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April 29 MLB DFS: It Happ-ened Again
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Welcome to April 29 MLB DFS action here at DailyRoto. Below you’ll find our Daily Fantasy Baseball Premium cliff notes for April 29 MLB DFS along with our LIVE Premium Chat. Make sure you’re using our 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!

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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.

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Range of Outcome Projections

April 29 MLB DFS CLIFF NOTES

Starting Pitcher

Gerrit Cole (HOU) represents the top projected scorer at the starting pitcher position. Cole is a -210 home favorite today (tied for highest in the slate) and has an IRTA of 3.3, which is the lowest in the slate. Cole has been very dominant to begin the season, highlighted by a monstrous 38% K rate (higher slider usage has certainly helped) and incredible run prevention. He’ll also get to face an Oakland offense that’s likely batting six RHBs, and Cole is particularly dominant vs righties. It’s a good spot for Cole, and while the price tag is full on DK he’s still very much in the conversation. The price tag is better on FD, where he’s entered most of our top optimals. We believe he’s viable across all formats on both sites.

Next up in projection is Robbie Ray (ARI), who’s cheaper on both sites. With Ray you don’t get the same win probability as you do with Cole as he’s a +108 underdog on the road, but you do get a similar strikeout edge. In fact, we have the two projected for essentially the same strikeout numbers (~7) today and that leads the slate. The difference with Ray is that he’s getting hit hard once again (46% HHR allowed according to fangraphs). This is sort of baked into his IRTA of 4.1. We prefer Cole in cash games but with a good umpire behind the plate as well we think Ray is an exceptional tournament target at his price tag and cracks the cash game conversation on DK.

J.A. Happ (TOR) and Vince Velasquez (PHI) make up the next tier of pitchers. We believe these two represent your best cash game complements to Cole or Ray on DK, and on FD it’s even possible to use Happ as your SP1 in all formats. We know what Velasquez can do when he’s healthy – rack up the Ks. Through five starts this season, he’s generated a 26.8% K rate and he’s using his curveball more. Most importantly for Velasquez, he’s been able to generate soft contact more often, which is something he’s struggled with throughout his career. This season, his hard minus soft hit rate is sitting at 12%. Last season, that number was nearly doubled (23%). If he’s able to combine his K skills with an improvement in contact allowed moving forward, he could be a high 3s ERA pitcher. The matchup against Atlanta is far from perfect as they’ve been very stingy vs. RHP so far this season and have a good amount of LHBs in their lineup, but he’s simply too cheap around the industry.

Happ has just been ridiculous this season. He’s generated a 33.6% K rate and it’s backed by a 14% SwStr rate and a 31% chase rate. Happ is 35. It’s unlikely that his K rate will have this meaningful of a jump at the end of the season, but it’s worth noting that he’s throwing his fastball more this season, and that’s his best pitch. Eno Sarris has pointed out before that his two-seam fastball creates a unique amount of vertical movement as compared to his four-seam fastball. This fangraphs article dives a little bit more into Happ’s success with the rising fastball early in the season. We continue to improve Happ’s K baseline slowly, but if he keeps this level of success up, there’s a strong chance that we missed the boat early on. The price tag feels a bit light for what he’s done early in the season and the Rangers’ lineups look incredibly depleted with by far their best hitters all hitting from the LH side. Bats are affordable on DK, so pairing Happ with Velasquez is simply not necessary. However, that’s a strong tournament route if you want to load up on a pricier stack.

This next tier of pitchers still holds upside though it’s not necessary to attack it in cash games. Rick Porcello (BOS), Gio Gonzalez (WSH), Jose Berrios (MIN), Ian Kennedy (KC), Tyler Chatwood (CHC), Kevin Gausman (BAL) and Caleb Smith (MIA) make up this tier. It’s a lot of names that project similarly, with Caleb Smith carrying a bit of a lower projection compared to the rest. There’s a case to be made for nearly this entire tier in tournaments, especially on a two SP site like DK. Jose Berrios is priced like Gerrit Cole on DK and there’s a chance we’re running low on his K baseline despite improving it a bit. There’s upside there but he’s priced very different from the rest of this group and he’ll have to face a lot of lefties in that Cincinnati lineup. As good as he’s been, it’s probably best to pass on him today. 

