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4/12 MLB DFS: Houston, we have a ton of power on Sunday

4/12 MLB DFS: Houston, we have a ton of power on Sunday
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Daily Fantasy Rundown – April 12th, 2015

Welcome to Sunday’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.


Top Play:

Carlos Santana (CLE) – On most of the sites I’ve checked, Santana has catcher eligibility, which makes him a great value in this particular matchup. Kyle Lobstein (LHP) has a projected ERA (according to ZiPS) of 5.14. He’s a fly ball oriented pitcher with a pedestrian K rate, which bodes well for Santana (.370 wOBA and .178 ISO since 2012). Santana is a switch hitter, which means he will have the platoon edge throughout the game. He hits cleanup for the Indians (second highest team total, pushing five) and even though he’s not a must play, he gets you exposure to a team outside of Coors Field with a high team total. Santana is in play in all formats but he’s better for cash games on sites that give him catcher eligibility (better for tournaments on sites where he’s only first base eligible).

Value Play:

Miguel Montero (CHI) – Montero let us down last night at Coors Field batting cleanup but it’s time to put that behind us. He gets the platoon edge yet again against Jordan Lyles (.358 wOBA, 1.18 home runs per nine in 199 IP against LHBs) in the best hitting environment (Coors Field). Montero isn’t a great offensive catcher but his solid skills (.339 wOBA, .137 ISO against RHP since 2012) accompanied by his lineup position (last night he was the cleanup hitter) gives him enough contextual factors to be named the top value play at the position.

Jason Castro (HOU) – I’m willing to take just about anyone against Colby Lewis, particularly LHBs. Lewis has allowed a .357 wOBA, 22 percent line drive rate, 44 percent fly ball rate and 1.30 home runs per nine. The aerial opportunities he provides in a hitting environment like Globe Life Park in Arlington are elite and Castro will have the platoon edge. Like Montero, Castro doesn’t have great offensive skills but he has shown some pop in his bat (.184 ISO), which bodes well for his value against this specific pitcher (struggles against power) in this park (great for power). I will diversify between Montero and Castro in my cash games on all sites.

Additoinal catcher notes: Yasmani Grandal (LAD) will have the platoon advantage against a fly ball oriented pitcher in a great hitter’s park (Chase Field). Grandal can be considered as a next in line value to Montero and Castro. Evan Gattis (HOU) has massive power upside against the home run prone Colby Lewis. His price tag on FanDuel is favorable and even though FanDuel doesn’t reward power like DraftKings does, he’s more in play on that specific site (due to his cheap price tag). Brian McCann (NYK) is also a viable cash game option. He has a matchup against a RHP at Yankee Stadium but he’s more expensive than the other catcher options, making him a secondary value. Wilin Rosario (COL) won’t have the platoon edge but he’s too cheap around the industry. He gives you exposure to Coors Field at a reduced cost (due to not holding the platoon edge). Even without the platoon advantage, Rosario has accumulated a .165 ISO in the last few seasons. Rosario is in play in all formats today IF he draws the start. He’s not worth the risk on early sites if we don’t have a Rockies lineup confirmed before lock.

First Base

With the plethora of first baseman, I’ve decided to make a list instead of writing up every option individually. Here are my favorite plays at the position (with a few brief notes):

1) David Ortiz (BOS) – Platoon advantage even against a tough pitcher at Yankee Stadium makes him the top overall play. Ortiz’s price tag around the industry isn’t taking into account the positive park shift for the Red Sox, which makes him an even better value.

2) Miguel Cabrera (DET) – His price tag remains reasonable on most sites. Cabrera will have the platoon edge against T.J. House (projected ZiPS ERA of 4.80). He can be utilized in all formats and is basically tied with Ortiz in our model.

3) Anthony Rizzo (CHI) – Playing in the best hitting environment against a RHP that’s home run prone (1.18 home runs per nine against LHBs). Rizzo’s price tag remains exorbitantly high on DraftKings (only should be used in tournaments on that site) but on FanDuel (priced around the same as Cabrera) he makes for a great cash game option, especially if utilizing a mid-tier starting pitcher.

