Sometimes in life, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. There’s actually many areas where this applies. It could be about a past relationship. It could be about a beloved family member. It could even be about my receding hairline. However, for our purposes, on this particular nine-game featured MLB slate, I’m 100% talking about pitching. I got greedy after an Opening Day pricing list that consisted of primarily aces. I figured the endless supply of strikeout artists would keep coming in night-after-night. Well, I was wrong. The starting matchups the last two days have been underwhelming to say the least and I’ve learned I have to savor the good things within this weird baseball season. So, with open arms, I welcome quality pitching options back into our lives on Wednesday.
Let’s enjoy them while we can as I break down everything you need to know position-by-position.
Gerrit Cole, NYY at BAL, $11,400 - It’s hard to know exactly how much further Cole would have worked back in Thursday’s Opener, but the huge free agent acquisition was still able to throw 75 pitches in that win against Washington, suggesting that he’s almost fully stretched out. You’d also have to think that getting an extra day of rest in between outings isn’t the worst case scenario for a starter under the truncated Summer Camp conditions. Cole only struck out five opponents in his first appearance of 2020, but his fastball velocity was there and he managed to induce 11 swings-and-misses. That should be more than enough to have a noteworthy performance against the Orioles.
Other Options: Chris Paddack ($8,400), Brandon Woodruff ($8,100)
Joe Musgrove, PIT vs. MIL, $5,300 - In what world does Musgrove deserve to be this inexpensive? While he’s far from a perfect pitcher, Musgrove did sport a 3.82 FIP across the entirety of 2019; a better figure than fellow qualified pitchers like Clayton Kershaw, Jose Berrios and Aaron Nola. He also presents an incredibly high floor in these uncertain times, as he threw 99 pitches in his first outing of the season on Friday. Additionally, that was a start where Musgrove possessed a 30.4% strikeout rate. That doesn’t seem like a figure Musgrove will be able to reproduce all that often, but I like his chances for a good evening against a Brewers team that’s posted just a .109 ISO and 81 wRC+ to start the season.
Other Option: Rich Hill ($7,200)
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Mitch Garver, MIN vs. STL, $4,700 - Garver hasn’t looked great at the dish to begin 2020, but we are still talking about a backstop that produced an eye-popping .357 ISO over 359 plate appearances last season. Plus, with Miles Mikolas (forearm) being unexpectedly shut down for the year on Tuesday, Daniel Ponce de Leon ($7,500) will now have to make an emergency start for the Cardinals. That’s why the Twins have the second-highest implied run total on the slate.
Other Option: Will Smith ($4,500)
Austin Nola, SEA at LAA, $2,800 - There’s a chance Nola won’t be playing this evening after having to be scratched from Tuesday’s lineup due to a knee issue, but if he is, he’s incredibly viable at this price. Last season, in 90 plate appearances against southpaw pitching, Nola slashed .256/.356/.538 with a .282 ISO. That’s quite a bit of pop below $3K.
Max Muncy, LAD at HOU, $4,900 - The Astros are desperate for pitching help. Not only will the team turn to rookie Cristian Javier ($6,600) to make his first MLB start this evening, yet there were reports yesterday that the team was close to signing 43-year-old reliever Fernando Rodney to assist with an ailing bullpen. If that’s not throwing up the white flag, I don’t know what is. Now, it’s not like Javier isn’t a high-end prospect, but the Dodgers are a high-end lineup. They should cause issues for whoever is throwing for Houston, and it all starts with Muncy. The first baseman possesses an impressive .292 ISO dating back to the beginning of 2018 - the fourth-highest qualified mark in baseball.
Other Options: Shohei Ohtani ($5,200), Paul Goldschmidt ($4,400)
Editor’s Note: Eric Hosmer has been scratched from tonight’s lineup.
Eric Hosmer, SD at SF, $3,500 - Look, I know it’s only 12 plate appearances, but Hosmer has yet to hit a groundball in 2020. That’s significant. At 2.1 degrees, the veteran infielder sported the second-lowest qualified launch angle in MLB last season and now, suddenly, that average angle in 31.2 degrees on nine batted ball events; with six of those BBEs leaving the bat at over 95 mph. Discount it as small sample size noise, yet it’s undeniable that Hosmer’s hot right now. I’d find some exposure against Johnny Cueto ($6,000), who has conceded more than a couple home runs to LHBs the past few seasons.
