Early DraftKings and FanDuel MLB Picks for Thursday 4/11/19
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It’s really just Bieber and Buehler on the high-end at pitcher on this early slate. You can include Wacha and Leake as well, but Wacha is an underdog and Leake is involved in a 10 O/U game. Between Bieber and Buehler, we’re leaning Bieber. Buehler is a probably a better overall pitcher, but he has a tougher match-up and was limited to just 87 pitches in his last outing. We know the Dodgers like to limit their pitchers and you could easily see these two teams battling it out until late, leaving the win for a reliever. Combine that with the Cardinals being the best team Buehler has faced yet and an 8 O/U against a patient lineup. I’ll pass. Shane Bieber draws a Tigers team that’s living on luck so far (2nd in BABIP) and is one of the absolute worst lineups in all of the league. They struck out 23% of the time last season and are projected to finish last in the Central. The bat of Christin Stewart can only lead them so far. Shane Bieber is one of the more hyped up pitchers coming into this season, and he’s delivered this far with an 11:2 K:BB ratio. The hype comes from his disgusting 4.7% walk rate in 2018. He can pinpoint his pitches and will very rarely get himself into trouble. While he has a lot of work to do before getting himself even on the same level as the rest of the Indians staff, he’s good enough to get through the Tigers. The Indians are the biggest favorites on this slate and Bieber is your safest cash game option.
If you’re looking to pay for some bats and don’t think Bieber is all that, there are two affordable options here that deserve legitimate interest. Let’s start with Sonny Gray, who’s a bit more established. He didn’t have a great 2018, but definitely got a bit unlucky. His BABIP allowed was high (.340) and xFIP (3.98) pretty low, so he didn’t have as bad of a season as we’d like to think. Gray came back out after a miserable opening start and struck out seven Pirates across 6.2 innings. He didn’t walk any and didn’t run into issues until the seventh inning. They’ll now host a Marlins squad that is going to rank in the bottom two or three in every hitting stat against righties this season. They strikeout almost 25% of the time and don’t have any consistent power to lean on. The lineup is flooded with bottom of the order hitters and they rely on putting together single after single. If Gray is hitting his spots again, you’re going to get an affordable seven innings and a win. His price is solid across all sites and I can see using him as your starter in cash games if you don’t trust Bieber or Buehler.
Turnbull looked very average in his first start against the Blue Jays, but showed what his hype was about last game out. He struck out 10 Royals bats and was actually better than what it looks like on the surface. he was controlling a ton of the at-bats and looked like a dominant starter for most of the game. He did struggle late, but he got out of a few innings and showed he can work out of the stretch. He's a dynamic strikeout pitcher and gets to face off with an Indians lineup that is extremely underwhelming. Jake Bauers is hitting third and Hanley Ramirez fifth. That's about all you need to know. Oh ya, they also lead the league with a 30% strikeout rate. Yes, THIRTY PERCENT. Through two weeks. Spencer Turnbull could have a lot of fun here if he's pitching well, and he shouldn't be very highly owned with Gray cheaper. There is a ton of upside here in tournaments.
Team Cash Stacks
Park - BAL
Opposing Pitcher - BAL (Dylan Bundy)
Vegas Implied Run Total - 5.31
There isn't a ton to love with the bats this morning, but there are definitely two or three offenses you can hone in on and take your picks. We'll take a look at the two most obvious of the bunch. If you want to get a little contrarian, Spencer Turnbull and Pablo Lopez are my two candidates to be blown up. The Reds and Indians don't have pretty lineups, but they can rally. I know I recommended Turnbull and I'm hoping this doesn't come true, but any time a guy relies on K's and has struggles with control, it can get ugly fast. Let's get to these two offenses that are far above the rest. The Baltimore Orioles continue to pitch gas cans and it keeps spitting out the same result: runs. Over the last four games, they've allowed 42 runs. Fourty... two... runs. In the beginning of the season. I have no idea how this bullpen is going to survive, but this is already a bloodbath and it's only April 10th. Dylan Bundy has pitched 3.2 innings in each of his first two starts and gave up 3 ER in both. He then hands it over to one of the weakest bullpens in the entire league and the fun ensues. The Athletics have been enjoying themselves the last couple days and you can continue rostering the same bats.
