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April 23 MLB DFS Early Slate: Tanaka Will Be Your Hero
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April 23 MLB DFS Early Slate: Tanaka Will Be Your Hero

00:57 Starting Pitchers
06:28 Catchers
08:28 First Base
11:21 Second Base
13:17 Shortstop
16:21 Third Base
17:32 Outfield
22:51 Cash Game Roster Construction
24:25 Stacks

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April 23 MLB DFS Early Slate Pro-Tip

Starting Pitcher Rankings

Tier One

1) Corey Kluber (CLE)

2) Masahiro Tanaka (NYY)

Tier Two

3) Carlos Rodon (CHW)

4) Blake Snell (TB)

5) Anibal Sanchez (DET)

Tier Three

6) Tanner Roark (WAS)

7) Phil Hughes (MIN)

8) Mike Fiers (HOU)

9) Clay Buchholz (BOS)

There’s a significant gap in our models between the tier one and tier two starting pitchers. Given that it is a short, non-Coors early slate, it’s then pretty logical to pay up for your number one starter. Corey Kluber (CLE) is off to a slow start from an ERA perspective (6.16), but the peripherals are only off a touch in a couple of different areas, which could be due to reduced velocity that we’re attributing to two cold home games. He gets a matchup against a heavily right handed Tigers team, which really improves Kluber’s upside (.249 wOBA, 28.5 K percentage against RHBs since 2014). Despite pitching at home (hitter’s park), Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) rates very closely to Kluber. With the exception of Corey Dickerson‘s power, this Rays lineup is not very threatening against RHP, and Tanaka is off to strong start (3.10 xFIP through three starts; inducing more weak, GB contact than usual). Given how close the two are in our model, we’d prefer Tanaka for cheaper who also carries a higher win probability.

The cash game values outside of the top guys certainly aren’t flush. We prefer Carlos Rodon (CHW) in tournament formats since he’s a high risk (subpar control, hitter’s park), high reward (great combination of K and GB rates) guy. With Blake Snell unavailable on most sites, that leaves Anibal Sanchez (DET) whose slight reverse split mitigates how left handed a simply aver age Cleveland offense can get. Cleveland is one of four offenses on the early slate with an implied run total falling just short of four runs.

Tanner Roark (WAS) is tournament viable. We’re concerned about the floor given that he doesn’t miss bats, but a home matchup against a Twins team that projects to be below average against RHP and loses the DH playing in an AL park is worth considering at a cheap price. In that same game, you can take a shot on Phil Hughes (MIN) who gets an NL team in an NL park and has some nice early season peripherals.

Catcher Rankings

1) Josh Phegley (OAK)

2) Russell Martin (TOR)

3) Yan Gomes (CLE)

4) Brian McCann (NYY)

5) Alex Avila (CHW)

Josh Phegley (OAK) is not only our top catcher but clearly our preferred value for cash games. He hit second against LHP, which gives him a better lineup spot than the rest of the top five options. Throw in a very positive park shift on the road in Toronto (top six park for right-hander home runs according to FanGraphs), good splits against southpaws (.329 wOBA .200 ISO in 189 PAs), and a weak opposing pitcher (JA Happ), and there’s not much reason to look elsewhere in cash games. FanDuel has a couple alternatives since both Victor Martinez (DET) and Evan Gattis (HOU) are catcher eligible despite serving primarily as designated hitters. Outside of those three, we’d entertain pure punts in tournaments formats.

First Base Rankings

1) David Ortiz (BOS)

2) Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)

3) Jose Abreu (CHW)

4) Mark Teixeira (NYY)

5) Miguel Cabrera (DET)

Our favorite options at first base are David Ortiz (BOS) (.405 wOBA, .292 ISO against RHP since 2013), who faces a fly ball oriented pitcher in Mike Fiers who has an elevated hard hit rate to begin the season, and Jose Abreu (CHW) (peripherals early on aren’t encouraging but lots of HR upside at a discounted price tag in his favorable home park). Our favorite options in tournaments are Tyler White (HOU) (hitting fifth and early season FB and hard hit rates somewhat supports awesome .352 ISO) and Hanley Ramirez (BOS) (a touch underpriced for his skills and Boston has one of the higher team totals).

