DOMINATE today’s DraftKings and FanDuel MLB GPP contests with these pitchers, stacks and one-off players!
Tier 1: The Core Pitchers (these are pitchers that will be in a majority of my lineups)
- Jacob deGrom – Especially on DK, this does not feel like a slate to mess around at pitcher, with two options standing out above the rest. In the expensive tier, the projected top scorer on this slate is Jacob deGrom by a wide margin, which should not be surprising given the talent gap from him to the next guy. It should be noted deGrom began the 2020 season by throwing 72 and 88 pitches in his first two games respectively so an argument can still be made against spending up early on in the season. However, the ended the season throwing 100-plus pitches in six of his final seven games, with the outlier coming in a game he left with a blister. Amongst qualified starters last year, only Shane Bieber edged out deGrom in K rate and SIERA, so this is obviously an ultra-elite pitcher. On paper, the matchup against the Phillies is not easy, as their active hitters cumulatively ranked in the top 10 of wOBA, wRC+ and BB rate against right-handed pitching (RHP) a season ago. Still, deGrom is so dominant that he can clearly overcome, although he should be expected to be around 50-plus percent rostered even in tournaments.
- Carlos Rodon – Apparently, the credit for Carlos Rodon’s off-season regiment can be attributed to Rodon’s wife kicking his butt into shape during quarantine. After getting non-tendered by the White Sox, Rodon claims that is when the “light switch went off” that he had to get his shit together, and the Spring Training results certainly looked promising: two runs, nine hits, one walk and 16 Ks over a 13.2 inning sample. His out pitch is his slider and, last season, the only teams who posted lower xwOBAs against left-handed sliders than the Mariners were the Rockies, Rangers, Red Sox and Yankees. In other words, this should be an effective pitch for Rodon in this matchup, and the Mariners active hitters struck out at the second highest rate in the split (behind only the Rangers). With a legitimate K ceiling and pitch data backing him up, Rodon is the logical pivot off deGrom on FD. Meanwhile, on DK, this duo will be the chalk, but that does not bother me on this slate given the alternatives. I would prefer to differentiate in the hitting department on this slate.
Tier 2: Not Quite Core Pitchers
- Dustin May – Pitch count is a legitimate concern for Dustin May, who beat out David Price and Tony Gonsolin for the final rotation spot, and did not throw more than 88-pitches in any outing a season ago. Since the bullpen is loaded, the Dodgers always have the option to give May the quick hook, but it should be noted May has a new strategy this year. He acknowledges he needs to adjust quicker to batters who have issue with his curveball and continue to pound them with it. Does that mean he will actually throw it more this season? Well, that remains to be seen, but the Athletics did post the fifth highest xwOBA against right-handed curves in 2020. Furthermore, the Athletics ranked just outside the top 10 in K rate against righties, but they are loaded with power (11.4-percent BB rate) and patient (11.4-percent). That combination worries me just enough to keep May out of tier one and he could give Rodon a run for his money in the ownership department. If the two are anywhere close in roster percentage, Rodon is the significantly superior play in my eyes.
- Trevor Williams – On a slate that is headlined by deGrom, it is scary to think of the prospects of rostering a starting pitcher with a career 18.2-percent K rate, but the flashy alternatives to deGrom/Rodon are few and far between. Thus far, the Brewers have picked up where they left off last year in terms of their ineptness on offense; they rank 26th in wOBA and wRC+ and have struck out at the second highest rate in the league (including a 30.8-percent K rate versus RHP). There are two ways to look at this: either you believe Trevor Williams will post an outlier strikeout performance or his lack of strikeouts will actually give the Brewers offense a chance. With the wind blowing out in Wrigley Field, the second option is too viable to consider Williams a core pitcher, but that does not mean he cannot go out and win this slate.
Tier 3: Mass-Multi Entry Pitchers
- Nick Pivetta – The Rays feature an implied total of almost 5.0-runs and Pivetta’s xERA has sat over 5.50 in back-to-back seasons. Outside of mass-multi entry (MME) tournaments, he is impossible to trust.
- Michael Wacha – Underlying numbers suggest he was a bit unlucky in 2020 but very little K potential against a Red Sox team that ranked in the top 10 of ISO in the split last year.
- Adrian Morejon – Giants are sneaky good against southpaws (top 10 of almost every category) but Petco Park is a decent pitching environment (hence the sub 4.0-run implied total for the Giants) and he does not have to face designated hitters.
- Justus Sheffield – No Tim Anderson would boost the matchup a bit in one of the best pitching environments in the American League.
Tier 1: The Core Stacks
- Tampa Bay Rays – In back-to-back seasons, Nick Pivetta has posted an xERA above 5.50, so he is clearly not a good pitcher. Early ownership projections have the Rays well down the list which does not make sense given the elite matchup. Naturally, the lefties will own the platoon advantage versus Pivetta and that is valuable in a park with the Pesky Pole. Amongst pitchers on the slate with over a 12-inning sample size versus lefties since the start of 2019, Pivetta has allowed the second highest wOBA behind only Trevor Williams, and the Rays are loaded with lefties: Yoshi Tsutsugo, Austin Meadows, Brandon Lowe and Kevin Kiermaier to name a few. Hell, Pivetta has allowed a .358 wOBA to righties over his last 58.0 innings in the split as well, so it is not like you can count out Randy Arozarena, Manuel Margot and company either. If three stacks are going to get more attention than the Rays then they are my top target of the evening.
