DFS Plays of the Day – July 29

Nicklaus Gaut previews the DFS slate for Wednesday, July 29.

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After being forced to deal with the likes of Homer Bailey and Kyle Gibson, we get a proper group of pitching options for our Wednesday night main slate. Gerrit Cole and Jacob deGrom top the list but with the Yankees visiting a local high school stadium Camden Yards and the mighty Minnesota Twins on the docket, there are going to be plenty of juicy (and pricey) hitters that may limit how much you can drop on pitching. Speaking of Cole…


Top SP: Gerrit Cole ($11,400 DK, $11,700 FD) vs. BAL


The only risk to starting Gerrit Cole against the Baltimore Orioles doesn’t have anything to do with things on the field. You only need to worry that the game will be canceled/postponed/struck down with lightning/etc. Cole and the Yankees were supposed to be taking in Philadelphia taking on the Phillies but that all changed after the Miami Marlins had a COVID-19 outbreak. Instead of facing Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, and JT Realmuto, Cole now gets to stare down the likes of D.J. Stewart, Chris Davis, and Pedro Severino. That’s what is known in the biz as an upgradde; spelled with two d’s for a double-dose of Cole’s nastiness.

There’s also the question of the chalk, which Cole most certainly will be. But maybe that’s not as impactful as you might think. Lots of players may have the same thought and might want to pivot to Jacob deGrom facing the Red Sox (who’ve been an absolute flaming pile of dumpster in this young season) or Charlie Morton taking on the Braves. And even if Cole is massively owned, it’s going to be difficult to snub your nose at what seems a lock for a big performance. I mean, you can go ahead and mark Chris Davis down for four strikeouts, right?


Honorable Mentions: Jacob deGrom, NYM ($12,000 DK, $11,200 FD) vs. BOS, Brandon Woodruff, MIL ($8,100 DK, $8,700 FD) vs. PIT


Value SP: Joe Musgrove ($5,300 DK, $6,700 FD) vs. MIL

Musgrove wasn’t totally on top of his game is his first start of the season, taking the loss versus the Cardinals and allowing three runs in 5.2 innings. What did Musgrove in was three walks and two home runs but there were silver-linings. Namely, seven strikeouts and a minimum of hard contact. While the usage on his nasty slider was the same as it’s been in the past (22.1%), Musgrove’s fastball usage was down, throwing more curveballs and changeups than he has in the past. And while it’s only one game not under the pitch-to-contact tutelage of Ray Searage, it was still encouraging that Musgrove’s 70.7% contact-rate was much lower than the 76%-79% range that he’s previously sat in.

He takes on the Brewers at one of baseball’s best pitcher parks, especially in terms of suppressing left-handed power. The Brewers only have one lefthander besides switch-hitting Justin Smoak but it’s a big win any time you can suppress any part of Christian Yelich’s power. Using FTN’s MLB optimizer, Musgrove has a 1.84 value-rating, good for 8th-highest on the slate. But there are a lot of pitchers in front of him that I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking due to their matchups, including Justin Dunn, Asher Wojciechowski, Christian Javier, and Johnny Cueto. I don’t know about you but if I’m trying to save some cash, I’d much, much rather have Musgrove.

Milwaukee just got shut down by Derek Holland (yes, you read that right) and carry a lot of strikeouts in their lineup when it comes to facing right-handed pitchers. Ryan Braun, Jedd Gyorko, Avisail Garcia, Justin Smoak, and Manny Pina, all strikeout versus righties about 25% of the time. And don’t forget about Keston Hiura who posted a 30.2% K-rate versus RHP in 2019.


Honorable Mention: Rich Hill, MIN ($7,200 DK, $7,500 FD) vs. STL


3B Anthony Rendon ($5,200 DK, $4,000 FD) vs SEA

Welcome to California, Anthony! Rendon made a big splash with his new team in Anaheim, hitting his first home run as an Angel in a 10-2 win over Seattle. There’s a reason that the Angels gave Rendon almost a quarter-billion dollars; dude can rake. He raked at Rice, he raked at Washington, and even if he’s now on the west coast, don’t expect any leaves to be safe.

The Mariners will look to stop the team that Trout built by sending out rookie starter Justin Dunn. The righthander has solid stuff but a limited repertoire and could likely end up as a reliever in the long run; but tonight, he has to figure out Rendon and the rest of a powerful lineup. That might be difficult, however, because Rendon had a .417 wOBA and .274 ISO against right-handed pitching in 2019, with a 46.4% hard-hit rate.


