MLB DFS: DraftKings & FanDuel Main Slate Strategy Overview & Live Show Link – Wednesday 8/2/23

The eight-game Wednesday slate features a fairly short pitching board on DraftKings and FanDuel. There are solid options near the top but things are very stark between the “yes” options in the top half of the board and the strong “no” options toward the bottom. Things will be somewhat clear-cut on the mound tonight, which could lead the public down the road of common construction paths. It is imperative to focus on the differentiation of combinations at the plate with team stacks this evening, embracing some risk with later lineup hitters, lesser-ranked stacks, and good value options that are going under-appreciated by the field is the approach to creating lineups that avoid the primary public builds on a slate that should see fairly concentrated pitching popularity. Of course, embracing a bit of risk on the mound can also pay major dividends in MLB DFS standings as well.

Don’t miss our Suggested Stacks feature and our Power Index for more on the top opportunities at the plate tonight.

Join us at 4:15 ET for a rundown on today’s slate.

Note: All analysis is written utilizing available projected lineups as of the early morning, pay close attention to confirmed lineups and adjust accordingly. This article is posted and updated as it is written, so if a game has not been filled in, check back in a few minutes. Update notes are provided as lineups are confirmed to the best of our ability. Still, lineup changes are not typically updated as lock approaches, so stay tuned to official news for any late changes.

MLB DFS: Game by Game Main Slate Overview – 8/2/23

Tampa Bay Rays (+106/3.69) @ New York Yankees (-115/3.89)

The matchup between the Rays and Yankees starter Gerrit Cole is pushing some surprising quality in the direction of the excellent Tampa Bay lineup in a game in homer-happy Yankee Stadium. Cole has been highly effective through most of the season, pitching to a 2.64 ERA but a 3.62 xFIP with a 27.3% strikeout rate and a 6.6% walk rate with a 1.05 WHIP. The righty has limited the home run hiccups that typically stole a few fantasy points per game from him, he has a 2.38% home run rate allowed on a 7.9% barrel rate with a 40% hard-hit rate. Cole has not been quite as elite for strikeouts as in years past, but he remains a very high-end pitcher and a challenging matchup for the Rays. Cole projects well, landing third on the shallow pitching board for $10,800/$10,900, with our model leaning into the upside for the Rays’ lineup in spite of a 3.69-run implied total in Vegas. Tampa Bay should have Yandy Diaz atop the lineup, he has a WRC+ mark 60% ahead of the league average while slashing .317/.402/.509 with 15 home runs in 396 opportunities this season. Wander Franco is a toolsy star at shortstop, he has 13 home runs and 29 stolen bases with a 118 WRC+ and is fairly priced at $5,800/$3,600. Brandon Lowe is a major power threat from the left side, the second baseman has 14 home runs on the season with a 118 WRC+ and .220 ISO on 11.8% barrels and 46.2% hard hits. Lowe is cheap at $4,500/$3,300, he is an excellent option in stacks of Rays hitters and he has individual upside at the plate as well. Randy Arozarena has 18 home runs and 12 stolen bases while creating runs 31% better than average in 442 plate appearances this season. Luke Raley leads the team at 50% ahead of the curve for run creation over his 295 plate appearances this year. Raley has 15 home runs and 12 stolen bases on a 14.6% barrel rate and 46.2% hard-hit rate this season. Isaac Paredes has mashed 21 long balls with a .256 ISO in just 362 plate appearances, Josh Lowe has power and speed, which is true of this entire lineup, he has 14 home runs and 22 stolen bases in 321 plate appearances. Lowe has been 23% better than average for run creation and fits into the outfield for just $4,500/$3,200 tonight. Jose Siri and Rene Pinto round out the lineup, Siri has 20 home runs with a .288 ISO in his 262 plate appearances while Pinto has two home runs in 92 plate appearances in his MLB career, both of which came during his 83 plate appearances last year, he has done nothing in just nine opportunities in 2023.

The Rays will bring ace Shane McClanahan to the mound tonight, he projects competitively with Cole for $9,300/$9,700 in the same pitching environment against a far worse lineup. The Yankees do have a big threat or two, so McClanahan is not exactly safe, but he is a strong play from the top three in the pitching pool today. The southpaw has a 3.00 ERA but a 3.83 xFIP with a 26.1% strikeout rate over 111.0 innings in 20 starts. McClanahan is an excellent strike-thrower, he has a 15.8% swinging-strike rate and a 31.3% CSW% this season. There is a bit of power potential on the board for New York, McClanahan has yielded a 2.88% home run rate on 41.3% hard hits and 9.6% barrels this season and there is the looming presence of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton to deal with, but outside of the two sluggers and minor challenges from the likes of Gleyber Torres and Anthony Rizzo, there is simply a lack of premium MLB-caliber talent in the Yankees lineup. McClanahan does not work for reliable depth of innings, but he has a strong chance at a good strikeout total and can chase bonuses on both sites for cheap pricing. Torres is set to lead off in the projected Yankees lineup, he has a .255/.318/.423 triple-slash with a 105 WRC+ and 16 home runs on the season, he is a mid-range option with good power at his position, but the second baseman is somewhat miscast in the leadoff role. Judge hits second, he has titanic power and multi-homer upside on any given slate, even against a good pitcher like McClanahan. The superstar outfielder costs $6,300/$4,200, there is no discount for the lack of support in the lineup around him. Stanton slots in third, he has 14 home runs but a .197/.273/.433 triple-slash with a 24.2% strikeout rate. Rizzo is a lefty first baseman having a down season at the plate, he is slashing .244/.328/.378 with a .134 ISO and 99 WRC+ with only 12 home runs on the board in a concerning extended slump. DJ LeMahieu has had a years-long slump at this point, he costs $3,000/$2,900 with multi-position eligibility on both sites, but the infielder has created runs 14% below average while striking out far more and doing much less at the plate this season. Isiah Kiner-Falefa is a barely capable MLB hitter with OK contact skills and very little power or run creation ability, he has a 95 WRC+ on the season. Harrison Bader and Anthony Volpe are extremely infrequent contributors, they have WRC+ marks of 92 and 81 on the season with 20 combined home runs and 29 combined stolen bases. Kyle Higashioka is getting a full opportunity in the absence of Jose Trevino, he has six home runs and is up to .225/.259/.376 with an 11.3% barrel rate and 46% hard hits.

