I’m not quite sure how it happened, but we all woke up this morning and it was September. I swear, I checked my calendar at least three times to confirm. September has always been a difficult stretch in the DFS baseball world, as expanded rosters and indifference tend to give even the most observant players headaches. However, this whole 2020 season has been an absolute mess, so I guess you could say we’re prepared this time around. Hooray for silver linings, right?
Let’s break down the month’s first featured DraftKings slate position-by-position.
Framber Valdez, HOU vs. TEX, $8,100 - This isn’t a collection of words I figured I’d be stringing together in 2020, but you could definitely make the case that Valdez is too inexpensive on this slate. The left-hander was dynamic in August, maintaining a 2.55 FIP and a 27.9% strikeout rate across his five appearances in the month. A huge part of Valdez’s success can be attributed to his ability to suppress launch angle, as evidenced by a 57.8% groundball rate — the fourth-highest mark among qualified pitchers in the league. Add in a Rangers’ offense that currently sporting an MLB-low 65 wRC+ and there’s a lot to like in this spot.
Other Options: Aaron Nola ($10,400), Zach Plesac ($8,300)
Kevin Gausman, SF at COL, $6,600 - Do I want to make a habit of utilizing home run prone pitchers at Coors Field? Not really. However, even with the altitude, Gausman just shouldn’t be this cheap on a slate that isn’t exactly brimming with amazing options at starter. Among the 78 pitchers with 30-plus innings thrown so far in 2020, Gausman’s 2.93 xFIP ranks ninth, while his 31.6% strikeout rate sits 12th in that grouping. Until the end of time, the best way to survive in Colorado will also be to suppress opponent contact and Gausman has proven he has that skill to lean on in situations like he’s face Tuesday.
Other Option: Ian Anderson ($6,800)
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Travis d’Arnaud, ATL at BOS, $4,700 - While d’Arnaud’s workload hasn’t been quite as heavy as some other “starting” catchers, it’s still hard to complain about the results. Through 84 plate appearances this season, the 31-year-old is slashing .308/.345/.526 with a 129 wRC+. On top of that, d’Arnaud comes into Tuesday’s matchup with Ryan Weber ($4,600) owning a 91st percentile expected batting average and an 89th percentile hard hit rate. That should all play pretty well against Weber, who’s allowed 16 earned runs and six home runs in his 24.0 innings in 2020.
Other Option: J.T. Realmuto ($5,100)
Will Smith, LAD vs. ARI, $3,700 - While it might feel like Smith’s had an underwhelming sophomore campaign to this point in the season, the 25-year-old does possess a 141 wRC+ and a .313 ISO in his 62 plate appearances for the Dodgers. These numbers are somewhat buoyed by a recent hot streak, as Smith has registered an extra-base hit in each of his past three starts. Considering Alex Young ($7,300) has surrendered a barrel to a staggering 10.2% of the batters he’s faced in 2020, Smith should have a great opportunity to extend that streak this evening.
Other Option: Roberto Perez ($2,700)
Freddie Freeman, ATL at BOS, $5,300 - As usual, Freeman’s been one of baseball premier left-handed hitters in 2020, with his .415 wOBA sitting 10th among all qualified players coming into Tuesday’s slate. That’s going to be an issue for Weber, as the right-hander has demonstrated no ability to consistently retire LHBs in his eight appearances. In fact, despite a .189 BABIP within the split, lefties have mustered a .372 wOBA against Weber thanks to hitting 2.70 home runs per nine.
Other Options: Cody Bellinger ($5,400), Anthony Rizzo ($5,100)
Miguel Cabrera, DET at MIL, $3,600 - This isn’t really a play against Josh Lindblom ($6,600), this is more about Cabrera swinging a hot stick. The veteran has 10 hits in his past five games, and for the season, his exit velocity ranks him in the 89th percentile of players. He can still do some damage.
