Welcome to Wednesday’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.
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.
Buster Posey (SF) – Any time Posey has a matchup against a southpaw, expect him to sit atop the rankings at the catcher position. Posey has elite skills against LHP (.429 wOBA, .252 ISO and an incredible 182 wRC+ in the last few seasons, which is park adjusted and he plays in one of the worst hitting environments) and his opponent, Tyler Matzek, is well below average against RHBs (.372 wOBA, 22 percent line drive rate and 15 percent strike out rate). On sites where Posey is priced between other catcher values like Brian McCann and Evan Gattis, he’s a great cash game option (better for tournaments on sites where he’s priced around $1,000 more expensive than the next value at the position).
Brian McCann (NYY) – McCann has an awesome matchup against Bud Norris (.356 wOBA, 39 percent fly ball rate and 1.30 homeruns per nine allowed to LHBs since 2012) and he’s shown nice power against RHP in the last few seasons (.183 ISO). McCann will be playing away from Yankee Stadium (short porch is great for LHBs) but Camden Yards is a comparable option to Yankee Stadium for left handed hitters (according to Fangraphs park factors). He’s a good value play in a great hitting environment and plays for a team that Vegas projects to have success tonight (Yankees have a team total of four).
Additional catcher notes: I’m holding out hope that Devin Mesoraco (CIN) will be in the Reds lineup tonight. Mesoraco has shown elite skills at the plate against southpaws (.378 wOBA, .184 ISO in 227 plate appearances) and his matchup against Travis Wood (23 percent line drive rate, 44 percent fly ball rate and 1.16 homeruns per nine). Mesoraco is a next in line option to Buster Posey but in a better hitting environment (better value than Posey on FanDuel since Posey is 38 percent more expensive on that site). Evan Gattis (HOU) is more of a boom or bust option (.372 wOBA and a mammoth .253 ISO against LHP but also carries a terrible 0.24 EYE) but the power upside is enough to warrant tournament consideration. His price point on FanDuel is too depressed and hence why he’s a highlighted cash game option.
Miguel Cabrera (DET) – I have a personal testimony to share. This last Sunday, I keyed in on Miguel Cabrera‘s matchup against a southpaw (T.J. House, a pitcher who has nice groundball skills) and viewed him as the top overall hitter. I made sure to have him in every single lineup. And then I decided to take him out 10 minutes before lineups locked (mostly because of the hitting environment). The rest is history. Cabrera went on to have a ridiculous game, rounding the bases two times. We all have so many stories like this one and I’m not sharing it to show that I have it worse than everyone else. Rather, I’m sharing it to let you in on a secret. Miguel Cabrera is the best hitter in the majors and he’s in a different stratosphere when it comes to facing LHP. He’s accumulated a .421 wOBA, .243 ISO and 1.00 EYE. His absurd skils can’t just be ignored when he plays in bad hitting environments. PNC Park is the worst hitting environment for right handed power (according to Fangraphs park factors) and Francisco Liriano is certainly not a bad pitcher but we’re also doing a disservice to our DFS lineups if we don’t consider Cabrera in all formats. Edwin Encarnacion and Anthony Rizzo are great options in their own ways (playing in much better hitting environment) but their skills aren’t quite up there with Cabrera’s skill set. Cabrera is a top five DFS option this evening regardless of the contextual factors surrounding him.
Next in line:
Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)/Anthony Rizzo (CHI) – Both of these hitters have elite matchups today in great hitting environments. Encarnacion faces Erasmo Ramirez, who has allowed a .325 wOBA, 39 percent fly ball rate and 1.52 homeruns per nine. He doesn’t have the benefit of pitching in a great pitching environment today (Rogers Centre is an elite hitter’s park) and Encarnacion has great skills against RHP (.388 wOBA, .270 ISO since 2012). On the other hand, Rizzo gets the best matchup of the day (Jason Marquis, who has allowed a .390 wOBA and 2.00 home runs per nine in his last 112 IP against RHP). The Cubs represent a major part of the Daily Fantasy Rundown today and for good reasons. Marquis is projected to own a 5.62 FIP this season (6.07 ERA, 6.70 FIP against RHBs in the last couple of seasons). Rizzo doesn’t have the skill set of Encarnacion or Cabrera (.371 wOBA, .218 ISO) but that’s largely a result of the latter two hitters being in their hitting primes and displaying unique skills. Encarnacion and Rizzo are great options in all formats tonight and I won’t say this about any other trio but I will have exposure to these three hitters whether it’d be in cash games or tournaments.
