MLB DFS Daily Fantasy Rundown – April 14th, 2015
Welcome to Tuesday’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.
Weather: The main game we’re keeping our eye on is NYY-BAL. Please see Meteorologist Mark Paquette’s game by game weather forecasts below the Analysis.
If any weather situations shift drastically, we will keep you updated with lineup alerts so make sure to check your email inbox up until roster lock.
NOTE: Please note today’s content did not include the BOS-WAS game which is starting at 6:10 PM EST and is left off most of the slates around the industry.
Catcher is really muddled on Tuesday, so I think it’s better to tackle in notes format and then wait for lineups to help sort through some of the options. Buster Posey (SF) ranks as our top catcher and a Top 20 overall hitter in our model. Christian Bergman is not a MLB quality starter, but the park and scoring environment aren’t worthy of paying all the way up for Posey. On sites like DraftKings where Posey is priced among the herd, he’s a fine play. Brian McCann (NYY) doesn’t get the benefit of Yankee Stadium’s short porch, but Baltimore is a great offensive environment and Miguel Gonzalez has allowed a 41 percent fly ball rate to LHBs since 2012. McCann can be a bit all or nothing, but this is a good matchup in a good park for power potential. Stephen Vogt (OAK) is probably the most consistently priced “value” play around the industry. He’s likely hitting sixth but on the road in a good A’s lineup, the lineup spot shouldn’t hurt him too much. Brad Peacock has allowed a 43 percent fly ball rate to LHBs since 2012 along with a .367 wOBA and 1.72 HR/9. The A’s left handed bats are a priority for power upside and Vogt allows you exposure to them at a modest price with a favorable spot in the lineup. The rest of the catcher recommendations will come via lineups. The offenses we’re targeting tonight are: Toronto, Baltimore, LA Angels, Oakland, Texas, and the New York Mets. If we get favorable lineup spots for a catcher in any of those lineups, they’ll bump our rankings.
Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) – Encarnacion is the top rated first basemen in our model and a Top Five hitter overall. We have very little to go on when evaluating Matt Andriese, but he projects as a below average starting option. He posted league average strikeout and walk rates at AAA last season. The Blue Jays offense is a very tall task for Andriese and Vegas has given the Jays the second highest run total of the day. Edwin has hit RHP exceptionally well the last few years (.388 wOBA, .270 ISO) and has the benefit of playing in a great hitting environment. He’s an expensive option and first base is always deep.
Steve Pearce (BAL) – Pearce ranks incredibly well in our model today. He’s our third ranked hitter and there isn’t a site out there that is pricing Pearce in that manner. CC Sabathia has allowed a .330 wOBA and 1.24 HR/9 to RHBs since 2012 and his velocity (88 mph) was down again in his first start. Sabathia did what he’s been doing the last few years which is get strikeouts with his secondary stuff and limit walks but he continues to yield hard contact. Pearce has posted a .391 wOBA and .254 ISO against LHP since 2012 and gets the benefit of playing in Camden Yards which plays above average for right handed power. His price on DraftKings makes him one of the best overall plays on that site and on any site that he’s priced as an average hitter, we strongly recommend taking advantage.
Lucas Duda (NYM) – Duda ranks as a Top 10 overall hitting option in our model but is often priced around the Top 10 at his position. David Buchanan has allowed just a .272 wOBA to LHBs since 2012 but the peripherals tell a far different story. Buchanan has struck out just 12.7 percent of LHBs while walking 8.6 percent. ZiPS projects him as one of the weaker overall starting pitcher options and expects him to struggle against LHBs (.335 wOBA projected against). The Mets are one of seven offenses with a team total of four runs or more, but they’ll likely fall down the list of preferences to target. As a result Duda might get caught in limbo with cash game decisions. Even though he ranks very highly in our model, you might choose to use first base as a way to get exposure to other top offenses.
Ike Davis (OAK) – We’ve touched on Brad Peacock‘s struggles against LHBs and specifically those that generate power, which is Ike Davis‘ game. Davis owns a .347 wOBA and .198 ISO against RHP since 2012 and he’s hitting fifth in a good park environment for power. His price point on DraftKings quickly shifted up, but he’s still cheap on most other sites. He ranks as a Top 30 overall hitter in our model.