Potential Players to Stack
You can dip into the bottom of this order, but this is the top of the lineup stack. Davis and Chapman are musts for me, as either can hit two homers on any given day and control the slate. Davis was actually better against righties than lefties and sported a .374 wOBA with a 44% hard contact rate. Chapman also prefers righties and held a .376 wOBA in 2018 with 20 homers in 120 games. They're both elite bats and have to be considered even if you don't like the entire A's stack. Stephen Piscotty is another expensive bat and he posted a .356 wOBA against righties with 20 homers as well. All of these guys had eerily similar numbers to each other in 2018. Robbie Grossman will likely lead-off and he's affordable across the industry. He's an extremely solid hitter and seems to always get involved when the offense is exploding. He has power upside as well, so it's not just a cash game play. If you're looking to dog a little deeper, Marcus Semien and Ramon Laureano are going to have a ton of RBI opportunities and have dominated the Orioles. The A's will be the most popular team on this early slate and rightfully so.
Park - KC
Opposing Pitcher - KC (Jorge Lopez)
Vegas Implied Run Total - 5.42
The Mariners have the highest implied run total on the board and it's not hard to see why. Before we get to the match-up, this offense is just so solid. You don't get a single break from 1-9 and if you make a mistake to one guy, the next can make you pay. Whether it's the speed of Dee Gordon at 9 or the power of Ryon Healy at 8, you can't take any batter off. They're facing off with Jorge Lopez, who is one of the more underwhelming pitchers in the league. He posted a 4.57 xFIP in 2018 and allowed a whopping 3.3 BB/9. The Mariners rank third in baseball against righties with a .384 wOBA and I don't think this is an early-season fluke. They'll continue doing damage and should eclipse that 5.5 expected run total. This ballpark is spacious, but the Mariners do damage in it and use the space to their advantage with all that speed.
Potential Players to Stack
All of them?
I really don't think there are four guys here that stand above the rest. Domingo Santana and Mitch Haniger have been some of the best hitters in baseball and deserve to be played if you have the funds. You then get to first base, where you have three solid options. Edwin Encarnacion and Daniel Vogelbach are both expensive and you can play either. I prefer the solidified Encarnacion against a righty, but Vogelbach has been too hot to ignore and has always raked right-handers. I witnessed this guy rake two homers in an A+ game and his swing was so obviously natural. On the cheaper side, Omar Narvaez gets a ton of RBI opportunities and has been coming through. He doesn't get pinch-hit for and let's you afford some other elite options while still giving you upside. Dee Gordon and Ryon Healy are a very interesting combo in the 8-9 that has as much upside as anyone. You can't go wrong with this lineup. It just depends on your roster construction and who you can fit where.
Additional Early Slate Value Plays
Leake has been solid in each of his first two starts, but I refuse to believe it. For one, his peripherals tell me not to. He has a 4.14 xFIP on a 2.92 ERA, so regression is more than obvious. He posted a 4+ xFIP against lefties in '18 and should only be getting worse at 31. Alex Gordon has always been solid against righties (.350+ wOBA) and has been spectacular to start this year. He's a great one-off if you're stacking elsewhere. Leake will regress and this Royals lineup will be completely ignored. Gordon is cheaper than he should be and safe in all formats.
We don't have much of a reliable sample size on Aaron Brooks, but he's allowed a .400+ wOBA to righties since 2014. He's only managed 40 innings, but we have nothing else to go off of. It may be tough to fill your lineup with more than a couple of these Orioles, but I wouldn't ignore them or Trey Mancini in any way. He's been keeping this Orioles lineup afloat and is getting plenty of pitches to hit with his team usually out of contention early. He has six early season home runs and has posted an insane .498 wOBA against righties. He's a great hitter and you will be able to use him as a one-off all year long. He's expensive, which makes him a great pivot from an expensive bat in one of the more popular lineups.