Play: Gerrit Cole, Shane McClanahan, Rays bats/stacks, Yankees bats/stacks in smaller shares

Update Notes: 

Baltimore Orioles (+109/4.15) @ Toronto Blue Jays (-118/4.44)

Baltimore is facing lefty Yusei Kikuchi who has been good in spite of his ongoing issues with the long ball this season. Kikuchi has a 3.79 ERA and 3.99 xFIP with a good 25.3% strikeout rate despite allowing 9.8% barrels, 42.5% hard hits, 90.5 mph of exit velocity, and a 4.79% hard-hit rate over his 21 starts and 109.1 innings. The southpaw was similarly lousy for home runs last year with a 5.07% rate and the year before at 4.05% but he has always been good at finding strikeouts to offset the mistakes and he is pitching to his best marks for runs allowed of the past few seasons, partly due to walking hitters at a far lower clip this year. Kikuchi had a 9.3% walk rate in 2021 and a massive 12.8% mark last year, this season he has cut free passes to just 7.2%, lowering his WHIP from 1.50 last year to 1.28 this season in a big improvement that could still go a long way further for quality. Kikuchi slots in with a mid-board projection for $7,800/$8,600 in a tough matchup against the Orioles, he is difficult to trust but should be worth a few shares in a full suite of lineups. Baltimore’s active roster has an 11th-ranked 112 WRC+ with a 21.6% strikeout rate and .176 ISO against left-handed pitching this season, there are some excellent options in the lineup but they are relegated to just a 4.15-run implied total against Kikuchi. Catcher Adley Rutschman is one of the best options at his position in all of MLB DFS. The backstop picks up the expectation of additional plate appearances beyond the typical catcher, given his positioning atop the Orioles batting order on a daily basis, and he is one of the best hitters available at catcher on most slates. Rutschman has 14 home runs on the board with a terrific 15.6% strikeout rate and 13.9% walk rate, he has created runs 23% better than average through individual power and excellent correlated scoring via a .372 on-base percentage. Ryan Mountcastle has major power potential in this spot, he has an 11.04 in our home run model with a very high ceiling for fantasy points. Mountcastle has 13 home runs while slashing .252/.290/.462 with a .210 ISO and 14.6% barrel rate, he mashes when he makes contact and costs just $3,600/$3,000 at first base, he is far too cheap on the DraftKings slate. Anthony Santander has 19 home runs with a .221 ISO on the season, the switch-hitting outfielder is the most reliable power bat in the Orioles lineup. Austin Hays has nine home runs with a .280/.323/.439 triple-slash, he is a cheap option to put the ball in play with a fair run-creation mark at 108 over 381 plate appearances. Jordan Westburg is slashing .263/.314/.413 with a .150 ISO and has been exactly at league average for run creation since his promotion from near the top of the prospect pool 86 plate appearances ago. Ramon Urias has playable power at cheap prices on both sites, he offers eligibility at two positions on DraftKings and three on the blue site. James McCann gets action against lefties at times, the catcher has not been a good option for some time but was historically a good hitter in the split against southpaws. McCann has three home runs with a .138 ISO and 51 WRC+ in his 133 chances in 2023. Ryan McKenna and Jorge Mateo round out the projected lineup but the Orioles let Gunnar Henderson play against a lefty in last night’s contest and he responded with a 3-5 night with a home run off of the lefty starter, two runs, and four driven in. Henderson seems like he might have a chance to get another crack at same-handed pitching tonight, but Kikuchi is a tougher lefty than Ryu at this point.

