Wily Peralta against the Royals on Friday night is a conundrum for DFS. Somehow in his seven starts this year, the 32-year-old has figured out a way to put up a 1.64 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and a 3.0 BB%; all career bests. Small sample size? Sure, but he’s getting it done for now. That’s good for DFS, right? We fade the Royals. Well not necessarily. He also comes in with a 5.45 K/9 rate, which – if he qualified – would be the worst among all starters. That’s not good for DFS. We stack the Royals? But he has an elite 57.4 GB% (would be the best among qualified pitchers), so he’s keeping the ball out of the air. That’s good for DFS. Well, the Royals have one of the lowest Soft Contact rates of any offense (only 15% of balls in play). That’s bad for DFS. I could go on and on.
The lesson is, do your homework, but take a stand. We can’t always play Jacob DeGrom against the Rangers or the Astros in Coors Field. Do your research, come to your own conclusions, and live or die by your process.
This biweekly MLB DFS piece will look ahead to upcoming series with an eye towards which bats to Stack (rostering multiple players from the same lineup, a key to DFS success) and which bats to Fade (recommended spots to avoid, based on the data). I will also look at pitchers with Potential (high-upside hurlers who might save you a little salary) and arms to Avoid (perhaps pitchers who look promising on the surface but have difficult waters to navigate in the games ahead).
We start things off with even more questions for pitching on Friday. Is Zac Gallen actually healthy? Do we trust Patrick Corbin against Baltimore? What about Gerrit Cole against Boston? How many runs will Chi Chi Gonzalez give up to the Dodgers? Let’s look at what might be signal and what might be noise as we build our rosters and try to differentiate our rosters this weekend.
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MLB DFS LOOK AHEAD: STACKS AND FADES FOR JULY 23-25
Bats to Stack
Washington Nationals (@ BAL) – What happens when you stack the hottest hitter on the planet against the worst pitcher in the majors? We are about to find out this weekend when Juan Soto gets Matt Harvey and Co. in the launching pad that is Camden Yards.
Seriously, if any of us were holding out hope that Harvey would make some kind of Dark Knight Rises resurrection in his career, we have to let that go. He is simply filling innings for Baltimore at this point, results be damned. Among all starters with at least 80 innings pitched, Harvey ranks bottom-10 in K/9, ERA (7.13, I mean come on), WHIP, and contact rate allowed among many other stats.
Jorge Lopez and Spenser Watkins opening the series won’t fare much better. Lopez also has an ERA north of 6.00 in his 89 innings this year and a K/9 of just 8.56. Watkins has 16 MLB innings under his belt and has a K/9 of just 7.16 and allows more than 4.4 BB/9.
That’s just not going to get it done against a patient (fourth-highest road OBP) and powerful (12th-highest road SLG) team like Washington. This weekend screams for a stack of left-handed Nats plus Trea Turner.
It ain’t going to be cheap for you, so be prepared. Soto has the highest batter salary on FanDuel on Friday ($4,700) and it wouldn’t surprise me if he is at $5,000 by Sunday’s date with Harvey. Josh Bell, Gerardo Parra, and Andrew Stevenson could be cheap pieces of a stack, however, that would allow you room for Soto and Turner.
Bats to Fade
Chicago White Sox (@ MIL) – If there is a group of pitchers who are the anti-Matt Harvey, it’s the murderer’s row the Pale Hose will face this weekend when they travel to Milwaukee.
Chicago is about to face the elite strikeout potential of Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, and Freddy Peralta, each of whom rank in the top 25 among all starters for K/9 and top 12 in K%. If that wasn’t enough, Woodruff and Burnes are top 30 in lowest BB/9, so good luck stringing together some crooked number innings against these guys.
It’s a tough prospect to fade an offense as potent as the White Sox, but on the road against tough pitchers is the place to do it. The White Sox see substantial drop offs in OPS, wOBA, and wRC+ on the road. They have only hit 44 homers on the road (28th in MLB) compared to 61 at home (12th most), so a fade this weekend anticipating a complete power outage is not unreasonable.
Conversely, I will have no hesitations playing any of these three pitchers this weekend. Freddy Peralta is cheaper than Zach Thompson against the Padres on Friday over on FanDuel, so do with that information what you will.
Pitchers with Potential
Los Angeles Dodgers (vs. COL) – “Well of course you play Dodgers pitchers,” you might say. Not so fast, my friend. None of Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, Clayton Kershaw or Trevor Bauer will make an appearance in this weekend set against the Rockies. The Dodgers will trot out David Price, Tony Gonsolin, and Josiah Gray this weekend at home, so we will actually have to think about it before we just plug and play Dodger pitchers against Colorado.
Each of these pitchers comes with Chavez Ravine-sized question marks, primarily are they stretched out enough?
Price went 66 pitches last outing, so he should be good for 75+ on Friday. Gonsolin went 80, but couldn’t get through four innings, so pencil him in at 85 or so with hopefully more efficiency. Josiah Gray also debuted with 80 over four innings, including seven strikeouts. Los Angeles may limit his workload moving forward, but if he can operate with an opener in front like he did on Tuesday, the win is still in play.
Each of these pitchers should have a soft landing spot over the weekend, The Rockies on the road are dead last in team wOBA (25 points lower than 29th place), wRC+ (18 points lower), and OPS (66 points lower). Even if each pitcher gets only five innings, it should be enough to cruise towards a win with a decent number of strikeouts (Rockies have the sixth-highest team K% in 2021).
Arms to Avoid
New York Mets (vs. TOR) – No Jacob DeGrom this weekend. No Marcus Stroman. No Nolan Ryan or David Cone. No Dwight Gooden or Tom Seaver either. Toronto must be licking their chops at the prospects of facing off against Tylor Megill, Taijuan Walker, and Carlos Carrasco.
I actually like Tylor Megill long-term, but going up against Vlad The Impaler II and his wrecking crew is quite a bit different than Megill’s past two starts, both against the Pirates. Taijuan Walker has the undesirable combination of having the 13th-highest BB/9 among starters but only the 38th-highest K/9. The Blue Jays have the fifth-lowest strikeout rate on the road this season and 10th-best OBP, so Walker immediately becomes a fade in my player pool.
That leaves Carrasco, who hasn’t pitched in more than 10 months and just gave up three homers, three walks and five earned runs over 1.2 innings in his last AAA rehab start at Syracuse. I am absolutely 100% rooting for Carrasco who has overcome so much, but this does not set up to be a pretty first start back.
Toronto, essentially playing their whole season on the road to this point, has a .419 SLG away from “home,” the sixth-best mark in the league. In another series where the offense will see only right-handers, the usual suspects along with lefties like Cavan Biggio and Reese McGuire can round out a distinctive stack for the Blue Jays.
Data Sources: Fangraphs, Baseball Savant
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