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MLB DFS Picks Friday 7/8: Spotlight Pitchers & Top Stacks Today

Eric MacPherson



Friday, July 8, brings the ruckus with a 14-game main slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET. Let’s get into the top MLB DFS picks today for pitchers and stacks for DraftKings and FanDuel daily fantasy baseball lineups.

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DraftKings & FanDuel MLB DFS Picks Today (7/8)

Main Slate: New York Yankees at RHP Connor Seabold — 5.3 implied runs

The Stokastic Top Stacks Tool along with everyone else is listing New York as the team to target tonight. Rookie Connor Seabold had a rough debut, allowing three round-trippers and seven earned runs in Toronto. One silver lining was the impressive seven strikeouts and only one walk. In his second effort, this time in Chicago against the Cubs, he was steady across four innings allowing only one of eight baserunners to score along with four strikeouts. Tonight will be a daunting effort against arguably the hottest team in baseball.

Anthony Rizzo (back) has not seen action since Sunday and Aaron Judge (lower leg soreness) was off on Thursday. Though the Pinstripes have been cagey about the status of Rizzo, Judge is expected to return to action on Friday. Josh Donaldson has homered in back-to-back games and, of course, Judge is leading the league with 30 and Rizzo (22) is tied for fifth — with Giancarlo Stanton (21) only one behind. Though it has been a down season for two-time batting champion D.J. LeMahieu as well as Joey Gallo, they can easily change the course of a game with one swing of the bat. If Rizzo remains out, that would open the door for Matt Carpenter to draw another start, plus we have not even gotten to switch-hitting Aaron Hicks or hot-hitting catcher Kyle Higashigosha. 

Evening Slate: Kansas City Royals vs. RHP Aaron Civale — 4.8 implied runs

Tonight, the Stokastic Top Batters Tool is identifying the Royals as solid one-off options and they are a full stack worth targeting on the evening slate. Aaron Civale has been a mess this season. Some of this is bad luck, while the rest seems to be a lack of talent. The underlying advanced metrics indicate that all is not lost, but expectations are certainly degrading quickly.

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Over his last 650 batters faced, Civale is allowing a .196 ISO to lefties and an absurdly high .227 ISO to same-handed batsmen. One downside of a Kansas City stack is that both Vincent Pasquantino and Hunter Dozier are first base eligible. Of course, by selecting the less popular option, additional differentiation from other KC backers is easily obtained. The top six in the order are all in play, though, on the main slate, one-offs or duos are the best approach. The preferred order based on price, potential production and projected popularity is Bobby Witt Jr., Whit Merrifield, M.J. Melendez and Andrew Benintendi.

Check out Eytan Shander’s Top 3 FREE MLB picks today. Eytan breaks down the best NRFI (no run first inning) picks and predictions for Friday.

Late Slate: Houston Astros at RHP Paul Blackburn — 4.7 implied runs

This has been a season of disparate outcomes for Paul Blackburn. In his last start, he blanked the Mariners for 6.1 innings. Yet, two weeks ago, they rousted him in the fourth inning after posting seven runs, along with two longballs. Houston is a far more dangerous offense than Seattle, so this looks like it could be a long — or short — night for Blackburn, depending on your perspective.

Lefties have been the bane of Blackburn. Since the start of last year, he has a subpar 18.7% strikeout rate while ceding a .198 ISO. Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker are two of the best in the game when they have the platoon advantage, and they are a find foundation for a full stack. Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Yulieski Gurriel are the other ‘Stros on the short list for tonight.

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Best MLB DFS Pitchers Today

Top Target: RHP Lucas Giolito vs. Detroit Tigers — 3.6 implied runs

  • DFS Salary: DraftKings $8,500 | FanDuel $8,600

In this matchup, we have Lucas Giolito’s down season playing the part of the irresistible force and the inability of the Detroit offense to produce against right-handed hurlers as the immovable object. Clearly, something has to give.

When Giolito was traded from Washington to Chicago as part of the Adam Eaton deal, he was a top pitching prospect. However, in his first season as a full-time starter, he was a disaster with a 6.13 ERA in 32 starts during the 2018 season.

