MLB DFS Notes for 8/18: Randal Grichuk, Tony Gonsolin, Corbin Burnes, and more!

I’m not sure quite what to call this. An overview? A first pass? It’s highly descriptive (no fancy predictions here) but it’s news that I end up mining early on when looking at a slate. So maybe it helps a few of you out there. If so, let me know with a comment, a like, a retweet. Otherwise I’ll just keep these musings to myself! Look for another similar effort like this on Thursday (if I made Wednesday happen it would be a miracle). Let’s drill down into each game tonight.

TBR at NYY

This is a watered down Yankees lineup, sans Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and D.J. LeMahieu. Snell worked up to 70 pitches in his last turn, when he hurled five scoreless innings against the Red Sox (4 H, 0 BB, 6 SO, 1 W). That was a cool 39 FanDuel points. So while he may not have a huge ceiling due to a bit of a pitch count, it’s entirely possible he’ll be effective enough to consider. He’s only $100 more expensive than Brad Keller, yikes. Keller has been solid, but either Snell is undervalued or Keller is overpriced (I’d say Keller is overpriced).

Tanaka worked up to 66 pitches in his last turn, so it’s likely we’ll see both bullpens do a solid amount of work in this one, with neither guy probably getting near 100 pitches. For what it’s worth, these bullpens are each top 10 in ground ball rate and K/9. With two quality pitchers on the bump, maybe this isn’t a game to go stacking bats. If you’re looking for one-offs, I’d look at Tampa Bay lefties. That’s probably Austin Meadows or Brandon Lowe, but I suppose you can consider Ji-Man Choi and Yoshi Tsutsugo, too. Are they all playing? Like I know. It’s the Rays, man.

CLE at PIT

Carrasco (-186) is a heavy road favorite, while Pirates starter J.T. Brubaker is likely to only go about three innings in this one–if he lasts that long. The Pirates bullpen has a 5.88 ERA, the sixth-worst mark in the league. The strikeouts are solid, at 10.13 K/9 (8th). The walks are an issue though, as the 5.23 BB/9 mark is the third worst in the league–only the Mariners and Rangers bullpens have worse marks. I’m digging the new Statcast data on Fangraphs, by the way. It tells me the Pirates bullpen has also allowed the highest average exit velocity thus far in 2020, at 90.1 MPH. I’d wager the 9.6% HR/FB rate allowed by PIT would be much higher in a more hitter-friendly park. Francisco Lindor (3-for-5, 1 HR, 3 RBI) may have broken out of his funk two days ago, and he’s an affordable $3,600 on FanDuel.

WAS at ATL

The Braves stole a game last night, and they did so against the big three in the Nationals bullpen–Tanner Rainey, Will Harris, and Daniel Hudson. If Voth struggles for the second turn in a row and the Braves get to the lesser pieces of Washington’s bullpen, it could be a nice day for Atlanta. Yes, I’m a homer. But Swanson looks great right now, and all reports on Freddie Freeman are that he is finally feeling back to 100% after his bout with COVID-19. As an added bonus, Freeman batted second in the order last night and will likely do so again as Atlanta tinkers with a lineup that is missing Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies.

Tomlin should operate as an opener, and the Braves would have to be thrilled if he worked into the third inning. Dansby Swanson had three hits last night, including a walk-off homer. He’s still too cheap on FanDuel at only $3,100 as the Braves’ current leadoff man. Double-machine Nick Markakis needs one more two-bagger to tie Babe Ruth in two-baggers, and he’s only $2,400 batting in the heart of this order. Swanson and Freeman are locks for me if I play Atlanta. Marcell Ozuna, too. It’s the other guys I’m inclined to rotate.

NYM at MIA

We’re on David Peterson shoulder watch, as he was removed from his last turn early due to shoulder “soreness.” And in general, it seems like the Mets aren’t inclined to push him to 100-pitch heights. Here are his pitch counts by start: 78, 87, 84, 74. I really can’t see him topping 85 today…it would be a surprise. There’s a 9.5 run total listed for this one, which is big for the Marlins home environs. The Mets erupted for 11 runs yesterday and have an implied 5.41 total today…I’ll confess to passing over them yesterday simply due to the home park. Maybe I should rethink that “strategy” today.

