MLB DFS Daily Fantasy Rundown – July 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: Meteorologist Mark Paquette’s game by game weather forecasts will be included in the first lineup alert today.
Buster Posey (SFG) – Posey has surreal skills against LHP (.417 wOBA, .240 ISO) and he’s used to playing in a terrible hitting venue (AT&T Park). Posey and the Giants offense are undergoing a massive park shift today (Chase Field) and they face Patrick Corbin (has allowed three home runs in two starts this season but he’s a solid pitcher overall). Posey is expensive around the industry but he’s worth his high salary in tournaments.
Jonathan Lucroy (MIL) – While Lucroy isn’t Buster Posey, he has been a very good hitter against LHP (.376 wOBA, .198 ISO). Opposing pitcher Jeff Locke is accustomed to playing in a great pitcher’s park (PNC Park) and he has allowed a .316 wOBA to RHBs since 2012 while posting a below average eight percent K-BB%. Lucroy seems priced for a different matchup on DraftKings ($3,300), where he represents the strongest point per dollar value at the catcher position (ranks inside our top 15 hitters according to our model).
John Jaso (TB) – Lucroy is by far the best value at the catcher position on DraftKings but there’s a real decision to be made on FanDuel, where Jaso is priced below the average cost of a hitter ($2,900). Jaso has plus skills against RHP (.375 wOBA, .174 ISO) and he obtains a great lineup spot (leadoff). Opposing pitcher Marco Estrada has allowed a 1.40 HR/9 to LHBs in the last three seasons and Rogers Centre is a big improvement over Jaso’s home park (Tropicana Field is a terrible hitter’s park). Jaso is a primary target at the catcher position on sites where he’s priced fairly (top 30 hitter in our model).
Additional catcher notes: If Kyle Schwarber (CHC) hits second for the Cubs today, he would emerge as a good option around the industry (next in line to the written options above). Opposing pitcher Shelby Miller has struggled with LHBs over the last three seasons and Schwarber projects to have a plus power tool at the major league level (.231 ISO in 27 PAs this season). Matt Wieters (BAL) has a good matchup against Justin Verlander, whose career continues to be on a downward spiral (5.3 K-BB%, by far the lowest of his career and his run prevention is awful). Wieters isn’t as skilled as the written options above so he rates as a secondary option today.
Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) – (Tough matchup against Madison Bumgarner but he’s averaging the most Fantasy Points at the first base position and that’s a result of awesome improvements at the plate; with an emphasis on starting pitching today, Goldschmidt fails to rate as a cash game value but he’s worth his high price tag in tournaments)
Jose Abreu (CWS) – Abreu is too cheap on FanDuel ($3,200), where he rates as a very strong play. His skills against LHP are elite (.421 wOBA, .255 ISO) and a matchup against Danny Duffy (.355 wOBA and 1.09 HR/9 allowed to RHBs this season) at U.S. Cellular Field (elite hitting venue) gives him plenty of upside. We’re not sure why Abreu is so cheap around the industry but now is the time to target him across all formats. Abreu is our fifth ranked hitter this afternoon and yet he’s not priced like this around the industry.
Chris Davis (BAL) – Davis is playing away from home (Camden Yards) but his matchup could help take away his main issue as a hitter, which is making contact (striking out over 30 percent of the time against RHP). Justin Verlander is a shell of himself (through five starts this season, he has posted a 14 percent K rate, 1.78 HR/9 and a 5.34 ERA/5.73 FIP/5.18 xFIP) and Davis has been a nice hitter against RHP (.374 wOBA, .276 ISO against RHP since 2012). He seems mispriced on DraftKings ($3,800) relative to his skills and matchup. Even our model agrees (ranks inside our top 25 hitters in our model despite not being priced like this around the industry).
