With only three weeks left in the MLB regular season, things are really starting to get interesting. The San Francisco Giants became the first team to clinch a playoff spot on Monday evening, but even still, they’ve got work to do to wrap up the NL West. Also, while most other division races appear pretty set in stone, the Wild Card hunt in both leagues is a mad scramble to the finish.
What does it all mean for DFS? Let’s break down tonight’s 12-game featured slate on DraftKings.
Frankie Montas, Oakland Athletics at Kansas City Royals, $10,000 - The top of this pitching slate is a little tenuous. Gerrit Cole ($10,700) has been dealing with a hamstring issue, while Lucas Giolito ($10,200) is making his return from the IL this evening. However, if the workloads this past weekend from Lance Lynn and Carlos Rodon are any indication, Giolito won’t be going more than five innings. So, who can you trust? To me, the answer is Montas. The right-hander has been incredible across his last 11 outings, pitching to a 2.18 ERA and a 2.35 FIP. Montas has also struck out a whopping 31.9% of the batters he’s faced within this recent stretch, a figure that’s translated into at least six strikeouts in all 11 starts. Considering the Royals have mustered just an 85 wRC+ so far in September, I think Montas continues to roll on Tuesday.
Jesus Luzardo, Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals, $6,300 - If you’ve been following Luzardo all season, it’s certainly been a bumpy ride. Still, the former top prospect has looked better as of late, registering a 2.60 ERA over his past three starts, and twice tying his season-high for strikeouts within that span (8). However, at the end of the day, Luzardo’s viability is mostly about positional scarcity. Touki Toussaint ($7,200) has pitch count concerns. Drew Rasmussen ($6,500) is facing a Jays lineup that’s hotter than the sun. Jake Woodford ($5,900) has the matchup, but little upside. If you’re looking for legitimate pitching value on this slate, Luzardo is truly the only option that combines elite talent and ceiling. I’ll take my chances with the 23-year-old this evening.
Yasmani Grandal, Chicago White Sox vs. Los Angeles Angels, $5,100 - Grandal has pretty much been unstoppable since coming off the IL a few weeks back, posting insane marks in both wOBA (.600) and wRC+ (293) across that 56 plate appearance span. However, if you’re the type of person who prefers season-long trends, allow me to list Grandal’s exploits against LHPs so far in 2021. The veteran is slashing .308/.525/.654 with a 215 wRC+ within the split. If I were Packy Naughton ($6,100), I’d tread carefully in this matchup.
Kyle Higashioka, New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles, $3,900 - As Cole’s personal catcher, Higashioka will be behind the plate tonight in Baltimore. At this point, that’s enough to be DFS viable. After a record-setting weekend by Toronto, the Orioles come into tonight’s festivities in possession of a 6.92 ERA and a 6.24 FIP as a staff so far in September. Collectively, Baltimore pitchers are surrendering 2.08 home runs per nine in the month. That is absolutely crazy. Higashioka also owns a .315 ISO against LHPs like Alexander Wells ($5,400) in 2021.
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Matt Olson, Oakland Athletics at Kansas City Royals, $5,100 - Olson is coming off quiet the series against the Rangers, finishing the weekend with six hits, seven RBI and a pair of home runs. It’s really just more of the same for the All-Star, as Olson comes into Tuesday’s action sporting the league’s seventh-best wRC+ among qualified players (149). He’s very good. Jackson Kowar ($5,000) is not. Well, at least not yet. Kowar has faced 33 LHBs at the MLB level in 2021. Those 33 plate appearances have ended in a .360/.485/.560 slash line. Yikes.
Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox at Los Angeles Angels, $4,200 - I’m not sure what to say about this price point other than I don’t understand it for a single second. This is the cheapest Abreu has been all season long, which considering his 157 wRC+ since the beginning of August — or his 156 wRC+ against LHPs in 2021 — doesn’t make a lick of sense. Heck, Abreu is currently leading baseball in RBI (107). He’s a counting stats machine.
