Monday features a two-game main slate starting at 9:38 p.m. ET. It might be a small slate, but there is big money on the line. Let’s go position-by-position and break down everything you’ll need to know to set your lineups.
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Adbert Alzolay, Chicago Cubs at San Diego Padres ($8,800) - He’s the best pitcher on the slate and San Diego isn’t as scary as most think. Fernando Tatis Jr. ($5,600) is a nightmare, but who else do the Padres have? Jake Cronenworth ($3,900) has a .345 wOBA against right-handed pitching, but he has below-average power. Manny Machado ($4,500) and Wil Myers ($3,800) have been average against right-handed pitching this season, and the rest of the Padres have been easy outs. Alzolay held the Padres to just three hits and one earned run over five innings last week. More importantly, he struck out seven Padres. Dylan Bundy ($7,100) is the only other pitcher with K upside, but he carries a lot of risk.
Dylan Bundy, Los Angeles Angels vs. Kansas City Royals ($7,100) - Jackson Kowar ($6,000) is the exciting play, but this isn’t minor league DFS. Just about every bad pitcher in the majors was a good pitcher in the minors. Kowar has been unhittable in the minors, but major leaguers went ham on him in spring training (10.80 ERA). There are several left-handed batters in the Angels’ lineup that could ruin Kowar’s debut. Bundy’s stats are terrible, but he has not been as bad as his numbers indicate. Bundy’s hard-contact rate is good (27%) and his flyball rate is fine (39.6%). His wOBA allowed (.329) is higher than his xwOBA (.312). However, the seven home runs that he has allowed in the past three games are terrifying. The drop in his fastball’s velocity could be the reason for the barrage of long balls, but Kansas City ranks in the bottom third against fastballs. Bundy fails to get ahead of hitters, but Kansas City has a 61.5% F-Strike rate (third-worst). Kansas City is a below-average team against right-handed pitching (95 wRC+, .307 wOBA) with little power (.152 ISO). If Bundy keeps the ball in the park, he won’t have any problems.
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Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals at Los Angeles Angels ($4,900) - Bundy is a recommended pitcher because DFS players have to roster two pitchers. Even if two decent pitchers were available, it would be foolish to limit batter selections to just two teams. Bundy is not a great pitcher, but he can be the second-best pitcher on this slate and still surrender a couple of home runs. Perez has a .344 wOBA, .219 ISO and a 120 wRC+ against right-handed pitching. In a small sample size of 10 at-bats, Perez has a home run, a double and a single against Bundy.
Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs at San Diego Padres ($4,100) - Ryan Weathers ($6,700) is not a bad pitcher, but he might be the worst pitcher on the slate. The lefty is surrendering a .226 ISO and a 47% hard-contact rate to right-handed batters. Contreras is mashing left-handed pitching this season (.481 wOBA, .364 ISO, 208 wRC+), and specifically Weathers. In their matchup last week, Contreras hit a home run and a double off of Weathers.
Other Option: Max Stassi ($2,700)
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Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs at San Diego Padres ($5,100) - As mentioned above, Weathers struggles with right-handed batters, but his other weakness is that he has not been stretched out to this starter’s role. San Diego’s bullpen has been very good this season, but they have allowed the third-most hard contact to right-handed batters (35.2%) and the ninth-highest flyball rate (36.1%). Bryant has a good opportunity to hit a home run against the bullpen, but an even better chance off of Weathers (vs. LHP - .581 wOBA, .531 ISO, 274 wRC+ and a 53% hard contact rate).
Jared Walsh, Los Angeles Angels vs. Kansas City Royals ($3,700) - This can be a leverage play or just a simple platoon advantage play. Kowar could be the real deal or he might struggle on the big stage like most prospects. He could have a good game, and struggle with the Angels' elite left-handed bats. There are more scenarios that favor Walsh than Kowar. The major league stats back Walsh and his .443 wOBA, .290 ISO and 189 wRC+ against right-handed pitching. Kowar doesn’t have major league stats.
Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals at Los Angeles Angels ($5,200) - Again, it’s okay to play Bundy and a Royal or two, and Merrifield and Kowar will be popular, as well. The minor league call-up’s price allows DFS players to spend up wherever they want. Bundy’s fastball is extremely lacking and Merrifield has a .345 wOBA vs. right-handed fastballs. Actually, that’s a career-low mark, and his power is down this season. On a bigger slate, Merrifield would not be a target, but with so much salary flexibility, it’s fine to overpay for a dependable bat.
Jake Cronenworth, San Diego Padres vs. Chicago Cubs ($3,900) - This season Cronenworth has sacrificed power to become a more consistent hitter. His decision would have been wise if the rest of the Padres did their part and hit for power. Alzolay has been solid, but the Cubs’ bullpen has been below average against left-handed batters (4.29 xFIP - 12th-worst, 1.4 HR/9 - third-worst). Cronenworth has a respectable line against right-handed pitching (.345 wOBA, .165 ISO, 122 wRC+), but as mentioned earlier, he’s lacking the power that he demonstrated in his rookie season.
Patrick Wisdom, Chicago Cubs at San Diego Padres ($3,600) - Where did this guy come from? He hit two home runs yesterday and has hit seven home runs since being called up on May 25. Wisdom has a .629 wOBA, .676 ISO and a 306 wRC+. He’s a 29-year old that has never stuck in the majors. Before being called up, he was hitting .160 with a 36% K rate at Iowa. Why was he called up? It’s 2021 and batting average and strikeouts don’t mean anything anymore. At Iowa, he had a .386 wOBA, .400 ISO and a 137 wRC+. Wisdom’s numbers have been pretty consistent throughout his career. He hits for power, walks and strikes out like it’s going of style. His previous employers were unwilling to deal with his Adam Dunn-like approach. The Cubs are much more tolerant of his current 36% K rate, as long as he continues to hit bombs.
Other Option: Anthony Rendon ($4,000)
Kelvin Gutierrez, Kansas City Royals at Los Angeles Angels ($2,200) - This guy is another May call-up, but as the price indicates, he doesn’t quite have the same upside as Wisdom. Gutierrez has a .072 ISO, but he’s on a seven-game hitting streak. A matchup against Dylan Bundy doesn’t hurt either.
Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres vs. Chicago Cubs ($5,600) - The maximum DFS players can spend on pitching is $15,900. The money is available, so jam Tatis into your lineups. The matchup is not perfect, but it does not need to be for Tatis. He has a .468 wOBA, .430 ISO, 202 wRC+ and a 52% hard-contact rate against right-handed pitching. Look at the shortstop position on this slate — there aren’t any other options.
Hanser Alberto, Kansas City Royals at Los Angeles Angels ($2,800) - For those suffering from Galaxy Brain, let’s consider Alberto. He’s facing Bundy, and that’s about where the good news ends. If this were 1988, his career batting average of .277 would make him a household name. Unfortunately for Alberto, he was born too late and his career .289 wOBA means that he is only mentioned on two-game slates.
Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels vs. Kansas City Royals ($5,500) - YouTube is 90% cat videos and 10% Ohtani 119 mph home run videos. Kowar throws hard and Ohtani hits hard. In Kowar’s 2020 and 2021 spring training starts, he surrendered six home runs. Ohtani has a .406 wOBA, .333 ISO and 164 wRC+ against right-handed pitching. Even if Kowar pitches well, his leash will not be a long one, and that means Ohtani gets to face the fourth-worst bullpen in baseball (4.52 xFIP)
Taylor Ward, Los Angeles Angels vs. Kansas City Royals ($3,000) - Walsh and Ohtani are the obvious Angels bats, but Ward is quietly having a good season. Last season, Ward hit for average but lacked power. The opposite is true this season. Against right-handed pitching, Ward has a .320 wOBA, .250 ISO and 107 wRC+. He could be a key component of an Angels stack that leverages against Kowar or that simply targets a bad bullpen.
Other Option: Hunter Dozier ($3,100), Justin Upton ($3,900)
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