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April 22 MLB DFS: Friday Night Seager Bombs
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April 22 MLB DFS: Friday Night Seager Bombs

00:54 Starting Pitchers
11:46 Catchers
14:02 First Base
16:40 Second Base
19:15 Shortstop
21:08 Third Base
25:58 Outfield
28:38 Cash Game Roster Construction
32:13 Stacks

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April 22 MLB DFS Early Slate Pro-Tip

Starting Pitcher Rankings

Tier One

1) Jon Lester (CHC)

2) Felix Hernandez (SEA)

3a) Adam Wainwright (STL)

3b) Jeff Samardzija (SF)

3c) Gio Gonzalez (WAS)

3d) Matt Harvey (NYM)

Tier Two

7) Andrew Cashner (SD)

Tier Three

8) Justin Verlander (DET)

9) Matt Moore (TB)

10) Jose Quintana (CHW)

11) Nick Tropeano (LAA)

12) Aaron Nola (PHI)

13) Sonny Gray (OAK)

Friday’s slate is very interesting for starting pitching. We have a very deep first tier of pitching options with an unusual combination of skill, matchup, and current peripherals. The pitchers with the best matchups are generally the ones with the shakiest current form, while the pitchers who are in the best form have something about their matchup and price tag that pushes you away. Our model is having a hard time differentiating the group, so we’re largely going to lean on price when sifting among the first tier. The tier is deep enough that you should be able to identify your primary cash game options from that tier.

Jon Lester (CHC) has to pitch in a difficult park environment but he’s the heaviest favorite on the slate (-195) and of all the top starting pitchers is the only one in really strong form. Lester’s velocity is in his normal range and he’s getting slightly less swinging strikes and ground balls than normal, but the elite command has been there and he’s pitched consistently well. The Reds two best hitters are from the left side (Votto and Bruce) but the rest of the lineup is fairly right-handed. Despite the difficult park, Lester carries the second lowest implied run total against (3.3 runs) on the slate. The challenge with Lester is the elite hitting environments encourage saving a bit at starting pitcher. He’s our safest option, but comes with a price tag that will bring offensive opportunity cost. Felix Hernandez (SEA) gets an Angels offense that cannot score runs of late and profiles very poorly against RHP, but they simply don’t strikeout (17.1 K Rate against RHP this year, with a putrid 57 wRC+). In addition Hernandez’s peripherals are a mess. His velocity is down two mph, he’s throwing a career low percentage of pitches inside the strike zone, and it’s leaving him very walk prone. With an elevated price tag, we’d rather move down the pricing spectrum if taking on that kind of peripheral risk.

The next tier has four starters, three of which have varying levels of peripherals risk associated with them. Matt Harvey (NYM) has seen his swinging strike rate drop by three percentage points and his overall K Rate is way down. He’s facing a contact-heavy Braves lineup and while they struggle to score runs the K projection struggles even before adjusting for the current form. Adam Wainwright (SD) has the best matchup against the hapless Padres offense that is very right-handed and is striking out the second most in MLB against RHP (27.4 percent). Unfortunately, Wainwright’s peripherals are also a disaster. He’s walked more than he’s struck out. His swinging strike rate is just 6.6 percent and he’s not even generating ground balls (55.6 percent). Vegas has given the Padres an implied run total somewhere around 3.2-3.3 runs, so they trust the Cardinals will be able to limit run scoring, which outside of the matchup is the only thing working in Wainwright’s favor. Jeff Samardzija (SF) has also seen his swinging strike rate drop (8.6 percent) and his BB Rate (9.8 percent) has been way up early in the season. Fortunately, his velocity is fine and he’s done a great job limiting hard contact (20 percent). A tough opening schedule (@MIL, @COL, @LAD) has probably made the peripherals look worse than they should. The Marlins are pretty right handed, typically, and they’re slightly below average in wRC+ against RHP but make a bit more contact than the league average. Samardzija feels like one of the safer options from this tier. Gio Gonzalez (WAS) will face a Twins’ offense that is watered down a bit without Trevor Plouffe and without the DH. They still have Brian Dozier and Miguel Sano against LHP and perhaps they play Byung-Ho Park against LHP instead of Joe Mauer, but the rest of the offense projects below average against LHP and strikeout prone. Gonzalez has also seen the velocity down two mph early in the season, but his swinging strike rate and K Rate are both up and his batted ball distribution is normal. Of course, he’s also had the benefit of facing the Phillies and Braves. We’re most comfortable with Gonzalez and Samardzija from a skill-set perspective in this tier but pricing may guide us towards taking some risk on with Wainwright.