Additional first base notes: Prince Fielder (TEX), Albert Pujols (LAA), and Anthony Rizzo (CHC) all rank within our Top 15 overall hitters. Pujols and Fielder are great ways to get exposure to the game with the highest total and I have no problem choosing them over Duda where priced similarly to take a chance on overall game environment producing more opportunities. Rizzo actually ranks as our second highest first basemen in our model, but I’m more curious (bullish perhaps) on DeSclafani and I expect Wrigley to play much tougher than our park factors are indicating tonight. Mark Canha (OAK) is another first base option that we like hitting second in an A’s lineup that has a strong team total. He won’t have the platoon advantage but Peacock yields power to all types (1.45 HR/9 since 2012 to RHBs). We prefer Ike Davis if shopping in the same price range for the A’s, but Canha is a legitimate fallback option.
Ben Zobrist (OAK) – We’ll tackle some other viable second base options in the notes, but the players I will have the most exposure to at the position (and by a wide margin) is Ben Zobrist. Zobrist ranks as a Top 20 overall hitter in our model and he’s one of the few second base options that has all the contextual factors in his favor. We’ve covered Brad Peacock. He’s a plus matchup. Zobrist is getting a positive park shift and he’s hitting in a premier lineup spot (third). Zobrist also doesn’t lose the platoon advantage when the game gets into the bullpen as a switch hitter and he’s not priced as the top second base option. At a scarce position, I believe Zobrist is a priority on Tuesday.
Additional second base notes: Dee Gordon (MIA) is someone our model really struggles with. He’s not a good hitter (.300 wOBA against RHP in his career) but when he does get on base the points come in bunches because of his speed. Trevor Cahill has allowed a .340 wOBA to LHBs since 2012 including an 8.9 percent walk rate. Gordon has a good matchup individually but he’s priced as an elite hitter and the lineup support is filled with RHBs which Cahill (.314 wOBA allowed) is competent against. I think he’s a better tournament option than cash game play and he doesn’t need to be part of a Marlins stack as he can do his damage on his own. Robinson Cano (SEA) is a compelling tournament option. He’s expensive and facing a LHP but David Huff probably won’t last long which gets into the bullpen in the middle innings. The Mariners platoon a lot of the options around him, so he tends to get a favorable supporting cast no matter the pitcher. Jose Altuve (HOU) is leading off in one of the higher projected scoring games. He’s priced for it though which makes him a better tournament option in Astros stacks. There are some platoon guys that rate favorably in our model like Logan Forsythe (TB) but we’ll have to see where he hits in the lineup before declaring him a strong value play. Rickie Weeks (SEA) is a similar option who we assume will hit leadoff but the Mariners won’t let him hit against RHP which limits his projection. I think he’s an acceptable tournament option, but I’d rather take a chance on guaranteed plate appearances in cash games. Joe Panik (SF) is the best pure punt option at the position. Christian Bergman is a below average starter and Panik will have the platoon advantage with a strong lineup spot. The scoring environment isn’t great and Panik isn’t a great hitter (.298 wOBA against RHP as a big leaguer) but he’s acceptable as a punt.
Jose Reyes (TOR) – It’s rare that Tulowitzki is in action and he’s not the top play at the shortstop position, but I think Tuesday is an unusual set of circumstances. Tulowitzki is in a terrible hitters park against a RHP who gives up no power to RHBs (.292 wOBA allowed, .61 HR/9 since 2012). Reyes is taking on a league average minor league pitcher in one of the best hitting environments in baseball. If you’re paying up at shortstop, Reyes is the option to target. He ranks as a Top 40 overall hitter in our model.
Erick Aybar (LAA) – Aybar’s value is somewhat tied to his lineup spot, but the overall matchup and hitting environment is tremendous. If Aybar is leading off, he’s the clear cut top value play at the position and I’m someone I’ll target liberally across the industry. If he’s hitting sixth, he’s still a value play due to the matchup and the park but he’s not as strong of a value. Aybar isn’t a great hitter (.305 wOBA against RHP since 2012) but Nick Martinez has been a disaster against LHBs in his career (.366 wOBA and 1.28 HR/9 allowed). The Angels have the highest team total of the day and Aybar is a cheaper way to get exposure to the lineup.