SEA at LOS

I’m guilty of overlooking Tony Gonsolin. He’s stretched out more than I thought, with pitch counts of 63 and 82 in his two turns thus far. The Mariners have the second-lowest implied run total on the slate at 3.46, and Gonsolin is priced down at only $7,100 on FanDuel (12th-most expensive SP). For reference, the lefty Marco Gonzales is on the road against these same Dodgers, and he’s $400 more expensive. I do not understand.

The Dodgers are implied at around six runs today, so you’ll have to pick the pitcher or the bats–or roll with Gonsolin and your three favorite guys in blue. Just don’t leave off Justin Turner, eh? Turner crushed lefties last year, slashing .287/.358/.581. He had a .294 ISO, .385 wOBA, and a 56.4% hard contact rate (per Fangraphs). Among qualified hitters, only Nelson Cruz (56.8%) and Hunter Dozier (56.8%) made more hard contact against southpaws in 2019. Turner is affordable at only $3,100. Also–for what it’s worth–Bellinger slugged 18 homers against lefties last year, the second-highest mark in the majors after J.D. Martinez (19). Bellinger may be ready to burst, as he’s four walks against five strikeouts over his last 30 AB. He’s got a .192 BA over this stretch, but an unlucky .158 BABIP given that he’s third on the team in average exit velocity over this recent stretch (93.3 MPH). In fact, per Fangraphs he has a 61.9% hard contact rate over the last week. Only Justin Turner (79.0%!) and Austin Barnes (72.2%) are higher (among regulars) over this stretch. I’m just saying…it seems like he’s hitting the ball hard, at least recently. Don’t write him off fully tonight, as was my first inclination.

Other hot Dodgers over the past week are Mookie Betts (5 HR) and Corey Seager (3 HR). And the aforementioned Turner is slashing .391/.440/.565 with a homer. You can stack these team a lot of ways, as usual.

PHI at BOS

Eflin has been pretty solid recently, so the Red Sox being over a five-run implied total was a surprise. Eflin was victimized by a pair of Oriole homers in his last turn, to Anthony Santander and Rio Ruiz (both guys who have been on solid streaks). Anyway, through 10 innings he’s sporting a whopping 34.9% strikeout rate an minuscule 4.7% walk rate. He’s sporting an 11.9% swinging strike rate and 44.1% chase rate, both career-bests. Hitters are swinging more than ever against him, but making less contact than ever before. Again, we are talking 10 innings here. But he’s thrown more sinkers so far this year, and come off of his four-seamer. So maybe the strikeouts won’t stay that high, but the shift in pitch mix seems to be helping. Here’s some sinker propaganda:

Maybe we shouldn’t bank on it long-term, but Eflin’s on a bit of a heater. Not saying go “full Eflin” today. But wouldn’t go “full Boston,” either. For what it’s worth, that implied total for Boston opened at 5.07 and last I checked had crept down to 4.97.

TOR at BAL

The Blue Jays lead the majors with 19 homers over the last week, and the .294 ISO ranks second if you exclude the small sample sized Reds (I am). With Bo Bichette on the shelf, the home run leaders recently are Randal Grichuk (3 HR) and Teoscar Hernandez (3 HR). Both are noted “barrelers,” as I like to call them. Each has an ability to hit barrels (which frequently turn into homers) and each goes through cold and hot spells brought on by contact issues. Given that Grichuk has three homers in his last four games, I’d say he’s on a bit of a heater. He’s also only $2,400 on FanDuel, and the Orioles are trotting out the lefty Wade LeBlanc today. Grichuk will probably bat second for Toronto, while Hernandez should bat cleanup. Just checked, and Teoscar Hernandez ranks second in the majors this year with an average exit velocity of 95.5 MPH…some guy named Fernando Tatis Jr. is ahead of him at 96.1 MPH.

I’m not sure about Lourdes Gurriel right now. Over the last week he’s batting .091/.130/.091, with a measly pair of singles and no extra-base hits. Among the guys who were tracked over the last week–I assume a minimum number of AB is required–Gurriel’s 86.7 MPH average exit velocity is second-worst on the team, ahead of only Reese McGuire. Full disclosure, I haven’t watched the Jays lately. So I’m not sure what’s up. But Gurriel is cold right now. So the $2,400 price tag is appealing, but his recent form is not.