4) Jose Abreu (CHW) – R/R matchup but Phil Hughes struggles against RHBs (43.9 percent fly ball rate, 1.59 home runs per nine). At U.S. Cellular Field (great hitting environment), Abreu is in play in all formats, but best utilized in tournaments.

5) Chris Davis (BAL) – Drew Hutchison isn’t a bad pitcher but he’s allowing a 40 percent fly ball rate, resulting in a 1.44 home runs per nine allowed to LHBs. Davis was hitting third last night, which increases his projected at bats (was hitting fifth for a few games). He’s a good cash game play, especially on a site like DraftKings (rewards power).

6) Jusitn Morneau (COL) – Morneau doesn’t have the same power as the options above but he hits cleanup for a Rockies offense that has the highest team total on this slate (around 5.5). His price around the industry is fair but his price tag on FanDuel makes him a great value.

7) Adam Lind (MIL) – Like Morneau, Lind doesn’t have the same power as David Ortiz or Chris Davis but comes with less of a boom or bust nature (only a 16 percent K rate against RHP) and should hit cleanup for a Brewers’ offense that has a team total pushing 4.5. Lind is a top 25 hitter in our model.

8) Matt Adams (STL) – Great park shift and holding platoon edge against a pitcher who’s making his first career start. Price tag on FanDuel makes him a nice value.

9) Adam LaRoche (CHW) – Has the platoon edge against Phil Hughes (provides tons of aerial opportunities) and will bat cleanup for an offense that has a team total pushing 4.5 at U.S. Cellular Field (awesome hitting environment). He’s the cheapest available option at first base from my rankings.

Additional first base notes: Joey Votto (CIN) deserves consideration in cash games. He’s hitting in an elite ball park and even though the matchup isn’t great (Carlos Martinez, a young pitcher who throws hard), Votto is an elite hitter (ranked within our top 15 hitters according to our model). His price point around the industry is fair. Freddie Freeman (ATL) has an awesome matchup against Bartolo Colon (struggles mightily against LHBs) and even though the hitting environment is neutral, his nice power profile meshes well with Colon’s struggles against LHBs. Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) won’t have the platoon edge against Chris Tillman but Tillman allows a ton of aerial opportunities (41 percent fly ball rate, 1.37 home runs per nine allowed to RHBs since 2012). Encarnacion is an elite tournament option despite not being ranked in my value rankings.

Second Base

Top Play:

Neil Walker (PIT) – (Price point is too high on DraftKings to consider him a cash game option but on FanDuel the price is fair; has the platoon advantage and will hit cleanup)

Value Play:

Luis Valbuena (HOU) – Valbuena isn’t a great offensive player but he does have some pop (.174 ISO against RHP in the last few seasons) and that’s about all I need to pick on Colby Lewis. As I mentioned earlier, Lewis is very home run prone (1.30 home runs per nine allowed to LHBs) and that comes as a result of a high fly ball rate (44 percent fly ball rate). Valbuena isn’t second base eligible on every site (on FanDuel he’s third base eligible and remains a good value on that site) but he’s a top value play regardless. He gives you exposure to an offense with a 4.5 projected run total at an investable price point.

Additional second base notes: Tommy La Stella (CHI) becomes an instant value play if he’s able to start today. He will hold the platoon advantage at Coors Filed for an offense that has a team total approaching five. I’m a fan of acquiring exposure to top offensive situations like this at cheap price tags (regardless of where he is in the lineup). If Mike Aviles (CLE) remains in the starting lineup for the injured Michael Brantley, he becomes an awesome value play (next in line option to Valbuena and La Stella). He’s not a good offensive player but he was hitting towards the top of the lineup yesterday and that aids his value (holds the platoon advantage in this matchup against Kyle Lobstein).