Asdrubal Cabrera (TB) – Although Daniel Norris is a top prospect, projection systems are light on his 2015 outlook. As a result Cabrera ranks alongside Aybar as a Top 55 overall hitter and a viable shortstop value play. Cabrera hits third in a Rays lineup that projects much better against LHP than RHP. He’s been ordinary against LHP (.311 wOBA, .146 ISO since 2012) but the lineup spot and park environment boost his profile.
Additional shortstop notes: Everth Cabrera (BAL) led off last time the Orioles faced a LHP which would make him a viable punt play at the position. He’s not a great hitter (.312 wOBA, .103 ISO against LHP since 2012) and his best asset, his speed, is neutralized by LHPs but leading off for an elite offense is a great chance to take on a punt play. Jed Lowrie (HOU) ranks behind Cabrera and Aybar in our model but hits in the middle of the lineup against a below average RHP that has contact issues. The Astros have a solid team total (four runs) and are a part of the second highest game total. Lowrie is a fine option to get exposure to the Astros or use as part of an Astros stack. Stephen Drew (NYY) has the type of power that can mitigate a bad lineup spot quickly and he’s priced as a punt. I don’t mind him as a tournament play.
Evan Longoria (TB) – Longoria has destroyed LHP throughout his career (.385 wOBA, .244 ISO since 2012) and he’s getting a huge bump in hitting environment playing in Toronto. He ranks inside our Top 10 overall hitters and our best third base option. The challenge with investing in Longoria is the confidence of the supporting cast. Vegas has posted a team total of just 3.5 for the Rays and Longoria’s get boosted in our model by some bearish projections on Norris. I think Longoria is a fine target where he’s priced down, but I think getting exposure to other elite offenses is a fine way to approach third base as well.
Next in line: Adrian Beltre (TEX)/Josh Donaldson (TOR) – These guys both rank in our Top 35 overall hitters and are a part of offenses that Vegas projects well. I think they’re acceptable alternatives to Longoria if you’re placing an emphasis on scoring environment over individual skills.
Manny Machado (BAL) – Machado hasn’t shown a big platoon edge early in his career (.320 wOBA, .148 ISO) but he projects to grow into more power. The matchup with CC Sabathia is a good one for power and the hitting environment in Baltimore is tremendous. Machado ranks just outside our Top 40 overall hitters and he’s priced below the average cost of a roster spot on most sites.
Additional third base notes: Lineup spots will help open up some secondary options at third base but for the most part I’m focused on these core options. Luis Valbuena (HOU) usually hits cleanup for the Astros and they have a favorable scoring environment. He posted an adequate .328 wOBA last year against RHP but a strong .174 ISO. I think he’s the next potential value play if Machado ends up in a bad lineup spot of you need to save some additional funds. Chase Headley (NYY) rates very well in our model but the lineup spot will end up bringing him back down. The power upside against Miguel Gonzalez‘s fly ball tendencies makes him a great tournament play. I think the same can be said for Alex Rodriguez (NYY) who doesn’t project as well against RHP but Gonzalez’s splits have been fairly neutral. Yangervis Solarte (SD) is a pure punt play if looking for salary relief at the position. The scoring environment is terrible but he’s a better hitter from the left side, typically hits second, and Hellickson has struggled with LHBs (21.6 percent LD Rate, 1.20 HR/9) in his career.
Mike Trout (LAA) – Trout is our top overall hitter and by a rather wide margin tonight. The Angels have the highest team total, Trout is getting a huge park shift in his favor, and Nick Martinez projects as one of the weaker starters in the league. Martinez has allowed a .326 wOBA and 1.0 HR/9 to RHBs in his career and has been slaughtered by LHBs as well. Trout has shown dominance against all types of pitching in his career (.417 wOBA, .257 ISO vs. RHP) and the Rangers bullpen behind Martinez projects as below average. This is a tremendous matchup for Trout and if paying up at the position, he’s our first choice.
