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August 15 MLB DFS: Dodging the Chalk

Adam Hummell
August 15 MLB DFS: Dodging the Chalk
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Welcome to August 15 MLB DFS action. You’ll find Daily Fantasy Baseball Premium Cliff Notes for August 15 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!

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Time Stamps
00:56 
Starting Pitcher
09:47  Catcher
11:30 First Base
14:14 Second Base
16:42 Third Base
19:57 Shortstop
21:53 Outfield
24:47 Stacks

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  • 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.

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Range of Outcome Projections

August 15 MLB DFS CLIFF NOTES

Starting Pitcher

Gerrit Cole (HOU) comes with one of the widest margins our pitching projections have seen all season over the second ranked starter on this slate. Cole benefits from this elite matchup that we attacked last night with Justin Verlander against a Rockies’ offense that ranks 29th in wRC+ against RHP this season with an above average K Rate. Cole is the second biggest favorite on the slate (-190) and he comes with the lowest implied total against. He’s clearly the cash game building block on both sites.

Zack Wheeler (NYM), Kevin Gausman (BAL), Dylan Bundy (BAL), Shane Bieber (CLE), and Nathan Eovaldi (BOS) make up a deep second tier of options. Wheeler has been phenomenal of late but he’s priced way up and getting a huge negative park and league shift. We’d rather avoid in tournaments. Eovaldi is also priced up a bit but has the kind of strikeout upside that makes  him a more viable target as he gets the benefit of a park and league shift in his favor against the strikeout-prone Phillies.

The final three are more relevant as cash game SP2 options to pair with Cole. Dylan Bundy is the most compelling because of his cheap price tag ($6,500) and a favorable matchup against the Mets who rank 19th in wRC+ against RHP this season and feature just two above average LHBs (Conforto/Nimmo) which are the primary issue for Bundy. Gausman and Bieber are a bit more expensive but Gausman certainly figures to be popular as he faces a Marlins’ offense that has just a 3.4 implied total. Gausman will also have a favorable home plate umpire helping his projection along and the Marlins ran out a more strikeout friendly lineup without Miguel Rojas and Martin Prado available on Tuesday. If we were sacrificing the price discount from Bundy for a SP2 in cash games, it would be for Gausman. Bieber is a really wide platoon splits pitcher who will face a Reds lineup that has been loading up with LHBs of late. We’d only consider him as a tournament pivot from Gausman.

On FanDuel, optimal lineups still prefer paying up for Cole as he’s such a strong value. If you were to pivot, Kevin Gausman is underpriced at $7,200 and a very strong value in his own right. Dylan Bundy‘s similar price tag should leave him under-owned in tournaments as well.

On DraftKings, there are a few other cheap SP2 options that are viable in tournaments because of their strikeout upside but aren’t projecting nearly as solid for cash games. Vince Velasquez (PHI) has an awful matchup with the Red Sox but similar to Pivetta last night he comes with a lot of strikeouts built in. He’s guaranteed to come with extremely low ownership but we view him as only viable in MME. Robbie Erlin (SD) is cheap and has been better against RHBs than LHBs in his career. The Angels offense lacks LHBs and is really watered down without Trout/Ohtani. Hyun Jin Ryu (LAD) is making his return from the DL and comes with a really low implied total against the Giants (3.4). He’s just $7,500 but we don’t expect him to work deep (a couple five inning rehab starts). Marco Estrada (TOR) faces a lineup that has very little power which is his main weakness. Finally, Felix Pena (LAA) has strikeout ability but has been rocked by LHBs this season. Thankfully, the Padres don’t have many.  All of these options would be more likely MME targets than single entry or three max options.

Catcher

Salvador Perez (KC) is the lone positive value at the catching position on Wednesday. Despite an uninspiring 4.2 implied run total for the Royals, the cheap tag ($3,600 on DK) and good lineup spot at a weak position make Perez a shoe-in for early optimals on DraftKings. Furthermore, opposing pitcher Marco Estrada‘s effectiveness is neutralized a bit with right-handed batters given the strength of his changeup (.203 ISO allowed to RHB since 2016). Perez is the lone standout value on FD as well, but his price isn’t cheap enough to warrant him a necessity or really an option at all.

