Daily Fantasy Rundown – August 10 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Monday’s edition of the Daily Fantasy Rundown with “leonem”, “dinkpiece” and “thenumbersguy”. Each day throughout the MLB season our daily MLB scouting reports will highlight the best top, value and cheap plays of the day based on the Daily Fantasy Industry’s pricing for salary cap games. The goal of our analysis is to help you improve consistency and become a better player long-term.
Weather: Another quiet weather night. More likely than not, the games should all play with no problems.
Please see Meteorologist Mark Paquette’s game by game weather forecasts below the Analysis.
If any weather situations shift drastically, we will keep you updated with lineup alerts so make sure to check your email inbox up until roster lock.
Matt Wieters (BAL) – Wieters has been exceptional against LHP (.376 wOBA, .235 ISO) since 2012 and will face Vidal Nuno who has allowed a .336 wOBA, 1.42 HR/9, and a 34.4 percent hard hit rate to RHBs. Wieters typically hits fifth against LHP and he holds the platoon edge deep into the game as a switch hitter. The performance and the peripherals for Wieters have been way out of whack (3.7 BB Rate, 24.8 K Rate) compared to his career production, but fortunately the price point has come down alongside it. With Wieters this cheap, I’m willing to accept some risk in skill deterioration for the upside in his past performance.
Derek Norris (SD) – Norris typically garners a strong lineup spot against LHP and deservedly so. Since 2012, Norris has compiled a .364 wOBA and .180 ISO against LHP. David Holmberg has posted really poor peripherals at the big league level but a .217 BABIP (despite a 32.1 hard hit rate allowed) has helped him maintain a reasonable .335 wOBA allowed. The K Rate (11.4 percent), BB Rate (9.4 percent), and HR/9 (1.54) all suggest he really struggles to control RHBs. Norris and Wieters rank really closely in our model
Additional catcher notes: Salvador Perez (KC) has flashed plus skills against LHP (.177 ISO, 32.4 percent hard hit rate) but gets a weaker lineup spot and at home that really impacts his expected plate appearances. If he garners a Top Five spot, we’d consider him a secondary value play behind Wieters and Norris. Jesus Montero (SEA) despite all his struggles has always hit LHP at the big league level (.359 wOBA, .143 ISO) and this year at AAA he was hitting .347/.418/.605 in 165 plate appearances. Wei-Yin Chen is a more skilled pitcher than Nuno or Holmberg who we’re picking on above, but he is vulnerable to RH power (1.35 HR/9 to RHBs since 2013). With Montero slightly cheaper, he’s a solid secondary value play or elite tournament option. Welington Castillo (ARZ) is another favored tournament option as part of a Diamondbacks stack or mini-stack. His price is elevated and he won’t have the platoon advantage but he garners a strong lineup spot and the Phillies staff as a whole is one of the weakest in MLB.
Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) – Goldschmidt is the top overall hitter in our model. He’ll face Aaron Harang who has allowed a .320 wOBA, 1.01 HR/9, and 31 percent hard hit rate against RHBs. Goldschmidt owns a .381 wOBA and .216 ISO against RHP since 2012 and is in the middle of the Diamondbacks order that has an implied run total of 4.7 runs (highest on the slate). First base isn’t particularly deep on Monday, which makes Goldschmidt an even more compelling option. His price tag is down modestly in a few spots due to a recent slump and we recommend taking advantage of it.
Next in line:
Jose Abreu (CHW)/Joey Votto (CIN)/Lucas Duda (NYM) – All three rank inside our Top 10 overall hitters but come with varying price points that are difficult to exploit industry wide. Abreu faces a homer prone RHP facing a stark park shift. His price is most consistently elevated around the industry which makes him a more consistent tournament option. Votto has a bit more power upside despite the park shift simply because he’s facing a pitcher that is so vulnerable to LH power (1.51 HR/9 allowed since 2013). Duda has a matchup with Jon Gray who has struggled with LHBs in AAA (17.2 K Rate, 9.6 BB Rate, and .764 OPS allowed) but has big time stuff. If not paying up for Goldschmidt in cash games, this is the group I’m looking towards and I’m ideally looking for a significant discount on one of these three bats.
