Every now and again, you’re going to have to eat some chalk. That’s sort of my mantra when it comes to DFS baseball and I’m getting the sense that the saying will be applied to Tuesday’s 12-game featured slate on DraftKings; specifically when it comes to utilizing Coors Field. On the heels of 20 combined runs being scored in Colorado on Monday, how much exposure is the right amount of exposure as it pertains to the altitude tonight?
Let’s go position-by-position and break down everything you need to know.
Max Scherzer, WAS at NYM, $10,800 - Even coming off a hamstring injury, Scherzer is sure to be a popular option on this evening’s slate. The 36-year-old has unlimited upside in DFS, having already struck out a staggering 37.9% of the 58 batters he’s faced in 2020. Scherzer can thank his slider for the immediate success, as the pitch has generated an insane 38.7% whiff rate through the veteran’s first three outings of the season. With the Mets having struggled to a measly .133 ISO through 17 games, it’s hard to envision them posing much of a threat to the right-hander.
Other Option: Mike Minor ($9,600)
Jordan Montgomery, NYY vs. ATL, $7,900 - We haven’t really seen all that much of Montgomery in 2020 - and the little we have seen hasn’t been great - but the southpaw fits the archetype of a GPP play on tonight’s slate. To be blunt, the Braves have had a difficult time making contact so far this season. In fact, Atlanta comes into Tuesday’s matchup with New York leading the National League in both strikeout rate (28.5%) and swinging strike rate (14.1%). Combine that with Montgomery’s own ability to generate whiffs and you’ve got the opportunity for a high DKFP output.
Other Option: Martin Perez ($6,100)
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Willson Contreras, CHC at CLE, $4,700 - It would seem that Contreras has decided to fully embrace the free-swinging lifestyle. While the backstop has struck out in a whopping 37.8% of his plate appearances so far this season, the trade-off when he has actually connected has been amazing. Contreras currently ranks in the 99th percentile in exit velocity, while he also sits in the 94th percentile in both expected wOBA and expected slugging percentage. With Adam Plutko ($6,200) being a contact-oriented pitcher who’s allowed 2.11 career home runs per nine, Contreras is in the perfect spot.
Other Option: Yasmani Grandal ($4,900)
Carson Kelly, ARI at COL, $3,900 - It’s been a rough start to the season for Kelly, but if anything could turn his campaign around, it would be a left-handed starter at Coors Field. In 104 plate appearances against LHPs in 2019, Kelly slashed .356/.462/.667 with an enticing .310 ISO. Kyle Freeland ($7,000) isn’t just any southpaw, either. He’s a southpaw that currently owns baseball’s third-highest qualified zone contact rate (93.3%). Contact and altitude do not mix.
Other Option: Austin Nola ($3,700)
Anthony Rizzo, CHC at CLE, $5,200 - The Cubs really caught a break with Mike Clevinger unable to make this start for Cleveland. Plutko just isn’t anything to fear, especially for left-handed hitters. Of the 231 LHBs the right-hander faced last season, Plutko was only able to strike out a microscopic 11.3%. That level of opponent contact is bad news for a pitcher who surrendered the third-highest average launch angle (19.9 degrees) of the 107 pitchers with 350-plus batted ball events in 2019.
Other Option: Shohei Ohtani ($4,700)
Edwin Encarnacion, CWS at DET, $3,800 - It’s been a forgettable start to the year for the veteran slugger, but Encarnacion is expected to return to the White Sox lineup this evening after missing the past six games due to a shoulder issue. If that is indeed the case, we now have a buying window for a man that’s hit 298 home runs since the beginning of 2012 - the second-highest total in that span of time. I’ll take my chances with his upside in a right-on-left matchup.
Other Option: Eric Hosmer ($3,300)
Ketel Marte, ARI at COL, $5,200 - Marte really hasn’t been showcasing his power so far this season, but that’s less of an issue when playing in Colorado. On top of the advantageous setting, Marte’s immense value on this slate is derived from the fact that he crushed left-handed pitching in 2019. In 174 plate appearances, the switch-hitter slashed .333/.368/.630 with a .407 wOBA. Freeland better be careful when dealing with the top of the Diamondbacks’ order.
