Daily Fantasy Rundown – April 11th, 2015
Welcome to Saturday’s edition of the Daily Fantasy Rundown with “leonem”, “dinkpiece” and “thenumbersguy”. Each day throughout the MLB season our daily MLB scouting reports will highlight the best top, value and cheap plays of the day based on the Daily Fantasy Industry’s pricing for salary cap games. The goal of our analysis is to help you improve consistency and become a better player long-term.
Please see Meteorologist Mark Paquette’s game by game weather forecasts below the Analysis.
Jonathan Lucroy (MIL) – (good hitter even without the platoon advantage and in a good matchup against a below average pitcher but there’s no need to pay up for a catcher in cash games tonight)
Miguel Montero (CHC) – Montero has an exceptional matchup tonight against the fly ball oriented Kyle Kendrick (38 percent fly ball percentage allowed to LHBs in the last few seasons). Despite his fly ball woes, Kendrick managed to allow a 0.97 HR/9 to LHBs in Philadelphia (nine percent home run per fly ball ratio since 2012), a measure that’s likely going to get worse at Coors Field (terrible park for pitchers). Montero has solid skills against RHP (.339 wOBA, 110 wRC+ since 2012) and he should hit sixth this evening. You won’t find a catcher with better contextual factors than Montero on this slate and even though he’s not an elite hitter, the skills are good enough against a pitcher that allows plenty of contact (only a 15 percent K rate against LHBs in the last three seasons) and provides good aerial opportunities in an elite hitting environment. His price point on FanDuel makes him an elite value on that particular site (gives you exposure to Coors Field and the price tag isn’t taking into account any of these contextual factors).
Additional catcher notes: Yasmani Grandal (SD) is a next in line option to Miguel Montero. Grandal is much cheaper than Montero on DraftKings and even though he won’t give you any exposure to Coors Field, he’s playing in a great hitter’s environment (Chase Field) and has the platoon advantage against a rookie pitcher making his debut tonight. Jason Castro (HOU) will have the platoon advantage against Yovani Gallardo in a great hitting environment. The price tag is fair around the industry and there’s little to no opportunity cost at the catcher position. He’s a fine secondary value in cash game formats.
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) – Rizzo is the top overall play on this slate (regardless of position) and the contextual factors couldn’t get any better. Rizzo has displayed good skills against RHP since 2012 (.371 wOBA, .218 ISO) but those skills are better displayed when taking a look at his yearly progression. Let’s take a look at how his wOBA and ISO have developed (when having the platoon advantage) since 2012. 2012: .386 wOBA, .191 ISO; 2013: .345 wOBA, .202 ISO; 2014: .391 wOBA, .253 ISO. He’s 25 years old (hasn’t reached a peak level) and his yearly progression is phenomenal. In a matchup against the underwhelming Kyle Kendrick, who allows plenty of aerial opportunities to LHBs and the best hitting environment in MLB (Coors Field), Rizzo makes sense in all formats tonight.
Additional first base notes: This isn’t the norm but the opportunity cost of not playing Anthony Rizzo tonight is pretty high and therefore he deserves to be the only written play at first base. There are a few other first base options in good matchups and hitting environments but none carry Rizzo’s upside tonight. That list begins with Chris Davis (BAL), who’s a great value on sites that give him third base eligibility (DraftKings). Davis has the platoon advantage against a pitcher that’s making his first career start in a hitter’s park (Camden Yards, an extreme hitter’s park). We’re all aware of Davis’ awesome power profile and even though he strikes out often (makes him a bit less valuable on a site like FanDuel), a site that rewards power (DraftKings) makes him a viable next in line option to Anthony Rizzo. Prince Fielder (TEX) has a matchup against Roberto Hernandez (1.52 home runs per nine since 2012) at Globe Life Park in Arlington (great hitting environment). It’s tough to come up with a baseline for Fielder, who underwent back surgery last season (his ISO has been declining rapidly since 2012) but his solid power skills meshes well when he holds the platoon advantage against a below average pitcher. Fielder is one of my favorite tournament options around the industry (better in multi-entry tournaments). Adam Lind (MIL) is still in the cash game conversation. He has the platoon advantage against Vance Worley (allowed a 25 percent line drive rate to LHBs in the last couple of seasons). Justin Morneau (COL) has a L/R matchup against Jason Hammel and even though Hammel is a solid pitcher, he allows a ton of aerial opportunities to LHBs (39 percent fly ball rate, 1.27 home runs per nine and 23 percent line dive rate since 2012). Like Lind, Morneau is also in the cash game conversation around the industry but my preference is still Anthony Rizzo.
