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Welcome to April 2 MLB DFS action. You’ll find Daily Fantasy Baseball Premium Cliff Notes for April 2 MLB DFS along with LIVE Premium Chat. Make sure you’re using the customizable projections tool, you’re actively participating in the live chat, and you’re reviewing the cliff notes to supplement your research and roster construction process. Very best of luck in tonight’s action!
03:30 Starting Pitcher
14:40 Stacks/Tournament Thoughts
- In cash games, we recommend focusing on value plays to build your rosters (far right hand column of Projections page linked above). Value plays are those we feel have the highest probability of out-earning their current price tag. By packing value plays into your roster, you’re creating a team with a higher floor.
- In tournaments, we recommend building a core of the best value plays and then complementing them with players who have a high ceiling. This combination is essentially turning up the variance on a strong foundation and we believe often is the best recipe for tournament success.
MLB DFS Optimizer Tutorial
Our MLB DFS Optimizer is live. Arturo put together an overview with MLB DFS Optimizer Cliffnotes that walk through the various features and frequently asked questions (FAQs) from customers during testing. We have also produced a basic optimizer tutorial video on YouTube (linked below) as well as a power user optimizer tutorial for the most advanced tournament players on how to get the most out of the optimizer. You can join the #MLB channel in slack if you have additional questions.
April 2 MLB DFS CLIFF NOTES
After a couple of down pitching slates, this 10 gamer is absolutely loaded. We’ll start up top with Max Scherzer (WAS) and Chris Sale (BOS). We have the pair projected almost identically on DraftKings but a one point edge for Scherzer on FanDuel (duration matters a bit more there, WHIP matters a bit more on DraftKings).
However, our projections don’t currently take into account Chris Sale‘s diminished velocity in his first outing of the year, which was a disaster start against the Mariners. Sale took it pretty easy in Spring Training. It’s possible his velocity was lagging a bit as a result, or a little bit random. It’s not uncommon for pitchers to see a dip early in the year. Those are the reasons we’re not adjusting his baselines and being too reactionary, but when it does make the swap to Scherzer, even at an expensive price tag, a pretty easy move in cash games, should you pay all the way up.
Justin Verlander (HOU) has a similar strikeout projection and outs baseline as Scherzer and Sale but the hitting environment in Texas gives him a meaningfully higher IRTA and keeps him behind Scherzer and Sale. He’s a pivot in tournaments, although, if the public gets squeamish on Sale, now might be a good time to pounce there.
We actually have Blake Snell (TB) projected higher than Verlander and with the second highest strikeout projection (8.1) on the slate, behind only Sale. Snell comes at a big discount to to Scherzer, Sale, and Verlander on DraftKings and a modest one on FanDuel. In cash games, we don’t have an issue with making the spend up to Scherzer, but the discount on DraftKings is tough to overlook. While Snell struggled in his first start, he’s home again and in an easier matchup this time. It’s a big negative park shift for a Rockies lineup that we have with an average K rate of 25% against LHP.
The above four pitchers represent the cream of the crop on this slate, with Scherzer and Sale in a tier of their own and Verlander and Snell just behind in a second tier. The third tier belongs to Zack Greinke (ARI), all by himself. Greinke saw reduced velocity in his opening start, which did not go well, but it’s tough to put too much stock into a lone start, especially since Greinke has a history of reduced fastball velocity out of the gate. While it’s something to consider, it’s tough not to buy Greinke’s price tag on DraftKings in the SP2 spot where he’s $7,600. He has a low 3.9 IRTA in a pitcher’s park against a Padres lineup that’s not intimidating against RHP. A favorable umpire also aids Greinke’s stock.
Jose Berrios (MIN) projects in line with Greinke and is coming off of a stellar Opening Day performance. Despite being on the road, Berrios is a -136 favorite with just a 3.5 IRTA. The Royals park plays bigger early in the year before we get into the summer heat, and this lineup doesn’t have a single wOBA split baseline of .330 or greater. While our confidence level with Berrios is higher than it is with Greinke, you have to pay a $2,100 premium on it on DraftKings.
Another mid-tier option on this slate is Marcus Stroman (TOR). He’s pricey on DraftKings but a Top 5 value on FanDuel and by far the best under $8,500 (he’s $7,400). There is a conversation over whether or not you can get away with a non top SP, even in tournaments, given FanDuel’s scoring structure. I think the answer is yes for a couple of reasons. For starters, while FanDuel usually makes it easy to pay for the stud pitchers because of cap relief bats, it’s still difficult to get in multiple expensive bats with expensive pitching. Secondly, Stroman’s ability to pitch deep in the game gives him a ceiling where he doesn’t get totally smash by the stud pitching tier. He’s a -187 home favorite against this horrible, strikeout heavy Orioles team, with an extremely favorable home plate umpire (Bill Miller).
