“Saturday in the park, I think it was the Fourth of July.” You’ve heard the popular song, sung by the group Chicago. If you haven’t, then skip this entire introduction and watch the video below. Now that we’re on the same page, I figured today would be a perfect time to lighten the mood. Last night was god awful for me. I was a Max Kepler home run that went just foul past the right field foul pole, away from cashing in all across the board. Instead, I wound up losing a decent chunk of money. Oh well. It happens. That’s the baseball DFS grind. And believe me, it is a grind. But there is no time to dwell on the past. Tonight looks like a fun slate to wipe the slate clean and get back to our winning ways. I remixed the song just for this slate. – “Saturday in the ballpark, it feels like the Fourth of July.” I’m expecting all of our home runs to be fair and fireworks to follow. Without further ado, let’s get to the picks that will get the party started. Don’t forget to enjoy the real song as well.
Mike Clevinger ($11,800 on DK and $11,200 on FD)
Clevinger has already rolled through this Kansas City Royals team twice this year. He’s combined to fire 13 IP 12 Hits 1 Run while walking zero and striking out 16 batters. Why should we expect a different outcome tonight? Clevinger has a 3.11 ERA and 13.06 strikeout per nine rate for the season. The Royals have the fourth-worst wOBA (.301) and fifth-worst wRC+ (84) against right-handed pitchers. We won’t get into a ton of detail here. He’s the best pitcher on the slate. If you can pay up for him, do it.
Kyle Gibson ($9,000 on DK and $7,900 on FD)
Well, once again Jose Berrios let us down last night. He was in a great match-up against the perfect team to rebound against, but it didn’t happen. Why change the strategy though? The research wasn’t wrong, our timing was. Kyle Gibson is another pitcher with talent that underwhelms often from a production side of things. I thought it was a get right spot for Berrios last night, the get right spot is Gibson tonight. Nothing changed after last night. The Tigers still rank towards the bottom in baseball in just about every offensive category. Further enhancing my love for the match-up, the Tigers will most likely be loaded with a ton of right-handed hitters. Kyle Gibson does his best work against righties. On the season, Gibson has a 24.3% K rate versus RHBs compared to a 20.4% versus LHBs. Almost a full point differential in FIP (3.55/4.64) and xFIP (3.38/4.34), along with a significantly decreased slash line when comparing the two. It all lines up again, go ahead and roll the dice.
Trevor Williams ($5,800 on DK and $6,700 on FD)
Since returning from the IL on June 19th, Williams has yielded an 8.03 ERA in 10 starts. That is exactly the reason why he has such a cheap price tag. I don’t trust him one iota, but allow me to give you some reasons why he isn’t the worst option in the world. First off, there aren’t too many other pitchers at this price level with 20 point upside. Secondly, Williams’ best game of the season, the only outing where he didn’t give up at least one run, came against these Cincinnati Reds. It was the second game of the season and first start of the year for Williams. Maybe, facing a team he had success against earlier in the year, is exactly what he needs to boost his confidence and get back on track. For the Reds, this won’t be the same lineup they rolled out the last time they squared off. Yasiel Puig, Joey Votto, Scott Schebler, and Matt Kemp, are among the players that won’t be in the lineup, whether due to injury or because they are no longer with the Reds organization. Add in the Rookie sensations Aristides Aquino and Nick Senzel and that doesn’t sound like an easier match-up, but they are both right-handed. Even with his struggles this season, Williams has maintained his career truth of being better against righties than lefties. This season, he’s induced 23.2% soft contact against RHBs compared to only 10.9% against LHBs. The best and most dangerous hitters, including Eugenio Suarez, hit from that side of the dish. Suarez has also been held in check in their past match-ups, going only 3-14 (.214) with 3 singles and 6 strikeouts.
2B/3B Mike Brosseau ($3,700 on DK and $2,200 on FD)
An extremely small sample size for Brosseau against John Means, but he’s 2-6 with 2 HRs and 3 RBIs. Brosseau hasn’t popped one out for a while and this seems like a good match-up for him to do so. Means has given up 13 of his 16 bombs to right-handed hitters and has a 5.81 xFIP against them.
3B Jose Ramirez ($5,100 on DK and $3,700 on FD)
J-Ram never fails me when I write him up. Not that I can remember anyway. He draws a terrific match-up against right-hander Glenn Sparkman. After a slow start to the season, to say the least, Ramirez has really picked it up. In 317 first half at-bats, Ramirez hit only 7 HRs with a .218 average. So far, in 156 second-half at-bats, Ramirez is hitting .327 with 13 HRs. I think it’s safe to say he’s been on a nice little run. Although, he hasn’t hit one since August 16th. You could say that’s a mini power slump within a big surge. I’d say he’s due. Ramirez is also 4-10 (.400) versus Sparkman with two of those hits leaving the yard.
Max Kepler ($5,000 on DK and $3,800 on FD)
I’m going home run hunting after last night’s debacle. Inches shy, or to the right that is, Kepler will make right on the bad beat I suffered last night. While Kepler does have a lot more at-bats versus right-handed pitchers than lefties, he’s hit 26 of his 34 homers against them. Look for him to exploit Edwin Jackson and his career .343 wOBA against lefties tonight.
Minnesota Twins vs Edwin Jackson
Since joining the Tigers, Jackson has been providing respectable starts. But there’s no chance I’m buying it. There’s no way in his age 35 season, Jackson has discovered something and is reemerging as a solid starter with some renaissance type of second half. The beat down is coming soon. The Twins are just the team to lay the smackdown on him and his abysmal 3.02 home run per nine rate.
Tampa Bay Rays vs John Means
Means has a terrific changeup that can make life difficult for opposing hitters. He started the season off swimmingly, pitching to a 2.50 ERA in the first half. The second half has been an entirely different story. In 27.2 IP, Means has allowed a 7.48 ERA and .534 SLG. He’s faced the Rays three times this year, starting against them twice. The third time around was the charm for the Rays. On July 13th, Means went 6 IP allowing 8 Hs 6 ERs and gave up 3 HRs. I think they’ve figured him out.
Cleveland Indians vs Glenn Sparkman
Other than his random complete-game shutout against the White Sox, Sparkman hasn’t been good. Actually, he’s been getting lit up. Burned, sparked, torched, how many plays can we make on his name? Bottom line, his 5.40 season ERA and 9.00 ERA on the road isn’t going to cut it tonight. Lefties have a .383 wOBA against him. Expect Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Carlos Santana, Tyler Naquin, Jason Kipnis, and the gang to rough him up. Don’t be afraid to stack with Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes either. They might go overlooked because people will be attacking with the left-handed hitters.
Atlanta Braves vs Zack Wheeler
It’s a tough spot for Wheeler, going up against the Atlanta Braves. We’ve seen this match-up work for pitchers, even as recently as last night with Jacob deGrom. But as good as Wheeler is, he isn’t deGrom. Not to mention, the Braves have killed Wheeler this season and so do many of the big boppers in their lineup. In three games started against the Braves, Wheeler has a 5.82 ERA, while they’ve gone 28-76 and slashed .368/.417/.500. By far, the worst opposing slash line by any one team against Wheeler. Out of the Braves active roster, they are hitting .350 versus Wheeler in 117 at-bats. As for the big boppers I referenced, Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna Jr. are a combined 19-38 with 4 HRs, 10 RBIs, and 14 BBs.
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