Another week in the books, now on to Week 13 of the fantasy baseball season. As usual, Monday is a lighter day than most with several teams off. With that in mind, there is a bit of a different format below that we’ll give a try that may be more useful and insightful for those days with lighter slates. Since this is generally for DFS purposes where we’re looking for lots of offense, the games are listed highest over/under run total to lowest, and this particular article covers the four games with a start time between 7:05 and 8:05 PM EST. Look for another article that will cover the late games and some bets!
Fantasy Baseball Rundown (Main Slate)
Reds (Williamson, LHP – 5.40 ERA) @ Orioles (Irvin, LHP – 7.71 ERA)
- Over/Under: 9.5
- First reaction – clearly we have two lefty pitchers with high ERAs, so let’s look under the hood… Brandon Williamson has started 7 games this year and just one of them was a “quality start.” Otherwise it has been 4-5 innings pitched and a bunch of crooked numbers. More of the same for Cole Irvin, who has made 5 starts this year and none have been “quality.”
- Splits that stand out: Williamson is allowing a .321 batting average to lefties, but it’s a small sample size (28 ABs), and the SLG is .321 as well, compared to .543 for righties. Since we’re looking for power/extra bases in DFS, and being a lefty himself, this is a split to take with a grain of salt. Looking over at Irvin though, coincidentally he’s allowing a .321 batting average too, but to righties, and it’s a larger sample size (81 ABs). All 5 HR he’s allowed were from the right side; in fact, every extra base hit he’s allowed were to righties (5 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR). So what do we do?
- Matt McLain – hitting .325 on the year after a 4-for-5 day at the plate Sunday, all four of which went for extra bases. He’s slashing .350/.675/1.025 against lefties, versus .295/.429/.802 against righties.
- Nick Senzel – Senzel isn’t playing every day right now, but the Reds will likely find a place for him in the lineup tomorrow since he’s slashing .429/.673/1.145 against LHP. He’s got 3 HR off LHP in 49 AB this year, and just 2 off RHP in 129 AB.
- Elly de la Cruz – his numbers against lefties aren’t good, just 3-for-17 (.176), but those numbers should get better as the sample size increases. And if you think the Reds can chase Irvin early, then the more chances de la Cruz might get against some right-handed pitchers. He’s 20-for-47 (.426) against RHP, with half of those hits going for extra bases. Plus he’s a threat to steal a base and score.
- Stack – those three guys above
- Pivot – besides the fact that Senzel isn’t playing every day, he’s ice cold in June (5-for-34, .147). Now those were likely mostly versus righties, otherwise his numbers against lefties wouldn’t look so good, but if you’re hesitant to use him it’s understandable. You can pivot to Spencer Steer; he’s got 11 HR on the year, tied for second most on the team, and he hits both LHP and RHP equally well (.270 vs .271). Jake Fraley also has 11 HR on the year to go along with 47 RBI, but he’s allergic to LHP (1-for-24, .042). Fraley’s in the midst of a 5-game hit streak that includes 3 HR, and he’s been hitting well lately; he and TJ Friedl have both gone 6-for-18 (.333) over the last 5 games.
- OR just do a mini-stack with McLain and de la Cruz
- Contrarian – contrarian probably isn’t the right word here, and you wouldn’t even be going out on a limb here, but if you want to take the Orioles here, look at Anthony Santander and Adley Rutschman. Both hit lefties well, and Santander has the highest batting average for an Orioles hitter over the last 7 days (.385), including 5 home runs. Mateo hits lefties well too and might steal you a base, but his bat is cold right now. Austin Hays has been good all year, although that might be a product of some luck.
- Value – Tyler Stephenson is $4100 on DK while Rutschman will cost you $5400. Stephenson can still provide some pop, with 12 2B, 1 3B, and 5 HR on the year, and he also hits lefties well (22-for-72, .306).
Tigers (Boyd, LHP – 5.37 ERA) @ Rangers (Heaney, LHP – 3.98 ERA)
- Over/Under: 9.5
- First reaction – another matchup of LHP, and by the ERAs alone you give the edge to Andrew Heaney and the Rangers. The Rangers are also home, so you lean a little more that way. Detroit is toward the bottom of the barrel as far as team batting average goes, and Texas is at the top while also holding the top spot for highest scoring team in the league, so you start to think that the bulk of the offense is going to come from Texas.
- Josh Jung – Jung is having a great rookie season, hitting .274 with 15 HR and 44 RBI. He’s also slashing .338/.662/1.035 vs LHP, hitting a HR per 12 at-bats (hitting a HR per 24 at-bats against righties).
