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dfs picks

The MLB season is rolling, and there’s a great DFS slate on tap for Tuesday, 6/18/19. Below is a list of our best pitchers, hitters, and stacks to target (Three Up) and fade (Three Down) in MLB DFS contests during the afternoon.

Note that some of these plays are recommended for Cash, and some are best reserved for GPP lineups on DraftKings and FanDuel.

Please note the advice below is relevant for daily fantasy purposes. A player or team might be better or worse from a fantasy perspective than in real life due to matchup, price, and lots of other factors. This is important to consider when constructing a roster. Remember that more than in other sports, variance is a huge part of baseball. Even Mike Trout can go 0-for-4 on a given night, and Max Scherzer can get lit up by a weak team.

Weather can also play a huge role in MLB DFS on a nightly basis, and lineups are constantly shifting. So always, always check the starting lineups and weather reports when planning for an MLB slate. If a game gets rained out, your player gets zero points!

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Three Up for June 18, 2019

Best Pitchers

Justin Verlander at CIN ($11.9k DraftKings, $12.0k FanDuel)

After piling up 15 strikeouts in a tough matchup against the slugging Brewers, it’s hard not to pay up for Justin Verlander in an even better matchup tonight. Cincinnati’s offense has struggled all year and is posting the third-lowest collective wOBA (.291) over the last 14 days. Only the Marlins have a lower pitch value rating (-25.2) than the Reds when facing sliders this year. Verlander’s elite slider rates a league-best 21.1 runs above average per Brooks Baseball. He’s used that pitch to limit LHB to a meek .193 wOBA with a whopping 39.5% K-Rate and an elite 4.1% BB Rate this season. Therefore, Reds lefties Joey Votto, Derek Dietrich, Jesse Winker, and Josh VanMeter could all struggle if starting against the Astros ace.

Cole Hamels vs. CWS ($10.5k DraftKings, $8.6k FanDuel)

He might not have as much upside as Verlander, but Cole Hamels is quite clearly the strongest Cash play on the board. His swinging strike rate (12.1%) is identical to his 2018 campaign, but his LD Rate (18.2%) and HR/FB ratio (10.2%) have significantly decreased. Hamels has yet to allow a run over three June starts with a minuscule 1.77 FIP and .151 BAA during that span.

The White Sox have shown some pop against LHP, but also have an above-average 23.9% K-Rate with the fourth-lowest BB Rate (6.5%) in RvL matchups. The White Sox post a measly .295 wOBA with the fifth-highest K-Rate (26%) in the Majors when playing on the road. Hamels is rocking a 2.58 ERA and a 27.2% K-Rate at Wrigley Field. Plus, he should get plenty of run support with the White Sox starting one of the most vulnerable pitchers in baseball, Ivan Nova. Therefore, Hamels is a fantastic value on FanDuel with a good shot at earning 6 FD points for a Win. He has the best per-dollar rating on both DK and FD according to models on FantasyLabs.

Other pitchers to consider: Jacob deGrom, Brandon Woodruff, Jack Flaherty, Merrill Kelly, Jordan Yamamoto

Best Hitters

Yordan Alvarez at CIN ($4.8k DraftKings, $4.0k FanDuel)

The Astros continue to churn out elite prospects with Yordan Alvarez emerging as the latest stud from their farm system. The 6-foot-5 lefty outfielder paced the offense with a pair of 3-hit games against Toronto over the weekend and homered four times over his first 21 MLB at-bats. Alvarez is a definite power threat at Cincy’s Great American Ballpark, which has one of the highest HR Factors for LHB over the last two years. Reds RHP Anthony DeSclafani is coughing up a notable 2.56 HR/9 ratio with a 6.34 FIP And 47.5% hard contact rate when facing lefties this year. He owns a 1.74 HR/9 ratio and .290 BAA throughout his career against LHB, so Alvarez is a strong option along with veterans Michael Brantley, Josh Reddick, and young OF Tony Kemp.

Carlos Gonzalez vs. CWS ($3.1k DraftKings, $2.5k FanDuel)

Carlos Gonzalez is not yet a full-time player with the Cubs, but he should start tonight with good upside in a fantastic matchup. As mentioned above, White Sox RHP Ivan Nova has been among the worst pitchers in baseball with the second-highest ERA (6.28) in baseball and the highest BAA (.324) by nearly 50 points! Nova is yielding a .349 BAA with a 25.2% LD Rate against the platoon this year and Gonzalez is one of several lefties with a good track record (6-for-12, 3 BB, SB) against him in his career. If Gonzalez doesn’t start, look toward Jason Heyward, Kyle Schwarber, and potentially to switch-hitting catcher Victor Caratini as other economical options to use against Nova.

