Daily Fantasy Rundown – August 11 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Tuesday’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: Only game to worry about is in NYC where the NYM host COL. Delays possible, ppd not completely out of the picture.
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.
Kyle Schwarber (CHC) – He ranks as our top overall catcher but comes with a hefty price tag. Taylor Jungmann has really surprised us with his command at the major league level (10-12 percent BB Rate throughout minors, 7.4 percent BB Rate in the majors) which makes it difficult to pick on him with elevated tags. Schwarber has made a mockery of RHP in his brief major league career (.472 wOBA, .294 ISO in 68 PA) but his price tag makes him a better tournament option than cash game selection.
Russell Martin (TOR) – Martin owns a solid .330 wOBA and .167 ISO against RHP since 2013. He’ll face Kendall Graveman who has allowed a .334 wOBA and 1.46 HR/9 to RHBs as a big leaguer. Graveman has been a bit unlucky in his HR/FB Rate (19.1 percent despite 27.7 percent hard hit rate) but he’s transitioning to a far worse environment for pitchers. Martin’s lineup spot fluctuates between fifth and sixth which severely impacts his value at home. We’d prefer to invest with a fifth spot in the lineup.
Welington Castillo (ARZ) – Castillo’s power has really blossomed in Arizona (.272 ISO) and it’s the result of consistent hard contact (42.5 percent hard hit rate this season) combined with a high fly ball rate (44.4 percent fly ball rate). On the surface a 22.5 percent HR/FB Rate would seem unsustainable but that kind of consistent hard contact certainly explains it. Castillo will face David Buchanan who has allowed a .358 wOBA and 1.20 HR/9 to RHBs since 2013. The Diamondbacks and Blue Jays are the two team with an implied run total approaching five runs and Castillo typically hits fifth for the Diamondbacks.
John Jaso (TB) – Jaso leads off for a Rays’ offense that has a solid 4.1 implied run total. Jaso has always been a plus hitter against RHP (.372 wOBA, .173 ISO since 2012) and he’ll face Williams Perez who has allowed a .378 wOBA and 1.35 HR/9 to LHBs as a big leaguer. Throw in one of the worst bullpens in the league behind Perez and Jaso is one of the better values at the position.
Travis d’Arnaud (NYM) – Travis hasn’t hit LHP like we’d expect at this point in his career (.265 wOBA, .125 ISO) but the projection systems are really optimistic on his skill set. ZiPS projection system expected a .338 wOBA and .183 ISO against LHP this season. He’ll face Chris Rusin who has allowed a .364 wOBA, 1.29 HR/9, and a 32.4 hard hit rate to RHBs as a big leaguer. D’Arnaud typically hits fifth against LHP. The price tag varies around the industry but if it comes at a severe discount from the top options above, he’s a fine target.
Additional catcher notes: Chris Iannetta (LAA), Jonathan Lucroy (MIL) and Yadier Molina (PIT) come with cheap price tags on some power upside in their individual matchups. Molina and Iannetta have both hit LHP well in their careers while Lucroy faces homer prone Dan Haren in Wrigley Field. They’re each better tournament plays than cash game options given the depth of the recommendations above.
Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) – Goldschmidt is the second ranked hitter in our model. He’ll face David Buchanan who has allowed a .358 wOBA, 1.20 HR/9, and 30 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 approaching five runs (highest on the slate). It looks like the price discount we’ve had the benefit of the last few days is largely gone with Goldschmidt, but our model still views him as a decent value at his current price tag.
Next in line:
Jose Abreu (CHW)/Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) – Abreu has one of the highest home run scores in our model. He’s facing Hector Santiago who has allowed a .326 wOBA, 51.3 percent FB Rate, 32.7 percent hard hit rate, and 1.37 HR/9 to RHBs since 2013. Santiago has the ability to miss bats, but much of his success is built on pitching in huge parks that cater to his fly ball rate. U.S. Cellular Field is not a park that suits him well. The park inflates home runs 14 percent above the league average. Abreu has destroyed LHP as a big leaguer (.412 wOBA, .252 ISO). The gap between Goldschmidt and Abreu is small and largely driven by the gap in expected team runs (5 vs. 3.9) and the quality of the two bullpens they’re facing. If you need a little salary relief from Goldschmidt, Abreu is a fine target. Encarnacion ranks right behind Abreu in our model (just outside the Top Five). Kendall Graveman has been homer prone to RHBs while pitching the majority of his games in Oakland. We expect a difficult transition to pitching in Toronto tonight. Encarnacion benefits from a better scoring environment than Abreu which helps close the gap that Abreu has on skills with the platoon advantage.