In 2019, his performance was a complete 180 after talking with his high school coach and making some adjustments. It, of course, helps that his coach, Ethan Katz, was also a pitcher in The Show; and funny enough, later became the White Sox pitching coach. In any event, Giolito rolled through the next three seasons with a sub-3.50 ERA across 72 starts.

This season Giolito got off to a slow start and looked a little lost, despite not having any substantial changes in his pitch mix. Aside from throwing his slider 6-7% less than the prior year, with the difference applied evenly to his fastball and slider, things have looked similar. Mostly it has been bad luck with six different games resulting in a pair of home runs against the ace.

Fortunately, it appears that Giolito is on the upswing and over his last two outings, he held the Giants and Angels to just three runs and a dozen baserunners over 12 innings with a solid 13 strikeouts. It is worth taking a chance that this trend continues, particularly with tonight’s matchup and discounted salary.

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Secondary Target: RHP Sonny Gray vs. Texas Rangers — 3.2 implied runs

  • DFS Salary: DraftKings $9,800 | FanDuel $10,400

This looks like the year that Sonny Gray is putting it all together. Once known as “fraudulent” throughout the DFS world for his inconsistent performances with the Athletics and then Yankees, it seems that Gray is posting a career season in his 10th campaign.

While his strikeouts are down compared to his three seasons with the Reds, so are his home runs, walks and wild pitches. The roof should be closed in Texas tonight and the Rangers have been mostly mediocre this season against right-handed hurlers. There are a ton of pitching choices tonight and for perspective, if Chris Bassitt were not coming off a COVID-19 related layoff, he would be rated ahead of Gray.

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Wild Card Target: LHP Aaron Ashby vs. Pittsburgh Pirates — 3.3 implied runs

  • DFS Salary: DraftKings $7,400 | FanDuel $6,800

Tonight, Aaron Ashby is an excellent wild card across the various MLB DFS sites. On Saturday, he faced Pittsburgh in his return from the injured list and looked a little inconsistent. Though his mild forearm strain did not seem to impact him at all, he allowed two home runs. On the flipside he also had half a dozen strikeouts and that is tantalizing when combined with Friday’s salary. Across his 90.1 career innings in The Show, Ashby has an 11.2 strikeout-per-nine-innings rate. Though there are 15 relief appearances mixed in to his 28 outings, this rate has been fairly consistent.

Prior to his stint on the injured list, Ashby had thrown 91, 100, 93, 104 and then 79 pitches. In his return, he tossed 62, so it is not a stretch at all to expect something in the 80-ish range as a baseline projection tonight. The Pirates do have a collective .171 ISO against southpaws this season, but it is accompanied by a 26.9% strikeout rate which trails only Miami.

Other Pitching Options 

  1. LHP Shane McClanahan at Cincinnati Reds (Early)
  2. RHP Jose Urquidy vs. Oakland Athletics (Main, Late)
  3. RHP Chris Bassitt vs. Miami Marlins (Main, Bassitt first start after COVID-19)
  4. RHP Zac Gallen vs Colorado Rockies (Main, Late)
  5. LHP Blake Snell vs. San Francisco Giants (Main SP2, Late)

One-Off Hitters

  1. Ryan Mountcastle vs. LHP Reid Detmers (Main)
  2. Trevor Story vs. LHP Nestor Cortes (Main)
  3. Ke’Bryan Hayes at LHP Aaron Ashby (Evening)
  4. Wilmer Flores at LHP Blake Snell (Late)
  5. David Peralta vs. RHP Chad Kuel (Late)

Final MLB DFS Thoughts & MLB Weather Notes

Similar to yesterday, Baltimore and Cincinnati are carrying the most risk, though at this time it looks like a delay would be the biggest downside.

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Eric "EMac" MacPherson won the 2007 Fantasy Baseball grand prize (trip for two to the MLB All-Star game) in the Roto format on ESPN. He won again in 2008, this time in the H2H format. As one of the early adopters of daily fantasy sports, EMac has been providing content for baseball and basketball as well as both professional and college football since 2012 for a variety of websites including DraftKings Playbook, FanVice, RotoWorld, Daily Fantasy Bootcamp, and RotoGrinders. He is well into his third decade of fantasy sports and has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Follow him on Twitter @EMacDFS or contact EMac by emailing [email protected].

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