Buster Posey (SF), Russell Martin (TOR), and Evan Gattis (HOU) show up next after a decent sized drop in value from Perez. Posey and the Giants don’t have a particularly enticing matchup, park, or run total (3.8 IRT) but his skills against LHP push him into the conversation as a pivot from Perez. Unfortunately though, it’s not likely he gets any more than two at-bats versus Hyun-Jin Ryu as he’s making his first start back from the DL (and he’s pretty good too).

Martin won’t have the platoon edge but the Jays have the best implied run total of the teams represented in this section. Opposing pitcher Burch Smith has given up 5, 6, and 5 earned runs with 5 total home runs in his last three starts, compiling just over ten innings total. The lineup spot doesn’t command a lot of value, but he’s poised to receive the best overall offensive run scoring environment.

Gattis will get the platoon edge on Tyler Anderson and the left-hander has seen his GB% decrease again this season. He’s getting a break pitching outside Coors Field, but Gattis has been tough on LHP (.230 ISO since 2016) and has posted a positive delta in batted ball data.

First Base

Joey Votto (CIN), Kendrys Morales (TOR), and Justin Smoak (TOR) top the first base value rankings. Votto and the Reds take advantage of their excellent park, but the matchup with Shane Bieber is not super exciting overall. He has struggled with LHB (.227 ISO allowed) in a small sample, but otherwise has been solid and now gets a positive league shift (3.50 xFIP). While Votto has seemingly been sapped of his power a la Space Jam, his historical performance against RHP and his reduced price tag make him an enticing value. He is fitting into some of the early optimals on both sites.

Morales though is finding more of them at just $3,400 on DK and $2,500 on FanDuel. He’ll look to exploit the aforementioned matchup with Burch Smith and a bad Royals pen, and we’ll get him from the left-side of the plate (.189 ISO versus RHP since 2016).

The same appeal applies to Justin Smoak who’s price tag is just closer to that of Joey Votto‘s. The switch-hitting first baseman has been really good against RHP (.230 ISO since 2016) and has a very accessible price tag. He projects just behind Votto as far as raw projection but gets the additional benefit of being on the road and facing a much worse opposing pitching staff.

Early optimals don’t extend too far beyond the top trio, but Freddie Freeman (ATL) and Lucas Duda (KC) aren’t far behind in overall value. Freeman and the Braves have one of the slate’s lone 5+ implied run totals in their matchup with Jose Urena, who has been susceptible to power from left-handed batters. He represents a notable spend over Votto and Smoak, but tops the position in overall projection.

Duda’s price moves the other direction. While Marco Estrada has been tougher on LHB, he’s still allowed quite a bit of power (.181 ISO since 2016) and that’s the play we’re trying to exploit when rostering someone like Duda (.239 ISO versus RHP since 2016).

Greg Bird (NYY) doesn’t have great batted ball data but the price tag, platoon edge, and park have him flirting with some of the early optimals. He’d be a viable tournament pivot at similar price tags to Morales and Duda.

Second Base

Brian Dozier (LAD) and Jonathan Villar (BAL) are the top two values at second base. Dozier was back in the lineup on Tuesday, leading off against a southpaw where we expect him again tonight against Derek Holland. His home park isn’t anything exciting (though a 4.6 implied run total) but the combination of his prowess versus LHP (.256 ISO since 2016) and Derek Holland‘s struggles with RHB (.227 ISO allowed) make him an excellent option. He’s a bit more expensive than Villar on both sites at $3,700 on FD and $4,300 on DK and as a result gets pushed out of most of the early optimals. He remains a viable pivot in either format.

Villar comes at a notably cheaper tag and plenty of upside on the base paths against Zack Wheeler. Wheeler isn’t quite as bad as teammate Jacob deGrom, but he’s in the top 30 in the league in SBs allowed this season. At $3,500 on DK and $2,600 on FD it might take just one time on base for Villar to pay off.