Porcello, Gonzalez and Chatwood have sub four IRTAs, which standout in that tier. Like Berrios, though, Porcello and Gonzalez are pricier which makes them stand out less from a per dollar perspective. Kennedy has a matchup against a high K prone lineup (White Sox) that doesn’t project to be good and Gasuman is at home facing a righty heavy Tiger offense. Both Kennedy and Gausman have sub $7k DK price tags. Caleb Smith is sub $6k on both sites. He has been generating tons of Ks to begin the season and has a matchup against a Colorado offense that’s facing a steep negative park shift in this series (Miami).

Catcher

Russell Martin (TOR) is the top projected scorer at the catcher position. There’s a chance that our baselines for Martin are in the higher range of outcomes at this stage of his career, even against LHP. The sample size is bigger since 2015 and he’s been better since then, but since 2016 he’s generated a .293 wOBA and .131 ISO vs. southpaws. Even if you where to dock Martin’s baselines, hitting fifth in Rogers Centre vs. a meh LHP is good enough. Factor in a $2,700 price tag and you have yourself a great value. He should be in the lineup after receiving the day off yesterday.

Salvador Perez (KC) is better upside option due to a bigger power baseline than Martin. He’ll have a friendly matchup against either Chris Volstad or Hector Santiago. We have Volstad as the probable pitcher and he’s a RHP, but Santiago is a LHP that’s very power prone. If Santiago ends up as the starter, Perez’ projection could outpace Martin’s. His price tag is a bit more expensive on DK ($3,300) but we view him as the best alternative in cash games.

There’s a slew of tournament targets with power upside. Robinson Chirinos (TEX) (tough matchup but great park and he’s been on a tear of late), Willson Contreras (CHC), Chris Iannetta (COL), Evan Gattis (HOU) and Jason Castro (MIN) (minimum price tag on DK and opposing pitcher is power prone) represent that group.

First Base

Justin Smoak (TOR) represents the top projected scorer at first base. Smoak is somehow just $3,500 on DK. We’re very confident in his baselines this season after his breakout 2017 season. He continues to hit the ball hard. Couple that with a FB rate ~41% and you can once again expect home run totals in high 20s, with a ceiling into the 30s (like last season). It’s a silly DK price that you should be taking advantage of in all formats.

On FD, we have clear 1B values as well. Lucas Duda (KC) and Logan Morrison (MIN) are $2,500 and $2,100 respectively. If this matchup against Volstad holds, Duda gets the platoon edge against a pitcher that has a Ks per nine projection under five. It’s unlikely that Volstad pitches six innings, so Duda also has the benefit of facing a below average bullpen. Morrison gets to hit in the middle of the lineup against Tyler Mahle, who currently has a better than league average K rate. That has a chance to hold, but Mahle struggles with allowing hard contact and that projects to continue. The Twins have a 5.1 IRT, and Morrison has a minimum price tag. These two first basemen are a part of all of our top optimals. They also represent the best per dollar alternatives to Smoak on DK.

The last cash game value you should consider at the position is Steve Pearce (TOR) on DK, where he has 1B/OF eligibility. We’d rather use him in the OF.

In tournaments, we remain high on Carlos Santana (PHI). His plate discipline has been excellent as expected, but that’s not what brings you upside. His batted ball profile has been very strong (51% FB rate, 24% HHR rate on the season) and he’s just getting unlucky (5.6% HF/RB rate; that number has been at 13-14% throughout his career). The power is coming. Most projection systems are holding strong here and projecting mid 20s home runs. Other tournament names to consider are Joey Votto (CIN), Anthony Rizzo (CHC) (strong DK price tag once again), Jose Abreu (CHW) and Freddie Freeman (ATL).

Second Base

Jose Altuve (HOU) represents the top projected scorer at second base. The Blue Jays bats are so cheap on DK that you can splurge on Altuve in cash games. The Trevor CahillJonathan Lucroy combination is great to run on, and that’s one of Altuve’s strengths. He has stolen base totals in the 30s over the last three seasons and ZiPS is projecting high 20s this season.

