DOMINATE today’s DraftKings and FanDuel MLB GPP contests with these pitchers, stacks and one-off players!
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Tier 1: The Core Pitchers (these are pitchers who will be in majority of my lineups)
- Shane Bieber (FD only) – Last year’s Cy Young Award winner is priced as such ($11,500 on FD) but also draws an elite matchup versus a Tigers offense that struck out at a 28.2-percent rate against right-handed pitching (RHP) last year. Additionally, they ranked 28th in both wRC+ and wOBA in the split, plus they sat at just 26th in terms of ISO. Really the only notable offensive additions in the off-season by the Tigers were Robbie Grossman, Wilson Ramos and Nomar Mazara, two of which actually posted a 20-percent K rate or less last year. Basically, these are minor upgrades from a strikeout perspective, but Mazara and Ramos both struggled mightily in 2020 anyways. Basically, the Tigers may strike out at closer to a league-average rate this year, but that may not matter versus Bieber and his 32-plus percent K rate versus each side of the plate. If the salary is available, feel free to spend up for Bieber and essentially sleep like a baby.
- Yu Darvish – The number of pitchers who out-shined Yu Darvish in 2020 can be counted on one hand, and he remained remarkably consistent throughout. After posting a 31.0-percent K rate in the first half, he improved that number to 31.6-percent in the second half. On Thursday, the only minor concern in this matchup is the fact that the Diamondbacks could roll out as many as five lefties (David Peralta, Ketel Marte, Eduardo Escobar, Josh Rojas and Pavin Smith) and Darvish only struck out left-handers at a 26.1-percent rate last season. Of course, the term “only” is used in jest, as that is still a massive number, but not nearly as high as his 39.8-percent K rate versus righties! Darvish will be playing in the friendly confines of Petco Park, which depreciates the power of left-handed bats and should only help him limit the damage (lefties posted an 11.8-percent HR/FB rate against him a year ago). Many will view the safest route as spending up for Bieber on FD, but Darvish possesses the potential to post a similar score in all scoring formats.
- Tyler Glasnow – Since Blake Snell has been shipped off to San Diego, Tyler Glasnow has become the opening day starter for the Rays and finds himself in an elite pitching environment. According to FanGraphs, Marlins Park, or whatever the hell they are calling it nowadays (loanDepot park) is the worst hitting environment in the league. Oh, by the way, Glasnow will enjoy a positive league shift going to the National League where there is no designated hitter (DH), and he will take on a Marlins team that ranked in the bottom nine of wOBA, wRC+ and ISO against RHP last season. Other than signing Adam Duvall and calling up Jazz Chisholm, not much has changed with this lineup, and they were a team that struck out slightly above the league average against righties, as well. Glasnow relies heavily on fly ball outs, and this park rarely ever gives up homers, so this is a match made in heaven. If needing salary relief off Bieber, feel free to pivot to Glasnow, although the Rays ace always comes with the potential to be pulled short of a quality start (see Cash, Kevin).
Tier 2: Not Quite Core Pitchers
- Brandon Woodruff – Arguably the most underrated pitcher in the league, Brandon Woodruff will not get overlooked by the Elite Fantasy staff any time soon. Dating back to 2019, Woodruff has been one of the most dominant pitchers in the league versus right-handed hitters (RHHs): .252 wOBA, 30.3-percent K rate and a 0.66 HR/9 rate allowed (second lowest on the slate behind only Sandy Alcantara). Woodruff’s main issues come against lefties, but the Twins only feature three of those: Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco and potentially Jake Cave. Otherwise, Woodruff should match up against a long list of righties, and, maybe most importantly, will not have to face Nelson Cruz in a National League ballpark. Combine all those factors, and Woodruff would likely be tier one on almost any other slate.
- Gerrit Cole – Not only is the new version of the Blue Jays lineup dynamic, but Gerrit Cole is typically good for at least a home run allowed per start (especially in Yankee Stadium). He is priced like he should be an elite pitcher in an elite matchup, and that simply is not the case against a Blue Jays team that added Marcus Semien (and George Springer, but he is not ready to play yet). Cole has the strikeout stuff to match anyone on the slate, but it is difficult envisioning him getting through this lineup 2-3 times without giving up at least a bomb or two along the way.
Tier 3: Mass-Multi Entry Pitchers
- Sandy Alcantara – Great at limiting homers and insanely cheap on DK ($6,500) specifically. The Rays only feature a 4.1 implied run total, and concessions will need to be made at SP2 to fit the monster bats (especially if playing Coors Field).
- Brad Keller – Other than like Joey Gallo, Nick Solak and David Dahl, you could convince me the rest of the Rangers lineup was actually a Triple-A team. (Shout out to Leody Taveras, who is one of the team’s top prospects as well, but you get the point.)
- Chad Kuhl – Cubs stink, and the wind is expected to be blowing in on a cold day at Wrigley Field. Okay, so stink is an overstatement, but they struck out at a 25.6-percent rate against RHP a season ago plus do not have many lefties to counteract Kuhl (.311 wOBA, nearly 40.0-percent hard hit rate allowed to lefties over the past two years combined).
- Luis Castillo – Great talent in a tough ballpark, and the Cardinals lineup includes Nolan Arenado in the middle now. In 2020, the Cardinals posted a well below-average 89 wRC+ and struck out at around the league-average rate, so there is still some ceiling potential here, and he should not be popular.