On slates like this, cheap pitching is important on DraftKings. It allows you to pay up for a stud starting pitcher without sacrificing your stack in tournaments. The initial best option appears to be Jason Vargas (NYM). Vargas was terrible and injured last year, so this play is a little shaky, counting on both some positive regression for Vargas in his skills and in just how terrible the Marlins offense is. Well, the answer to the latter is pretty terrible. The Marlins have seven of their nine hitters projected for a sub-300 wOBA against LHP, and it’s tough to put into context how bad that truly is.
Other cheap options include Trevor Cahill (LAA), Jose Urena (MIA), and, if you’re feeling saucy, Andrew Cashner (BAL).
1) Houston Astros
The Astros disappointed last night, and they project to be our highest owned stack by a wide margin tonight. The expensive pitching on the slate and an additional game probably keeps the ownership somewhat in check, but again, still likely the highest. It’s a great spot as the road team in Texas facing Shelby Miller, and their 5.3 IRT is almost a half run higher than anyone else and indicative of this.
2) Boston Red Sox
3) Toronto Blue Jays
We feel the Red Sox low IRT of 4.2 will keep this stack owned at about 65% of what the Astros stack is. They’ll face Mike Fiers who has posted a 4.75 FIP and 5.43 FIP in consecutive seasons. Between Betts and Martinez’s power and Fiers’ 1.41 HR/9 for his career, the Red Sox look strong in our 90th percentile projections.
Sigh. The Blue Jays. Again. They are our top point per dollar stack on the slate, possessing the second highest team total at home against a woeful Orioles bullpen that will be preceded by Andrew Cashner (5.43 ZiPS projected ERA). With a home plate umpire that favors pitching, it’s easy to see the team that has allowed Jordan Zimmermann, Matt Moore, and David Hess to carry no-hitters past the fifth inning failing again. With all that said, this might be the time to pounce. It’s a slate that will spread out ownerships and has expensive pitching. The market is wary here. It’s a good time to pull the trigger as a result – ownership okay and the value of the stack is more important on this particular slate.
4) Seattle Mariners
5) Los Angeles Angels
6) New York Mets
7) Washington Nationals
8) Minnesota Twins
The Mariners went off last night and are in a good spot tonight. Trevor Cahill has a 4.47 ZiPS projected ERA to go with 1.29 HR/9. Also, the battery of Cahill and Lucroy increases stolen base potential quite a bit for the Mariners, who possess a good combination of power and speed upside tonight.
The Angels are one of the more intriguing value stacks. People like Marco Gonzales, and that could keep their ownership in check. The Astros bats and expensive pitching could lead to Trout’s lowest ownership of the season. Cozart, Pujols, and Simmons are all cheap, while Justin Bour should be incredibly low owned in a L/L matchup to start.
There’s nothing too exciting to say about the Mets. They’re a fine value stack that is probably appropriately owned. People’s affinity for Michael Conforto, and the hot start of Peter Alonso probably prevents them from being too low owned. Jose Urena has posted back to back sub-4 ERAs, but his peripherals suggest he is more of a mid-4s ERA pitcher.
The Nationals are a high upside stack but overpriced.
9) Los Angeles Dodgers
10) Texas Rangers
The Dodgers always seem to carry ownership. Given their contextual spot and the market always on them a little bit, they aren’t a team we’re actively looking to stack.
On the flip side, the Rangers likely come in virtually unowned against Justin Verlander. The floor here is nil, but the park and event oriented bats in this lineup make them an interesting target to include in your MME mix.
If you really think there is something wrong with sale, the Oakland power bats from the right side of the plate are a decent contrarian play at an incredibly low cost on DraftKings.
Miami is terrible, but hey a 3.8 IRT for them is sadly somewhat high for them. They have the lowest stack cost of any team on the slate, and project as a neutral stack from a per dollar perspective. You want this stack in your MME mix given all of the expensive pitching.
Danny Jansen (TOR) projects as the top catcher in this slate, followed closely by Wilson Ramos (NYM). There’s not much to get excited about here. Both of these catchers project for less than 7 DraftKings points, with Jansen getting the slight edge in projection thanks to the success his team is expected to have (Blue Jays have an implied total ~5 runs). These options aren’t primary targets but you’ll have to roster one catcher on DraftKings, which brings them into play despite the subpar projections/price tags.
