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August 13 MLB DFS: Raise the Jolly Roger with Liriano

August 13 MLB DFS: Raise the Jolly Roger with Liriano
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Daily Fantasy Rundown – August 13 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis

Welcome to Thursday’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: No concerns.

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.


The Play:

Yasmani Grandal (LAD) – Grandal ranks inside our top five hitters on this short slate (only catcher in the top 30). He’s a good hitter vs. RHP (.359 wOBA, .193 ISO against RHP since 2012) and a matchup against Keyvius Sampson (has been solid at the major league level but he had close to a 13 percent BB rate at the minor league level and his run prevention was awful) should help. Sampson has struck out a batter per inning in three major league starts but that looks fluky (all of his K peripherals are well below average). At $3,200 on FanDuel, Grandal stands out as the strongest play at the catcher position relative to his skills, matchup and price.

Additional catcher notes: Brian McCann (NYY) is the other catcher that I would consider across all formats. He’s a skilled hitter vs. RHP and his biggest strength as a hitter is the power tool (.191 ISO vs. RHP in the last three seasons), which could shine in this matchup against Trevor Bauer (.321 wOBA, 1.28 HR/9 allowed to LHBs since 2012). I view McCann as a nice cash game option on a site like DraftKings where he’s discounted ($3,600) and cheaper than Yasmani Grandal. The catcher position doesn’t have much depth tonight so I would keep my exposure to Grandal and McCann across all formats. Secondary targets include Yan Gomes (CLE) and Yadier Moline (STL) (both should only be considered for tournaments).

First Base

Top Play:

Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) – Gonzalez is having a typical season from a peripherals perspective (plate discipline is largely the same, he’s generating the same loft and hitting the ball just as hard as last season). He has been a good hitter vs. RHP (.365 wOBA, .202 ISO since 2012) and he has a matchup we love (Keyvius Sampson). No offense stands out much tonight other than the Dodgers (team total is approaching 4.5 runs) and Gonzalez is a middle of the order bat for this offense. At $3,500 on FanDuel, Gonzalez rates as a strong cash game value (ranks inside our top five hitters in our model).

Value Play:

Carlos Santana (CLE) – Santana isn’t as skilled as Adrian Gonzalez (.348 wOBA, .198 ISO and 31 percent hard hit rate) but he’s a switch hitter (good for his value since he’ll hold the platoon edge all the way through) and he hits cleanup for the Indians. Nathan Eovaldi doesn’t allow much power but he has allowed a .338 wOBA and has only struck out 15 percent of LHBs in the last few seasons so this is a favorable matchup for Santana. At $3,800 on DraftKings, Santana rates as our strongest cash game play and he’s much cheaper than Gonzalez, who’s priced fully there ($5,000).

Additional first base notes: Mark Teixeira (NYY) has a matchup against Trevor Bauer, which can help his power (Bauer has allowed a 1.28 HR/9 to LHBs). This could be the matchup that finally gets the Yankees going but Teixeira doesn’t rate as favorably in our model as the written recommendations above (Gonzalez and Santana are top 15 hitters while Teixeira is our 30th ranked hitter). Albert Pujols (LAA) has an elite matchup (Jeremy Guthrie doesn’t miss any bats, he’s allowing more fly balls this season and it’s not a surprise that his HR/9 is up to 1.44) and he’s priced affordably on DraftKings ($4,400). I view him as a cash game option on that particular site but his best use is likely via tournaments (Royals bullpen looms and their defense is the best in baseball, which could limit his value). Pedro Alvarez (PIT) is cheap around the industry and even though he’s hitting in a terrible environment for power, Lance Lynn has given up power to LHBs this season (1.12 HR/9 allowed to LHBs). It’s difficult to be contrarian in a five game slate but this is a good spot to do this (Lynn is a good pitcher, this game has the lowest total so Alvarez should be low owned).

Second Base

The Play:

Anthony Rendon (WSH) – Rendon is a better hitter against LHP (.359 wOBA, .151 ISO vs. LHP; .335 wOBA, .158 ISO vs. RHP) but Ryan Vogelsong isn’t a good pitcher (1.28 HR/9 this season and his SwStr rate has dipped to five percent, which is well below league average). AT&T Park is a difficult park for power (deflates right-handed power by around 12 percent below the league average) but Rendon’s power should be better moving forward (generating the same amount of loft but his HR/FB rate is 2.4 percent, his career HR/FB rate is nine percent and league average is anywhere from 10-12 percent). He’s very cheap around the industry and he will hit second (should give him at least four PAs since he’s on the road). Rendon rates as the strongest cash game option at a position that lacks any depth tonight.

Additional second base notes: Johnny Giavotella (LAA) should be back in the leadoff spot against Jeremy Guthrie (awful pitcher) and he’s pretty cheap on FanDuel ($2,600). He’s priced close to Rendon around the industry but they’re not even close in skill (Rendon is by far the better hitter, even in a down season). Neil Walker (PIT) can hit for power against RHP and Lance Lynn has been susceptible to this type of contact vs. LHBs this season. I wouldn’t consider Walker in cash games in a game with the lowest total but I’d give him a look if you’re playing in tournaments (fine contrarian option).


