I often have to remind myself, but there just aren’t any silver bullets in MLB DFS. Just when you think you’ve figured out the right formula, Gerrit Cole has his worst game of the season against a team with the league’s second-highest strikeout rate. Or the Rangers – a cheap offense for DFS – go into Coors field and score only 11 runs in three games (including four in the final inning of the final game by the bench bats). How about when Martin Perez versus Houston and Austin Gomber in Coors are two of the top three pitchers in an early slate? Good luck with your stack and fade choices when we get the kind of Kershaw-like curveball we did Thursday.
This biweekly 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).
Baseball is a game that can quickly put you in your place even you think you have the right formula, and its clearly the hardest daily game to get right. Each individual slate deserves its own individual analysis, especially with a full slate of games each day in this coming weekend. Starting with a Friday slate that offers plenty on the hitting and pitching fronts, let’s look at what might be signal and what might be noise as we build our rosters.
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MLB DFS Look Ahead: June 4 – June 6
Bats to Stack
Oakland Athletics (@COL) – Let’s get one thing out of the way upfront. The Oakland offense is NOT the Texas offense. If you are trying to get over the bad taste of playing the Hot Pocket offense of the Rangers the past three days, why don’t you try feasting on some wagyu beef with the A’s this weekend?
The Athletics don’t make it to Coors but once every few years, so we shouldn’t waste this opportunity. This is an offensive stack that should smash this weekend. Not only does their 9.7% walk rate rank seventh in the majors (it’s the A’s, so of course it does) but they also rank top 12 in slugging percentage, wRC+, contact percentage, and hard-hit percentage.
Even with the surprising home performances of Jon Gray and German Marquez so far this season, these aren’t matchups we should shy away from. Oakland is a disciplined (fourth-best O-Swing%) and patient lineup (third-best first strike percentage) that can wear down opposing pitchers. That means more of the Colorado bullpen and their 8.19 ERA with men on base this season.
Tampa Bay Rays (@TEX) – We just saw what this offense can do against a pitcher the caliber of Gerrit Cole on Thursday, and now they will face a set of pitchers so uninspiring it will make Ranger fans long for the days of Chan Ho Park, Todd Van Poppel, and Jason Jennings.
Apparently, Wes Benjamin, Kolby Allard, and Dane Dunning are actual humans who will pitch for the Texas Rangers this weekend. They get the task of trying to slow the wrecking crew that is Austin Meadows and Co. the next three days. Dunning may be the name you’re most familiar with, but as the lone right-hander this weekend, he is the one most likely to get rocked by the Rays.
Tampa Bay ranks fourth this season in wRC+ against righties, including the fourth-highest walk rate and seventh-highest slugging percentage. Just like the past few days in the Bronx, the Rays are aided by a massive upgrade in park factor and are worth your stack. Tropicana Field ranks last this season in that category, while Globe Life Field sits at 18th for the year.
Bats to Fade
New York Mets (@SDP) – Just when the Mets’ bats are starting to heat back up (Lindor with three multi-hit games in his last four!), they run into the buzz-saw that will be the Padres pitching rotation in San Diego this weekend.
Yes, the park is bad enough for hitting without the gauntlet of pitchers the Metropolitans will have to pass through. Petco Park may be beautiful, but it’s a run suppression machine that ranks 25th in park factor this year. It would actually be easier for me to name stats where the Padres’ staff do not rank in the top ten. They are among the league leaders in K%, BB%, HR/9, FIP, Barrel% allowed and a whole host of other advanced stats.
The Mets started off the weekend only scoring two runs against Yu Darvish on Thursday and will finish their time in southern California with Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove, and Chris Paddack on the bump. Even with the recent offensive surge, New York ranks just 27th in the league in slugging percentage entering Thursday’s game. Maybe there is a case to play them as a contrarian stack on Friday against lefty Snell (Mets are 17th in slugging against lefties), but their team slugging against righties is an abysmal 28th which makes them a fade against Paddack and Musgrove.
Arizona Diamondbacks (@MIL) – Speaking of fades, this is about to get downright ugly for the Diamondbacks this weekend. I don’t know that there is tougher series a team could face than getting Freddy Peralta, Brandon Woodruff, and Corbin Burnes on back-to-back-t0-back nights, but that’s the hand Arizona has been dealt.
Each of these three Milwaukee fireballers rank in the top 20 starters for K/9, FIP, and fewest hard hits allowed (minimum 50 innings). As if these three righties weren’t enough of a challenge, the Diamondbacks will likely continue to snake-bite themselves in the arse as they rank 24th in the majors in wRC+ against right-handed pitchers, 13% below league average.
Even with recent power additions Ketel Marte, Carson Kelly, and Christian Walker inserted back into the lineup, it’s easy to just deselect the entire Arizona offense in your favorite optimizer this weekend. In the contests I play, they will be a full fade for me.
Pitchers With Potential
Chicago White Sox (vs. DET) – I trust that you would have come to this conclusion on your own this weekend, but it’s worth emphasizing what fantastic spots Dallas Keuchel, Lucas Giolito, and Carlos Rodon are in this weekend as they get to pitch at home with the 1,000 thread-count sheets comfort of facing the Tigers.
Overall, the Tigers are simply a bad offense. As Al Kaline and Ty Cobb roll over in their graves, Detroit languishes with the 26th-worst wRC+ among all offenses this season. But it gets worse. The Tigers are 27th in on-base percentage and dead last in strikeout rate this season. Unsurprisingly, they are also 27th in slugging percentage which happens when your best hitter is a 38-year old DH batting third and hitting .188.
I really hate to pile on the poor Tigers here, but it’s worth noting they face two lefties in Keuchel and Rodon this weekend. Against left-handers, Detroit is 28th in on-base percentage and last in slugging percentage (.331) and wRC+ (77). Put in context, no team has slugged that low against lefties in a full season since 2014 (Padres, .326). Keuchel is the 17th-highest priced pitcher on Friday over on FanDuel. Do with that information what you will.
Arms to Avoid
Atlanta Braves (vs. LAD) – Let’s put it this way. On Friday, would you rather roster Ian Anderson against the Dodgers for $8,300 or Keuchel against the Tigers for $6,700 on FanDuel?
Against righties Anderson and Charlie Morton on Saturday, we can essentially call the Dodgers the anti-Tigers. Los Angeles ranks first in on-base percentage, fifth in slugging, and first in wRC+, and now have Cody Bellinger back to add to the arsenal of Max Muncy, Gavin Lux, and Mat Beaty as left-handed mashers.
Morton saw his salary spike on FanDuel last outing after a 58-point masterpiece against the Red Sox. But if he is anywhere close to his $8,800 salary from his last game, I will be staying far, far away. Similarly, Max Fried was also at $8,800 on FanDuel in his last outing, so it doesn’t even look like we will even have lower salaries on these guys to entice us. Tomahawk chop these guys out of your lineups this weekend. A stack of the Dodgers would be the better play as they upgrade to Truist Park.
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