Albert Pujols (LAA) – Carlos Rodon‘s transition to the big leagues hasn’t been smooth, particularly against RHBs. He’s allowed a .394 wOBA, 34.3 percent hard hit rate, and 13.9 percent BB Rate. Pujols’ price tag is down a bit and his skills against LHP remain elite (.218 ISO, 38.8 percent hard hit rate). Throw in a positive park shift and Pujols ranks right around our Top 10-15 hitters overall.
Justin Smoak (TOR) – Smoak’s playing time is highly variable. We saw the Blue Jays attack the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium over the weekend with Smoak but we’re unsure if he’ll find his way into the lineup this evening. The opportunity cost at first base is high. All of the options we’ve referenced are inside or around our Top 10 hitters overall, but Smoak’s price tag is very cheap. Smoak typically gets a premier lineup spot and has above average power against RHP (.178 ISO). He’s an affordable way to get exposure to a top offense. We’d only utilize this play if Smoak is hitting fifth and if salary relief is a priority to fit in other big bats along with elite SP.
Additional first base notes: Adam Lind (MIL) and Ryan Howard (PHI) have strong home run scores but fair price tags. They’re better secondary tournament options as neither is part of an offense that stands out as an elite stack or mini-stack. Anthony Rizzo (CHC) is a compelling tournament play given Taylor Jungmann has so heavily outperformed expectations early on. We’re expecting Jungmann’s command to regress at some point (based on minor league performances) and if it does, the Cubs could get into softer side of the Brewers bullpen early.
Robinson Cano (SEA) – Cano is our top option at second base. He’s in an unfavorable hitting environment but places a below average RHP in Chris Tillman. Cano has posted a .362 wOBA and .172 ISO against RHP since joining the Mariners. Tillman has actually been pretty good against LHBs (.307 wOBA, 27.7 percent hard hit rate) despite pitching in a tough home environment. As a result, we’re less likely to pay up for Cano in cash games. He remains a solid target in tournaments.
Dee Gordon (MIA) – Gordon gets a plus matchup for his skill set as he takes on a knuckle-baller at home where the big outfield in Marlins Park helps inflate his power. Steven Wright has allowed a .305 wOBA to LHBs but projection systems are less optimistic (ZiPS – .355 wOBA allowed) on Wright’s ability to get lefties out. Gordon’s price tag is discounted in spots, so there are opportunities to invest; but my initial lean in lineup construction is emphasizing salary relief at second base.
Chase Utley (PHI) – Utley has shown steep deterioration in his skill set this season. While he’s maintained steady plate discipline, he’s struggled to generate hard contact. His hard hit rate has dropped from 30.4 percent to 23.5 percent over the last year (career average is 35 percent). He’s been a bit better since returning from the disabled list (33.3 percent in August) albeit in a very small sample. He rates well in our model (Top 45 hitters) but admittedly finding his baseline right now is difficult given how severely his performance has dropped off this season. He faces Jeremy Hellickson who has allowed a .332 wOBA and 1.21 HR/9 since 2013 and when in the lineup Utley has earned a premier lineup slot (leading off). The near minimum price tag makes him a solid risk worth taking at a position with a low opportunity cost.
Scooter Gennett (MIL) – Gennett was a nice surprise last season against RHP (.346 wOBA, .157 ISO) but projection systems were never keen on his ability to maintain that production. This season he’s dropped to a .298 wOBA and .138 ISO while earning intermittent playing time. He’ll face Dan Haren who has allowed a .316 wOBA and 1.63 HR/9 to LHBs since 2013. The value in Gennett is the combination of lineup spot (typically leadoff), price tag (near minimum) and the matchup with Haren.
Additional second base notes: The rest of the second base position is muddled with each site’s unique eligibility revealing potential options to consider over Utley and Gennett. Odubel Herrera (PHI) is my favorite of the many Phillies options to consider. He owns a .335 wOBA and .144 ISO against RHP and has been hitting third of late. He’s not 2B eligible everywhere and the price tag varies, but he has a combination of enough power and enough speed to consider with a premier lineup spot. I just want that price tag significantly below the top plays if I’m going to invest. Yangervis Solarte (SD) has a lot of similarities to Herrera but in a worse park environment. Solarte owns just a .318 wOBA and .122 ISO against RHP since 2012 but he’s been a bit better this season (.330 wOBA, .151 ISO, and 33.2 hard hit rate) and gets a plus matchup against Michael Lorenzen who has allowed a .437 wOBA and 32.1 hard hit rate to LHBs as a big leaguer. He doesn’t have 2B eligibility everywhere and the price tag varies, but the matchup and lineup spot are strong. If you can find a cheap tag, he’s a little behind Herrera in my preference but ranks similarly to Utley or Gennett. Cesar Hernandez (PHI) has wildly outperformed all expectations this season (.370 wOBA against RHP) thanks to a .446 BABIP with a poor 26.8 percent hard hit rate. His speed is valuable but his bat suggests he’s only worthy as a punt. With his price tag elevated above that tag, I’m less likely to deploy.
