DraftKings Plays of the Day – September 17

Nicklaus Gaut previews the September 17 slate on DraftKings with his must-plays and best values of the day.

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Top Play SP: Justin Verlander, HOU ($12,800) vs. TEX


Let us not get cute. It’s Justin Verlander and it’s Justin Verlander by a lot. There are reasons not to take Verlander – like price or ownership – but none of them are performance, as the Cy Young favorite and the Houston Astros line up for a juicy matchup against their in-state rivals, the Texas Rangers. Verlander is averaging 28.4 points-per-game in 2019 and has been one of the surest things in DFS as well as season-long fantasy. But the flame-throwing righthander looked downright mortal in his last time out, allowing three earned runs in six innings of a 3-2 loss versus Oakland. However, even in defeat Verlander was a DFS stud, striking out 11 batters on his way to scoring 25.3 points.

On Tuesday, Verlander and the Astros go up against the Texas Rangers at home, with the Astros currently a three-to-one favorite. Per the norm, the Rangers always have power, but their lineup also calls home to K after K, with Verlander facing the 25-30% K-rates of Rougned Odor, Danny Santana, Shin-Soo Choo, and all their merry friends. Not to mention that since the start of August, Texas has a 72 wRC+, .690 OPS, and a 24.8% K-rate against right-handers. And again, they are facing Justin Verlander. Open up the wallet and don’t be one of those people who rattle of a stream of obscenities every time the bottom line tells them that Verlander has just struck out another two batters.

Honorable Mentions: Patrick Corbin ($10,800) at STL;  Caleb Smith ($8,500) at ARI.


Value SP: Martin Perez, MIN ($5,900) vs. CHW


Danger. Danger. Danger. Recommendation of sometimes human gas can Perez, ahead. There was no “sometimes” about it the last time Perez took the mound, giving up five earned runs in five innings to the visiting Washington Nationals. But you generally know what you’re getting with Perez; 5-6 innings and 4-5 strikeouts. Nothing exciting but when he limits his walks and home runs, Perez is more than capable of wrangling in 10-15 points without breaking the bank and usually carrying low ownership – mostly due to the fact that he’s Martin Perez. The soft-tossing lefty gets the White Sox at home tonight and faces a Chicago team that has performed better than average against left-handers in 2019, posting a 104 wRC+ and .767 OPS. But they also carry a 24.2% K-rate and .156 ISO that are both the eighth-worst in baseball and also struggle against Perez’s two most frequently thrown pitches, the changeup and cutter. Chicago has a – 8.7 pVal against cutters and a – 12.0 pVal against changeups that are both bottom-10 marks in the league, with Perez throwing the two pitches a combined 54% of the time. It might not be pretty but the value of Perez is one of the ways you can fit in your desired Coors stack.

Honorable Mention: Ross Stripling ($6,600) vs. TB; Marco Gonzalez ($6,300) vs. PIT; Brett Anderson ($5,300) vs. KC.


Top Play: 1B Pete Alonso ($5,600) @ COL (RHP- Tim Melville)


Like the Verlander pick above, it’s best not to get too cute in trying to find the biggest points, with a game at Coors. And not just a game at Coors but one featuring a bevy of big boppers, with the New York Mets – and the prohibitive favorite for the National League Rookie of the Year in Alonso – hitting in the thin air of the Mile High city. Alonso had been in a week-long slump and was hitless in his last 22 plate appearances before going 2-for-4 with a double last night in the series opener. The 24-year-old slugger has 47 home runs on the season but still has the home run blues, having not hit one in seven games. When a lack of homers is what ails you, a big old dose of Coors is always what the doctor ordered. And Alonso’s hefty price tag should keep his ownership depressed given all the other expensive options in the game.

Honorable Mentions: 1B Freddie Freeman  ($5,100) vs. PHI (RHP Vince Velasquez); OF Brandon Nimmo ($4,500) vs. COL (RHP Tim Melville); 1B Daniel Murphy ($4,400) vs. NYM (RHP Marcus Stroman).


Value Batter: 3B/C Willians Astudillo ($2,900) vs. CHW (LHP Ross Detwiler)


Returning from his long exile in the minor leagues, Astudillo has been back with the Twins since September 1 and could provide some salary-relief for those wishing to use Verlander as their SP1 or any of the bats at Coors. Astudillo has not exactly been himself since returning, having already walked twice and struck out twice in only 37 plate appearances. But Astudillo has no real splits to speak of and is facing left-hander Ross Detwiler, who’s now given up 12 runs in his last seven innings (three appearances). Roster Astudillo. Repeat his mantra with me, and reap all his heavenly rewards.

Hail Willians, full of face.

Portly be thy frame.

Thy bat is swung, with three balls or none. 

And thy merm shall bounce forever.

Honorable Mentions: 2B Jed Lowrie ($3,900) at COL (RHP Tim Melville); 1B C.J. Cron ($3,400) vs. CHW (LHP Ross Detwiler); C Rene Rivera ($3,500) at COL (RHP Tim Melville)


Lineup Stack: Braves vs. Phillies (RHP Vince Velasquez)


Let’s get a little wacky and fade Coors, shall we? The Braves may not get the advantage of hitting in the thin air of Colorado but they do get to face Philadelphia right-hander Vince Velasquez, which sometimes is just about the same thing. When Velaquez is feeling generous he tends not to discriminate based on handedness, posting a wOBA, ISO, and OPS that are virtually identical versus both sides of the plate. And Atlanta brings the storm from both sides, as Velasquez will be forced to navigate Ronald Acuna, Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman, and Josh Donaldson if he wants to make it through the first half of the Braves lineup. The last time Velasquez faced Atlanta, he navigated that lineup poorly, allowing four earned runs and failing to get out of the third inning. Facing right-handers at home this year, Atlanta has had a top-five offense, with a 111 wRC+, .829 OPS, and a .206 ISO. While Velasquez is always capable of throwing a sneaky gem, this feels more like one of the times that he instead sprays gasoline all over the mound and lights that piece on fire.

Honorable Mentions: Mets at Rockies (Melville); Rockies vs. Mets (Stroman); Boston vs. Giants (Webb).


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Graphic 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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