Additional first base notes: Anthony Rizzo (CHC) doesn’t have as strong of a matchup as the written values above but his elite skills against RHP garners consideration. I’d rather target him in tournaments since Chris Davis and Jose Abreu are priced favorably around the industry. Victor Martinez (DET) is another hitter that’s too cheap on DraftKings ($3,900 on that site and he’s ranked inside our top 20 hitters). The written options above have higher power potential so at similar price points they make more sense in cash games. Pedro Alvarez (PIT) is another option that rates strongly in our model (ranked inside our top 20 hitters). Opposing pitcher Taylor Jungmann has been a solid pitcher thus far (has kept the ball on the ground for the most part) but his lack of strikeout abilities could hurt him in this matchup (Alvarez is a boom or bust option due to his ability to hit for power and his inability to consistently make contact). Alvarez is hitting a career high 54 percent GB rate and our model hasn’t captured this yet. He’s a better target for tournaments.
Jimmy Paredes (BAL) – Our model hasn’t captured Parede’s improving skills against RHP this season and hence why he never rates well. However, Paredes has posted a .359 wOBA, .191 ISO against RHP and he has a very strong matchup against Justin Verlander today, which makes him the top value play at second base on this slate. Neil Walker has a very similar skill set against RHP and he’s hitting in the better environment (Miller Park) but the strength of matchup favors Paredes. These two hitters rate close enough where price points will likely end up being the decisive factor in cash games.
Neil Walker (PIT) – Walker has accumulated a .355 wOBA, .192 ISO against RHP since 2012 and he’s accustomed to hitting at PNC Park (awful hitting venue). He receives a massive park shift (Miller Park) and despite Taylor Jungmann being better than advertised, projection systems don’t like him much (projected ZiPS ERA of 4.78 for the rest of this season). Walker and Paredes are priced favorably around the industry but they’re so close in skill that I’m letting the strength of matchup/price point dictate my decisions.
Additional second base notes: Ben Zobrist (OAK) has a plus matchup against Tommy Milone (despite pitching in great environments, he has been homer prone). Oakland Coliseum isn’t a good hitting venue and the Athletics haven’t been very good against LHP but Zobrist still rates favorably in our model due to his matchup and a team total that’s approaching 4.5 runs. Ian Kinsler (DET) is a better hitter against LHP but opposing pitcher Miguel Gonzalez has reverse splits (allowing a 1.61 HR/9 to RHBs since 2012). Kinsler is a fine secondary target in all formats this afternoon due to his matchup but the downgrade in hitting skills keeps Paredes and Walker as our main cash game targets at the position.
Jean Segura (MIL) – Once again, the shortstop position carries no opportunity cost (Troy Tulowitzki is hitting at Petco Park and Jose Reyes has an awful matchup against Chris Archer). Segura seems like the most logical play at the barren shortstop position. While he’s not a good hitter (.293 wOBA, .113 ISO against LHP in the last few seasons), Segura will leadoff against southpaw Jeff Locke and the Brewers have a team total that’s approaching 4.5 runs. Segura has some speed upside (30 SB upside over a full season) and he’s hitting in front of Jonathan Lucroy and Ryan Braun (very good hitters against LHP, which increases his run scoring opportunities). These contextual factors are enough to make Segura the best shortstop value on this slate at his current price levels (below the average cost of a hitter around the industry).
Additional shortstop notes: Hanley Ramirez (BOS) deserves cash game consideration on DraftKings due to his skill set against LHP and a matchup against the homer prone Hector Santiago (1.41 HR/9 allowed to RHBs since 2012). The Red Sox have a team total of 3.5 runs and this is a negative park shift for Ramirez so he’s more of a secondary option today. Other cheap punts that have some appeal for cash games on DraftKings are Cesar Hernandez (PHI) and J.J. Hardy (BAL).
