Welcome to April 30 MLB DFS action. You’ll find Daily Fantasy Baseball Premium Cliff Notes for April 30 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!
01:07 Starting Pitcher
18:06 Stacks/Tournament Thoughts
- 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 30 MLB DFS CLIFF NOTES
Trevor Bauer‘s (CLE) outs baseline rates tops on the slate as per usual as he has averaged a whopping 115 pitches per start through six games. Beyond just his baselines, the matchup is tough to overlook as well, as he is the lucky pitcher who will face the Marlins in Marlins Park on Tuesday. Only the Giants’ active hitters cumulatively have posted a lower wOBA against RHP than the Marlins’ and they have struck out at a hefty 26.1-percent rate in the split. As if that were not enough, the Marlins rank in the bottom 10 of both hard hit rate and line drive rate and their lineup is mostly right-handed. To this point, Bauer has struck out 32.3-percent of the righties he has faced. Especially on one starting pitcher sites, fading him is a scary proposition, and he is popping in exactly 75-percent of top 20 standard models on both sites. We view him as a building block in cash games on this slate and a strong tournament play as well. Fantasy owners will simply have to differentiate in the offensive department in tournaments if deploying him because he should prove to be chalky.
Blake Snell (TB) owned the second highest projection at the position as of Monday night (the projection has moved slightly) but he nearly projects for seven full FanDuel fantasy points less than Bauer showing just how significant the discrepancy is between Bauer and the field. Coming off the disabled list, Snell was on a pitch count his last time out, which is why he only lasted 3.1 innings. During his Cy Young season a year ago, Snell has averaged exactly 17.5 outs per start, and we are assuming he is back to full strength after one limited start. It is possible the team takes one more game before he is back to his typical self which would put us a bit high on his median outs baseline. The Royals ranks in the bottom 10 of both wOBA and wRC+ against LHP while having struck out at the third highest rate against the handedness (26.8-percent). The one filler start did not bring his price down on either site but he is more conducive to the slate on DraftKings where he is priced at $10,500 ($400 cheaper than Bauer).
Cole Hamels (CHC) and Julio Teheran (ATL) constitute the next tier at the position on DraftKings and the matchup is favorable on paper for these pitchers for a variety of reasons. In Hamels’ case, he will earn a positive park shift heading to T-Mobile Park and he is a pitcher who has been susceptible to the long ball in recent years. Luckily for Hamels, T-Mobile Park ranks as a below average power park for both sides of the plate and well below average overall. The downside to the matchup is the fact that the Mariners rank third in wOBA and wRC+ against LHP, and second in ISO, but at least they have struck out at a 25.1-percent rate versus southpaws. As for Teheran, the right-heavy Padres lineup has struggled mightily against RHP and Teheran’s Achilles heel has always been his ineptitude in the split against LHHs. Eric Hosmer is the only true lefty threat in the lineup and Teheran is projecting for nearly seven Ks. Both of these players are underpriced across the industry but they are better fits in cash games on DraftKings where they can be deployed as strong SP2s.
On FanDuel, Vince Velasquez (PHI) and Jake Junis (KC) are priced within $1,000 of one another and both are projecting for over six Ks in their respective matchups. Velasquez’s implied run total against sits at just 3.6-runs and he is listed as a whopping -205 favorite (higher than even Bauer’s -190). The Tigers are averaging just the fourth fewest runs per game (3.50) and their .295 wOBA is tied for sixth lowest in the league. Velasquez has relied heavily on his fastball this year (64-plus percent of the time to both sides of the plate) and the Tigers’ team .331 xwOBA against right-handed fastballs ranks fourth worst (behind only the Reds, Brewers and Marlins). As icing on the cake, the Tigers lose their designated hitter, and will bat a pitcher instead in a National League ballpark. Junis is coming off his best start of the season but he has induced what would be a career-best 10.5-percent swinging strike rate thus far. In fact, his K rate through six starts is even higher than it was last season, he has just been unlucky in the left on base (LOB) and BABIP departments. The Rays are powerful (.199 ISO versus RHP) and rank in the top half of wOBA against right-handers as well but they have shown a tendency to strike out as well (24.7-percent). All of this is a long-winded way of saying Junis is a tournament play with both potential downside and upside depending on his luck.
