We have a nice big day of MLB DFS ahead with a 12-game main slate that features some high-end pitching, a Coors Field game and some excellent stack opportunities. With the ownership spread out across the various stacks and the probability of success ranking fairly flat across the board, there are abundant opportunities to get ahead of the field on specific teams. It’s going to be a very interesting slate.
Quick note before we move on, since it just popped up, Danny Duffy is scratched from his scheduled start for the Royals tonight. We don’t have a new Royals starter just yet, but the situation could change things on the board a bit, so keep an eye on it.
MLB DFS Stack Slants | DraftKings + FanDuel | Sept. 15
New York Mets – 1-2-3-4-6 – Nimmo – Conforto – Davis – Smith – Alonso
The Mets are fourth on the stacks board on both sites, they’re going slightly under-owned on DraftKings and a touch above level ownership on FanDuel, but the numbers are very workable in what should be a good spot. Taking on Jake Arrieta and the Phillies this Mets lineup should pop for us today, and not enough people are taking advantage of their favorable pricing. No one on the team is priced over $4,800 on DraftKings or over $3,500 on FanDuel.
Arrieta has seen his strikeout rate trend downward over the last few seasons. So far in 2020 he’s sitting at just 17.1%. Since the start of 2019, the Mets active roster sits seventh in baseball with 230 home runs against right-handed pitching. Their 189 ISO in the split as a team is strong ,and their WRC+ is 9% above average. This is a good offense, and they are more than capable of getting to the pitcher Arrieta is at this point in his career.
We’ve talked about the quality that lefties Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto bring to the top of this lineup a few times already this year. Nimmo is a player that I admittedly had a full turnaround on this season. Hitting leadoff he’s provided a .258/.388/.450 slash with a .192 ISO and a WRC+ 35% above average overall. Against right-handed pitchers he’s hit five home runs and has a .289/.422/.500 slash with a .212 ISO and a WRC+ 56% above average.
Conforto is the team’s best overall hitter with his combination of power, on-base and hit tools. The lefty outfielder costs just $4,800, which is inexpensive for the production we’ve seen from him. In his 201 plate appearances in 2020, Conforto has hit nine home runs and has a WRC+ 73% above average, while getting on base at a .428 clip in front of the sluggers who follow him in the lineup. To borrow a phrase from Reggie Jackson, Conforto is absolutely the straw that stirs the drink in this offense.
J.D. Davis has had a good season, and he’s likely hitting third behind the two frequently on-base outfielders. Davis is drawing essentially no ownership — the previous two hitters are the only Mets above 10% in current projections — and he costs just $4,600. Against same-handed pitching since the start of 2019, Davis has 17 home runs and a .296/.371/.488 slash, a .192 ISO and a WRC+ 31% above average. He’s very much in play in this matchup and is a major asset if he stays at this level of popularity.
Dominic Smith and Robinson Cano have been bringing it from the left side of the plate all season long. The southpaws are at opposite ends of the career spectrum. The veteran Cano is having a major renaissance at .320/.358/.544 with a .224 ISO and a WRC+ 42% above average. Smith has been even better with a .333/.396/.637 slash and a WRC+ 74% above average. Since the start of 2019, Smith has a .283 ISO and a WRC+ 54% above average in his 267 plate appearances against right-handed pitching.
Somehow we have to go through five hitters in this lineup before arriving at right-handed monster Pete Alonso. Alonso is disappointing in his sophomore season, but when one hits 53 home runs as a rookie it’s a difficult act to follow. Overall he’s hit 11 home runs and has a .222 ISO with a WRC+ 6% above average. He’s priced all the way down to $4,300 on DraftKings and drawing essentially no ownership. This looks like a major opportunity to me. Since the start of last season, Alonso has a .299 ISO and a WRC+ 39% above average in the split. Get ahead of the public on him.
Jeff McNeill is in a similar position in terms of the batting order, price and popularity. With no one on him, I’m very happy to get the outfielder in my lineups for just $3,900. McNeill hits from the left side of the plate as well and has an incredible ability to put the ball in play, which is an active dynamic for MLB DFS lineups that we don’t talk about often enough, as Jake mentioned on this morning’s MLB Strategy Show. For 2020, McNeill has a .319/..390/.493 slash with a WRC+ 40% above average. This is a premium hitter in a down-lineup spot, not a typical end-of-the-lineup hitter.
