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4/19 MLB DFS: The Dark Knight will Rise

4/19 MLB DFS: The Dark Knight will Rise
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MLB DFS Daily Fantasy Rundown – April 19th, 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.

Weather: Games to watch in terms of the weather CLE at MIN, SD at CHC, OAK at KC, CIN at STL with the game in Chicago warranting the most concern.  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.


Top Play:

Buster Posey (SF) – (great skills even when he doesn’t have the platoon advantage and a good value on DraftKings due to a favorable price point; ball park and the offense surrounding him makes him a better option to own in tournaments)

Value Play:

Yasmani Grandal (LAD) – Grandal has been an above average catcher at the plate (.345 wOBA, .172 ISO in the last few seasons). The opposing pitcher, Eddie Butler, doesn’t project to be close to average. Butler has a projected 5.41 ZiPS ERA/5.13 FIP this season, which makes him a premier target for us today. Grandal has the benefit of hitting in the middle of a potent Dodgers lineup (usually hits fifth), an offense that Vegas feels strongly about (4.5 team total). Grandal is a top 30 hitter this afternoon and even though Buster Posey is the superior value on DraftKings (cheaper price tag), his price point on FanDuel doesn’t make much sense (below the average cost of a hitter). Take advantage of this situation where it applies and obtain a middle of the lineup bat for an offense that should excel today.

Punt Play:

Christian Bethancourt (ATL) – Bethancourt is nothing more than a punt play at the catcher position but don’t be fooled by that designation. Bethancourt usually hits fifth or sixth for the Braves and even though he doesn’t project as an above average offensive catcher, he will have the platoon advantage at Rogers Center (elite hitting environment) for a Braves team that has a team total of four. At his current price tag around the industry, Bethancourt makes a lot of sense in cash games as good salary relief punt play that allows you to fit one or two elite starting pitchers. He’s ranked among the top three catchers in our model and we’re not accounting for his spot in the lineup (creates a boost for his value).

Additional catcher notes: Brian McCann (NYY) is facing a negative park shift (away from the short porch at Yankee Stadium) and yet he still has the highest home run score out of all catchers in our model this afternoon. A big reason for that is his matchup against Matt Andriese (projected 4.21 ERA/4.24 FIP this season according to ZiPS). He gets the platoon advantage against a pitcher that projects as below average starter at the major league level. McCann is my favorite tournament option at the catcher position as his ownership rate will likely be lower due to the negative park shift (he still gets the platoon advantage against a below average pitcher). Russell Martin (TOR) is a fine secondary value today. He will hit sixth for the Blue Jays but if you’d like to throw in an extra piece of this offense in cash games or tournaments, I view it as a a viable route (Toronto has a team total of 4.5, highest out of any team in action today). Travis d’Arnaud (NYM) doesn’t get much of a boost in our model (lineup spot not being accounted for) but he should be ranked among the top five catchers today. d’Arnaud will likely hit second for the Mets (a lineup spot he earned after David Wright was sidelined) and even though he won’t have the platoon edge, Vegas has given the Mets a team total of four. I’ll take the added opportunities on sites where d’Arnaud is priced below the average cost of a hitter. I still prefer Yasmani Grandal and Christian Bethancourt in cash games but d’Arnaud is right in line with the secondary values (Russell Martin, Yadier Molina).

First Base

Top Play:

David Ortiz (BOS) – Ortiz is our second ranked hitter (Mike Trout is ranked first in our model). Despite the awful hitting environment (Fenway Park ranks among the bottom five ballparks for left handed power), Ortiz has displayed remarkable skills (.412 wOBA, .283 ISO). Beyond those skills lies a 162 wRC+, which adjusts for the terrible hitting conditions of Fenway park as well as the league. This means that Ortiz has created 62 percent more runs than a league average hitter would have under the same conditions with the same amount of plate appearances. Ortiz is usually among the top three hitters in our model when he has the platoon advantage and his matchup against Miguel Gonzalez (23 percent line drive rate, 41 percent fly ball rate against LHBs since 2012) will keep him there, regardless of the hitting environment. He’s in play in all formats this afternoon.

