The week of Monday, July 19, starts off with an 11-game slate and a veritable cornucopia of subpar pitchers. Let’s get into the top MLB DFS picks for pitchers and stacks for Yahoo, DraftKings and FanDuel daily fantasy baseball lineups.
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MLB DFS Picks: Spotlight Pitchers and Top Stacks, Monday, July 19
Yahoo Stack of the Day: Tampa Bay Rays vs. RHP Spenser Watkins — 5.2 implied runs
Clearly the Yahoo salary algorithm is impressed with rookie Spenser Watkins’ handful of innings in the majors. While the 1.74 ERA and perfect 1-0 record are stellar, he has just six strikeouts in 10.1 innings with just as many walks. This is likely his last chance in the big leagues, as his 119 innings, 6.50 ERA, 1.529 WHIP and just 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings in Triple-A do not portend MLB success. If the Orioles were not so desperate for pitching, Watkins likely would be out of the league.
Tampa Bay has been excellent this season against right-handed pitchers, with a top-five offense creating 10% more runs than league average. While the Rays’ 26.1% strikeout rate is the fifth highest in the league, so is their .185 ISO. Brandon Lowe ($23), Ji-Man Choi ($10), Austin Meadows ($14) and Joey Wendle ($11) all are swinging big sticks from the left side of the plate. Youngsters Wander Franco ($13) and Randy Arozarena ($11) are discount dandies from the right side. Finally, gamers can look to Mike Zunino ($13), who has loads of power when he makes contact. The poor strikeout ability of Watkins gives Zunino a boost, and he is a nice way to check off the catcher requirement for fantasy baseball lineups.
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Houston Astros vs. RHP Jean Carlos Mejia — 5.4 implied runs
J.C. Mejia has allowed six earned runs in three of his last four starts. Across these 17.2 innings, he has suffered a 9.67 ERA, 1.472 WHIP and five home runs and struck out only 14. Mejia profiles better as a low-leverage reliever or opener and is only getting turns in the rotation due to the injuries to Shane Bieber and Aaron Civale.
Even with Alex Bregman on the injured list, Houston still has six outstanding bats at the top of its order. Lefties Yordan Alvarez (.304 ISO) and Kyle Tucker (.232 ISO) have destroyed opposite-handed pitching over the last three seasons. Fellow lefty Michael Brantley is one of the most complete hitters in the league, and he has a nice blend of power and contact while rarely striking out. Carlos Correa (.237 ISO) and Jose Altuve (.199 ISO) are also swinging the lumber, and Yuli Gurriel is almost a mirror image of Brantley from the right side.
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. RHP Chase De Jong — 5.0 implied runs
The Diamondbacks have been a complete disaster this season against right-handed pitching. They are creating runs 17% worse than league average, which is ahead of only the Rockies. They also have the worst power numbers in MLB with a collective .132 ISO.
The reason to play Arizona, however, is the five-run implied total bestowed by the oddsmakers. Opposing pitcher Chase De Jong was a highly regarded high school prospect who has had chances in the majors with Seattle, Minnesota, Houston and now Pittsburgh. Across his 93 innings he has a 6.48 ERA and a 1.602 WHIP with rates of 1.8 home runs and 6.60 strikeouts per nine innings. For Arizona, with only Eduardo Escobar and Christian Walker as above-average hitters, the pickings are slim. The salaries are very reasonable for outfielders Kole Calhoun, David Peralta and Pavin Smith. Arizona makes for a fine complementary stack on the main MLB DFS slate since they will provide plenty of cap flexibility and facilitate roster constructions with two top pitchers and a stack. They will be wildly popular on the late slate, with a run total that is at least a half run higher than each of the other five teams in the player pool.
Top Target: RHP Kyle Gibson at Detroit Tigers — 3.6 implied runs
- DFS Salary: Yahoo $43 | FanDuel $9,100 | DraftKings $9,000
Despite ranking fourth with a 2.29 ERA and limiting baserunners to just over one per inning, Kyle Gibson is still not a spectacular fantasy option. The main reason is his relative lack of strikeouts, 7.8 per nine innings, which still ranks just inside the top 50 starters. Over his last 1,300 hitters he has an elite 51.6% ground ball rate and does an excellent job limiting power with a .147 ISO. Detroit strikes out at the highest rate in the league against right-handed pitchers at 26.9%, and today’s projected lineup has a nearly 29% rate. Gibson was pedestrian in his last start against the Tigers 12 days ago, but he should be relatively fresh after the All-Star Break.
Secondary Target: LHP Ryan Yarbrough vs. Baltimore Orioles — 3.4 implied runs
- DFS Salary: Yahoo $35 | FanDuel $7,400 | DraftKings $8,600
Tonight there are going to be weather concerns in Atlanta, which make Yu Darvish a tenuous option. Instead, gamers can turn to Ryan Yarbrough, who will be pitching in the climate-controlled Tropicana Field against a marginal Orioles squad. The oddsmakers are not giving much respect to the Orioles, as they have just a 3.4 implied run total. Austin Hays, Trey Mancini and Anthony Santander are solid against southpaws. Cedric Mullins and Ryan Mountcastle struggle in lefty/lefty matchups, and the bottom of the order can barely be considered replacement-level batsmen.
Wild Card: LHP Caleb Smith vs. Pittsburgh Pirates — 4.5 implied runs
- DFS Salary: Yahoo $35 | FanDuel $7,000 | DraftKings $6,600
While Caleb Smith’s performances this season have been all over the place, the salary is reflective of those chaotic results. Smith mostly worked out of the bullpen for the first two months of the season, but he was gaining traction with his strikeouts in June. Across half a dozen appearances he logged 31.1 innings with 35 strikeouts, which works out to 10 per nine innings. The wheels came off during his two July starts against the Giants and then in Los Angeles against the Dodgers. In this pair of putrid performances he lasted only seven innings with an 18.0 ERA and a 2.14 WHIP. To be fair, he was a little unlucky in that 14 of 15 baserunners scored. However, he did cede five home runs. While the Pirates have the third-lowest strikeout rate against southpaws, they have the lowest power numbers and the worst scoring efficiency as well.
Final Thoughts for the Monday, July 19, MLB DFS Slate
Atlanta has some weather concerns, which are likely to take two of the more interesting pitching options off the board. While there are no standout aces, there are several solid pitchers in good matchups, so Monday is shaping up to be a mixing-and-matching strategy on the two-pitcher sites.
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