DraftKings and FanDuel MLB Picks for Sunday 4/14/19
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Max Scherzer FD 11500 DK 10700
Opponent - PIT (Jameson Taillon) Park - WAS
FD - 42.7 DK - 24.09
Max continues to be, well, about the best pitcher in baseball. After back-to-back seasons of 12+ K’s per nine, he’s actually increased the number this season to 13.26/9 over his first 19 innings while lowering the walks to less than two per nine. It’s just the beginning of another dominant season from arguably (or maybe not) the top arm in the game. The Pirates don’t strike out much as a team, but are a bottom-half squad in terms of OPS against righties. Scherzer is a -185 home favorite with Jameson Taillon going for the Buckos cutting a bit into the win expectation. That being said, Scherzer isn’t priced anywhere close to the peak, especially on DraftKings where the sub $11K salary isn’t anywhere close to reality.
Gerrit Cole FD 10800 DK 10200
Opponent - SEA (Marco Gonzales) Park - SEA
FD - 38.63 DK - 21.44
Cole took the strikeout gains from his first season in Houston and maintained them so far this year. After coming over from the Pirates, he had a shift in approach that saw him eliminate his sinker (and basically his changeup) in favor of a strictly fastball, curveball, slider repertoire. It worked. He’ll face off against a Mariners’ team that has been rather unkind to opposing pitchers so far this season. They rank near the top of the league in OPS on the season and have for sure mashed. But they also have among the highest BABIP and HR/FB rates in the league and strikeout 24% of the time against righties. They are a good squad, but Cole is a -167 road favorite and I think Seattle’s early season success will have the ownership a bit lower on the Astro righty.
Charlie Morton FD 9200 DK 9700
Opponent - TOR (Caleb Ferguson) Park - TOR
FD - 37.74 DK - 20.72
While the Mariners started the season white hot on the offensive end, the Blue Jays have been, well, something like the opposite. They’ve been horrible and there aren’t many lights at the end of the tunnel for Toronto this season. They are barely fielding a competent major league lineup and it shows. The Blue Jays strike out 30% of the time against righties, and have a bottom-third team OPS. We can consistently target opposing pitchers against this team. While he doesn’t get to pitch in the home confines of Tampa Bay, Morton is still a strong play here against Toronto. The former is striking out 12 batters per nine this season, up for his 10.81/9 in 2018. The walks are still a moderate issue which cut into his innings pitched, but that’s less of a problem against the Blue Jays who are the opposite of patient. I slightly prefer the FanDuel price, but he also makes for a good DraftKings SP2 mostly because you are already getting tremendous savings on Scherzer.
Team Cash Stacks
Boston Red Sox
Park - BOS
Opposing Pitcher - BAL (John Means)
Vegas Implied Run Total - 6.32
Pitching on this Sunday slate has some top arms completely underpriced meaning fitting an ace (or two) along with an expensive stack isn’t going to be all that difficult. John Means will get the *start* for Baltimore but that is almost in name only because he’s unlikely to go more than three innings. The Orioles are employing him in the way the Rays handle relievers starting games. Last time out he went three innings in a 13-2 loss to Oakland. Baltimore might try a similar tactic to other forward-thinking teams in the league, but they don’t have the arms in the stable to pull such a thing off. It’s the reason Boston has the highest implied run line (6) of the main slate.
Potential Players to Stack
Xander Bogaerts (FD $3900 DK $4400)
While they might not get 5-6 innings of facing the lefty, they top of this Boston order could do damage even in limited innings of Means. Betts and Martinez two of the top lefty killers in baseball. Betts led the league in OPS in 2018 against southpaws with a 1.207 number along with a .488 wOBA while walking more than he struck out.
Martinez has made a career out of crushing lefties with a .945 OPS and .397 wOBA. It’s also worth noting that, while very early in the season, dude is barely striking out at all. He has a career 24.5% K rate but that number is only 9.4% this season in his first 64 plate appearances. He’s actually taking more walks than strikeouts.
And finally, Pearce was another dude who tuned up southpaws, finishing in the top 30 in the league in OPS (.959) in that split. He is tough to strikeout (15%) and takes walks (11%). Pearce is also coming very cheap on FanDuel at sub-$3K and it really only becomes a question of which four Boston bats you roster.
Park - MIN
Opposing Pitcher - DET (Jordan Zimmermann)
Vegas Implied Run Total - 4.72
Potential Players to Stack
Don't let the smooth ERA fool you, Jordan Zimmermann is still one of the best pitchers to stack against in baseball. While the 7 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 aren't a total embarrassment, the amount of hard contact this guy gives up will always make him an attractive option. He is prone to leaving the ball up in the zone, and the 1.75 HR/9 allowed over the 2017-2018 seasons tells you all you need to know about the upside opposing offenses possess against him. The Twins aren't the league's best offense, but they have enough pop to punish him here.
Potential Players to Stack
Max Kepler (FD $3500 DK $4200)
Nelson Cruz (FD $3800 DK $4600)
Eddie Rosario (FD $3700 DK $4200)
Rosario and Kepler are true talent .800 OPS guys, and both lefties are much better against right handed pitching. Neither has a classic power profile, but again, Zimmermann is a threat to give up a homer against just about anyone. The elderly Cruz is having a fantastic season so far, and while Zimmermann is somewhat unlikely to feed into his 20% walk rate his low K rate should mitigate Cruz's biggest weakness. Cruz has also just been hitting the ball hard as hell this season, so leaving him out of a Twins stack if you're looking for upside seems a little nuts.
Park - TEX
Opposing Pitcher - TEX (Shelby Miller)
Vegas Implied Run Total - 5.9
Oakland has scored the third most runs in the majors this season, and have been DFS darlings on a number of days where they've had favorable match-ups. Today is one such day. For starters they'll be in the AL's best hitter park, a distinction that's even more true early in the season when many parks are mired in cold and rainy weather.
Then there's Shelby Miller. I should speak delicately here. Shelby Miller is... terrible. Any thoughts of a renaissance season for him are likely out the window with the 8 walks he's allowed over his first 6 and 2/3 innings, and while that's a pretty small sample size, you're also looking at a guy who has nearly topped a 5 xFIP in his last three major league seasons. With 5.9 implied runs, the A's are just an excellent option.
Potential Players to Stack
Robbie Grossman (FD $3200 DK $6000)
Stephen Piscotty (FD $3500 DK $6600)
Chad Pinder (FD $3400 DK $8800)
Khris Davis (FD $4800 DK $10400)
Not getting overly fancy here. We'll grab Grossman and Piscotty since they'll be near the top of the order, and we'll grab Davis and Pinder for the obvious power upside. You only get a positive platoon split on Grossman, but it shouldn't matter against a truly terrible pitcher like Miller. Honorable mention to Matt Chapman as well, even if he's getting a little bit expensive.
St. Louis Cardinals
Park - CIN
Opposing Pitcher - CIN (Anthony DeSclafani)
Vegas Implied Run Total - 5.14
Round 1 of the Mexico series didn't go exactly as planned, with the two teams totaling just 7 runs and neither team really getting to the opposing starting pitcher. Well, we'll get back to the drawing board in today's game, that features two less than stellar starting pitchers and an excellent hitting environment. If you're not familiar with these Mexico games, it's a very similar dynamic to Coors field, with the extreme altitude leading to an unnaturally high run scoring environment. You can make a solid argument for both sides of this game, so feel free t grab the Reds too if you believe as I do that Miles Mikolas is nothing special.
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- Max Scherzer: AP Photo - Eric Risberg