Top Play:

Troy Tulowitzki (COL) – (Won’t have the platoon advantage but that doesn’t matter; he’s the clear top play at the shortstop position when he plays but his price point is high and there’s a few decent values at the position today making Tulowitki a better asset to own in tournaments)

Value Plays:

Jed Lowrie (HOU) – Lowrie has flashed decent skills against RHPs since 2012 (.337 wOBA, .164 ISO) and against Colby Lewis (allows a ton of aerial opportunities, which has led to plenty of home runs) at Globe Life Park in Arlington (great hitting environment), I’m willing to pay his cheap price tag and acquire a piece of an offense that has a 4.5 team total.

Jake Smolinksi (TEX) – Smolinski is very cheap on DraftKings and he was hitting in the middle of the lineup last night (was fifth in the batting order). He will hold the platoon advantage tonight and Texas has a solid team total (four). Smolinski is a solid value on sites where he has shortstop eligibility (can be ignored on FanDuel, where he’s only outfield eligible).

Additional shortstop notes: Jhonny Peralta (STL) is a good value on FanDuel (investable price point on that site). Peralta won’t have the platoon edge today but he will be facing a pitcher that’s making his first major league start in a great hitting park (Great American Ball Park) and the Cardinals have a team total of four. Peralta usually hits in the middle of the Cardinals lineup, which boosts his value relative to his salary on a site like FanDuel. Starlin Castro (CHI) won’t have the platoon advantage against Jordan Lyles but he usually hits in the middle of the Cubs lineup (automatic boost in value). He’s only a tournament option today but he has nice upside playing at Coors Field. Ian Desmond (WSH) will go against an awful pitcher in a great hitting environment, which gives him enough upside in tournaments. The Nationals have a team total approaching 4.5. Dee Gordon (MIA) and Billy Hamilton (CIN) are shortstop eligible on DraftKings and their speed upside is enough to warrant tournament consideration on that site.

Third Base

Top Play:

Nolan Arenado (COL) – (As I mentioned in yesterday’s content, Arenado’s progression against RHP is phenomenal. He will face an underwhelming RHP at Coors Field today but I’m utilizing most of the infield positions for salary relief. He remains a high upside tournament option even without the platoon advantage)

Value Play:

Pablo Sandoval (BOS) – Most will look at the matchup and ignore Pablo but Sandoval’s price tag on FanDuel makes him a good value play on that specific site. The price on FanDuel isn’t taking into account the massive park shift (Yankee Stadium, a great hitting environment particularly for LHBs). Tanaka didn’t look quite right in his first start (injury concern) and while he’s a very good pitcher, I don’t mind picking against him with the right price plays (Sandoval and Ortiz stood out). Despite having a “tough” matchup, Sandoval is ranked within the top 60 hitters today according to our model.

Additional third base notes: Adrian Beltre (TEX) is actually a better hitter without the platoon advantage but he deserves cash game recognition nonetheless. Keuchel is becoming a good major league pitcher but a tough hitting environment isn’t good for any pitcher. The Rangers have a team total of four runs and Beltre comes at a fair price. Nick Castellanos (DET) will have the platoon advantage against T.J. House. The Tigers have a team total approaching 4.75 and I’m willing to take just about any RHB in this matchup in order to have exposure to this team. Castellanos is a fine cash game option even though he doesn’t get the benefit of hitting towards the top of the order.


Top Plays:

Carlos Gonzalez/Corey Dickerson (COL) – (both have great matchups against an underwhelming RHP at Coors Field but their price tags are a bit restrictive in cash game formats. Gonzalez and Dickerson are elite tournament plays today)

Bryce Harper (WSH) – Harper ranks within our top five hitters and his price tag around the industry isn’t taking into account any of the contextual factors that are in his favor this afternoon. Harper gets the platoon edge against Sean O’Sullivan, a pitcher who was only able to accumulate a 5.69 K rate at triple A last season. His projected ERA (according to ZiPS) is 5.26. He rates horrible in just about any measure you can think of and Harper has awesome skills against RHP (.374 wOBA, .212 ISO in the last few seasons) and none of his hitting tools have come remotely close to a maturation stage (he’s only 22 years old). Harper and the Nationals should have plenty of success against a pitcher who struggled to do anything impressive in the minor league system. The Nationals offense have a projected team total approaching 4.5. Harper is an elite play in all formats this afternoon.