Strangely, Rick Porcello (BOS) and Griffin Canning (LAA) are priced similarly on FanDuel as they do not seem to have too much else in common. Porcello is a veteran who has become more homer-prone over the course of the last three seasons as he has relied more heavily on fly ball outs. In the early-going of 2019, he is struggling mightily, as his SIERA sits at 5.63 and his K rate is currently his lowest rate since 2014. His 6.31 FIP and 5.71 xFIP personify that his struggles so far have not been accidental but he is listed as a -159 favorite with a 4.2-run implied total against. The Athletics have been a difficult team to strike out this year but they have preferred the split against LHP compared to RHP (.300 wOBA, 88 wRC+, .152 ISO). Canning will be making his Major League debut and he has struck out at least 24.5-percent of hitters at every level he has pitched at. According to the MLB official site, Canning is the Angels’ number two prospect behind only Jo Adell and his minor league numbers are impressive. Projection systems have him at nearly a strikeout per inning but somewhere in the mid-4.00s of FIP as a rookie. It is tough to project a rookie in his first start but it seems likely the team will limit how far he pitches into the game. All season long, the Blue Jays bats have been quiet, but they did just add Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to the mix. Canning is listed as a heavy favorite in his debut and is priced like a scrub on both sites. There is upside beyond his projection of 4.7 Ks if he runs pure and it should be noted the Blue Jays are being implied for fewer than 4.0-runs. Rostering him is not for the faint of heart but boy is he cheap.
Sandy Alcantara (MIA) and Jhoulys Chacin (MIL) are both extremely cheap on DraftKings without weather issues but in tournaments you may need to go far down the pricing pool to get the stacks you want. Ivan Nova (CHW) can be included in this tier if the weather holds but he has also allowed six-plus earned runs in back-to-back games including a game against the Orioles. If the game plays, the weather will benefit the pitcher, but even if the game plays there will be a risk of delay.
In 90th percentile optimals, German Marquez (COL), Gerrit Cole (HOU) and Luis Castillo (CIN) all pop as top nine per-dollar values on DraftKings. In this upside model, this tier is three of the six pitchers projecting with 90th percentile outcomes of at least 31 fantasy points, and Cole/Castillo both feature implied run totals against them of 3.8 or less (3.6 versus Cole). These are three of the most talented pitchers on the slate but their price tags are not popping as much because of Bauer and a loaded mid-tier. On most other slates, these players would be amongst the best few plays on the slate, with Marquez pitching on the road and Castillo enjoying a sizable positive park shift. Bauer is projecting for over a strikeout more than any of these players which is why these are players to sprinkle in MME but likely not building blocks in single-entry in three-max. Of the three, our model likes Cole best, but even with the help of friendly weather conditions, Verlander was only able to squeak by six innings last night (because of some patient at-bats by the solid Twins lineup). It should be noted Cole will have Bill Miller behind the plate who is arguably the top pitchers’ umpire in the league.
1) Texas Rangers
2) Boston Red Sox
Other than the fact that severe thunderstorms are expected in the area, the Rangers find themselves in an excellent spot against Jordan Lyles. Although Lyles had been pitching well to begin the year, his 90-plus percent zone contact rate and BABIP allowed 30 percentage points below his career average always stood out as potential issues for him. Then, his last time out, he yielded two homers and barely missed any bats (6.2-percent swinging strike rate) en route to five runs in five innings versus the Diamondbacks. Lyles does not look like some drastically improved pitcher this year judging by his SIERA (3.94 versus career 4.29) which seemed to be the consensus by some heading into his last start. Not being able to miss bats is not a great recipe for success versus a Rangers squad loaded with power. It should be hot and humid in Texas tonight and, as long as the game plays, the Rangers stack comes equipped with as much offense as any on the slate.
The Red Sox will be playing in cold Fenway Park but facing Aaron Brooks should make up for the less than ideal weather conditions. Brooks heads into tonight with a FIP over five versus both sides of the plate and a fly ball rate over 37-percent in each split as well (including a 51.2-percent fly ball rate to RHHs). Brooks pitches to contact and is susceptible to the long ball so it is no wonder the Red Sox feature the second highest implied total on the slate.
3) Pittsburgh Pirates
4) St. Louis Cardinals
5) Philadelphia Phillies
While Vegas is not giving the road team as much credit as the home team in Texas, the Pirates actually draw the matchup against arguably the worst pitcher on the slate: Adrian Sampson. For his career, Sampson has allowed a .409 wOBA to RHHs to go along with a measly 13.4-percent K rate and a massive 2.45 HR/9 rate. Even lefties have been productive against him: 1.77 HR/9 rate, 25.8-percent line drive rate and 5.22 career FIP in the split. Most of the Pirates hitters are not household names but this is an extreme positive park shift and the team will benefit from the ability to bat a designated hitter as opposed to a pitcher. On the road, they are guaranteed nine innings of at-bats (ABs) and their hitters are still extremely cheap on FanDuel.
