Baseball is one of my favorite sports for DFS. The scoring is far less predictable than it is in sports like basketball and football, making it ideal for guaranteed prize pools.
This season, I’m going to help walk you through each slate on Tuesday and Friday to help identify some possible leverage spots to take advantage of in guaranteed prize pools.
To help, I’ll be leaning on the vast array of FantasyLabs tools and metrics, including the Player Models, Trends Tool, and projected ownership. I’ll also be utilizing Derek Carty’s BAT X Projections, which are now available as an add-on within our models.
With that in mind, let’s dive into Friday’s 13-game main slate.
MLB DFS Chalk Pitchers
- Sean Manaea ($10,000 on DraftKings, $9,700 on FanDuel)
- Shane Bieber ($9,000 on DraftKings, $8,600 on FanDuel)
- Jon Gray ($5,500 on DraftKings, $7,100 on FanDuel)
The pitching ownership on Friday’s slate is expected to be heavily condensed between these three arms. Manaea and Bieber should dominate the ownership on the high end, while Gray should absorb most of the ownership on the bottom.
Manaea has been solid in his first year with the Padres. He’s striking out a career-best 10.1 batters per nine innings, and he’s pitched to a 3.73 FIP. His Statcast data leaves a bit to be desired – his 33.6% hard-hit rate is the 13th-worst mark among qualified starters – but he’s still posted an average Plus/Minus of +2.35 through his first eight outings.
He benefits from an excellent matchup Friday vs. the Pirates, who have been one of the worst teams in baseball this season. They rank 22nd in wRC+ vs. southpaws, and their implied team total of 2.9 runs is the lowest mark on the slate. Manaea is also a -210 favorite, and players with comparable Vegas data have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +3.35 on DraftKings (per the Trends tool).
Bieber isn’t quite as expensive as Manaea, and his Vegas data isn’t quite as impressive. However, Bieber arguably has an even stronger matchup vs. the Tigers. They rank dead last in wRC+ vs. right-handers this season, and they also own the sixth-highest strikeout rate.
There were questions about Bieber’s effectiveness at the start of the season. His average fastball velocity was down, and his results during Spring Training were disastrous. That said, he’s started to look like the Bieber of old recently. He’s racked up 17 strikeouts over his past two starts while allowing just three earned runs over 13 innings. One of those outings was against the Tigers, and he finished with 26.95 DraftKings points despite not getting the win bonus. If his offense can give him a bit of run support on Friday, Bieber has the potential to be the highest-scoring pitcher on the slate. He leads today’s starters in K Prediction despite ranking eighth in DraftKings pricing.
We’ve seen some soft pricing on DraftKings recently, and Gray is the most recent pitcher to be priced way below what he should be. Gray hasn’t been particularly effective in his first year with the Rangers, pitching to a 5.14 ERA over 28 innings, but his advanced metrics look good. He owns a 3.32 FIP while striking out just under a batter per inning.
More important, Gray draws one of the best possible matchups Friday vs. the Athletics. Not only is their offense dreadful – they rank eighth in strikeout rate and 29th in wRC+ against right-handed pitchers – but Gray will get to face them in the cavernous Oakland ballpark. Only Cleveland’s ballpark has been better at depressing home runs this season.
The A’s are currently implied for just 3.4 runs, and an opponent implied team total that low is a major outlier for a $5,500 pitcher. Gray’s salary implies him for just 8.27 DraftKings points, but he’s projected for closer to 20 in THE BAT X. Unsurprisingly, he leads all arms in terms of projected Plus/Minus and points-per-dollar production on Friday’s slate.
Ultimately, how you choose to approach these three pitchers is going to have a massive impact on your results. Personally, Gray seems too cheap to fade against the horrendous A’s, so I will have plenty of him in my lineups. However, I’ll be sure to pair him up with an overlooked SP1 or stack.
Manaea and Bieber are candidates to be underweight on. Both players grade out as strong options in our MLB Models, but there are other pitchers with the potential to outscore them.