Neil Walker (PIT) – Walker came through for us in a big way last night, hitting two doubles and stealing a base en route 20 Fantasy point performance on DraftKings. His price has already come up but the matchup (still has the platoon advantage and should bat cleanup) remains favorable. Jimmy Nelson is a well below average pitcher and provides a good amount of aerial opportunities (38 percent fly ball rate) in a hitter’s park. It’s a big park shift for Walker and the Pirates, who remain a good offense to target facing a below average pitcher. However, the price points now show these contextual factors and Coors Field remains the top offensive environment to target this evening. Walker is a cash game play on DraftKings due to having third base eligibility but we will have to punt the middle infield positions in order to get exposure to the top situations tonight. Walker is a better asset to own in tournaments.
Jace Peterson (ATL) – Peterson should be back in the starting lineup for the Braves and will leadoff or hit second. Getting exposure to Coors Field while attempting to start top tier starting pitchers will be near impossible (on DraftKings) but a punt play like Peterson needs to be a priority. Peterson isn’t a great hitter but the lineup position as well as his cheap price point makes the top situations become a reality. If you ignore Peterson as a punt play, there wouldn’t be enough salary relief options elsewhere to get exposure to the top situations.
Additional second base notes: Tommy La Stella (CHI) has an exceptional price tag on FanDuel, making him the top value play at second base on that particular site (secondary value play on DraftKings). La Stella usually hits towards the bottom of the Cubs lineup but he gives you exposure to the top offensive environment at an investable price point. La Stella will have the platoon advantage against Kyle Kendrick. Howie Kendrick (LAD) has been hitting cleanup for the Dodgers, which is great for his overall value despite not having the platoon advantage tonight. Kendrick is a good tournament play and the park shift from Dodger Stadium to Chase Field is favorable.
Troy Tulowitzki (COL) – Much like Kershaw, the last time Troy Tulowitzki wasn’t the top play at this position he was either hurt or the Rockies weren’t playing that day. Even without the platoon advantage, Tulowitzki has a cool .402 wOBA and .224 ISO since 2012. When you take into account that he’s a shortstop, it’s easy to see why he’s always the top play; there’s no other shortstop that comes close to his skills (Hanley Ramirez against southpaws is another one that stands out). He doesn’t have the platoon advantage tonight and Jason Hammel is a decent pitcher but the aerial opportunities he provides (39 percent fly ball rate, 1.27 home runs per nine against RHBs since 2012) meshes well with Tulowitzki’s skills. I would still prioritize Anthony Rizzo in cash games and Colorado LHBs (Carlos Gonzalez and Corey Dickerson) but if you want to play Tulowitzki in cash games at a barren shortstop position (you either play Tulowitzki or punt the position), it’s more than just a viable route. He’s a better value on FanDuel where he fits easily even if you play Kershaw.
Additional shortstop notes: Jose Reyes (TOR) is always in consideration for tournaments (leading off for a potent offense). The Blue Jays offense faces Ubaldo Jimenez at Camden Yards (great hitting environment) and even though Jimenez isn’t a terrible pitcher, his lack of command at times makes opposing offenses attractive. A viable punt play at the shortstop position is Everth Cabrera (BAL). Alejando De Aza will likely leadoff again (Cabrera was leading off yesterday while De Aza was out) and even though Cabrera will likely move down in the batting order, his price tag is fair around the industry. When healthy, Cabrera can steal bases (stole 44 bases in 2012, 37 bases in 2013) and he’s going against a RHP tonight. Another viable punt play at shortstop on DraftKings is Yunel Escobar (WSH). I don’t know why he’s been hitting second but his price tag isn’t reflecting this. His matchup is awful (Cole Hamels) despite having the platoon advantage and Escobar isn’t a good hitter but I’ll take the savings and the lineup position.
