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MLB Cheat Sheet: DraftKings Fantasy Baseball DFS Picks, Predictions, Betting Odds for August 20

Garion Thorne breaks down Friday’s DraftKings MLB slate with pitching and hitting analysis, odds, lines and prop bets.

It’s Friday. Let us all rejoice and bask in the warming glow of the upcoming weekend. Let us also remember that there’s a massive 14-game featured slate in MLB this evening, which might actually be more fun than whatever errands you have planned for Saturday afternoon. Just a hunch.

Let’s break it all down from a DFS and Sportsbook perspective.

For up-to-the-minute news, analysis and lineups, download the DK Live app. You also can follow DK Live on Twitter @dklive.

DraftKings Sportsbook Game Notes

Biggest Moneyline Favorite

Note: This section highlights the pitcher whose team is the largest favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook.

Chris Sale, $9,700, Boston Red Sox (-310) vs. Texas Rangers (+245) — After a stretch of schedule where Boston was essentially playing Tampa Bay, New York or Toronto every night for a month, the Red Sox will certainly be happy to take on the Rangers at Fenway this evening. It also doesn’t hurt the team’s morale that taking the mound will be Sale, who appears to be fully back from Tommy John surgery after a strong first outing of 2021. Sale threw 89 pitches across six innings in a win against the Orioles, a contest where just 16.7% of the 12 batted ball events he induced were hard hit. Sale also struck out eight opponents that afternoon and registered an eye-popping 18.0% swinging strike rate. All in all, he looked about as dominant as one might remember.

This is all bad news for Texas. Though the team has recently been able to score a few runs, the Rangers come into Friday in possession of the league’s lowest OBP (.247) and wOBA (.256) in the month of August. Texas has also registered just a .284 wOBA against left-handed pitching for the season as a whole, which is, you guessed it, the worst mark in baseball. The Rangers will have an uphill climb to keep things close this evening, even with Dane Dunning ($5,200) likely representing the best starter on their current roster.

Highest Projected Total

Arizona Diamondbacks (+165; 4.5 runs) at Colorado Rockies (-195; 6.5 runs) 11.5 runs — Usually I wouldn’t be too concerned about this spot. Oh, the Rockies game has the highest total on the slate? What a shock. I don’t know if my system will be able to recover. However, tonight’s matchup between Arizona and Colorado has a fun wrinkle: Tyler Gilbert ($6,700). I mean, how’s that for a reward after throwing a no-hitter in your first-career start? Now you get to go pitch in the altitude at Coors Field. Yikes.

We don’t have a huge sample of data with Gilbert, as he’s thrown just 12.2 innings at the MLB level. Still, despite having not allowed a single earned run in that span of time, I think I can confidently say that the left-hander was not built to pitch in this particular ball park. Gilbert doesn’t miss bats: His 93.9% zone contact rate would be the highest in the league had he the innings to qualify. Gilbert also doesn’t suppress launch angle, with a modest 29.6% ground ball rate through his first four appearances. Don’t ask me to break down the science, but a contact-oriented, fly-ball pitcher is basically the worst archetype you can be when playing in Colorado. Needless to say, I don’t think we’re getting back-to-back no-hitters. Sorry, guys.

Weather Notes

Minnesota Twins at New York Yankees A few small showers are expected in the area, but nothing severe enough to get worried about.

Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals Rain in Missouri for the third day in a row, so there’s a chance for a slight delay. Nothing major.

Splits to Start

Pitchers vs. Left-Handed Batters

Worst vs. LHB, wOBA, FIP (TBF)
Mitch Keller, .404, 4.45 (150)
Keegan Akin, .403, 4.05 (78)
Carlos Carrasco, .374, 6.88 (24)

Best vs. LHB, wOBA, FIP (TBF)
Tyler Gilbert, .087, 3.01 (18)
Elieser Hernandez, .150, 3.75 (24)
Yusei Kikuchi, .175, 3.02 (111)

Pitchers vs. Right-Handed Batters

Worst vs. RHB, wOBA, FIP (TBF)
Carlos Carrasco, .531, 8.30 (31)
Sam Hentges, .431, 5.33 (184)
Keegan Akin, .391, 5.05 (197)

Best vs. RHB, wOBA, FIP (TBF)
Tyler Gilbert, .167, 2.58 (24)
Walker Buehler, .223, 2.96 (292)
James Kaprielian, .242, 3.00 (173)

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Lineup Starters

Pitcher to Build Around

Robbie Ray, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Detroit Tigers, $9,900 — Alright, here’s where you’ve got to dive into some strategy. There’s no debate that the aforementioned Sale has the best matchup on the entire slate, and after looking so good on Saturday, people are going to be excited to use him in their lineups. So, you have to zig in GPPs. It’s also not like Ray is a disappointing consolation prize. Going back to the beginning of June, the left-hander has the lowest qualified ERA in the American League (2.32) and the highest strikeout rate in all of baseball (31.8%). If someone with those sort of credentials is going to be the pivot, you happily pivot, especially with the Tigers rocking a 26.2% strikeout rate across the past two weeks and missing Eric Haase (abdomen).

Stud Hitter to Pay For

Ozzie Albies, Atlanta Braves at Baltimore Orioles, $5,800 — Albies, a switch-hitter, has been completely locked-in against LHPs dating back to the beginning of June. In that stretch of time, the Braves’ leadoff man has taken 88 plate appearances within the split, and he’s slashing an impressive .350/.386/.575 with a .403 wOBA and a 151 wRC+. Keegan Akin ($6,100) isn’t a league-average lefty, either. In fact, Akin has surrendered 42 earned runs in his 40.2 innings as a starter so far in 2021. That includes conceding a .431 wOBA to opponents. Between Akin and an Orioles’ bullpen that’s falling apart at the seams, Albies should be able to do some damage on Friday.

Save Big by Drafting

Tyler O’Neill, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, $3,500 — There’s no way around it, anyone with a brain would agree that O’Neill is underpriced on tonight’s slate. Honestly, he’s been underpriced for most of the season. While the Vancouver native doesn’t have the plate appearances to qualify for most leaderboards in 2021, he does own a .398 expected wOBA — the 11th-best mark of any player in the league with at least 250 PAs. The top 10 is exactly who you would expect it to be, so it’s some pretty impressive company for the Cardinals’ clean-up hitter. For less than $4K, you’re getting an asset that currently ranks in the 100th percentile in hard hit rate (56.4%). With Mitch Keller ($6,400) and his 6.86 ERA on the mound for the Pirates, what could go wrong?

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.

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