Value Plays:

Dexter Fowler/Chris Coghlan (CHI) – The Cubs are at Coors Field for the last game of the series and they get a matchup against Jordan Lyles, who keeps the ball in the ground for the most part. However, when the ball is elevated, it usually leaves the park as his 1.11 home runs per nine illustrates. Dexter Folwer (leadoff hitter) and Coghlan (usually hits fifth or sixth) will have the platoon advantage at Coors Field and their price tags are actually slightly discounted around the industry (last night, both were a tad more expensive). If choosing between the two, I would rather play Fowler than Coghlan since he leads off and he’s the better hitter of the two. Both rate very well in our model and they remain elite value plays once again.

J.D. Martinez (DET) – Martinez ranks among our top 35 hitters this afternoon and while the hitting environment is neutral, the matchup against southpaw T.J. House is anything but neutral. House really struggled against RHBs in a limited sample (71 IP), allowing a .357 wOBA. Some regression is definitely expected (he has awesome groundball rates and an unsustainably high home run per fly ball ratio) but against a Tigers offense that’s loaded with RHBs, regression will likely have to wait another day. Martinez had a breakout season last year (.315/.358/.553 triple slash line). He accumulated a .425 wOBA and .333 ISO against southpaws last season (114 at bats, albeit a small sample). If you want to acquire a piece of the middle of the Tigers lineup at a fair price, Martinez is a great option (teammate Yoenis Cespedes is also a good option for cash games but he’s been hitting sixth, which hurts his value a bit)

Additional outfield notes: I love George Springer and Chris Carter (HOU) in this matchup. Colby Lewis is home run prone and even though they won’t have the platoon advantage, their power skills still translates in R/R matchups. Teammate Colby Rasmus will have the platoon edge against Lewis and even though he hits towards the bottom of the Astros lineup, he’s a great option (on FanDuel he’s a good value play but his teammate Chris Carter is an even better value since he hits cleanup and is priced the same). Rasmus has nice power skills when he holds the platoon advantage. Giancarlo Stanton (MIA) is ranked fourth in our home run model. Nate Karns has the ability to strike out batters but that’s about it. He got roughed up at home in his last start (Tropicana Field is a pitcher’s park), serving up a home run and a few extra base hits along the way (allowed six runs while walking four batters). Stanton likely faces lower ownershiop due to the plethora of hitters available today but his upside remains high even if playing in a pitcher’s park. The Astros make for a great next in line option to the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies in terms of tournament stacks (as well as cash game mini stacks). Expect Alejandro De Aza (BAL) to remain a good cash game value as long as he has the platoon edge in solid matchups. De Aza gets the home run prone Drew Hutchison (1.44 home runs per nine in the last few seasons) at Camden Yards (great hitting environment). Eric Young (ATL) can still be utilized as a salary relief option in cash games. His speed upside is awesome on a site like FanDuel (doesn’t take away points for caught stealing) and his matchup against Bartolo Colon (will have the platoon advantage) is favorable.

Starting Pitchers

Tier 1

1) Max Scherzer (WSH)

2) Felix Hernandez (SEA)

3) Chris Sale (CHW)

Tier 2

4) Tyson Ross (SD)

5) Alex Wood (ATL)

6)Zack Greinke (LAD)

Tier 3

7) Jesse Hahn (OAK)

8) Drew Hutchison (TOR)

9) Nate Karns (TB)

Top Plays:

Max Scherzer (WSH)/Felix Hernandez (SEA) – The best way to attack the top starting pitcher plays was to combine them both. Scherzer and Hernandez are the top starting pitchers today and even though they’re good cash game values on FanDuel (by far the largest favorites according to Vegas odds), their price points are too elevated on DraftKings to earn consideration for cash games on that specific site. Scherzer will likely face a good amount of LHBs in a bad pitching environment but this Phillies offense project to be well below average against RHP. Scherzer has a 2.64 projected ZiPS ERA (career best) and his best skill is striking batters out (10.5 K rate since 2012). Hernandez gets to pitch in a great pitcher’s park (Oakland Coliseum) and his strike out skills are also elite (26 percent K rate since 2012). The matchup is slightly better for Hernandez, who’s pitching in the better environment for pitchers but both are excellent tournament plays today (cash game values on FanDuel, where a win is weighed heavily).