Nolan Arenado (COL) – Admittedly, I’m in love with Arenado. Not because he’s from Puerto Rico (well maybe just a tad) but rather because his progression as a player is trending in the right direction, particularly against RHP (he’s always been above average against southpaws). Arenado was awful against RHP in his first season in the majors, accumulating a .285 wOBA , .114 ISO and 29.5 percent fly ball rate (351 at bats). Last season (320 at bats against RHP), Arenado improved those skills (.339 wOBA, .118 ISO) while also increasing his fly ball rate (42 percent) and hence a higher home run per fly ball ratio (8.7 percent last season compared 6.9 percent in 2013). These are all improving skills against RHP and he’s so young (23 years old) that those skills haven’t matured just yet. Tonight he gets Jason Hammel (provides plenty of aerial opportunities) in the best hitting environment (Coors Field), making him a viable option in all formats. . Like shortstop, third base is barren tonight (other than Chris Davis on DraftKings) and that makes Arenado viable for cash games. I would rather have Tulowitzki or the LHBs from the Rockies outfield but securing Arenado at a position that lacks value plays in the best hitting environment isn’t a bad idea.
Additional third base notes: Chris Davis (BAL) and Neil Walker (PIT) are third base eligible on DraftKings and are good values on that particular site (both will have the platoon advantage in great hitting environments). Aramis Ramirez (MIL) won’t have the platoon advantage but he’s a solid hitter against RHP (.343 wOBA) and his price tag is fair around the industry. His matchup against Vance Worley is favorable (.338 wOBA allowed since 2012). If you need to punt the position and create salary relief, Jace Peterson (ATL) has third base eligibility on DraftKings and Mike Moustakas (KC) is hitting second and has the platoon advantage against a fly ball oriented pitcher. Both of these hitters aren’t good but their lineup position and price tags puts them in the conversation for cash games.
Carlos Gonzalez/Corey Dickerson (COL) – I sure hope that Walter Weiss’ lineup configuration yesterday stays untouched (Dickerson was the leadoff hitter, Gonzalez hit cleanup). Gonzalez and Dickerson get a matchup against Jason Hammel (39 percent fly ball rate, 1.27 home run per nine) and the aerial opportunities he provides bodes well for both of these hitters (Gonzalez has accrued a .396 wOBA and .262 ISO since 2012; Dickerson has accumulated a .398 wOBA and .252 ISO since 2013). Gonzalez and Dickerson are neck and neck in my outfield rankings (skill sets are awfully similar) and since fitting both won’t be possible (if playing Rizzo as well), I’ll diversify between the two around the industry. Gonzalez and Dickerson are in play in all formats.
Dexter Fowler/Chris Coghlan (CHI) – While Fowler and Coghlan aren’t priced as “values” on DraftKings, their prices aren’t accounting for any of the awesome contextual factors on FanDuel. Fowler (.347 wOBA, .152 ISO since 2012) and Coghlan (.316 wOBA in the last few seasons) aren’t particularly great hitters but facing Kyle Kendrick (at Coors Field certainly changes things. Fowler leads off for the Cubs offense and Coghlan usually hits fifth, which are great lineup positions in an offense that’s projected to do very well this evening (second highest team total). If you can’t pay up for Gonzalez or Dickerson, the next alternatives are Fowler and Coghlan.
Alejandro De Aza/Travis Snider (BAL) – The first thing to note here is that De Aza and Snider won’t give you exposure to the top offensive environment of this slate. However, their price points are fair around the industry and their lineup position (De Aza leads off, Snider was hitting third recently) makes them good value plays and next in line options to the outfielders playing in Coors Field. De Aza and Snider will carry the platoon edge against a young pitcher who’s making his first major league start of the season at Camden Yards. They’re viable value plays but I also view them as good tournament plays. I’m expecting this offense to be low owned in tournaments (because of Coors Field) and both of these outfielders have decent power skills.
