As promised in yesterday’s DFS article, today’s list of pitchers is a baseball fan’s dream. Zack Greinke, Chris Sale, Max Scherzer, Jose Fernandez, Madison Bumgarner, and Masahiro Tanaka are all on the mound, along with guys like Steven Matz, Justin Verlander, Marcus Stroman, Andrew Heaney, and Johnny Cueto. That’s a special set of pitchers and it could make for a rough offensive night. On the other hand, a lot of really great hitters have reduced salaries from facing great pitchers. That could net some value on some of the game’s top sluggers.
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The salaries listed are from DraftKings:
Here are the top teams to stack for September 18:
Boston – I have no idea who to stack tonight. It’s a really difficult exercise to find a good team, especially one that others won’t pile on, like San Diego or Colorado. Perhaps Boston is a good pick for Friday night. Marcus Stroman has a ton of upside showed some good stuff in his season debut against the Yankees last week, but he’s going to be a work in progress after missing the entire season to this point. His command is going to be a bit shaky and Boston should be excited about the chance to play spoiler.
Chicago White Sox – Cody Anderson always has the chance to blow up because he doesn’t miss many bats and the Indians bullpen is a bit of a mess. Anderson has one of the lowest strikeout rates among pitchers with at least 70 innings pitched. The White Sox offense has improved a bit thanks to positive regression throughout the season, at least against righties. Anderson is batted ball luck dependent and those are guys you want to gamble against in DFS.
Detroit – Maybe Johnny Cueto isn’t going to turn it around right away. If it’s a gradual improvement or if things completely bottom out, that will make Detroit pretty profitable as a stacking option for Friday night. Cueto has really struggled in his transition to the American League, with a big drop in strikeouts and a bigger spike in his home run rate. The Tigers don’t have much to play for, but maybe they’ll show an enhanced level of focus to go up against Cueto and one of their hated rivals. They played a lot harder than I expected last weekend in Cleveland and could do the same this weekend.
Here are the best value hitters for September 18:
Corey Seager ($3,400) – I’m telling you, he’ll show up every day in this column until his salary adjusts or his playing time gets cut. In 13 games, Seager is batting .426/.526/.617 and has a very favorable matchup against Jeff Locke in Friday’s game. Even though it’s a lefty/lefty matchup for Seager, he’s shown no problems with lefties all season long, both in his small sample size in the big leagues and in the minor leagues. You can’t beat the value on him as long as he’s hitting.
Domingo Santana ($3,600) – With regular at bats for the Brewers, Santana is showing the potential that made him one of the top hitting prospects in the Astros organization. In 90 plate appearances, Santana has a .257/.367/.514 slash with five home runs. The right-handed slugger is batting .311/.404/.578 against lefties in 52 plate appearances at the big league level this season and showed some platoon advantage skills in the minor leagues as well. Against Brandon Finnegan, who hasn’t worked much lately, Santana has a lot of upside tonight.
Mike Napoli ($3,200) – A horrible season against right-handed pitching is enough to give Napoli quite a bit of value against left-handed pitching. That’s the case on Friday night when Napoli and the Rangers take on James Paxton. In 157 plate appearances against southpaws, Napoli has a .269/.376/.560 slash, which is 49 percent above league average. The issue is that he has a 66 wRC+ against righties. But, that creates value when he faces a left-hander and that’s why I’m happy to take the value for Friday.
Here are the best value pitchers for September 18:
Steven Matz ($8,200) – The hard part about value guys like Stroman, Cueto, Heaney, and Verlander is that you just don’t know. You don’t really know with Matz either because, like Stroman, he has incredible strikeout potential but may be limited from a pitches standpoint. I think Matz has the best strikeout upside as a lefty that the Yankees have never seen and I also think he has the best park to pitch in tonight. That’s why he’s worth a look above those other guys.
Mike Fiers ($8,700) – Mike Fiers has been more than a strikeout per inning guy throughout the season and it’s the second straight season that he has done that. Last season was over just 10 starts and four relief outings, but he has continued it this season. Moving from the NL to the AL has lowered Fiers’s strikeout rate, but not by that much, and his walk rate remains basically unchanged. A strikeout per inning is the gold standard for DFS success from pitchers.
Chris Sale ($12,200) – There are a lot of high-priced pitchers on the mound tonight, so I figured it would be best to pick one out of that group to add to this article. I’m going with Chris Sale. The Indians don’t strike out a whole lot, in a relative sense, but Chris Sale is not your average pitcher. The Indians will have a platoon-heavy approach against Sale with only two lefties, Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis, in the lineup, but I’d still expect him to mow through the Indians’ bench players like Ryan Raburn, Chris Johnson, and Jerry Sands.