Enrique Hernandez, Boston Red Sox at Seattle Mariners, $4,500 - Hernandez, as he’s consistently done throughout his career, has loved hitting left-handed pitching so far in 2021. Boston’s leadoff man has posted a .238 ISO and a 133 wRC+ in his 199 plate appearances within the split. Something Hernandez has also consistently done throughout his career is hit Tyler Anderson ($7,700). The two were NL West adversaries for many years and Kiké has managed a .621 slugging percentage off the lefty. That may be of interest to some of you. Who knows?
Tommy La Stella, San Francisco Giants vs. San Diego Padres, $2,900 - La Stella is one of this slate’s better value assets, as the infielder has been consistently hitting leadoff for the Giants against right-handed pitching. Yes, nothing about La Stella’s numbers this season jump off the page, but in a matchup with Jake Arrieta ($5,200), all you need is a bat. The former Cy Young Award winner has allowed opponents to slash .430/.473/.720 with a .499 wOBA in his past six outings. That’s ridiculously terrible.
Kris Bryant, San Francisco Giants vs. San Diego Padres, $5,300 - After seeing the aforementioned Arrieta’s stat line since the beginning of July, it should probably come as little shock that the Giants have an implied team total of well above five runs on Tuesday. So, at the risk of simplifying things too much, let me say this: Anyone wearing orange in the San Francisco area is a viable DFS play this evening. This especially applies to a former MVP like Bryant, who owns a .220 ISO and a 126 wRC+ since the All-Star break.
Evan Longoria, San Francisco Giants vs. San Diego Padres, $3,900 - The nice thing about a Giants stack is there’s a lot of positional flexibility. If you’d like to have Longoria and Bryant in the same lineup, you can do that, as the latter has outfield eligibility. Let’s be honest. You’re probably going to want to do that. Longoria’s bat is heating up as the veteran has notched two home runs in his past four games. Longoria has also hit extremely well in San Francisco so far in 2021, registering a .991 OPS and a 172 wRC+ when playing at home.
Francisco Lindor, New York Mets vs. St. Louis Cardinals, $5,100 - While much was made of Lindor’s breakout performance on Sunday Night Baseball, the infielder has actually been looking good at the plate for the better part of two weeks. Across Lindor’s past 11 games, he’s slashing .324/.458/.838 with a 229 wRC+. Obviously we’re dealing with small samples, but it’s not like Lindor doesn’t come with a track record. Also, as a switch-hitter, he’s in a perfect spot tonight against Woodford. The rookie has had his issues with LHBs all season long, surrendering a .333 average and a .390 wOBA within the split.
Gleyber Torres, New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles, $3,700 - When in doubt, find a cheap Yankee. Clearly Torres has not been his usual self so far in 2021, but nothing cures a six-month slump quite like a trip to Camden Yards — particularly when it comes to Torres. The infielder is slashing .329/.440/.737 with eight home runs in his 23 career games in Baltimore. Considering how poorly the Orioles have been pitching the past two weeks, I see no reason why Torres’ success at Camden can’t continue.
Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros at Texas Rangers, $5,100 - This probably won’t come as too much of a surprise, but Jordan Lyles ($6,700) has been struggling against left-handed hitters in recent weeks. In fact, across his past seven starts, Lyles has conceded a .612 slugging percentage and 3.2 home runs per nine within the split. Those numbers probably make the eyes of Alvarez light up, as the lefty has been red-hot since the beginning of August. Within that span, Alvarez has posted a massive .331 ISO to go along with a 165 wRC+. Not too bad at all.
Rafael Ortega, Chicago Cubs at Philadelphia Phillies, $3,700 - Ortega has really taken advantage of his opportunity in Chicago, slashing .330/.377/.555 with a 148 wRC+ in his 216 plate appearances against RHPs in 2021. It’s also not like Kyle Gibson ($8,100) enters this contest in the best form. Over his last six outings, Gibson has pitched to a 5.50 ERA, all while surrendering an eye-popping .380 wOBA to left-handed opponents.
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