Next in line:

Miguel Cabrera (DET) – It’s not shocking to see Cabrera’s name appear right after David Ortiz. After all, Cabrera has only accumulated a .421 wOBA and .243 ISO against southpaws since 2012. Putting the sarcasm aside, Cabrera is out third ranked hitter today and even though he’s a better option for tournaments due to his high price point, I consider him a fair value. Comerica Park is an average ballpark for right-handed power and even though Jose Quintana isn’t a bad pitcher (3.55 FIP in 536 IP), Cabrera’s skill set is difficult to ignore. Cabrera remains in play in all formats and I have no concerns if a RHP is introduced later in this game (Cabrera carries the same skill set when he doesn’t have the platoon advantage).

Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) – There are enough cheap values at other positions (catcher, second base, outfield) that makes it easier to spend for one of these top options at first base. While Ortiz and Cabrera are better overall hitters, Encarnacion has phenomenal three year data (.388 wOBA, .270 ISO) and he gets to play in the better hitting environment (Rogers Center). The Blue Jays have the highest team total on this slate (4.5) and for some reason Encarnacion’s price point is in a declining phase. It’s certainly possible that his price tag is depressed due to his “cold” hitting to begin the season but how much does that matter? Teammate Josh Donaldson hadn’t recorded a home run in his first 43 plate appearances this season. He went on to record three home runs in the last two games. Sound somewhat familiar? Encarnacion started last season with a streak of 83 plate appearances without a home run. In the next 88 plate appearances, Encarnacion went on to hit eight home runs. If you make that sample big enough to cover for the month of May, Encarnacion hit 16 home runs in his next 130 plate appearances. I wouldn’t worry about his “lack” of power to begin the season. Keep investing at his current price point and enjoy the profits.

Value Play:

Adam LaRoche (CWS) LaRoche represents the best value play at first base around the industry and if you can’t invest in the top three options, he provides great value at an exploitable price point. LaRoche will experience a negative park shift (from U.S. Cellular Field to Comerica Park) but how big of a shift is it? According to fangraphs data taken from last season, U.S. Cellular Field ranked 10th in home runs via LHBs while Comerica Park ranked 15th. The park shift isn’t huge and LaRoche will get the platoon advantage against Shane Greene, who’s been phenomenal to begin the season. However, Greene is expected to regress as a result of his struggles against LHBs (22 percent line drive rate, 16 percent strike out rate, 4.27 FIP/4.30 xFIP in his last 46.2 IP against LHBs). LaRoche has good skills against RHP (.364 wOBA, .215 ISO) and even though he’s not in the category of Ortiz, Cabrera or Encarnacion as a hitter, his price tag is cheaper than every other first base value that’s in play this afternoon.

Additional first base notes: Jose Abreu (CWS) is a next in line option to Ortiz, Cabrera and Encarnacion. Abreu’s price tag on FanDuel can be exploited in all formats (better for tournaments on DraftKings, where he’s more expensive than Encarnacion). One of my favorite tournament values in action today is Mike Napoli (BOS). Napoli doesn’t get the benefit of a middle of the lineup spot anymore (this was the case last season) but he gets a great matchup against Miguel Gonzalez, who has demonstrated some reverse splits. Gonzalez is a fly ball oriented pitcher (41 percent fly ball rate) and he’s yielded a 1.55 home runs per nine to RHBs since 2012. Napoli is a boom or bust option (doesn’t have good plate discipline, strikes out more than 30 percent of the time) but this matchup meshes well with his skill set (.353wOBA, .208 ISO against RHP in the last few seasons). He’s among the top 20 ranked hitters in our model but is priced as if he was outside the top 50 hitters on some sites. Chris Davis (BAL) gets a solid matchup against Rick Porcello (struggles against LHBs) but as I mentioned earlier, Fenway Park is awful for LHBs who hit for power. Davis is a better option for tournament formats today and this is shown in our model (40th ranked hitter in our model; ballpark drags down his expected value but he still has a solid home run score because of his remarkable power profile). Victor Martinez (DET) is a very nice value on DraftKings. He’s not Miguel Cabrera but he hits cleanup for a potent offense that faces a LHP and his price tag is a bit discounted on that particular site. He doesn’t have the power upside of Encarnacion/Ortiz but he’s a very nice value relative to his salary on that site and if you don’t want to pay up all the way for Cabrera he provides a fine alternative at a reasonable price.

