FanDuel MLB: Sunday Targets

FanDuel MLB: Sunday Targets

This article is part of our FanDuel MLB series.

Welcome to the final day of the 2020 MLB season! Somehow, we've made it this far. The last day of the year looks set to be a wild one, as every game was scheduled to start between 3:05 p.m. ET and 3:15 p.m. EDT. That's no longer quite true, as the Tigers-Royals game has been moved up by two hours to account for potential rain later in the day - although the contest is still included on FanDuel's main slate as of writing.

Lineups and in-game management can potentially get weird with so many teams not playing for anything. Here's a breakdown of where every team sits, in case you just want to stick to the teams with a reason to go all-out for a win.

Teams already eliminated: Angels, Diamondbacks, Mariners, Mets, Nationals, Orioles, Pirates, Rangers, Red Sox, Rockies, Royals, Tigers

Teams whose playoff seed is locked in: Astros, Braves, Cubs, Dodgers, Padres, Rays

Teams in the playoffs but playing for seeding: Athletics, Blue Jays, Indians, Marlins, Reds, Twins, White Sox, Yankees

Teams still fighting for a playoff spot: Brewers, Cardinals, Giants, Phillies

I wouldn't stick to teams exclusively in the final category or final two categories, but I'd at least give them a minor boost.

Pitchers

Aaron Nola, PHI at TB ($10,900): Nola is the most expensive arm on the slate and doesn't face an easy matchup against a solid Rays' lineup, but he's also the best pitcher available. While his 3.06 ERA doesn't match his 2.37 mark from his standout 2018 season, there are a few reasons to believe he's reached a new level this year. Nola's 7.4 percent walk rate is right at his career mark, but his 33.5 percent strikeout rate blows away his previous career high of 27.0 percent set during that 2018 campaign. His xFIP suggests this is his best ever season, as his 2.75 mark represents the first time he's been below 3.00 in that category and ranks fourth among qualified starters.

Marco Gonzales, SEA at OAK ($8,800): The Mariners don't have anything to play for, but that also means they have little reason not to sit back and watch Gonzales try to continue his breakout age-28 campaign. He's always offered excellent control, but his 2.4 percent walk rate this season is the best mark of his career by over two ticks and the lowest mark among qualified starters. Gonzales is also striking out a career-best 23.1 percent of opposing batters, beating his previous career best by two points and topping his mark from last season by over six ticks. It's an impressive combination, and it's helped him to a 3.06 ERA. 

Seth Lugo, NYM at WAS ($7,700): Lugo always comes with some workload risk based on the fact he's been mostly a reliever for the last three seasons, and the eliminated Mets may not let him go too deep in this one. But if you're willing to accept the possible downside, you could get quite a strong performance for a relatively low salary. Lugo recorded more saves than starts over the previous two years, but injuries opened up a return to the rotation in late August and he's looked quite capable. His 4.32 ERA through six starts is mediocre, though that's a small enough sample that his one awful outing last week against the Phillies where he allowed six runs while recording five outs severely impacts on that number. Lugo's 32.4 percent strikeout rate and 5.6 percent walk rate as a starter is an excellent combination and provides him plenty of upside against a Nationals' team that has nothing to play for.

Nick Pivetta, BOS at ATL ($6,800): The Red Sox don't have anything left to play for, but Pivetta sure does as he needs to take advantage of every opportunity he can get to prove he's a capable big-league starter. He's yet to do that in four seasons despite clearly possessing at least a fair amount of talent. Through 401.1 career innings, Pivetta has posted a 5.45 ERA but his far better 4.02 xFIP is enough to suggest he might one day finally figure things out. He looked solid in his lone start for the Red Sox this season after being traded by the Phillies, striking out eight Orioles while allowing just one run in five innings. Pivetta's track record suggests he won't repeat that, but it may be worth a shot to see if he can for his low salary.

Top Targets

Rafael Devers, BOS at ATL ($3,700): Devers started the year quite poorly, posting a .183/.239/.317 slash line through his first 21 games. Since then, he's hitting .324/.369/.612 over 34 contests heading into Saturday's game. That's the level we know Devers is capable of, as he broke out to hit .311/.361/.555 last season. While his numbers over the past week suggest he may be falling into another slump, getting the platoon advantage against Bryse Wilson should help him close the season on a high note. Wilson's 4.26 ERA is decent enough, but it comes with a below-average 22.8 percent strikeout rate and a poor 12.3 percent walk rate and 33.3 percent groundball rate.