Additional outfield notes: Feel free to add Matt Joyce (LAA) as a next in line option to the value plays above. He gets the platoon advantage against the below average Jeremy Guthrie and even though the hitting environment isn’t great, Joyce hits cleanup for the Angels against RHP. He’s at risk of losing an at bat later in the game (gets pinch hit for when a LHP is on the mound) but his price point mitigates some of this risk (particularly on DraftKings, where there’s a real lack of “value” outfielders due to the changes they’ve made to their pricing). Michael Taylor and Tyler Moore (WSH) are purely punt options on DraftKings. They don’t have a good matchup even though they have the platoon edge but their cheap price tags create necessary salary relief if you’re starting Kershaw and attempting to get some exposure to Coors Field. Dalton Pompey (TOR) has a nice price tag on FanDuel. He hit second yesterday for the Blue Jays and if remains in that lineup spot, I view him as a nice value that allows you to get exposure to another good offensive situation. George Springer and Chris Carter (HOU) are good tournament plays even though they don’t have the platoon advantage. They get a pretty sizeable park shift going into Globe Life Park in Arlington, which is good for their power skills. If Arismendy Alcantara (CHI) is able to get a spot anywhere from one to six in the starting lineup, he makes for a good value play on FanDuel. His speed upside translates on FanDuel since there’s no points taken away for getting caught stealing and I guarantee this will be the last time you hear this; he gives you exposure to Coors Field at a good price point. Shin-Soo Choo (TEX) and Leonys Martin (TEX) have investable price points on FanDuel. Texas has a team total of four (third highest total tonight) and both of these hitters are a part of the top of the lineup. They lag behind the Chicago outfielders in terms of expected value but they can be considered as next in line options on that specific site.
1) Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
2) Madison Bumgarner (SF)
3) Cole Hamels (PHI)
4) James Shields (SD)
5) Julio Teheran (ATL)
6) Yovani Gallardo (MIL)
7) Dillon Gee (NYM)
8) Doug Fister (WSH)
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) – I don’t remember the last time that the Daily Fantasy Rundown started without Kershaw as the top ranked pitcher. Usually a pitcher experiencing a negative park shift (going into Chase Field, a hitter friendly ballpark) gets a downgrade in value but not Kershaw. His ZiPS projected ERA is 2.17. Last season, he posted a career best 10.85 strike out rate and a minuscule 1.94 walk rate. Are you worried that he will face too many power RHBs tonight? Don’t be. He held RHBs to a .237 wOBA in the last two seasons. On FanDuel, it’s easy to fit Kershaw and get exposure to Coors field (top projected offenses). However, on DraftKings it’s nearly impossible to do this (due to their awesome pricing, which I’m fond of). The only way to realistically do it is by punting the second starting pitcher slot with Aaron Sanchez, who’s making his first major league start in a terrible pitching environment. It comes down to your risk tolerance, as Sanchez did flash some potential in the minors yet making his first career start in a hitter friendly environment isn’t an ideal situation for cash games (price point mitigates some of this risk). Kershaw is the top overall pitcher but as you can see, it’s not easy to fit him and get exposure to Coors Field on most sites.
Madison Bumgarner (SF) – Bumgarner is a next in line option to Clayton Kershaw and he’s actually easier to fit on DraftKings (when trying to get Coors Field exposure). Bumgarner gets a matchup against a revamped Padres offense, who’s projected to strike out 22 percent of the time against LHP (according to ZiPS). The pitching environment is key (Petco Park, one of the friendliest hitting parks in MLB). If you’re worried about the right-handed heavy lineup that the Padres will use, don’t be. Bumgarner has held RHBs to a sub .300 wOBA in his last three seasons, while posting an above average K percentage and limiting hard contact (19 percent line drive percentage, 0.91 home runs per nine). The most important aspect of constructing cash game lineups tonight is striking a balance between Coors Field and starting pitching. While Bumgarner isn’t Kershaw, his skills are well above average even when he doesn’t hold the platoon advantage, the matchup provides strike out upside and the ballpark is a pitcher’s haven. It’s also fair to point out that Bumgarner is the only pitcher taking part in a game with a total of six. Bumgarner is in play across all formats tonight.