Toronto draws rookie Grayson Rodriguez in the 14th start of his career. Over 13 outings with a trip to the minors wedged into the middle of the season, Rodriguez has a 25.4% strikeout rate and has shown signs of being everything the Orioles are expecting their top pitching prospect, and one of the top young arms in all of baseball, to be. Rodriguez has had some bumps along the way, however, his ERA sits at 6.21 but his xFIP is ridiculously better at 3.83. The righty has allowed too much premium contact while also walking too many in a bad combination that will likely be solved simply by time and experience. So far, Rodriguez has a 9.8% walk rate with 4.71% home runs coming on a 10.6% barrel rate and 49.7% hard hits with 91 mph of exit velocity on average. The starter has a good ceiling but a middling projection, he is cheap at $7,200/$7.900 and can be considered a lower-end value dart with a high ceiling on both sites. The Blue Jays are a talented bunch and the things that Rodriguez has struggled with on the mound play directly into their specialities, there is plenty of power on the board for the Toronto lineup and they rank third on our stacks board for fantasy points. Whit Merrifield is in the leadoff role in the projected lineup with star Bo Bichette still likely to be sidelined and George Springer sliding down to a spot where his power is more valuable. Merrifield has been very good with a .300/.348/.425 triple-slash, nine home runs, and 21 stolen bases while creating runs 16% better than average mostly from the bottom of the lineup. Brandon Belt has a good power bat from the left side with a 6.23 in our home run model and a 12.1% barrel rate on the season. The veteran has created runs 22% better than average and has hit nine homers in just 288 plate appearances but he remains very cheap at $3,300/$2,800 as a decision-point at first base on DraftKings with star Vladimir Guerrero. Guerrero is cheap for his talent at $5,100/$3,400, he has a .267/.344/.444 triple-slash and .178 ISO in a season that has been a bit down for power, his 17 home runs are not bad but they are disappointing for the slugger with two months to go in the season, but he still has a 13.1% barrel rate and 55.5% hard-hit rate, both of which are actually up several points from last year. Guerrero is an underpriced superstar in Blue Jays stacks. George Springer slots in fourth, he costs $5,000/$2,900 and is similarly underpriced today. Springer has 13 homers and 13 stolen bases with a 95 WRC+ on the season, he hit 25 home runs last year while creating runs 32% better than average and was at 22 home runs and 40% better than average in just 342 plate appearances in 2021, Springer has a very high ceiling for his pricing. Matt Chapman is an underrated weapon at low prices and not much popularity at third base, he has an outstanding 18.3% barrel rate and 59.3% hard-hit mark for the season with 14 home runs and a .201 ISO on the board. Alejandro KirkDaulton VarshoPaul DeJong, and Kevin Kiermaier round out the lineup. Kirk is a playable catcher with a bit of power upside, he has six home runs in 268 plate appearances this season. Varsho has been a disappointment but he is cheap at $3,500/$2,700 with lefty power in the outfield, he has a dozen home runs and stolen bases but a 74 WRC+ this year. Newly acquired DeJong hit 13 home runs in 306 chances before he was traded out of St. Louis at the deadline, he has a 6.95 as a reasonable option for cheap late-lineup power at shortstop but he is no Bichette when it comes to filling the position. Kiermaier is a mix-in option who is primarily here for defense.

Play: Four corners are playable in this one, we would rank it: Blue Jays bats/stacks, Orioles bats/stacks, Yusei Kikuchi value, Grayson Rodriguez value

Update Notes: 

Minnesota Twins (-133/4.85) @ St. Louis Cardinals (+123/4.24)

The Twins are looking like a good option for scoring tonight in a matchup with Dakota Hudson, who will be making his second start of the season, but the team will have to come through with sequencing, which can be challenging for them in what could be a bit of a trappy spot. Hudson has thrown 19.1 innings this year, primarily as a long reliever. The righty worked just three innings in his lone start, striking out one and allowing two runs on five hits to 14 Marlins batters on July 19th. Hudson worked in relief last Thursday and went 4.1 innings, facing 24 hitters while allowing five earned runs on nine hits, walking two, and striking out three. The righty could reasonably be expected to work five innings if he lasts that long from a performance perspective. There is very little upside for a pitcher with a 14.6% strikeout rate and a 4.19 ERA with a 4.76 xFIP in the small sample. Hudson had a 13.1% strikeout rate over 26 starts and 139.2 innings last season, he walked 10.2% and pitched to a 4.45 ERA and 4.82 xFIP, though he has been good at checking power and limiting launch angle over the past two seasons, while he may limit home run potential for the hard-hitting Twins and may even find a bonus strikeout or two against the free-swingers, there is little room for the downside at $7,700/$6,100. Minnesota’s lineup has been targetable with pitchers of all shapes and sizes recently, they have a collective 28.5% strikeout rate across the projected lineup tonight, the opportunity exists but the pitcher seems short on the ability to bring it home for MLB DFS gamers, particularly with a non-value pricepoint on DraftKings. The unreliable Twins have power but could be limited for home runs, if they are unable to string together hits or draw walks they may not be as good an option at the plate as it seems on this side of lock, though they almost have to be played in this spot. Minnesota’s lineup opens with struggling Carlos Correa, who is very cheap for his powers at $4,700/$3,000 at the shortstop position. Correa has created runs eight percent behind the curve this season, he still has a 43.6% hard-hit rate and is one of the better options at limiting strikeouts in this lineup at 22.9% while walking 9.3% of the time. Correa is very much a part of most Twins stacks tonight. Edouard Julien has been a priority at second base for the last six weeks when stacking Twins, the rookie has been rolling and is slashing .293/.380/.527 with a .234 ISO and 10 home runs while creating runs 52% better than average and barreling the ball in 16.5% of his batted-ball events. Somehow, Julien still costs just $3,500 on DraftKings, he is an absolute steal in this matchup in Minnesota stacks and is arguably cheap at $3,400 on FanDuel as well. Max Kepler has 15 home runs and a 102 WRC+ with a .210 ISO and an 11.2% barrel rate. The outfielder is also extremely cheap for his ceiling, he costs $3,200/$2,900 and has a good shot at getting involved from a strong position in the lineup. Byron Buxton is a scuffling superstar with major power potential, he has a 5.77 in our home run model with Hudson’s limited launch angle window factoring in, but Buxton is underpriced at $5,200/$3,200. Jorge Polanco is a significant source of power with second and third base positioning on DraftKings allowing him to be played alongside Julien. Polanco is a $4,500/$3,000 option as an underrated star who has struggled with injuries and absences over the last season and a half, when he is going right he hits the ball very hard, he had 33 home runs in his last fully healthy season in 2021. Matt Wallner costs $2,400/$3,000, he has five homers in 77 plate appearances and plenty of upside for power but he fits in tiwht the team theme with a 27.3% strikeout rate for the year. Christian Vazquez has been limited this season at 69 WRC+ with three home runs, Joey Gallo has 17 homers but strikes out 42.8% of the time, and Michael A. Taylor has 12 home runs that no one had in lineups but also strikes out at a 34.7% clip. The flawed Twins lineup is in play and Hudson is not a great option, but there is a chance for him to keep their power in check, which could limit the upside for a team that looks like a strong value stack on the board overall tonight.