Other hitters to consider: Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, Francisco Lindor, Whit Merrifield, Shohei Ohtani, Oscar Mercado, Kyle Schwarber, Christian Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, Matt Olson, Jose Ramirez, Wilson Ramos, Ildemaro Vargas, Niko Goodrum

Best Stack

Diamondbacks vs. RHP Antonio Senzatela (Rockies)

When Antonio Senzatela last faced the D’Backs, he gave up only 2 ER despite coughing up 9 hits with 2 BB over 6 innings. The struggling RHP was lucky to avoid further damage against a dangerous offense that will be even more difficult to navigate this time around with David Peralta back in the lineup. Senzatela is yielding a .353/.444/.595 slash line and a 26.1% HR/FB ratio when facing lefties this year. His 33% LD Rate against the platoon is the second-highest mark in the Majors. Overall, Senzatela owns a 6.8% swinging strike rate that would tie for the lowest among qualified pitchers. And his weak 1.21 K/BB ratio would be the worst mark if he qualified.

Peralta is well worth adding to this stack despite the fact that he’s 1-for-12 (with 0 Ks) in a small sample against Senzatela. Switch-hitting dynamos Eduardo Escobar (4-for-9, HR) and Ketel Marte (3-for-8, 2 XBH) have had more success against Senzatela. They could put him in a precarious position by setting the table early. Nick Ahmed (6-for-13, SB) has also done well against Senzatela. He is setting himself up for success with a 25% LD Rate this month. Chase Field remains a very hitter-friendly ballpark, and young 1B Christian Walker owns a 50% hard contact rate with a 21.1% HR/FB ratio in RvR matchups at home. Jarrod Dyson always carries good upside on DraftKings as a premier speed threat. Opposing base runners are 10-for-11 on SB attempts against Senzatela in his career. Finally, consider Alex Avila at catcher if starting. He’s a LHB with plenty of upside in this matchup.

Other stacks to consider: Cubs vs. Ivan Nova (White Sox), Brewers vs. Logan Allen (Padres), Indians vs. Adrian Sampson (Rangers)


Three Down for June 18, 2019

Pitcher To Fade

Clayton Kershaw vs. SF ($11.2k DraftKings, $10.7k FanDuel)

Drawing a matchup against the Giants’ dead-last offense makes Clayton Kershaw even more reliable. But it doesn’t necessarily give him the upside necessary to justify his rising price. The southpaw held the Giants to 2 ER in a recent trip to AT&T Park but recorded just 4 Ks and used 11 ground ball outs to go 7 innings. That comes after he yielding 5 ER on 8 hits with just 4 Ks in a start against the Giants last September. It’s possible the Giants’ veteran-laden lineup (with a combined 365 career plate appearances against Kershaw) has figured out how to at least make contact against the aging ace. Kershaw’s Z-Contact Rate (87.2%) is well up for a second straight year. Then, his HR/FB ratio (17.5%) has been particularly problematic at home. He’s also giving up a 40.7% hard contact rate in home starts. Ultimately, his velocity continues to decline below 90 MPH on his mediocre fastball.

Hitter To Fade

Nelson Cruz vs. BOS ($4.9k DraftKings, $3.9k FanDuel)

Nelson Cruz is a renowned lefty-killer with a .375/.450/.688 slash line at home against LHP this season. He’s 9-for-31 (.290) with 2 HR in his career against Boston southpaw David Price but is a batter to fade tonight along with several other dangerous RHB in the Twins lineup. Price might be a popular target after getting pounded for 6 ER over just 1.1 IP at Texas last week, yet the veteran was pitching extremely well prior to that blip.

Price is rocking career bests with a 12.4% swinging strike rate, 28.7% K-Rate, and an 80% Z-Contact Rate this year. Despite his implosion against Texas, he owns a 2.82 FIP and 11.85 K/9 ratio so far in June. Most importantly with regards to this matchup, Price has allowed just 1 HR (0.53 HR/9 ratio) over his last four starts. He’s done it by throwing his changeup and four-seam fastball more often than his slider and cutter. This makes it tougher for RHB to capitalize on offerings with movement toward the inner half of the plate.

Stack To Fade

Mariners vs. RHP Homer Bailey (Royals)

Surprisingly enough, Homer Bailey is performing much better with the Royals after he appeared to be headed out of the league during a disastrous previous two seasons with the Reds. His Z-Contact Rate (84.3%) is way down. Plus, he’s eliciting the highest swinging strike rate (11.3%) of his career by leaning on a much improved split-fingered fastball. Opposing Seattle is struggling with a collective .247 batting average and the second-highest K-Rate (25.6%) in the Majors over the last 30 days. The strikeout-prone, homer-happy Mariners are quite vulnerable against breaking pitches such as Bailey’s splitter. Bailey’s batted ball data has improved dramatically this month (19.1% LD Rate, 6.7% HR/FB ratio). And he’s posting a solid .246 BAA as a result with consecutive Quality Starts leading into this road test.