Brian Dozier (MIN) is a very strong target as well. Dozier’s plus power and speed gets a matchup against Tyler Mahle. It’s worth noting that the weather is warming up in Minnesota (temps in the 60s today) and Target Field is friendlier for Dozier’s RH pull power. He’s viable across all formats.

There’s a lot of value at other positions, so our optimals will prefer spending up at second base today. If you want to save some resources, Matt Carpenter (STL) is an adequate target on DK where he’s just $3,500.

Yoan Moncada (CHW) continues to be one of our favorite tournament targets vs. RHP, particularly RHPs like Ian Kennedy that are prone to allowing the long ball. Moncada’s price tag is now appropriate and he projects well below Altuve and Dozier. Moncada’s event upside gives him a chance to outpace any second baseman on any given slate. Whit Merrifield (KC) has some event upside as well and can be used as part of Royals stacks in tournaments.

Third Base

Miguel Sano (MIN) carries the top projection at third base. He’s just $4k on DK, and a hitter with Sano’s upside should be priced closer to the $5k range. Sano’s downside is swinging and missing. A lot. He continues to struggle with Ks early in the season, but even with those struggles baked in this is a high 20s/low 30s home run hitter. If he can put a dent on those Ks, this is a hitter with 40+ home run upside. Upside is the key word there. We don’t think this is the most likely outcome for his season but it is certainly within the range of outcomes. Even on FD where he’s $3,700 and the price tag feels more appropriate, he’s the clear cut best value at the position. UPDATE: Sano was held out of the lineup yesterday with hamstring soreness instead of what most believed was simply a day off. Eduardo Escobar (MIN) was in there hitting cleanup yesterday and he’s just $3,500 on DK with 3B/SS eligibility. 

The strongest alternative with similar power upside around the industry is Mike Moustakas (KC). Moose was robbed of a home run during the Royals’ day game yesterday. He’s already hit eight home runs this season. All indications early on point towards another monster season for Moustakas, with mid to high 30s home runs a real possibility (38 last season). He gets a matchup against a below average SP and a below average bullpen today.

Yangervis Solarte (TOR) (on both sites) and Matt Carpenter (STL) (on DK) are secondary alternatives in cash games while Alex Bregman (HOU) and Danny Valencia (DET) are viable targets in tournaments.

Shortstop

Carlos Correa (HOU) represents the top projected scorer at the shortstop position. Correa is deservingly pricey but you can still squeeze him in your lineups thanks to the soft pricing elsewhere.

Manny Machado (BAL) is an alternative that comes with a better matchup for power upside. Machado will have the platoon edge against Daniel Norris. To Norris’ credit, he’s allowed less power vs. RHBs over the last couple of seasons. However, he’s a career 39% GB rate pitcher. Fly ball tendencies in Camden Yards is a recipe for upside and Machado is having the type of season we were expecting out of him early last season. He ended the season with 33 home runs last season and this season he’s making even more contact. Watch out.

If you need some salary relief but still want to have a semblance of upside at the position, Trea Turner (WSH) is the alternative. He’s cheaper than the options above and while Robbie Ray misses plenty of bats, when hitters make contact, it’s usually hard contact (27% HHR in our data, which is rather high for a SP).

There’s no one we love for cheap at the position, so this is a position that we’d like to spend up for in cash games and tournaments. Xander Bogaerts (BOS) is someone that we like in tournaments, but he comes with mid-tier price tags. Jurickson Profar (TEX) is really cheap on DK and he’s been hitting in great lineup spots of late, but the matchup is very tough and he’s not very good.

Outfield

Steve Pearce (TOR) and George Springer (HOU) are the top projected scorers in the outfield. Obviously, one of these is clearly not like the other. Pearce does come with PH risk, especially now that the Blue Jays have more options in the OF. However, he leads off vs. LHP and we have a .222 ISO baseline for him in this split. There’s no denying his power upside vs. southpaws, which that couple with the context gives him a stud-like projection. He’s also very cheap around the industry, which makes him a clear cash game target. Springer is expensive but deserves tournament consideration.