Second Base

Top Play:

Brian Dozier (MIN) – Dozier has displayed an amazing skill set when holding the platoon advantage (.371 wOBA, .224 ISO against LHP since 2012). His matchup today against T.J. House is favorable. While House demonstrated solid skills last season, ZiPS is calling for a 4.99 ERA/4.58 FIP this season. If I’m paying up for a second baseman in cash games today, Dozier will be my first option. On FanDuel where he’s priced around an average price of a hitter, Dozier makes for an outstanding value.

Value Plays:

Jason Kipnis (CLE) – Kipnis is a next in line option to Brian Dozier on most sites but on DraftKings, Kipnis is the better value since he’s cheaper. The Indians have a team total pushing towards 4.5 and getting some exposure to this offense isn’t a bad idea in all formats. Their matchup against Trevor May (projected ZiPS ERA of 5.16 this season) is great and it helps offset for the hitting environment (Target Field is considered a pitcher’s park). Kipnis is an above average hitter when he has the platoon advantage and gets a good lineup position (will hit second) in an offense that’s expected to do well today. He has also shown some speed upside (has 22 or more steals in his last three seasons) and his matchup against Kurt Suzuki (-9 rSB, one of the worst measures in all of the major leagues) enhances his speed upside.

Devon Travis (TOR) – Travis gets to leadoff for a Blue Jays offense that has a team total of 4.5 (highest out of any team on this slate) at Rogers Center. I wish I could expand this recommendation but there’s simply not much else to say. Travis’ price point around the industry hasn’t caught up to his new role in this offense. If you can’t pay for Dozier or Kipnis, there is comfort in Travis’ DFS stock (mostly due to the offense around him, not because he’s a great offensive player).

Additional second base notes: Howie Kendrick (LAD) is a next in line option to Brian Dozier and Jason Kipnis (Travis comes after these three options but his price point and lineup slot aren’t accounted for in our model, which boosts his overall value). Much like Travis, our model isn’t accounting for Kendrick’s awesome lineup position (will hit cleanup) in an offense that’s projected to do very well (Dodgers have a team total that’s approaching 4.5 runs). On DraftKings, I’m still willing to take Kipnis or Travis (cheaper than Kendrick) but on FanDuel the decision isn’t as clear-cut since these options are priced so closely. If Alberto Callaspo (ATL) is able to hit second this afternoon, he becomes an acceptable punt play around the industry. He can be thrown into that group of players that aren’t great but their expected lineup position and projected team success makes them viable plays. If Rickie Weeks (SEA) is able to leadoff for the Mariners today, he’s another viable punt. Weeks isn’t a better option than Kendrick, Kipnis, or Dozier but our model ranks him among those players with strong platoon advantages facing below average pitchers. The challenge with Weeks is the platoon situation. The Rangers lack any LH relievers in their bullpen which leaves Weeks vulnerable to late game platoons. So far as long as he’s started, he’s generally stayed in the game, but its a risk worth considering.


Top Play:

Troy Tulowitzki (COL) – Death, taxes and Troy Tulowitzki as the top play at the shortstop position in the Daily Fantasy Rundown. All kidding aside, even though Tulowitzki is playing away from Coors Field (best hitting environment in the major leagues), his matchup against Brandon McCarthy (yields a ton of aerial hard contact) gives him plenty of upside in a neutral ballpark for right handed power. Tulowitzki’s price point on DraftKings is awesome because it’s accounting for the negative park shift as well as the R/R matchup. However, it’s disregarding McCarthy’s struggle with the long ball. On sites where Tulowitzki is priced similarly to Ian Desmond, Tulowitzki is by far the better value.

Value Play:

Danny Santana (MIN) – In a limited sample (131 plate appearances), Santana has been an above average hitter (.345 wOBA, 122 wRC+) and he gets the benefit of always having the platoon advantage in his favor (switch hitter). T.J. House projects as a below average pitcher this season (4.58 projected FIP this season according to ZiPS). The Twins have a team total approaching 4.5 runs today and Santana’s price point is fair around the industry. If you don’t pay for the high priced options (Tulowitzki, Desmond), Santana represents a good cash game value (based on his expected value relative to his salary).

