DFS Plays of the Day – May 1

Ryan Amore previews Saturday's DFS slate.

May Day gives us a six-game main slate that’s tough to navigate without a clear value option at pitcher.


Top SP: Dustin May, LAD ($9,800 DK, $9,700 FD) at MIL


If GIF ability were somehow a measured quantity, Dustin May (17.7% K-BB%, 28.6% CSW 2020-21) would be through the roof considering his physical presence on the mound and the absurd life on his sinker. Heading into this season, he was an enigma. His fastball velocity is phenomenal so the eventual ceiling was there for sure, but the lack of secondary pitches that could generate whiffs wasn’t there quite yet.

He’s quelled that concern though. The key has been his curveball that has thus far returned an absurd 46.2% whiff rate. He’s using it more too, up from just 13.4% last year to 22.9%. The result is that we’ve seen his overall swinging K-rate jump from a surprisingly bland 8.4% to an exciting 14.1%. May has the strikeout upside we’re looking for against a team that has struggled in that respect with a 27.6% team K-rate so far (3rd worst). The salary seems like a high point but I’m willing to ride the wave in what looks like a surging talent especially given the matchup. And after all, it is May Day, right? Ok, I’ll stop I swear. 

Brandon Woodruff (24.7% K-BB%, 30.4% CSW 2020-21) is an excellent pivot in tournaments as a home dog facing a tougher lineup, as he should be a little less popular than May who is coming off a career-high ten K’s in his last outing against the Padres. 

Contextually, tonight’s game sets up well for Blake Snell (21.5% K-BB%, 29.7% CSW 2020-21) as the Padres are the second-biggest favorite on the board (Gallen and the Diamondbacks). The Giants as a team rank 10th worst in K-rate and 11th in wOBA. The narrative against Snell remains the same as he has yet to pitch through the sixth inning. The one thing that sticks out so far is that Snell’s curveball hasn’t been quite as effective at generating whiffs at 35.3% as opposed to over 50% in the last two seasons. Still, that’s something that could easily correct itself this early on. Snell’s overall K-rate, though, remains excellent at 33% so he’s absolutely on the board.

Honorable Mentions: Brandon Woodruff, MIL ($10,100 DK, $9,200 FD) vs LAD; Blake SnellSD ($9,500 DK, $8,800 FD) vs SF. 


Value SP: Zac Gallen, ARI ($8,900 DK, $9,000 FD) vs COL


Unfortunately, tonight’s short slate doesn’t give us a clear option in the value tier. Charlie Morton (19.1% K-BB%, 29.3% CSW 2020-21) is there from a skills perspective, but given that this Jays lineup has, not surprisingly, finally erupted and with George Springer now back, I’m not terribly excited. Instead, let’s cheat and highlight Zac Gallen (19.3% K-BB%, 31.1% CSW 2020-21). You know we are all Gallen gals here. In his last start he tamed a tough Braves lineup down in Atlanta firing seven shutout innings (26.5% CSW) and he was efficient too needing just 83 pitches. Now with the road Rockies in town. Say no more! 

Griffin Canning is an interesting option considering the Mariners’ team K-rate of 26.5% is appealing, but he has really struggled with his efficiency and hasn’t gotten past 54 pitches since back on April 14th. If you want to gamble on a  return to form, he’s there as a potential value.

Honorable Mention: Eduardo Rodríguez, BOS ($8,700 DK, $9,500 FD) at TEX; Griffin CanningLAA ($7,200 DK, $6,000 FD) at SEA. 


3B Rafael Devers, BOS ($5,200 DK, $3,300 FD) at TEX


Jordan Lyles (7.2% K-BB%, 25.3% CSW% 2020-21) is off to a rough start with a 6.75 ERA and 1.54 WHIP. It comes along with an equally uninspiring 6.33 xERA and .397 xwOBA. He also carries just a 9.6% swinging K-rate so balls will most certainly be put into play. Rafael Devers is the preferred target here as we look to take advantage of the veteran Lyles and his .368 wOBA allowed to LHB going back to 2019. Devers combines a 20.8% K-rate with excellent power upside. And he’s off to a fantastic start with a .355 xBA and .487 xwOBA. 

