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Diamond Data — 7 Stats to Know for MLB DFS Tuesday (5/3)

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Data in baseball runs deeper and is more comprehensive than any other sport. These are the seven stats I find most relevant to Tuesday’s DFS slate. 

 

1. The Cincinnati Reds are tied for 28th in all of baseball with 67 runs this year

The Reds are tied with the Detroit Tigers in runs, which is fitting because both offenses lack power and have first basemen in the twilight of their careers in Joey Votto and Miguel Cabrera. The Reds might be worse off than the Tigers, though, as they lost a lot of offense last offseason in Jesse Winker, Eugenio Suárez and Nick Castellanos. This is all to say that Brandon Woodruff is going to project well in this spot at home against the Reds. Woodruff has a 5.30 ERA on the season and went only four innings while allowing four earned runs against the Pittsburgh Pirates in his last start. Still, it’s difficult not to like Woodruff here, especially at his price on Draftkings ($8,900). 

2. Oakland Athletics hitters are fourth in all of baseball in strikeouts with 216

Oakland’s projected lineup has six players with a K% above 23% against left-handed pitching this season. Ryan Yarbrough will be making his first start of the season for the Rays here and while he’s not a big strikeout pitcher (career 19% K%) he’s very affordable on Draftkings at $5,600. Oakland’s offense is also in the bottom third in the league in runs scored (21st) so Yarbrough doesn’t need a big strikeout performance to pay off his price. 

(Build your MLB DFS lineup with our Optimizer!)

3. The Chicago White Sox are 25th in all of baseball with a .622 OPS (.219/.272/.350)

That’s not what we expected from the White Sox in the first month of the season, though the 1-5 in the lineup does hit for power against left-handed pitching going back to the start of last season. Drew Smyly has a 2.79 ERA after four starts and has completed five innings in two of those starts. He also has a 54% ground ball percentage and a 3% BB% this year. I don’t think Smyly is who the White Sox offense breaks out against and think he’s an interesting play at $8,600 on Draftkings. 

4. According to ESPN Park Factors, Camden Yards has gone from the easiest ballpark to homer at in 2021 to the most difficult in 2022

The deader ball and deeper outfield fence in left field at Camden Yards have combined to take away many extra-base hits already this year. The Orioles offense is also tied for first in all of baseball with 222 strikeouts on the season. This is all great news for Joe Ryan, who has a 1.17 ERA on the season. Ryan also has a 34% K% and 5% BB% against right-handed hitters since the start of last season and will face a heavy right-handed Orioles lineup. He’s expensive at $9,500 on Draftkings, but he’s one of my favorite pitchers on the slate. 

 

5. Michael Wacha has a 1.77 ERA in four starts

Michael Wacha had a great April, but not much changed for him skillswise. Wacha has a 3.95 xFIP this year and his xFIP was 3.91 last season when his ERA was 5.05. He’s been getting really lucky this year as his left on base percentage is 92% (career 73%) and his BABIP allowed is .154 (career .300). Those numbers will regress sooner rather than later and probably sooner as Wacha will have to deal with the Los Angeles Angels offense here (1st in all of baseball in runs). If anything, Wacha has actually gotten worse this year as his BB% is 11% compared to 5% last year. The Angels are one of my top stacks on this slate. 

6. Chris Flexen had a 4.56 xFIP last year

Chris Flexen’s xERA this year is 4.93. Somehow he has gotten away with a 3.61 ERA last year and a 3.38 ERA this year. Something just seems off here for a guy with a 16% K% and 5% BB% since the start of last year. Against right-handed hitters this season, Flexen has a 9% BB% and .196 ISO allowed. I would certainly be prioritizing Alex Bregman (.217 ISO against right-handed pitching this year) in my Astros stacks and Chas McCormick ($2,900) is also an interesting pick. 

(More: Check out Vlad Sedler’s look at the Friday starting pitching slate in The Opener.)

7. Over the past three seasons, Byron Buxton has a .333 ISO against changeups

Orioles starter Bruce Zimmermann relies on his changeup the most against right-handed hitters throwing it 44% of the time. That should be good news for Byron Buxton, who destroys changeups over the last three seasons. Jorge Polanco is the only other player in the lineup with an ISO over .200 against changeups over the last three years (.259). I would be prioritizing the two of them in my Twins stacks if going that route. 

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