Value Play:

Tyson Ross (SD) – Ross is the safest value play on this slate and his price tag is favorable around the industry. The Giants have the second lowest team total today (three) and even though they don’t project to strikeout much (project K rate of 16 percent against RHP), Ross has accumulated a 24 percent K rate in the last few seasons. The pitching environment is excellent (Petco Park) and this Giants offense is a shell of itself (Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse are gone, Brandon Belt and Hunter Pence are injured). Ross is the top value play at the position industry wide.

Alex Wood (ATL) – On two starting pitcher sites, going for a mid-tier approach is an optimal decision today. Wood makes for a good primary value in a matchup against the Mets (project to have a 20 percent K rate against LHP according to ZiPS). The Mets and Giants are tied for the second lowest totals on this slate (three), which makes Wood and Ross stand out. Like Ross, Wood has an above average K rate (23 percent K rate since 2013) and the peripherals are headed in the right direction for the 24 year old pitcher, who’s only in his third season in the majors. He’s a top value around the industry, especially on sites that allow you to start more than one pitcher.

Zack Greinke (LAD) – Greinke will pitch in a bad environment (Chase Field, an extreme hitter’s park) but his skills are great. ZiPS projects Greinke to have a 3.06 ERA, 8.3 strike out rate and and 2.01 walk rate (all above average measures). While the environment isn’t good for pitchers, the Diamondbacks project as a below average offense against RHP and have a projected strike out rate of 20 percent against RHP. I view Ross and Wood as safer values (better pitching environments) but Greinke is a next in line option on sites where all three are priced close to each other (DraftKings).

Additional starting pitcher notes: Chris Sale (CHW) is a next in line option to Max Scherzer and Felix Hernandez. Sale will make his first start of the season (coming off the disabled list) and even though the pitching environment isn’t good (U.S. Cellular Field, considered an extreme hitter’s park), this is Sale’s home park and he’s a strike out artist (10.7 K rate in his last season, he’s 26 years old). The Twins offense project as average against LHP according to ZiPS and their team total is close to three (third worst team total on this slate). Sale’s current price tag is slightly discounted when comparing the other aces, which makes him a solid value even though he’s only going to pitch around 95 pitches (price mitigates some of this). Nate Karns (TB) flashed great strikeout ability in the minors and ZiPS projects him to have a 8.5 K rate this season. He does have some command issues (walked around a batter per three innings in the minors) but the matchup against the Marlins (usually have only two or three hitters with the platoon advantage) at Marlins Park (extreme pitcher’s park) serve as fine contextual factors. Karns is my top play for tournaments, as his cheap price point allows you to stack top offensive players and at the same time provides you with some upside (his K rate is very good and projects to be his best tool as a pitcher). Jesse Hahn (OAK) should only be considered on multiple starting pitcher sites. The Mariners offense has a team total of 3.5 and even though they project to be slightly above average against RHP, their K rate stands out a bit (20 percent projected K rate against RHP this season).

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 ( if you have suggestions.

Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:

Tier 1

1) Colorado Rockies

2) Chicago Cubs

3) Houston Astros

4) Chicago White Sox

Tier 2

5) Washington Nationals

6) Baltimore Orioles

Tier 3

7) Boston Red Sox

The top tournament stacks (and mini stacks for cash games) undoubtedly appears in tier 1. It’s self-explanatory at this point: the Rockies and Cubs are playing in the best hitting environment and below average pitchers will be taking the mound. Everyone is in play, particularly the middle of both lineups.

