesting roster decisions on both sites if that’s the way it ends up. You can be very different playing both on FanDuel, and you have to decide between the two on DraftKings, which would be almost entirely ownership and price based for me. Of the two, Sisco brings the better bat with him and provides more opportunity for upside. The lefty has four home runs this season, though Severino has hit five despite demonstrably less power.
Rookie Ryan Mountcastle has quickly become a popular name in this lineup among MLB DFS players. The kid has put up a .364/.432/.606 slash with two home runs over his first 37 plate appearances since being called up. The rookie hit 25 home runs in 533 plate appearances in AAA last year and arrives with high expectations for the quality in his bat. I like getting the outfielder into Orioles stacks at just $3,500 on DraftKings and $3,000 on FanDuel, where he plays first base.
Rio Ruiz and Cedric Mullins are probably hitting late in this lineup. Either could deliver a touch of upside. Ruiz is projecting in the “OK” range for me and is carrying an average 5.78 mark in my home run model. The third baseman is just $2,700 on FanDuel and $4,100 on DraftKings which will provide savings at the position if you need it. He’s managed six home runs in his 113 plate appearances so far, though the baseball card stats are bumpy at just .192/.277/.404 and his WRC+ sits 22% below average. Mullins really doesn’t do much for me but if you need to get wildly different or cheap for some reason, he could help.
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