Julio Teheran (ATL)/Dillon Gee (NYM) – While Teheran and Gee don’t have the same skills, their matchup against their respective teams is favorable. Teheran is the better pitcher of the two, posting above average strike out rates, walk rates and FIPs in the last two seasons (406 IP). While Gee isn’t as skilled (projects to have a below average strike out rate according to ZiPS), he limits walks (above average walk rate in his last three seasons) and has a favorable matchup against a Braves offense that lost Jason Heyward, Justin Upton and Evan Gattis in the offseason. This is reflected in the game total (six and a half). He doesn’t have strike out upside but his price tag around the industry makes for a good value as a second starting pitcher. Teheran doesn’t have great strike out upside in this matchup either (Mets are projected to strike out 18 percent of the time against RHP, according to ZiPS) but his price tag is favorable around the industry. The reason I paired these two pitchers as top values is because they allowed me to have the most Coors Field exposure on DraftKings (two to three players) while giving me a safe floor at the starting pitcher position (exposure to a game total of six and a half, second lowest on this slate). Starting Gee on FanDuel allows you to stack players from Coors Field and I view that as an EV+ situation but admittedly it’s a better strategy for tournaments (Kershaw has a much higher floor and easy to fit on FanDuel).
Additional starting pitcher notes: James Shields (SD) is a slightly higher floor option than Teheran and Gee but comes at a higher price point. Shields will be facing a run down version of the Giants offense (currently without Brandon Belt and Hunter Pence; Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse are gone) but the strike out upside isn’t great (Giants only project to strike out 16 percent of the time against RHP, according to ZiPS). Shields will be taking part in a game with a total of six (lowest on this slate). He’s a good cash game option on two starting pitcher sites. Cole Hamels (PHI) is in an excellent position for tournaments. Most will see the matchup and ballpark and look elsewhere but the Nationals offense is a shell of itself at the moment (without Jayson Werth, Denard Span and Anthony Rendon). Hamels is an above average pitcher against RHBs and the only threats in this lineup are Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond. Citizens Ballpark isn’t ideal for pitchers but the matchup isn’t as bad as people think. Hamels is my top tournament option this evening (next in line option to Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner. Yovani Gallardo (MIL) has plenty of strikeout upside in this matchup (Astros have a projected ZiPS strike out percentage of 24 percent against RHP). The ballpark isn’t conducive to pitching success (Globe Life Park in Arlington is an extreme hitter’s park) but the strike out upside that the matchup offers keeps Gallardo in the cash game conversation on multiple starting pitcher sites. For those of you willing to embrace risks, Aaron Sanchez (TOR) is making his first major league start of his career tonight. The pitching environment isn’t good and Baltimore has LHBs who could hurt him (Chris Davis, Alejandro De Aza, Travis Snider) but his price tag is so cheap and allows you to fit in Kershaw while getting some Coors Field exposure. He’s only in play on two starting pitcher sites.
Macro Thinking, Stacks, and Tournament Notes:
This is a new section we’ve created to try and offer more dedicated macro thinking to our analysis and hopefully add more value to those playing tournaments. The format is a bit of a work in progress and we welcome feedback (email@example.com) if you have suggestions.
Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:
1) Colorado Rockies
2) Chicago Cubs
3) Pittsburgh Pirates
4) Baltimore Orioles
5) Toronto Blue Jays
6) Texas Rangers
7) Milwaukee Brewers
I’m sure I didn’t catch anyone by surprise by naming Colorado and Chicago the top stacks (and mini stacks) for cash games and tournaments. Both of these teams get to play in the best offensive environment (Coors Field) and they face underwhelming starting pitchers. This game has the highest projected total (10). All players from both lineups will be in play either in cash games or tournaments but the main hitters from this game according to our model are Corey Dickerson, Carlos Gonzalez and Anthony Rizzo (all three have the platoon edge). Troy Tulowitzki and Nolan Arenado are also top plays at their position and even without the platoon edge they’re good hitters (Tulowitzki is an elite hitter regardless of handedness). Dexter Fowler and Chris Coghlan are next in line options to the Rockies LHBs.
Pittsburgh is an interesting stack in tournaments tonight. While they’re not playing at Coors Field, they’re still experiencing a big park shift (their home park, PNC, is an extreme pitcher’s park and they will be playing at Millers Park, a great hitting environment) and their matchup against Jimmy Nelson (not terrible but below average K rate and peripherals aren’t impressive) is favorable, especially for LHBs (Polanco, Walker and Alavarez). They’ll likely be low owned in tournaments but I view them as next in line options to Chicago and Colorado (just a tier below).
The rest of these stacks are more contrarian. While Baltimore is certainly intriguing against a pitcher that’s making his first career start, his minor league profile didn’t suggest that he’s awful. A mini stack of Alejandro De Aza, Travis Snider and Chris Davis (all three have the platoon edge) is likely as far as I’m willing to go in stacking Baltimore tonight. Toronto gets a matchup against Ubaldo Jimenez and his lack of command at times can lead to huge offensive nights for the opposing team. He’s not a bad pitcher, which is why other teams are ranked ahead of Toronto but their main hitters (Reyes, Bautista and Encarnacion) are all viable tournament options. Texas is playing at home, where they can enjoy the awesome hitting environment against Roberto Hernandez. Hernandez keeps the ball in the ground for the most part but when the ball is elevated, it usually leads to home runs (1.24 home runs per nine in his last two seasons). The top of this lineup (Martin, Choo, Beltre and Fielder) are good tournament options. Like most of these secondary stacks, I expect them to be low owned in tournaments due to Chicago and Colorado playing at Coors Field. The last tournament stack to discuss is Milwaukee. They’ve been incredibly disappointing to begin the season but they get another favorable matchup at Miller Park (Vance Worley has a ZiPS projected ERA of 3.95 this season). The top of this lineup (particularly Adam Lind, who carries the platoon edge and should hit in the middle of the lineup) gets tournament consideration. Khris Davis is very cheap on FanDuel (close to the minimum) and even though he doesn’t have the platoon advantage tonight, his power profile remains too good to pass up in a favorable matchup and great hitting environment.
Please see Meteorologist Mark Paquette’s game by game weather forecasts below the Analysis.
TOR at BLT 7:05: Dry. Temps in the mid 50s falling into the upper 40s. Air density slightly favors the pitcher. Wind west-northwest and light. Wind blows from left to right.
WASH at PHL 7:05: Dry. Temps in the low 50s falling into the upper 40s. Air density slightly favors the pitcher. Wind northwest 7-14 mph to start lessening to 4-8 mph. Wind blows from left to right.
PIT at MIL7:10: retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 50s to start falling to the upper 40s. They may leave the roof open. Air density neutral. Wind west-southwest 5-10 mph which blows from right to left.
CHI at COL 8:10: Dry. Temps in the lower to mid 60s to start falling into the mid 50s. Air density slightly favors the hitter. Wind west-southwest at 8-16 mph which blows out to right. This game has favorable weather conditions for the hitter.
LAD at AZ 8:10: retractable roof. Dry. Warm. Temps in the lower to mid 80s to start falling into the mid 70s. Air density favors the hitter. Wind west 6-12 mph which blows from left to right. Another favorable hitting environment.
SF at SD 8:40: Dry. Temps in the lower to mid 60s. Air density neutral. Wind southwest 5-10 mph which blows out towards right-center.
KC at LAA 9:05: Dry. Temps in the lower 60s. Air density neutral. Wind southwest 6-12 mph to start becoming calm. Wind blowing out to center to begin.