Lucas Duda (NYM) – Duda is mispriced on DraftKings ($3,500) and other options like Billy Butler, Stephen Vogt (a catcher), Ryan Howard (L/L matchup away from his home park, Citizens Bank Park) and Yonder Alonso are more expensive than him. I’m not quite sure how this happened but on that specific site, I’m willing to play Duda in cash games instead of Encarnacion and Rizzo (Cabrera is third base eligible, which gives him even more value). Duda has accumulated a .367 wOBA and .227 ISO against RHP in the last few seasons (very similar to Rizzo’s skills and Duda plays in a much worse hitting environment) and his matchup against Jerome Williams (.343 wOBA, 22 percent line drive rate and 1.15 homeruns per nine) is favorable. I don’t usually throw the word “must start” in MLB DFS but Duda’s price tag on DraftKings makes it very tough to pass up for price sensitive investors. Duda is a top six hitter in our model and he’s priced as if he was outside of the top 100.
Additonal first base notes: Don’t think for a second that Chris Davis (BAL) isn’t a great DFS option because he wasn’t one of the written plays above. Davis has incredible power upside (.284 ISO against RHP since 2012) but that comes with risk (31 percent strikeout rate). He has a great matchup against a below average pitcher at Camden Yards but his boom or bust nature puts him right below the next in line options. He’s playable in all formats and on DraftKings he has third base eligibility. Mark Teixeira (NYY) is a fine tournament option tonight. He has a great matchup against a RHP that struggles against LHBs but his power upside isn’t near as good as the options written up above. On the other end of the spectrum lies Kendrys Morales and Eric Hosmer (KC). They’re playing in an awful hitting environment and their skill sets aren’t remotely close to any of the first basemen options that I’ve listed. Their matchup is good (Kyle Gibson has a nine percent strikeout rate against LHBs in his last 121 IP), which is why they deserve secondary tournament consideration. Pedro Alvarez (PIT) is another power bat that’s more geared toward tournaments due to his boom or bust hitting profile.
Jose Altuve (HOU) – The salary relief that the starting pitchers provide tonight creates space for a few high-end middle infielders. Altuve is my favorite of those options, as his skill set against southpaws (.382 wOBA, 144 wRC+ since 2012) meshes well with his opponent (Pomeranz has allowed a .347 wOBA, carries a 5.28 FIP and has only struck out 17.3 percent of RHBs in 140 IP). If you’re not able to afford him, Neil Walker is a fine pivot in cash games.
Neil Walker (PIT) – PNC Park is awful for power hitters but it’s better for LHBs than RHBs (according to Fangraphs park factors). Walker has awesome skills for a second baseman (.357 wOBA, .201 ISO) and the matchup against Alfredo Simon is favorable (22 percent line drive rate, 16 percent strikeout rate against LHBs). The Pirates have a projected team total of four runs and Walker is ranked within the top 45 hitters in our rankings. Walker is in play in all formats this evening.
Additional second base notes: Daniel Murphy (NYM) and Brandon Phillips (CIN) are next in line options to the written plays above. Murphy has a good matchup against the underwhelming Jerome Williams and usually hits fifth in the Mets lineup (awesome RBI opportunities). Brandon Phillips has the benefit of playing in a good hitting environment and usually hits cleanup or fifth (great for his DFS value). He’s not a great hitter but those contextual factors make him a viable value (especially on FanDuel). Logan Forsythe (TB) and Yangervis Solarte (SD) are both fine salary relief options. Forsythe will have the platoon advantage at Rogers Centre (elite hitting environment) and usually hits sixth, which is fine considering his cheap price. Solarte hits second for the Padres and even though he doesn’t provide much upside, that lineup spot for a cheap price tag is enough to warrant consideration as a punt option.