There’s a decent drop in value before you hit Whit Merrifield (KC) and Devon Travis (TOR). The two square off against each other, Merrifield drawing the leadoff spot against Marco Estrada. He hasn’t displayed the same power that we saw last season, but he continues to run once on the bases (25 SB thus far). He’s priced between Dozier and Villar though, making it an awkward combination of not quite enough upside versus not quite enough salary relief. Travis fits a similar mold, priced similarly to Merrifield. He’s posted excellent batted ball data of late while carving out a second place lineup spot. He’s priced too similarly to the likes of Dozier on DK, but would be a more reasonable pivot at $3,000

Third Base

Justin Turner (LAD) is the standout at the third base position. He’s not seen a significant price increase yet at $3,600 on FanDuel and $4,200 on DraftKings and he gets a great matchup with Derek Holland. We mentioned Holland’s struggles versus RHB and while he’s been better this year (he found the strikeout), he is still allowing a ton of hard, aerial contact. Turner has posted a strong positive delta in batted ball data and is the prime candidate in most early optimals.

On FanDuel though, Russell Martin (TOR) has third base eligibility and he’s only $2,300. It works out well as Turner’s $3,600 price tag is a bit more of a spend on the site, and as a result Martin is populating most of the early optimals.

Jose Ramirez (CLE) and Alex Bregman (HOU) follow Turner on DraftKings. JRam is essentially Trout-lite at this point, priced at $6,000 on DraftKings and deservedly so in a matchup with Robert Stephenson in Great American Ball Park. Stephenson was pretty good in AAA this year, but has historically struggled to keep the ball on the ground and throw a lot of strikes. That’s a recipe for disaster against a tough Indians team with an implied run total of 5.3 runs.

Bregman will grab the platoon edge on Tyler Anderson. He’s been excellent in the split (.381 wOBA, .231 ISO since 2016) and offers a way to be slightly different by paying up, without stretching yourself quite as thin as required to reach Ramirez’ price tag.

Anthony Rendon (WSH) is just $4,500 on DraftKings where he fits the middle ground between Turner and the upper-tier. He’s super tough on LHP (.395 wOBA, .243 ISO since 2016) and will get a newly stretched out Austin Gomber.

Shortstop

Manny Machado (LAD) is the consensus play at SS in early optimals. His price tag at $4,200 on DraftKings and $3,800 on FanDuel is very affordable on the former, and reasonable on the latter. We’ve already talked about the exploitable matchup with Derek Holland, so there is little left to say to justify the play of Machado who is posting his best offensive season yet (143 wRC+).

On DraftKings there is no reason to look to anyone else at the position for cash games. On FanDuel though, it would be reasonable to at least consider Trea Turner (WSH) and Carlos Correa (HOU) who can at least rival Machado from an upside perspective and are similarly priced (both a tad bit cheaper).

We’d be more interested in Correa’s skills in the platoon split, but overall more excited about the thought of having the road leadoff hitter in Turner. He’s been brutal with the platoon edge in his early career but represents perhaps the best individual upside at the position.

Despite an astronomical price tag, Francisco Lindor (CLE) is the second best value on FanDuel at $4,700. The Indians remain one of the strongest plays on the slate against a young right-hander in an excellent run scoring environment. On a slate where Machado might garner most or all of the ownership, he’d be a worthy “low owned” pivot in tournaments.

Amed Rosario (NYM) warrants some consideration as a “puntish” type play that could get lost amidst the middle ground value that some of the bigger named candidates bring to the table. Road leadoff hitters are valuable commodities.

Outfield

Giancarlo Stanton (NYY), Curtis Granderson (TOR), and Matt Kemp (LAD) are the consensus top three values on both sites. Most early optimals on both sites contain at least two of the trio.

Stanton draws a home matchup with Jake Faria, a fly ball arm getting a big negative park shift pitching in Yankee Stadium against the notably warm Stanton (32.5% Hard% L15). Stanton remains a relatively affordable piece of a consistent top offensive option in the Yankees.

Granderson and teammate Randal Grichuk (TOR) are a pair of the top values in their matchup with Burch Smith. Grandy should slide to the leadoff spot while we’ve seen Grichuk round out cleanup, providing two affordable outfield options with power upside (.223, .243 ISO versus RHP since 2016 respectively). Not only does Burch Smith project for a rest of season ERA of 5.61 via ZiPS, but he’s also allowing more than 2 HR/9. Combine that with the Blue Jays affordability, and you understand why this duo is popping in a lot of optimals.