Additional shortstop notes: Ian Desmond (WSH) has an awesome matchup against David Buchanan (projected 4.60 FIP this season, according to ZiPS). Desmond has been blessed with a new lineup position (will hit second), which gives him more plate appearances and raw opportunities than his old position in this lineup (was inexplicably hitting towards the bottom of the Nationals lineup at the beginning of the season). The Nationals are tied with the Blue Jays for the highest team total (4.5) so it makes sense to have some type of exposure to this lineup. Willie Bloomquist (SEA) has a great chance of starting today (usually starts when there’s a southpaw on the mound) and he has some use as a punt option today. With the way I view lineup construction (pay up for top tier pitchers), you’ll likely need a punt option or two along the way. Bloomquist will have the platoon advantage against the underwhelming Ross Detwiler (below average peripherals across the board and has a projected FIP of 4.50 this season, according to ZiPS). Bloomquist becomes a fine pure punt play as long as he’s in the starting lineup (preferably if he gets a crack at the top six in the Mariners lineup).

Third Base

Top Play:

Trevor Plouffe (MIN) – Plouffe is our top ranked play at third base and his price point industry wide doesn’t reflect this fact. Plouffe has displayed nice skills against southpaws (.362 wOBA, .210 ISO since 2012) and we spoke at lengths about T.J. House earlier (projects to be a below average starting pitcher this season despite having some success last season). Target Field isn’t great for right-handed power bats but Plouffe skills combined with his matchup offsets some of the poor hitting environment (despite the hitting environment, the Twins have a team total pushing towards 4.5 runs). Out of all the offensive options available from this team today, Plouffe makes the most sense in cash games (Dozier has slightly better skills but he’s priced fair on most sites except FanDuel).

Value Play:

Chris Johnson (ATL) – Like Plouffe, Johnson’s price tag doesn’t reflect any of the contextual factors that are in his favor today. Johnson will experience a huge park shift playing at Rogers Center (Turner Field is considered a neutral park) and he should be a part of the middle of this Braves lineup. Johnson has been a good hitter against southpaws in the last few seasons (.371 wOBA, 136 wRC+) and he’s ranked among the top five third baseman values in our model without consideration for a prime lineup spot. I give a slighter edge to Johnson in cash games because of the hitting environment but both he and Plouffe make for awesome cash game values relative to their cheap price points around the industry.

Additional third base notes: Pablo Sandoval (BOS), Josh Donaldson (TOR) and Adrian Beltre (TEX) are next in line options to Trevor Plouffe today. Sandoval always has the platoon advantage because he’s a switch hitter and his matchup against Miguel Gonzalez is favorable. The hitting environment isn’t good for LHBs but his price tag on FanDuel mitigates some of these concerns. Donaldson is an elite tournament value. He doesn’t have the platoon advantage against Shelby Miller but the Blue Jays have a team total of 4.5 runs this afternoon and are playing at Rogers Center. If stacking the Blue Jays, Donaldson can’t be left out in tournament formats. His price tag is high on most sites and it’s now accounting for his new lineup position (will hit second) but his home run upside remains favorable in this hitting environment (despite R/R matchups). Beltre will have the platoon advantage against James Paxton and even though the matchup (Paxton has a projected ERA of 3.94 this season) and hitting environment (SAFECO Field is considered an elite pitcher’s park) aren’t favorable, his skill set with and without the platoon advantage makes him a viable play most nights. If looking to add more RHBs from the Tigers lineup, consider Nick Castellanos (DET). He usually hits seventh in the Tigers lineup (which drags his value a bit) but he’s ranked within our top seven third baseman and the offense around him is expected to have success today (Tigers have a team total that’s approaching 4.5 runs). Alex Rodriguez (NYY) is a fair value on DraftKings. Rodriguez was able to slide to the top of the Yankees lineup last night (hit third) and if he’s able to stay in that lineup spot, the extra opportunities he receives (from more plate appearances to more RBI opportunities since he used to hit seventh in this Yankees lineup against RHP) aren’t factored into his pricing just yet. The hitting environment isn’t ideal (Tropicana Field is considered an elite pitcher’s environment) but the added opportunities and favorable matchup create positive value for Rodriguez.