- Adolis Garcia – Garcia hits LHP slightly better (.279 vs .257 against RHP), but he’s been hitting consistently all season (.257 in April, .248 in May, .259 in June) and the power (17 HR) and RBI (60) opportunities will be there hitting in the middle of this potent lineup.
- Corey Seager – Seager’s cooled a little of late, collecting 3 hits in his last 17 at-bats, and he hasn’t hit a homer since 6/17 (8 games ago), but despite that he’s still hitting .380 in June, and his splits are nearly identical on the season (.350 vs LHP and .349 vs RHP). Seager could be due for a breakout here.
- Stack – reviewing this roster, you see why they are the highest scoring team; they all seem to hit lefties and righties well, all have at least a little pop, there’s guys that hit from both sides of the plate, there’s base stealers, all of it. Those three targets above are probably the stack for the reasons listed, but also because you’d have the arguable front-runner for AL ROY and likely All-Star (Jung), the MLB RBI leader (Garcia), and the AL batting average leader if he had enough at-bats to qualify (Seager).
- Pivot – the lazy man’s pivot would be Marcus Semien for one of those guys listed above. He’s been a consistent contributor for the bulk of the season, has had multiple double-digit hit streaks this year, is 5-for-10 his last two games, and can hit both lefties and righties well (.287 vs .275). But that’s too easy. Maybe instead of punting on catchers this time, go with one that has 11 HR and 55 RBI on the year. Go with one that is a switch hitter and can mash lefties (20-for-57, .351, 6 2B, 1 HR), yet still very competent vs righties (51-for-194, .263, 11 2B, 10 HR). Go with the Ranger that has the highest batting average over the last 7 days (20 at-bats minimum) at .333 (7-for-21) with a double, 2 HR, and 6 RBI. Go with Jonah Heim. Heck, use them all if you can.
- Contrarian – whether it’s Classic or Showdown on DK, you and everyone else will be on the Rangers. So who can get it done on Detroit? Heaney was good last time out, pitching 5 scoreless innings until Andrew Vaughn and lefty-killer Luis Robert Jr. got to him in the 6th inning, hitting back-to-back solo HR. Most of the Tigers hitters haven’t seen Heaney before, so there’s no history to go off of, although veteran Jonathan Schoop is 2-for-6 with a HR off him. Looking at this roster you see the futility and why they aren’t very good, but Kerry Carpenter has been somewhat of a bright spot (maybe a dim spot?), hitting .275 on the year in 120 at-bats, with 8 doubles and 6 HR. He’s hitting .353 in June (18-for-51), so if you are in a pinch you could use him if he’s playing. If you’re wondering, he’s 3-for-8 off lefties this year (so likely sits against them since he’s a lefty himself). And maybe one of these days Spencer Torkelson will turn into what the Tigers hoped he’d be, so maybe today’s the day. He hasn’t been good and is ice cold, 3-for-33 over his last 8 games, but if there’s a silver lining he’s 14-for-53 (.264) against lefties, so there’s that.
- Value – as mentioned above, Jonah Heim leads the Rangers in highest batting average over the last 7 days, but Ezequiel Duran is actually tied for the lead. He too is batting .333 over that stretch (8-for-24), including a double, a triple, and a HR. Hitting at the bottom of the lineup (which sadly gets you fewer ABs and isn’t a great strategy for DFS), Leody Taveras has quietly been putting together a solid season, hitting .298 which is 10th best in the MLB, and providing a solid .827 OPS. He can hit LHP and RHP well, with .305/.295 splits.
Brewers (Rea, RHP – 4.88 ERA) @ Mets (Verlander, RHP – 4.50 ERA)
- Over/Under: 8.5
- First reaction – you see Verlander’s name and skip on to the next matchup because it’s Verlander. He’s dominant, right? Not so much this year. With a 4.50 ERA and a strikeout rate that is less than a K per 9, it’s not the Verlander of old. He does have that capability still, there’s just a wild inconsistency now. Here are the earned run totals on the season (first outing to latest outing): 2-1-6-1-6-1-4-1-4. I suppose by this pattern he’s due for an outing where he only allows 1 earned run. He’s at home too where he’s been better, and Rea has almost a 5-handle ERA, so the Mets probably have the edge here. Keep an eye on the weather though, there’s rain in the forecast (but remember that humidity is good for hitting a ball further).
- Francisco Lindor – there isn’t a whole lot to sink your teeth into in this matchup, but at least Lindor has a .333 average (7-for-21) over the last 7 days, with 2 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, and 5 runs scored. Maybe this is a bit of his earlier season bad luck turning around. Rea also uses a cutter about 24% of the time, and per BaseballSavant.com, Lindor produces the highest Run Value of any Mets hitter versus that pitch.