St. Louis has less uncertainty in their matchup, the team is facing highly-talented righty Joe Ryan which has them at a 4.24-run implied total in Vegas and at a ranking of just 11th by fantasy point projections on our stacks board. The Cardinals have a highly talented lineup that has been up and down all season and they manage to lose ballgames despite rolling out batting orders that tend to play 1-9 when looking at MLB DFS options, Ryan ranks fourth against them on the pitching board for $10,100/$10,300. The righty has a 29.6% strikeout rate with a 4.06 ERA and 3.67 xFIP in 122.0 innings and 21 outings this season. Ryan has induced an excellent 14.1% swinging-strike rate and has a 27.9% CSW% that is actually surprisingly low given all the swing-and-miss. He has had some issues with premium contact this season, his 42.6% hard-hit rate as a flyball pitcher tends to lead to a few mistakes, which has amounted to a 4.20% home run rate but that comes on just 7.1% barrels in what is a correctable bit of happenstance. It is also worth noting that five of the 21 home runs that Ryan has allowed this season came in one disaster start against the Braves back in late June, though he has allowed two home runs in each of three of his last four starts. Ryan has been in a bit of a rough stretch through July, he had an inflated 6.39 ERA but a 3.62 xFIP and a massive 37.1% strikeout rate in the month, if we ignore a few wonky home runs he has been elite. The projected version of the Cardinals lineup has Lars Nootbaar in the leadoff spot. The lefty has created runs 27% better than average over 331 opportunities this year, he has 10 home runs and seven stolen bases and is in a great position to correlate with Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. Nootbaar will likely see regular plate appearances in this role the rest of the way, with Brendan Donovan going down with an injury and out for the rest of the season, but the team is also returning Tommy Edman to the lineup today, he could occupy the leadoff role if they choose to ignore the platoon situation. Goldschmidt has 18 home runs with a .184 ISO and has created runs 30% better than average, Arenado has been 23% ahead of the curve and is tied for the team lead with 22 long balls on the season. The corner infielders are affordable for their ceilings, but the matchup against Ryan is far less than ideal. Nolan Gorman has the other 22-homer total in the lineup. The left-handed infielder has massive power at the plate with a 14.6% barrel rate and .254 ISO that lead the team in both categories. For $3,900/$3,500 Gorman is a great option to capitalize on Ryan’s home run hiccups if nothing else tonight, he makes for an interesting one-off option across the industry. Willson Contreras is a good option at catcher, he has 11 home runs and a .176 ISO with a 114 WRC+ on the season, while he has not been as good as expected this year those are still OK numbers for the position. Tyler O’Neill has massive power from the right side of the plate, Edman offers inconsistent counting stats but mid-range power and speed are both on the table with the toolsy infielder who has dual eligibility on DraftKings and triple on FanDuel for just $3,300/$2,800. Jordan Walker and Dylan Carlson are both playable late lineup options in the projected version as well, Walker has been the better player at 109 WRC+ over 261 strong rookie plate appearances.

Play: Joe Ryan enthusiastically, Twins bats/stacks for value but it might be a bit of a trap spot. Cardinals bats/stacks in small doses in a bad matchup and as an OK source of one-offs for power.

Update Notes: 

Cincinnati Reds (+134/4.83) @ Chicago Cubs (-145/5.79)

The Reds and Cubs are drawing healthy totals in the game at Wrigley Field this evening after Chicago absolutely clobbered starter Ben Lively in yesterday’s game. The Cubs scored 20 runs and hit seven home runs before the night was over in what was one of the best MLB DFS performances of the year as a must-have option. Both teams look playable for offense in tonight’s matchup, the Reds are facing veteran southpaw Drew Smyly who has an OK projection in the lower-mid section of the pitching pool. Smyly has a 20.7% strikeout rate with a 4.50 ERA and 4.73 xFIP this season, he has allowed a 3.85% home run rate but just 6.7% barrels and 34.2% hard hits overall. The Reds have enough talent for power, speed, and run creation that the incidental nature of those home runs has us mostly unconcerned. Smyly is not unplayable at $6,800 on the DraftKings slate as an SP2, there is minor potential, but Vegas has the Reds at a 4.83-run implied total that suggests otherwise. Smyly is an $8,000 option on the single-starter site where he has a lower ceiling and less appeal against the field. The Reds are scheduled to start southpaw Brandon Williamson who has a 4.48 ERA with a 5.23 xFIP and a 3.72% home run rate on 9.3% barrels and a 42% hard-hit rate with an 18.3-degree average launch angle that screams home run potential. Williamson has a 17.8% strikeout rate with a 10% walk rate in his 64.1 innings in 13 starts, he has not been good at all on the mound and there should be plenty of contact and on-base opportunity in play for Chicago’s lineup once again. The Cubs are very good at getting on base and creating runs via sequencing, and they clearly have plenty of power up and down the lineup, this is a good spot for bats on both sides.

