MLB Sim Sports Picks for 4/18/20 on FanDuel
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FanDuel's MLB Sims Sports, a new free-to-play format that simulates the baseball games that were originally scheduled for play each day. Starting pitchers and batting orders are announced in advance, and then games will play out through numberFire's custom simulator.
Starting pitchers will have a simulated pitch count that we won't know beforehand but should be roughly based on their performance last season. Hitters will play the whole game, so there's no fear of pinch hitters and the like.
Best of all, the simulation is meant to replicate real life, so all the usual things you typically analyze in MLB DFS -- things like player skills, matchups, park factors, and platoon splits -- are in play here, so you can approach this in much the same way you would on a real baseball slate.
Here's the breakdown for today's main slate.
Gerrit Cole ($11,700) is worth his lofty salary on this six-game slate. He's at home against the Cincinnati Reds, a team that had the 10th-worst wOBA (.312) and 12th-highest strikeout rate (23.5%) in 2019. Cole's numbers last year were silly as he posted a 39.9% strikeout rate, 16.8% swinging-strike rate and 2.62 SIERA. He averaged 50.36 FanDuel points per game in 2019, which is 10 points more than any other hurler on this main slate. Cole's floor/ceiling combination is unmatched.
Outside of Cole, I have José Berríos ($8,600) as the next best arm. He's at home versus the Detroit Tigers, and the matchup is dope as the Tigers had the highest strikeout rate (26.4%) with the second-lowest wOBA (.290) a campaign ago. With just a 23.2% strikeout rate and 10.8% swinging-strike rate, Berríos usually doesn't offer the kind of upside we crave, but the hapless Tigers' offense gives him a big boost.
Priced between Cole and Berríos, Lucas Giolito ($9,200) is an awkward customer today, but he's got a massive ceiling in a date with the Texas Rangers. Texas has some pop, but they also swing and miss a lot, finishing last season with the fifth-highest strikeout rate (25.4%). Giolito was immense in 2019, producing a 32.3% strikeout rate and 15.0% swinging-strike rate. While Giolito's 8.1% walk rate and 42.8% fly-ball rate are scary, there's gobs of upside here, too.
Shane Bieber ($10,600) could fly under the radar a bit given the presence -- and matchups -- of the three pitchers we just talked about in combination with Bieber's tough draw at the Boston Red Sox. But Bieber has the ability to deliver in this spot. In his 2019 breakout, Bieber finished with a 3.36 SIERA, 30.1% strikeout rate, 14.0% swinging-strike rate and 4.7% walk rate. Those are dazzling numbers, and they keep him in play despite Boston holding the seventh-lowest strikeout rate (21.3%) and fifth-best wOBA (.338) last year.
The New York Yankees are at home against Wade Miley, and this is an obvious spot to attack. Against right-handed hitters in 2019, Miler registered just a 19.2% strikeout rate. The Yankees have a bunch of righties who could do damage. In fact, their whole lineup will hit from the right side today, and all nine of them are in play.
You know the usual suspects -- Aaron Judge ($4,000), Giancarlo Stanton ($3,500), Gleyber Torres ($3,400), DJ LeMahieu ($3,400) and Gary Sanchez ($3,200). In addition to those heavy hitters, the Bombers also have some cheaper options in Luke Voit ($2,800), Gio Urshela ($2,800) and Aaron Hicks ($2,500), with Hicks hitting in the five hole. Those cheaper bats come in handy on a Cole slate.
The Minnesota Twins are a team I'll be stacking today against Michael Fulmer, and there are a few bats who are woefully underpriced, making them ideal to pair with Cole. Fulmer is a wild card after missing all of 2019. But he wasn't that great in 2018 -- 19.7% strikeout rate and 4.45 SIERA -- so we can feel good about going heavy on the Twins.
Against lefties in 2018, Fulmer allowed a .338 wOBA, 39.6% hard-hit rate and 38.6% fly-ball rate, making Minnesota leadoff man Max Kepler ($2,600) a nice place to start. Kepler could be $1,000 more expensive and I'd think nothing of it. He put up a .350 wOBA, 43.9% hard-hit rate and 47.2% fly-ball rate with the platoon advantage in his 36-dong breakout in 2019.
Luis Arraez ($2,200) is hitting eighth while Jorge Polanco ($2,900) is second, and you can pair them both with Kepler in a wraparound stack. Arraez recorded a BABIP-aided .360 wOBA last season, but he also walked (9.8%) more than he struck out (7.9%) across 366 plate appearances. Polanco, a switch-hitter, is really good against righties, posting a .372 wOBA, 10.1% walk rate and 45.3% fly-ball rate in the split in 2019.
Eddie Rosario ($3,100) will also hit from the left side, and he had a .331 wOBA, 40.7% hard-hit rate and 45.3% fly-ball rate against right-handers a year ago. And you can always turn to Josh Donaldson ($3,600), Nelson Cruz ($3,600) and Miguel Sanó ($3,500) when stacking the Twins.
In 62 career frames, Stewart owns an ugly 5.21 SIERA and 9.2% strikeout rate while allowing a 38.9% hard-hit rate. He's been rocked by both lefties and righties, including a barely-there 5.4% strikeout rate versus lefties over his career. Yes, 62 innings is a small sample, but all signs point to Stewart being a bad pitcher. And once Stewart is out of the game, the Royals will see a Baltimore Orioles 'pen that had the second-lowest strikeout rate (21.3%) a year ago.
Hunter Dozier ($3,800) is the only expensive KC bat, but he's worth the salary as he finished 2019 with a .360 wOBA, 45.3% hard-hit rate and 43.9% fly-ball rate. Last year, Jorge Soler finally had a healthy season, and he bopped 48 taters with a 46.7% hard-hit rate and 41.2% fly-ball rate. He shouldn't be $3,400. Adalberto Mondesi ($3,100) brings stolen-base upside, and these three will hit back-to-back-to-back in the lineup.
Whit Merrifield ($2,900) is a cheap leadoff bat. Hard-hit Whit can run (20 steals in 2019) in addition to having decent power (16 jacks and .340 wOBA). Lastly, Ryan O'Hearn is a guy I'll have a bunch of today -- as a one-off play and in stacks. While he was dreadful last year (.278 wOBA), O'Hearn racked up a .398 wOBA across 170 plate appearances in 2018 and was swinging it well in spring training.
The author of this article has no involvement with the MLB Sim Sports simulations powered by numberFire and has no knowledge of the results of tonight’s contest.