The second and third tiers are generally tournament options for us. When investing in tournaments we’re looking for the potential at big K Rates and ignoring implied run totals or difficult pitching environments. The two options that stand out most for us are Matt Moore (TB) and Aaron Sanchez (TOR). Moore’s K Rate and command have returned to form and the Yankees are more vulnerable to LHP while Yankee Stadium is also less of a hitter’s park for LHP. Sanchez has shown a strong K Rate early to go with his elite GB Rate. The K Rate might not hold, but he has very good stuff (avg 94.8 mph fastball) and the GB rate can help mitigate the park effects in Toronto. Aaron Nola (PHI) is also a really intriguing tournament target given his dominance against RHBs in his career (.279 wOBA, 27.5 K Rate, 5.1 BB Rate, and 46.7 GB Rate). The Brewers are very RH and have a hefty implied team total that will keep ownership down while they’ve struck out the seventh most against RHP this season (25.1 percent).

Catcher Rankings

1) Yasmani Grandal (LAD)

2) Victor Martinez (DET) – where eligible

3) Jonathan Lucroy (MIL)

4) Buster Posey (SF)

5) Francisco Cervelli (PIT)

6) Welington Castillo (ARZ)

Yasmani Grandal (LAD) is our top ranked catching option with a giant park shift to Coors Field and facing Jon Gray who has allowed a .326 wOBA to LHBs. The Dodgers have the highest implied run total on the slate (5.7 runs) and on the road in the best scoring environment in baseball, hitting sixth isn’t as big of a concern as it would be in a more muted scoring environment. There are some viable value alternatives to Grandal. Victor Martinez (DET) is still under-priced on FanDuel where he carries catcher eligibility. Francisco Cervelli (PIT) and Welington Castillo (ARZ) are both above average hitters against LHP (Cervelli – .355 wOBA, Castillo – .319 wOBA, but .159 ISO since 2013) and are in an above average hitting environment in Arizona with solid lineup spots. Both are acceptable value alternatives.

First Base Rankings

1) Paul Goldschmidt (ARZ)

2) Anthony Rizzo (CHC)

3) Adrian Gonzalez (LAD)

4) Miguel Cabrera (DET)

5) Chris Davis (BAL)

6) Jose Abreu (CHW)

7) David Ortiz (BOS)

The Top Seven first basemen in our model all rank inside the Top 20 in our overall rankings. Paul Goldschmidt (ARZ) and Anthony Rizzo (CHC) are the best all-around hitters at the first base position and both are in great offensive environments with the platoon edge against weak starters. An emphasis on spending on Coors Field in cash games, may make it difficult to spend on Rizzo or Goldschmidt but they both rank inside our Top Five overall hitters. Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) isn’t far behind with the immense park shift and the high run-scoring environment. You’ll find relatively soft price tags on Miguel Cabrera (DET) ($4,100 on DraftKings) and Jose Abreu (CHW) ($3,300) on FanDuel. Josh Tomlin has been eaten up by RHBs (.360 wOBA, 1.77 HR/9 since 2013) and Martin Perez has also allowed a .329 wOBA to RHBs during that span.

Second Base Rankings

1) Jose Altuve (HOU)

2) Chase Utley (LAD)

3) Ben Zobrist (CHC) – a bit dependent on lineup spot (this is if Top Five)

4) D.J. LeMahieu (COL)

5) Logan Forsythe (TB)

6) Dee Gordon (MIA)

7) Scooter Gennett (MIL)

8) Jason Kipnis (CLE)

Jose Altuve (HOU) remains at the top of our second base rankings, but the depth at the position makes him an unnecessary spend in cash games. Coors Field and the Cubs stacked lineup is our primary target for exposure in cash games. Chase Utley (LAD), Ben Zobrist (CHC), and even D.J. LeMahieu (COL) have viable price tags for cash games. Zobrist’s value is heavily tied to his lineup spot. He’s been hitting third against RHP and in that spot, he ranks ahead of Utley in our model, but if you shift him to fifth he drops below LeMahieu. All three players have the platoon advantage in great offensive environments and the offenses have the three highest implied run totals on the slate.

