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April 21 MLB DFS Early Slate: KKKKershaw
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April 21 MLB DFS Early Slate: KKKKershaw


01:20 Starting Pitchers
08:46 Catchers
10:10 First Base
14:57 Second Base
17:20 Shortstop
19:11 Third Base
21:45 Outfield
28:06 Stacks
30:57 Cash Game Roster Construction


April 21 MLB DFS Early Slate Pro-Tip

Starting Pitcher Rankings

Tier One

1) Clayton Kershaw (LAD)

Tier Two

2) Max Scherzer (WSH)

3) Johnny Cueto (SFG)

Tier Three

4) David Price (BOS)

Tier Four

5) Shelby Miller (ARI)

6) Nate Karns (SEA)

7) Jake Odorizzi (TB)

8) Ricky Nolasco (MIN)

The starting pitcher position has been a difficult one to evaluate over the last few days. However, we can rest easy today, for it is a Kershaw day! Clayton Kershaw (LAD) is the top ranked pitcher in our model, and even on a day with other “aces” in good spots, Kershaw ranks way ahead of them. Kershaw is off to a dominant start to the regular season, allowing soft contact (six percent hard minus soft hit rate) and neutralizing batters with an elite 23 percent K-BB percentage. The best pitcher in baseball meets perhaps the best matchup for a LHP. It’s a small sample size, but the Braves haven’t been able to hit LHP, ranking dead last in wOBA and wRC+ vs. southpaws. As a result of facing Kershaw, the Braves implied run total is 2.5 runs (lowest in this slate). Kershaw is a building block of cash game lineups this afternoon.

Max Scherzer (WSH) has a juicy matchup vs. a righty heavy Marlins’ lineup, but he clearly ranks behind Kershaw in our model. Scherzer is in play in all formats, but the higher ownership going towards Kershaw’s security could make him a more appealing target in tournaments. Johnny Cueto (SFG) is pitching in the best environment a pitcher could ask for (AT&T Park) and he’ll face a Diamondbacks’ offense that will have to deal with a massive negative park shift. Cueto isn’t allowing any hard contact (minus three percent hard minus soft hit rate) and he’s generating more swings and misses (10.7 Swinging Strike rate), which are encouraging signs after having a tumultuous second half in 2015. We’re having a hard time in trusting any other pitcher for cash game purposes outside of the second tier, and Cueto’s price is friendlier’s than Scherzers. He’s a default complement to Kershaw on multiple starting pitcher sites.

If you’re taking a chance on a cheaper pitcher in cash games, we think Ricky Nolasco (MIN) might be the best option of the bunch. Nolasco’s fastball velocity has increased by one MPH early in the season, and while he’s not really striking batters out, he’s generating tons of soft (minus nine percent hard minus soft hit rate) groundballs (57 percent GB rate). We’re playing with small samples early in the season, but as long as Nolasco can continue to pitch with increased velocity and generate soft groundballs, he’ll have some value in DFS. We prefer him in tournaments but if loading up on the hitting side, Nolasco can be used as a complement to Kershaw in cash games (only on multiple SP sites).

Catcher Rankings

1) Jonathan Lucroy (MIL)

2) Buster Posey (SFG)

3) Yasmani Grandal (LAD)

4) Dioner Navarro (CWS)

5) Carlos Perez (LAA)

Jonathan Lucroy (MIL) is the only catcher that’s ranked inside our Top 40 hitters. The rest of our ranked catchers are ranked outside the Top 70 hitters. The position as a whole is one we’d like to punt in this condensed slate, and the best punt catchers will likely come from the same game in Chicago (Dioner Navarro and Carlos Perez). Those two catchers don’t start on a regular basis, which means that the alerts system will be your friend today. If you’d like to stay away from these punt situations, paying for Lucroy is a fine route as long as it doesn’t cost you Kershaw or Cueto on multiple SP sites.

First Base Rankings

1) Albert Pujols (LAA)

2) Jose Abreu (CWS)

3) David Ortiz (BOS)

4) Chris Carter (MIL)

5) Adrian Gonzalez (LAD)

Four of the top five first baseman are ranked inside our top 20 hitters in this short slate, and Albert Pujols (LAA) leads the way. Pujols is our third ranked hitter, as he’ll have a matchup vs. John Danks at the Cell (awesome park shift for this Angels offense as a whole). Danks has surrendered a .351 wOBA and 1.37 HR/9 to RHBs since 2013, and while Pujols is no longer the elite hitter he once was (even with the platoon edge, he owns a .306 wOBA vs. LHP in the last three seasons), there’s still power in his bat (especially vs. lefties, generating a .206 ISO against them since 2012) and he’s shown good plate discipline (0.80 EYE vs. lefties). We like Pujols across all formats, but Jose Abreu (CWS) is a great alternative. Abreu will face Jered Weaver, and Weaver’s fastball velocity is down to 81 MPH. Weaver isn’t missing bats (K rate is down from 14 percent last season to 10 percent this season) and he’s getting hit very hard this season (his hard minus soft hit rate is nearing 20 percent and his HR/9 is up to 1.74). He won’t have the benefit of pitching in the thick Los Angeles air, and his fly ball ways will get him in trouble on a park like U.S. Cellular Field. The White Sox offense isn’t great, but Abreu is their best hitter and we’re comfortable targeting him in all formats. David Ortiz (BOS) has the more difficult matchup vs. Jake Odorizzi, but our model still likes him (ranked inside our Top 10 hitters). If you need a cheaper first baseman than Pujols and Abreu, Chris Carter (MIL) has huge power upside at a cheap price tag.