Troy Tulowitzki (TOR) – Tulowitzki is clearly the top option at his position. He’s leading off for one of the two teams with a team total approaching five and his skills against RHP (.385 wOBA, .209 ISO since 2013) are elite. He ranks inside our Top 10 overall hitters and the scarcity at his position makes him one of the primary bats to spend up on in cash games.
Additional shortstop notes: The rest of the position is clumped together with price operating as the primary differentiator. Jhonny Peralta (STL) is the most skilled hitter and he’s got the platoon advantage against Jeff Locke. The low scoring environment pushes him down in our rankings. Where the price gap between Tulowitzki and Peralta is significant, he’s a viable alternative. Erick Aybar (LAA), Tyler Saladino (CHW), Cesar Hernandez (PHI), and Alcides Escobar (KC) are the other potential cheap SS options that come with favorable lineup spots. Without price as a determining factor, I’d rank them: Saladino, Aybar, Hernandez, Escobar. Wilmer Flores (NYM) and Alexei Ramirez (CHW) have some power upside but likely won’t garner attractive lineup spots. They’re interesting tournament options since the position carries so few options that can leave the park.
Josh Donaldson (TOR) – Donaldson’s price tag is really difficult to stretch for in cash games, but he remains our top third base option and someone to target in tournaments.
Juan Uribe (NYM) – Uribe isn’t a great hitter (.310 wOBA against LHP since 2012) but he’s hit for power (.172 ISO) and has hit fifth of late against LHP. Chris Rusin is vulnerable to RH power (.364 wOBA, 1.29 HR/9 since 2013) and the Mets are one of the few teams with an implied run total over four. Throw in a really cheap tag in a few places (DraftKings and Yahoo stand out) and Uribe is one of the stronger values as a Top 50 overall hitter in our model.
Diamondbacks (ARZ) – Ender Inciarte getting the day off yesterday brought us a new lineup with both Jake Lamb (ARZ) and Yasmany Tomas (ARZ) in it. It’s likely we’ll only see Lamb and he’ll hit sixth, but I think the price tag warrants consideration even with a poor lineup spot. Lamb (.327 wOBA, .154 ISO) and Tomas (.330 wOBA, .115 ISO) have been respectable against RHP but the primary reason for the excitement is the matchup with David Buchanan who has posted a 7.23 ERA in nine starts this season and ZiPS/Steamer projections expect an ERA just shy of five rest of the way. Throw in a really poor bullpen behind him and you can understand why the Diamondbacks expected run total is approaching five. With a lack of clear cut top options to target, I’m more willing to accept a poor lineup spot from Lamb given the cheap price point.
Additional third base notes: Todd Frazier (CIN) is still cheap for his skill set and he’s facing a starter making his major league debut. Given his struggles of late and the unknown of picking on a new pitcher, he rates as a strong tournament option. Our model loves Kris Bryant (CHC) but admittedly the baselines for him are very strong and the baseline for opposing starter Taylor Jungmann is very weak. I’m more likely to deploy Bryant in tournaments than cash games given Jungmann’s current performance at the big league level is wildly outperforming our expectations. Kyle Gibson does a great job at inducing ground balls to RHBs but when he’s off, he really struggles and he’s backed up by a below average bullpen. This makes Adrian Beltre (TEX) an intriguing tournament candidate as well. Maikel Franco (PHI) is another interesting tournament selection given the power profile in Chase Field. The elevated price tag keeps him off our radar in cash games.
Mike Trout (LAA) – Trout is our top overall hitter and a fine target to spend on in cash games. Carlos Rodon has really struggled with RHBs at the big league level and Trout is getting a huge park shift in his favor.
Jose Bautista (TOR) – Bautista owns a .383 wOBA and .258 ISO against RHP since 2012. We’ve touched on the Blue Jays offense and Kendall Graveman‘s struggles with RHBs this season. Bautista ranks inside our Top Five overall hitters.
