It’s Friday. There’s no weather concerns on this evening’s 14-game featured slate. We’ve got hours and hours of meaningful August baseball to consume. How could you ask for anything better?
Let’s go position-by-position and break at all down from a DFS perspective.
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Corbin Burnes, Milwaukee Brewers vs. San Francisco Giants, $10,000 - This isn’t exactly a stacked pitching slate, so I’m confident both Burnes and Chris Bassitt ($9,800) will be heavily owned, but I do think the latter’s matchup with Texas will make him slightly more popular. That’s an edge to take advantage of in GPPs. Few pitchers have Burnes’ upside, as the right-hander comes into Friday’s action a 1.89 xERA and a 36.0% strikeout rate. Also, while the Giants obviously have a superior lineup to that of the Rangers, San Francisco does lead all of baseball in strikeout rate the past two weeks (26.2%). There’s a path to a huge output in this spot.
Kyle Gibson, Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Mets, $7,400 - I think we all understand that Gibson isn’t your usual DFS archetype. The veteran right-hander has started to fall victim to some normalization in recent weeks, while Gibson’s 7.45 K/9 isn’t quite as robust as you’d like to see. Still, on a slate with few trustworthy options, the 33-year-old’s sturdy floor is enticing. Also, though Gibson has registered an unremarkable 4.42 ERA in his past six appearances, he’s managed to strikeout 35 opponents in those 36.2 innings of work. With the Mets sporting an underwhelming .121 ISO the past 14 days — the second-worst mark in MLB — Gibson should be able to work deep into this contest.
Mike Zunino, Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles, $4,100 - No reason to make things too complicated here, as always, you play Zunino when he’s going up against a left-handed starter. In 84 plate appearances within the split so far this season, the All-Star has slashed .311/.393/.784 with a .473 ISO and a 217 wRC+. Those are video game numbers. It also helps that John Means ($8,800) hasn’t looked great since returning from the IL.
Austin Nola, San Diego Padres vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, $3,400 - Nola is pretty much locked into a platoon split with Victor Caratini ($2,400) at this point, but tonight the Padres will draw the left-handed Caleb Smith ($7,000). The southpaw has been struggling since the beginning of July, sporting a 10.97 ERA across five starts and allowing opponents to combine for an eye-popping .399 wOBA. San Diego should be able to put up some crooked numbers this evening and Nola, who is batting .385 in his 31 plate appearances versus LHPs in 2021, will likely be involved in the fireworks.
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Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, $6,000 - It feels insane to be willingly paying $6K for Joey Votto in 2021, but the veteran has been on some kind of tear the past few weeks. Since the All-Star break, the Canadian is slashing .324/.427/.853 with 11 home runs and a 219 wRC+. Obviously that level of power is fleeting in the long run, but Votto might just be in line for his 12th long ball with JT Brubaker ($7,300) on the mound Friday night. In his past six starts, Brubaker has surrendered 3.7 home runs per nine to opposing LHBs.
Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves, $3,500 - At this point in his career, Zimmerman’s value is almost entirely tied up in his ability to hit left-handed pitching. In 83 plate appearances within the split in 2021, the veteran is slashing .304/.337/.570 with a 138 wRC+. Kyle Muller ($9,200) has looked strong in his brief MLB career, but if Zimmerman’s hitting in the top-half of the Nationals’ lineup, he’s viable at this price.
Jonathan India, Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, $4,900 - Ideally, you’d like to use India against a left-handed starter, but handedness hasn’t really mattered all that much for the rookie infielder going back to the beginning of June. In that span, India is slashing .317/.445/.524 with a 162 wRC+ and five stolen bases. Essentially, he’s been the perfect leadoff man, and that’s a tantalizing DFS profile with the Reds owning this slate’s third-highest implied team total.
David Fletcher, Los Angeles Angels at Los Angeles Dodgers, $3,700 - Fletcher is limited by his lack of power, but the Angels’ leadoff hitter has still been a force these past few months. Fletcher is batting .344 with a 130 wRC+ since the start of June, and those numbers only get more impressive when you isolate his 75 plate appearances against LHPs in that span, where Fletcher has registered a .423 average with a 198 wRC+. He should be able to do some damage versus David Price ($5,800).
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Manny Machado, San Diego Padres vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, $5,600 - Like many assets we’ve already discussed, Machado has been on fire since the calendar flipped to June. In his last 221 plate appearances, the All-Star is batting .332 with a 1.011 OPS and a .290 ISO. Historically, Machado has also had a lot of success hitting against left-handed pitching, so I’d imagine he’s excited to square-off with the struggling Smith this evening.
Matt Chapman, Oakland Athletics vs. Texas Rangers, $4,000 - It’s been a bleak season for Chapman, but tonight’s he’ll receive the gift that is facing Mike Foltynewicz ($4,900). Where to even begin with the RHP? Foltynewicz has been horrible pitching on the road so far in 2021, posting a 8.39 ERA and allowing opponents to combine for a .677 slugging percentage. Specific to Foltynewicz’s past five outings, the veteran has seen the 51 RHBs he’s faced register a .504 wOBA with 7.0 home runs per nine. Yikes.
Wander Franco, Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles, $5,000 - Couple things to note with Franco. First, almost all of his early success at the plate has come hitting from the right-side, as the rookie is batting .306 with a 160 wRC+ against left-handed pitching. Second, even if Franco can’t hit Means, Baltimore’s bullpen owns a 5.05 ERA — the highest mark of any American League team.
Kyle Farmer, Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, $3,900 - With the return of Nick Castellanos ($4,000) on Thursday, Farmer was moved out of the three-spot in Cincinnati’s batting order. He instead hit sixth. That’s obviously a blow to the shortstop’s ceiling, but it’s not nearly enough to kill Farmer’s viability. Not when he’s hitting as well as he has recently. Since the start of July, Farmer is slashing .381/.439/.649 with a 186 wRC+. That’s a lot of potential at a salary below $4K.
Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros vs. Minnesota Twins, $4,500 - This is a very fair price for Alvarez, who has a career .300 ISO and 160 wRC+ when facing right-handed pitching. The hulking slugger is heating up as of late, too, with three home runs in his past eight games. Still, his value mostly comes down to the presence of Bailey Ober ($6,900). The rookie has seen exactly 100 left-handed hitters in 2021, and he’s allowed that collection of players to slash .303/.380/.562 with a .401 wOBA. Simply put, Ober can’t get out LHBs.
Michael Brantley, Houston Astros vs. Minnesota Twins, $3,000 - I’ll never understand how Brantley is always so cheap, but everything I just said about Alvarez’s great matchup also applies to the veteran outfielder. Brantley is slashing an insane .368/.421/.545 against RHPs so far in 2021 and he’ll surely be batting in the top-third of the Astros’ lineup on Friday.
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