Top Plays:

Mike Trout (LAA) – Trout is our number one ranked hitter today but his price point is full across the industry. There are plenty of outfield values and the priority for cash games should be on top tier starting pitchers. Trout’s upside can be sought after in tournament formats. He gets a matchup against Scott Feldman (projected FIP of 4.57 this season, according to ZiPS) and even though he doesn’t have the platoon advantage, his skills against RHP (.417 wOBA, .257 ISO and a 175 wRC+, a measure that was adjusted for playing at Angels Stadium of Anaheim, considered a terrible hitting environment) are elite. Those skills carry over when he does have the platoon advantage, which is the reason why Trout is usually a top three hitter in our model (regardless of hitting environment).

Next in line:

Bryce Harper (WSH)/Yasiel Puig (LAD) – Harper and Puig are fair values on DraftKings but on FanDuel they’re both better options for tournaments. Harper (.374 wOBA, .213 ISO against RHP in the last few seasons) has an excellent matchup against the underwhelming David Buchanan (12 percent strike out rate in his last 54 IP against southpaws; projected 4.71 ERA/4.60 FIP this season according to ZiPS). Harper is a top five hitter according to our model and on DraftKings he’s not priced like one. Puig has accumulated a .391 wOBA and .207 ISO against RHP in the last couple of seasons and he gets a matchup against the contact oriented Eddie Butler (projected for a 5.41 ERA/5.13 FIP according to ZiPS). Like Harper, Puig is ranked among the top five hitters this afternoon.

Value Plays:

Kole Calhoun/Matt Joyce (LAA) – Calhoun is among the top 30 ranked hitters in our model today and on FanDuel he’s a good value (fair price tag). Joyce is also a nice value around the industry (top 40 hitter in our model) and both will carry the platoon advantage against Scott Feldman. Feldman has a projected 4.72 ERA/4.57 FIP this season and he’s a contact pitcher (strike outs per nine are awfully low). The park shift is positive for all the Angels hitters and they have a team total approaching 4.5 runs. If you want to obtain a piece of this offense without paying high prices, Calhoun (leads off) and Joyce (hits cleanup against RHP) are the top outfield values today.

Cameron Maybin/Jonny Gomes (ATL) – The next in line options (very close) to Calhoun and Joyce are Maybin and Gomes, who are both top 50 hitters according to our model. Maybin will leadoff and Gomes should find a top six spot in this lineup at Rogers Center (elite hitting environment), where the Braves have a team total of four runs. Gomes is the better hitter of the two (.366 wOBA, .188 ISO since 2012) but Maybin has more speed upside (stole 66 bases in 2011 and 2012 combined) and is less susceptible to pinch hit appearances late. Based on pricing, Maybin and Gomes are the better cost effective values around the industry (even better than Calhoun and Joyce) and they get to participate in the best hitting environment on this slate. Maybin is the stronger value of the two because he carries less pinch hit risk late in the game. Gomes is more dependent on lineup positioning and ideally we’d prefer to see him land in the top five.