The Play:

Jimmy Rollins (LAD) – Rollins isn’t a very good hitter anymore (79 wRC+ this season) but he’s the leadoff hitter for the offense we’re targeting the most tonight (Dodgers have a team total approaching 4.5 runs, which is the largest on this slate). Rollins is cheap around the industry and the shortstop position lacks viable cash game options so we feel pretty comfortable investing here despite the lack of skills (leadoff spot will maximize PAs and Keyvius Sampson isn’t good).

Additional shortstop notes: Other shortstop options that I would consider for cash games are Ian Desmond (WSH) (good matchup against Vogelsong but the hitting environment isn’t good; I’d consider him for cash games on DraftKings, where he’s $3,500) Jose Ramriez and Francisco Lindor (CLE) (nice matchup for contact since Eovaldi doesn’t miss many bats but they’re not very skilled). Brandon Crawford (SFG) and Jhonny Peralta (STL) deserve some consideration for tournaments as contrarian options. Their individual matchups are awful (Strasburg and Liriano) but they’ve been productive hitters when they have the platoon edge. As I mentioned earlier, it’s difficult to be contrarian on such a short slate but these are fine spots to do so (low total games and facing good pitchers, which should keep the ownership down).

Third Base

The Plays:

Alex Rodriguez/Chase Headley (NYY) – The Yankees offense has been scuffling as of late (have only scored four runs once in the last seven games and were shutout twice in that timespan) but they’re ranked fourth in wRC+ against RHP this season so it’s probably unfair to judge this offense moving forward based on a week worth of games. Trevor Bauer misses bats at a nice rate and he’s a solid pitcher but he does allow power (1.38 HR/9 this season). Enter Rodriguez (.351 wOBA, .200 ISO against RHP this season) and Headley (.342 wOBA, .149 ISO vs. RHP since 2012), who rates as our top third base options and are ranked inside our top 30 hitters this evening. We will only consider Headley for cash games if he’s in a top six spot (was hitting second yesterday with Jacoby Ellsbury out of the lineup). If Headley isn’t granted a solid lineup spot, Rodriguez becomes the better target despite being more expensive (better skills).

Additional third base notes: Todd Frazier (CIN) is the other third baseman that has some appeal in cash games but he’s site dependent ($3,100 on FanDuel). He hasn’t been very good in the second half of the season but he generates a ton of loft and he’s not priced correctly on FanDuel. Carlos Santana (CLE) has third base eligibility on DraftKings and I view him as a strong cash game value regardless of the position on that site.


Top Plays:

Mike Trout (LAA)/Bryce Harper (WSH) – (top two ranked hitters in our model and both have favorable matchups; they deserve consideration across all formats relative to their skills and matchups but it’s difficult to fit them in cash games due to their large price tags)

Value Plays:

Los Angeles Dodgers outfield – Yasiel Puig (.375 wOBA, .200 ISO) and Andre Ethier (.368 wOBA, .183 ISO) are good hitters vs. RHP and their matchup against Keyvius Sampson is nice (wasn’t good at the minor league level and has inflated K skills through three starts at the major league level). The Dodgers have the largest team total on this slate (team total is approaching 4.5 runs) so we’re picking on them where it makes the most sense (Grandal at the catcher position, Rollins at the shortstop position and Puig/Ethier in the outfield).

Kole Calhoun (LAA) – Jeremy Guthrie is an awful pitcher, especially against LHBs (.384 wOBA, 1.63 HR/9 allowed to LHBs since 2012). Calhoun will have the platoon edge against Guthrie and he’s a skilled hitter vs. RHP (.340 wOBA, .180 ISO against RHP since 2012). Calhoun ranks inside our top 15 hitters and even though the Royals can limit a hitter’s upside due to their elite defense/bullpen, he’s priced fairly around the industry and the matchup feels like it’s too good to pass up in cash games.

New York Yankees outfield – Brett Gardner (.342 wOBA, .158 ISO) and Jacoby Ellsbury (.330 wOBA, .138 ISO) are fine hitters when they carry the platoon edge (both are LHBs) and Trevor Bauer struggles with lefties (.321 wOBA, 1.28 HR/9 allowed to LHBs since 2012). If choosing between the two, Gardner makes a bit more sense since he’s the better hitter and he has performed better this season. We’re not sure if Ellsbury is still carrying some sort of ailment (has been awful since he was activated from the DL and he hasn’t attempted a stolen base in a little more than one month) but his price has dropped on most sites, particularly FanDuel ($3,000). At similar price points we prefer Gardner (he has some pop, which is the main struggle for Bauer and Ellsbury’s upside seems limited at the moment) but Ellsbury is still a decent cash game option where he’s discounted.

