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August 15 MLB DFS: Trea-t Yourself
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August 15 MLB DFS: Trea-t Yourself

00:40 Starting Pitchers
11:17  Catchers
13:04 First Base
16:32 Second Base
18:40 Shortstops
23:26 Third Base
26:38 Outfield
26:10 Cash Game Roster Construction & Stacks

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August 15 MLB DFS PRO TIP

Starting Pitcher Rankings

Tier One

1) Max Scherzer (WAS)

Tier Two

2) Drew Smyly (TB)

Tier Three

3) Felix Hernandez (SEA)

Tier Four

4) Robbie Ray (ARZ)

5) Matt Moore (SF)

6) Ian Kennedy (KC)

7) David Phelps (MIA)

Tier Five

8) R.A. Dickey (TOR)

This is a strange slate for starting pitching. Max Scherzer (WAS) leads our rankings but a trip to Coors Field will make you feel uneasy about paying his expensive (albeit slightly reduced) price tag on either site. Scherzer’s top tier ranking is built on the strikeout potential which still easily trumps everyone else on the slate. Vegas has given the Rockies a 4.3 implied run total, which is a testament to Scherzer’s skill. We wish Scherzer was priced down even more aggressively for the slate as it would give us a bit more reason to consider him. With a lack of elite alternatives, he’s one of the stronger cash game targets, but admittedly it’s not clear. The Rockies’ lineups are a bit more contact oriented with Trevor Story and Mark Reynolds sidelined and while Scherzer is death to RHBs (.202 wOBA, 39 percent K Rate this season), he’s been more human to LHBs (.305 wOBA, 27.4 K Rate). It’s possible the Rockies could roll out a lineup with six right-handed position players (LeMahieu and Arenado the exceptions). Even with an aggressively left-handed projected lineup, we have Scherzer clearly ahead of the alternatives based on strikeout rate.

Drew Smyly (TB) is your best clear alternative to Scherzer. He’s pitching in a controlled environment in Tampa against a Padres lineup that we noted yesterday is nowhere near as dominant against LHP as they were early in the season. Smyly has been effective in his last four starts, allowing two earned runs or less in all four, but the K Rate and swinging strike rate have been volatile. Against the Royals he generated a 13.7 swinging strike rate and 37 percent K Rate but in two other starts against TOR/OAK his swinging strike rate was below four percent. Smyly has the second lowest implied run total on the slate (3.5 runs) and one of the better projected K Rates. Scherzer’s K Rate is more secure, but the salary relief Smyly brings provides meaningful upside on a slate with so much offense.

The tricky part of this slate is finding a SP to pair with either Smyly or Scherzer on DraftKings. You certainly could play the two together and that provides the most upside in SP points, but the slate has so much offense we’d rather embrace some risk in a cheap secondary SP. David Phelps (MIA) is minimum priced as a reliever and he’s been very effective in two starts against difficult offenses; combining for 9 1/3 IP 1 ER with nine strikeouts and 12 base-runners allowed (@COL, vs. SF). He’s been a league average starter in his career (4.26 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 7.0 K/9 in 61 starts mostly in the American League East) and the punt price tag allows for plenty of spending on offense.

The opportunity cost at SP on this slate isn’t huge. The likelihood of a monster outing from the top scoring SP is minimal and there’s plenty of offense to make up for the small probability that it hits. As a result, you can take more chances in tournaments on this slate with SP risk in order to help load up on offense. Robbie Ray (ARZ) continues to rate well in our model thanks to a great K Rate. The Mets are depleted against LHP but the big park boost makes run prevention a constant nuisance, where his price is down Ray makes for a nice tournament target. Luis Perdomo (SD) continues to generate swinging strikes and ground balls at an above average rate, the latter at an extreme rate, but big time command issues and tons of hard contact make run prevention difficult to rely on. A negative league shift makes things more difficult, but the Rays do swing and miss against RHP and it’s one of the few favorable pitching environments on the slate. This case can be made for anyone that is cheap and has strikeout potential.

Catcher Rankings

1) Victor Martinez (DET) – where eligible

2) Wilson Ramos (WAS)

3) Buster Posey (SF)

4) Jonathan Lucroy (TEX)

5) Brian McCann (NYY)

The catcher position has plenty of strong options, but few great values. While Victor Martinez (DET) ranks as our top catcher where eligible thanks to Ian Kennedy‘s extreme power splits, we’d likely opt for Wilson Ramos (WAS) as a way to get more Nationals’ exposure at a cheap price tag anywhere they’re priced similarly. With Ramos and Lucroy expensive, we’re looking for cheap options that may find good lineup spots. Salvador Perez (KC) and Travis d’Arnaud (NYM) could fit the bill on DraftKings while d’Arnaud could fit on FanDuel. Your catcher decisions will be heavily influenced by how much you’re spending at SP and lineup alerts will help shape how many cheap catchers are available. This is a position we’re likely targeting last in lineup builds.