Other Options: Jose Altuve ($5,400), Keston Hiura ($4,700)
Mike Brosseau, TB at BOS, $3,300 - Some might just see Brosseau as a platoon bat, but if there was ever a team that empowered their tertiary players, it’s the Rays. To wit, the 26-year-old hit fifth in Tampa Bay’s batting order on Sunday when the team faced the left-handed James Paxton. Brosseau rewarded Kevin Cash’s confidence by belting a two-run bomb off the former Mariner. That’s not an anomaly, either. In 90 career plate appearances within the split, Brosseau possesses a .253 ISO and a 140 wRC+.
Other Option: Jonathan Schoop ($4,000)
Anthony Rendon, LAA vs. OAK, $5,300 - Mike Fiers ($8,300) is in a dangerous place right now. The veteran has always walked a fine line - and a 5.19 xFIP in 2019 was a pretty big warning sign - but the 35-year-old hasn’t looked good through his first three outings of 2020. Fiers’ average four-seam fastball velocity has registered at a mere 88.1 mph, down from 90.8 mph last season. Not surprisingly, his cutter’s velocity has followed suit. That’s translated into Fiers conceding as many home runs to RHBs (2) as he’s generated strikeouts within the split (2). Yikes.
Other Options: Alex Bregman ($5,800), Kris Bryant ($4,700)
Eduardo Escobar, ARI at COL, $3,900 - Let’s not make this too complicated. Has Escobar been terrible to begin 2020? Absolutely. However, we are talking about an asset that hit a career-high 35 home runs last season and owned a respectable .882 OPS when batting right-handed. We know the talent is there and it’s hard to not take a chance on a depressed salary at Coors Field.
Other Option: Asdrubal Cabrera ($3,800)
Carlos Correa, HOU vs. SF, $4,500 - When it comes to Tyler Anderson ($6,500), I think it would be correct to say that he’s survived four appearances so far in 2020. Sure, the left-hander has pitched to a 2.19 ERA, but it’s taken a .229 BABIP and a 98.7% strand rate to maintain that figure. I mean, in general, it’s bad news when you have more walks than strikeouts. Anyway, that’s likely why the Astros have one of the slate’s highest implied team totals. That and the presence of Correa. Going back to the beginning of last season, the shortstop owns a .415 wOBA and a 168 wRC+ against LHPs.
Other Option: Javier Baez ($5,000)
Niko Goodrum, DET vs. CWS, $3,900 - Goodrum has picked up right where he left off last season against left-handed opponents. In his first 18 plate appearances within the split in 2020, Goodrum is 7-for-16 (.438) with five extra-base hits, a stat line that works out to an eye-popping 1.507 OPS. Obviously that’s unsustainable, yet Goodrum did possess a .388 wOBA batting right-handed in 2019, so there is a track record for this sort of success. He should be in for a nice night versus Gio Gonzalez ($7,700), who owns an ugly .407 expected wOBA across three starts.
Other Option: Jose Iglesias ($3,200)
Max Kepler, MIN at MIL, $4,800 - The sample size is small, but Josh Lindblom ($5,800) has had his issues with LHBs since returning to MLB. The issue is pretty simple: Lindblom won’t use his slider in right-on-left matchups. The pitch has a 41.0% usage rate and a 28.0% whiff rate against righties, but he’s yet to throw one to a lefty. So, as you might expect, Lindblom sports a 5.83 FIP within the split, as his strikeout rate has cratered. Kepler is one of a few powerful left-handed bats that Minnesota can throw at the former KBO star.
Other Options: Mike Trout ($6,100), Juan Soto ($5,200)
Alex Verdugo, BOS vs. TB, $3,500 - It would appear that Verdugo is now officially slotted into the top-third of the Red Sox’ order. At least that’s what we can all assume after the 24-year-old has hit first or second for Boston in its past three games. Sure, Verdugo is also currently in just the 2nd percentile when it comes to exit velocity in 2020 (81.5 mph), but I’m less concerned with that small sample than I am happy to get five plate appearances on the cheap.
Other Options: Mike Tauchman ($3,800), Adam Eaton ($3,500)
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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.