MLB DFS Picks, Spotlight Pitchers & Top Stacks: SP1 George Kirby + Mariners Sluggers = Contrarian Combo (August 29)

Tuesday keeps the week rolling with a terrific 12-game featured slate that locks at 7:05 p.m. ET on DraftKings, FanDuel and Yahoo. As always, we will use Stokastic’s tools to help in identifying today’s MLB DFS top stacks, key pitchers and MLB DFS picks. For DraftKings, FanDuel and Yahoo MLB DFS picks tonight, look to RHP George Kirby as a strong option, with LHP Cole Ragans the best point-per-dollar play on DraftKings as a wingman. Of course, all eyes will be on Atlanta in Coors Field, but do give consideration to the Mariners, Orioles and Royals as promising offenses, with at least two being underrepresented in tournaments.

MLB DFS Picks: Spotlight Pitchers and Top Stacks

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MLB DFS Picks: Spotlight Pitchers

Main Slate Primary Pitching Target: RHP George Kirby vs. Oakland Athletics — 3.0 implied runs

First Pitch: 9:40 p.m. ET

  • DFS Salary: DraftKings $9,700 | FanDuel $10,800 | Yahoo $51

This has been a tremendous season for RHP George Kirby, who has compiled a 3.28 ERA, which is the second best among qualified starters, and his 3.28 ERA is just outside the top 10. This has him on the short list for American League Cy Young Award candidates, though he is a distant fourth per the data from Three starts ago, the 25-year-old pitched nine scoreless innings against the Baltimore Orioles in front of the T-Mobile crowd that was honoring Mariner legend Felix Hernandez. Unfortunately, the game ended in a 1-0 loss in the 10th inning. Across his two ensuing starts, the young ace was roughed up a bit, allowing a 5.40 ERA in 11.2 innings, though his 3.62 FIP and 11 strikeouts indicate that he was still solid underneath the superficial stats. Kirby is at a career high in innings, but the matchup against the anemic A’s offense is a desirable one.

Oakland has scored the fewest runs in the league over the last 30 days while averaging 2.96 per tilt. During this same stretch, Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia and Seattle have all scored at least twice as many runs. The projected lineup for the Athletics has a 26.1% strikeout rate against right-handed hurlers. If Kirby is able to mitigate the power from Seth Brown, Zack Gelof and Brent Rooker, he should be in line for a quality start and have a good chance for the victory bonus, as the Mariners are -325 home favorites.

For those who are not interested in what should be the most popular pitcher on the slate, differentiation can be found via RHP Pablo Lopez against a revamped Cleveland Guardians team that has a projected lineup proffering a 21.3% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching this season. That is a far cry from when the lineup featured Josh Bell, Josh Naylor and Amed Rosario instead of Ramon Laureano, Kole Calhoun and Gabriel Arias.


Evening Slate Pitching Target: LHP Cole Ragans vs. Pittsburgh Pirates — 4.2 implied runs

First Pitch: 8:10 p.m. ET

  • DFS Salary: DraftKings $6,000 | FanDuel $6,600 | Yahoo $43

The evening sub-slate is loaded with appealing pitching options, and RHP Corbin Burnes in Chicago and his counterpart LHP Justin Steele are standing out. This duo also warrants strong consideration on the featured slate, though with an Atlanta squad boasting a 7.6 implied run total in Coors Field, we need some salary savings.

Earlier this season, Texas traded LHP Cole Ragans to the Royals in exchange for reliever RHP Aroldis Chapman. Ragans was a first-round selection in the 2016 MLB Draft, right out of high school. Unfortunately, after undergoing Tommy John surgery in March of 2018, he re-injured his elbow, requiring a second procedure. His development was further slowed by the cancellation of the 2020 MiLB season. In 2021, five years after he was drafted, Ragans finally saw action in Double-A. Last year, the persistent pitcher worked at Double-A, Triple-A and made it to The Show, though the results at the highest level were not particularly pretty.