Honorable Mentions: Anthony Rendon 3B ($4,700 DK, $3,700 FD) at SEA.


OF Mitch Haniger, SEA ($3,800 DK, $3,200 FD) vs LAA


This is a tough slate in terms of value bats especially on DraftKings, so the Mariners leadoff man Mitch Haniger is worth mentioning as he just looks undervalued relative to his true talent level. A bizarre slew of injuries has put him in limbo the past couple of seasons but from 2017-18 he recorded a .284/ .361/ .492 slash along with a .364 wOBA in just over 1000 PA. He’ll face Griffin Canning (14.8% K-BB%, 27.6% CSW 2020-21) who has struggled a bit out of the gate with an 8.40 ERA and 1.47 WHIP (4.44 xERA and .342 xwOBA).

Honorable Mentions: Marcell Ozuna, OF ($5,100 DK, $3,300 FD) at TOR.


Value Batter: 2B David Fletcher, LAA ($3,400 DK, $3,000 FD) at SEA


David Fletcher isn’t exciting from a power standpoint as a .088 career ISO can attest to. But as the leadoff man for an offense that projects really well tonight there’s some potential value to be had here for the Angels’ 2nd baseman who has put together a .341 OBP for his career.

If you’re looking for power upside at a discount Justin Upton is certainly worth targeting. This year’s max EV of 116.5 tells us that the power is most definitely still alive in his bat making him an upside play for tournaments. With Nick Margevicius headed to the IL, Ljay Newsome (15.9% K-BB%, 27.3% CSW 2020-21) will be making the start tonight for the Mariners – but given that his high watermark for pitches so far stands at 54, we should some early relief work out of the pen tonight making the Angels and their potent lineup a strong target on the road. 

Willie Calhoun has been hitting leadoff. Although, that may not stick tonight against the lefty Eduardo Rodríguez (17.1% K-BB%, 28.1% CSW 2019-21). It’s a dreadful matchup for sure, but at just $2,500 on DraftKings, he’s there as a potential last-ditch value bat.

Honorable Mentions: Justin Upton, OF ($3,600 DK, $3,100 FD) at SEA; Kyle Lewis, OF ($3,400 DK, $2,900 FD) vs LAA; Willie Calhoun, OF ($2,500 DK, $2,700 FD) vs BOS; Christian Vazquez, C ($2,300 FD) at TEX; Bobby Dalbec, 1B ($3,400 DK, $2,100 FD) at TEX. 


Top Stack: BOS at TEX (RHP Jordan Lyles)


Lyles stands out as the weakest arm on tonight’s slate. He’s limited the walks at just 5.6% but considering his 18.5% K-rate a 50.6% hard-hit rate sticks out. Looking at his heat maps reveals too many fastballs over the heart of the plate, not surprising considering his .397 xwOBA and all the hard hits. So far the Red Sox have been a productive offense with a .329 team wOBA (4th). It’s amazing what a resurgent J.D. Martinez (.403 xwOBA this season) can do for a lineup.

As mentioned earlier, in a vacuum lefties are the preferred target considering Lyles’ wOBA splits so Alex Verdugo (.345 career wOBA) makes sense. But Xander Bogaerts (.356) and Martinez (.394) are still excellent plays considering that Lyles has ceded an ISO of over .200 to both RHB and LHB going back to 2019. Bobby Dalbec is a boom/bust value play at the bottom of the order.

The Braves are appealing, although difficult tournament stack to pull off given their prices on DraftKings, against the Jays mystery starter down in Dunedin.

Honorable Mentions: ATL at TOR (TBD); LAA at SEA (Newsome). 


Design by J.R. Caines (@JRCainesDesign on Twitter and @caines_design on Instagram)

Ryan Amore

A proprietor of the Ketel Marte Fan Club, Ryan Amore has been writing things at Pitcher List since 2019. He grew up watching the Yankees and fondly remembers Charlie Hayes catching the final out of the '96 WS. He appreciates walks but only of the base on ball variety.

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