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April 23 MLB DFS: The Talented Mr. Soto

Adam Hummell
April 23 MLB DFS: The Talented Mr. Soto
RSANDERSRX
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Welcome to April 23 MLB DFS action. You’ll find Daily Fantasy Baseball Premium Cliff Notes for April 23 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!

Timestamps
00:48 Starting Pitcher
14:54 Stacks/Tournament Thoughts
24:54 C
26:35 1B
29:06 2B
31:38 3B
33:40 SS
36:20 OF

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  • 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 23 MLB DFS CLIFF NOTES

Starting Pitcher

Zack Wheeler (NYM) owns the top projection at the starting pitcher position on Tuesday’s 13-game slate and that is partially because the one true ace on the slate is pitching in Coors Field. Wheeler, on the other hand, will pitch in the friendly confines of Citi Field versus a Phillies team missing Jean Segura, Scott Kingery and Odubel Herrera. Thus far, the active Phillies have combined to produce a team wOBA below the league average and they have struck out at 23.2-percent (which is also just about the league average). Wheeler is listed as a -129 home favorite with a 4.0-run implied run total against him and the third highest strikeout projection of any pitcher on the slate. The good news is he is priced below $8,000 on both sites which makes him easily affordable alongside some of the better stacks of the evening. He is by no means a must-play in tournaments but he pops into 100-percent of our standard optimals across the two sites.

Patrick Corbin (WSH) and Erik Swanson (SEA) are the next two highest projected pitchers on DraftKings and not the next casting for the sequel to “The Odd Couple.” Corbin would typically be the highest projected player amongst the group of talent slated to pitch tonight but he will be pitching in the hitters’ haven that is Coors Field. Nolan Arenado/Trevor Story feast on lefties in general, but especially in Denver, and they still feature an implied run total close to 5.0 (4.8 to be exact). Even in Coors, Corbin owns the top strikeout projection of the night (6.2), but he is essentially appropriately-priced because of the huge negative park shift. Meanwhile, Swanson threw a gem in his Major League starting debut (6.0 IP, two base-runners and five Ks), and tonight will earn a positive league shift in one of the best pitching environments in all of baseball (Petco Park). To this point, the Padres rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA and wRC+ against RHP while striking out at a hefty 26.4-percent rate in the split. Swanson’s potential has been described as a mid-rotation innings eater which is the reason for an outs baseline over 16.0. If looking for value, Swanson is $1,100 cheaper than Corbin on DraftKings and yet he is being projected for 0.1 fewer Ks.

Kenta Maeda (LAD), Jose Quintana (CHC) and Frankie Montas (OAK) constitute the next tier at the position and they project within one half a fantasy point of one another on FanDuel. Maeda has surprisingly pitched into the seventh inning in two of his four starts this year and yet his SIERA sits at what would be by far a career-worst (4.88). He is doing a solid job of limiting hard contact (22.4-percent) but his K rate is way down (20.6-percent), BB rate is way up (10.3-percent) and his strand rate so far is nearly 10 percentage points above his career average. The big negative for Maeda is he is priced at $10,000 on DraftKings whereas the price on FanDuel ($8,700) is slightly more reasonable (but we still view him as overpriced). Quintana’s SIERA suggests he has pitched quite well to begin the year and he has now thrown at least seven innings in back-to-back games. Context is necessary as those two games have been against the Pirates in Wrigley Field and the Marlins in Marlins Park. The matchup against the Dodgers is much more difficult as they rank in the top 10 of wOBA, wRC+ and ISO against LHP but they also strike out at a 25.8-percent rate. If deploying Quintana, tournaments is the ideal format for him in this matchup. Lastly, Montas has added a splitter to his repertoire this season to help him retire LHHs and yet he still owns a 4.80 FIP in the split. Montas is projecting for about half a strikeout less than either Maeda or Quintana but he is over $2,000 cheaper than either on DraftKings and faces a team built on power in a park that suppresses it (Oakland Coliseum).

Lance Lynn (TEX) is in a tier of his own tonight as he will experience a positive park shift and his FIP sits below 3.50 to both sides of the plate through 24.1 total IP. With Khris Davis on the roster, the Athletics have a reputation for being a powerful bunch, and yet their numbers versus RHP do not follow the narrative: 299 wOBA, .159 ISO, 7.6-percent BB rate, 35.2-percent hard hit rate and 17.6-percent line drive rate all rank bottom 10 in those respective categories. The challenge for pitchers against the Athletics is they have only struck out at a 19.8-percent rate in the split. Of course, that is taken into consideration in our projections, and Lynn still pops as a top five value at the position with a K projection below 5.0.