Additional first base notes: The first base position lacks a lot of compelling values. It’s a position to spend on but there are some cheaper tournament options to consider. Albert Pujols (LAA) is one of my favorite tournament plays. Sale’s ownership rates will be so high that the leverage in using Angels against him is magnified. The price point is down and if you stacked Pujols and Trout against Sale, you could knock out 60 percent of the field if they do well. Ryan Howard (PHI) has nice home run upside given Rubby de la Rosa’s struggles against LHBs (2.48 HR/9 allowed this season). Ryan Zimmerman (WAS) is a good hitter with a premium lineup spot, the platoon advantage, and a cheap tag. Brett Anderson isn’t someone we like to pick on because of his extreme GB Rates, but the Dodgers bullpen is a mess and Anderson hasn’t consistently worked deep into games. He’s an interesting tournament play as well. The Royals offense is another interesting target in tournaments. Kendrys Morales (KC) will have the platoon advantage against Matt Boyd who projects as homer prone. Throw in a really weak bullpen behind him and the Royals are a compelling stack or mini-stack.
Ben Zobrist (KC) – Zobrist owns a solid .350 wOBA and .136 ISO against LHP since 2012. He’ll face Matt Boyd, a left handed pitcher, who serves up a lot of fly balls. Boyd has missed bats the minor league levels but his stuff (91 mph FB – very straight) is pretty average. At the big league level he’s allowed a 39.6 percent hard hit rate and 50 percent fly ball rate. It’s a small sample to evaluate but it aligns well with scouting reports. Kansas City isn’t a bad place to pitch for a fly ball heavy pitcher which makes most of the Royals bats better tournament than cash game plays. Zobrist’s elevated price tag pushes him towards tournament over cash game as well, but he rates as our best second base option.
Jedd Gyorko (SD) – Gyorko has posted a .344 wOBA and .186 ISO against LHP since 2012 and he’s hit fifth of late against LHP. He’s a bit boom or bust as he’s struck out in 23 percent of his plate appearances against LHP, but David Holmberg hasn’t been able to miss RHBs (11.4 percent K Rate). The one risk with Gyorko is a nearly all RH bullpen makes him useless late in the game (.282 wOBA, .141 ISO against RHP since 2012). The price point is so cheap and the opportunity cost is light that I think he’s one of the better values at the position. I’m more likely to utilize him on a site that doesn’t deduct points for outs or strikeouts given his low OBP/high K approach.
Anthony Rendon (WAS) – Rendon has compiled a .359 wOBA and .154 ISO against LHP as a big leaguer. He typically garners a spot near the top of the lineup and while the matchup with Brett Anderson isn’t great (.311 wOBA, 61.7 GB Rate), a very weak Dodgers bullpen is behind him. He’ll likely earn a plate appearance advantage over most of his competitors at the position and is discounted around the industry for his skill set.
Additional second base notes: The rest of the second base position is muddled. The best offensive environment is in Arizona where weak hitters like Cesar Hernandez (PHI), Chase Utley (PHI), and Aaron Hill (ARZ) lack the top skills we target but face weak opposing pitchers. Hernandez and Utley come with better lineup spots and more consistent playing time, so I don’t mind them as secondary options to try and get exposure to the scoring environment given de la Rosa’s struggles with lefties. Hill is just a punt to get exposure to the Diamondbacks hefty team total (if he’s in the lineup).
Additional shortstop notes: The shortstop position is filled with a bunch of below average hitters with few carrying compelling contextual factors. Jose Reyes (COL) is the most skilled of the group but the Rockies have an implied run total around three runs. It’s difficult to pay up for a player in such a poor scoring environment when his skill set doesn’t even profile as great. Alcides Escobar (KC) has the best lineup spot and is a part of an offense with an implied run total over four runs (one of just three such totals tonight). He’s not a skilled hitter (.301 wOBA, .083 ISO against LHP since 2012) and Boyd’s extreme fly ball tendencies aren’t ideal for a guy that doesn’t hit for power, but if you can find a compelling price tag (FanDuel stands out); he’s a fine target to invest in. J.J. Hardy (BAL) has flashed pop (.145 ISO against LHP since 2012) in the past and hits sixth, which isn’t terrible on the road. The price point is consistently cheap, which makes him one of the more compelling options. In general, I’m solving this position last when filling out rosters and letting salary guide me.
Manny Machado (BAL) – Machado’s growth this year has been phenomenal. He’s surprisingly been better against RHP (.391 wOBA, .238 ISO) than LHP (.353 wOBA, .167 ISO) this season but we’re comfortable with his skills against lefties. Vidal Nuno projects as a below average lefty who should struggle with RHBs. ZiPS projection system expects a .340 wOBA and .196 ISO allowed and so far as a big leaguer he’s allowed a .336 wOBA and .198 ISO to righties. He tops our third base rankings overall and ranks within our Top 20 overall hitters.