This season, Ragans has 10.83 strikeouts per nine innings between his time in Texas and now Kansas City, though the 3.66 walks per nine innings are still concerning. The Royals have him throwing his slider more, which has improved his swinging strike rate. Of course, teams will be looking to adjust to this new approach, but the results so far have been promising, and tonight’s matchup is a good one.

The Pirates have a lineup loaded with rookies, and as such, they have very little experience against top-shelf pitching. Even Ragans is going to look like an ace to Josh Palacios, Liover Peguero and Alika Williams, who have just shy of 100 collective plate appearances against southpaws in the majors. The projected Pittsburgh lineup has a 30% strikeout rate against lefties this season, which makes Ragans a very appealing fantasy-point-per-dollar option, per the Stokastic Top Pitchers Tool.

It is interesting to see how proactive the Yahoo salary algorithm was in assigning Ragans a $43 cap hit that essentially prices him out of contention tonight. It makes far more sense to go to Burnes ($40) and Steele ($42) at comparable salaries.

Late Slate Pitching Target: RHP Alex Cobb vs. Cincinnati Reds — 3.6 implied runs

First Pitch: 9:45 p.m. ET

  • DFS Salary: DraftKings $6,800 | FanDuel $7,900 | Yahoo $32

Despite looking frisky on Friday and Saturday in Arizona when the Cincinnati bats rallied for 16 runs, the team is mired in skid, having lost four of the last five games. Tonight it will be going against RHP Alex Cobb, who has had a mercurial season that saw him earn his first All-Star Game nomination, though in his last seven appearances, he has allowed four or more runs four times.

Cobb does a fantastic job of inducing ground balls, as evidenced by his 59.4% rate over his last 1,200 batters faced. He gets just enough strikeouts to be interesting when everything is going his way, and 90 pitches is a reasonable game-to-game baseline for his workload. The Reds are seeing a major ballpark downgrade, which is also contributing to a sub-4.0 implied run total.

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MLB DFS Picks: Top Stacks

Main Slate Primary Target: Baltimore Orioles vs. RHP Jesse Scholtens — 5.9 implied runs

First Pitch: 7:05 p.m. ET

In his last start, RHP Jesse Scholtens was a recommended SP2 option for his rock-bottom salary and it being a short slate. Tonight we are flipping that script and going against the inconsistent youngster by focusing on the Baltimore bats. Currently, the Orioles have a 5.8 implied run total, and while that is well off the 7.6 for Atlanta in Coors Field tonight, the O’s are a strong countermove against the field.

Scholtens is a 29-year-old MiLB journeyman who has 14 relief appearances and seven starts in The Show, all coming this season. The pitching version of Crash Davis began his career in 2016 with the San Diego Padres after trying his hand at two different colleges in his first three years out of high school. He does not bring much in the way of strikeouts and looks like he is slated as a back-of-the-rotation innings eater if he is going to stick in the majors.

Looking at the projected lineup for the Batters of Birdland, there is a lot of green in the power columns when facing right-handed pitchers. Anthony Santander and Gunnar Henderson lead the way, with switch-hitting catcher Adley Rutschman a tick behind. Ryan Mountcastle and Ryan O’Hearn are a solid righty-lefty combination in the heart of the order, and both Austin Hays or Cedric Mullins are favorable candidates to complete full stacks.

Evening Slate Target: Kansas City Royals vs. RHP Luis L. Ortiz — 5.1 implied runs

First Pitch: 8:10 p.m. ET

The Stokastic Top Stack Tool likes this matchup for the Royals against RHP Luis L. Ortiz and the Pittsburgh bullpen. The Pirates had a travel day on Monday, so they should have fresh arms and could elect to go with an “opener” this evening. Of course, that is all window dressing as long as Ortiz is earmarked for most of the work. If Ortiz does not end up going on Tuesday, he likely will be on the mound in some form or fashion on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old is a top-5 prospect for the Pirates and just inside the top 100 for most industry sheets. After back-to-back disappointing outings at the end of June and the beginning of July, Ortiz was sent back down to Triple-A to gain more experience, though he was shaky in his return to The Show last Wednesday. All told, in his last three big league starts, he has an unsightly 11.91 ERA, 9.98 FIP and a .407 batting average against with five round-trippers allowed in just 11.1 innings.