If needing even more salary relief, Nick Margevicius (SD) and Homer Bailey (KC) will cost $6,900 and $6,200 respectively on DraftKings. Margevicius will have the park working in his favor but the matchup is not; the Mariners rank first in wOBA, wRC+ and ISO against southpaws to this point. Essentially, the matchup is by no means a walk in the park and should not be treated as such. As for Bailey, he has been throwing his splitter over 26-percent of the time with a 25.5-percent whiff rate on the pitcher (by far his highest of any pitch). The last time Bailey threw his splitter over 20-percent of the time in any month was in August of 2017 and he only threw the pitch over 15.2-percent of the time in one month last season. If the pitch is actually improved, that could explain his 3.59 SIERA and improved K rate (29.4-percent), and it is possible there is still some upside to Bailey. Of the two, he is the cheaper one, and worth a sprinkle in MME.

Domingo German (NYY) has been announced the Yankees starter in a matchup against a struggling Angels team but one thing they do not do is strike out (15.6-percent K rate versus RHP is lowest in baseball). That is the reason for the negative projection on him at his $9,000 DraftKings price point. In tournaments, he is still a fine play, as he has struck out 31.1-percent of the hitters he has faced this year, and he possesses the potential to pitch deeper into the game than usual if the Angels simply make weak contact (as they have been).

Stacks

Tier One

1) Washington Nationals

As of 11:00am ET this morning, the Rockies have still not announced a starting pitcher, although the options appear to be clear: either RHP Jeff Hoffman is called up and starts or LHP Harrison Musgrave acts as the opener for what will effectively be a bullpen day. Either way, this is a potent offense playing in Coors Field and being implied to score 5.2-runs. The preferred options will depend on who is named starter but it should be noted the Rockies’ bullpen xFIP ranks eighth worst in the league. This team is likely to be popular tonight so fantasy owners will want to pair them with a contrarian pitcher or target a few hitters lower in the lineup if attempting to be different while still deploying this offense.

Tier Two

2) Chicago White Sox

3) Colorado Rockies

4) Houston Astros

Yesterday’s Orioles starter, David Hess, pitched well for a while and then the team’s porous bullpen was called upon and shortly thereafter Jesus Sucre was pitching in a blowout. As noted yesterday, the Orioles’ bullpen ranks dead last in FIP and (now) second to last in xFIP, and that is before even discussing the fact that Andrew Cashner will toe the mound against them. Cashner is one of the worst pitchers in the league and heads into tonight having walked nearly as many hitters as he has struck out while sporting a 5.60 SIERA. With more games to choose from, the White Sox are likely going to be less chalky than last night.

The Rockies and Astros are both being implied to score at least 4.8-runs but the Rockies will take on the most talented pitcher of the night. All the righties in the lineup own the platoon advantage versus Patrick Corbin and Arenado/Story specifically put up astronomical numbers in the split a season ago. Michael Pineda will pitch against the Astros and his velocity is down over 2.0mph below his career average thus far in 2019. Even in his last start, where his velocity slightly improved, he was still 1.8mph below his career average. He has been able to induce swinging strikes in typical Pineda fashion but he is relying almost completely on fly ball outs (33.3-percent GB rate). The Astros are filled with powerful righties in a park with a short porch in left field and Pineda’s FIP is over 4.50 versus both sides of the plate this year.

Tier Three

5) Milwaukee Brewers

6) Minnesota Twins

7) Tampa Bay Rays

8) Baltimore Orioles

The Brewers and Twins both find themselves as road underdogs and projection systems are no fan of Daniel Poncedeleon. Steamer has him over a 5.00 FIP even though he has struck out nearly 28.0-percent of the LHHs he has faced in his young career. Milwaukee’s lineup is deep and loaded with power and we do not project them for much ownership tonight. The Twins have been a tough team to strike out this year but they have also been a tough team to get out in general. Only six teams have posted a higher wOBA against LHP to this point and the Twins rank in the top 10 of wRC+, AVG, OBP and SLG in the split as well. Wade Miley is over a 5.00 SIERA this year and has barely missed bats as-is (12.1-percent K rate). Once again, the Twins are firmly in play here.