First Base Rankings

1) Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)

2) Brandon Belt (SF)

3) Miguel Cabrera (DET)

4) Joey Votto (CIN)

5) Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)

6) Victor Martinez (DET) – where eligible

7) Wil Myers (SD)

First base is an interesting position as the two top offenses to target on the slate lack compelling targets at first base. Without Nationals or Rangers to target, you’re left in search of the best value in order to load up on bats elsewhere. Brandon Belt (SF) has one of the weakest hitting environments but a favorable matchup with Ryan Vogelsong (.388 wOBA, .251 ISO allowed to LHBs since 2015) and a projected weak Pirates’ pen behind him. Belt rates well in our model on both sites. FanDuel has a distinct lack of cheap options to pursue for salary relief and with all the first basemen clumped together in pricing, which makes Paul Goldschmidt (ARZ) a viable spend ($4,200). Goldschmidt’s opposite field power at home is a nice matchup for Bartolo Colon who works consistently away with fastballs. Miguel Cabrera (DET) is also a viable pivot on both sites as he’s been red-hot (5.1 well hit rating) and gets fly ball prone Ian Kennedy. On DraftKings, Victor Martinez (DET) has a nice $3,800 price tag that makes him a strong value as well and gets exposure against Ian Kennedy‘s struggles against LHBs (.351 wOBA, .247 ISO allowed since 2015).

Second Base Rankings

1) Trea Turner (WAS) – where eligible

2) Daniel Murphy (WAS)

3) Dee Gordon (MIA)

4) Robinson Cano (SEA)

5) Neil Walker (NYM)

6) Ian Kinsler (DET)

Trea Turner (WAS) is priced aggressively on both sites but road leadoff hitters in Coors Field are uniquely valuable. Five plate appearances is almost assured and there is a good chance at six, this will represent 50 percent more opportunity than most of his counterparts on this slate. Turner and Daniel Murphy (WAS) are both priced aggressively but if going the cheap route at starting pitching are very strong spends as key parts of the Nationals’ offense. On FanDuel, Dee Gordon (MIA) or Neil Walker (NYM) are solid alternatives in elite hitting environments with mid-tier price tags.

Shortstop Rankings

1) Trea Turner (WAS) – where eligible

2) Marcus Semien (OAK)

3) Brad Miller (TB)

4) Danny Espinosa (WAS)

5) Didi Gregorius (NYY)

Trea Turner (WAS) once again ranks as our top middle infield option wherever he is eligible. Turner’s had mixed results in a small sample at the big league level against LHP but posted an absurd 48.2 hard hit rate in 33 plate appearances. He’s out-performed all our baselines so far by a wide margin but it’s also come with exceptionally hard contact (41.2 percent overall) so we don’t mind paying up. The salary relief options are fairly limited at shortstop and with low opportunity cost, we don’t mind a full punt. On DraftKings, Andrelton Simmons (LAA) is priced at just $2,200 and has been hitting in the middle of the lineup of late. On FanDuel, we lack pure punts but Didi Gregorius (NYY) is pretty cheap and has been promoted to the middle of the Yankees’ lineup with the recent roster turnover. R.A. Dickey has allowed a .170 ISO to LHBs since 2015 and Gregorius has had a power breakout this season with a .187 ISO against RHP. Danny Espinosa (WAS) is priced appropriately on both sites but we wouldn’t shy away from the poor lineup spot in tournaments. Espinosa has compiled a .212 ISO against LHP since the start of last season and homered in five percent of his plate appearances. EDITOR’S NOTE: Marcus Semien (OAK) was an oversight when going through the podcast. He ranks as our second rated shortstop and is a viable cash game target on both sites. Leadoff hitter on the road with a big park shift makes him a more attractive play than similarly priced Didi Gregorius.

Third Base Rankings

1) Anthony Rendon (WAS)

2) Josh Donaldson (TOR)

3) Adrian Beltre (TEX)

4) Jake Lamb (ARI)

5) Danny Valencia (OAK)

6) Nolan Arenado (COL)

7) Jose Reyes (NYM)

8) Martin Prado (MIA)

9) Evan Longoria (TB)

10) Chase Headley (NYY)

Another Nationals leads our rankings at third base. Anthony Rendon (WAS) has compiled a solid .353 wOBA and .133 ISO against LHP since the start of 2014. With Harper back, he could slide back down to sixth in the lineup but that is not a concern in Coors Field where expected plate appearances don’t diminish as significantly down the lineup. Third base is a position that has a lot of depth and alternative values to it, so if you want to save at the position there are alternatives. Adrian Beltre (TEX) comes with a reasonable tag on FanDuel ($3,400) and the platoon advantage against Ross Detwiler (.352 wOBA, .170 ISO career against RHBs and most of that is in the NL). On both sites, Danny Valencia (OAK) and Jose Reyes (NYM) come with reasonable price tags. Valencia is the more skilled option and getting a big park boost for his fly ball and power tendencies. He’s your best mid-tier option on DraftKings, though we prefer Beltre on FanDuel. Reyes is your salary relief target on both sites, though Chase Headley (NYY) is a viable alternative as well on DraftKings. Wilmer Flores (NYM) remains a great tournament option on both sites as he’s annihilated LHP since the start of last season (.348 wOBA, .223 ISO and homered yesterday).

