This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
Monday's seven-game main slate is the polar opposite of the slate I covered for Opening Day in terms of pitching, as this set of games is comprised entirely of back-end starters. This makes it a bit challenging to find value plays, but there is at least one priced-down arm we can look at that may fly under the radar.
Aaron Civale, CLE vs CWS ($9,700) - Civale gets the call among the high-priced options on Thursday's slate, primarily due to the South Sider's struggles with right-handed pitching in 2019. The White Sox finished the year as a bottom-5 team against orthodox hurlers according to wOBA, while striking out a blistering 26 percent of the time. Civale had an excellent year with Cleveland (2.34 ERA, four homers allowed in 57.2 innings) and while he may not blow opposing hitters away, the 25-year-old features three above-average pitches, and won't have to throw the ball in the hitter-friendly environment of U.S. Cellular Field. The White Sox starting lineup has stayed largely intact since last season, giving us a pretty good idea of what we can expect from the offense.
Adrian Houser, MIL at PIT ($8,300) - Houser might have put up a pedestrian 3.72 ERA last year, but his peripherals show us a bit more to get excited about when looking at the 27-year-old. Houser profiles as a strikeout/groundball pitcher, as evidenced by the 25 percent strikeout rate and 53 percent groundball rate he posted in his 111.1 innings. While the Pirates did not strike out much last year, they hit the third-most ground balls in the league by percentage, which should give Houser an opportunity to control the game. Another thing to note is that Houser's fastball rated at 14 runs above average. The Pirates finished last year as a bottom-10 team against that pitch.
George Springer, HOU vs. SEA ($5,400) - Springer actually performed better against same-handed pitchers in 2019, as we can see from the .322 ISO and .407 wOBA he logged against right-handed hurlers in 354 at-bats. Kendall Graveman was once looked at as something of a sleeper pick in fantasy circles, but the groundballer didn't throw a pitch in 2019 while recovering from Tommy John surgery and was tattooed with a 7.60 ERA in 34.1 innings in 2018.
Jose Ramirez, CLE vs. CWS ($5,000) - For all the talk of Ramirez's struggles in 2019, he finished the year with a more-than-respectable batting line. This is because of the incredible .412 ISO and .441 wOBA the 27-year-old posted over 165 at-bats in the second half. Dylan Cease can curiously be found near the top of the slate in terms of pitcher salary, but he finished 2019 allowing a .542 slugging percentage against left-handed hitters.
Eugenio Suarez, CIN vs. CHC ($4,600) - Suarez has a strange ability to fly under the radar at times despite the .301 ISO he put up from both sides of the plate in 2019. The third baseman was even stronger against left-handed pitching, notching a .406 wOBA in 123 at-bats. Meanwhile, Jon Lester allowed a .469 slugging percentage against right-handed hitters last year with a 4.48 xFIP in 134 innings.
Niko Goodrum, DET vs. KC ($4,300) - Goodrum is a switch hitter who fared far better from the right side of the plate in 2019 where he tallied a .388 wOBA and a 39 percent hard-contact rate in 97 at-bats. Mike Montgomery allowed a .350 wOBA against right-handed hitters in 2019 and was hammered away from Kauffman Stadium to the tune of an 8.19 ERA and .735 slugging percentage in 40.2 frames.
Yuli Gurriel, HOU vs. SEA ($3,700) - I hate to pick on Graveman twice in one article, but it's a bit mystifying that Gurriel is so cheap Thursday. Not only because of the deficiencies we highlighted in Graveman but also because Gurriel finished 2019 with a .244 ISO and a .376 wOBA against right-handed pitchers in 406 at-bats. While his placement in the batting order might not be ideal, Gurriel has more than enough ability to be given a shot at this price.
Scott Kingery , PHI at NYY ($3,600) - Kingery is a nice find at this price due to his strong platoon advantage in his matchup against J.A. Happ . Kingery posted a robust .268 ISO and a 56 percent (!) hard contact rate against left-handed pitchers over 123 at-bats in 2019. Happ's struggles last year can largely be traced back to his inability to keep right-handed hitters in the ballpark, as he allowed 28 homers to his opposite hand in 118.1 frames.
Stacks to Consider
All things considered, this stack is an absolute steal at these prices, as it includes two elite players and one powerful bat against right-handed pitching. Wacha is another once-promising pitcher who has fallen on hard times, as he closed 2019 having logged a 4.76 ERA and a 1.9 HR/9 rate in 126.2 innings. This stack is particularly good because Wacha was markedly worse against right-handed hitting, but there is plenty of room for the value portion, as Moreland tallied a .287 ISO against righty pitchers last year.
Cease's struggles and Ramirez's dominance in the second half of the season are highlighted above, but I'm returning to this game as a stack because I wonder if the high prices of everyone involved will make this a low-owned leverage play. If so, it's well-positioned to produce for an enterprising DFS player, as each hitter logged ISOs above .230 against right-handed pitching in 2019.