Speaking of typical end-of-the-lineup hitters, Andres Gimenez hasn’t offered much power but is providing some production for this team with his WRC+ 9% above average in his 104 plate appearances. Wilson Ramos is always in play for me at the catcher spot when no one is on him, though he has struggled against same-handed pitching since the start of last season with just a .120 ISO and a WRC+ 12% below average. He’s under 1% ownership so far, costs just $3,700 and could be in play, though I wish he were hitting higher than his spot at the bottom of the projected lineup I’m using.
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St. Louis Cardinals – 2-3-4-7-8 – Edman – Goldschmidt – DeJong – O’Neill – Bader
The Cardinals are a team we haven’t touched on in a while, and I like the looks of their opportunity today, so why not? If you’re in the market for a safer, under-owned pick from atop the board, check out the Braves. I’ve written them up several times recently, and they look spectacular in the matchup against Thomas Eshelman. For our purposes, we’re going to try to get to a team that’s drawing significantly less attention in a similarly good spot against Brett Anderson.
The Cardinals are 10th on the board on DraftKings out of our 24 overall teams, and their 3.8% probability of being the top team compares favorably with the third-ranked team’s 5.8%. With just a 2.5% team ownership share there should be plenty to work with against a fading lefty starter. Anderson gives up some power to the right side of the plate and he’s sitting in just the eighth percentile in strikeout rate and third percentile in whiff rate. The league has generated a ton of hard contact against Anderson this year. He’s in just the seventh percentile in hard hit rate. He has just a 14.7% strikeout rate to go with his 4.55 xFIP and five home runs allowed in 33.1 innings. Over the past three seasons, when he’s been able to take the mound, Anderson has just a 13.3% strikeout rate and a 4.48 xFIP while giving up nearly 40% hard contact to right-handed hitting.
The Cardinals are fairly loaded with right-handed power. The best two bats on the team hit from the right side of the plate. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt and shortstop Paul DeJong are two excellent options at under 7% DraftKings ownership. On the season, Goldschmidt has a .312/.439/.500 slash with six home runs and a WRC+ 59% above average in his 171 plate appearances. Against lefties dating back to the start of 2019, the first baseman has a .319 ISO and a WRC+ 61% above average against lefties. DeJong gets more of his quality in same-handed matchups, but there’s no reason to think he can’t get to a pitcher of limited quality like this version of Anderson. I like starting my Cards stacks with the pair of Pauls.
Hitting in front of the duo we’ll likely see Tommy Edman and Kolten Wong. Edman has a .295 ISO and a WRC+ 57% above average against lefties since the start of last season. Wong has been getting leadoff plate appearances against both lefties and right-handed pitchers. He’s carrying an average .336 on-base percentage in the split since the start of last year and has a WRC+ 4% below average. Wong hits for very little power against fellow southpaws, so his upside will come from getting on and scoring when the hitters behind him produce. He’s not mandatory, but he’s surely in play in stacks.
Rangel Ravelo is a 28-year-old minor league journeyman who finds himself hitting in the middle of the Cardinals projected lineup today. He’s priced at just $3,700 on DraftKings and slots in at either first base or outfield. In his 26 plate appearances in 2020, Ravelo has a home run and six RBIs. Ravelo never hit more than 15 home runs in the minors. I don’t see a ton of upside here, but as a price and popularity play, if he’s hitting fifth, we can work him into some of our stacks. I prefer other options in the lineup, however.
Yadier Molina isn’t truly one of those options, though the catcher is priced at just $3,600 and drawing under 2% ownership as of my last update. The .260/.291/.356 slash with three home runs and a WRC+ 24% below average leaves a lot to be desired, and Molina”s catching skills unfortunately don’t score us MLB DFS points. I can take or leave him as a mix-in option.
Tyler O’Neill is someone I want to get to. The power upside is very real in every plate appearance for O’Neill. Much like Gary Sanchez from the Yankees, he sends the ball a mile when he actually connects. The .194/.275/.370 slash shows us how infrequently that has happened this season. O’Neill has just five home runs in his 120 plate appearances and his WRC+ is also 24% below average. I’m interested in the home run upside for a player I expect to see several opportunities with men on base. We can buy similar power upside with Harrison Bader, who has a .266 ISO with a WRC+ just 3% below average in his 121 plate appearances against lefties since the start of 2019. His on-base skills put him in play to wrap back to the top of the lineup for a little added correlation as well. Lane Thomas doesn’t do much for us hitting ninth in the projected lineup. If you need the salary relief, you can mix him in, but I don’t see much upside there.
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