Outfield Rankings

1) Bryce Harper (WAS)

2) Trea Turner (WAS) – where eligible

3) Mike Trout (LAA)

4) Jayson Werth (WAS)

5) Ian Desmond (TEX)

6) Nelson Cruz (SEA)

7) Marcell Ozuna (MIA)

8) Michael Saunders (TOR)

9) Carlos Gonzalez (COL)

10) Carlos Beltran (TEX)

11) Charlie Blackmon (COL)

12) Lorenzo Cain (KC)

13) Andrew McCutchen (PIT)

14) Jacoby Ellsbury (NYY)

15) Christian Yelich (MIA)

If you are a current Washington National, a former Washington National, or Mike Trout you are likely in our Top Five overall outfielders. The Nationals have so many guys that hit LHP well (Harper – .370/.208, Werth – .403/.232 wOBA/ISO since 2014 against LHP) and the park shift is as extreme an upgrade as they can get. Jorge de la Rosa has allowed a .343 wOBA, .175 ISO to RHBs since 2015 and this is a very difficult matchup. If you’re spending up at the outfield position, we’d prefer you focus your attention on the Nationals or Rangers. The Rangers face Ross Detwiler and a bad Oakland pen getting a severe park downgrade. Ian Desmond (.360 wOBA, .197 ISO since 2015) and Carlos Beltran (.371 wOBA, .224 ISO since 2015) are both very skilled hitters against LHP and carry relatively neutral splits that hold into the bullpen. If you’re unable to spend up, DraftKings has a number of our 6-10 ranked options with attractive price tags. Michael Saunders (TOR) and Marcell Ozuna (MIA) are the two most notable targets on both sites. Saunders faces Chad Green (.469 wOBA, .410 ISO allowed to 60 LHBs faced this season) while Ozuna gets Brandon Finnegan (.339 wOBA, .213 ISO against RHBs since 2015) who are both very favorable matchups in great park environments. Both sites also give you a few cheap options that pop as decent values in our model. On FanDuel, Jake Smolinski (OAK) gets that big park shift in Texas and has crushed LHP (.407 wOBA, .255 ISO since 2015) in his big league career. He’s often hit second which gives a great chance at a fifth plate appearance. Aaron Hicks (NYY) is also priced as a punt option and has gotten a big lineup boost hitting second of late. On DraftKings, J.D. Martinez (DET) and Andrew McCutchen (PIT) are below $3,500 while Justin Upton (DET) is priced as a pure punt.

Stack Rankings

Tier One

1) Washington Nationals

Tier Two

2) Texas Rangers

Tier Three

3) Oakland Athletics

4) Toronto Blue Jays

The Nationals and Rangers are in tiers of their own. We expect the Nationals will represent the chalk in Coors Field for expensive stacks and the Rangers will likely represent as the primary pivot. The slate requires risky starting pitching to make it happen, but it’s not hard to do on DraftKings if you embrace a David Phelps punt SP. Expect heavy ownership there. On FanDuel, it’s viable as well with a mid-tier starter, so if you’re going to differentiate in tournaments with the Nationals we’d recommend working your way down the order instead of a simple 1-4 or 1-5 and mix in Danny Espinosa.

Contrarian Tournament Stacks

Detroit Tigers – Ian Kennedy is fly ball prone, the Tigers hit home runs, and the Royals bullpen is a bit of a mess. The stack is a bit more effective on FanDuel with Martinez having catcher eligibility but likely falling way behind Ramos in terms of ownership for expensive catchers, but the stack is also super cheap on DraftKings with JD Martinez and Justin Upton so cheap.

New York Mets – The Diamondbacks have one of the worst bullpens in the league currently and their skill set isn’t much different than the Reds. Robbie Ray just shut down the Mets last week in New York and the Mets offense has struggled a ton, against even bad SP of late. When the Mets are working it’s largely through power and they’re extremely cheap on this slate. If you need a mini-stack to combine with the expensive and chalky Rangers or Nationals, the Mets seem like a really good fit. Ray rarely works deep into games and the Mets power gets a nice boost with the park shift.

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