Adalberto Mondesi, KAN vs. DET ($3,400): Mondesi endured a horrendous start to the season, hitting a pitiful .179/.209/.231 through his first 37 games. The switch could hardly have been flipped more dramatically, as he went on to hit .346/.393/.603 over his next 20 contests. Getting on base meant Mondesi could finally show off his wheels, as he stole 16 bases over that stretch after swiping just eight during his early struggles. He should stay hot in the final game of the season with the Tigers starting Jordan Zimmermann, who's produced a 5.85 ERA over the last four years.

Bargain Bats

Brandon Belt, SFG vs. SDP ($3,200): The Giants need to win to have a shot at reaching the playoffs this season, while the Padres are locked into the fourth seed and are likely to avoid wasting their top pitchers. It's not clear yet who will pitch for them as of writing, but Belt is likely to be a strong, affordable option among a deep but expensive pool of first basemen as long as he's in the lineup. After seeing his wRC+ decline in three straight seasons, the 32-year-old suddenly reversed that trend this year by hitting an excellent .315/.429/.603. Statcast loves what Belt is doing, as his barrel rate has nearly doubled from 8.7 percent to 16.8 percent, helping him to a .643 xSLG.

Corey Dickerson, MIA at NYY ($2,800): Coming off a season where he hit .304/.341/.565, Dickerson's .259/.314/.407 slash line this season is quite disappointing. It's really been a tale of two seasons for the veteran outfielder, as he hit a poor .223/.292/.359 over his first 28 games but rebounded to hit .302/.341/.465 over his last 23. If that latter level is really who Dickerson is - and there's little reason not to believe that given his even better numbers from last season - he's a bargain. He'll lead off for a Marlins' team still fighting for the best possible seed in the playoffs and will earn the platoon advantage against rookie righty Clarke Schmidt. Schmidt is an exciting prospect, but has only made five total appearances above the Double-A level - including a pair of unimpressive relief outings this season.

Stacks to Consider

Phillies vs. Josh Fleming: J.T. Realmuto ($3,400), Jean Segura ($3,100), Alec Bohm ($2,900)

For Sunday's stacks, I would focus on teams that have something to play for who are facing opponents locked into positions. The Rays have clinched the top seed in the American League so they're unlikely to waste their best arms Sunday, while the Phillies are still in the fight for the eighth spot. Fleming has been fine, but nothing special over his first six big-league outings (four starts and two relief appearances). His strong 62.5 percent groundball rate and 5.6 percent walk rate have thus far offset a low 18.7 percent strikeout rate, helping him to a 3.42 ERA. Fleming wasn't a particularly interesting prospect, and his 4.92 FIP suggests he may not be all that interesting of a big leaguer. He probably won't pitch too deep into this contest, and the Rays probably won't risk their best relievers after him. The stack featured here avoids Bryce Harper against a southpaw and instead goes with three of the team's top right-handed bats.

Blue Jays vs. Keegan Akin: Bo Bichette ($3,700), Teoscar Hernandez ($3,600), Randal Grichuk ($2,900)

This game also features a team still fighting - albeit only for seeding and the bragging rights of finishing higher than the Yankees - versus a team with nothing on the line in the eliminated Orioles. Akin has actually been quite solid this season, as his 3.57 ERA comes with a 30.7 percent strikeout rate and a 3.72 xFIP. That comes in a very small sample of just 22.2 innings, and he was never much of a prospect posting an unimpressive 4.73 ERA for Triple-A Norfolk last season. Akin's track record to date isn't nearly long enough to prove he's an intimidating arm at the highest level. He's also unlikely to pitch particularly deep into this game, as he's topped out at 5.1 innings and the relievers the Orioles turn to in the middle innings are unlikely to be good. The stack listed here features a run of righties who should bat in a key spot in the order against the young lefty.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Erik Halterman plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: ehalt, FanDuel: ehalt.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erik Halterman
Erik Halterman is an MLB staff writer at RotoWire. He also covers KBO, NPB and CPBL daily fantasy contests.
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