The Reds have Elly De La Cruz in the projected leadoff role with eligibility at third base and shortstop on both sites. De La Cruz has seven home runs and 17 stolen bases with a 98 WRC+ over his first 212 plate appearances, he is a bit pricey at $6,100 on DraftKings, his $3,600 FanDuel mark is more targetable, but De La Cruz has “wow” potential on any given slate with massive power and blazing speed, he is a superstar finding his form in the Show and he belongs in stacks of Reds. Nick Senzel slots in second against the lefty, he has been limited with just an 83 WRC+ overall this season but he is 57% ahead of the curve for run creation against lefties while slashing .343/.410/.557 with a .214 ISO and four of his eight home runs in his 78 chances in the split. Matt McLain has 11 homers, eight steals, a .222 ISO, and a 138 WRC+ in his first 306 plate appearances while doing everything right at the plate. McLain offers eligibility at second base and shortstop on both sites which creates dynamic flexibility with several other multi-position options on both sites. On the FanDuel slate, the Reds have an absurd amount of flexibility with De La Cruz and McLain slotting into two positions, Senzel playing second, third, or in the outfield in between them, Spencer Steer slotting in at first base or the outfield, and Kevin Newman also playing the three infield spots from second to third. Steer is slated to hit cleanup in the projected lineup, he is a third base and outfield option on DraftKings for $4,300/$3,400 in the midst of a strong season. Newman is a middling talent but he is cheap and offers eligibility at first or third base on DraftKings. Rookie Christian Encarnacion-Strand is our overall home run pick of the day with a 12.50 in the model, he has one homer and a .087 ISO in 49 plate appearances in the Show but he is a major power-hitting prospect for $3,000/$2,900 at first base on DraftKings and third base on FanDuel. Tyler Stephenson is a playable catcher despite an 87 WRC+ in 385 plate appearances, and the lineup concludes with playable platoon parts in Stuart Fairchild and Luke Maile. On the Cubs side, Nico Hoerner is in the leadoff role with a lefty on the mound and Mike Tauchman taking a seat in the matchup. Hoerner has eight home runs and 26 stolen bases for $4,600/$3,300 at second base with shortstop added on the blue site. Seiya Suzuki has eight homers and a 95 WRC+ over 376 middling plate appearances this year, he has more to offer at the plate than we have seen this season. Ian Happ has 10 homers, nine stolen bases, a .375 on-base percentage, and a 116 WRC+ as an underappreciated option in the outfield. Happ costs just $3,300/$3,200 ahead of the core of Cody BellingerDansby SwansonYan GomesChristopher Morel, and Jeimer Candelario, all of whom offer power upside at the plate. Bellinger has been excellent this season and leads the team with a run-creation mark 42% ahead of the league average. Swanson blasted two home runs last night and now has 15 on the year with a 118 WRC+ and a .180 ISO as an underpriced shortstop for $4,400/$3,200. Gomes is a hard-hitting catcher with nine home runs and a sturdy .286/.327/.458 triple-slash on the year for a cheap price, Morel has 16 home runs and a .258 ISO, and Candelario has 16 long balls and a .223 ISO but was better for power against righties while with Washington. Nick Madrigal is a mix-in option in the ninth spot.

Play: Cubs bats/stacks, Reds bats/stacks

Update Notes: 

Chicago White Sox (+129/3.95) @ Texas Rangers (-140/4.64)

The visiting White Sox are being held in check with just a 3.95-run implied total against quality righty Dane Dunning, who has pitched well on the surface this season. Dunning has a sparkling 3.28 ERA but a more telling 4.75 xFIP and just a 15.5% strikeout rate. The righty has been very good at keeping home runs in check at just 2.28% over 107 innings in 15 starts and a few bullpen appearances, a sustained trait for the groundball-oriented starter. Dunning has actually allowed a higher launch angle with an average of 10.7 degrees this year compared to just 5.4 last year and 6.8 the season before. For $6,100/$7,400 we have seen Dunning provide sturdy MLB DFS performances too many times to ignore a quality projection in our pitching model against an under-performing White Sox club. Dunning is on the board as a good value option on both sites tonight, he is not risk-free, as evidenced by the inflated xFIP number, but he is a very cheap option who rates better than just a low-cost dart throw overall. Chicago’s lineup ranks just 14th out of 16 teams for fantasy point projections and they are showing a general lack of power potential at the plate outside of star outfielder Luis Robert Jr. who does crack the “magic number” in the home run model with a 10.47. Tim Anderson is slated to lead off in the projected lineup, he recently stole his 11th base of the season after hitting his first home run of the year a few games prior to that. Anderson missed a little bit of time early but he has made 361 plate appearances and his output at the plate has been awful and disappointing for an All-Star caliber hitter with both power and speed at a premium position. Anderson costs just $3,900/$2,700 at shortstop, he is still a good buy when stacking White Sox. Yoan Moncada has a capable bat hitting second for a cheap price at third base but he has also been lousy with just a 69 WRC+ in his 172 opportunities this year and he was 24% below average for run creation in a more complete 433 plate appearances last year. Robert hits third, he has 29 home runs and a .286 ISO on the season and is always in play. Eloy Jimenez has 13 homers in 300 plate appearances while slashing .282/.327/.471 with a .189 ISO and 118 WRC+ as a cheap star-caliber outfielder who is in and out of the lineup. Andrew Benintendi has been fairly lousy and is miscast hitting fifth, he should be setting the table for the team’s power not hitting behind it. Andrew Vaughn has pop but has been less than expected overall with 13 home runs and a .178 ISO on 9.2% barrels and 46.2% hard hits. Oscar Colas has not been as advertised, the left-handed outfield prospect has just one home run and a .050 ISO in 152 rookie plate appearances. Elvis Andrus is bad and Seby Zavala is wildly inconsistent for power at the catcher position.