CIN at KC

POSTPONED. Don’t play anyone from this game. #analysis

MIL at MIN

Mostly I like Kenta Maeda in this one. He’s sitting on a 21:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his 23.2 innings this year. Outside of Christian Yelich, the Brewers aren’t overly threatening–but I think the tendency is to not target them due to their recent history of offensive production. Against RHP, the Brewers strike out 27.7% of the time, the third-worst mark in the majors. That would maybe be tolerable with some punch, but the team’s .134 ISO (27th) and .278 wOBA (29th) are pretty disgusting.

I’d consider Corbin Burnes, but in a best case scenario he’s looking at five innings. The Twins aren’t the sort of team I’d be attacking with a reliever-turned-starter, no matter how electric he’s been. I’d let him get stretched out a tad bit more, first. Burnes pitch counts thus far are: 75, 64, 77, and 69. So maybe he could go 80ish today. That’s more than I thought, honestly. But same caveat about the Twins applies. He’s probably guaranteed to be lesser-owned than Gonsolin, who is only $400 more at home against Seattle.

DET at CWS

Dylan Cease is 4-0 in his young career against the Tigers, and this version of the Tigers is without their big offseason acquisition of C.J. Cron. The Tigers have a .209 BAA versus RHP, only better than Cleveland (.201) and PIT (.189). Detroit ranks 28th in wOBA (.281) and 18th in ISO (.170) against righties. However, over the last seven days the Tigers are worse (talking overall, not just against RHP). In the last week, Detroit has a .281 wOBA (29th), 76 wRC+ (30th), 24.9% K-rate (25th), and a .146 ISO (27th). It’s not pretty, folks. Cease is in strong consideration for me, and I’m hoping some out there gravitate towards the lefty Tarik Skubal (who is reported to be on a pitch limit of 50 or so). Let’s just check the wind here at game-time. Right now it looks like double-digits out to right center. Read that Roth report, folks.

STL at CHC

Yu Darvish is too cheap at $9,900 on FanDuel. That’s my first take. He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his last turn against the Brewers, and he has not regressed with regard to walks in 2020. Here are his walks issued by start: 0, 1, 1, and 2. Here are the strikeouts by turn: 5, 7, 4, and 11. #analysis

Daniel Ponce de Leon has enough stuff to generate some strikeouts, but this seems like a place where you’d want to avoid him. The Cubs do strike out, but they are also powerful. As a unit they rank inside the top 10 of the league in ISO (.193) and wOBA (.328) versus right-handers. For what it’s worth (small sample), DPDL has given up more power to righty bats in his career. A 1.33 HR/9 to RHH, compared to only 0.47 HR/9 to lefties. He also strikes out lefties far more (32.1%) and walks them far more (15.7%). Right-handed hitters strike out only 20.6% of the time and walk 8.8% of the time. RHH also make less soft contact and hit more line drives off of DPDL…seems like a day to not ignore Javier Baez at only $3,200 on FanDuel. Or at least, it would be, if he weren’t ice cold recently. So maybe you’re looking more towards Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras if you’re righty-hunting. Those are the only three righties projected for Chicago right now.

Initial Leanings

Currently I’m in love with Darvish, especially with a game total of 8, the wind blowing IN to Wrigley, and a slate-low 3.30 implied run total for the St. Louis Cardinals. It hurts that the Reds were postponed, as Luis Castillo could have theoretically drawn some ownership away from Darvish. I’d imagine Darvish is a slam dunk as the most popular guy tonight–though that’s just my two cents. It’s the only reason to get away from him that I can see.

Gonsolin seems too easy? I’m wondering if Kenta Maeda is a solid way to get away from a little ownership tonight. In short, add in Carrasco’s cheese matchup and a Blake Snell approaching a full workload, and it’s a nice night to find a pitcher in any range. So it may depend on the bats. For now I like Braves and Dodgers, who pair nicely together. But I’ll need to pay down at pitcher, so it’s time to dig into guys like Gonsolin and Burnes a bit more.

Good luck out there, hope this long, winding effort aided someone, somewhere. It’s nice for me to collect some thoughts!

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