Jim previews today’s game action and shares his top Draft Kings plays for October 1st
Today we have 12 games on the MLB schedule starting at 12:35 pm with the Cubs and Reds. As always, check your lineup prior to game time for any last-minute scratches and be sure to check the weather report before game time for any potential delays and or cancellations.
Looks like rain on the East Coast today so there may be delays for the following contests: Blue Jays/Orioles, Red Sox/Yankees, Mets/Phillies, Nationals/Braves, Marlins/Rays and Twins/Indians. Looking at the doppler, I don’t think any games are in danger of being cancelled, but things can change.
I have a confession to make here. I really don’t like playing DFS. I know, blasphemy to write these words as the intro to an article which sole purpose is to give you DFS advice, but I’ve never been one that follows conventional wisdom. I really don’t think people understand the work that goes into preparing daily picks. Pitcher breakdowns vs opposing teams, past and recent performances, venues; there’s a lot to look at. For hitters it’s the same thing; BvP data, lefty/righty – home/away splits, past vs recent performances. It’s like preparing for a draft; the only exception is you have to do it daily.
I know there are sites you can go to and programs that can be used to lessen the workload, but are they really reliable? They crunch the numbers for you and spit out names, but I’ve seen them pick out names of players that aren’t playing or are injured. Right there is strike one for me. I’ve seen them recommend players because that have a career X average vs lefties, but that means nothing if that player is batting .152 against them this season. If those career numbers match up with their current production that’s one thing, but if it doesn’t, is that recommendation really sound? Strike two. What about young guys with limited track records? Sometimes they are hyped based upon minor league production. Other times they are downgraded because they had a rough start, but the computer forecaster doesn’t take into account the recent hot streak which could be a sign of a breakout.
These programs that crunch the numbers don’t take into account the human factor, and if they were the end all be all for calculating who the best picks are, we would all be rich. That brings me right back to where I started. Hours of pouring over players, what they’ve done recently, track records, splits, etc…, If you’ve got a team of people doing this then it’s a piece of cake, but for one individual, doing this daily, I just don’t get why you would want to do this. I get the fascination of playing DFS, and I’m sure the money aspect is an added incentive, but is it worth it? Are you really enjoying playing the game? And are you really making enough money to make all that hard work worth the time and effort you spend prior to game time?
You can go to sites for advice and use their suggestions, or just stack players against a weak pitcher at a favorable venue and not do any work. Some of you may have even had success doing this. If that’s the case, then you’re really playing for the money and not the enjoyment. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but in my world, fantasy baseball is supposed to be fun. Are you having fun or are you just rooting for your guy so you can win money? Maybe it’s time for some reflection and it is time to give some thought about playing DFS.
We live in an age of instant gratification; people want to win now (and money will always be an incentive). For me though, I enjoy the satisfaction of building a team and taking it on a six month journey to fantasy gold. Anybody can build a good lineup for one day, but a true baseball aficionado knows how to build a team that can play for the long haul. They can overcome injuries, build and rebuild a pitching staff and deal with slumps from star players. These are things you don’t have to deal with in DFS. If DraftKings had a week-long H2H DFS contest I might change my tune, but the daily grind, playing weather man, crunching numbers: It’s not for me. Mind you this has nothing to do with success; I’ve won more often than not this year, but the enjoyment I get from winning a DFS contest over a season long league is not the same.
DFS for football makes sense; it’s a weekly game so why not make it a weekly contest, but not baseball. I may be in the minority with my thinking, and I’m sure DFS is here to stay (short of a government gambling crackdown which won’t happen for years – if ever). For those of you that like playing, more power to you. If you’re on the fence about playing, maybe you should ask yourself some of the questions I posed above and consider if it is really something you want to continue doing. Regardless of your choice, I’ll be here next season miserably crunch numbers and analyzing matchups in order to give you the best advice possible. That is my number one priority regardless of my person feelings.
For those of you that didn’t just skip ahead to today’s picks, thanks for reading – not just today but every day this season. I hope my picks and analysis was of some help to you. Now on to today’s recommendations and my final MLB DFS article for the season. As per usual, Damn the early games.
Studs: Stephen Strasburg ($11,000)
In 4 starts this month (30.1 innings) Stras has allowed just 5 earned runs (1.48 ERA) and has struck out 50 batters. His career numbers at Turner Field aren’t anything to write home about, but neither are the Braves offensive numbers. They’re 25th in BA and dead last in runs scored and home runs in September. The Braves are the second best team when it comes to strikeouts both in September and or the season, but that is all they have going for them. Regardless of this fact, I still expect 7 or more K’s from Strasburg.
