Wednesday features an 11-game MLB main slate, and the action on DraftKings gets underway at 7:05 p.m. ET. Let’s go position-by-position and break down everything you’ll need to know to set your lineups.
Kevin Gausman, San Francisco Giants at Arizona Diamondbacks ($9,700) — In his last start, he bounced back and earned nine strikeouts against a Houston team that does not strike out — their 19.4% K rate is the lowest by a wide margin. However, in the start before that, the Gausman chalk busted against Pittsburgh. His swinging strike rate was down from 14.8% to a season low 5.6%, and his called strike rate was down from 16.9% to a season low 11.3%. From there, he allowed 88.9% contact, of which 50% was hard — he was lucky to post a .412 BABIP and not higher. Sometimes pitchers don’t have it, and Gausman admitted after the game that he had been struggling with his split-finger fastball over the last two games. Gausman’s splitter is the best in baseball and the reason that he had the lowest ERA heading into that matchup. Typically, Gausman uses the splitter 42% of the time, but against Pittsburgh, he couldn’t control it, so his best pitch was holstered (10.1% usage). The spin rate on the pitch has dropped precipitously (1,713 RPMs at its peak, and now below 1,400 RPMs in his last three starts), and so have the swings and misses. The question then is how did be bounce back against the Astros? He relied on his four-seam fastball and generated a season high 37.8% called strike rate. This is the crux of the Gausman play on Wednesday night. Houston takes more strikes than any team in baseball (18.3%), but Arizona is second (18.0%). If Gausman finds his splitter, then great, but if not — he should be able to catch Arizona batters looking with his four-seamer.
Other Option: Shohei Ohtani ($9,500)
Alec Mills, Chicago Cubs at Colorado Rockies ($5,800) — This section defaults to the pitcher facing Colorado, but there is more to this play than picking on Colorado. Typically, taking a pitcher in Coors Field, even against a poor Rockies club is not the preferred play. However, Mills is the type of pitcher that should be fine in Colorado. Even if the Rockies have one the best home records in baseball and the second highest home wOBA (.342), Mills can still hit value at this price. Working in Mills favor is the fact that Colorado is cooling off or quitting — .301 wOBA at home in July (25th). However, the biggest reason to play Mills is that he’s a ground ball pitcher — 2.4 GO/AO, 55% ground ball rate and a 27% hard contact rate. His last start was at Cincinnati, and he gave up three runs over six innings, surrendering only one home run to who other than the red hot Joey Votto. That home run hints at his biggest weakness (3.48 xFIP vs. RHB, but a 5.21 xFIP vs. LHB). The good news for Mills is that Colorado has one lefty that has an above-average wOBA against right-handed pitching (Ryan McMahon — .352 wOBA), and while he’s been hot this month, his ISO is a harmless .111.
Other Option: Jon Gray ($7,200)
Eric Haase, Detroit Tigers vs. Boston Red Sox ($4,800) — Fresh off being named the AL Rookie of the Month for July, Haase draws a decent matchup with Eduardo Rodriguez ($9,000) — .337 wOBA and a .375 BABIP against right-handed batters. In July, Hasse hit nine home runs and collected 29 RBIs (.391 wOBA, .361 ISO and a 150 wRC+). The majority of that damage was against left-handed pitching — five home runs and 14 RBIs (.513 wOBA, .536 ISO and a 232 wRC+).
Other Option: J.T. Realmuto ($5,400)
Gary Sánchez, New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles ($4,400) — This isn’t a steal, but he’s priced significantly lower than his Gary “The Sanchize” price tag (google Gary Sánchez’s nickname and the only name that will come up is “The Kraken.” Why is his real nickname being scrubbed from the internet?) Perhaps the salary is correct for The Kraken. He has a .202 ISO against right-handed pitching, but that’s all he’s doing right. The price tag would be lower, but he’s facing The Dark Knight, Matt Harvey ($5,300). Based on Harvey’s stats this season — 4.18 xFIP and .376 wOBA vs. RHB — Harvey Dent or Two Face is more applicable. The price isn’t bad for a hitter with pop versus a mercurial pitcher in a hitter’s park.
Other Option: Yadier Molina ($3,800)
Max Muncy, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Houston Astros ($5,500) — Houston changes people. Pitchers sign with the Astros and many of their flaws miraculously vanish. Jake Odorizzi ($9,800) was a reverse split pitcher before arriving in Houston — 4.43 career xFIP vs. RHB and 5.26 xFIP in 2021 vs. RHB. This season, he has a 3.96 xFIP vs. RHB, but his xFIP to LHB has ballooned to 5.20 (.342 wOBA, .253 ISO and 1.7 HR/9). That’s not good, but it’s natural to struggle with the opposite side of the plate and that’s where Muncy hits (.394 wOBA, .270 ISO, 151 wRC+ and a 41% hard contact rate against right-handed pitching).