Todd Frazier (CIN) – Frazier’s scuffled since the break (.155/.209/.274) and his price has come way down as a result. There is speculation over the impact of the home run derby, but most of the research in this area has suggested the presence of any home run derby “curse” is a myth. We’re always aware of investing in players that are going through extreme slumps (and Frazier certainly qualifies) but on a short slate with a reduced price tag, he stands out as the best value play at the position.
Additional third base notes: The Diamondbacks third base options rank ahead of Frazier in our model before adjusting for lineup spot. Yasmany Tomas (ARZ) has been a bench player mostly of late, while Jake Lamb (ARZ) consistently hits sixth. Lamb’s skills really intrigue us (33.3 percent hard hit rate against RHP but just a .331 wOBA and .145 ISO due to low 7.7 HR/FB Rate) against RHP and the matchup with Harang is a good one, but we’re likely giving up a plate appearance compared to the recommendations above. Daniel Murphy (NYM) is a secondary value play. While Jon Gray has great stuff, his struggles against LHBs in the minor leagues make Murphy an adequate option. The Mets offense is a bit pricey after a recent explosion, so he’s not a particularly strong value but he’s an adequate secondary target.
Mike Trout (LAA) – He’s so gifted that he’s our top outfield play even against Chris Sale. I’m not likely to pay up for him in cash games, but I think he’s a tremendous tournament target for the same reasons we discussed in the Pujols notes.
Diamondbacks Outfielders (ARZ) – The price point on David Peralta and A.J. Pollock varies around the industry but Ender Inciarte remains pretty affordable. The Diamondbacks have the highest implied run total of any team this evening and their outfielders all get premium lineup spots. Harang hasn’t shown severe splits (.320 wOBA to RHBs, .338 wOBA to LHBs since 2013) so it’s fine to target him with either side of the plate. Our model likes Pollock’s combination of skill, speed component, and lineup sot most (Top 15 hitter in our model) but Inciarte and Peralta also crack our Top 35 hitters overall. I’m likely to have at least one Arizona outfielder in my cash game lineups.
Justin Upton/Matt Kemp (SD) – Upton (.369 wOBA, .221 ISO) and Kemp (.371 wOBA, .217 ISO) have both crushed LHP since 2012 and have price points that are down across the industry. David Holmberg projects to struggle against RHBs and both Padres outfielders get premier lineup spots. They actually rank higher than the Diamondbacks outfielders in our model (both Top 15 overall hitters), but I find myself utilizing them as secondary targets as opposed to primary targets in order to get exposure to the higher scoring environment in Arizona.
Adam Jones (BAL) – Jones has compiled a .361 wOBA and 201 ISO against LHP since 2012 and faces Vidal Nuno (.336 wOBA, 34.4 percent hard hit rate allowed since 2013 against RHBs). Jones’ price tag is way down around the industry, as you can get him for the average cost of an outfielder. He also cracks the Top 15 hitters overall.
Additional outfield notes: Jayson Werth (WAS) remains a strong punt candidate. As we’ve mentioned throughout the content, Brett Anderson‘s extreme ground ball rate isn’t something to pick on, but the Dodgers bullpen behind him is something to target. At an extremely cheap price for his skill set (.418 wOBA, .209 ISO against LHP since 2012), Werth is a great source of salary relief. Jay Bruce (CIN) is uniquely cheap on DraftKings ($3,400) and his skill set (LH power) matches up well with Kennedy’s weakness (HRs to LHBs), making him a fine value target. Bruce has a Top Five home run score in our model. If Billy Hamilton (CIN) leads off, he’s exceptionally cheap around the industry and Derek Norris has allowed 63 stolen bases in 88 games this season behind the plate. Hamilton is a bit more of a GPP play given his inability to get on base makes him volatile. If he does get on base, he usually racks up Fantasy points. Yasiel Puig (LAD) and Scott Van Slyke (LAD) rate well in our model for their skills against LHP but Gio Gonzalez isn’t the easiest pitcher to pick on. I’d rather get exposure to them in tournaments. Nelson Cruz (SEA), Melky Cabrera (CHW), Yoenis Cespedes (NYM) and Curtis Granderson (NYM) all have favorable matchups for their skill sets but come with elevated price tags. I’d consider them solid tournament options.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Chris Sale (CHW)
2) Johnny Cueto (KC)
3) Ian Kennedy (SD)
4) Wei-Yin Chen (BAL)
5) Gio Gonzalez (WAS)
6) Rubby de la Rosa (ARZ)
7) Matt Shoemaker (LAA)
8) Jon Niese (NYM)