Next in line: Jose Bautista (TOR) – Bautista ranks as our second best hitter in our model but the gap between him and Trout is equivalent to the gap between Bautista and our 30th ranked hitter. Bautista has a great matchup in his own right, but falls well behind Trout in our cash game rankings. He’s a tremendous option in tournaments due to his power and particularly compelling as part of a Blue Jays stack.
Kole Calhoun/Matt Joyce (LAA) – I LOVE the Angels LHBs tonight because there is zero risk of them seeing a LHP in Arlington. The Rangers have an entire bullpen filled with RHPs which means we have no risk of losing the platoon edge as the game gets into the bullpen. Calhoun’s been sidelined with calf tightness but he was able to pinch hit last night which gives some hope that he’ll be atop the lineup tonight. He’s a very good hitter against RHP (.342 wOBA, .184 ISO) and he’s getting a big park boost while hitting in a premier lineup spot. His price is down relative to his skill set, making him one of my top targets in the outfield. Joyce has been equally effective against RHP the last few years (.343 wOBA, .174 ISO) while also logging the majority of his plate appearances in far worse hitting conditions than tonight. He typically hits cleanup which is a premier lineup spot and his biggest risk (late game platoons) is totally off the table. They’re both tremendous value plays. Calhoun ranks inside our Top 15 hitters and Joyce inside our Top 25.
Shin Soo Choo/Leonys Martin (TEX) – The two lefties near the top of the Rangers lineup project well in our model (both inside the Top 40) as our outlook for Drew Rucinski is poor. Rucinski was pretty good in AA last season (2.80 FIP, 23 percent K Rate) but AA to the majors is a big jump and Rucinski isn’t a prospect (26 years old). Arlington is a favorable hitting environment and Rucinski projects to have below average splits against LHBs. It’s difficult knowing what to expect against a young pitcher making their first big league start, but with discounted price tags we don’t mind picking on him with top of the order LHBs.
Delmon Young (BAL) – Young is a potential punt play with a premier lineup spot against CC Sabathia. He’s hitting fifth behind a lot of good hitters against LHP which should boost his opportunities. Young has hit LHP adequately (.335 wOBA, .152 ISO since 2012) over the last few years, but the park environment, lineup spot, and most importantly cheap price tag are what we’re chasing here. Young ranks outside our Top 100 overall hitters on his skill, but makes for a nice source of salary relief.
Curtis Granderson (NYM) – Granderson ranks as a Top 50 hitter in our model and comes with a slightly discounted price tag all over the industry. He hits leadoff which helps ensure that three of his plate appearances come against David Buchanan who we project as a below average pitcher against LHBs. Granderson has posted a .330 wOBA against RHP since 2012 but the .206 ISO plays well in DFS. He’s a bit more boom-or-bust, but the matchup tonight is solid.
Additional outfield notes: Lineups will help shed some light on other potential value plays. The Rays lineup (Steven Souza or Brandon Guyer hitting near the top) is one we’ll keep an eye on as both hitters are a bit underpriced for their skill against LHP. Sam Fuld (OAK) is a fine option due to the leadoff spot and a friendly run total for the A’s, but not someone we’re prioritizing over the more skilled bats above. The Yankees LHBs in the OF all rank well in our model but they’re caught in pricing limbo on most sites, making them secondary value plays. Nelson Cruz (SEA) is one of my favorite stack fillers. He has immense power upside against LHP and the Mariners as a whole will be difficult to stack because they take advantage of platoon situations which leaves their top of the order with significant pinch hit risk.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Matt Harvey (NYM)
2a) Jake Arrieta (CHC)
2b) Carlos Carrasco (CLE)
4) Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA)
5) Shane Greene (DET)
6) Odrisamer Despaigne (ARZ)
7) Jose Quintana (CHW)
8) Jeremy Hellickson (ARZ)
9) Anthony DeSclafani (CIN)
Matt Harvey (NYM) – Harvey faces a Phillies offense that is devoid of elite hitters. They rank 29th in wRC+ against RHP early in the season and they’re striking out more (21.3 percent) early than ZiPS projected for their current lineup (17.8 percent). Vegas has listed Harvey as the heaviest favorite on the slate (-225) and the Phillies team total is hovering around 2.5. Harvey was exceptional in his first start against the Nationals mixing the ability to miss bats (39.1 percent K Rate, 15.4 percent swinging strike rate) with efficiency. The Phillies low projected K Rate is one of the few weaknesses in the matchup but it’s largely mitigated by the discounted price tag Harvey’s holding across the industry. He’s a foundation of cash game lineups this evening.