Second Base Rankings

1) Jose Altuve (HOU)

2) Jason Kipnis (CLE)

3) Starlin Castro (NYY)

4) Dustin Pedroia (BOS)

5) Brian Dozier (MIN)

Jose Altuve (HOU) is not surprisingly the top option at the position, but in cash games we’re more interested in going the value route. Both Starlin Castro (NYY) and Dustin Pedroia (BOS) are hitting second for favorable offenses in favorable ballparks. We’re not certain where Jed Lowrie (OAK) will wind up in the lineup, but if it’s in the top five he’d offer even more cap relief at the position, particularly on FanDuel.

Shortstop Rankings

1) Carlos Correa (HOU)

2) Jimmy Rollins (CHW)

3) Francisco Lindor (CLE)

4) Troy Tulowtizki (TOR)

5) Xander Bogaerts

Carlos Correa (HOU) has been frustrating as of late, but he’s clearly our top ranked shortstop. There’s a significant skill drop between him and our second ranked shortstop. Correa’s EYE and batted ball distribution mirror his awesome rookie season, so we’re not concerned with a small cold streak. If anything the lack of opportunity cost and price drop mitigate this risk. However, we’d prioritize paying up at pitching first, so it’s fine to drop down to Jimmy Rollins (CHW), who will hit second at home for a White Sox team with the second highest implied team total on the slate. This is not a good park for Colby Lewis‘ home run issues, particularly against LHBs (.333 wOBA .173 ISO versus his last 500 LHBs faced). It’s also worth mentioning how atrocious the bullpen has been behind him (5.59 ERA, 2.42 HR/9). The rest of the top five are all tournament viable.

Third Base Rankings

1) Josh Donaldson (TOR)

2) Todd Frazier (CHW)

3) Adrian Beltre (TEX)

4) Anthony Rendon (WAS)

5) Alex Rodriguez (NYY)

Josh Donaldson (TOR) is an elite tournament option given his power and a Blue Jays implied team total spilling over five runs. However, he’s too expensive for cash games, which has us focusing on the next in line option: Todd Frazier (CHW). Colby Lewis is bad versus LHBs, but his 3.8 HR rate allowed to RHBs since 2013 is very high. Frazier’s hard hit rate is disappointing early on but we’re buying at this price.

Outfield Rankings

1) Bryce Harper (WAS)

2) Jose Bautista (TOR)

3) Adam Eaton (CHW)

4) Mookie Betts (BOS)

5) George Springer (HOU)

6) Michael Saunders (TOR)

7) Delino DeShields (TEX)

8) Colby Rasmus (HOU)

9) Rajai Davis (CLE)

10) Billy Burns (OAK)

11) Corey Dickerson (TB)

12) Carlos Beltran (NYY)

13) Miguel Sano (MIN)

14) Justin Upton (DET)

15) Ian Desmond (TEX)

Since the start of last season, Bryce Harper (WAS) has a .478 wOBA, .367 ISO, and 8.0 HR rate against RHP. Those numbers are absurd, and he’s our clear number one ranked hitter against Phil Hughes, who admittedly looks a bit like the 2014 version of himself but can still be considered homer prone. We’d like to try and squeeze him in cash games on DraftKings, but Jose Bautista (TOR) is the better value on FanDuel. A couple of the better industry wide values are Adam Eaton (CHW) (platoon edge, leadoff spot, high team total), Delino DeShields (TEX) (platoon edge, top of the lineup speedster against a high BB, high GB pitcher), and Ezequiel Carrera (TOR) (could lead off again if Michael Saunders remains out). Colby Rasmus (HOU) continues to have a ridiculously low price tag on DraftKings, and he’s a primary value target there (cleanup spot, .264 ISO, 5.8 HR rate against RHP since 2013). Two guys we like a lot in tournaments are Mookie Betts (BOS) (great power/speed combination) and Khris Davis (OAK) (immense power gets a boost due to park, and he could move up in lineup with Danny Valencia out).

Stacks

Tier One

1) Toronto Blue Jays (highest implied team total on the slate by a clear margin; while it’s a chalk stack as a result, the power and possible low ownership on a full slack due to cost still makes them worth using in tournaments)

Tier Two

2) Chicago White Sox (the best cash game mini stack from a value perspective)

Tier Three

3) Oakland Athletics (very affordable to stack the top of the order here and you’re getting a massive park shift)

4) Washington Nationals

5) New York Yankees

Additional Tournament Stacks

-Houston Astros (always on them in tournaments given the high number of event players)

-Boston Red Sox (power upside given Fiers’ high FB and hard hit rates)

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