Jose Reyes (TOR) – Rarely does this happen but Troy Tulowitzki is not the top option at the shortstop position tonight. Tulowitzki is in an awful hitting environment without the platoon advantage. Meanwhile, Reyes is at Rogers Centre and even though his skills aren’t comparable to Tulowitzki’s, he provides speed upside in an offense that’s projected to do well tonight (Blue Jays have a team total of four, pushing to 4.5). If paying up for middle infield options, Jose Altuve and Reyes are at the top of my list.
Starlin Castro (CHC) – After Altuve, Reyes and Walker, Castro deserves recognition in all formats. The Cubs have the best matchup on this slate, facing Jason Marquis (has a projected 5.30 ERA and 5.62 FIP this season). Castro is still developing as a hitter (.312 wOBA, .134 ISO) but a middle of the lineup role at Wrigley Field (good hitting environment) against a well below average pitcher is enough to warrant consideration across all DFS formats.
Additional shortstop notes: Asdrubal Cabrera (TB) is a next in line option to Starlin Castro. Cabrera isn’t a great hitter but he always carries the platoon advantage (switch hitter) and he gets a positive park shift (from Tropicana Field, a pitcher’s park, to Rogers Centre). I found his price point on Fanduel very appealing if you need some savings at the position. Troy Tulowitzki (COL) is only a tournament option tonight. He faces a terrible park shift (from Coors Field to AT&T Park) and won’t have the platoon advantage. His skills are still better than any other shortstop in the majors but we have to pay for him as if he was in Coors Field (not favorable).
Evan Longoria (TB) – Longoria’s skills are remarkable against southpaws (.385 wOBA, .244 ISO and 152 wRC+ despite playing at Tropicana Field). He gets a matchup against Mark Buehrle, a LHP that pitches to contact (15 percent strike out rate against RHBs) and usually it leads to hard contact (23 percent line drive rate) or aerial opportunities (35 percent fly ball rate). The pitching options taking the mound tonight provide great salary relief and If I’m paying up for a third baseman tonight, it will be Longoria.
Chase Headley (NYY) – Headley is a next in line option to Longoria and Frazier in our model and he’s cheaper around the industry (except on DraftKings, where I’d rather have Longoria since they’re price tags are similar). Headley moved up in Yankees lineup last night and hit second (Brett Gardner was out and it looks like he will be back Friday). Moving up from sixth to second in the lineup is a huge boost for Headley’s DFS stock since it increases his at bats (more opportunities). Headley is a switch hitter, which means he will always carry the platoon edge (another favorable factor for his value). Additionally, his matchup against Bud Norris (.356 wOBA, 39 percent fly ball rate and 1.30 homeruns per nine), who provides plenty of aerial opportunities, fits Headley’s profile (34 percent fly ball rate) and hitting skills (.335 wOBA, .185 ISO since 2012). Headley is a phenomenal value play tonight and it’s likely our last opportunity that we have to invest in his stock while he’s hitting at the top of the lineup.
Additional third base notes: Todd Frazier (CIN) is great tournament option tonight (except on FanDuel, where his price tag is fair). He will have the platoon advantage against Travis Wood at Wrigley Field and his skill set is nice (.345 wOBA, .206 ISO against southpaws in the last few seasons). He only lags behind Evan Longoria in our model but Vegas isn’t expecting much success from the Reds offense tonight (3.5 team total). Mike Moustakas (KC) hasn’t developed into a good hitter but he’s still young enough to improve his hitting profile and overall skills. He has a favorable matchup against Kyle Gibson and Vegas expects good success from the Royals (team total approaching 4.5). He can be utilized in tournaments since his skills aren’t close to the options above. Mike Olt (CHI) is not a good hitter and he has a boom or bust hitting profile but he does have solid power and Jason Marquis is the worst starter on this slate. His price tag on FanDuel is close to the minimum, where he rates as a good tournament option.