Matt Kemp gets the oft-mentioned Derek Holland matchup. He remains a cheap way to get exposure to Dodgers right-handed bats and is particularly valuable on FanDuel at just $3,000. He only has three hits since the end of July, but his skills against RHP (.236 ISO since 2016) make it hard to pass him up at these price tags.

Brett Gardner (NYY) and Michael Brantley (CLE) fill a similar void, giving access to two of the top offenses on the slate for a bit cheaper than some of their non-outfield counterparts.

Mallex Smith (TB) is very cheap on FanDuel at $2,800. The road leadoff hitter with stolen base upside is enough to push him into a lot of the early optimals on the site.

Whit Merrifield (KC) has outfield eligibility on DraftKings and sneaks into the top ten of values at the position and accordingly a lot of the early optimals where it’s easy to just play Jonathan Villar or Dozier at 2B. Wil Myers (SD) has hit the ball very hard all season long and stands as a potential one-off verus Felix Pena, who has allowed a ton of the same type of contact himself.

Mookie Betts (BOS), J.D. Martinez (BOS), and Andrew Benintendi (BOS) all rate in the top five of raw projection in the outfield. A matchup with the volatile Vincent Velasquez can work wonders offensively in tournaments and given the likely allure to “safer” matchups, they should be excellent lower owned tournament options.

Stacks

Tier One

1) Cleveland Indians

2) New York Yankees

3) Los Angeles Dodgers

After the last two nights where we had clear cut top stacks, the stack rankings are more condensed on Wednesday’s main slate.

The Yanks, Dodgers, and Cleveland all project similarly to one another with stack scores that would’ve rated in the second or third tier each of the last two nights.

Cleveland is the offense we’re most confident in of this group. They’re in a great offensive environment and the loss of a DH isn’t a huge deal with Edwin Encarnacion sidelined. The Reds are tossing another below average RHP and Cleveland has really worked their pen i the first two games. Cleveland is very expensive and should be popular on FanDuel with Kevin Gausman so cheap but more difficult to access on DraftKings. Still, we expect they’ll lead the way in ownership.

Our projections really like taking advantage of slightly discounted price tags for the Dodgers who project as an elite offense against LHP and get to face Derek Holland who has allowed a ridiculous .379 wOBA and .241 ISO to RHBs since the start of last season. The Dodgers offense is at home and in a tough hitting environment so we expect their ownership to lag Cleveland and the Yankees considerably.

Tier Two

4) Boston Red Sox

5) Toronto Blue Jays

Boston is once again a strong contrarian option. DFS-ers will likely choose to pay up for Ramirez/Lindor over Mookie/JD given positional scarcity but the Red Sox duo is facing an opposing starter who has been tougher on RHBs but is very power prone on the whole.

Toronto is the cheap stack our projections like most. Burch Smith has posted a 6.97 ERA and 5.85 FIP this year. The Royals pen behind him is really bad and he’s allowed a ridiculous 32 percent hard minus soft hit rate this season. The Blue Jays fit the slate really well if paying up for Cole in GPPs.

Tier Three

 

6) Atlanta Braves

7) Tampa Bay Rays

8) New York Mets

 

The Braves are the stack we’re likely lightest on relative to the industry. Jose Urena has been solid this season and especially so against RHBs. Acuna has been absurdly hot and thus should continue to carry hefty ownership. It feels like a difficult fade but Acuna is priced like Mike Trout now in a matchup against a SP that has held RHBs to a .300 wOBA since the start of last season. We’ll likely fade the heavy owned Braves.

The Rays and Mets are interesting contrarian MME targets. The Mets will have some leverage to them on DraftKings where Dylan Bundy should carry ownership. The Rays’ offense is sneaky powerful from the left side and facing a contact oriented RHP in a park that really increases LH power. Jake Bauers-Kiermaier-Lowe-Wendle are all contrarian one-off targets.

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