Sadly, the best Kansas City batsmen are swinging the stick from the right side of the plate, but there is plenty to work with here, as Ortiz does not exactly shut down fellow righties. MJ Melendez has worked out of his early-season malaise and produced a .433 wOBA and a .324 ISO in his last 73 opposite-handed opportunities. Switch-hitter Drew Waters has also been outstanding with an unexpected .343 wOBA and a .302 ISO in his last 61 plate appearances against righties. Though he has only 329 at-bats over the last two seasons, it looks like the switch-hitting centerfielder is going to play himself into a starting role for next season.

Bobby Witt Jr. is a mainstay in all Kansas City stacks, with red-hot youngster Nelson Velazquez worth a flier. Maikel Garcia is better against lefties, but at the top of the order and a threat to nab a bag or two if he gets on base, he has a few paths to contribute meaningful fantasy production. Elder statesman Salvador Perez and second-year second baseman Michael Massey can be used to round out full stacks tonight.

Late Slate Target: Seattle Mariners vs. LHP Ken Waldichuk— 5.3 implied runs

First Pitch: 9:40 p.m. ET

Dang, there is no respect for LHP Ken Waldichuk, with the Mariners being assigned a 5.3 implied run total that is 0.2 higher than last night when LHP Kyle Muller was on the mound. To his credit, Waldichuk has shown moments of brilliance, but he has a long way to go before becoming a consistent frontline starter. In his last two starts, he has ceded combined five home runs in games against the Orioles and in Chicago against the White Sox. In his last five starts without an opener, the 25-year-old southpaw has allowed 14 earned runs in 25.1 innings, with a manageable eight walks and respectable 27 strikeouts.

Seattle continued winning, with a 7-0 victory last night now giving them the upper hand in 12 of the last 13 games. The lefty-mashers continue to be Teoscar Hernandez, unsung Dylan Moore and, of course, the otherworldly Julio Rodriguez. Full stacks can be crafted with the likes of Cal Raleigh, Eugenio Suarez and Ty France, depending on positional need and salary cap constraints. The M’s are a fine option on the featured slate as well.

Other DFS and Sports Wagering Opportunities

Tonight we can turn to Mark Canha in the sports wagering market, even in a tough matchup against LHP Justin Steele. Currently Canha has +175 line to record over 0.5 runs. Looking at the True Odds feature on OddsShopper, we can see the +165 line for him to surpass this milestone means this line is inefficient by close to 4%. While there is a 38% probability that Canha will score tonight, the positive line, combined with the inefficient market, makes this a wager to target.

Canha has always had great success against lefties, and this season in 134 plate appearances he has a .347 wOBA and a .200 ISO. While he could always score a run with a round-tripper, it is more likely he can accomplish the first leg of the process by getting on base. Then it will be up to one of his teammates behind him to bring him home, with Willy Adames and Joey Wiemer the most likely to accomplish that via an extra-base hit.

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Final Thoughts for Tuesday, August 29 | MLB DFS Picks

Things seem clear once more, with only Baltimore, Denver and Philadelphia looking at potential precipitation. All eyes will be on Coors Field today, with the Atlanta bats appearing to be the preferred option in all formats. Make sure to check in with your favorite DFS weather resources closer to first pitch for an up-to-date forecast.

Before you finalize your MLB DFS picks, check out today’s Stokastic MLB Deeper Dive and Live Before Lock Shows, at 4:45 p.m. ET, brought to you by Caesars Sportsbook. New users sign up through this link or use Promo Code: AWEGET and make a $50 first wager to receive FIVE $50 bonus bets, earning the first IMMEDIATELY and one more on each of the next four Mondays. Full details here.

Eric MacPherson
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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