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August 10 MLB DFS: H-to-the-Rizzo
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August 10 MLB DFS: H-to-the-Rizzo

00:39 Starting Pitchers
09:14 Catchers
13:00 First Base
18:12 Second Base
20:31 Shortstops
24:07 Third Base
26:43 Outfield
30:00 Cash Game Roster Construction & Stacks

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August 10 MLB DFS PRO TIP

Starting Pitcher Rankings

Tier One

1) J.A. Happ (TOR)

2) Robbie Ray (ARZ)

3) Dallas Keuchel (HOU)

4) Justin Verlander (DET)

5) Jaime Garcia (STL)

6) Felix Hernandez (SEA)

7) Drew Pomeranz (BOS)

Tier Two

8) Ian Kennedy (KC)

9) Jose Quintana (CHW)

10) Bartolo Colon (NYM)

11) Ryan Vogelsong (PIT)

12) Gio Gonzalez (WAS)

This is one of the most unusual pitching slates we’ve had all year. We’ve had plenty of slates with limited options at the top and even slates with a first tier of options that are largely unappealing. This slate our first tier is extremely deep and the differences within the tier are almost indistinguishable. As a result, we would leave options in the first tier largely to your own personal preference. We’re leaning on price points as the primary area of differentiation. On FanDuel, everyone is really cheap enough to consider in cash games. J.A. Happ is one of the bigger favorites on the slate, our top ranked starter, and represents our intended target though we wouldn’t argue with anyone in the first tier. On DraftKings, softer price tags on Jaime Garcia (STL) and Dallas Keuchel (HOU) have us leaning towards them in cash games. The rest of the tier is priced somewhere between $1,000-$5,000 more expensive.

J.A. Happ (TOR) is at the top of the rankings, which is something we never expected to see, especially at home against a good Rays’ offense against LHP (eighth in wRC+). The Rays lead the league in K Rate against LHP (25.1 percent) and Happ has been on a rather remarkable run since the start of July (1.45 ERA, 11.6 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 against CLE, DET, OAK, SEA, and BAL). It’s difficult to identify what has changed for Happ over the last five starts. The swinging strike rates have jumped but the velocity and pitch mixes remain largely the same but Vegas is buying in as the Rays have an implied run total of 3.7 runs and Happ is a -210 favorite. Robbie Ray (ARZ) is like the extreme bad-luck version of Happ. Ray has a 3.35 xFIP and 4.83 ERA thanks in large part to a lot of hard contact allowed (35 percent) and an awful defense behind him. The Mets’ offense lacks punch against LHP with Cespedes on the DL and the park shift is substantial as well. Ray is a road underdog with an implied run total against of 4.2, so his ranking is largely predicated on a strikeout advantage over the field. Ray has struck out 27.9 percent of batters faced this season and we’re projecting a 27 percent K Rate against a largely LH heavy Mets lineup. Ray naturally makes more sense in tournaments than cash games because of the low floor due to hard contact allowed and the high ceiling due to strikeouts. Dallas Keuchel (HOU) faces a Twins’ offense that ranks 10th in wrC+ against LHP but has the eighth highest K Rate. They’re also primarily driven by power so if Keuchel’s GB Rate can limit the power, he’s in good shape. Justin Verlander (DET) gets a relatively difficult matchup against the Mariners (fourth in wRC+ against RHP with a league average K Rate) but their lefty-heavy lineup could suit Verlander’s slight reverse splits and it’s a big park boost. The challenge with Verlander is the extreme price tag on DraftKings ($12,900) but he’s in play on FanDuel if you’re uncomfortable with Happ’s short-lived dominance. Jaime Garcia (STL) represents one of our targets, along with Keuchel, on DraftKings and it’s largely due to price. The Reds rank 28th in wRC+ against LHP with the fourth highest K Rate and Garcia’s ground ball rates should help limit the Reds best asset against LHP which is power. Garcia and Keuchel both have 3.7 implied run totals against and Garcia is a heavy favorite at -180. Bartolo Colon (NYM) is also so cheap against a bad Diamondbacks offense against RHP that he’d earn consideration at $5,900 on DraftKings.

