It’s another Saturday where the main slate is in the afternoon and there are nine games for us to go over, and the pitching is suspect after the top to some degree. Even the most expensive options could have some questions around them so this isn’t the easiest slate. Let’s figure out which direction we need to go in the MLB DFS: DraftKings and FanDuel Pitching 6/18 and find our way to green screens!
He didn’t exactly continue the trend I had hoped for last time out as he threw the fastball 50.5% against the Marlins compared to just 42.6% the previous start. The four-seam has been the worst pitch with a .267 wOBA allowed, a .373 xwOBA, and just a 14.7% whiff rate while the slider has 42 strikeouts and the curve has a 32.2% whiff rate (and 18 strikeouts, just as many as the fastball). He’s also been a little bit worse to righties with a 1.55 HR/9 and the K rate drops to 25.2% but the K number is still strong overall. It should help Verlander that the White Sox are only 25th against the fastball this season and they’re also 29th in ISO and then 25th or worse in wOBA, OPS, and wRC+. The only real aspect the White Sox has going for them against righty pitching is a low K rate at 19.7% but even though he’s in a slightly diminished state at this stage of his career, this is a pretty solid spot for him.
The salary is a little less than ideal in my mind but Seattle can be a feast or famine offense against either side and the K rate against lefties is almost 23%. One aspect that has kept Sandoval from being talked about much this season is the fact that he’s changed his arsenal, and I can’t say it has been for the better. Last year his changeup was the lead pitch and it had a 51.4% whiff rate, a .213 wOBA allowed, and 56 of 94 strikeouts. While it was only thrown 29.6% of the time, that was the one he used the most but this year it has a 50.9% whiff rate, a .171 wOBA, and 31 of 54 strikeouts. The difference is he’s throwing it 23.2% and the four-seam and slider have overtaken it in the hierarchy. Seattle is only 24th against the changeup this season and even with the shift in the arsenal, Sandoval still has a 2.80 ERA (3.90 xFIP isn’t the most comforting thing) and a 22.9% K rate. With a FIP of 2.93, he has some potential tonight, and hopefully, that changeup keeps creeping up a little more for the usage.
I don’t think Aaron Nola gets blown up but I do have serious questions about him hitting value at this salary. The Nationals rarely cooperate with strikeouts and I can see a Wheeler-esque start from Nola day, which was under 20 points despite quality pitching in real life. Nola is pitching very well this year with a 2.90 xFIP and 28.7% K rate but the path is not easy for him at over $10,000.
We’ve been chasing the upside for Wood for a while and the ERA of 4.11 still does not match the xFIP of 3.03 and he’s had bad luck almost all season. The ground ball rate is over 51% and the K rate is 23%, one of our favorite combos. Wood has also only allowed a 22.8% hard-hit rate and even though the wOBA against righties is .328, the xFIP only comes up to 3.29 and the K rate is still over 21%. The Bucks could throw out a couple of lefty bats as well, which would be great news for Wood as the K rate jumps up to 28.8% and the WHIP is down to 0.80. Pittsburgh is 25th or worse in wOBA and wRC+ against lefty pitching and the K rate is over 24%, all factors that should help Wood to a big game here. He’s similar to Carlos Rodon with the sinker/slider combo doing most of the work and the whiff rates on both pitches are over 24% this season.
Baltimore has been a thorn in our sides at times this season but on paper, this is just too good of a spot to ignore. The Orioles carry a K rate of 25.3% which is the second-highest in the league behind only Miami. On top of that, they are not higher than 21st in any of our offensive categories, a great mix for Springs. On his side of things, he does have a 3.31 xFIP to contrast the 1.45 ERA but he also has a K rate of 26.6% and he’s backing it up with a 14.2% swinging-strike rate. The changeup has been excellent with a 38.8% whiff rate and t has 28 of 50 strikeouts while the Baltimore offense is 25th when facing the change. We should hope for a righty-heavy lineup because Springs does have some sharp splits. When he’s facing a righty, the FIP is 2.29, the WHIP is just 0.84, and the K rate s just under 29%. The left side is what hurts him with a 5.97 FIP and a 2.31 HR/9 but the Orioles’ typical lineup would be eight righties. If that happens, I’m going to be very interested in playing him in a lot of lineups.
I don’t believe that I’ll be dropping below Springs all that much but two players could provide some value based on the matchups. The first is Taylor Hearn and this is wildly risky, even against the Detroit offense. They’re dead last in ISO by almost 15 points, they whiff 22% of the time, and they’re no higher than 26th in any other offensive category. Hearn does have a K rate of 19.5% but the 5.37 ERA has been a little unlucky compared to the 4.66 xFIP. It also helps that Detroit is dead last when facing a fastball since Hearn throws one 60% of the time and Hearn does have just a 1.05 HR/9 against righties. It’s not super likely I would say, but it’s at least possible.
The second option is Kyle Bradish and I get it, we’ve been down this road before. He’s really only had one great start and then two good ones but the matchup works for him. The Rays are down Brandon Lowe, Wander Franco, and Mike Zunino at least and since Franco has been out, the Rays offense has been quite bad. They’re 27th in wOBA and OPS, 24th in wC+, 25th in ISO, and 26th in OBP, and the K rate is sitting at 23.9%. Bradish still has a monster gap between the 6.86 ERA and 3.93 xFIP and the HR/FB rate simply won’t stay at 24.4%. He’s got a solid K rate at 22.9% and an unsustainably high BABIP of .374 so a lot of factors have gone against him so far. He should also have a lineup of 5-6 lefties and that side has a .270 wOBA, a 28.9% K rate, and a 2.63 FIP/2.78 combo. If he can’t get it done here, it might not happen for him right now.
Graham Ashcraft – There is just such little strikeout upside that it’s hard to get behind him here. The xFIP is 3.79 which is good but the K rate is under 13% so if he allows any production there’s no route for him to make it up. I believe the more hitters see him, the less he’s going to be able to survive and the 58.3% ground ball rate isn’t enough.
Taijuan Walker – The last start was super impressive as he struck out 10 hitters but through 52.2 IP this year, the K rate is still just 16.1% and the xFIP is over 4.00. The good news for him is the Marlins are down multiple hitters but the bad news is the right side still has a 4.28 xFIP, a 13.2% K rate, and a .278 wOBA.
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Jared is a seasoned fantasy sports player with a passion that dates back to the time when his parents would drive him to drafts as he was too young to drive, and the internet wasn't yet available for online drafts. Growing up in both Coney Island and Central Jersey, he developed a deep love for the Mets, Rangers, and Knicks, cementing his fandom for these teams.
Currently residing in Baltimore, Jared leads the charge in managing collection strategies for a major bank, showcasing his expertise in the financial sector. Alongside his professional pursuits, he remains an ardent participant in the world of fantasy sports, continually enjoying the thrill and strategy the games offer.
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