Texas will be facing Dylan Cease in what could be an interesting spot for the right-handed strikeout artist. Cease costs $8,400/$9,300 and projects in the middle of a short pitching slate. The righty has a 4.15 ERA and 3.93 xFIP on the season, his 27.6% strikeout rate in 119.1 innings over 22 starts is down from where the righty has worked in each of the past two seasons but it is still a good mark for MLB DFS purposes and for this slate. Cease struck out 30.4% on 15% swinging strikes last year and 31.9% on 14.8% swinging strikes two years ago. This season his swinging-strike rate is down to 13.6%, which is still very good, but the dip accounts for the downturn overall. For his cheap prices, the righty is easily worth a solid handful of shares even against a tough Texas team, but this is probably best approached as a both-sided spot. The Rangers have an excellent lineup even without their best player, they have a 4.64-run implied total in Vegas and many playable parts at very good prices. Marcus Semien is expensive at $5,800/$3,600 but his price is easy to average down in conjunction with most of the correlated options in the lineup. Semien is a star second baseman with 15 home runs, nine stolen bases, a 13.3% strikeout rate, and a run creation mark 19% better than average for the season. He has not hit for as much power as he did in 2021 when he blasted 45 long balls and he is a bit behind the pace of last year’s 26, but he has been a very strong option atop this lineup while focusing on getting on base and creating runs all year. Semien has raised his on-base percentage from .304 last year to .344 this season while cutting three points off of his already excellent 16.6% strikeout rate from 2022. Travis Jankowski slots in second, he is slashing .305/.395/.390 with a 125 WRC+ and 15 stolen bases as a capable option for $2,800/$2,600 who immediately helps lower the overall price of a stack. Nathaniel Lowe is cheap and is a fantastic option for averaging down salary, he is slashing .285/.380/.450 with a 132 WRC+ that leads the team and he has hit 12 home runs. Adolis Garcia costs $5,500/$3,600 as the other high-priced focus in this lineup, it is easy to include him with Semien and still reach Josh Jung for $4,700/$3,100 in Texas stacks. Garcia has 26 home runs on the season to lead the team, Jung follows him with 20. There are very cheap highly playable parts at the bottom of this lineup. Mitch Garver has major power potential behind the plate on any given slate, he costs just $3,200/$2,700 tonight. Brad Miller hit 20 home runs in just 377 plate appearances in 2021, he had seven in 241 in a disappointing season last year, and he has just one in 67 opportunities in 2023, but he is a worthwhile option for $2,300/$2,200 late in the lineup. Ezequiel Duran and Leody Taveras have been fixtures in this space throughout their strong seasons at the bottom of the batting order. Both players are cheap and offer sturdy hit tools, mid-range power, and decent speed with above-average marks for run creation this season.

Play: Dane Dunning, Dylan Cease, Rangers bats/stacks as a mid-level option

Update Notes: 

New York Mets (-161/5.09) @ Kansas City Royals (+148/4.01)

Royals’ lefty Cole Ragans has made one start and thrown 29.1 innings overall this season, he worked 5.0 innings and faced 20 Rays hitters in his lone start, a July 15th outing that saw him strike out three and walk two while limiting Tampa Bay to one run on four hits. Ragans has a 21.4% strikeout rate overall but a 12.7% walk rate and 5.22 ERA with a 4.94 xFIP and 3.17% home runs on 40.2% hard-hits make him much more of a target for Mets bats than an option for value, even at $6,600/$5,600. Brandon Nimmo will have no same-handed issues against this starter, he has 15 home runs and a .353 on-base percentage but his average has dipped to .256 in a bit of a downturn on the front-end of his triple-slash. Nimmo is a strong outfield option with power and great on-base skills for correlation purposes, he is cheap at $4,700/$3,300. Francisco Lindor has a 9.95 in our home run model and 21 on the board with 17 stolen bases and a 119 WRC+ on the season, he costs $5,100/$3,800 at shortstop. Pete Alonso has a 14.82 in the home run model, Jeff McNeil wedges between the two stars with a 2.69, the slap-hitter is there to set the table for Alonso if this is the configuration that the Mets choose, he has limited appeal but a low price and multi-position eligibility. Alonso is still cheap for his ceiling on DraftKings at $5,200/$4,200, the FanDuel price is appropriately expensive for the masher of a first baseman, Alonso has 31 home runs in 416 plate appearances this year. Francisco Alvarez adds his 21 home runs to the power pile, he has a .275 ISO across 277 outstanding plate appearances as a rookie catcher. Starling Marte is projected to rejoin the lineup with several veteran outfielders traded out of town. Marte has five home runs and 24 stolen bases in a disappointing season across 333 plate appearances. Mark Vientos should see regular plate appearances from here through the end of the season so the Mets can evaluate the power-hitting prospect. Over 77 opportunities he has two home runs and a 63 WRC+ but he has hit at every level in the minors and is expected to be an asset going forward. Brett Baty has an 83 WRC+ on the season with seven home runs in 293 plate appearances as another potentially high-end young player. Danny Mendick is a mix-in afterthought at the bottom of the lineup.