Shortstop Rankings

1) Carlos Correa (HOU)

2) Corey Seager (LAD)

3) Trevor Story (COL)

4) Manny Machado (BAL) – where eligible

5) Jimmy Rollins (CHW)

6) Jordy Mercer (PIT)

Carlos Correa (HOU) and Corey Seager (LAD) both rank inside our Top 10 overall hitters. Seager’s price tag is far more favorable, so he represents our primary target in cash games. There is a significant fall-off in our overall rankings after Story as Rollins and Mercer rank outside our Top 70 hitters. Mercer’s cheap tag and likely leadoff spot makes him a compelling salary relief option for tournament stacks, but Seager is our primary target in cash games.

Third Base Rankings

1) Nolan Arenado (COL)

2) Justin Turner (LAD)

3) Kris Bryant (CHC)

4) Manny Machado (BAL)

5) Evan Longoria (TB)

6) Todd Frazier (CHW)

7) Matt Carpenter (STL)

8) Maikel Franco (PHI)

9) David Freese (PIT)

10) Josh Donaldson (TOR)

Third base is really deep on Friday night as the Top Six all rank inside our Top 30 overall hitters. Nolan Arenado (COL) and Justin Turner (LAD) both rank inside our Top 10 and if pricing is favorable, they’re great ways to get exposure to Coors Field. This is definitely the case on DraftKings. On FanDuel, pricing is a bit tighter and Evan Longoria (TB) emerges as a nice salary relief alternative. CC Sabathia has really struggled with RHBs in recent years (.361 wOBA, 1.52 HR/9, and 32.5 hard hit rate) and Longoria is getting a favorable park shift for his power.

Outfield Rankings

1) Bryce Harper (WAS)

2) Andrew McCutchen (PIT)

3) Starling Marte (PIT)

4) Jason Heyward (CHC)

5) Ryan Braun (MIL)

6) Yasiel Puig (LAD)

7) Mike Trout (LAA)

8) Carlos Gonzalez (COL)

9) Dexter Fowler (CHC)

10) Justin Upton (DET)

11) George Springer (HOU)

12) Giancarlo Stanton (MIA)

13) J.D. Martinez (DET)

14) Michael Conforto (NYM)

15) Colby Rasmus (HOU)

Bryce Harper (WAS) is back atop our outfield rankings and is our second ranked overall hitter after Paul Goldschmidt. Harper’s priced appropriately around the industry and the lower run scoring environment pushes him down our list of preferences a bit. If spending up in the outfield, we’re more likely to do so to get exposure to Coors Field outfielders or the talented Pirates/Cubs duos that are getting strong park shifts in their favor with great lineup spots. Carlos Gonzalez (COL) is uniquely under-priced on DraftKings ($3,700) which we’ll happily take even in a left-on-left matchup. Michael Conforto (NYM) and Rajai Davis (CLE) also remain under-priced on DraftKings relative to our rankings. On FanDuel, Jason Heyward (CHC) and Steve Pearce (TB) are strong values.

Stacks

Top Stacks

Tier One
1) Los Angeles Dodgers

Tier Two

2) Chicago Cubs

3) Colorado Rockies

Tier Three

4) Baltimore Orioles

5) Houston Astros

6) Chicago White Sox

The Dodgers are the obvious stack for cash games given Coors Field, a slate high team total (nearly six runs!, and being on the road (guaranteed nine innings). On DraftKings in particular, the Dodgers are very affordable as a mini-stack in cash games.

Following the Dodgers are the Cubs (great park, tremendously deep lineup, really bad Reds pitching staff) and the Rockies (team total over five). The Astros are our favorite stack for tournaments from the third tier given their awesome power/speed combination and a tie with the Cubs for the third highest team total.

Tournament Stacks

-Pittsburgh Pirates (get very right handed against a LHP, two stud power-speed hitters in McCutchen and Marte who feast on LHP, huge park shift in their favor, cheap supporting options in Mercer, Freese, Cervelli, etc.)

-Detroit Tigers (lots of right handed power and Tomlin has allowed 1.46 HR/9 for his career as he’s fly ball oriented with just an average K rate)

-Philadelphia Phillies (positive park shift on the road, will be low owned due to lack of talent in lineup, but opposing pitcher Zachary Davies is coming off a disaster start in which he did not make it out of the third inning and walked three guys against zero walks; a cheap mini stack to complement a Coors mini stack)