Additional outfield notes: Jose Bautista (TOR) is a next in line option to Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Yasiel Puig. Bautista doesn’t have the platoon edge but he will be a part of the best hitting environment out of any team in action today (Rogers Center). Bautista’s skill set against both RHP and LHP is elite and I’m seeking his upside in tournament formats. The best value from this Blue Jays team is Edwin Encarnacion (middle of the lineup bat at a depressed price point industry wide). Carlos Gonzalez (COL) and Nelson Cruz (SEA) are two hitters with tremendous upside today but their raw value is dragged down by poor offensive environments. Gonzalez has the platoon edge against Brandon McCarthy (allows a ton of hard hit aerial contact) while Cruz has the platoon advantage against Ross Detwiler (ugly peripherals across the board). Both are exceptional tournament options but on DraftKings, I’m willing to consider them fair values due to their fair price points. J.D. Martinez (DET) and teammate Yoenis Cespedes have a R/L matchup against Jose Quintana. Martinez is the better value since he will hit in the middle of the lineup (fifth). Their power upside is tremendous, making them great tournament options on a site like DraftKing. Mookie Betts (BOS) should be back in the starting lineup for Boston today and his price tag on FanDuel is unforgivable. Betts is among the top 20 ranked hitters in our model (despite not having the platoon advantage). His matchup against Miguel Gonzalez (reverse splits; gives harder contact to RHBs) is favorable and Betts has awesome upside due to his speed. The Red Sox are tied with the Blue Jays and Nationals for the highest team total on this slate (4.5 runs) and the best way to gain exposure this offense on FanDuel is by investing in Betts. Justin Ruggiano (SEA) is another strong platoon option this afternoon according to our model. The Mariners have a team total approaching 4.5 and even though the hitting environment isn’t favorable, Ruggiano’s price point on FanDuel is close to the bare minimum. The risk with Ruggiano, like Gomes, is pinch hit risk late in the game. This places a higher premium on Ruggiano’s lineup spot to help ensure a third or fourth plate appearance. He must be in the top five lineup spots to earn our recommendation. Joc Pederson (LAD) is among the top 10 ranked hitters in our rankings but admittedly his value would take a hit if our model adjusted for lineup positioning (Pederson usually hits eight). I’m treating him as a tournament option rather than a cash game value since his position in the lineup is a deterrent to his overall raw value. Pederson makes sense if you’re stacking Dodgers in tournaments. They get a matchup against one of the worst starting pitchers in action today, Eddie Butler. Brandon Moss (CLE) has a good home run score in our model despite playing at Target Field (awful hitting environment). The Indians have a team total pushing towards 4.5 and if you’d like to acquire a middle of the lineup bat from this offense, Moss is a solid option (boom or bust option but his power plays well on a site like DraftKings). Teammate Michael Brantley is also a good tournament option today (ranked among our top 35 hitters). He will have the platoon edge against a below average pitcher, giving him enough upside despite the terrible hitting environment. Melky Cabrera (CWS) is too cheap on FanDuel (close to minimum priced) and represents a good value on that particular site. Cabrera is a switch hitter, which gives him the platoon advantage in all situations and he usually gets a boost in value since he gets a good lineup spot (usually hits second).

Starting Pitchers

Tier 1

1)Matt Harvey (NYM)

2) Stephen Strasburg (WSH)

3) Adam Wainwright (STL)

Tier 2

4) Garrett Richards (LAA)

5) Gerrit Cole (PIT)

6) Michael Pineda (NYY)

7) Jon Lester (CHI)

Tier 3

8) Andrew Cashner (SD)

9) Scott Kazmir (OAK)

10) Brandon McCarthy (LAD)

Top Plays:

Matt Harvey (NYM) – Harvey is the top overall starting pitcher this afternoon and even though Stephen Strasburg can be considered option 1b, there are a few factors I like more about Harvey today. Harvey looks fully recovered from Tommy John Surgery and he’s striking out hitters at an elite clip already (12.75 strikeouts per nine in two starts). ERA predictors like him a bit more than Strasburg (3.06 FIP/2.15 xFIP compared to Strasburg’s 3.72 FIP/4.69 xFIP) and his matchup against the Marlins gives him a bit more upside (Marlins are projected to strike out 21 percent of the time against RHP compared to the Phillies, who are projected to strike out 18 percent of the time against RHP). Harvey has a great skill set, he’s playing at home (Citi Field is a great pitcher’s park) and Vegas have given the Marlins the lowest team total on this slate (2.5, Mets are -200 favorites). Harvey is a phenomenal play across all formats today.

Next in line:

Stephen Strasburg (WSH) – As mentioned above, Strasburg is option 1b for us this afternoon and his matchup against the Phillies should put him back on track. Even though the Phillies don’t project to strike out much against RHP, they’re projected to be a bottom five offense this season. You’re probably wondering why I’ve mentioned the matchup so often when all Strasburg has done is disappoint DFS owners this season. Well, this is actually going to be the best matchup he’s had in three starts. His first start was against the New York Mets, who actually project to be an average offense against RHP this season. His second start was against the Boston Red Sox, a team that boasts an offense projected to finish among the top five this season. Strasburg has some batted ball data that should correct itself over time. A great example of that would be his ridiculously inflated infield hit percentage, which stands at 13 percent this season (eight percent in his career). For those of you that think he’s just “getting hit harder now”, that’s just not true; Strasburg has allowed a 20 percent line drive rate this season (below his career average of 21 percent). The Nationals’ defense has been terrible to begin the season, which certainly doesn’t help Strasburg or any of their starters. It’s only been two starts for Strasburg and while I do understand the frustration, most of the anger directed towards him is unfair. Jordan Zimmermann has been awful to begin the season and I haven’t heard anything about his “shortcomings”. Let’s have a short memory and believe in Strasburg’s overall skill set (10.31 strikeouts per nine, 2.30 walk rate, 2.85 FIP/2.76 xFIP in 660 career IP). On a site like FanDuel where Strasburg is a bit cheaper than Harvey, I’m willing to consider him as the top option (Strasburg and the Nationals are -225 favorites, the highest out of any team in action today).

