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DFS Pitching and Monkey Knife Fight Picks for 5/18

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Saturdays aggravate me when it comes to DFS. I like a schedule where all or most of the games are on the same slate. Saturdays generally have a split of the games on different slates and today’s is no different. The “very early” slate? What is that? Oh, and we have one weather trouble spot, in Texas, that we need to watch (though I do not think anyone was going to roster the pitchers in that game anyway). I will have any pitcher starting today eligible for this article.

Top-Tier Arm

Blake Snell, Rays at Yankees ($11,000 FD, $10,500 DK): He was cruising in his last start against this very same Yankee team. He is a GPP-only play partly because he is facing the Yankees in back-to-back starts, and partly because the Yankees have Aaron Hicks back (a notorious lefty smasher), Snell still has a ton of upside. He was perfect for the first three innings in his last start including seven strikeouts before he ran into some trouble. As a team, the Yankees strike out the eighth most frequently against lefties, 26.2% of the time, and they have both the 23rd best ISO (.141) and wOBA (.304) in the league. So you have the possibility of a swing-and-miss master in Snell going against a Yankees team that can be pitched to by lefties. Also, if you are into the sort of stuff, it is a day game after a night game and there is a theory that the ball is picked up differently by batters out of the pitcher’s hand in day vs. night games and that generally gives the pitcher a bit of an advantage.

Mid-Tier Arms

Lucas Giolito, Blue Jays at White Sox ($9,500 FD, $7,500 DK): Giolito is seemingly coming into his own. Over his last four appearances, he has not allowed more than three runs and only exactly three once. Over that stretch (which includes home games against the Red Sox and Royals and road games against this same Blue Jays club and the Indians), he has combined to pitch 22 innings, given up only 14 hits, struck out 28 and walked seven batters. His record over that stretch is 2-0. He is another GPP-only play (my favorite cash play is the bargain basement section), for one of the same reasons Snell is GPP-only, as he is facing the same team he did in his last start, the Blue Jays. It is theorized that batters have somewhat of an advantage here because they have a feel on how the pitcher plans to attack them and know the pitcher’s stuff better. Of course, you could look at it in reverse as well (the batter now knows the pitcher’s strengths and weaknesses better too). And the Blue Jays bats woke up last night. As I said, I think there are better cash choices but I can not blame you for using him on DK.

Masahiro Tanaka, Rays at Yankees ($9,200 FD, $8,800 DK): Broken record here, GPP-only for me. Facing the same team he did his last time out (a fantastic start by the way, seven innings pitched, five hits allowed, zero walks, one earned run and seven strikeouts). Also, not mentioned with Snell but I will here, this is a major park downgrade for the pitchers going from the Trop to Yankee Stadium (in 2018, Yankee Stadium was the sixth easiest park to hit a home run in, while Tropicana Field was 23rd). Looking at the Rays, you generally want to attack them with lefties rather than righties. Gee, not many positives here for Tanaka in this matchup. Why do I like him? His last start obviously. And the Rays and Yankees are in a heated battle for the top of the AL East right now and a rivalry seems to be brewing Though it just another MLB game in mid-May, maybe this one means a little more given the recent history and both starting pitchers being up for the challenge.

Bargain Basement:

Griffin Canning, Royals at Angels ($6,800 FD, $8,500 DK ): This is my cash pitcher on FD tonight. Canning had his “worst” start of his career his last time out, with 4.2 innings, five hits allowed, four walks and four earned runs in Baltimore. What I like about Canning is his swing-and-miss stuff. Even in this start, he racked up six strikeouts. In 14.1 innings pitched in his career at the MLB level, he has 20 strikeouts. In a small sample size, he is striking out 30.7% of the batters he faces. Historically, we have thought in the DFS world that the Royals will “paper cut” a starting pitcher to death, putting the ball in play, not striking out. We see a bit of a shift in that philosophy as they have inserted some swing-and-miss guys into their lineup (Hunter Dozier, Ryan O’Hearn, Jorge Soler). And, maybe more importantly, the Royals bats are ice-cold. Over their last nine games, they have scored more than two runs twice (11 in a win against the Rangers and five in a win against the Phillies). In their other seven games, they have scored a grand total of seven runs, including being shut out twice.

John Means, Orioles at Indians ($8,000 FD, $7,500 DK): I like everything about this guy, his fascinating story, his makeup, his repertoire, his interesting philosophy on pitching. What stands out for me here is a major park upgrade from Orioles Park at Camden Yards to Progressive Field. And you know what else? These Indians are not your, oh say, 2017, Indians. Besides Lindor and Ramirez, does anyone really scare you? GPP-only for me though.

Monkey Knife Fight Pick: Snell Over 7.5 Strikeouts/Tanaka Over 6.5 Strikeouts: I highlighted the reasons why I like both these pitchers. I think an under-the-radar factor is that they will be playing under sunny skies and the ball is seen different…especially in an area of the country where sunshine has been at a premium recently.


DFS meteorologist concentrating on MLB and the NFL, I graduated from UMass-Lowell with a degree in meteorology in 1996. I worked at AccuWeather as a meteorologist for almost a decade. I combined my two loves, weather and sports, and like to think I help 1000s of DFS'ers out each day. Huge Boston sports fan, lover of nature and animals and a proud father of 4 boys (2 biological).

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