Other Option: Josh Bell ($3,500)
DJ LeMahieu, NYY vs. TB, $4,900 - Despite dealing with a thumb issue, LeMahieu comes into this matchup with Tampa Bay having a legitimate shot to hit .400 in this truncated season. The veteran is slashing .398/.442/.523 with a 168 wRC+ through his first 95 plate appearances and he should be able to continue that level of success against Trevor Richards ($5,900). The RHP’s best offering is his change up, and since the beginning of 2019, LeMahieu is batting .400 with a .707 slugging percentage off of that specific pitch type.
Other Option: Keston Hiura ($5,300)
Jeff McNeil, NYM at BAL, $3,400 - McNeil has been bad to begin 2020, but the infielder has shown signs of life in recent contests. In fact, McNeil smacked a pair of doubles in Monday’s matchup with the Marlins, extending his modest hit-streak to four games. He’s also continued to primarily bat leadoff for the Mets, which keeps his DFS potential high. McNeil is more than worth a look against Asher Wojciechowski ($5,500) and his 6.02 FIP.
Other Option: Kiké Hernandez ($3,900)
Jean Segura, PHI vs. WAS, $4,500 - Segura has mashed left-handed pitching when he’s had the opportunity to face it in 2020, slashing .290/.389/.581 with a .409 wOBA in his 36 plate appearances within the split. Tonight, the southpaw tasked with retiring Segura is Patrick Corbin ($10,200); yet the veteran hasn’t quite been himself so far this season. In fact, Corbin’s 10.8% swinging strike rate is his lowest mark since 2016.
Other Options: Jose Ramirez ($5,400), Justin Turner ($4,800)
Austin Riley, ATL at BOS, $3,400 - In general, Riley is heating up at the dish, as he’s slashing .400/.419/.833 dating back to Aug. 22. It’s a span that’s also seen Riley collect multiple hits in five of his eight starts. Really, the 23-year-old’s lone issue is his contact rate, but that shouldn’t be too big a worry on Tuesday against the aforementioned Weber. Among the 129 pitchers who have thrown at least 20 innings in 2020, Weber’s 10.4% strikeout rate is the second-lowest figure in the group.
Other Option: Luis Urias ($3,800)
Carlos Correa, HOU vs. TEX, $4,700 - Usually I like to pay up for Correa when the Astros have a matchup with a left-handed pitcher, but I can’t ignore the struggles of Jordan Lyles ($7,200) any longer. The RHP has been awful in 2020, with his 6.04 SIERA sitting as the second-worst mark of any pitcher with 20-plus innings. It’s not like Texas has many better options to send to the mound, either. The Rangers’ bullpen owns an ugly 4.99 ERA across its 122.2 innings of work this season.
Other Option: Francisco Lindor ($5,300)
Brandon Crawford, SF at COL, $3,900 - It’s been a bleak few seasons for Crawford, but things are looking up as the veteran makes his way to Colorado this evening. Crawford has been swinging a hot bat the past month, posting an .833 OPS and 130 wRC+ in his 93 plate appearances in August. He should be able to keep the good times rolling in an left-on-right matchup with Jon Gray ($6,300).
Other Option: Willy Adames ($3,700)
Mookie Betts, LAD vs. ARI, $6,100 - In a weird twist of fate, Betts has actually struggled immensely with left-handed pitching in 2020, but I don’t think that matters much in this spot. The former MVP has been nearly unstoppable when hitting in Los Angeles, as Betts owns a 1.005 OPS and a .391 ISO in his 69 home plate appearances. Plus, even if Betts can’t get a hit off of Young, he should be able to exploit an Arizona bullpen that was already bad prior to yesterday’s trade of Archie Bradley.
Other Options: Ronald Acuna Jr. ($4,800), George Springer ($4,400)
Marcell Ozuna, ATL at BOS, $4,200 - How is Ozuna this cheap? I just don’t get it. Putting aside the absolutely amazing matchup he and the Braves have this evening, Ozuna’s simply been hitting the ball extremely well in 2020. To wit, the veteran comes int Tuesday’s slate ranking in the 95th percentile in hard hit rate, the 91st percentile in exit velocity and the 84th percentile in expected wOBA. Ozuna could be $5K and I’d still have an interest in rostering him versus the struggling Red Sox.
Other Options: Ian Happ ($4,100), A.J. Pollock ($3,800)
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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.