The best thing about the second week of the MLB season? Pitching matchups like we have on tonight’s eight-game slate. Unlike Opening Day where we saw ace after ace after ace, Tuesday’s schedule is a mix of high-profile arms and fifth starters who barely made their team’s 26-man roster. It just makes for a really interesting evening of baseball and DFS, as the strategy tends to be very unique.
Let’s go position-by-position and break down everything you’ll need to know to set your lineups.
Lucas Giolito, Chicago White Sox at Seattle Mariners, $9,300 - For most people, the decision at pitcher is going to come down to Giolito and Tyler Glasnow ($9,100). Well, consider me afflicted with Kevin Cash PTSD, because I’d much rather utilize Chicago’s ace on Tuesday. Without reigning Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis (knee) anchoring the lineup, Seattle has struggled through its first four games, hitting just .177 as a team with a 29.7% strikeout rate. A big reason for the underwhelming play? The Mariners lead the American League with a 32.6% called and swinging strike rate, which translates into a lot of bad counts and empty hacks. Look for Giolito, who owns a 32.9% strikeout rate dating back to the beginning of 2019, to take advantage.
Freddy Peralta, Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago Cubs, $7,600 - Peralta threw 53 pitches out of the bullpen on Opening Day, but will have the standard four days of rest heading into tonight’s start versus the Cubs. The 24-year-old has had his issues as a starter in the past — as evidenced by a career 5.45 ERA within the split — yet Peralta’s underlying numbers have always looked much better than his surface ones thanks to his incredible ability to rack up swinging strikes. The right-hander has managed a 31.5% strikeout rate across parts of four MLB seasons and that skill should play in Tuesday’s matchup against Chicago. The Cubs are scuffling to begin 2021, hitting to a paltry 78 wRC+ through four contests with the fourth-lowest contact rate in the league (69.5%).
Yasmani Grandal, Chicago White Sox at Seattle Mariners, $5,200 - You don’t need to spend up at catcher on this slate — you don’t even really need to spend up at catcher with the White Sox thanks to Yermin Mercedes ($3,500) — but Grandal is a viable option. Though the veteran has generally been a more reliable asset when hitting left-handed, Grandal’s been crushing southpaw pitchers like James Paxton ($8,100) going back to the beginning of 2019. In that span, the backstop is slashing .271/.403/.543 with a .271 ISO and a .394 wOBA within the split.
Alejandro Kirk, Toronto Blue Jays at Texas Rangers, $2,500 - Kirk doesn’t have a hit in his first five plate appearances of 2021 and he’s likely going to bat ninth in the Blue Jays lineup, but this is a very inexpensive way to get a piece of Toronto’s offense on a slate where they have one of the highest non-Coors implied team totals. The 22-year-old finds himself at the MLB level solely due to his hit tool. I like the upside at this modest price.
Pete Alonso, New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies, $5,000 - I’m just not sure how Chase Anderson ($6,200) continues to find work in the majors. Last season, a whopping 16.2% of Anderson’s batted ball events were barrelled — a rate that was in the bottom one percent of all pitchers in baseball. That’s a dangerous way to live, especially when someone like Alonso is in the batter’s box. The young slugger has managed a career .305 ISO to go along with a 140 wRC+ in right-on-right matchups. He should be in for a huge evening at the plate.
Jake Cronenworth, San Diego Padres vs. San Francisco Giants, $3,600 - Cronenworth found himself batting leadoff on Monday for the Padres against the right-handed Anthony DeSclafani and I doubt that changes on Tuesday in a matchup with Aaron Sanchez ($6,300) — especially with Fernando Tatis Jr. (shoulder) likely headed to the IL. Sanchez has been known to struggle with left-handed bats, allowing LHBs to post a .367 wOBA across both 2018 and 2019. On top of that, this is the first start the former Blue Jays ace will be making in almost two years.