Honorable Mentions: Josh Donaldson, 3B ($4,200 DK, $3,100 FD ) vs. STL; Niko Goodrum, SS ($4,300 DK, $2,500 FD) vs. KC; Jeff McNeil, 3B ( $4,800 DK, $2,800 FD) vs. BOS


OF Jorge Soler, KC ($3,600 DK, $3,600 FD) at DET


So long as Soler continues to be priced like this, I’m going to continue to work him in my lineups. The Royals and Tigers have scored 27 runs in the first two games of their series and Detroit will trot out Matthew Boyd, who looks to rebound from a subpar outing on Opening day. As much as I hate to say it, there wasn’t a lot to like in Boyd’s first start, with him allowing four earned runs in five innings with just two strikeouts.

Soler hit lefties well in 2019 – with a .364 wOBA and .261 ISO against them – even though he also carried a 26.8% K-rate. He hit 46 HR last year and has already hit two in this young season, including one in Detroit on Monday, and yet we still don’t believe that the power is for real? The Royals were a popular stack on Tuesday but scored just three runs in the loss, with Whit Merrifield the only player really earning his supper. That might put the crowd back off of Kansas City, which allows you to get a big-time slugger with low cost and minimal ownership. Yes, please.


Honorable Mentions: Aaron Judge, OF ($5,500 DK, $4,100 FD) at BAL; Giancarlo Stanton, OF ($5,800 DK, $3,800 FD) at BAL; Whit Merrifield, 2B/OF ($4,200 DK, $3,200 FD) at DET; Aaron Hicks, OF ($5,000 DK, $2,500 FD)


Value Batter: OF Michael Brantley, HOU ($3,000 DK, $3,100 FD) at LAD


Another day, another slate with Michael Brantley going for relative pennies. Besides the price, one of the great things about Brantley is his habit of almost always giving you a little something in the point column and limiting those zeros. He now has eight hits in five games – with multiple hits in three of the five – with six RBI, four runs, and even one stolen base…What more do you want?

I know that everyone is currently fully hyped on Dustin May but what kind of performance (and how long of one) are you expecting the young right-hander to put up against a deep and powerful Houston lineup? Brantley is a righty-killer, posting a .388 wOBA and .226 ISO against them in 2019, with a 42.7% hard-hit rate. His ownership should also be low, with DFS players seemingly afraid of making moves on the Dodgers. Which is strange…Don’t you know you get two points for getting beaned?


Honorable Mentions: Miguel Cabrera, 1B ($3,000 DK, $2,700 FD ) vs. KC; C.J. Cron, 1B ($3,200 DK, $3,100 FD) vs. KC; Austin Nola, 1B/C ($2,800 DK, $2,100 FD) vs. LAA; Maikel Franco, 3B ($2,000 DK, ) Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, OF ($3,600 DK, ) at ATL


Lineup Stack: Twins vs. Cardinals (RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon)


On one side, you have Daniel Poncedeleon making his first start of the year, replacing Miles Mikolas, who will now miss the rest of the season after requiring surgery. On the other side, you have an offensive juggernaut in the Minnesota Twins. On one hand, Ponce de Leon most recently was in the Cardinals bullpen after failing to beat out Carlos Martinez for the fifth starter’s job. On the other hand, the Twins just dropped a six-spot on Martinez’s head on Tuesday and I’m not sure Ponce de Leon will be able to do much better.

Minnesota’s offense is special, not only with their talent but also with how deep their lineup runs. Kepler, Donaldson, Polanco, Cruz, Rosario, Garver…it goes on, and on, and on. It leaves no room for escape but does leave DFS players with a bevy of options for stacking their lineups with twinkies. Taking a look at FTN’s MLB optimizer, Minnesota has the highest implied runs team total, at 6.1 runs. That’s a half-run higher than everyone else on the slate. Honestly, until they show me I should do otherwise, I’m happy to stack the Twins every day.


Honorable Mentions: Yankees at Orioles (Wojciechowski); Angels vs. Mariners (Dunn)

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Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

Nicklaus Gaut

Born scores ago, Nicklaus Gaut is confused by the internet and people in general. But baseball sometimes makes sense, even when it doesn't. So after getting second-place in a writing contest, he now writes for Brad Johnson at his @BaseballATeam, as well as in an editor role at RotoBaller.com. Read Nicklaus for his numbers and stories, but beware of @Nt_BurtReynolds...That dude might be nuts.

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