We’re looking at eight games tonight along with some smokin’ hot pitching options. This is going to be a challenging slate.
This is Plan of Attack. We’re here to provide advice and recommendations to help you build successful daily fantasy lineups. We’ll be loosely guided by the tenants of our DFS Manifesto – namely a single lineup build designed to improve your enjoyment of the game while giving you a chance to beat the rake.
Don’t be surprised if the column evolves. This is a living creature, and it’s sure to adapt in Darwinian fashion. If there are features you especially like or believe need tweaking to be actionable, please reach out to us. Since this is written early in the day, certain important details will be left for you to find on your own. In particular, weather, lineups, and umpires are all things you should verify within three hours of contest-lock.
For clarity, when I reference “value,” I’m referring to projected points divided by cost.
1. The RotoFanatical Challenge
We are hosting a daily 20-entry, $3 contest on DraftKings. It’s an excellent low-cost testing ground against fellow RotoFanatic fans. A level playing field is always nice. Today’s 11-game slate begins at 7:05pm ET. Reserve your spot for the contest.
2. Weather and Park Factors
The prevailing weather is temperate with no sign of rain. It’s even a tad chilly for two games by the bay.
The only bonafide hitter-friendly venue is Camden Yards. The rest of the parks are either within a stone’s throw of neutral (i.e. Petco Park, Target Field) or a pitcher haven (Busch Stadium, T-Mobile Park, Oakland Coliseum, PNC Park, Oracle Park). This is… most unusual. The Baltimore game also happens to include two of the worst pitchers in the slate so everybody is going to be piling into Camden Yards. For hitters, the park is best for pull-side righties and lefties of any flavor.
Check out our park factors HERE.
3. Building Block Bats
Christian Yelich ($5100 DK, $4200 FD)
Psst… Yelich is doing Yelichy things again. Rarely should you use 10 game samples to make decisions. So, with that said… here’s what Yelich has done over his last 10 games.
And here’s why I consider this valid for Mr. Yelich. In 2019, he posted a 13.8 percent walk rate, 20.3 percent strikeout rate, .355 BABIP, .342 ISO, 93.3 EV, and a .329/.429/.671 batting line. Which is the outlier, his recent performance or his first 50 plate appearances?
A matchup against Jose Berrios and the Twins fantastic bullpen isn’t an ideal situation, but pretty much every hitter has a wart or two tonight.
Also consider: Mike Trout, Jose Ramirez, Fernando Tatis, Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, Anthony Rendon, Nick Castellanos, Max Kepler
Trent Grisham ($3100 DK, $3000 FD)
The Padres leadoff man is far too reasonably priced – he won’t be slipping under the radar. This is a $4500 player with one of the friendliest matchups of the slate opposite Kyle Gibson and the Rangers (mostly bad) bullpen. Grisham has nearly all the components you want in a hitter – plate discipline, contact ability, an ideal launch angle, and the power to use it all. If there’s one drawback, he can verge on passivity at the plate. He lets far too many hittable pitches by in the strike zone. I suspect he’ll learn to ambush these mistakes over time. Until then, keep banking this steady high floor, high ceiling profile at a discount.
Jesse Winker ($3400 DK, $2700 FD)
Regular readers will have noticed I don’t delve into handedness splits too often. Even with Winker, a widely celebrated righty-masher, I’m inclined to cry “small sample” and assume he’s moderately better against opposite-handed opponents. Just like almost everybody else. In any event, after a slow start to the season, Winker has awoken with a fury. His hard contact and barrel rates are through the roof. So is his ludicrous 60 percent HR/FB ratio. The cost, thus far, has been an increase in strikeout and swinging strike rates.
As a ground ball hitter, he doesn’t match up well with Adam Wainwright. I do think he’ll square up a baseball or three tonight, I’m just not expecting a home run. At this price, chasing a multi-hit game is perfectly fine.
Also consider: Alex Verdugo, Austin Slater, A.J. Pollock
Shane Bieber (DK $10600, FD $12000)
Yum, I taste chalk. Even in a loaded slate, Bieber stands out with a favorable matchup at a friendly park. If he has one weakness, it’s home runs (and associated hard contact). PNC Park will help to put the kibosh on his 22.2 percent HR/FB ratio. The venue suppresses home runs by six percent. The Pirates lineup will also do their part since they’re… uh… bad. By wRC+, they have the league worst offense (66 wRC+, 34 percent below average). Only the Cardinals and Marlins have hit fewer home runs. Hmm, what do those teams have in common?
Also Consider: Clayton Kershaw, Dinelson Lamet, Sonny Gray
Kevin Gausman (DK $6500, FD $7700)
Oh look, more chalk. At least on DraftKings, Gausman will be the most popular second pitcher. The formerly infuriating pitcher has made strides this year, gaining velocity while showing feel for his lethal splitter from day one. Pitching at Oracle Park doesn’t hurt either. He remains susceptible to home runs. He throws a few too many meaty, elevated fastballs. He’s also basically a two-pitch guy who honestly should have been tossed in a bullpen half a decade ago. He’s rocking all kinds of Hector Neris out there.
Trevor Williams (DK $5600, FD $7200)
Some merely decent pitchers are infuriated because they have good components and just won’t adjust. Mike Leake is the most obvious example. He has a deadly slider that he categorically refuses to use more than 12 percent… Wait, why was I writing about Mike Leake?
Oh, yes. Williams has long featured a well below average fastball with an otherwise solid repertoire and plus command. Finally, he’s throwing fewer fastballs, and the positive results are flowing. He’s induced career-best swinging strike and strikeout rates. Even though there’s truly nothing special about any of his offerings, putting everything together has allowed him to avoid hard contact. The Indians offense is top-heavy and cold. They have a 77 wRC+ (23 percent below average).
Also Consider: Nate Eovaldi, Yusei Kikuchi
Connectors are cheap guys who offer a tangible upside and enable you to explore top-heavy builds. FanDuel offers an embarrassing quantity of these players (their pricing model is drunk) so I’ll focus on DraftKings first and foremost.
Kevin Cron ($2200 DK, $2000 FD)
Against Jesus Luzardo and the Athletics, Cron contributed an 0-fer with two strikeouts. Overall, he’s 0-for-11 with six strikeouts and a walk. The potent slugger carries around a one-in-three chance to homer in any particular game. He only reliably plays against left-handed pitchers. Thankfully, the A’s are firing up a bad one tonight – Sean Manaea. The soft-tossing southpaw is a ground ball pitcher. He’ll be working right in Cron’s wheelhouse.
Sadly for Cron, the Diamondbacks seem to be impatient with their poor man’s Joey Gallo. If he doesn’t do something tonight, he might find himself back in alt-camp.
Matt Davidson ($2400 DK, $2300 FD)
Davidson was the hottest hitter in Reds Summer Camp, but an illness (he claims it wasn’t COVID), caused him to miss time. Through 21 plate appearances, he’s hit impressively. Perhaps the thing that stands out most is his swinging strike rate. At 73 percent, it’s less than half his career rate. Of course, the sample is small. He also hasn’t started since the Reds resumed played in over a week which may indicate he’s fallen out of favor. As a fly ball hitter, he matches up well with ground ball pitcher Adam Wainwright.
Also Consider: Tim Locastro, Jake Cronenworth, Jo Adell, Josh Naylor, Luis Urias