MLB DFS Daily Fantasy Rundown – July 18th, 2015
Welcome to Saturday’s edition of the Daily Fantasy Rundown with “leonem”, “dinkpiece” and “thenumbersguy”. Each day throughout the MLB season our daily MLB scouting reports will highlight the best top, value and cheap plays of the day based on the Daily Fantasy Industry’s pricing for salary cap games. The goal of our analysis is to help you improve consistency and become a better player long-term.
Weather: There’s a chance for a delay in Detroit. 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 (SFG) – (Posey is the top option at Chase Field even when he has a R/R matchup; massive park shift in his favor and even though he’s a better hitter against LHP, he has plus skills against RHP and opposing pitcher Chase Anderson has reverse splits; he’s a bit expensive around the industry but if you’d like to pay up for a catcher, Posey is the best high-cost option at the position on this slate)
Stephen Vogt (OAK) – Vogt has been a good hitter against RHP in the last three seasons (.341 wOBA, .175 ISO) but he has been even better this season (.396 wOBA, .248 ISO in 240 PAs against RHP). He has improved his plate discipline (0.66 EYE this season, 0.41 EYE last season), which continues the general trend of improvement for Vogt (posting a career high wOBA/ISO and he’s coming off his first all-star game selection). Opposing pitcher Phil Hughes has been a shell of himself (not missing any bats and he has allowed a 1.70 HR/9 this season) so this is a great matchup for Vogt and the contact-oriented A’s offense. Vogt is priced favorably around the industry and if I’m not paying for Posey (tough to do with Kluber/Ross), Vogt represents the most logical option at the position (best point per dollar value).
Additional catcher notes: Jason Castro (HOU) has an awesome matchup against Colby Lewis (terrible vs. LHBs and allows too much power) but he doesn’t benefit from a good lineup spot (usually buried in the bottom of the lineup). He’s a nice tournament option on FanDuel (minimum priced on that site). Alex Avila (DET) has been hitting fifth or sixth lately and he will have the platoon edge against Chris Tillman (doesn’t miss many bats). Tillman struggles more with RHBs and this Tigers offense could pose a big threat (righty-heavy offense) so I expect some run producing opportunities for Avila. Jonathan Lucroy (MIL) doesn’t have a great matchup against Francisco Liriano but he’s a good hitter against LHP and he’s cheap on DraftKings ($3,200). I view him as a secondary option on sites where he’s priced below the average cost of a hitter.
Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) – (No other first baseman is averaging more Fantasy Points than Goldschmidt and he has made awesome improvements at the plate this season which has lead to an incredible .343/.455/.610 triple slash line; opposing pitcher Jake Peavy is a solid pitcher and he has neutralized RHBs well in his career but his fastball has lost some velocity; I don’t mind picking on him in cash games with a hitter like Goldschmidt in plus hitting environment)
Brandon Belt (SFG) – Belt ranks inside our top 10 hitters on this slate and he always rates better in our model when he’s away from AT&T Park (one of the worst hitting environments in all of baseball). Belt has accumulated a .364 wOBA, .190 ISO against RHP in the last few seasons and opposing pitcher Chase Anderson has allowed one home run per nine innings to LHBs since 2012. There aren’t great mid-tier values on this slate but Belt rates as the strongest and he’s priced fairly around the industry.
Carlos Santana (CLE) – Santana has been a solid hitter against RHP (.437 wOBA/.193 ISO) but the best thing going for him today is his matchup and a favorable park shift. Opposing pitcher Anthony DeSclafani has allowed a .332 wOBA and 1.03 HR/9 to 304 LHBs at the major league level and he allows too much contact (six percent K-BB%). A plus matchup in a great hitting environment (Great American Ball Park) makes Santana a good mid-tier value (ranked inside our top 15 hitters in our model) but Brandon Belt is a slightly better option where priced similarly.