The other half of the tier is composed of the Rays and Orioles but it is possible Homer Bailey is at least a slightly improved pitcher. Although he is still allowing over one homer per nine innings, he is no longer pitching in Great American Ballpark, so it is unlikely he reverts back to his 1.95 HR/9 rate self from 2018 any time soon. He is still a fly-baller, and the Rays have been hot, but Tropicana Field is not a below-average hitters’ park. If playing the Rays, it is more a leap of faith on their offensive talent than the fact that Bailey is a gas can (which he may not be at this point). In the Orioles’ case, they will do battle with a pitcher pumping in strikes who rarely misses bats. Nova has struck out righties at a career 19.6-percent rate and lefties at a 14.6-percent rate and has allowed more than a homer per nine innings to both sides of the plate. Camden Yards is a solid park for power and Nova has allowed six-plus earned runs in two of his last three starts.

Catcher

Yasmani Grandal (MIL) and Buster Posey (SF) project as the top offensive catcher options on this slate. Grandal gets a park downgrade but is the more skilled offensive catcher with strong recent performance as well. He’s expensive and difficult to get up to but has the highest ceiling of the catchers on the slate. Posey is far more affordable and thus a more reasonable cash game target with a big park upgrade in Toronto and facing a below average starter and pitching staff. Posey is likely a cash game building block on DraftKings given the price tag.  

On a 13 game slate, there are plenty of alternatives at the position. There are options as part of top projected stacks like Yan Gomes (WAS) and Welington Castillo (CHW) or cheap bats with good lineup spots like Francisco Cervelli (PIT), Yadier Molina (STL), Mitch Garver (MIN), and Wilson Ramos (NYM).

Ramos seems the most intriguing as a one-off upside power play while McCann and Gomes are options within the highest rated stacks.

First Base

A pair of White Sox sit atop the first base projections with Jose Abreu (CHW) and Yonder Alonso (CHW) outpacing Ryan Zimmerman (WAS), Brandon Belt (SF), and Paul Goldschmidt (STL). It’s likely the gap between the White Sox options and Zimmerman narrows when we get an official starting pitcher named for the Rockies, so we’ll assume that trio is largely our top tier.

The White Sox have one of the highest implied totals again as they draw a favorable matchup with Andrew Cashner (48 percent hard hit rate allowed, 5.52 xFIP) and a porous Orioles bullpen (5.23 xFIP). Cashner has struggled against both RHBs (.336 wOBA, .144 ISO) and LHBs (.340 wOBA, .176 ISO allowed) since 2017. The price tags on the White Sox duo are extremely cheap on FanDuel as they’re both priced below $3,000 while on DraftKings they’re a bit more appropriately priced. On both sites, they’re strong cash game targets but particularly so on FanDuel.

Zimmerman is a bit of a secondary target given the more elevated price tag on both sites.

Brandon Belt (SF) is a great tournament pivot as he’s priced below or similarly to the chalkier White Sox options and getting a huge park shift. Belt is one of the more underrated hitters in baseball because of his home park. Since 2017, Belt has posted a .359 wOBA and .215 ISO against RHP while playing most of his games in a park that strongly suppresses offensive production. Belt is 98% of the projection of the White Sox duo with likely half the ownership.

Justin Smoak (TOR), Edwin Encarnacion (SEA), and Mark Reynolds (COL) are all interesting tournament targets as well either solo or as a part of stacks.

Second Base

Jose Altuve (HOU) projects as the top second base option on the slate but the gap between Altuve and some of the values isn’t substantial. This makes Altuve better as a tournament target than a primary cash game option.

Jonathan Villar (BAL), Mike Moustakas (MIL), and Brian Dozier (WSH) represent the next tier of options. Moustakas is the cheapest of the bunch and has the biggest power upside and best overall batting skill set. He is the slight preference of a group that is projected tightly.

Moustakas has posted an impressive .344 wOBA and .240 ISO against RHP since 2017. The power upside is intriguing against Daniel Poncedeleon who has a hefty projected HR/9 allowed (1.42) by Steamer.

Villar is the other intriguing upside alternative that doesn’t need the rest of his team to support him. Villar has a decent power baseline but his aggressive running style against an above average matchup for runners (Ivan Nova) makes him a strong upside target.

Joe Panik (SF) is the most intriguing salary relief or “punt” option on each site. Panik is just $2,100 on FanDuel and $2,900 on DraftKings. We expect Panik will hit second on the road but he’s hit eighth in the Giants last two games so we’ll need to check back in with lineups.

Brandon Lowe (TB) is a strong tournament target with a .200+ ISO baseline and a likely good lineup spot against Homer Bailey (.374 wOBA, .217 ISO allowed to LHBs since 2017).

The same can be said for Brian Dozier (WSH) who has been demoted of late and comes with a combination of unappealing price tag and lineup spot.