Chris Sale (CHW) – The Angels rank 17th in wRC+ against LHP with a below average K Rate (18.5 percent), but they project as an above average offense against LHP. Mike Trout and Albert Pujols are elite hitters against lefties and Chris Iannetta, Shane Victorino, and C.J. Cron all project as above average. Add in a few middle infielders with high contact rates (Aybar, Giavotella, and Featherston) and you’ve got a lineup that projects as a difficult matchup for DFS points. Sale’s talent is so far beyond the other starters on this slate that he still ranks comfortably in a tier of his own. His 15.3 swinging strike rate and 32.1 K Rate is second to Clayton Kershaw in all of baseball. On top of the elite strikeout rate, Sale also possesses plus control (4.8 BB Rate) and allows more soft contact (23.1 percent) than hard contact (22.8 percent). He’s a solid favorite (-145) in one of four games with a total of just seven. If Sale were surrounded by a bunch of aces, the difficulty of the matchup with the Angels might come into play, but the lack of SP options on Monday makes him a near must play in cash games. In tournaments, the ownership should be extreme which makes fading Sale an intriguing opportunity.
Next in line:
Johnny Cueto (KC) – The gap between Sale and Cueto is equivalent to the gap between Cueto and the rest of the starting pitching options. Cueto doesn’t have the monstrous K Rates (22.6 percent) to lean on but run prevention (2.69 ERA) figures to maintain with Kansas City’s elite defense behind him. The Tigers are a challenging matchup on paper. They rank fourth in wRC+ against RHP with a league average K Rate (19.5 percent). However, they’ve slipped to 16th in overall wRC+ over the last 30 days as the loss of Miguel Cabrera severely impacts their depth. The Tigers are also very right handed and Cueto has limited RHBs to a .271 wOBA with a 23.6 K Rate and 25.4 percent hard hit rate allowed since 2013. While he doesn’t possess the strikeout upside of Sale, Cueto’s run prevention makes him a solid number two.
Ian Kennedy (SD) – The Reds rank just 20th in wRC+ against RHP and they’re getting a severe park downgrade playing in PETCO Park. Kennedy is really susceptible to LH power and the Reds rank just 16th in ISO against RHP despite playing in one of the friendliest parks for power. Kennedy’s peripherals have been solid (21.7 K Rate, 6.5 BB Rate, and 9.7 swinging strike rate) but he’s allowed a ton of hard contact (34.8 percent) and fly balls (39.3 percent FB Rate) which makes him very homer prone (19.2 HR/FB Rate, 1.96 HR/9). The combination of solid strikeout skills and tons of hard contact makes him a very volatile option. On a slate without much depth in pitching, he’s a viable target on multiple SP sites and a solid tournament option in all formats.
Wei-Yin Chen (BAL) – Chen is a safer option than Kennedy with a bit lower upside. His strikeout rate (19.8 percent) isn’t as strong and he’s dealt with homer issues (1.52 HR/9), but unlike Kennedy those issues are more the result of his home park than hard contact allowed (26.1 hard hit rate allowed). Chen gets a huge boost in environment and faces a neutral matchup against the Mariners who rank 14th in wRC+ against LHP with a slightly above league average K Rate (20.5 percent). Vegas has a lower implied run total for Kennedy (3.2) than Chen (3.6) which coupled with a higher expected K Rate for Kennedy pushes him ahead of Chen in our model rankings. I do think Chen’s predictability (13-21 in quality starts and just two starts with more than three earned runs all season) outpaces Kennedy’s (11-20 in quality starts and five starts with more than three earned runs) and makes him a safer cash game target on multiple SP sites; albeit with less upside.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Jon Niese (NYM) is a cheaper Wei-Yin Chen with a lower floor and ceiling. Niese has a below average K Rate (15.5 percent) but works with a great GB Rate (54.8 percent) to help limit run prevention. The Rockies aren’t nearly as dangerous against LHP with Troy Tulowitzki and Wilin Rosario gone which is why Niese is a healthy favorite (-205) in a game with just a total of seven. He rates poorly in our model due to the lack of strikeouts which lowers his floor and his ceiling. He’s an acceptable target on multiple SP sites, but we prefer Chen and Kennedy where priced similarly. Rubby de la Rosa (ARZ) always pops when you look at K Rate and peripherals like FIP and xFIP but the severe platoon splits (.257 wOBA, 23.9 K Rate, 58.7 GB Rate, and 24.9 hard hit rate against RHBs compared to .399 wOBA, 15.5 K Rate, 43.4 GB Rate, and 31.3 hard hit rate against LHBs) make him vulnerable to lefty heavy offenses. The Phillies rank 29th in wRC+ against RHP but they can field a lineup with six LHBs. In the best hitting environment of the day, de la Rosa carries a bunch of risk. We think he’s a compelling target in tournaments but wouldn’t touch him in cash games. Gio Gonzalez (WAS) and Brett Anderson (LAD) are above average lefties but their price tags are ahead of our expectations for them in below average matchups against offenses that profile well for contact against LHP.