Second Base Rankings

1) Robinson Cano (SEA)

2) Jason Kipnis (CLE)

3) Brian Dozier (MIN)

4) Scooter Gennett (MIL)

5) Logan Forsythe (TB)

Our top four ranked second baseman all rank inside our Top 20 hitters, but with Clayton Kershaw on our sights in a dream matchup, their cash game viability is left to their pricing around the industry. Robinson Cano (SEA) is our 10th ranked hitter, but his price makes more sense on FanDuel than on DraftKings. The same can be said for values like Brian Dozier (MIN) and Scooter Gennett (MIL), as both carry more attractive prices on FanDuel. On that particular site, they represent our focus at the position in cash games (our preference lies with Cano but if you’re unable to spend for him, dropping to Gennett or Dozier is more than acceptable). On DraftKings, those second basemen are priced appropriately, Logan Forsythe (TB) has a sub $3,500 price on that site, and while the matchup vs. David Price isn’t ideal, Forsythe is receiving a huge park shift hitting in Fenway Park and he’s an awesome hitter vs. southpaws (.367 wOBA, .211 ISO vs. LHP in the last few seasons).

Shortstop Rankings

1) Francisco Lindor (CLE)

2) Eduardo Nunez (MIN)

3) Jimmy Rollins (CWS)

4) Corey Seager (LAD)

5) Xander Bogaerts (BOS)

Eduardo Nunez (MIN) and Jimmy Rollins (CWS) carry cheap prices tags around the industry (especially on FanDuel), and they represent our favorite punts at the position. The exception is on a site like DraftKings where Francisco Lindor (CLE) and Corey Seager (LAD) are priced closely to Nunez and Rollins. We don’t mind using the superior hitters (Lindor and Seager) over the shortstops that are depending on their contexts to drive their value (Rollins and Nunez aren’t good hitters but they’re in offenses that we’re targeting in this slate and they hit at the top of their respective offenses). If Andrelton Simmons (LAA) hits second (as he did last night), he’d emerge as the best industry wide value at the shortstop position.

Third Base Rankings

1) Todd Frazier (CIN)

2) Justin Turner (LAD)

3) Kyle Seager (SEA)

4) Evan Longoria (BOS)

5) Yunel Escobar (LAA)

Todd Frazier (LAA) has a depressed price tag around the industry, and he’s ranked inside our Top 15 hitters. Frazier has historically hit LHP better than RHP, but a matchup vs. a struggling Jered Weaver could help Frazier’s power stroke (career .206 ISO) in a favorable environment for hitters. Justin Turner (LAD) is a viable alternative in all formats (Matt Wisler has been prone to the long ball and Turner usually hits third). Yunel Escobar (LAA) is another viable alternative, as he’ll see at least four plate appearances in the best hitting environment in this slate against the starter we’re targeting the most (John Danks).

Outfield Rankings

1) Mike Trout (LAA)

2) Bryce Harper (WSH)

3) Ryan Braun (MIL)

4) Mookie Betts (BOS)

5) Miguel Sano (MIN)

6) Adam Eaton (CWS)

7) Domingo Santana (MIL)

8) Nelson Cruz (SEA)

9) Rajai Davis (CLE)

10) Craig Gentry (LAA)

11) Giancarlo Stanton (MIA)

12) Seth Smith (SEA)

13) Oswaldo Arcia (MIN)

14) Kole Calhoun (LAA)

15) Nori Aoki (SEA)

Mike Trout (LAA) is the Top ranked hitter in our model, besting Bryce Harper (WSH) (remains an elite play in all formats on DraftKings where the price is reasonable) for those honors. Trout is receiving a boost in value as he’ll see John Danks at U.S. Cellular Field, and while he hasn’t gotten off to a fast start (he’s striking out a bit more and not generating as much hard contact), the peripherals aren’t that far off relative to his last few seasons. In other words, we’re not really worried about Trout’s early returns. While Trout represents the best spend on the hitting side, we’re not pursuing him over Kershaw (we’d rather find a way to fit both if possible, but we’ll need more punts to do that). For value, we’re looking at Domingo Santana (MIL), Craig Gentry (LAA) should hit second in this Angels offense and he’s close to the bare minimum around the industry) and Adam Eaton (CWS) (leading off vs. Jered Weaver at the Cell). Miguel Sano (MIN) (especially on FanDuel where the price tag is softer) and Rajai Davis (CLE) (good value on DraftKings where his price is below $3,500) are site dependent values.


Tier One

1) Chicago White Sox

2) Los Angeles Angels

Tier Two

3) Milwaukee Brewers

4) Minnesota Twins

5) Cleveland Indians

6) Seattle Mariners

The White Sox and Angels represent the best teams to target in this slate, and while neither team is great on offense in a vacuum, their context is enough to make them standout on a short slate. Both teams will be hitting in the best hitting environment in this slate (U.S. Cellular Field), and their matchups are great (Angels vs. John Danks and White Sox vs. Jered Weaver). Having some exposure to these two teams (not full stacks in cash games but at least a couple of players from each team) is essential in cash games today since we’re betting that their context is more favorable than any other team in this slate and their implied run total (both over 4.2 runs) is an indicator of this. Given that the Angels offense is ice cold and Jered Weaver is having early season issues, we’re much more comfortable with the White Sox as a full stack.

Tournament Stack

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays offense is experiencing a major park shift in their favor as they travel from their home park (Tropicana Field) to Fenway Park (great hitting environment for RHBs). While we’re not picking on David Price in cash games, it makes sense to stack some Rays in tournaments relative to the favorable park shift and a right handed heavy offense that can hit for power vs. LHP.

MLB Daily Analysis

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