Manny Machado (BAL) – (Machado is a better hitter against RHP and he has a strong matchup against Justin Verlander, who has been even more underwhelming than anticipated through five starts; it’ll be tough to pay up for a third baseman today since our number one priority is starting pitching but he’s in play across all formats due to his skills and strength of matchup)
Next in line:
Kris Bryant (CHC) – (Not a good matchup against Shelby Miller but he’s only $3,300 on FanDuel; he’s a good value on that particular site)
Aramis Ramirez (MIL) – Like the shortstop position, it doesn’t look like third base is carrying a ton of opportunity cost today. Ramirez will have the platoon edge against Jeff Locke and his skills against LHP are elite (.400 wOBA, .286 ISO against LHP since 2012). While Ramirez hasn’t been the same type of hitter against LHP this season (.236 wOBA), he continues to hit for power (.200 ISO). The power potential is enough to make him the top value around the industry, particularly on DraftKings ($3,100).
Additional third base notes: Nick Castellanos (DET) isn’t a great hitter against RHP but he has been hitting fifth lately and Miguel Gonzalez allows too much power to opposing RHBs. He’s a decent secondary target on sites where he’s priced close to the minimum ($2,500 on FanDuel).
Mike Trout (LAA)/Andrew McCutchen (PIT) – For the second day in a row, Trout and McCutchen are our top ranked hitters. There are plenty of starting pitcher options on this slate but they’re not cheap. They rate as good options across all formats but their high price points makes them better targets for tournaments.
Brewers outfield – Ryan Braun (.426 wOBA, .300 ISO) and Carlos Gomez (.364 wOBA, .235 ISO) are awesome hitters against LHP and opposing pitcher Jeff Locke doesn’t neutralize hitters at an above league average rate (eight percent K-BB %). He’s used to pitching at PNC Park (elite pitcher’s park) and he’s facing a terrible park shift (Miller Park is a nice hitting environment). Where Braun and Gomez are priced similarly I want Braun since he’s the better hitter but they’re both in play in just about any format (both are ranked inside our top five hitters).
Nelson Cruz (SEA) – Yankee Stadium is a better hitting environment for LHBs but Cruz hits in such an underwhelming venue (Safeco Field) that this is actually a favorable park shift for him and the Mariners RHBs. Opposing pitcher CC Sabathia struggles with RHBs (.343 wOBA, 1.40 HR/9 allowed to RHBs since 2012) and Cruz is an elite hitter against LHP (.413 wOBA, .257 ISO vs. LHBs in the last three seasons), which makes him an elite DFS option around the industry. Cruz feels close to a core play on sites where he’s priced close to the average cost of a hitter (ranked inside our top 10 hitters).
Yoenis Cespedes (DET) – Cespedes ranks just outside of our top 10 hitters this afternoon. Cespedes has been a league average hitter against RHP (118 wRC+ against RHP since 2012) but his power tool is above average (.198 ISO). Opposing pitcher Miguel Gonzalez struggles a ton with right-handed power (1.61 HR/9 allowed to RHBs in the last three season), which is Cespedes biggest strength as a hitter. Cespedes is priced favorably around the industry, particularly on FanDuel ($3,400).
Gregory Polanco (PIT) – Polanco hasn’t been a great hitter against RHP (.314 wOBA) but he has speed upside (35 SB upside over a full season) and opposing pitcher Taylor Jungmann isn’t liked by projection systems. Polanco seems like a nice bargain on FanDuel ($2,300), where he’s close to minimum priced.