The Cardinals and Phillies will square off against a pair of righties in Anibal Sanchez and Spencer Turnbull. Over the course of his career, Sanchez has allowed a .324 wOBA to RHHs, but he has started to depreciate against lefties as well. Thus far, lefties have posted a .436 wOBA and 19.5-percent BB rate against him en route to a 8.57 FIP in the split this year. That is important because the Cardinals lead off with lefty Matt Carpenter and complement him with righties down the order. In the Phillies’ case, Spencer Turnbull has pitched quite well to begin the year, but the team is listed as -205 favorites. The selling points against Turnbull are the facts that he a young, inexperienced pitcher and even with strong surface numbers he sits with a 4.41 SIERA. With Segura back in the lineup, the Phillies’ lineup is cheap, and they should not be overly chalky so fantasy owners will not need to be cute with the bats they choose from the team.
6) Colorado Rockies
7) Chicago Cubs
8) Milwaukee Brewers
Zach Davies quieted down a red-hot Rockies lineup last night and Jhoulys Chacin will be tasked with trying to keep them down two straight nights in a power-friendly park. The Rockies and Brewers will do battle in Miller Park but the Rockies will toss their ace (German Marquez). Chacin has historically held his own against righties and struggled versus lefties (.336 wOBA, 14.7-percent K rate in the split) but he has even struggled against righties this year in a small sample. At least he has been missing right-handed bats (28.8-percent) because the Rockies do K at about a league-average rate. If his struggles continue, though, the Rockies lineup is loaded with power at the top and those are the bats to target. Marquez was excellent last year but had his issues against LHHs and fantasy owners will clearly want to begin with lefties if going a bit contrarian and rolling out Brewers.
9) Washington Nationals
10) Los Angeles Angels
The Nationals and Angels constitute the fourth tier with the Angels being listed as the bigger favorite versus Clay Buchholz. Justin Bour is reasonably priced and has begun to heat up a bit and both these teams should go overlooked despite respectable implied run totals. Wainwright’s issues come against LHHs and Juan Soto/Adam Eaton/Matt Adams should hit in the top 5-6 of the lineup. Like some of the other offenses, fantasy owners will want to target the best bats here, since the ownership game does not need to be played with the ninth and 10th most intriguing offenses of the slate.
Yasmani Grandal (MIL) leads a tightly packed group of catchers with Gary Sanchez (NYY), J.T. Realmuto (PHI), and an unusual name in Francisco Cervelli (PIT) all projecting within a half point of one another.
Cervelli is the one that isn’t priced like the others and thus the strongest play of the group. Pittsburgh gets a big park upgrade in Texas and faces Adrian Sampson who has been tattooed by both sides of the plate in his limited big league experience. Cervelli usually garners a decent lineup spot for a catcher and should be your focal point in cash games. Cervelli is so cheap on FanDuel that he often makes sense in builds over there for cash games as well.
On a big slate with plenty of offense, there are lots of alternatives for tournaments. The other top projected catchers are certainly options but you can expand the list to include Yadier Molina (STL) and Willson Contreras (CHC) as a part of team stacks.
Paul Goldschmidt (STL) tops the first base projections with a favorable road matchup against Anibal Sanchez who has allowed a .214 ISO to RHBs since the start of 2017. Goldschmidt is a fine spend though the optimal lineups will often choose spending down a bit at the position.
Josh Bell (PIT) is a surprise second ranked first base option. Bell is off to a dominant start this season with a .386 wOBA and .312 ISO as he finally converted some of the hard hit contact into big power. The matchup with Adrian Sampson is a great one as is the ballpark upgrade. Bell should be an integral part of Pirates stacks and even projects as a viable cash game target.
There are a few value options at the position that make roster construction a bit easier. Justin Bour (LAA), Ji Man Choi (TB), and Jesus Aguilar (MIL) are all underpriced relative to our baselines. We like Bour and Choi a bit more than Aguilar who draws a very difficult matchup with German Marquez but all three represent your best bet for salary relief.
First base is always loaded with alternatives for tournaments. Rhys Hoskins (PHI), Anthony Rizzo (CHC), and Mitch Moreland (BOS) are all intriguing parts of stacks. Yonder Alonso (CHW) is a secondary value that often comes with lower ownership than his teammate Jose Abreu (CHW).
Rougned Odor (TEX) is the top projected option at second base on a day where most of the top values are cheap. Odor gets to face Jordan Lyles (.339 wOBA, .186 ISO against LHBs since 2017) in Texas where the Rangers have the highest implied total on the slate. Odor is affordable on both sites and a building block for us in cash games. He should be heavily owned.