The Astros and White Sox are fascinating stacks this afternoon. While they’re not playing at Coors Field, their hitting environments are also highly favorable and both teams will face below average pitchers who struggle with fly balls. Both teams feature home run hitters (Jose Abreu, George Springer, Chris Carter, Evan Gattis, etc) and because of Coors Field, these two teams will likely go lower owned in tournament formats. I would stack both teams in multi-entry tournaments, especially on a site like DraftKings (rewards power to a greater extent than other sites).

The Nationals and Orioles could be mini stacked together in a multi-entry tournament. The Nationals have an elite matchup against Sean O’Sullivan (below average in just about any measure I could find) and while their offense isn’t fully healthy right now, Bryce Harper, Ian Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman have enough power to do some big damage this afternoon. I would mini-stack the Nationals and try to combine them with some Orioles. Their matchup against Drew Hutchison is somewhat favorable (Hutchison isn’t a bad pitcher, has posted an above average K rate in his short career) since he struggles against home runs and Camden Yards is an elite hitting environment. LHBs Alejandro De Aza, Travis Snider and Chris Davis are good plays in all formats but especially in tournaments (power upside).

Don’t ignore the Red Sox simply because they’re in the third tier. Masahiro Tanaka wasn’t himself during the first start of the season and the injury concerns over his elbow will likely continue throughout the season. I would prefer to have a mini-stack of David Ortiz and Pablo Sandoval (both have platoon edge and can use the short porch at Yankee Stadium) but Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts and Mike Napoli can also be considered. This team will likely be low owned (a reason why I like them as a contrarian stack) since it’s the only late game and DFSers usually like to play the early games to follow the early action.

Weather forecast from Mark Paquette:
DET at CLE 1:10: Dry. Temps in the low 60s. Air density neutral. Wind southeast 8-16 mph which blows out to left.STL at CIN 1:10: Dry. Temps in the upper 60s. Air density neutral. Wind southeast 7-14 mph which blows in from center.TB at MIA 1:10: Retractable roof. Dry so it will likely be open. Temps in the low to mid 80s. Moderately humid. Air density favors the batter. Winds east-southeast 10-20 mph which blows in from left-center.TOR at BLT 1:35: Dry. Temps in the lower to mid 60s. Air density neutral. Winds southwest at 5-10 mph which blows from right to left.
NYM at ATL 1:35: A 10-20% chance of showers. They will play this game. Temps  in the low 70s. Air density slightly favors the hitter. Winds southeast 10-20 mph which blows from right to left.
WASH at PHL 1:35: Dry. Temps in the lower to mid 60s. Air density neutral. Winds southeast 5-10 mph which blows out to left.MINN at CHISOX 2:10: Dry.Breezy. Temps in the mid to upper 60s. Air density is neutral. Wind 12-25 mph with gusts to 30 which blows in from right. Note: if the game goes into extras, there is a 30% chance of showers.
PIT at MIL 2:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Breezy. Temps in the low 60s. Air density is neutral. Wind south 12-25 mph with gusts to 30 which blows in from right IF the roof is open.
HOU at TEX 3:05: A 10-20% chance of a thunderstorm late in the game. Temps in the mid to upper 70s. They will get this one in. Air density favors the hitter. Wind south 12-25 mph with gusts to 30 which blows in from right.
KC at LAA 3:35: Dry. Temps near 70. Air density neutral. Wind west 10-20 mph which blows out to right.
SEA at OAK 4:05: Dry. Temps in the upper 60s. Air density neutral. Wind west-northwest 10-20 mph which blows out to right.
SF at SD 4:10: Dry. Temps in the upper 60s. Air density neutral. Wind west 8-16 mph which blows from left to right.
CHC at COL 4:10: Dry. Temps in the mid 60s. Air density neutral. Wind northwest at 15-25 mph with gusts past 30 which blows from left to right.
LAD at AZ 4:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Warm. Temps in the lower to mid 80s. Air density favors the hitter. Wind west at 12-25 mph which blows from left to right.
BOS at NYY 8:00: Dry. Temps in the upper 50s to start falling into the lower 50s. Air density neutral. Wind south at very light speeds which out to left.
Looks to me the 2 most favorable hitting environments may be at COL and at AZ (in terms of the weather).

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