Quite frankly, that’s the story of the position on DraftKings. No one is rating well, so you’re looking for the best “fit” in your lineup. If looking for salary relief, Jonathan Lucroy (LAA) and Omar Narvaez (SEA) are acceptable targets for $3,300. We’re projecting both of these catchers to hit sixth, and Lucroy is on the road. As far as their skills, well, you should temper expectations; both of these catchers have ISO baselines under .125 and Lucroy’s wOBA baseline is under .300.
If taking pure upside shots at the position, Mike Zunino (TB) is a perfect candidate. Zunino carries a slate best .208 ISO baseline at the catcher position, but a matchup against groundballer Kyle Freeland at the Trop equals a bad projection. Robinson Chirinos (TEX) fits the bill as well. Buster Posey (SF) carries a slate best .348 wOBA baseline at the position but the matchup against Hyun Jin Ryu in a below average scoring environment is a gross context. We’re passing in cash games but there’s at least a touch of upside as an above average hitter.
In tournaments, we recommend a shotgun approach at the position as you don’t want to get stuck with an elevated amount of exposure to any of the options above.
Here we go again. Justin Smoak (TOR) represents the top projected scorer at first base and he doesn’t have much in the way of immediate alternatives at the top of projections. Smoak underwhelmed last night but keep in mind that the Blue Jays (somehow) still met their implied total of five runs. They carry a similar implied total in this slate and Smoak is their most powerful (.226 ISO baseline vs. RHP) hitter against righties. It might not feel great clicking on these Blue Jays given their lack of upside of late against terrible pitchers, but the math checks out again.
The next best options at the position from a projection standpoint are Yuli Gurriel (HOU) and Edwin Encarnacion (SEA). Gurriel is part of an Astros team that’s implied to score the most runs (5.3) once again and we’re projecting him to hit fifth. We prefer Gurriel over Encarnacion on FanDuel given their price disparity, but on DraftKings it becomes an interesting decision as they’re priced the same and Encarnacion is likely the better leverage target as he’s unlikely to carry much ownership.
Peter Alonso (NYM) is a fine option to consider in tournaments on DraftKings. The price tag ($4,100) isn’t great but he’ll have the platoon edge and we have a .195 ISO baseline for him vs. RHP. Alonso comes with a lot of hype and so far he’s lived up to it in the early going.
Tyler White (HOU) is an interesting salary relief choice on FanDuel. White is $2,300 on that site and R/R while hitting seventh will keep his ownership down. It’s a way of being different, and there won’t be a lot of ways of doing that for an Astros’ team that will surely be chalky once again. On DraftKings, the salary relief option that’s rating decently is Albert Pujols (LAA). You’re unlikely to click on that name much in 2019, but he’s still hitting cleanup for an Angels team that carries a decent implied total relative to the slate.
Jose Altuve (HOU) is the top option at second base and it’s not particularly close. Altuve puts the ball in play a ton (11% K rate throughout his career) and he projects to steal 20+ bases yet again. On top of that, he gives you a solid power output (.161 ISO baseline vs. RHP) relative to the rest of his peers. Altuve is priced appropriately on both sites but on FanDuel he’s coming up in over 50% of optimals.
The next best option is Kike Hernandez (LAD), who’s priced up for his role as a leadoff hitter vs. LHP. Kike has been a beast vs. LHP, and our baselines are treating him as such (.351 wOBA, .217 ISO baselines vs. southpaws). The context isn’t tantalizing but we’re not treating Madison Bumgarner as the ace he once was years ago – we’re expecting him to be human against RHBs (.314 wOBA baseline allowed to RHBs). Kike is a good tournament play on FanDuel while being in play across all formats on DraftKings.
Robinson Cano (NYM) is priced the same as Kike on DraftKings and the projection is very similar as well. Cano will have the platoon edge and hit third albeit in a bad park for power (Marlins Park). He’s also in play in all formats on DraftKings but the price tag is too high on FanDuel ($4,200) to seriously consider him.
Lourdes Gurriel (TOR) is $2,300 on FanDuel and represents the best source of salary relief at the position. Gurriel is expected to be a below average hitter against RHP but we’re projecting him to hit fifth and most projection systems are calling for him to hit home runs in the teens. We’d rather get up to Altuve but the price difference is massive, which puts him in the conversation.