Additional outfield notes: J.D. Martinez (DET) is priced fully around the industry but he has plenty of upside in his matchup against Miguel Gonzalez (allows a ton of power to RHBs). He’s cash game worthy on a site like FanDuel where it’s easier to fit him. Angel Pagan and Hunter Pence (SFG) are nice targets on FanDuel where they’re too cheap (especially Pence, who’s a good hitter against LHP and he’s priced as an average hitter). Khris Davis (MIL) isn’t a great hitter but he has nice power skills against southpaws (.245 ISO) and he has a matchup against Jeff Locke at Miller Park. Davis is a good value on a site like DraftKings ($3,400) since he’s cheap and that site rewards power more than FanDuel. Justin Upton (SD) deserves tournament consideration against the underwhelming Kyle Kendrick. Mark Trumbo (SEA) doesn’t benefit from a good lineup spot but he does have a matchup that’s friendly for power potential purposes (CC Sabathia is homer prone and Yankee Stadium won’t help him). He’s a good tournament target relative to his matchup and skills against LHP.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Chris Sale (CWS)
2) Max Scherzer (WSH)
3) Zack Greinke (LAD)
4) Johnny Cueto (CIN)
5) Carlos Carrasco (CLE)
6) Jake Arrieta (CHC)
7) Dallas Keuchel (HOU)
8) Cole Hamels (PHI)
9) Chris Archer (TB)
10) Madison Bumgarner (SFG)
11) Felix Hernandez (SEA)
12) Jesse Chavez (OAK)
13) Marco Estrada (TOR)
14) Andrew Cashner (SD)
Chris Sale (CWS) – This is perhaps the most stacked slate for starting pitchers that I can remember. There are 11 “aces” on this slate and most of them are in weird situations (either tough matchups or difficult environments). While Sale falls in the category of an ace in a difficult environment (U.S. Cellular Field) that’s in a matchup that can be troublesome for strikeout potential (Royals are striking out 15 percent of the time against LHP), his elite skill set puts him in a tier of his own. Sale has accumulated a 29 percent K-BB ratio and his underlying peripherals are insane (68 percent F-Strike rate, 16 percent SwStr rate and 38 percent chase rate). His run prevention is elite as well (2.72 ERA/2.20 FIP/2.33 xFIP) and his hard minus soft hit rate is less than one percent. While the Royals don’t strike out, they’re ranked 15th in wRC+ against LHP and they don’t hit for power (ranked 26th in ISO against LHP). I don’t view Sale as a must play on multiple starting pitcher sites where a more balanced approach at the position exists but on FanDuel he seems like the most logical cash game option (largest favorite on this slate and easy to fit on that site).
Next in line:
Max Scherzer (WSH) – (Scherzer is our second ranked pitcher and he’s averaging the most Fantasy Points at the position this season; our biggest concern is a matchup against an elite Dodgers offense so despite his elite skills, we’re not comfortable paying for his large price tag in cash games)
Johnny Cueto (CIN) – Cueto falls into the category of an ace who’s pitching in a tough environment (Great American Ball Park) this afternoon. However, he has a plus matchup against the Indians (ranked 19th in wRC+ and are striking out 19 percent of the time against RHP). Cueto has been dominant once again (24 percent K rate, five percent BB rate) and his above average K rate is supported by a 67 percent F-Strike rate, 11 percent SwStr rate and 37 percent chase rate. While Cueto’s ERA predictors are calling for some regression, Cueto is able to outperform his expected ERAs since he neutralizes batters so well (.271 wOBA vs. LHBs, .270 wOBA vs. RHBs since 2012). Cueto is only a slight favorite today so he’s a better value on a site like DraftKings ($10,700), where it makes sense to approach the position with a balanced approach instead of paying more than $13,000 for a pitcher in cash games.
Carlos Carrasco (CLE) – Carrasco is consistently priced as one of the best values on this slate. Carrasco has continued his onslaught of Ks from a season ago (28 percent K rate this season, 27 percent last season. His strikeout skills are backed up by elite peripherals (66 percent F-Strike rate, 13.4 percent SwStr rate and 39 percent chase rate) and his run prevention should be better moving forward (4.07 ERA/2.73 FIP/2.70 xFIP). Great American Ball Park isn’t the best place for run prevention purposes (elite hitting venue) but the Reds represent a fine matchup (ranked 18th in wRC+ against RHP). I don’t view Carrasco as a must play, especially on a slate that features so many great pitchers but I do believe that he’s a good option on multiple starting pitcher sites.
