It’s early into the 2019 MLB season, but damn if it isn’t starting to become difficult to outright pay up for pitching.
Chris Sale, Jacob deGrom, Aaron Nola, Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Corey Kluber, James Paxton, German Marquez…ok, I won’t get that crazy.
But the other guys on that list have all performed below expectations at least once already this year. Some have been outright drilled, some are losing velocity, some are…well, I don’t know what’s going on.
But paying down for pitching has been successful so far, and that’s the lane I will stay in for now.
We have a nice 10-game slate for tonight’s action, and we will see if narratives are true in DFS…it is yours truly’s birthday.
I am 36 years old, so I will not be giving you 36 picks for tonight. I will keep this version of the Value Index off the paywall one more day.
So, if I don’t have a happy birthday in DFS, I hope the recommendations lead you to smash night.
Robbie Ray – vs. Texas Rangers – $8,100
Analysis: Robbie Ray has been touched up some to start the season, thus his price is starting to drop. At $8,100 and at home, Ray draws a lefty-heavy Rangers’ lineup, that has actually been solid against lefties so far this season. But Ray is tough on lefties and this Rangers team will likely throw out 4 lefties in the lineup plus they will be without a DH. Even if they don’t throw out as many lefties, the RH bats are nothing to be afraid of – DeShields, Asdrubal, Andrus and Forsythe are scrappy players that are just part of a team that is hitting the ball well, but their power is limited and the balls in Arizona don’t play like balls in Arizona in years past.
Yu Darvish – vs. Pittsburgh Pirates – $7,500
Analysis: I am still a believer that Darvish is going to have a resurgent year, thus this extremely depressed price tag is far too tempting to pass up for a guy who I believe has tons of upside awaiting him. His largest problem, and this is nothing new, are walks. He walked 6 in his last start against the Braves. He’s also faced the Rangers, his former team. The Braves and Rangers offenses have been strong to start the season, so I am throwing those performances out the window for a pitcher trying to get his rhythm, arm strength, stamina and routine back to normal. The Pirates are not a team to be feared at the moment despite their standings as the 9th team in the league in wOBA against RH pitching so far this season. They still don’t strike out a ton, but at this price where wins are important on FanDuel and the Cubs facing Jordan Lyles, Darvish needs 5 innings of shutout ball with 4-5 strikeouts and a win to truly pay off his price tag. Anything else beyond that is a bonus.
Brandon Woodruff – vs. Los Angeles Angels – $7,300
Analysis: Woodruff and the Brewers take on an Angels squad that might be without Mike Trout, who was removed from the game in the middle of the game last night. That really waters this lineup down, a lineup that shelled Freddy Peralta. But Woodruff is better than Peralta. He has a mix of pitches that can throw hitters off balance, not just a 2-pitch power pony like Peralta. Woodruff could quickly become my favorite pitcher on the slate if we get word early that Trout is out of the lineup.
Yusei Kikuchi – at Kansas City Royals – $7,100
Analysis: If Marco Gonzales can get past the Royals, so can rookie Kikuchi. Outside of the red-hot Whit Merrifield, the Royals are not a team to be feared against lefties this season. So far, they are 28th in wOBA with a .181 batting average and a 24% hard contact rate. Kikuchi should see quite a few right-handed bats, but Kikuchi has limited hard contact against righties to 27% of the time and inducing ground balls 45% of the time. With Seattle continuing to pound the ball and score the runs, the win is certainly on the table for Kikuchi, too, who has an 8.10 K/9 against lefties and a 6.87 K/9 against righties.
Juan Soto – OF – Washington Nationals – $3,800
Analysis: Is Juan Soto facing a righty? Yes. Is Juan Soto facing Nick Pivetta? Yes. Play Juan Soto, who owns a .440 wOBA, .231 ISO and 38% hard hit rate against RH pitching this season. Pivetta looks lost and continues his woes against lefty bats so far with a 6.06 xFIP, .533 wOBA and 3.38 HR/9.
Jurickson Profar – 2B – Oakland Athletics – $2,300
Analysis: Full disclosure, I didn’t get to Profar in my lineups last night. I was too gung ho on the Dodgers and Brewers, that I basically forgot to slip him in. Great for my best balls, bad for my bankroll. We don’t know the Orioles pitcher at the time this write-up published, but Profar is heating up as you saw last night. He can hit from either side of the plate and if another lefty starts tonight, I certainly will be more in favor of Profar, who owned a .341 wOBA against southpaws last season.
Robinson Cano – 2B – New York Mets – $3,100
Analysis: Jake Odorizzi is bad at baseball. If I were playing cash games, Cano would be one of the first ones in. Odorizzi has been a reverse-splits pitcher in the past, but he’s really just bad all the way around. Odorizzi’s numbers are great against lefties so far, but that’s going to change. His numbers are very unsustainable. Cano and the Mets got pounded last night, but still put up big numbers. The Mets are 7th in the league in wOBA against RH pitching. Cano will hit in the meat of this lineup. Against Odorizzi, Cano is 5-for-15 with a double, an RBI and a walk.
Matt Carpenter – 3B – St. Louis Cardinals – $3,600
Analysis: The Cardinals take on Kenta Maeda tonight. They got to Ross Stripling last night and now face a pitcher that has struggled with lefties early to start the season, giving up a .376 wOBA and 2.84 HR/9. BvP isn’t a thing here because Carpenter is only 1-for-5 against Maeda, so way too small to consider as a predictor of what’s to come. Carpenter’s price, matchup and lineup spot are all at a premium today on FanDuel.
Corey Seager – SS – Los Angeles Dodgers – $3,100
Analysis: Loved Seager yesterday, but then he sat. I fully expect him to return to the lineup tonight and well rested. The Cardinals are throwing out Jack Flaherty to take on this loaded LAD lineup. Flaherty owns a 3.42 xFIP compared to a 1.93 ERA so far this season to lefties. Seager is off to a hot start out of the two-hole and is the road team, that means extra lineups, too.
David Peralta – OF – Arizona Diamondbacks – $3,800
Analysis: Lance Lynn is pitching for the Rangers, so that means we like Diamondback lefties today. But the one I will focus on is David Peralta, the D-Backs cleanup hitter. Peralta is 5-for-11 with a home run and two walks against Lynn in his career. Against lefties, Lynn currently owns a .379 wOBA and 43% hard contact so far this season. Peralta has been destroying RH pitching so far – .455 wOBA, .407 BA, .259 ISO and 40% hard contact rate.
Justin Bour – 1B – Los Angeles Angels – $2,500
Analysis: Big time power bat that is finally showing some life. He had his first home run a couple of days ago is one of my favorite, cheap one-offs on FanDuel. While Trout might not be in the lineup, Bour is a solid punt 1B on FanDuel against Brandon Woodruff, who I do like as a pitcher, but he’s also one that has allowed a .477 wOBA to lefties so far this season.
Chris Davis – 1B – Baltimore Orioles – $500
Analysis: Is still 0-for-47, didn’t play against lefty Brett Anderson, gets the same pricing treatment today…hell yea I am going to play him!