Wilmer Flores (ARI) (on FanDuel) and Jonathan Villar (BAL) (on DraftKings) are intriguing site specific plays. Flores is really cheap on FanDuel ($2,300) relative to his baselines vs. LHP (.350 wOBA, .203 ISO). Villar can generate events (projects to hit home runs in the teens and swipe 35+ bags this season), which is a big deal in MLB DFS, particularly on DraftKings. He’s just $3,500 on that site.
Alex Bregman (HOU) carries the best projection at third base and he’s yet another Astro infielder that carries a much bigger projection than the rest of his peers. Bregman has a R/R matchup, but Shelby Miller projects as a below average pitcher at the MLB level now. Keep in mind that Miller hurt needed Tommy John Surgery last season, which ended his season. The last time that Miller threw over 100 innings was in 2016. Matchup and context aside, Bregman carries a .364 wOBA and .215 ISO baselines vs. RHP. Bregman is 25 years old and he’s stolen 10+ bases over his two full seasons as this level – his speed won’t deteriorate any time soon.
The only reason that Bregman isn’t in all of our optimals in this slate is because he’s expensive. Brandon Drury (TOR) is nowhere near the caliber of hitter that Bregman is, but he’s either hitting leadoff or second tonight against Andrew Cashner. The most important thing about Drury is that he’s cheap on both sites, and on FanDuel he’s close to being minimum priced ($2,200). Zack Cozart (LAA) is also incredibly cheap on FanDuel ($2,200) and we’re projecting him to leadoff vs. LHP. We prefer Drury but only slightly – he should be played in GPPs on that site.
On DraftKings, Justin Turner (LAD) and Rafael Devers (BOS) are two options with the platoon edge that carry power upside long term but are in below average ball parks for power tonight. They’re viable tournament plays on that site.
Carlos Correa (HOU) represents the top shortstop option in this slate. We’ll avoid being repetitive and instead tell you that he’s in every single optimal on FanDuel where he’s just $3,000. You’re going to play him there.
On DraftKings, you can play teammate Alex Bregman (HOU) at shortstop or Zack Cozart (LAA) for cheap ($3,700) thanks to MPE. Correa is $4,600 on DraftKings and there are alternatives on that site, which means he won’t be in as many optimals.
The upper echelon of shortstops are priced very appropriately for negative contexts in this slate, which isn’t great. Long term, we view Trevor Story (COL), Trea Turner (WSH) and Adalberto Mondesi (KC) as some of the best targets at the shortstop position for events, and Story carries a massive .391 wOBA in this split against LHP. Unfortunately for Story, he’s facing Blake Snell at the Trop. Turner and Mondesi are decent on DraftKings but the price tags are too elevated to get excited.
Andrelton Simmons (LAA) isn’t an upside option, but the $2,600 FanDuel price tag, platoon edge and hitting third makes him a decent target.
Mike Trout (LAA) is playing tonight, and you know what that means so we’ll save you the trouble. He’s projecting better than all of the Astros despite playing in an inferior park, and that’s because he’s a better hitter than anyone in baseball. The question is are you able to fit Trout? The answer is yes, though on DraftKings it’s more of a cherry on top than a need.
The direct alternatives to Trout are Mookie Betts (BOS) in Oakland or George Springer (HOU) R/R in Texas. Springer isn’t as talented of a hitter (or player if we’re being technical), but he’s cheaper and in a much better context. The positive for Betts is while he’s away from Fenway Park and the Red Sox carry muted team totals, you’ll likely continue to get good ownership numbers on him.
Mallex Smith (SEA) (on DraftKings) and Randal Grichuk (TOR) rate as the best salary relief options in this slate. Smith is getting a boost in projection thanks to Trevor Cahill being the opposing pitcher. Cahill is easy to run on – he’s allowed at least 15 stolen bases in consecutive seasons and he’s coming off seasons in which he threw under 115 innings. Grichuk will have a top four lineup spot against Andrew Cashner in Rogers Center and he’s just $2,700 on FanDuel. Grichuk carries a .244 ISO baseline vs. RHP in our projections. His teammate Teoscar Hernandez (TOR) is also dirt cheap on FanDuel ($2,800).
Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario (MIN) are sub $3,000 on FanDuel. They’ll have the platoon edge against Brad Keller, a pitcher that’s known for generating an above average ground ball rate (54.5% GB rate in 147 major league innings) and allows plenty of balls in play (16.6% K rate). These two powerful bats are intriguing tournament plays. Michael Conforto (NYM) will have the platoon edge in a bad ball park for power, but his baselines (.359 wOBA, .224 ISO vs. RHP) in this split are some of the best ones relative to where he’s priced on both sites.