Dallas Keuchel (HOU) – While Keuchel’s strikeout rate (21 percent K rate) don’t compare with any of the pitchers from the first three tiers, his run prevention is just as good or better. Keuchel has posted a 2.23 ERA/2.81 FIP/2.72 xFIP, mostly because he keeps the ball on the ground at an elite rate (64 percent GB rate) and he doesn’t allow any hard contact (allowing a negative five percent hard minus soft hit rate). He draws an elite matchup against a Rangers offense that’s ranked 26th in wRC+ and are striking out over 23 percent of the time against LHP. The Rangers have a team total of three runs and Keuchel is a -150 favorite (second highest favorite on this slate). Keuchel makes more sense on sites where a win/run prevention is more important than racking up the Ks.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Zack Greinke (LAD) has a neutral matchup against the Nationals and this offense is striking out over 21 percent of the time against RHP. Greinke rates ahead of the written values above but he’s priced a bit more aggressively around the industry and the gap in expected production is very small. He’s still an option across all formats but his high price point makes him a secondary target. Jake Arrieta (CHC) is our sixth ranked starter (right behind Carlos Carrasco) but like Greinke, he’s priced aggressively on most sites. He has a difficult matchup from a strikeout perspective (Braves are striking out only 17 percent of the time against RHP) but his run prevention is elite and this matchup is strong overall (Braves are missing Freddie Freeman, their best hitter, and they’re ranked 21st in wRC+ against RHP). Cole Hamels (PHI) is the last pitcher from tier two but as I mentioned before, most of these pitchers are very close in terms of expected production today. The Marlins are a better offense against LHP but their missing their best hitter (Giancarlo Stanton) and Hamels neutralizes RHBs well (.295 wOBA, 18 percent K-BB ratio vs. RHBs since 2012). His price point is compelling on DraftKings ($10,100). Chris Archer (TB), Madison Bumgarner (SFG) and Felix Hernandez (SEA) represent our third tier of starting pitchers and all three are facing tough offenses in difficult environments. I view all three as strong secondary tournament targets but Archer is the strongest option in my opinion (facing a righty-heavy offense and he has dominated RHBs extremely well over his career). It’s important to note that all three of these pitchers are priced favorably on DraftKings (due to the matchups/difficult environments) and with so many pitchers in play, I could see a scenario where these pitchers go under-owned in tournaments. Jesse Chavez (OAK) and Marco Estrada (TOR) are two low cost options that I’m interested in multiple starting pitcher sites. Chavez has been pitching with reduced velocity lately but he draws a favorable matchup against a righty-heavy Twins offense at Oakland Coliseum. I don’t see much utility in punting a starting pitcher on multiple starting pitcher sites but if you’d like to load up on offense, Chavez represents a decent secondary target. Estrada has problems with the long ball but he has a favorable matchup against a Rays offense that struggles with RHP. He’s a fine target for large field, multi-entry tournaments.
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) Detroit Tigers
2) Milwaukee Brewers
3) Baltimore Orioles
No surprises here as the Tigers, Brewers and Orioles have the highest team totals on this slate and their matchups against underwhelming pitchers gives them plenty of upside across all formats.
1) Pittsburgh Pirates
2) Oakland Athletics
3) San Fransisco Giants
4) New York Yankees
Taylor Jungmann has been better than advertised but projection systems don’t like him moving forward and the Pirates are facing a massive park shift in their favor. That’s enough to warrant consideration for cash games and tournaments as a secondary stack.
The Athletics have a matchup against the below average Tommy Milone and he has allowed too much power despite pitching in elite pitcher’s park for most of his career. They don’t hit LHP well but this matchup could help.
The Giants don’t have a great matchup against Patrick Corbin (he’s a good pitcher). However, like the Pirates, they’re facing a massive park shift in their favor (from AT&T Park to Chase Field) and the Giants have some hitters that can hit LHP very well.
The Yankees are the most contrarian offense I could think of that are in a potentially decent spot. Their matchup against Felix Hernandez is awful but they’re playing at Yankee Stadium and that short porch is always attractive for DFS purposes. I’m willing to give the Yankees a shot on large field, multi-entry tournaments on sites where they’ve been priced ahead of this matchup (DraftKings).