Next in line:
Jake Arrieta (CHC) – Arrieta grades out slightly ahead of Carlos Carrasco in our model and it’s largely due to the difference in matchup. We project the Reds offense as below average against RHP when you adjust for park factors and they’re experiencing a downgrade in park shift tonight. Early indications on the weather at Wrigley have low temperatures and the wind blowing in from center field. This is an excellent environment for Arrieta and a slightly above average matchup overall. Vegas agrees, listing the team total for the Reds at just three runs.
Carlos Carrasco (CLE) – Carrasco was incredible down the stretch last season and he backed those performances up with 10 strikeouts in 6 1/3 shutout innings against the Astros in his opening start. The White Sox grade out as an above average offense against RHP, even outside their friendly home park, but Carrasco’s an ace that is priced like a second starter on most sites. Strikeouts are king in Daily Fantasy and while the White Sox project as a neutral strikeout team, Carrasco has struck out 10.75 batters per nine innings in his last 10 starts dating back to last season.
Values for Multiple SP Sites:
We think for cash games, even on multiple SP sites, it makes sense to try and stay within the top three starters above. The drop off in talent at the SP position is steep on Tuesday and the secondary options come with risk either in skill or matchup.
Shane Greene (DET) – Greene looks severely underpriced for someone that flashed above average strikeout and ground ball rates in a limited sample last season. Greene gets to pitch in the National League on Tuesday which bumps his expected ERA and K Rate and he gets to pitch in a great pitcher’s park in Pittsburgh. The risk with Greene is trying to identify his true baseline. His minor league performance is average and while the performance last season was great, it came in a limited sample. In his first start Greene wasn’t getting ground balls or strikeouts, but he did generate an impressive 14.9 percent swinging strike rate. The Pirates project as an above average offense against RHP with a league average strikeout rate. The matchup isn’t great but Greene’s price is compelling. The risk makes me think he’s a better option as a second starter in tournaments than in cash games.
Odrisamer Despaigne (SD)/Jeremy Hellickson (ARZ) – This game has just a 6.5 total and both pitchers are very cheap. Neither starter has great strikeout rates but both offenses grade out as below average against RHP in wRC+ and above average in projected strikeout rates. Vegas is giving the edge to Despaigne as the Diamondbacks team total is just three, but I think they’re in the same general tier.
Additional starting pitcher notes: I don’t see a ton of other options in the starting pitcher pool today. We have a lot of the league’s worst starters going, so it’s not a great day to divert from the norm. Jose Quintana (CHW) is fairly priced but gets a nice park shift in his favor, pitching on the road. The Indians can load up with RHBs which will lower his strikeout rate, but the offense as a whole projects well below average against LHP with Bourn and Brantley near the top. Anthony DeSclafani (CIN) gets the benefit of that great pitching environment in Chicago (low temperatures and wind blowing in) and he flashed a really strong K Rate (24 percent) and swinging strike rate (16.4 percent) in his first start. The Cubs offense is improved but has a lot of strikeouts in it. The projection systems aren’t bullish on the strikeout growth from DeSclafani but I’m intrigued. He’s a tournament option as well.
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:
2) Blue Jays
The Angels and Athletics stacks have been covered throughout the content. Both teams see a nice uptick in park factor against the two worst starting pitchers on the night (the Angels in particular).
In general, I don’t think you have to go far off the beaten path in terms of stacks tonight. There are a lot of bad pitchers going in great offensive environments which will spread ownership percentages thinner. The Angels and Blue Jays are the highest projected scoring offense and the chalk, but they’ll both come with high price points. The Angels have some more accessible entry points on guys like Calhoun and Joyce so they’re easier to accommodate in cash games and I expect they’ll be the highest owned stack overall tonight. The Orioles are the easiest entry point overall (modest tags on Cabrera, Machado, and Pearce along with a punt catcher option in Joseph), I think they’ll represent the second highest owned stack in tournaments. The Athletics are better used in a mini-stack as their order is pretty top heavy. I expect the A’s will be used as filler quite a bit on team stacks, which will raise the ownership of individual players, but as a full stack I think they’ll be more modestly owned.