Macro Thinking, Stacks, and Tournament Notes:
This is a new section we’ve created to try and offer more dedicated macro thinking to our analysis and hopefully add more value to those playing tournaments. The format is a bit of a work in progress and we welcome feedback (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have suggestions.
Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:
1) Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks are the main team I’m focusing on getting cash game exposure to this evening. They have the highest implied run total, are playing in the best offensive environment, and facing the weakest overall pitching staff. The Padres are sort of a secondary focus simply due to price point, but they don’t qualify as our second ranked stack overall, so I’m going to list them below.
1) Kansas City Royals
2) Los Angeles Angels
3) Baltimore Orioles
4) New York Mets
5) San Diego Padres
The Royals often fall under the radar because they play in a difficult hitting environment and their lineup lacks power. They’re facing one of the weaker starters on the slate and the bullpen behind him is among the weakest in the entire league. A mini-stack of Escobar, Zobrist, Cain, and Morales or Perez makes a lot of sense in tournaments.
I think there is a ton of value in stacking the Angels tonight given Sale’s crazy ownership levels. They’re a good offense getting a big park shift in their favor and if Sale blows up, you get a huge advantage over the field. Trout and Pujols are the starting points and if you wanted to extend beyond them you could look to cheap MI (Aybar, Giovatella) or Iannetta at catcher.
The Orioles get a big park downgrade but face a below average LHP with a slightly below average bullpen behind him. They’re also a road offense which guarantees them ninth inning plate appearances and they’re one of the few road offenses we really like this evening. Chris Davis is always a good contrarian tournament option with his home run ability in left on left matchups that push ownership way down. Machado-Davis-Jones-Wieters would top our priorities if mini-stacking and the stack can be extended to cheap options like J.J. Hardy as well.
The Mets are expensive which I’m hoping will force ownership a bit lower. The Rockies bullpen got more severely right handed over break which helps a lineup fueled mostly by LH power. Granderson-Murphy-Cespedes-Duda is the foursome I’d target in tournaments.
The Padres have cheap values that we really like and allow you to stack with Sale as a featured SP. Norris-Upton-Kemp-Gyorko gets you a lot of exposure to power upside for very little cost on most sites. The one downside to stacking the Padres is the Reds bullpen is primarily RH, so a lot of their options lose value as soon as the game gets into the pen. All four players have historically wide splits.
MLB Game Weather Forecasts
In the scales below, a 10 strongly favors the batter, a 1 strongly favors the pitcher and a 5 has no impact on the game.
COL at NYM 7:10: Dry. Temps in the mid-70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind southeast 4-8 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.
DET at KC 8:00: Dry. Temps in the mid-80s falling into the mid-70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind north-northeast 5-10 mph which blows in from left-center. The wind is a 4.
LAA at CHW 8:10: A 10% chance of a stray shower. Not a big deal. Temps near 80 falling into the mid-70s. Air density is a 7. Wind northeast 7-14 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
PHL at AZ 9:40: Retractable roof. A 10% chance of a thunderstorm around. Temps near 100 falling into the low to mid 90s. Air density is a 9. Wind east-southeast 5-10 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.
BLT at SEA 10:10: Retractable roof. A few stray showers around. Temps in the low 80s falling into the mid-70s. Air density is a 7. Wind northwest 7-14 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
WSH at LAD 10:10: Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the mid-60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west-southwest 10-20 mph lessening to 7-14 mph which blows out to right. The wind is an 8 becoming a 6.
CIN at SD 10:10: Dry. Temps in the mid-70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west 7-14 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.