Jose Bautista (TOR) – Bautista ranks behind Miguel Cabrera and teammate Edwin Encarnacion in our model. His skill set is elite (.383 wOBA, .246 ISO) and his plate discipline is outstanding (0.91 EYE). Erasmo Ramirez is used to pitching in big, spacious parks where fly balls and hard contact would stay inside the park but in an elite hitter’s park like Rogers Centre, Ramirez’s 39 percent fly ball rate and 1.52 homeruns per nine (totals he’s accumulated in the last few seasons) puts him in a bad situation against Bautista and the Blue Jays. Due to the salary relief available at the starting pitcher position, Bautista can be easily fit into any format. His price tag on DraftKings is very high but he can still be considered as an awesome tournament play (viable for cash games due to the salary relief).
Next in line:
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) – McCutchen is ranked fifth in our model and despite not having the platoon advantage, he faces Alfredo Simon (a below average pitcher). McCutchen is a better asset to own in tournaments but keep in mind that the Pirates have a team total of four at PNC Park (Vegas expects good success from the Pirates tonight). The only thing separating McCutchen and Bautista is overall contextual factors (Bautista has a better matchup, playing in an elite hitting environment and he’s part of the only game on this slate with a total of 8.5)
Jorge Soler/Dexter Fowler (CHI) – I’ve mentioned the Cubs phenomenal matchup against Jason Marquis but it’s worth repeating. Marquis is the worst starting pitcher on this slate and his projected ERA and FIP are hovering around 5.30. He doesn’t get to pitch in a good pitcher’s environment (Wrigley Field is a good hitter’s park) and I view the Cubs as the top overall values on this slate, particularly the outfielders. Soler and Fowler aren’t exactly the same players (Soler has an awesome power profile, while Fowler leads off the Cubs offense and can run). Fowler and Soler are ranked within our top 15 hitters tonight. With the salary relief available to us tonight, Soler, Fowler and Bautista can all be played in cash games.
Alejandro De Aza/Travis Snider (BAL) – De Aza and Snider trail Soler and Fowler in our model but they’re still ranked within the top 35 hitters. They will both have the platoon advantage at Camden Yards (third best park for left handed power batters according to Fangraphs park factors) against Nathan Eovaldi (24 percent line drive rate, 34 percent fly ball rate and 15 percent strike out rate against LHBs in the last few seasons). De Aza and Snider usually have great lineup spots ( De Aza leads off while Snider hits third or fifth) and with Vegas expecting success (Orioles have a team total of 4.5, tied with the Blue Jays for the highest team total on this slate), I find myself diversifying between the Orioles’ outfielders and Cubs’ outfielders around the industry (on some sites, the Orioles are stronger values than the Cubs due to pricing and vice versa).
Additional outfield notes: Adam Jones (BAL) – Has a good matchup against the a below average RHP and even though he doesn’t have the platoon advantage, he still carries plenty of power against RHP. He’s a next in line alternative to Bautista and McCutchen. George Springer (HOU) gets the platoon advantage against a southpaw and he has a good power profile. He deserves consideration in all formats tonight and his price tag on FanDuel makes him an awesome value play. Springer is ranked within the top 10 hitters in our model. His teammate Chris Carter (HOU) also has the platoon advantage and has a similar power profile. He’s cheap on FanDuel, where he represents a good value play (tournament option on DraftKings). Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco (PIT) are good tournament options facing the underwhelming Alfredo Simon (awful strike out rate against all batters). J.D. Martinez and Yoenis Cespedes (DET) get the platoon advantage against Francisco Liriano (solid pitcher) in a bad hitting park for power. They’re secondary cash game values today (most of their value is attached to having the platoon advantage since their skills are very good against LHP). Marlon Byrd (CIN) is ranked within the top 25 hitters in our model and on FanDuel he’s close to minimum price levels. He gets the platoon advantage against Travis Wood at Wrigley Field. Byrd is one of the best value plays on FanDuel (comparable to Lucas Duda being mis-priced on DraftKings). Jacoby Ellsbury (NYY) ranks within our top 15 hitters tonight but I would rather have my exposure to him come via tournaments. Caleb Joseph has been phenomenal in the run game (has accumulated four Stolen Base Runs Saved, better known as rSB, which measures how many runs a catcher contributes to their team by throwing out runners and preventing runners from attempting steals, according to Fangraphs. Anything above 0 is above average while a four is close to an excellent measure). Ellsbury is a better option for tournaments. Speaking of speed, Billy Hamilton (CIN) has a remarkable matchup against Miguel Montero (really bad in the running game according to rSB, has -4 rSB in his career). Travis Wood is a southpaw and that isn’t good for Hamilton but Montero mitigates some of that risk. Hamilton is an elite tournament option tonight and if you want to use him in cash games, he’s usable in those types of formats where he’s shortstop eligible. Jarrod Dyson (KC) has an awesome price tag on FanDuel, where he’s a good value. There are no points taken away if a runner is caught stealing and Dyson’s biggest strength is his speed. Much like Miguel Montero, Kurt Suzuki has a -9 rSB measure in his career and Dyson is facing a RHP. Steven Souza (TB) gets the platoon advantage tonight against Mark Buehrle at Rogers Centre. He usually hits second and his hitting profile is promising. He’s a good tournament option tonight but the plethora of outfield options keeps him away from cash game consideration. Teammate Desmond Jennings (TB) gets similar treatment. His price tag on FanDuel makes him a cash game viable option (platoon advantage and has been a good hitter against LHP in the last few seasons). As I mentioned earlier, players with speed (like Jennings, Dyson and Hamilton) have an edge on FanDuel since that site doesn’t take away points when players get caught stealing.
1)Brandon Morrow (SD)
2)Lance Lynn (STL)
3) Collin McHugh (HOU)
4) Brett Anderson (LAD)
5) Drew Pomeranz (OAK)
6) Jon Niese (NYM)
7) Chase Anderson (ARZ)
8) Edison Volquez (KC)
Brandon Morrow (SD) – Morrow ranks as the top overall starting pitcher tonight. Let’s start with his skills. Morrow is projected to have an above average strike out rate (close to one strike out per inning) and FIP. He has always struggled with walks in his career (projected to have a below average walk rate) but almost every starter taking the mound tonight is also projected to share this similar struggle (except Brett Anderson). I’m more focused on his ceiling rather than his floor (that’s the case since there’s no viable number one starter tonight) and his matchup (Diamondbacks are projected to be a below average offense and project to strike out around 20 percent of the time against RHP) combined with an elite pitching environment (Petco Park is one of the best pitcher’s park in the major leagues) projects him to do well. Vegas agrees, giving Arizona a team total of three runs (lowest team total on this slate). In a night full of secondary starters, Morrow stands out at a price point that doesn’t show any of the contextual factors that I just described. He’s in play in all formats.
Next in line:
Lance Lynn (STL)/Collin McHugh (HOU) – Both of these starters have above average strike out rates and overall good skills but their matchups are a bit problematic. Lynn faces a Brewers offense outside of Miller Park (which is great for his DFS value) but they project to be well above average against RHP (and LHP). McHugh has a matchup against Oakland (facing a huge park shift away from Oakland Coliseum, an extreme pitcher’s park, to Minute Maid Park, which is considered more of a neutral environment), an offense that doesn’t project to strike out often against RHP or LHP. I consider both Lynn and McHugh fine cash game options but don’t feel forced to play them. Like Morrow, they have their risks (walk issues) but they don’t have the same contextual factors (facing tougher matchups). For example, Oakland has a team total of four despite McHugh being a good pitcher. Regardless, their strikeout skills are enough to put them in the cash game conversation on DraftKings (strike outs are weighed favorably).