If you’re looking to go off the board a bit, I think the Yankees are likely under owned and have great home run upside in Baltimore. They’re expensive and so many good options are around them which will drive down ownership. I also think the Rays are a really compelling stack for tournaments. Norris comes with some prospect hype and the Rays offense is thought of as underwhelming but it’s a huge park shift in their favor and they have a lot of RHBs that hit LHP well. I usually like to find value in under owned stacks in good pitching environments but few options are standing out tonight. The Dodgers looked like a good fit on the surface but with Puig questionable, they might be down a big bat. The Mariners have a great matchup against David Huff but their use of platoons makes it difficult to stack them.
One of my other favorite tournament strategies is to create leverage in your roster by stacking against a highly owned starter. If you’re taking that route, the option I like the most is the Pirates. Shane Greene (DET) has enough buzz and a cheap tag that he’ll be owned for those trying to fit stacks in and as we indicated in the recommendation there is an air of uncertainty surrounding his skill set. The Pirates are a very good offense against RHP and the Tigers bullpen is horrendous. If they can knock out Greene early, there is immense upside in getting to that bullpen.
MLB Game Weather Forecasts
WASH at BOS 6:10: Dry. Temps near 60 falling into the middle 50s. Air density neutral. Winds west-southwest 6-12 mph which blows out towards right.
NYY at BLT 7:05: Rain at times, especially early in the game. The rain looks steady but not especially heavy through the day and at the start of the game. A 60% chance of a delay to begin the game, a 30-40% of a cancellation, 20-30% of a delay once the game starts (if it starts as well). Temps in the upper 50s falling into the lower 50s. Air density neutral. Wind northeast becoming northwest 6-12 mph which blows from in from right center to begin then from left to right late.
Hour 1 chance of rain: 70%
Hour 2: 40%
Hour 3: 30%
Hour 4: 20%
DET at PIT 7:05: Dry. Temps in the upper 50s falling into the lower 50s. Air density neutral. Wind north at 5-10 mph which blows from left to right.
TB at TOR 7:07: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the low 50s to start falling into the mid 40s so the roof will likely be closed because of the cool temps.
CHA at CLE 7:10: Dry. Temps in the middle to upper 50s to start falling into the mid to upper 40s. Air density neutral becoming slightly favorable to pitchers as the temps drop. Winds northeast at 5-10 mph becoming calm. Wind blows in from right.
MIA at ATL 7:10: Dry to start. Rain will develop around 10 PM. They should be able to get this one in. Air density slightly favors the hitter. Temps in the middle 70s falling to near 70. Winds west 7-14 mph which blows out to right.
PHIL at NYM 7:10: Dry. Temps in the lower 60s to start falling into the middle 50s. Air density neutral. Wind northeast 4-8 mph which blows in from center.
LAA at TEX 8:05: Dry. Temps in the middle 60s to start falling to near 60. Air density neutral. Wind north 8-16 mph to start falling to 5-10 mph late. Wind blows out to right.
CIN at CHC 8:05: Dry. Temps in the middle 50s to start falling into the middle 40s. Air density neutral to start becoming slightly favorable to the pitcher. Wind northeast 7-14 mph to start lessening to 5-10 mph. Wind blows in from center.
OAK at HOU 8:10: Retractable roof. There is the threat for thunderstorms so the roof will likely be closed.
SEA at LAD 10:10: Dry. Temps in the lower to middle 60s. Air density neutral. Wind west7-14 mph becoming light and variable. The wind is blowing out to right to start the game.
AZ at SD 10:10: Dry. Temps in the lower to middle 60s. Air density neutral. Wind west 5-10 mph becoming very light. Wind blows from left to right.
COL at SF 10:15: Dry. Windy. Temps near 60 to start falling into the middle 50s. Air density is neutral. Wind north-northwest at 12-25 mph with gusts past 30 mph early in the game lessening to 10 -20 mph. This wind blows from left to right.