- Boston Red Sox – In the same game as the Rays, Michael Wacha is pitching for the other team, which means this game could simply turn into an offensive bonanza. For a long time, Wacha has produced reverse-splits, meaning righties have managed better numbers against him than lefties. Of course, names like Kikè Hernandez, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts and Christian Vazquez hit towards the top of the lineup and they are in for a treat. Over the course of the past two seasons, righties have slashed .317/.365/.568 versus Wacha including a 2.28 HR/9 rate and just 19.1-percent K rate. During the same span, lefties have slashed .264/.352/.461 with a .344 wOBA and double-digit BB rate so it is not like Alex Verdugo and Rafael Devers should be auto-faded in a stack either. While most are stacking the Astros/Angels game, this stack should be much less popular, which is appealing when playing for large first place prizes.
- New York Mets – Wondering where Matt Moore went for the last season? Well, he was playing over in Japan where he finished with a 2.65 ERA and 1.12 WHIP over the span of 85.0 innings. He has made his way back to the states and has earned a rotation spot for the Phillies but the MLB is an entirely different animal (and had not been kind to him in recent years). A season ago, the Mets posted just the 19th best xwOBA against left-handed pitching (LHP), but the additions of Francisco Lindor and James McCann (career .356 wOBA in the split) should help their cause. Playing in Citizens Bank Park, the Mets hitters will enjoy the positive park shift, and the Phillies bullpen is still a bit of question mark even after the additions of Jose Alvarado and Archie Bradley. Even the team’s lefties can hold their own in the split, as Dominic Smith and Michael Conforto lead their qualified hitters in wOBA against the handedness since the start of last year. Do not sleep on these Mets.
Tier 2: The Not Quite Core Stacks
- Los Angeles Angels – In a game that features the highest implied total on the slate, the hitters are not going to fly under the radar by any means, especially the Mike Trouts of the world. Even so, Jared Walsh may be my single favorite hitter on the entire slate as leads the majors in slugging percentage since the start of the 2020 season. Opposing starter Luis Garcia produced a FIP over 6.0 against lefties last year on the heels of a 15.5-percent BB rate and 1.80 HR/9 rate (on a 43.3-percent hard hit rate). All projection systems expect Garcia to flirt with a 5.00 FIP so it is obvious as to why the Angels hitters would pop. Trout, Anthony Rendon and all the others are fine, but this team is very right-handed, and lefties are the ones to target against Garcia.
- Houston Astros – Do you like playing chalk? If so, the Astros are the team for you tonight with their slate-leading 5.1-run implied total. Jose Quintana’s 24.1-percent line drive rate allowed to righties over a two-year span jumps off the page as does his 39.7-percent hard hit rate and .286 AVG allowed during that period. Other than Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker, most of the top hitters in this lineup are right-handed, and those will be the ones that the public is on. Quintana has dominated lefties for quite some time now, sporting a 2.48 FIP since 2019, so Alvarez and Tucker are tough to have faith in (especially because they will be relatively popular as well).
- Chicago White Sox – Tim Anderson gives this offense an additional dimension but they are extremely right-handed and Justus Sheffield can get wild at times. T-Mobile Park is not a great hitting environment but that does not mean runs cannot be scored here if the pitching is poor. Although Sheffield is not a gas can, projection systems have him around a 4.80 FIP and double-digit BB rate with a low K rate and HR/9 rate close to 1.30 (despite pitching half his games in this park). Basically, he is nothing to write home about, so the Sox could easily tee off against a mediocre lefty.
- San Francisco Giants – Really sneaky tournament stack given their effectiveness against LHP and they are going to go completely overlooked. Austin Slater, Wilmer Flores, Mike Yastrzemski, Mauricio Dubon, Darin Ruf, Donovan Solano and Evan Longoria all finished with wOBAs over .360 against lefties in 2020 and this this team is all going to be in single-digit ownerships. If this game were being played in a better hitting environment, it would not be crazy to think this team could get chalky. Given that distinction, this team makes a lot of sense as a differentiating stack, especially in a lineup that features mostly popular options otherwise.
Tier 3: Mass-Multi Entry Stacks
- Chicago Cubs – Wind games are often overrated and the Cubs offense is better-suited for power against righties with names like Joc Pederson and Jason Heyward on the roster.
- Milwaukee Brewers – Did I mention wind games are often overrated and, outside of Christian Yelich, who can you really trust on this team?
Top Players By Positions
- James McCann
- Willson Contreras
- Yermin Mercedes/Christian Vazquez
- Jared Walsh
- Yoshi Tsutsugo (3B/OF on FD)
- Jose Abreu/Yuli Gurriel
- Brandon Lowe
- Wilmer Flores
- Kikè Hernandez/Jose Altuve
- Kris Bryant
- Alex Bregman
- Evan Longoria
- Tim Anderson
- Xander Bogaerts
- Francisco Lindor/Javier Baez/Carlos Correa
- Mike Trout
- Austin Meadows
- Christian Yelich
- J.D. Martinez
- Luis Robert
- Randy Arozarena
- Kevin Pillar/Michael Conforto
Honorable OF mention: Jake Marisnick (elite per-dollar value at $2,100 on FD)
Highest Scoring Hitter: Mike Trout
Highest Scoring Pitcher: Jacob deGrom
Biggest Bust Hitter: Brewers not named Christian Yelich
Biggest Bust Pitcher: Trevor Williams
Top Value Play: Yoshi Tsutsugo/Jared Walsh/James McCann