Other Option: C.J. Cron ($3,200)
Whit Merrifield, KC at DET, $4,200 - Merrifield has been spectacular to begin 2020, slashing an insane .368/.429/.789 in his first 21 plate appearances. Also, for the purposes of DFS, he’s been incredibly aggressive in the batter’s box, with an enticing 50.7% swing rate. Yes, it’s unlikely to bank on the Royals’ leadoff hitter to crush a home run in his third-straight game this evening; however, Merrifield has always had better splits against LHPs like Matthew Boyd ($9,000). In fact, in 2018 and 2019, Merrifield possessed a .317 average and a .369 wOBA within the split.
Other Option: Brandon Lowe ($4,600)
Jonathan Schoop, DET vs. KC, $3,200 - While Schoop isn’t nearly the contact hitter Merrifield is, there are some similarities between the two middle infielders on this evening’s slate. Schoop’s always also been hyper-aggressive - as evidenced by a career swing rate of 56.6% - and the duo will each draw a left-handed starting pitcher. Danny Duffy ($7,100) will take the mound for Kansas City on Wednesday, which should be music to the ears of Schoop. The RHB slashed .277/.354/.563 with a .286 ISO within the split in 2019.
Josh Donaldson, MIN vs. STL, $4,200 - I’m a little perplexed by this pricing. Donaldson crushed right-handed pitching in 2019, hitting 30 of his 37 total home runs within the split, while also posting a .381 wOBA. Even at 34-years-old, he’s not really showing any obvious signs of slowing down, at least when he’s healthy. So why is it, in a matchup with an emergency starter, that Donaldson finds himself with a lower salary than the likes of Wilmer Flores ($4,700) and Tommy Edman ($4,400)? I’ll happily take the discount on Minnesota’s no. 2 hitter.
Other Option: DJ LeMahieu ($5,300)
David Fletcher, LAA vs. SEA, $3,300 - Fletcher has almost no power in his bat to speak of, but he is a high-floor asset all the way down at this depressed price point. The 26-year-old is the current owner of a jaw-dropping .609 OBP, which would be notable enough on its own, but is definitely amplified in DFS by Fletcher’s surroundings. I mean, can you think of a better place to hit than leadoff in front of Mike Trout ($6,200) and Anthony Rendon ($5,400)? He’ll be a popular value play on Wednesday, but I’m fine with getting some exposure.
Gleyber Torres, NYY at BAL, $5,200 - You thought I was going to fade Torres? Come on. I’m only human. The 23-year-old set a single-season record for home runs against a single opponent last season with 13 bombs versus Baltimore’s meager pitching staff and it’s not hard to envision him continuing the run in 2020. Asher Wojceichowski ($5,800) is no stranger to surrendering long balls, as the RHP posted a whopping 1.86 HR/9 in his 82.1 innings of work in 2019.
Other Option: Corey Seager ($4,400)
Jorge Polanco, MIN vs. STL, $3,800 - Another relatively cheap Twins bat. While Polanco might be listed as a switch-hitter, it’s imperative to understand that you want to use him solely in opportunities against right-handed pitching. In fact, in the infielder’s last two seasons, Polanco has sported a 133 wRC+ when batting as an LHB versus just an 81 wRC+ batting as an RHB. Splits aside, you’re also getting the three-hole hitter on a club with a high run expectancy for less that $4K. That’s always a steal.
Giancarlo Stanton, NYY at BAL, $5,800 - I’m going to go out on a limb and say that a couple days off didn’t impact the red-hot bat of Stanton. Heck, even if it did, the presence of Wojceichowski should act as a microwave. Among the 198 pitchers in 2019 that induced 200-plus batted ball events, Wojceichowski’s 10.7% barrels per BBE ratio was the ninth-highest in the group. Essentially, if Stanton’s able to square one up on Wednesday, it’s going a long way.
Other Options: Cody Bellinger ($5,300), Aaron Hicks ($5,000)
Max Kepler, MIN vs. STL, $4,100 - That’s right, in a contest where Minnesota has an implied run total of well above five, you can stack the first three guys in its batting order for slightly over $12K. There’s obviously no guarantees that this trio is going to do anything on note; however, the pitching matchup with Ponce de Leon isn’t overly daunting and the Twins proved last season they deserve to be considered an elite offense. So, give me the man who hit 36 home runs with just a 16.6% strikeout rate in 2019.
Other Options: Trent Grisham ($3,800), Jorge Soler ($3,600)
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.