Brett Anderson (LAD) – Unlike the starting pitchers mentioned previously, Anderson doesn’t project to have a league average strike out rate (just a tad below average) but he also comes with a bit less risk (projects to have an above average walk rate). Additionally, his ground ball skills are elite and he doesn’t yield hard contact. In a nice sample (500 IP in the majors), Anderson has a 56 percent ground ball rate, 17 percent line drive rate, 10 percent home run per fly ball rate and an above league average FIP (3.53). His matchup is favorable from a strikeout perspective (Mariners are projected to strike out around 22 percent of the time against LHP) and the Mariners offense projects to be around a league average offense against LHP. In a decent pitcher’s environment (Dodger Stadium, plays close to a neutral environment), Anderson makes for an awesome value play in all formats even though he doesn’t offer the same strike out upside as other top plays.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Drew Pomeranz (OAK) is playing away from his home park (Oakland Coliseum, an extreme pitcher’s park) and will face an offense that projects to be above league average against LHP. He also has great strikeout upside due to his matchup (Astros project to strike out around 26 percent of the time against LHP, the worst in the majors) and overall strikeout skills (projects to have an above average strikeout rate). I view Pomeranz as a good tournament option with plenty of upside but with that upside comes plenty of risk (projects to own a below average FIP, tough matchup in a neutral environment). Jon Niese (NYM) has perhaps the best matchup out of any of the starting pitchers available to use this evening (Phillies project to have a putrid offense against LHP) but he doesn’t offer much strikeout potential. He’s a fine value play in a great matchup but I prefer the other written options instead (more strikeout upside). Chase Anderson (ARI) has a fine matchup against the Padres (project to be a below average offense against RHP and strikeout around 22 percent of the time) in a great pitcher’s environment (Petco Park). Anderson provides even more salary relief than all the options mentioned above and the Padres team total has settled at 3.5. Anderson is a good salary relief option 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have suggestions.
Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:
1) Chicago Cubs
2) Toronto Blue Jays
1) Detroit Tigers
2) Houston Astros
3) New York Yankees
4) New York Mets
The first three stacks don’t need explanation. The Cubs, Blue Jays and Orioles are playing in great offensive environments and are facing below average pitchers. The Cubs are facing the worst starter on this slate and if hitting conditions remain favorable (neutral is fine as well), they’re my top stack of the night.
My favorite contrarian stack is the Detroit Tigers and I’m honestly not sure how “contrarian” they really are. Francisco Liriano is not a bad pitcher but he will have to face five well above average hitters against southpaws, including Miguel Cabrera (top five overall hitter tonight). Liriano has sort of a boom or bust nature to his pitching style (can rack up the strikeouts but can also lose command and walk a bunch of hitters) and this isn’t the matchup to have that style. I sure hope that DFSers see that Vegas has given the Tigers a 3.5 team total and get afraid of the pitcher/park. I disagree with Vegas today when it comes to the Tigers in this matchup.
The Houston Astros get a matchup against a southpaw in a neutral environment. RHBs like Jose Altuve, Chris Carter, George Springer and Evan Gattis will be a part of my tournament lineups. Pomeranz had success against the Mariners at Oakland Coliseum but this just isn’t the same contextual factors (different offense in a neutral park). I would love to figure out a way to stack the Astros and Tigers since both have similar matchups (southpaws) and will load up with RHBs. The only difference is the Tigers are obviously better overall hitters but get a tougher environment while the Astros have more of a boom or bust offense (huge rewards but also significant risk) and get a better environment.
The Yankees are loaded with LHBs and Bud Norris has historically struggled mightily with LHBs. It’s a good park for offensive upside and the Yankees elevated price points aren’t as big of a concern on a slate with loads of value pitching.
The New York Mets offense doesn’t exaclty resemble the Detroit Tigers offense but they do have a good matchup against Jerome Williams in a pitcher’s park. A mini stack of Duda, Murphy and Granderson isn’t a bad idea for tournaments. The Mets will be missing David Wright and potentially Michael Cuddyer, which hurts this lineup as a whole. However, Duda, Murphy and Granderson will likely see middle of the lineup opportunities (d’Arnaud might hit in the middle of the lineup as well and he can be included in tournament stacks), which boosts their DFS value. I’m hoping that DFSers focus more on the environment and disregard the favorable matchup.
MLB Game Weather Forecasts
I am going to try something a little different today, a 1-10 scale for both air density and wind with 10 being great for hitters, 1 being great for pitchers and a 5 meaning no advantage to either the pitcher or the batter.