Tier 1: The Core Stacks
Boston Red Sox – Zero pitchers on the slate have yielded a higher fly ball rate to RHHs over the last few years than John Means, and he has only struck them out at an 18.8-percent rate, as well. Relying on fly balls and rarely striking opposing righties out is a scary proposition in Boston, where the Green Monster sits only 310 feet away. Means relies heavily on his changeup, especially against RHHs (threw the pitch 31-percent of the time in the split), and most of the Red Sox righties have posted solid numbers against left-handed changeups in recent years. Of the players with a semi-significant sample, J.D. Martinez leads the way with a .407 wOBA, and Xander Bogaerts is not far behind at .354. Behind Means, the Orioles bullpen is still subpar, and their best bullpen pitcher (Hunter Harvey) is hurt. Consequently, the Red Sox can still inflict a healthy amount of damage once Means leaves the game, making the lefties viable in tournaments (Rafael Devers, Alex Verdugo) as well as the righties.Red Sox have been postponed, do not play them!
- San Diego Padres – What happened to Madison Bumgarner? The once-great pitcher has turned into a shell of his former self as righties have produced a 45.5-percent hard hit rate against him over his last 189.1 innings in the split. Not great, Bob. By the way, the Padres are loaded with powerful righties such as Fernando Tatis Jr., Tommy Pham, Manny Machado, Wil Myers and even Victor Caratini (who has produced a .340-plus wOBA against southpaws in back-to-back seasons). Outside of Coors Field, the Padres own the highest implied run total of the slate, and it is easy to see why (especially when taking into consideration the Diamondbacks’ bullpen struggles from a year ago as well).
Tier 2: The Not Quite Core Stacks
- Los Angeles Dodgers – The main reason this offense does not make the top tier is due to the projected ownership of one of the best offenses in the league playing in the premiere hitting environment. No team is being implied to score more than the Dodgers’ 6.6-runs, and they are an outlier in that projection. For that reason, we may see 40-plus percent ownerships on players towards the top of the lineup, which presents an opportunity to target players hitting sixth and below. If going the Dodgers route, that would be my preference, especially those of the left-handed variety (German Marquez has allowed a .318 wOBA to LHHs over the course of the last two years combined).
- Milwaukee Brewers – Kenta Maeda is one of the most dominant pitchers in the league against RHHs, but luckily the Brewers are loaded with lefties. Kolten Wong, Christian Yelich and Travis Shaw should all bat in the top five of the lineup, with Jackie Bradley Jr. and Omar Narvaez not far behind. Even after switching teams, Maeda still preferred pitching at home in 2020 (.146 wOBA allowed versus .282 away from home), and his K rate was even significantly lower on the road (28.8-percent versus 36.2-percent in the friendly confines of home). All those reasons combined point towards taking a shot on the unowned Brewers in power-friendly Miller Park. Yelich suffered through a tough year in 2020 but hit .393 with a .500 SLG and 1.357 OPS in preseason (suggesting a bounce-back is well within the range of outcomes). If avoiding the Brewers stack, fantasy owners will still want to give Yelich a look as a potential one-off.
- Colorado Rockies – Nolan Arenado is gone, but C.J. Cron has replaced his power, and few will want to take a shot on an offense versus Clayton Kershaw. In back-to-back seasons now, Kershaw has allowed a HR/9 rate of at least 1.23, and that is playing most of his games in Dodger Stadium. Coors Field plays as the most hitter-friendly park in baseball by a wide margin, so there is some appeal to stacking the lower-owned side of this game. Lefties have managed a hard hit rate over 43-percent against Kershaw dating back two years, and their HR/9 rate sits at 1.33. Basically, Charlie Blackmon is playable in a stack and will be virtually unowned, despite leading off and possessing the ability to smash lefties also.
Tier 3: Mass-Multi Entry Stacks
- Cincinnati Reds – Jack Flaherty is a true ace, but the ballpark enhances power potential, and the top of this lefty-filled lineup is quite powerful.
- Kansas City Royals – Park conditions are not ideal, as Kauffman Stadium suppresses power, and the weather is not supposed to be extremely hitter-friendly. However, Kyle Gibson is one of the worst talents on the slate. Unfortunately, the Royals lost Adalberto Mondesi for a few weeks, which leaves them without one of their highest-upside options.
- Atlanta Braves – Ronald Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman and Travis d’Arnaud hit towards the top of this lineup and all own career xwOBAs of .378 or greater against Aaron Nola. Of course, J.T. Realmuto does a solid job holding baserunners, but the Braves lineup is guaranteed nine innings worth of at-bats (ABs) on the road and always can go out and win a slate with their power.
Baltimore Orioles – Nathan Eovaldi has notably struggled against left-handed hitters (LHHs), so Anthony Santander and Freddy Galvis are the Orioles with my attention. Behind Eovaldi, the bullpen is subpar, and Trey Mancini’s return to the lineup gives them an added dimension of depth.Replace the Orioles with the Yankees playing in Yankee Stadium and the Cleveland Indians against Matthew Boyd.
Top Players By Position
- Will Smith
- Victor Caratini
- Salvador Perez/Omar Narvaez
- C.J. Cron
- Max Muncy
- Anthony Rizzo
- D.J. LeMahieu
- Kolten Wong
- Gleyber Torres
- Manny Machado
- Justin Turner
- Travis Shaw
- Corey Seager
- Fernando Tatis Jr.
- Trevor Story
- Christian Yelich
- Mookie Betts
- Tommy Pham
- Whit Merrifield
- Ian Happ
- Jordan Luplow
- Jesse Winker
- Wil Myers
Highest Scoring Hitter: Corey Seager/Christian Yelich
Highest Scoring Pitcher: Shane Bieber
Biggest Bust Hitter: Cody Bellinger
Biggest Bust Pitcher: Gerrit Cole
Top Value Play: Jordan Luplow/Travis Shaw
Hit me up on Twitter @RSandersDFS or visit the MLB Chat Room with any lineup questions!