Other Option: Paul Goldschmidt ($5,300)
Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals vs. Philadelphia Phillies ($4,100) — He’s been better against lefties, and typically Josh Bell ($4,600) gets most of the work against right-handed pitching, but Chase Anderson ($6,100) has faired well against left-handed batters (.288 wOBA) while struggling with right-handed batters (.437 wOBA). The sample size against Anderson is small (44 innings), but righties have a .274 ISO versus a .166 ISO from lefties. If Bell does draw the start, then he is fine. Anderson has not been good against lefties, he’s been lucky — 5.72 xFIP and a .182 BABIP.
Other Option: Patrick Wisdom ($4,300)
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Ozzie Albies, Atlanta Braves at St. Louis Cardinals ($4,900) — The Cardinals traded for J.A. Happ ($7,500). Do they know something that no one else does or is this a case of galaxy brain. The latter seems likely because they also traded for Jon Lester. In Happ’s last start, he allowed nine earned runs in three innings. This season he has a 6.77 xFIP and against right-handed batters he has a .397 wOBA, .275 ISO, 36% hard contact rate and 2.2 HR/9. Albies has a .393 wOBA, .267 ISO, 145 wRC+ and a 12% K rate against left-handed pitching.
Other Option: Marcus Semien ($5,300)
David Fletcher, Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers ($) — His price decrease indicates that he’s no longer red hot, but he’s playing well. Since the All-Star break, Fletcher’s 31% hard contact rate might not seem great, but it’s pretty strong for a hitter that has a 6.2% K rate over that span. Some power hitters amass hard contact rates north of 40%, but they strike out 25% of the time. Fletcher's lower hard contact rate and lower K rate result in an actual higher quantity of hard hit Batted Ball Events because 90% of his plate appearance result in contact.
Other Option: Sergio Alcántara ($2,800)
Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox at Detroit Tigers ($) — Casey Mize ($8,800) is a typical right-handed prospect that struggles with left-handed batters — .346 wOBA, .248 ISO, 47% hard contact rate and 2.2 HR/9. Rafael Devers is THE typical left-handed star that mashes right-handed pitching — .408 wOBA (11th), .353 ISO (fourth), 159 wRC+ (10th) and a 50% hard contact rate (first).
Other Option: Nolan Arenado ($5,600), Cavan Biggio ($4,600)
Ryan McMahon, Colorado Rockies vs. Chicago Cubs ($) — The hedge bet should be discussed. If DFS players are not sold on Alec Mills — he is a $5,800 pitcher at Colorado — then McMahon is worth a hard look. Mills is a rookie that struggles with lefties, where have we heard that before (.364 wOBA and a 16% K rate)? McMahon has been great at Coors against right-handed pitching (.416 wOBA, .294 ISO and a 147 wRC+) and he’s been hot over the last month (.384 wOBA and a 127 wRC+)
Other Option: Tyler Wade ($2,700)
Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Houston Astros ($4,600) — It’s about time for Seager to shake off the cobwebs. His matchup with Jake Odorizzi will be his fourth start since returning from the IL. Since the start of the 2020 season, Seager has a .363 wOBA, .201 ISO and a 42.8% hard contact rate. Last season against right-handed pitching, Seager had a 53.3% hard contact rate with a 37.5% fly ball rate. On Wednesday night, he’ll face a pitcher that is allowing a 47% fly ball rate to left-handed batters. This is a great opportunity for Seager to return to his 2020 form.
Other Option: Tim Anderson ($5,900)
Dansby Swanson, Atlanta Braves at St. Louis Cardinals ($4,200) — The Braves will be popular tonight against J.A. Happ. Swanson is priced too low and will be featured in most stacks and as a one off. Against left-handed pitching, Swanson has a .309 wOBA, .242 ISO, 90 wRC+ and a 41% hard contact rate. The consistency is lacking, but the power is there.
Other Option: Miguel Rojas ($3,700)
Cedric Mullins, Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees ($4,500) — He’s nowhere close to being the highest priced outfielder on this slate, but he can score fantasy points with the best of them. Mullins has a .396 wOBA, .237 ISO, 155 wRC+ and a 37% hard contact rate against right-handed pitchers, and Jameson Taillon ($10,200) is allowing a .336 wOBA, .213 ISO, 2.0 HR/9 and a 52% hard contact rate to left-handed batters. This game is in a hitter’s park and Mullins is on a 12-game hit streak.
Other Option: Juan Soto ($6,100)
Raimel Tapia, Colorado Rockies vs. Chicago Cubs ($3,700) — The Colorado stack is cheap for a game at Coors field, but Alec Mills is not a gas can. A one-off value play from this game is a suitable roster construction option. Tapia has been good against right-handed pitching in Coors (.360 wOBA and a .200 ISO) and he’s hot — .412 wOBA and a 144 wRC+ over the last week (six of the seven games were on the road).
Other Option: Adam Duvall ($4,100), Alex Verdugo ($3,900)
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