Bang For Your Buck: Tyler Duffey @Cleveland ($9,200)
Duffey has gone 6 or more innings in each of his last 4 starts, has wins along with 7-8 K’s in 3 out of 4 of them and has given up 2 or fewer runs in each contest. He faced Cleveland in August where he 1 hit them over 6 innings with 7 K’s. Just like the Braves, the Indians are tough to strike out, but Duffey has 7+ Ks in 5 of the 6 games he’s gone 6 or more innings so I’m confident in this department. The Indians are in the bottom half of the league offensively for September and shouldn’t give Duffey much of a problem.
Hail Mary: Rich Hill @New York ($4,300), C.C. Sabathia vs Baltimore ($6,400)
In 3 starts (23 innings) he’s 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA and 0.52 WHIP and 30 K’s. For the month of September the Yankees are 28th in BA and OBP, however they are 16th in runs scored and 4th in home runs. They are one of the stronger teams against lefties and playing at home, but their batting average at home and against lefties is below average so their production is tied to their current average (.231 in September). It’s a risk, but Hill is cheap and there is a high reward.
If you’re not into Hill, Sabathia has been solid in September with a 2.25 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 21 K’s over 24 innings. For the month of September the Orioles are worse than the Yankees in runs scored, BA and OBP. Just like the Yankees though, the Orioles are 5th in home runs this month so it’s homer or nothing for them. Unlike the Yankees, the Orioles are below average when it comes to lefties. While Sabathia has been good this month, he does hold a 5.72 ERA and 1.46 WHIP at home which plays against him, but he did 3 hit Boston at home in August holding them to 1 run over 6 innings with 8 K’s. Sabathia cost a few more bucks than Hill, but he’s still cheap in comparison to some of today’s starters with the potential to outperform a good number of them.
Notes on some of the other starters going in tonight’s games.
- Jose Fernandez hasn’t gone 6 innings in his last 4 starts. In those starts he has 2 wins and decent K’s, and today he plays at a nice venue facing an average hitting team. On paper it looks good, but the limited innings make me hesitate.
- Taylor Jungmann has given up 4 or more runs in each of his last 4 starts, has given up multiple home runs in 3 out of 4 and made it past 5 innings in just 1 of those games. I know it’s the Padres and it’s in PETCO, but Jungmann is out of gas.
- Jake Odorizzi has given up 4 or more runs in 4 of his last 6 starts and 3 in another. He made it through 6 innings in just half of them and gave up multiple home runs in half as well. The Marlins have the best BA in September and I can see the them easily slap hitting Odorizzi out of the game early.
- Trevor Bauer has given up 2 or fewer runs or 4 or more runs, split right down the middle in his last 10 starts. He’s inconsistent, walks too many batters at times and doesn’t get enough K’s to justify the risk today, even versus an average hitting team like the Twins.
- Ian Kennedy has been slightly better than his opponent Jungmann over the last 30 day and will get a few more K’s than him, but that’s where the niceties end. Milwaukee tagged him for 4 runs back in August and that’s what Kennedy has given up on average over his last 4 starts.
- Ryan Weber faces a Nationals team that is in the top 5 for BA, OBP, runs and home runs in September. This is no place to put your money, period.
Studs: None – I would not roster the top 4 guys on DraftKings today
- While Brian McCann hits slightly better against lefties and at home, he’s batting .184 in September and .158 over the past 2 weeks.
- Yan Gomes is hitting .256 over with 1 home run and 2 RBIs over the past 2 weeks; that average is slightly higher at home but lower against righties. He’s 0-3 vs Duffey.
- Blake Swihart is batting .218 with 1 home run and 6 RBIs over 78 at bats vs lefties.
- Johathan Lucroy has a .128 career average at PETCO and is 3-12 vs starter Ian Kennedy. Not to mention they have been playing him sparingly since returning from a concussion.
Bang for your buck: J.T. Realmuto ($3,000)
Realmuto is hitting .333 this month, .324 over the past 2 weeks so it’s a consistent average and not inflated by one good week. He’s also a better road hitter and most of his power is vs righties.
Hail Mary: Kurt Suzuki @Cleveland ($2,600)
He’s having his best month for batting average (.278) and is hitting .333 at Progressive field this season 6-18 with 2 doubles and a homer. Coincidentally he has 2 doubles and a homer vs Bauer as well.
Studs: Carlos Santana vs Minnesota ($4,200), Freddie Freeman @Washington ($3,900)
- Santana isn’t big on batting average, but he has 2 doubles, 1 triple and 3 homers in the past 2 weeks. He does hit for a better average at home and he has 20 doubles and 15 homers vs right-handed pitchers.
- Freeman has a career .429 average (12-28) vs Strasburg, is hitting .409 at Nationals park this season and has 3 doubles, 2 homers and 11 RBIs over the past 2 weeks.
Bang for your buck: Justin Bour @Tampa Bay ($3,400), Travis Shaw @New York ($3,300)
- Bour has 14 doubles and 23 homers this season off of righties. He has a .292 batting average with 9 home runs and 25 RBIs in September. Odorizzi has been handing out homers like candy this month.