Additional first base notes: Victor Martinez (DET) ranks inside our top 20 hitters on this slate. He will have the platoon edge against Chris Tillman and he’s priced fairly on DraftKings ($4,100). He’s a good secondary target on that particular site. David Ortiz (BOS) doesn’t have a great matchup against Garrett Richards but he’s priced below the average cost of a hitter on DraftKings ($3,600). Ortiz is a good value on that site relative to his elite skill set against RHP. Pedro Alvarez (PIT) will have the platoon edge against Jimmy Nelson (.360 wOBA, 1.31 HR/9 allowed to LHBs in the last few seasons) at Miller Park. Alvarez is more of a boom or bust option since he either hits for power or strikes out but this matchup and hitting environment could help him produce a positive DFS performance. He’s cheap around the industry but he’s a better option on DraftKings (rewards power more than FanDuel) since he has third base eligibility on that site and he’s only $3,100.
Jason Kipnis (CLE) – Kipnis will have carry the platoon edge into this matchup against Anthony DeSclafani (struggles with LHBs) at Great American Ball Park (elite hitting venue). Kipnis has been a good hitter against RHP over the last three seasons but he’s been even better this season (hitting more line drives and he has improved his plate discipline). He’s expensive around the industry and there’s a nice cost-effective value at second base (Neil Walker) so I’m not as eager to pay for him in cash games even though he’s a good option in just about any format.
Next in line:
Jose Altuve (HOU) – (Opposing pitcher Colby Lewis isn’t very good and he’s homer prone; Altuve is priced fairly around the industry when you take into account his speed upside and he’s in play across all formats but he’s a better option for tournaments since paying up at second base isn’t a necessity tonight)
Neil Walker (PIT) – A big reason why I’m personally not paying up for Altuve or Kipnis in cash games is because Walker is an excellent value. It looks like DraftKings priced him for a different matchup ($3,500) and we’re going to take advantage of this. Opposing pitcher Jimmy Nelson hasn’t figured out how to neutralize LHBs at the major league level (has allowed a .360 wOBA to LHBs) and Miller Park represents a massive park shift for this Pirates offense (home park is PNC park, one of the worst hitting environments in baseball). Walker has been a nice hitter against RHP (.355 wOBA, .192 ISO) and he’s hitting the ball harder this season (36 percent hard hit rate, highest of his career). He rates as the strongest cash game option at the position since his point per dollar valuation is skewed due to his unusually low price point on DraftKings.
Additional second base notes: Ian Kinsler (DET) is a better hitter against LHP but opposing pitcher Chris Tillman struggles more with RHBs (particularly struggles with hard, aerial contact). I view Kinsler as a good tournament option, especially now that he’s leading off for the Tigers (maximizes his PAs). Joe Panik (SFG) has made improvements in his plate discipline, he’s hitting the ball harder and as a result, his surface statistics have taken a step forward (.311/.374/.449 triple slash line). I view him as a better cash game option on sites where he’s priced as an average hitter.
Additional shortstop notes: The shortstop position is a great position to cover in the additional notes section since it carries no opportunity cost. Marwin Gonzalez (HOU) rates as the best punt option on this slate ($2,700 on DraftKings). He’s not a good hitter but he will hit second against the underwhelming Colby Lewis (.351 wOBA, 1.20 HR/9 allowed to LHBs since 2012). Teammate Carlos Correa has a high price point around the industry and he won’t have the platoon edge but Colby Lewis isn’t any better against RHBs either (.320 wOBA, 1.33 HR/9 allowed to RHBs in the last three seasons). Correa is in play across all formats but he’s a better option for tournaments. Brandon Crawford (SFG) has a matchup against Chase Anderson at Chase Field but he usually has an unappealing lineup spot. As a result of this, Crawford is a better tournament target than a cash game value. Cesar Hernandez (PHI) is an adequate punt option on DraftKings (has speed upside and hits second).
Kris Bryant (CHC) – In a small sample (66 PAs), Bryant has dominated LHBs (.393 wOBA, .304 ISO). Bryant has accumulated a .201 ISO in his rookie season but more power is likely on the way (48 percent loft rate). Manny Banuelos isn’t a big threat for Bryant (doesn’t project to have above average strikeout skills) and Bryant is simply too cheap on FanDuel ($3,400), where he also rates as the best value.