Adam Frazier (PIT) is the other 2B eligible option in that game and as a road leadoff hitter in the top scoring environment on the slate he also projects as a really strong value. On FanDuel, you’ll find both of them in the same lineup often as a part of optimals.
The strength of these two values along with the strength of high-end pitching should leave the expensive 2B options under-owned in tournaments. Brandon Lowe (TB), Jonathan Villar (BAL), and Jose Altuve (HOU) are all solid tournament targets either as one-offs or as a part of stacks.
Secondary cheaper options like Jose Peraza (CIN) and Wilmer Flores (ARI) should also see more modest ownership as a result. On DraftKings, Ben Zobrist (CHC) also enters this conversation but he’s always a player (low power baseline, low speed baseline) that is best used in stacks as opposed to as a one-off.
Matt Carpenter (STL) leads the way at third base and comes with a super affordable price tag on DraftKings ($4,100). Carpenter is a road leadoff hitter against Anibal Sanchez for a Cardinals’ offense with an implied total around five. It’s a good spot for Carpenter and a good price tag.
Jung Ho Kang (PIT) is the next highest projected 3B option and all of this is largely based on Adrian Sampson‘s awful skill set and the big park upgrade for Kang. He usually hits fifth though we’ll see if things change with the DH. He’s hovering around the minimum on FanDuel which makes him a clear target for cash games over there. Kang is priced more appropriately on DraftKings but our projections still view him as cheap. As long as he olds a good lineup spot, he’ll make for a fine play in all formats. If his teammate, Colin Moran (PIT) gets into the lineup as a DH and gets a better lineup spot he could challenge Kang a bit more, but he’s a far worse hitter.
In tournaments, Jose Ramirez (CLE), Eugenio Suarez (CIN), and Justin Turner (LAD) all make sense as secondary mid-tier targets with favorable matchups but weaker overall team and scoring environments. Rafael Devers (BOS) makes sense as a part of Red Sox stacks.
Paul DeJong (STL) leads all shortstops in projection as his strong power baseline (.214 ISO against RHP) meets a great matchup for RH power (Anibal Sanchez has allowed a .214 ISO to RHBs). Washington has one of the better hitting environments on the slate with temperatures in the high 70s at gametime.
Trevor Story (COL) and Javier Baez (CHC) project as the next highest scoring options and both come with hefty price tags that should keep ownership in check on a slate with such strong high-end pitching.
Elvis Andrus (TEX) and Xander Bogaerts (BOS) are other high-end targets that should carry a bit more ownership as a part of stacks. Both teams have implied totals over five and strong overall stack scores.
On DraftKings, Jose Peraza (CIN) is shorstop eligible and just $3,300 as a road leadoff hitter against Jason Vargas and a scuffling Mets bullpen. He makes the most sense for cash games as long as he holds the leadoff spot.
Francisco Lindor (CLE) should go under-owned in tournaments despite a reasonable price tag. Cleveland has a really modest implied total (4.1 runs) in an awful hitting environment in Miami. They lose the DH and won’t be a popular stack option. Lindor is a solid one-off tournament target and given the upside of Lindor-Ramirez you can consider CLE mini-stacks in tournaments as well.
As is usually the case, Mike Trout (LAA) leads all the outfielders in projection. The matchup with Clay Buchholz isn’t concerning as the Angels have a solid implied total at home. Trout is expensive and the big slate should neutralize some ownership but he’s rarely low-owned.
Mookie Betts (BOS), Joey Gallo (TEX), JD Martinez (BOS), Gregory Polanco (PIT), Bryce Harper (PHI), Andrew Benintendi (BOS), and Christian Yelich (MIL) are the other outfielders projecting for double digits. Polanco is the cheapest of the bunch and getting the biggest park upgrade and most favorable matchup. He’s clearly the best cash game target, especially on FanDuel where he’s remarkably priced under $3,000.
Polanco’s teammate, Melky Cabrera (PIT) and Cubs leadoff hitter Ben Zobrist (CHC) are also affordable targets on FanDuel as part of stacks or salary relief cash game options but neither player has the power or speed to target in tournaments outside of stacks.
Nomar Mazara (TEX) and Shin Soo Choo (TEX) are secondary expensive targets that will garner ownership as a part of Rangers stacks on both sites.
Juan Soto (WAS) looks like an intriguing one-off outfield target as all the other strong outfielder projections come from players on teams that are likely to be stacked heavily. Marcell Ozuna (STL) has been one of the hottest hitters in all of baseball and draws that favorable matchup with Anibal Sanchez.