- Shaw has a .329/.354/.645 line against lefties and has a favorable park today. The only downside is C.C. handles left-handed bats well, so it’s a coin flip of the hot rookie vs the resurgence of an aging veteran.
Hail Mary: Just say no
I would not venture below Bour or Shaw today; you’re only asking for trouble if you do.
Dee Gordon @Tampa Bay ($4,500)
It’s another hot month for Gondon with 11 steals, 19 runs scored to go with his .350 average. 42 of his 56 steals have come off righties, and Tampa has the 8th highest SB total allowed with 88.
Bang for your buck: Martin Prado ($3,300)
If Gordon is too rich for your blood, Prado has been productive in September as well with 11 runs scored, 19 RBIs and a .384 BA. He’s also good for the occasional home run, and I already stated Odorizzi has been homer prone this month.
Hail Mary: Cory Spangenberg ($2,800)
Spangenberg has been a solid hitter in the second half, has a chance at hitting a home run or stealing a base at any time, scores runs and is a good source of extra base hits (9 this month). Jungmann yields less power to lefties, but they hit for a better average against him so the odds are in Spangenberg’s favor.
Studs: Xander Bogaerts @New York ($4,100)
Bogaerts has a .368 average vs lefties and a .364 average this month. He wrapped up September with 22 runs scored, 20 RBIs and 11 extra base hits (3 homers). He and Mookie Betts (listed below) could play hell with C.C. today.
There is not a lot of quality to choose from at third base in the night games. Travis Shaw, Martin Prado and Cory Spangenberg above along with Miguel Rojas below all qualify for third today. I’m not to thrilled with the rest of the names. Miguel Sano is an option, but he’s more expensive than Bogaerts and has been less productive recently. Evan Longoria has power but struggles with batting average vs righties so a matchup against Fernandez doesn’t work for me. Yunel Escobar is a good hitter, but I want more than an empty batting average. Plouffe, Headley and Rendon all have good matchups, but their bats have been cold of late. If you want one of those guys, knock yourself out. If you trust me you’ll just plug in Bogaerts and move on. My stuff’s always right sometimes.
Studs: Francisco Lindor vs Minnesota ($4,700)
Lindor finished the month of September with 16 extra base hits, 18 RBIs, 15 runs scored and a .351 batting average. Tyler Duffey is good, but Lindor is sooo much better.
Bang for your buck: Jose Ramirez vs Minnesota ($3,200)
Just like at second I’m stacking the top 2 options here. Ramirez batted .315 in September with 9 extra base hits and 13 runs scored. If Lindor is too expensive, this is a nice cheap alternative.
Hail Mary: Miguel Rojas @Tampa Bay ($2,100)
Over the past 2 weeks, Rojas is batting .429 with 3 doubles, 1 HR, 5 RBIs and 7 runs scored. He also prefers righties and hitting on the road. This is one of those guys I referred to that could slap hit Odorizzi right out of the game.
Studs: Bryce Harper @Atlanta ($5,700), Mookie Betts @New York ($4,800)
- From this point on, if you can afford Bryce – just do it.
- Betts enjoyed a monster September batting .382 with 12 doubles, 3 homers, 3 steals, 10 RBIs and 11 walks. He’s also batting .301 against lefties and has more speed against south paws as well.
Bang for your buck: Brett Gardner vs Boston ($4,100), Justin Upton vs Milwaukee ($4,000), Eddie Rosario @Cleveland ($3,900), Christian Yelich vs Tampa Bay ($3,800)
- Both Upton and Gardner have slumped the past 2 weeks, but both players are better at home and both hit better against whatever hand their respective starter is throwing with. You could get a big bang or a bust here.
- Rosario has a better average vs lefties, but all his speed and most of his power is vs righties. He also has a .357 average in Cleveland with 4 extra base hits over 7 games. Rosario is batting .298 with a double, 3 triples, 3 home runs and 9 RBIs over the past 14 days.
- 6 of Yelich’s 7 homers have come off righties on the road. 13 of his 16 steals have come off righties, and as I mentioned earlier the Rays are a good team to steal against. He’s batting .296 vs righties, .294 on the road and .360 over the past 2 weeks.
Hail Mary: Mikie Mahtook vs Miami ($3,000), Chris Young vs Boston ($2,800), Matt den Dekker @Atlanta ($2,100)
- Mahtook is batting .298 for the seson, .303 vs righties and .368 in September. He had 9 extra base hits in September (4 homers) along with 13 runs scored and 4 steals. Even if he doesn’t hit off Fernandez, Jose will eventually turn things over to the bullpen.
- If there is a lefty on the mound, Young should be in your lineup – plain and simple.
- If den Dekker is playing today, he makes a nice cheap option that could produce big numbers. In limited at bats over the past 2 week he’s 10 for 23 with 3 doubles, 2 home runs, 5 RBIs and 6 runs scored.
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