- Stack – again, not a lot to love here, but you’ll probably look to use Pete Alonso who belted his 24th HR Sunday, and maybe Brandon Nimmo who has been hitting for average and a little bit of power all year (.283, 8 HR). He’s got a mini 4-game hit streak going, and of the Mets hitters he produces the highest Run Value per BaseballSavant.com against the 4-seam fastball, which Rea uses about 22% of the time.
- Pivot – without a lot to love there’s not a lot to pivot to. Brett Baty and Tommy Pham are both hitting over .300 the last 7 days, although Baty isn’t an everyday player, but he does at least give you a lefty-righty matchup. Starling Marte has been useful at times this season too, and might steal you a base (20 SB in 2023).
- Contrarian – if you want to go with a Brewer it’s probably going to be Willy Adames, who has the highest batting average for a Brewer over the last 7 days (.292, with a couple HR and 6 RBI), or Christian Yelich. Yelich is batting .313 in June and riding a mini 4-game hit streak.
- Value – Francisco Alvarez. Despite his 12 HR on the season, which ties him for 2nd place in all of baseball among catchers, he’s one of the cheaper options on the board at DK ($3600, vs Rutschman @ $5400).
Twins (Gray, RHP – 2.56 ERA) @ Braves (Strider, RHP – 3.93 ERA)
- Over/Under: 8.5
- First reaction – Pitchers Duel. A pitcher who can limit damage versus a strikeout machine. Sonny Gray hasn’t allowed more than 3 earned runs in any of his 15 starts, and just 2 HR all year. Spencer Strider has shown he’s human a couple times recently, allowing 8 earned runs to the Mets on 6/8 and 5 earned to the lowly Tigers on 6/14, but was back to his old self 6/20 against the Phillies, going 6 strong innings, allowing just 1 earned run on 8 hits, 0 walks, and 9 K. Guess which offense “leads” the league in most strikeouts per game: The Minnesota Twins. You might have to pay up for Strider here and look to save money elsewhere, the matchup is too juicy.
- Matt Olson – if you think this will be a pitchers duel then there won’t be much to target, but Olson is 2-for-5 off of Gray in his career (zero strikeouts), and is tied for the MLB lead in HR with 25. He’s 2nd in RBI with 60 and holds the 14th best OPS at .890. He just went 5-for-13 (.384) in the Cincinnati series, with a double, FOUR home runs, EIGHT RBI, SIX runs scored, and 2 walks in a THREE game series. His splits have been a bit disheartening to date, .190 vs LHP and .255 vs RHP, but Gray is NOT a LHP, so you should feel fine firing up the Braves firstbaseman.
- Ronald Acuna Jr.– there’s a little history here, with Acuna going 2-for-7 off of Gray in his career, with a double and 2 strikeouts. But with Acuna having an MVP-caliber season, batting over .300 versus both lefties and righties, and providing speed on the basepaths, he can be used in any lineup any time.
- Stack – you could use just Olson and Acuna as mini-stack, but just know they will cost you. You could add Eddie Rosario, who doesn’t have great career numbers against Gray (3-for-15, 2 K), but has the highest average of any Braves hitter over the last 7 days with a minimum of 12 at-bats (.429, 6-for-14, 5 walks).
- Pivot – Austin Riley has heated up a bit, although that’s par for the course in 2023 where he’s had stretches of hot and cold. He’s 7-for-21 (.333) over the last 7 days, with 2 HR, 8 RBI, and 8 runs scored.
- Contrarian – doesn’t seem like a smart play, but maybe if you are going with a longshot lineup to win some big money, you could throw in Ryan Jeffers who 8-for-12 over his last 4 games, including 3 doubles. Royce Lewis has been hot, hitting .458 (11-for-24) over the last 7 days, including a double, 2 HR, 4 RBI, and 5 runs scored. Max Kepler too could be serviceable, going 6-for-16 (.375), with 3 HR and 5 RBI over the last 7 days. And of course, if they could somehow find a way to put a barrel on a ball, Carlos Correa and/or Byron Buxton could hit you a HR off a 100 mph Strider fastball.
- Value – Kevin Pillar is a cheap option in the OF who has a ton of history versus Gray, going 7-for-27 in his career. There aren’t any extra base hits hidden in there, but in 27 at-bats he’s struck out just 1 time. So if you’re looking for someone who can put bat to ball, that could be Pillar, just make sure he’s in the lineup.