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 one of the highest implied run totals of any team this evening and their outfielders all get premium lineup spots. Buchanan hasn’t shown severe splits (.358 wOBA to RHBs, .323 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 30 hitters overall. I’m likely to have at least one Arizona outfielder in my cash game lineups.
Shane Victorino (LAA) – Victorino is an aging player but he’s held up against LHP (.361 wOBA, .128 ISO) this season and historically he’s been really good against lefties (.377 wOBA, .171 ISO since 2012). He’s priced around the bare minimum on most sites and he’s the Angels leadoff hitter. The Angels are getting a nice big park shift and are one of the secondary offenses we’re fond of targeting. Victorino cracks our Top 20 overall.
Coco Crisp (OAK) – Crisp is also priced near the minimum and he’s compiled a solid .337 wOBA and .158 ISO against RHP since 2012. Drew Hutchison is vulnerable to LHBs, allowing a .342 wOBA and 1.27 HR/9 to LHBs since 2013. He hits near the top of the lineup and has a combination of speed and power that is really unique for a min priced player. Josh Reddick (OAK) is a more traditional option to pit against Hutchison’s power struggles (.342 wOBA, .199 ISO since 2012) but his price point varies around the industry a bit. If he’s priced similarly to Coco, I’d consider him a stronger value play than Coco. They both crack our Top 45 hitters overall.
Additional outfield notes: Yoenis Cespedes (NYM) ranks inside our Top 15 hitters overall. I’m more likely to take A.J. Pollock around that price point but Cespedes is a strong alternative. Ryan Braun (MIL) also has big homer upside against Dan Haren’s struggles with the long ball. Our model likes Dexter Fowler (CHC), Avisail Garcia (CHW), and Melky Cabrera (CHW) as secondary options but the price points are a challenge on Cabrera and Garcia’s lineup spot varies. Khris Davis (MIL) has been swinging it well of late and his price tag hasn’t gotten crazy. I don’t mind taking a chance on a power only player against Dan Haren. It’s more of a tournament play than cash game option.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Madison Bumgarner (SF)
2) Matt Harvey (NYM) – weather risk
3) Zack Greinke (LAD)
3) Carlos Martinez (STL)
4) Carlos Carrasco (CLE)
5) Scott Kazmir (OAK)
6) Joe Ross (WAS)
7) Taijuan Walker (SEA)
8) Luis Severino (NYY)
Madison Bumgarner (SF) – The Astros rank eighth in wRC+ against LHP with an above average BB Rate (9.5 percent) and ISO (.167) but also strike out at the eighth highest clip in the league (22.4 percent). They’re experiencing a big park downgrade and losing the DH with the move to the National League. Our model expects Bumgarner to rank among the leaders in K Rate and innings pitched tonight while agreeing with Vegas’ implied run total which has the Astros below three implied runs. He ranks at the top of our first tier.
Next in line:
Matt Harvey (NYM) – We have some weather concerns in New York this evening but if we can get around those, the matchup for Harvey is tremendous. The loss of Corey Dickerson leaves the Rockies with just one elite LHB in the lineup (Carlos Gonzalez) and Harvey will hold the platoon advantage over the majority of the lineup. Throw in a mild ankle issue that could keep Charlie Blackmon out and we could get a very watered down Rockies lineup. Along with Bumgarner, Harvey’s opponent has an implied run total below three (2.8 runs) and he’s a much heavier favorite (-250) which crosses the threshold where SP win rates jump significantly. The weather concerns along with a slightly lower expected K Rate, push Harvey just behind Bumgarner in our rankings.
Luis Severino (NYY) – The Yankees top starting pitching prospect lived up to the hype in his Major League debut. He whiffed 38.9 percent of batters while generating a swinging strike rate over 10 percent and a solid 45.5 percent GB Rate. It’s just one start and a very small sample size, but Severino has dominated the minor leagues this season before his promotion (2.45 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 8.9 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, and 0.2 HR/9 in 19 starts across AA and AAA). The price tag is treating him like an unknown and we think it’s a good time to take advantage of a top prospect at a cheap tag. The projection systems (ZiPS and Steamer) expect his K Rate to hold at the major league level (7.8-8.0 K/9) and Vegas has the Indians for an implied run total right around 3.5 runs tonight. Most of the secondary SP options tonight are a bit overpriced which makes Severino an intriguing option as a value play. For more on Severino from a scouting perspective, check out Michael Diaz’s debut piece.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Carlos Martinez (STL), Carlos Carrasco (CLE), Scott Kazmir (OAK) and even Joe Ross (WAS) all seem a bit overpriced around the industry for difficult matchups. We like Martinez the most of this group as he’ll at least hold the platoon advantage over the majority of a plus Pirates offense. Martinez has dominated RHBs (.278 wOBA, 27.5 K Rate) as a big leaguer so facing with likely just three LHBs is a plus. If Harvey’s weather concerns linger and you want to pay for two high end SPs on the slate, Martinez feels like the best combination of salary and upside. Carrasco gets a struggling Yankees offense outside of their home park, but they’re still very talented. On the season, the Yankees rank fourth in wRC+ and have a below average K Rate. The recent struggles coupled with Carrasco’s skills make him a nice tournament selection, but I’m hesitant to use in cash games. Taijuan Walker (SEA) is a strong tournament option. The Orioles rank seventh in wRC+ against RHP but are dealing with a steep park shift against them and Walker has flashed big upside (30 or more DraftKings points in three of his last 10). The downside is still there (three starts under nine DraftKings points in that span) which makes him a better tournament option.