Jake Lamb (SFG) – While Jake Peavy is certainly not a bad pitcher, he’s not the type of pitcher he once was (89 MPH fastball) and this hitting environment could be troublesome (Chase Field). Lamb hasn’t been a very good hitter (.328 wOBA, .123 ISO) but he will have the platoon edge and he usually hits fifth against RHP. That’s good enough to warrant cash game consideration on a site like DraftKings, where he’s priced affordably ($3,300).
Additional third base notes: Luis Valbuena (HOU) would emerge as a good value play at third base if he garners a top six spot in the Astros offense tonight. He’s a boom or bust option but I could see a positive Fantasy performance in this matchup (Colby Lewis struggles vs. LHBs, especially with power). Pedro Alvarez (PIT) has third base eligibility on DraftKings, where I view him as a good value (platoon edge against Jimmy Nelson at Miller Park). Adrian Beltre (TEX) hasn’t been the same hitter we’re accustomed to seeing this season and we’re unsure if that’s age related (36 years old) or if he continues to battle a thumb issue. Nonetheless, Beltre has been a good hitter against RHP in previous seasons and Scott Feldman has allowed a .318 wOBA and 1.10 HR/9 to RHBs since 2012. He’s a good target around the industry now that his price point reflects his current performance.
Mike Trout (LAA)/Andrew McCutchen (PIT) – (Top two hitters on this slate but they’re pricey on most sites; I’d rather pay full price points for both in tournaments and focus on a more balanced approach for cash games)
Michael Brantley (CLE) – Brantley is too cheap on FanDuel ($3,200), where I view him as a top value play. He has been a nice hitter against RHP (.356 wOBA) and despite not hitting for a ton of power (.152 ISO against RHP since 2012), his plate discipline is beyond elite (1.46 EYE this season). In a plus matchup against Anthony DeSclafani (struggles vs. LHBs) at Great American Ball Park (elite hitting venue), Brantley is priced favorably relative to his contextual factors and favorable skill set against RHP.
Gregory Polanco (PIT) – Like Brantley, Polanco is just way too cheap on FanDuel ($2,300). He’s definitely not as skilled as Brantley (.314 wOBA, .120 ISO vs. RHP) but he does have speed upside (35 SB upside over a full season) and he draws a favorable matchup against Jimmy Nelson (.360 wOBA allowed to LHBs in the last few seasons) at Miller Park (much better hitting venue than PNC park).
Astros outfield – Preston Tucker (.357 wOBA, .214 ISO) and Colby Rasmus (.338 wOBA, .226 ISO) are good hitters against RHP and Colby Lewis is a mess vs. LHBs (.351 wOBA, 1.20 HR/9 allowed to LHBs since 2012). Tucker and Rasmus have top four spots in an Astros offense that has a team total approaching 4.5 runs. Both are priced below the average cost of a hitter around the industry so their priced favorably relative to their matchup and skills against RHP.
David Peralta (ARI) – Peralta has been a good hitter against RHP (.369 wOBA, .211 ISO in 493 PAs against RHP) and opposing pitcher Jake Peavy isn’t the pitcher he once was (fastball velocity has dipped to 89 MPH). The Diamondbacks have a team total of 4.5 runs and Peralta hits second (in front of Paul Goldschmidt). Peralta is a nice value on sites where he’s priced below the average cost of a hitter ($3,700 on DraftKings).