We’re comfortable going cheap at the position in cash games. Pearce’s teammate, Randal Grichuk (TOR), usually hits in decent lineup spots vs. LHP. On Friday he wasn’t in the lineup vs. Mike Minor, so it’s not a lock that he’ll be in the lineup. If he’s in there, he’s too cheap not to consider him in cash games. Like Pearce, he’ll come with PH risk though. Eddie Rosario (MIN) with the platoon edge is just $3,500 on DK and $2,600 on FD. Jon Jay (KC) doesn’t have much upside but if he gets to face a RHP to start the game, he’s simply too cheap on DK ($2,500) for a leadoff hitter. Trey Mancini (BAL) projects as an adequate value once again on DK. He leads off and doesn’t have the PH risk that comes with the Blue Jays OF. Delino DeShields (TEX) has a difficult matchup but continues to be cheap around the industry relative to his context. Nicky Delmonico (CHW) is just $2,300 on FD in a matchup against Ian Kennedy.  

The Red Sox OF, J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi (BOS) remain relevant in tournaments but they’re priced fully for cash games. We’ll have to see if Betts is in the lineup as he was pulled from yesterday’s game with hamstring soreness.

Stacks

Tier One

1) Toronto Blue Jays

2) Houston Astros

3) Minnesota Twins

The Blue Jays are our top ranked stack in this slate and they come with affordable price tags once again. They have a slate high 5.3 IRT and are facing southpaw Martin Perez. The latter is known for trying to nibble the corners of a strike zone, but he’ll have the most unfavorable umpire behind the plate in this slate. That’s ominous for a pitcher that struggles to miss bats to begin with. We expect the Blue Jays to be popular. An interesting strategy in tournaments might be to go underweight on some of their PH risks in the OF like Steve Pearce, who will carry double digit ownership in tournaments. It wouldn’t surprise us if Pearce has > than mid 20s% ownership in three max tournaments. 

The Astros had an offensive outburst last night and today they get a pitcher-catcher combination that struggle mightily with the running game. They remain expensive so perhaps the ownership in tournaments is held in check a little bit.

The Twins are also not overly difficult to fit in this slate regardless of the routes you take at SP. Warmer temps in Minnesota, pull power happy team in a park that rewards pull power (especially for righties) and facing a pitcher that allows hard contact. The Twins check a lot of boxes today.

Tier Two

4) Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox are at home facing a bullpen day by the Rays, which starts with Matt Andriese. The latter is a decent pitcher and Mookie Betts might be held out of the lineup today due to hamstring soreness. It’s a stack that usually has ownership. We’d like it more if Betts is in the lineup but this is a stack that’s better for tournaments today regardless given the high price tags.

Tier Three

5) St. Louis Cardinals

6) Kansas City Royals

7) Chicago Cubs

The Royals are getting a bullpen day vs. the White Sox. They’re likely going to carry the most ownership from this group and deservingly so. It’s still pretty cold in Wrigley Field, but the Cubs’ stack has more power threats throughout their lineup than the Royals. The Cardinals are facing a rookie SP that has flashed strong numbers at AAA this season and it’s a game in a difficult park for power (PNC Park). Still, the Cardinals have a 4.6 IRT. They’re probably our least favorite stack of this group given the ballpark but they might come with low ownership across the board which is intriguing in tournaments.

Tier Four

8) Philadelphia Phillies

9) Colorado Rockies

10) Chicago White Sox

11) Baltimore Orioles

This tier is exclusive for tournaments. Of this group, we like the Rockies the least given the steep park shift working against them offensively. The White Sox and Orioles are in upside contexts. While the White Sox project to be a below average offense, they’re facing a home run prone pitcher (Ian Kennedy) in warmer conditions than usual at this point (temps in the high 60s in KC). The Orioles are facing Daniel Norris. We mentioned earlier that Norris has a below average GB rate and it’s starting to warm up a bit more in Baltimore. Like the White Sox, the Orioles are probably going to be a below average offense but they’re still useful in the right contexts. It’s also worth mentioning that the Tigers’ bullpen is destined to be one of the worst in the league once again.

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