Value Play:

Garrett Richards (LAA) – Richards will make his season debut today and the matchup fits his skill set perfectly. Richards has awesome skills against RHBs, as demonstrated by an elite ground ball rate of 58 percent, a 20 percent strike out rate and a 0.69 home runs per nine in his last 313 IP. The Astros offense usually consists of at least six RHBs and while the park shift is negative (Minute Maid Park is closer to neutral while Angel Stadium of Anaheim is considered an extreme pitcher’s park), his skills against RHBs combined with an Astros offense that’s projected to strike out more than any other team in the majors gives Richards plenty of upside this afternoon.

Additional starting pitcher notes: Adam Wainwright (STL) serves as a next in line option to Matt Harvey and Stephen Strasburg. Wainwright doesn’t boast the same strike out skills as the top two pitchers but his matchup is just as good (the Reds project to be an above average offense against RHP) and the pitching environment is favorable (Busch Stadium is considered an extreme pitcher’s park). Wainwright and the Cardinals are the third highest favorites (-190) on this slate. Michael Pineda (NYY) rates very well in our model (right behind the tier 1 of starting pitchers and Garrett Richards) and his price point is fair around the industry. Like Wainwright, he doesn’t have the same strike out upside as the top two pitchers but his matchup is actually the best out of any starting pitcher this afternoon. The Rays project as a bottom three offense against RHP this season and also project to strike out in bunches (23 percent strike out rate). Pineda will be away from Yankee Stadium (one of the best hitting environments) and instead will be pitching at Tropicana Field (considered an extreme pitcher’s park). I view Pineda as a great value on two starting pitcher sites. Gerrit Cole (PIT) doesn’t have a good matchup against the Brewers but at least he will get to face this offense in the pitcher friendly PNC Park. Additionally, Carlos Gomez has been placed on the disabled list, easing some matchup concerns for Cole today. Cole will have the platoon advantage against most of the Brewers today (usually a heavy RH offense) and his skills against RHBs in particular are phenomenal (high ground ball rate, high strike out rate and limits hard contact). I don’t see a need to declare him a cash game value or tournament play because he’s a good option in all formats today but his DFS stock has more value in cash games on two starting pitcher sites. I’m only utilizing starting pitchers that were mentioned in the first two tiers in both cash games and tournaments (I see contrarian upside in Jon Lester and the third tier of starting pitchers but not enough to consider for cash game formats).

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:

1) Toronto Blue Jays

2) Boston Red Sox

3) Los Angeles Dodgers

4) Washington Nationals

Contrarian/Secondary Stacks:

5) Detroit Tigers

6) Chicago White Sox

7) Cleveland Indians

The first four teams have been covered repeatedly throughout our content today. The Blue Jays get priority as the number one stack for tournaments/cash games because of their elite hitting environment (Rogers Center) and potent lineup as a whole. My favorite mini-stack for tournaments is Josh Donaldson–Jose Bautista–Edwin Encarnacion. Even though they don’t have the platoon edge today, Shelby Miller has fly ball tendencies (39 percent fly ball rate against RHBs in the last few seasons) and that’s not a recipe for success at Rogers Center. Vegas agrees, setting the Blue Jays team total at 4.5 runs. Fenway Park is tough for LHBs but David Ortiz isn’t slowed down by ballparks. Personally, I like the first six hitters from the Red Sox lineup for tournaments. The Dodgers have a phenomenal matchup against Eddie Butler and I view this whole team in play for tournaments (Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick, Yasiel Puig and Yasmani Grandal are all in play for cash games). The Nationals (particularly Ian Desmond–Bryce Harper–Ryan Zimmerman) have a team total of 4.5 and draw a favorable matchup against David Buchanan. A mini-stack of Desmond and Harper can be deployed in cash games.