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 (email@example.com) if you have suggestions.
Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:
1) Toronto Blue Jays
2) Arizona Diamondbacks
These two offenses are well above all the other offenses in terms of implied run totals and you can get exposure to a few players in each of these offenses in cash games without extending your salary cap too much.
1) Los Angeles Angels
2) Texas Rangers
3) Oakland Athletics
4) New York Mets
The Angels are a slight step below the Jays and Diamondbacks but I really like them in tournaments. Victorino-Trout-Pujols is a core foundation to attack LHP and you can add in Calhoun (low ownership hoping for plate appearances against the pen), Aybar or Iannetta (cheap options at thin positions).
The Rangers have an implied run total approaching 4.5 runs and Kyle Gibson is very Jekyl or Hyde (six starts allowing five runs or more, 13 starts with two or fewer runs allowed). The Twins bullpen behind him is soft and the Rangers offense has a lot of depth to it. We don’t often get to capitalize on some of the better hitters hitting low in the order (Choo, Hamilton, etc) in cash, but as part of stacks they have value and help turn the lineup over consistently.
The Athletics get a huge park shift and have a bunch of cheap price points to attack. They’re one of the few stacks where you can fit them in along with elite SP thanks to soft prices on Crisp, Reddick, and then whoever hits in the middle (Valencia, Vogt, Davis, or Lawrie).
The Mets face one of the weaker starters on the slate and have some cheaper options that are power only guys that serve better in tournaments than cash games (Uribe and Flores). We’ll see how the lineup shakes out but you can combine some of those cheap power only bats with low owned core players in the middle of their lineup and still afford some high end SP.
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.
OAK at TOR 7:07: Retractable roof. A 10-20% chance of showers. Temps in the low to mid 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind northwest 8-16 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 3.
NYY at CLE 7:10: Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the mid-60s. Air density is a 6. Wind northwest 6-12 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 4.
COL at NYM 7:10: Showers and thunderstorms will be numerous about the region at any time. It will not be a shield of rain. Thus, I feel they will play the game but there is a 30% to maybe 40% chance of a delay. There is a small ppd risk because of the heavy rain and slow-moving nature of these storms. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind southwest 4-8 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
BOS at MIA: The retractable roof will likely be closed.
ATL at TB 7:10: Dome.
MIL at CHC 8:05: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind northeast 5-10 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
DET at KC 8:10: Dry. Temps in the low 80s falling into the mid-70s. Air density is a 7. Wind north-northeast 4-8 mph which blows in from left-center. The wind is a 4.
LAA at CHW 8:10: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind northeast 5-10 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
TEX at MIN 8:10: Dry. Temps near 80 falling into the mid-70s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind north 5-10 mph becoming nearly calm. The wind blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
PIT at STL 8:15: Dry. Temp near 80 falling into the mid-70s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind north-northwest 5-10 mph lessening to 3-6 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
PHL at AZ 9:40: Retractable roof. A 10-20% chance of a thunderstorm. Temps in the low to mid 100s falling into the mid to upper 90s. Air density is a 9+. Wind variable 5-10 mph. The wind is a 5.
BLT at SEA 10:10: Retractable roof. A 10-20% chance of a random shower. Temps in the low to mid 80s falling into the low to mid 70s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind north-northwest 5-10 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
WSH at LAD 10:10: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 70s falling into the upper 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 to upper 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind west 6-12 mph which blows from left to right.
HOU at SF 10:15: Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the mid-60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west 10-20 mph with gusts past 25 mph early lessening to 8-16 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 9 becoming an 8.