Ownership likely won’t concentrate anywhere on this slate with so many options and little separating them. We’d aim for strikeout upside which on this slate is largely in the hands of Robbie Ray (ARZ), Justin Verlander (DET), J.A. Happ (TOR), Drew Pomeranz (BOS), and Ian Kennedy (KC).

Catcher Rankings

1) Jonathan Lucroy (TEX)

2) Stephen Vogt (OAK)

3) Russell Martin (TOR)

4) Willson Contreras (CHC) – if top five

5) Victor Martinez (DET) – where eligible

6) Travis d’Arnaud (NYM)

The catcher position is deep with options and has a few affordable sources of salary relief on both sites. Jonathan Lucroy (TEX) represents our top ranked catcher at home against Jorge de la Rosa (.343 wOBA, .175 ISO allowed since 2015) but it’s hard to justify the big price tag at catcher. On FanDuel, Stephen Vogt (OAK) remains cheap and will face Yovani Gallardo (.349 wOBA, .164 ISO allowed since 2015) albeit in a tough park environment but at $2,600 we’re interested. On DraftKings, Travis d’Arnaud (NYM) looks like your best value. While Robbie Ray can miss bats, he also yields a ton of hard contact to RHBs (36.5 percent) and d’Arnaud usually gets bumped near the middle of the order against LHP. He’s got a punt price tag on DraftKings ($2,600). Russell Martin (TOR) is probably the best mid-tier option as he usually hits fifth against LHP. Blake Snell (.291 wOBA, .077 ISO allowed to RHBs) is tough to pick on, so we’d prefer the secondary targets without elite price tags in tournaments. Willson Contreras (CHC) has been buried in the Cubs lineup of late but would also be a nice tournament option given the friendly matchup with Ricky Nolasco.

First Base Rankings

1) Anthony Rizzo (CHC)

2) David Ortiz (BOS)

3) Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)

4) Freddie Freeman (ATL)

5) Brandon Moss (STL) – where eligible

6) Paul Goldschmidt (ARZ)

Anthony Rizzo (CHC) tops our first base rankings and ranks as our top overall hitter on the slate. We expect the Cubs implied team total to approach 5.4 runs which will give them one of the highest implied totals on the slate and Ricky Nolasco (.321 wOBA, .173 ISO allowed to LHBs since 2015) is backed up by a very weak bullpen. David Ortiz (BOS) and Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) rank next highest in our model and represent acceptable pivots off of Rizzo. We’d lean Ortiz over Encarnacion given Snell’s skills as a pitcher could trump the baseline projections (elite young prospects are often difficult to project coming up from the minors so baselines are often conservative). Freddie Freeman (ATL) is an acceptable pivot for salary relief, but both sites in general lack elite values at the position. With mid-tier prices on pitching a focus, it’s viable to pay up at first base.

Second Base Rankings

1a) Jose Altuve (HOU)

1b) Matt Carpenter (STL)

3) Devon Travis (TOR)

4) Ben Zobrist (CHC)

5) Scooter Gennett (MIL)

Jose Altuve (HOU) and Matt Carpenter (STL) represent the top targets at second base. They both grade out as strong values and it’s easy to split exposure on both sites as Carpenter is notably cheaper on DraftKings ($4,500) and Altuve is slightly cheaper on FanDuel ($4,000). Devon Travis (TOR) is an appropriate value on FanDuel where the price remains down ($3,000) as the leadoff hitter for a potent Jays’ lineup against LHP with an implied team total of 5.3 runs. Josh Harrison (PIT) is also a viable salary relief target on both sites if he remains in the leadoff spot. Edwin Jackson is one of the weaker starters on the slate and the Pirates have an implied team total around five runs, which is very rare for a home game.