Kansas City will be facing Kodai Senga, a strikeout artist with a bit of a walk issue but no real concerns against the low-walk high-strikeout limited-scoring bunch. Senga has a 29.1% strikeout rate over 105 innings in 19 starts in his first year in the Show. The righty has pitched to a strong 3.17 ERA and 3.78 xFIP while battling an 11.9% walk rate, but he has been excellent at missing barrels and inducing swinging strikes with a 5.4% barrel rate and 12.5% rate for swing-and-miss. Senga has filthy stuff that can lead to the walk issues and some inefficiency in his lower-end outings, at times he can fall short of the requirement for quality starts by racking up a significant early pitch count, but he is a very strong, potentially elite, option in this matchup. Senga costs $9,500/$10,600, he is a bargain on the DraftKings slate. The Royals have a limited lineup with Maikel Garcia in the leadoff role followed by Bobby Witt Jr. and MJ Melendez. Garcia has a 91 WRC+ with four home runs and 15 stolen bases this year, Witt is the team’s best player at 104 WRC+ with 18 home runs and 29 stolen bases after a fantastic July, and Melendez has scuffled along all year but should offer power from the left side. Sal Perez is a good option for power behind the plate for $4,400/$2,900 on the right night, but he has managed to be 11% below-average for run creation in a mixed bag of a season. The lineup falls off dramatically after those four hitters, Michael Massey has a 69 WRC+ over 273 plate appearances from the left side, he strikes out 25.3% of the time and walks at just a 6.6% pace. No one in the Royals’ projected lineup is drawing double-digit walks, they have an average walk rate of 6.1% and a strikeout rate of 24% both of which play in Senga’s favor. Kyle Isbel has a 70 WRC+ and a low-end triple-slash, he has just a 19.4% strikeout rate but a 3.8% walk rate on the season and he struck out at a 27% clip last year so we may simply be seeing a good stretch of plate appearances over his 186 chances so far in 2023. Edward Olivares has been good at limiting strikeouts as well, but he also does not draw many walks and has a low-end triple-slash with limited counting stats and an 89 WRC+. Matt Beaty and Drew Waters round out the lineup as low-end options at cheap prices.

Play: Kodai Senga, Mets bats/stacks

Update Notes: 

Arizona Diamondbacks (+157/3.50) @ San Francisco Giants (-172/4.59)

The Giants have righty Logan Webb on the mound for $9,800/$10,500 in the midst of a strong season. Webb has been excellent over 141.2 innings and 22 starts, he works very deep into ballgames when things are going well and is reliable to chase wins and quality starts. The righty has allowed a few more home runs than in years past, he sits at 3.02% on 8.3% barrels and a 2.6-degree average launch angle for the season. The barrels are up by about three points over each of the past two seasons and his hard-hit rate has jumped to 45.5% but the launch angle has been reliably low as usual and the righty has a terrific 3.49 ERA and 2.96 xFIP with a 4.3% walk rate and 1.10 WHIP. Webb projects in the middle of the board against a low-strikeout talented Arizona lineup but his ceiling ranks among the top starters on the slate at a discount on DraftKings. Webb is a good option on both sites against a Diamondbacks team that has slipped somewhat in recent weeks. Arizona has tons of talent, the lineup opens with Geraldo Perdomo who has gotten on base at a .381 clip while creating runs 18% better than average as a good connection to the team’s core of low-strikeout power hitters. Ketel Marte has 18 homer and a 138 WRC+ at second base, Corbin Carroll has 21 homers, 33 steals, and a 138 WRC+, and Christian Walker has mashed 22 home runs to lead the team while creating runs 25% better than average for the season. Lourdes Gurriel adds another 16 home runs to the mix, he has been lower-end than the first group of hitters and has just a 99 WRC+ over 391 plate appearances but costs just $3,800/$3,000 in the outfield. Jake McCarthy has an OK hit tool and excellent speed on the bases, Tommy Pham should be in the mix after landing in Arizona at the deadline, the veteran has had a good season for power and speed and he should replace more limited Alek Thomas in the lineup. Jace Peterson and Jose Herrera round out the projected lineup as cheap bolt-on parts in a bad matchup overall.