My favorite contrarian stacks come from one game; Tigers versus White Sox. Both teams will likely be low owned due to the solid pitchers on the mound. However, Shane Greene is expected to regress (after two nice performances to begin the season) and Jose Quintana gets to face at least seven potent RHBs from the Tigers lineup. Vegas agree here, setting the game total at eight and the over is being hit currently (pushing towards 8.5). There are plenty of power bats to choose from this game (Miguel Cabrera, Jose Abreu, J.D. Martinez, Adam LaRoche) and I wouldn’t mind stacking both teams in a multi-entry tournament.

The Indians are another strong stack option against Trevor May. The ballpark isn’t great for power, but May is one of the weaker starters on the slate and the Indians project as an above average offense against RHP. The concern for the value of the Indians stack is that Minnesota suppresses LH power considerably which may limit some of the upside. You may notice a few Braves recommendations in the content, but they’re better used as value fillers than pure stacks. We’d try to limit cash game exposure to two Braves maximum.

MLB Game Weather Forecasts

In these scales, a 10 strongly favors the hitter, a 1 strongly favors the pitcher while a 5 means that it should not influence the weather.

NYY at TB 1:10: Dome.

ATL at TOR 1:07: Retractable roof. Dry, cool and breezy. If yesterday’s game was played with the roof closed, I would assume this one would be as well.

CHW at DET 1:08: Dry for the start of the game. If the game goes long, rain will begin around 4-5 PM. Temps in the upper 50s. Air density is a 5. Wind east 10-20 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 3.

MIA at NYM 1:10: Dry. Temps near 60 to start falling into the mid 50s. Air density is a 5. Wind northeast 8-16 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.

BLT at BOS 1:35: Dry. Temps near 50 falling into the middle 40s. Air density is a 3. Wind northeast at 8-16 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.

PHL at WSH 1:35: Dry to start. If the game goes long, rain will start around 5-6 PM. Temps in the lower to middle 60s. Air density is a 5. Wind east 10-20 mph with gusts to 25 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 3.

MIL at PIT 1:35: Dry to start. If the game goes long, rain will start around 4 PM. Temps near 60. Air density is a 5. Wind east-northeast 10-20 which blows in from left. The wind is a 3.

OAK at KC 2:10: A widely scattered shower or thunderstorm at anytime. 10-20% of a delay; <10% chance of a cancellation. They should play this game. Temps near 60. Air density is a 5. Wind west-northwest at 10-20 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 7.

CLE at MIN 2:10: Scattered showers at anytime. 10-20% of a delay, they will play this game. Temps in the upper 50s falling into the middle 50s. Air density is a 5. Wind northwest 10-20 mph with gusts to 25 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 7 or 8.

LAA at HOU 2:10: retractable roof. Dry. Warm. The may play this game with the roof open. If they do, temps will be in the middle 80s falling to around 80. The air density will be a 7. Wind southwest 7-14 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.

SD at CHC 2:20: Rain very close to game time. Looks like a steady, soaking rain so this game maybe cancelled. Temps in the lower 50s. Air density is a 4. Wind east 8-16 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.

AZ at SF 4:05: Dry. Temps in the middle 60s falling to near 60. Air density is a 5. Wind northwest 10-20 mph which blows out to right-center. The wind is a 7.

TEX at SEA 4:10: Retractable roof. Dry and mild so the roof should be open. Temps in the upper 60s to start falling to the lower 60s. Air density is 5. Wind northwest 8-16 mph to start becoming 5-10 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.

COL at LAD 4:10: Dry. Temps in the middle 60s falling to near 60. Air density is a 5. Wind west 10-20 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.

CIN at STL 8:00: Scattered shower/thunderstorms. 10-20% of a delay, they should play this game (~10% of a cancellation). This game has slightly more risk weather-wise than games in KC or MIN. Temps in the middle 60s falling to near 60. Air density is a 5. Wind west becoming southwest 5-10 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 5.


MLB Daily Analysis