Shortstop Rankings

1) Manny Machado (BAL) – where eligible

2) Jonathan Villar (MIL) – where eligible

3) Carlos Correa (HOU)

4) Xander Bogaerts (BOS)

5) Troy Tulowitzki (TOR)

Carlos Correa (HOU) is our top ranked option with universal shortstop eligibility. He also comes with a significantly cheaper price tag than Villar and Machado on DraftKings, so Correa represents our primary target. Correa faces Ervin Santana (.314 wOBA, .147 ISO allowed to RHBs since 2015) who is decent against RHBs but backed up by a bad pen. The depressed salary tag on DraftKings makes it less necessary for punt or salary relief options but on FanDuel Orlando Arcia (MIL) remains a viable source of cap relief. He’s no longer minimum priced which makes him a less compelling value, but he’s there if you need additional savings.

Third Base Rankings

1) Kris Bryant (CHC)

2) Josh Donaldson (TOR)

3) Nolan Arenado (COL)

4) Matt Carpenter (STL) – where eligible

5) Manny Machado (BAL)

6) Jonathan Villar (MIL) – where eligible

7) Adrian Beltre (TEX)

8) Miguel Sano (MIN)

9) Evan Longoria (TB)

10) Jake Lamb (ARZ)

Third base is really deep on this slate as the first four ranked options fall within our Top 10 hitters and the first seven rank inside our Top 25. The depth at the position has us seeking out the best price points on FanDuel where pricing is tighter so Adrian Beltre‘s (TEX) $3,200 price tag looks really nice with the platoon advantage against Jorge de la Rosa. On DraftKings, pricing is less of an issue so we’re comfortable paying up for the preferred third basemen of your choosing. Kris Bryant (CHC) is our top ranked option but Josh Donaldson (TOR) and Matt Carpenter (STL) are priced appropriately below and are fine options as well.

Outfield Rankings

1) Kris Bryant (CHC) – where eligible

2) Mike Trout (LAA)

3) Jose Bautista (TOR)

4) Ian Desmond (TEX)

5) Mookie Betts (BOS)

6) Starling Marte (PIT)

7) Brandon Moss (STL) – where eligible

8) Ryan Braun (MIL)

9) Dexter Fowler (CHC)

10) Mark Trumbo (BAL)

11) George Springer (HOU)

12) Matt Kemp (ATL)

13) Gregory Polanco (PIT)

14) Ben Zobrist (CHC) – where eligible

15) Andrew McCutchen (PIT)

The outfield position is a little tricky on this slate. FanDuel’s outfield pricing is really tight which might make punt plays a bit more of a priority if they emerge. DelIno Deshields (TEX) would be a nice one if leading off but we haven’t seen that much since Choo has returned. Max Muncy (OAK) is the other alternative to create some space in a favorable matchup with Gallardo. The rest of the best values are higher-end or mid-tier options like Ian Desmond (TEX), Jose Bautista (TOR), Brandon Moss (STL), and Starling Marte (PIT). These all rank inside our Top 10 outfielders but come with only slightly depressed price tags. On DraftKings, Bautista and Desmond are also priced down relative to other top options and are fine plays. Adam Jones (BAL) and Adam Eaton (CHW) are priced below $4,000 and viable sources of salary relief. With overall pricing softer on DraftKings, it won’t be difficult to find outfielders you’re excited to roster.

Stack Rankings

Tier One

1) Toronto Blue Jays

2) Texas Rangers

3) Chicago Cubs

4) Boston Red Sox

Tier Two

5) Milwaukee Brewers

6) Pittsburgh Pirates

7) Colorado Rockies

8) Atlanta Braves

The Blue Jays, Rangers, Cubs, and Red Sox rank as our top stack targets but this isn’t a night where you need to mini-stack in cash games. In fact, the Blue Jays rank so well based on their power upside and Snell’s inability to work deep into games leaving a vulnerable Rays pen to cover additional innings, but Snell’s strengths make it difficult to confidently load up on Jays in cash anyway, so they represent a better tournament target as a group. The Cubs are the most likely mini-stack if looking for exposure to just one offense in cash games as they have the best combination of weak opposing starter, consistent hitters, and weak opposing bullpen. In tournaments, we expect ownership will largely be spread out. If looking for contrarian options, the second tier is the place to hunt out potentially low ownership.

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