Additional outfield notes: The Giants outfield (Angel Pagan and Hunter Pence) have a solid matchup against Chase Anderson at Chase Field. Both are in play as secondary options but they rate as stronger values on a site like FanDuel (priced below the average cost of a hitter). Josh Reddick (OAK) has made real improvements at the plate this season (putting the ball in play more frequently), which has led to better surface statistics. Opposing pitcher Phil Hughes hasn’t been the same pitcher this season and he’s allowing a ton of hard hit contact through the air. Reddick feels too cheap on DraftKings ($3,300) relative to his matchup and skill set. J.D. Martinez and Yoenis Cespedes (DET) have an elite matchup against Chris Tillman (.322 wOBA, 1.43 HR/9 surrendered to RHBs since 2012). Cespedes has the better price point around the industry but the improvements that Martinez has made (generating more loft) makes him the higher upside play. Jason Heyward (STL) has a good matchup against Bartolo Colon (1.09 HR/9 allowed to LHBs despite pitching in great pitching environments) but Busch Stadium is an awful hitting venue. I view Heyward as a nice tournament option due to his skills against RHP and his matchup but the scoring environment takes him away from cash game consideration. Brandon Moss (CLE) doesn’t have a good lineup spot but his power skills are enough to consider him for tournaments in a matchup against Anthony DeSclafani at Great American Ball Park.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Corey Kluber (CLE)
2) David Price (DET)
3) Tyson Ross (SD)
4) Jon Lester (CHC)
5) Francisco Liriano (PIT)
6) John Lackey (STL)
7) Scott Kazmir (OAK)
8) Jimmy Nelson (MIL)
9) Chad Bettis (COL)
10) Manny Banuelos (ATL)
Corey Kluber (CLE) – Our model has pinned Kluber as the top starter on this slate and due to a gap in expected performance, he deserves his own tier. Kluber’s strikeout skills are what separates him above the rest, as he has accumulated a 29 percent K rate this season (24 percent K-BB%). These strikeout skills are supported by elite underlying peripherals (64 percent F-Strike rate, 13.4 SwStr rate and 37 percent chase rate) and his 3.38 ERA is fluky (2.49 FIP/2.65 xFIP/2.85 SIERA). When you combine the fact that the Indians defense isn’t very good and Kluber is allowing a .327 BABIP (league average is .294), his ERA predictors begin to make sense (close to a full run lower than his actual ERA). He has a plus matchup against a Reds offense that’s ranked 18th in wRC+ so the negative park shift (Great American Ball Park) doesn’t scare me away. Kluber goes deep into games, averaging over seven IP this season. So he’s a strike out machine, his run prevention should be better (not getting hit hard) and he goes deep into games. These skills put Kluber ahead of all the other starting pitchers on this slate.
Next in line:
David Price (DET) – (favorable matchup against an Orioles offense that’s facing a negative park shift and they’re striking out 21 percent of the time against southpaws; Price isn’t as skilled as Kluber but his run prevention is great and he also goes deep into games, averaging seven IP this season)
Tyson Ross (SD) – Ross and Jon Lester are very close in our model but the price points are a bit wide around the industry. Ross is the cheaper value of the two (close to a $1,000 gap in salary on DK), which makes him the better cost-effective value. Ross can be wild (12 percent BB rate) and that’s supported by a below average F-Strike rate (58 percent). However, his awesome strikeout rate (25 percent K rate) is fueled by a 13 percent SwStr rate, he’s allowing a puny three percent hard minus soft hit rate and he keeps the ball on the ground at an elite level (63 percent GB rate). The Rockies are facing a massive negative park shift (from Coors Field to Petco Park) and they’re sort of a neutral matchup overall (ranked 14th in wRC+) but they’re striking out over 20 percent of the time against RHP and their plate discipline isn’t good (ranked 26th in EYE). This has led to a team total of three runs (lowest on this slate). Ross is a great complement to Corey Kluber (or David Price) across all formats (particularly cash games).
Additional starting pitcher notes: Two cheap plays that I’m targeting this evening are Chad Bettis (COL) and Manny Banuelos (ATL). Bettis is more skilled (sporting a league average K rate, above average SwStr rate and chase rate) and his matchup is better (Padres are ranked 25th in wRC+ and are striking out over 22 percent of the time against RHP). Banuelos is cheaper and despite not projecting to have plus strikeout skills at the major league level, his matchup against the Cubs provides strikeout upside (striking out over 23 percent of the time against LHP). Both are usable in cash games as complements to Corey Kluber. Francisco Liriano (PIT) faces an offense that has been putrid against LHP this season. However, they should be much better considering that their a righty heavy offense that hit LHP well individually (Lucroy, Gomez, Braun, Ramirez and Davis all hit LHP very well). This is a negative park shift for Liriano (from PNC Park to Miller Park) and despite his great strikeout abilities, I feel more comfortable deploying him in tournaments. Jon Lester (CHC) and John Lackey (STL) are next in line options to Tyson Ross. They both have plus matchups but Lester is a better pitcher (striking out close to a better per inning). If Tyson Ross‘ wildness makes you uncomfortable for cash games, both Lester and Lackey are adequate secondary options. Scott Kazmir (OAK) is a good pitcher but his matchup is one that has given opposing LHPs some problems (Twins are ranked third in runs against southpaws). He’s a better option for tournaments tonight but keep in mind that the Twins have a team total of three runs (tied for the lowest on this slate).