Third Base

Anthony Rendon (WSH) and Nolan Arenado (COL) are the top 3B options as Coors Field finally takes center stage at a position. We’ll await confirmation on Rendon’s availability as he was out of the lineup last night with an elbow issue. We also don’t know who the Rockies are starting so Rendon comes with plenty of question marks. Arenado faces an above average starter in Patrick Corbin but it comes with the platoon edge which has been a ridiculous recipe for success historically. Arenado has posted an unbelievable .370/.437/.749 line in his career at Coors Field against LHP which is good for a .486 wOBA.  Arenado is our favorite spend at the position.

Yoan Moncada (CHW) doesn’t project far behind the Coors Field duo as the matchup with Andrew Cashner and the hefty implied total makes Moncada a strong pivot.

Alex Bregman (HOU) isn’t far behind and should be a much lower owned pivot given a similar price tag and facing more of a “name-brand” pitcher in Michael Pineda. Pineda is giving up a lot of hard aerial contact once again (45+ percent fly ball and hard hit rates) with a lower swinging strike rate in his first year back from Tommy John.

If you’re not paying all the way up, Matt Carpenter (STL) is the best mid-tier target at third base. He’ll face Zach Davies who has allowed a .334 wOBA and .174 ISO against LHBs since 2017. Carpenter is a solid cash game option as a leadoff hitter with a strong all around skill set.

In terms of salary relief and value, Travis Shaw‘s (MIL) slow start to the season has him basically free on both sites. With the depth of top options, Shaw is a strong tournament target with likely low ownership.

Shortstop

Trevor Story (COL) tops the shortstop position by a wide margin. It’s the only position on the slate with this big of a gap in projection and value from the rest of the options. We’d love to get up to Story if you can afford it with the platoon edge in Coors Field.

Carlos Correa (HOU), Jorge Polanco (MIN), Fernando Tatis Jr. (SD), and Xander Bogaerts (BOS) form the second tier of options. Polanco’s ridiculous start to the season has him feeling a bit overpriced but the Twins remain a fine contrarian stack with Polanco one of the most intriguing parts. This tier is mostly a tournament pivot tier as either part of stacks or as one-offs.

On both sites, Gleyber Torres (NYY) is projected a bit behind the tier above but generally cheaper as well making him a fine option to pivot to in GPPs.

If you need salary relief at the position, Brandon Crawford (SF) is another Giants bat that is priced near the minimum. The big park upgrade plus scoring environment with a DH added makes all the Giants more valuable than usual and the prices are really cheap.

Tim Anderson (CHW), Javy Baez (CHC), and Paul DeJong (STL) are overpriced on both sites but hopefully that keeps ownership in check. Their upside in the power department makes them fine one-offs or more likely used as a part of team stacks. To a lesser extent, you could make the same case for Tim Beckham (SEA) who is more modestly priced and skilled.

Outfield

Juan Soto (WSH) tops Mike Trout (LAA) in the outfield projections. We’re not sure who Soto is facing just yet but speculation is it may be Jeff Hoffman who projects as a below average RHP in Coors Field. Soto’s professional start seems underappreciated with a .386 wOBA and .219 ISO through his first 586 plate appearances. Soto is one of the top overall targets on the slate. Mike Trout, regardless of matchup, always projects towards the top. You occasionally get him at more reasonable ownership tags on slates with Coors Field. The Yankees bullpen is a bit worn down (Chapman/Ottavino have thrown back-to-back days, Betances on DL) making Trout as a solid pivot in GPPs.

We await the Rockies starter but expect Victor Robles (WSH) will also project as one of the top outfielders along with Christian Yelich (MIL), Mookie Betts (BOS), Adam Eaton (WSH), Andrew Benintendi (BOS), and J.D. Martinez (BOS). This is a mix of the top offensive environments for outfielders and the top skilled outfielders. The Red Sox feel like a potential lower owned target in GPPs tonight but we’ll have to see if their regulars also play the second game of the double-header.

Nelson Cruz (MIN) projects a bit below that tier but has a matchup against a lefty which makes him an immediate GPP pivot.

In terms of value at the position, Nicky Delmonico (CHW) is cheap on FanDuel while Brandon Belt (SF) and Ian Desmond (COL) are affordable on DraftKings. The multi-position eligibility for Belt on DraftKings should make his ownership a touch higher on DK than on FD.

Randal Grichuk (TOR) and Brandon Nimmo (NYM) are also underpriced options on both sites and they’ll likely come with reasonable ownership.

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