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DFS Pitching/MLB Prop Picks for 5/5 – Feeling Brave and Athletic

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Sundays are casual and laid back. There is nothing better than a Sunday morning coffee. Except when it comes to DFS! All the action begins around 1 PM Eastern and you had better be ready to go if you want that green. With that being said, here is who I like for pitching, and a Monkey Knife Fight prop pick too.

Top Tier:

Justin Verlander – Astros at Angels in Monterrey, Mexico ($11,400 FD, $11,000 DK): If you are going to roster Verlander, it comes with a bit more risk than usual because of the relative unknown that is this ballpark. Rumored to be a strong hitter’s park, we simply do not have enough information to back that up. Looking at Verlander so far in ’19, his stats are strong: K per nine of 10.84, WHIP of 0.86, stranding runners at a 93% clip and a flyball percentage of only 41. So, he is striking out a bunch of batters, when they do make contact, the ball is generally not in the air too much and the batters that do get on base are being left there and not scoring. His opponent, the Angels, struggle against lefties but are they much better against righties? Their ISO and wOBA vs righties are middle of the pack at .181 and .780 while their K rate is at a league low of 15.2% and their BB/K ratio is a league high 0.64. The answer is yes, the Angels are better against righties than lefties. And they simply do not strike out much. So Verlander has his work cut out for him. But I think he is up for it. His high price, and uncertain park factors, make this more of a GPP option. We have better cash options to choose.

Luis Castillo – Giants at Reds ($10,300 FD, $9,500 DK): Castillo has been, to put it simply, one of the best pitchers on the planet so far in 2019. His statistics are simply fantastic: a 10.38 K per nine ratio, a WHIP of 0.99, a hard hit rate of only 29% and a fly ball rate of 27.4%. Much like Verlander, all of these numbers indicate a pitcher on top of his game, as runners are not getting on base much, balls hit are on the ground and not in the air, and they are not hit hard. Those are all great signs of run prevention. As we saw the last few nights, Great American Ballpark is a great place for hitters, but Castillo’s limited sample so far in ’19 shows he isn’t afraid of his home park: 25.2 innings pitched, 13 hits allowed, only two earned runs, zero HR allowed and K/BB ratio of 27:8. His opponent, the Giants, do not fare well against righties, with the second-lowest OPS in all of MLB at .646 and a 24th ranked ISO of .149. There is nothing to be scared of here. The combination of Castillo pitching so well at home and his poor opponent make him a strong cash game option.

Middle Tier:

Julio Teheran – Braves at Marlins ($8,500 FD, $9,000 DK ): Looking at opponent’s statistics screams a big “use him” for Teheran. Miami is dead last at ISO vs. righties at a pathetic .104. The next team ahead of them, the Tigers, are at .135, which is a huge difference. Their OPS is .621, making them the only team worse than the previously mentioned Giants in that category. The ballpark suppresses power, ranking as the worst park to HR in during the 2018 season (surprisingly just beating SF’s home park). And looking at Teheran so far this season, he has been very effective, striking out a career high 10.24 batters per nine, and giving up less than a hit an inning. He has struggled a bit on the road this year but his weak opponent and how strongly the park favors pitchers makes him a worthy cash game consideration.

Zack Greinke – Diamondbacks at Rockies ($8,900 FD, $8,400 DK): Some people refuse to roster any pitchers at Coors Field. Understandable in my opinion. In 2018, and basically any season you look at, Coors ranked second in both runs, HRs and hit triples and was the easiest park to hit doubles in. An often overlooked part of the Coors’ mystique is how often doubles and triples are hit, as well as seeing-eye/bloop singles. The reason for this is easy to explain: because the ball carries so well, the fences are the furthest back of any park (to try to limit HRs, generally unsuccessfully). This makes the OFs play deep, the deepest of any park. Thus there is more room for balls to fall in for base hits in front of them, as well as plenty of room that allows balls hit to get into the alleys for extra bases. Did I scare you off Greinke? Well I didn’t mean to! Since his first start of the year, when he was blasted by the Dodgers, Greinke has not given up more than three earned runs in his six starts (including a grand total of a single run in his last three starts combined), has won five of them (his team has won all six games) and has failed to strike out at least six batters only once. Something has to give today and I have a gut feeling it won’t be Greinke. The Coors Field factor will likely depress his ownership rate, making him a terrific GPP option.

Bargain Basement:

John Means – Rays at Orioles ($6,900 FD, $7,500 DK): As many bargain basement pitching options are, this is a GPP only play. The ballpark, Camden Yards, strongly favors the batter (ninth easiest park hit HRs in during ’18, second easiest so far in ’19). The Rays are swinging the bats pretty good against lefties, with middle of the pack OPS and ISOs of .702 and .133 respectively, but they do not compare to their scorching performance against righties: the fifth highest OPS and ISO at .798 and .200 respectively. Means barely scored in the positives in his last start on the road against the White Sox, but the Pale Hose do have better numbers against southpaws than the Rays do. Means is also pitching well at home so far. In 10.1 innings, he has given up only two earned runs, a single HR and he has struck out 11 batters.

Zack Davies – Mets at Brewers ($6,400 FD,$6,900 DK ): This must be a record number of Zachs/Zacks recommended! Seriously though, Davies has been very effective so far this season, especially at home: 16 innings pitched, 11 hits allowed, not a single earned run (three total runs, however) and here is a head scratcher: only one home run allowed. That is a strange stat, a home run allowed that is not an earned run. Anyways, GPP only here as he has only struck out five batters and walked eight in those home innings. Those ratios, if they continue, are a recipe for disaster. The Mets are not scaring anyone so far in ’19, as they rank towards the bottom of MLB in both OPS and wOBA against righties at .711 and .144 respectively.

Monkey Knife Fight Pick:

Frankie Montas, Athletics at Pirates (over 4.5 strikeouts): The Pirates do not strike out a ton against righties, only 20.8% of the time. But Montas has reached at least five Ks in four out of his six starts. I like him to make it five out of seven in this matchup.

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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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