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) Houston Astros
2) Arizona Diamondbacks
3) Pittsburgh Pirates
4) Cleveland Indians
These offenses were discussed at length throughout our analysis. They have the largest team totals on this slate and their facing average/below average starters in good hitting venues.
1) Detroit Tigers
2) San Francisco Giants
3) Oakland Athletics
The Tigers are my favorite contrarian offense of this slate. Most of their hitters will have R/R matchups but Chris Tillman struggles more with RHBs (homer prone). There’s plenty of upside here for tournaments and I don’t mind utilizing a few of these hitters in cash games as long as their prices are fair.
The Giants are facing a massive park shift (from AT&T Park to Chase Field). That alone gives them consideration across all formats. Opposing pitcher Chase Anderson doesn’t miss many bats and he can be prone to the long ball (1.17 HR/9). Like the Tigers, I don’t mind dipping in here for cash game value.
Phil Hughes hasn’t been the same pitcher and he’s allowing a ton of hard contact, particularly through the air. The Athletics are a top 10 offense against RHP this season and despite the tough hitting environment (Oakland Coliseum), this matchup against Hughes gives them upside across all formats.
MLB Game Weather Forecasts
MIA at PHL 7:05: Rain this morning leaves the city and there is just a 20% chance of a delay due to a widely scattered, popup variety thunderstorm. No threat of a cancellation. Temps in the mid 80s falling into the upper 70s. Air density is a 9 becoming an 8. Wind south-southwest 8-16 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 7.
BLT at DET 7:08: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 80s falling into the upper 70s. Air density is a 9 becoming an 8. Wind south-southwest 8-16 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 3.
PIT at MIL 7:10: Retractable roof. There is a 40-60% chance of a thunderstorm right near the start of the game so the roof may be closed. If open, temps will be near 90 falling to near 80. Air density will be a 9 becoming an 8. Wind south-southwest 10-20 mph which blows in from right.
CHC at ATL 7:10: A 10% chance of a delay to a thunderstorm. Temps near 90 falling into the lower 80s. Air density is a 9. Wind west 4-8 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
CLE at CIN 7:10: A 10% chance of a delay due to a thunderstorm. Temps near 90 falling to near 80. Air density is a 9. Wind southwest 5-10 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.
TEX at HOU 7:10: Retractable roof. A 10% chance of a thunderstorm around. Temps in the low 90s falling into the mid 80s. Air density is a 9. Wind south-southeast 6-12 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
NYM at STL 7:15: A 10 to maybe 20% chance of a thunderstorm causing a delay. Temps in the low 90s falling into the mid 80s. Air density is a 9. Wind south-southwest 6-12 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6.
SF at AZ 8:10: Retractable roof. A 20-30% chance of a thunderstorm in the desert. So the roof may be closed but if it is open, temps will be in the low to mid 90s. Air density will be a 9. Wind variable at 6-12 mph. The wind is a 5.
COL at SD 8:40: There is a legitimate threat for thunderstorms in southern California this afternoon that will weaken this evening. I think there is a low probability of a PPD but the threat of a delay to either to the start of the game or at some point in the beginning of the game is real (30 to maybe 40% chance). Temps in the mid to upper 70s. Air density is a 7 or perhaps an 8 at the beginning of the game. Wind west 6-12 mph which blows from left to right.
BOS at LAA 9:05: There is a legitimate threat for thunderstorms in southern California this afternoon that will weaken this evening. I think there is a low probability of a PPD but the threat of a delay to either to the start of the game or at some point in the beginning of the game is real (30 to maybe 40% chance). Temps in the low to mid 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind west-southwest 5-10 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
MIN at OAK 9:07: Dry. Temps near 70 falling into the low to mid 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west-northwest 10-20 mph which blows out to right. The wind is an 8.