Marcus Semien, Toronto Blue Jays at Texas Rangers, $4,600 - Again, the Blue Jays’ bats are in a nice spot this evening, as they’ll go up against Dane Dunning ($7,200) in a tandem start that will essentially boil down to a bullpen game for the Rangers. Why is that an issue? Well, Texas’ bullpen has conceded 19 earned runs in its first 19.0 innings of 2021. As for Semien, he’s tearing the cover off the ball as Toronto’s leadoff man, with an expected slugging percentage of .641 over his 19 plate appearances.
Nick Solak, Texas Rangers vs. Toronto Blue Jays, $3,100 - Solak is one of my favorite plays on the entire slate. It’s been a slow start to the season for the 26-year-old; however, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and that light is Tanner Roark ($6,800). Of the 70 pitchers in baseball in 2020 to induce at least 150 batted ball events, Roark’s .417 opponent wOBA was 32 points higher than anyone else. He got crushed, particularly by RHBs, who mustered 3.75 home runs per nine against the soft-tossing veteran. If Solak is back in the clean-up spot on Tuesday, his price points is way, way too low.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays at Texas Rangers, $4,400 - After a Spring Training where it definitely looked like his weight loss had paid off, Guerrero’s carried that success into the first week of the regular season. The former top prospect is currently 92nd percentile in both expected batting average (.377) and expected wOBA (.508), and he’s certainly passing the eye test as he appears far more comfortable in the batter’s box than years past. Would it be great if Charlie Montoya moved him up to the two-spot in the lineup? Of course. But this is still a decent price for an asset with extreme upside.
Ryan McMahon, Colorado Rockies vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, $3,700 - In 12 starts in 2020, Luke Weaver ($6,500) struggled with left-handed bats. In fact, by season’s end, the RHP had surrendered a massive .405 wOBA within the split, the direct result of allowing lefties to slug 2.63 home runs per nine. Those issues should be on display once again this evening, as Weaver takes the mound at Coors Field. The Rockies have several cheap left-handed positional players, including McMahon, who started his 2021 campaign by taking Trevor Bauer deep. The 26-year-old has pop in his bat and he’s very viable in a tantalizing matchup.
Francisco Lindor, New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies, $5,000 - While Lindor’s career numbers indicate that he’s likely a better overall hitter from the right side of the plate, the shortstop definitely has more power as a lefty. Going back to the beginning of 2019, Lindor possesses a .236 ISO when facing right-handed pitching compared to a .155 ISO when facing southpaws. None of this really matters all that much when the RHP in question has pitched as poorly as Anderson, but don’t be shocked if Lindor hits his first home run with the Mets tonight.
Ha-seong Kim, San Diego Padres vs. San Francisco Giants, $2,700 - As mentioned above, Tatis Jr. is likely headed to the IL after sustaining a scary looking shoulder injury on Monday, which should open up at-bats for Kim. The former KBO standout still has a lot to prove in the majors, yet he did pick up a pair of hits in his first-career start on Saturday. Kim hit sixth in that contest and, if he’s given another chance to bat in a premium lineup spot, he’s an interesting punt play with the Padres possessing the slate’s highest non-Coors implied team total.
Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, $5,200 - With Weaver’s issues against LHBs already noted, let’s dive into Blackmon’s Coors splits for a moment. Since the start of the 2017 season, the outfielder has had 732 plate appearances at home versus a RHP. In that sample, Blackmon is slashing .353/.420/.672 with a .319 ISO and a .446 wOBA. That’s some outright insane production. I’m honestly a little shocked that Blackmon’s salary isn’t closer to $6K on this slate, but I’ll gladly accept the savings.
Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers vs. Toronto Blue Jays, $4,200 - There are less expensive places to go in the outfield, as assets like David Dahl ($3,500) and Raimel Tapia ($3,400; neck) are extremely viable, but I need to talk about Gallo’s matchup with Roark. Basically, you know Gallo’s going to be able to make contact on Tuesday, as Roark was only able to strikeout a microscopic 13.6% of the 118 RHBs he faced in 2020. Considering an eye-popping 21.4% of Gallo’s career batted ball events are barrels, that’s bad news for Roark. Gallo’s going to be in for a big performance.
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
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.
21+ (18+ NH). CO/IL/IN/IA/NH/NJ/PA/TN/VA/WV/MI only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and conditions.