The Giants are looking like the far better option for offense in this matchup, they have a 4.59-run implied total that lands them in the middle of the board in Vegas but they land just 13th by fantasy points on our stack board. The Giants gain ground with a 9th-ranked mark for FanDuel value and a 6th-rated mark for DraftKings. San Francisco will be facing righty Slade Cecconi in his MLB debut. Cecconi is a highly regarded prospect in the Diamondbacks system, he has a plus fastball with a developing slider and he is expected to work as an effective arm either in the rotation or as a high-leverage reliever. Cecconi has thrown 103 innings in 20 starts at AAA this season, he has a 6.38 ERA and 5.50 xFIP with a 23.1% strikeout rate and 6.4% walk rate as a 24-year-old pitching in the PCL, a league notorious for ballparks that play like Coors Field. Cecconi costs $6,500 on both sites, based on his AAA numbers he is probably not quite ready for primetime, but we have seen rookie debuts for pitchers with similar makeups go well before the league’s book catches up on them fully, there could be minor value in the rookie, he is probably at least as good an option as the pitcher he is replacing (Tommy Henry) would have been. The Giants have several very good left-handed hitters who are flashing upside in our model today. LaMonte Wade Jr. has not been the same hitter as he was early in the season, but he did find his 10th home run finally and he has a .398 on-base percentage over 362 plate appearances. Wade knows how to draw a walk, his 16.9% rate is terrific atop a lineup that has a top four who are all good at finding free passes, which could play well against the rookie, though Cecconi is noted for his lack of free passes as well. Michael Conforto has 13 home runs and an 8.04 in our home run model tonight. JD Davis has a 6.16 in the model and 14 on the board with a 111 WRC+ in a productive year as a mid-level hitter. Joc Pederson has 11 homers and a .207 ISO from the left side, his 8.14 leads the team in our home run model tonight. Patrick Bailey has cooled at the plate, the catcher is an outstanding defender but his value as a hitter is somewhat questionable after a hot start. Luis MatosBrandon CrawfordIsan Diaz, and AJ Pollock mix through the bottom of the projected batting order as playable parts. Pollock is interesting, particularly if he hits higher in the actual batting order. The veteran outfielder is slashing a disappointing .169/.220/.315 in 141 plate appearances with five home runs on the board, but he was a better hitter with 14 homers last year and a good hitter at .297/.355/.536 with 21 homers two years ago.

Play: Logan Webb, Giants bats/stacks, Slade Cecconi value darts are OK

Update Notes:

Oakland Athletics (+240/3.62) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (-269/6.02)

The final game of the night has the Dodgers as massive favorites with a slate-leading 6.02-run implied total against Hogan Harris, an extremely limited lefty who has little-to-no appeal for $5,800/$6,400. Harris has a 6.07 ERA and 5.05 xFIP with a 20.2% strikeout rate and 9.5% walk rate and he has allowed 7.7% barrels and 42.9% hard hits with a 90 mph exit velocity but just a 2.88% home run rate in what seems like a bit of luck. Harris is targetable with Dodgers bats. Meanwhile, right-handed Tony Gonsolin has a sturdy projection in the upper-middle of the board where he competes for shares with Dane Dunning and Logan Webb. Gonsolin costs $7,500/$8,400, he is a terrific piece of value and should be considered for a fairly large portion of shares at SP2 on the DraftKings slate. The righty has a 19.7% strikeout rate with a 4.25 ERA but a 5.08 xFIP and 9.6% walk rate this year. Gonsolin has made 16 starts and thrown 82.2 innings while allowing an 8.9% barrel rate, 38.4% hard hits, and a 3.19% home run rate. He was better across the board in a more complete sample last year with a 23.9% strikeout rate and a 2.14 ERA with a 3.70 xFIP. Gonsolin is easily in play against the lousy Athletics, he should be a good option on both sites tonight.

The limited Oakland lineup includes a few playable young lefty hitters and little else. Stacking this team should start with a light focus on JJ Bleday who is projected to hit leadoff in a better decision than Tony Kemp, though the lefty is still in the lineup hitting eighth. Bleday is slashing .208/.324/.377 with eight home runs and five stolen bases. Zack Gelof has four home runs and five stolen bases with a 131 WRC+ and .305 ISO in his 64 plate appearances since getting promoted as a top prospect, Gelof is a must in most stacks of Athletics, the righty costs $4,300/$3,500 as a cheap second baseman. Seth Brown has pop from the left side with 10 home runs and a .194 ISO on 13.5% barrels and 47.4% hard hits. Cody Thomas costs $2,300/$2,700 with one home run in his 36 plate appearances since his promotion as a top prospect. Another recently promoted rookie, Tyler Soderstrom, follows Brent Rooker in the next two spots in the lineup. Both players have power, Rooker has 18 home runs from the right side, Soderstrom is yet to hit one from the left side but he is a highly-regarded catcher prospect for a cheap price. Jordan Diaz, Kemp, and Tyler Wade round out the lineup as mix-in options. Wade offers three-position eligibility for $2,600 on FanDuel and is a minimum-priced shortstop on DraftKings, he has limited appeal with toolsy low-level power and speed. The Dodgers lineup is obvious, they are sure to be highly owned in this matchup and with the massive run total on the board. Los Angeles has a wealth of directions they can go with the confirmed lineup but everyone is playable from top to bottom in whatever form it takes. Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman are high-priority stars when stacking this squad. Betts has a 155 WRC+ and Freeman sits at 167, the two superstars are appropriately high-priced with Betts still carrying multi-position eligibility on both sites. Will Smith is an effective option at catcher for $5,600/$3,500, the star hitter has a .275/.385/.467 triple-slash, 13 home runs, and a 135 WRC+ this season. Amed Rosario has mid-range power and speed but is in the midst of a disappointing season at the plate. He has a chance to turn things around in a much better lineup now that he hits in the heart of the Dodgers batting order. Rosario costs just $3,900/$2,900 as a nice price offset on this team. Max Muncy has 27 home runs and a .288 ISO with an 18.3% barrel rate for $5,000/$4,000. Chris Taylor mashes against lefties, he fills two positions on DraftKings and three on FanDuel for $3,200/$2,800 and he has a dozen home runs in 231 opportunities this year. James Outman has power with 12 home runs, he and any of the team’s other left-handed backup outfielders are good options on this slate, whoever is in the Dodgers lineup can be in a stack. Enrique Hernandez and Miguel Rojas are lower-end mix-in options in the infield for cheap prices.

Play: Dodgers bats/stacks, Tony Gonsolin

Update Notes: 

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