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The Hot Stove is already boiling over entering Friday’s trade deadline. Seemingly all contenders are stockpiling assets for a playoff run this season and teams like the Nationals and Cubs have begun the long process of rebuilding. The tendency in MLB DFS after the deadline is to look to fade some of the lineups that sold major pieces or try and stack those who gained big sticks.

What is often overlooked, however, is that a lineup like the Cubs or Nationals just got a whole lot more affordable to stack in daily contests. They won’t suddenly be facing better pitchers after the trade deadline. They still get 27 outs to put together runs. Some of the ancillary pieces will be getting longer looks, and it behooves any DFS player to do their homework on these players before any potential hot streaks happen. Someone has to bat third and fourth for these clubs, and the sooner you know their strengths and weaknesses, the more leverage you have on the field.

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).

It may be tempting to play with all the shiny new toys this weekend, but is Starling Marte at the Angels your best bet? What about Gallo in Miami? No short porch there. Let’s look at what might be signal and what might be noise, as we try to differentiate our rosters this weekend.

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Bats to Stack

Toronto Blue Jays (vs. KCR) – Look out! Narrative street incoming. While the Blue Jays offense is always in play for stacking (see 13 runs against Boston on Thursday), there is going to be an extra gear for this team this weekend as they return to their home stadium on Friday for the first time since 2019. Remember Joe Carter in the 1993 World Series? Remember the Jose Bautista bat flip in the 2015 playoffs?

The Blue Jays have some rabid home fans and it certainly isn’t going to help the three upcoming Kansas City Royals pitchers who already struggle enough on their own. Let’s start with Daniel Lynch. This is the same prospect who was demoted after his first three starts with a 15.75 ERA and 2.88 WHIP. He has been better upon his return (it’s hard to be worse), but he still has a K/9 lower than 6.5 and an ERA of 7.88 this season.

Mike Minor and Brad Keller both rank in the bottom-20 pitchers for Fangraph’s WAR and BB/9 in 2021 and they rank as the third and fourth worst ERAs among all qualified starters this season. This is not a situation where you have to overthink it. Stack against them.

Lynch and Minor are both lefties, so fit as many of the usual suspects as you can (Springer, Bichette, Guerrero, Semien) in your lineup. The problem is each of these four is incredibly expensive. They are all north of $3,700 on FanDuel on Friday. A cheaper stack of players like Randal Grichuk, Teoscar Hernandez, and Lourdes Gurriel could provide some differentiation. Left-handed batters like Cavan Biggio and Reese McGuire will need to be in your stacks when Keller pitches Sunday.

This matchup on Friday has the highest implied run total of the night (10.5) by a full run. Oddsmakers think the Blue Jays smash here and you should certainly stack and get on board.

Bats to Fade

Atlanta Braves (vs. MIL) – I feel like I pick on offenses facing the Brewers almost every week, but their starting pitching rotation has been so dominant, that when a strikeout-heavy team lineup like the Braves get in their way, it’s best to stick with the fade.

Despite some potent sticks in their lineup, the Braves are quite the free-swinging club. They rank ninth in the majors with a 24.5% strikeout rate including the third-worst swinging strike percentage this season (12.3%). Only Tampa Bay and Detroit have been worse.

On the other side, the Brewers starting staff has the third-best strikeout rate this season (26.5%) and entice swings and misses on over 11% of their pitches.

Individually, the Braves have four regular starters with strikeout rates over 24% and have seen their team on-base percentage drop over the last three weeks since Ronald Acuna was lost for the season. The Braves do still rank in the top half of the league offensively in most categories, but for this series, it’s primarily about the value. The top four bats are all over $3,100 on Friday on FanDuel, and I just can’t get there with only an implied run total of just four.

For Friday and Saturday, give me teams like the Tigers or Rays who have much higher implied totals and have cheaper pieces at the top of the lineup. I can see going Braves on Sunday against Brett Anderson, but they are a fade for me to start the weekend.

Pitchers with Potential

New York Yankees (@ MIA) – Maybe Gallo isn’t the best play against guys like Trevor Rogers or Sandy Alcantara in Miami, but what about the Yankee pitchers this weekend? The Marlins are missing their primary table setter in Jazz Chisholm and they just traded away their most productive offensive player this year in Marte.

Adam Duvall ($3,200 on FanDuel Friday) and Jesus Aguilar ($3,o00) are the best offensive pieces that remain (assuming they aren’t dealt), so the Yankee pitchers should not have too many problems with a lineup that will likely feature players like Isan Diaz, Lewis Brinson, and Magnerius Sierra.

Over the last 30 days, Yankees pitchers Jordan Montgomery and Jameson Taillon both rank top-17 in ERA, with each coming in under 3.00. But perhaps more importantly in that timeframe, they are limiting the long ball. Both rank as top 30 pitchers with a HR/FB ratio of just 11%.

Domingo German also checks a number of boxes for you against the Marlins. He is top-30 this season in BB/9 (2.23) and has allowed only five earned runs in his last four outings, including three games against Houston and Boston.

Add in the fact that Yankee pitchers will get a huge boost this weekend from moving to LoanDepot Park and these three look like strong SP2 slots all weekend. The Marlins home park ranks 26th this season in home-run park factor according to Baseball Savant, while the Yankee Stadium park is all the way at sixth. These pitchers look like good SP2 options all weekend considering the matchup and park upgrade.

Arms to Avoid

Washington Nationals (vs. CHC) – Assuming other major pieces of the Cubs offense besides Rizzo are moved in advance of Friday’s games, I still don’t see a way to play Nationals pitchers that can end well for any of them. This is a group of mediocre-at-best hurlers with suddenly very little offense to support them.

A pitching lineup of Jon Lester (L), Joe Ross (R), and Erick Fedde (R) won’t scare me off Cubs the entire weekend, no matter who gets traded. Similar to the Royals pitching situation, the Nationals have three pitchers in the bottom 30 in WAR among all starters with at least 70 innings pitched. Even if we get the Cubs junior varsity squad, these are matchups to exploit.

One of the key pieces in my lineups Friday on FanDuel will be Patrick Wisdom. He is only $2,900, likely to bat third or fourth, and has the handedness advantage against Lester. Against lefties this season, Wisdom is slashing .255/.359/.509 with a 131 wRC+. In addition, he has an elite 14.1% walk rate against left-handers so getting on base should be no issue for Wisdom.

Right-handers Fedde and Ross will pitch over the weekend, meaning you can make cheap left-handed secondary Cubs stacks with Ian Happ, Rafael Ortega, and Jason Heyward. This would leave plenty of funds for a bigger stick like Willson Contreras if he is still on the squad and a primary stack of higher-priced bats from another team.

Data SourcesFangraphsBaseball Savant

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