Additional outfield notes: Michael Brantley (CLE) is priced fairly once again but he generates a ton of contact and Eovaldi doesn’t miss many bats. He’s a fine cash game option at his current price point. Gregory Polanco (PIT) and Billy Hamilton (CIN) are two outfielders that carry some upside tonight. Yadier Molina is an elite defensive catcher (controls the run game very well) so we’re not expecting Polanco to run much here but he does have a solid matchup against Lance Lynn (has been susceptible to LHBs). Billy Hamilton will run on anyone and his value is tied to his legs. He’s not a good hitter and Mat Latos is a solid pitcher but if you want a lower owned outfielder that can return nice profits due to his speed upside, Hamilton can be considered. If Carlos Beltran (NYY) is able to secure a top six spot in the Yankees offense, he would emerge as a fine secondary option on sites where he’s cheaper than Ellsbury/Gardner (DraftKings).

Starting Pitcher

Rankings (price not considered):

Tier One

1) Francisco Liriano (PIT)

2) Lance Lynn (STL)

3) Stephen Strasburg (WSH)

Tier Two

4) Trevor Bauer (CLE)

5) Mat Latos (LAD)

Tier Three

6) Garrett Richards (LAA)

Tier Four

7) Keyvius Sampson (CIN)

The Plays:

Francisco Liriano (PIT)/Lance Lynn (PIT) – Liriano and Lynn have been grouped together on purpose. They’re pitching in a game with the lowest total (6.5 runs) in a great environment for pitchers (Busch Stadium). Liriano ranks a bit ahead of Lynn in terms of value and that’s mostly because of better skills. Liriano has accumulated a 28 percent K rate (fueled by 14 percent SwStr rate), he doesn’t allow hard contact (negative five percent hard minus soft hit rate) and when he doesn’t strike out a batter, he usually yields ground balls (53 percent GB rate). Liriano also has the better matchup (Cardinals are ranked 24th in wRC+ and are striking out 23 percent of the time against LHP). Lynn has plus skills (striking out over a batter per inning, 10 percent SwStr rate, 2.79 ERA/2.99 FIP) and even though he’s at home, he’s a small favorite (-115). These two pitchers are the best cash game options on this slate but Stephen Strasburg isn’t very far behind Lynn.

Additional starting pitcher notes: Stephen Strasburg (WSH) looks like he’s back (12 Ks, one earned run in his first start coming off the DL). His ability to generate swings and misses had deteriorated earlier in the season but could be attributed to injuries (SwStr rate was back to normal in his last start). He doesn’t have a great matchup (Giants are ranked first in wRC+ against RHP) and he’s away but he’s pitching in a great environment (AT&T Park) and the Nationals offense should get to Ryan Vogelsong. He’s our third ranked pitcher because of the difficult matchup but he’s closer to Lance Lynn than Francisco Liriano. He’s a good complement to Liriano on multiple starting pitcher sites. Trevor Bauer (CLE) has a matchup against a Yankees offense that has been scuffling as of late and he will be pitching at home. He’s striking out over a batter per inning and he generates a ton of swings and misses (11 percent SwStr rate) but his run prevention isn’t very good. I’ll take my shots with Bauer in tournaments, where I can take advantage of his K skills and live with the variance of run prevention but he’s unnecessary for cash games. Mat Latos (LAD) has a plus matchup against a Reds team that’s ranked 21st in wRC+ against RHP and he’s at home (-200 favorite). If you need some salary relief at the starting pitcher position, he’s far and away the best option at his price point ($7,200 on DraftKings). He’s not as skilled as our top three ranked pitchers but he doesn’t have to be in order to be considered for cash games on multiple starting pitcher sites (cheap, at home and the largest favorite on this slate).

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 ( if you have suggestions.

Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:

1) Los Angeles Dodgers (Keyvius Sampson has inflated skills so he’s headed towards some level of regression; the Dodgers have the largest team total on this slate, approaching 4.5 runs)

Contrarian/Secondary Stacks:

1) New York Yankees (haven’t been very good in the last seven games but a matchup against the home run prone Trevor Bauer could help; it’s a short slate with limited offensive options so they have some appeal across all formats.

2) Los Angeles Angels (Jeremy Guthrie isn’t any good and he allows a ton of power; that’s reason enough to consider some Angels in cash games and tournaments)

MLB Game Weather Forecasts

NYM at CLE 7:10: Dry. Temps in the mid 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind west-southwest 7-14 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.

PIT at STL 7:15: Dry. Temps in the low 80s falling into the mid to upper 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.

LAA at KC 8:10: Dry. Temps in the mid 80s falling into the mid 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind south-southeast 5-10 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6.

CIN at LAD 10:10: Dry. Temps in the mid 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 7. Wind west-southwest 10-20 mph lessening to 7-14 mph which blows out to right. The wind is an 8 becoming a 6.

WSH at SF 10:15: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 70s falling into the mid to upper 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west-southwest 12-25 mph lessening to 8-16 mph which blows out to right-center. The wind is a 9 becoming a 7.

MLB Daily Analysis