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August 17 MLB DFS Early Slate: Arch Your Cash Up
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August 17 MLB DFS Early Slate: Arch Your Cash Up

0:39 Starting Pitchers
09:28 Catchers
10:21 First Base
13:18 Second Base
15:49 Shortstop
16:32 Third Base
19:05 Outfield
23:22  Cash Game Roster Construction & Stacks

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August 17 MLB DFS Early Slate Pro Tip

Starting Pitcher Rankings

Tier One

1) Chris Archer (TB)

2) Stephen Strasburg (WSH)

Tier Two

3) J.A. Happ (TOR)

4) Carlos Martinez (STL)

Tier Three

5) Doug Fister (HOU)

6) Matt Cain (SFG)

Chris Archer (TB) and Stephen Strasburg (WSH) rank very closely in our model, but ultimately we’re looking to anchor our cash game lineups with Archer in this short slate. While Strasburg will have to deal with Coors Field (and a hefty implied team total against of 4.6 runs), Archer will benefit from pitching at home in a domed environment against a Padres offense that’s ranked 28th in wRC+ and are striking out 24.5 percent of the time vs. RHP. The Padres have been able to make more contact with the additions of Jankowski, Schimpf and Dickerson and they will play have the benefit of the DH in the AL, but they have the lowest implied run total in this slate (3.3 runs) so Vegas is expecting a good start from Archer (highest favorite in this slate at -210; Archer has a 2.91 ERA at home this season compared to a 5.97 ERA on the road). We’ll need to pair Archer with another starting pitcher on DraftKings, and it looks like his best complement is Strasburg. While he’ll be in less than ideal conditions at Coors Field, our model is actually projecting Strasburg to lead the position in strikeouts, which in turns creates a safe floor. Strasburg’s price on DraftKings is just $9,400, so we’ll take his strikeouts in cash games.

J.A. Happ (TOR) is a fine tournament option and he’s a safer pitcher than Strasburg from a run prevention standpoint this afternoon, but Happ isn’t in the best environment either (Yankee Stadium). Happ is the most expensive pitcher on the board in this slate, so we’d rather attack his price point in tournaments. The position starts to thin out after Carlos Martinez (STL), and while his matchup against Houston isn’t great either, he won’t have to face more than a couple of LHBs (the Astros’ main threats are all right handed). Matt Cain (SF) and Ivan Nova (PIT) are simply environment plays (AT&T Park is one of the best pitcher parks in baseball) in multi-entry tournaments.

Catcher Rankings

1) Buster Posey (SF)

2) Wilson Ramos (WSH)

3) Russell Martin (TOR)

The catcher position is dreadful from a value perspective in this slate, so this is a good position to fill out last in cash games. Buster Posey (SF) is a fine cash game target around the industry if you have the salary to fit him but opting for punt plays at this position in order to save money for Coors bats might make more sense. Gary Sanchez (NYY) (on DraftKings) and Russell Martin (TOR) (on FanDuel) are two catchers that just hit two home runs last night and remain cheap.

First Base Rankings

1) Brandon Belt (SF)

2) Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)

3) Brandon Moss (STL)

Brandon Belt (SF) rates as our second best value hitter in this slate (only Harper rates as a better value), but you might need to sacrifice him at the position in order to purse more Nationals (highest team total in this slate by a mile – 5.9 implied runs). It’s more doable to fit Belt in cash games on DraftKings, but if you want to fit a couple of expensive Nationals you’ll have to settle for punt plays like John Jaso (PIT) (on DraftKings) or Mark Teixeira (NYY) (viable on both sites). Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) is a good pivot from Belt on FanDuel but he’s also a tad more expensive (the best format for Encarnacion in this slate is likely tournaments due to his price).

Second Base Rankings

1) Trea Turner (WSH) – where eligible

2) Daniel Murphy (WSH)

3) Matt Carpenter (STL)

4) Devon Travis (TOR)

5) Jose Altuve (HOU)

You know it’s a odd slate when we have more ranked second basemen than first basemen. We know that Jon Gray is a good pitcher, but we also have to focus on the Nationals’ hefty implied team total (nearly six runs) in Coors Field today, as their team total is around a full run higher than our second ranked offense. As a result we’re looking to fit at least one of the Nationals expensive bats in cash games, and if you’re not fitting Harper that’s because you’re locking in Trea Turner (WSH) or Daniel Murphy (WSH). Turner is the leadoff hitter for the Nationals (will see five PAs with a good shot at six in this type of environment and he has tons of speed upside) and Murphy has generated an absurd .428 wOBA and .274 ISO vs. RHP this season. You can’t go wrong with either hitter in cash games, but this is also a position that you might look to save some resources with few punt plays available elsewhere. Greg Garcia (STL) could leadoff for the Cardinals as they take on a RHP in an AL park, and he’s close to the min. price around the industry. Garcia doesn’t come with the ceiling of either Turner or Murphy but he also comes at a much friendlier price and our model likes him just as much from a point per dollar perspective (as long as he leads off).

Shortstop Rankings

1) Trea Turner (WSH) – where eligible

2) Brandon Crawford (SF)

3) Carlos Correa (HOU)

Trea Turner (WSH) has shortstop eligibility on FanDuel and without any other obvious values at the position, we’re looking lock him in cash games. If you’re paying for other expensive Nats and can’t fit Turner on FanDuel, you can turn to Brandon Crawford (SF) (will have a top five lineup spot and the platoon edge vs. Ivan Nova) or Matt Duffy (TB) (viable as a cheap play if he’s hitting fifth). Turner doesn’t have shortstop eligibility on DraftKings, and on that site we’re hoping to lock in Greg Garcia (STL) if he’s leading off (we prefer him at shortstop rather than second base but he’s a good punt at either position).

Third Base Rankings

1) Josh Donaldson (TOR)

2) Nolan Arenado (COL)

3) Evan Longoria (TOR)

4) Anthony Rendon (WSH)

Another position that has an awesome value in a vacuum with Josh Donaldson (TOR) (.427 wOBA, .316 ISO vs. LHP since 2014), but ultimately we’ll likely have to sacrifice him in order to pursue the bigger priorities in this slate (two tier one starting pitchers and Nationals). Matt Carpenter (STL) is a little cheaper than Donaldson on DraftKings and he rates as a similar point per dollar option. It’s a bit easier to fit one of those third basemen on DraftKings but on FanDuel it’s difficult to fit Donaldson along with expensive Nationals. The alternatives on that site are Evan Longoria (TB) ($700 cheaper and will have the platoon edge) or go cheap with Chase Headley (NYY).

Outfield Rankings

1) Bryce Harper (WSH)

2) Trea Turner (WSH) – where eligible

3) Carlos Gonzalez (COL)

4) Brandon Moss (STL) – where eligible

5) Charlie Blackmon (COL)

5) Jayson Werth (WSH)

6) Starling Marte (STL)

7) Denard Span (SF)

8) Gregory Polanco (PIT)

9) Steven Souza Jr. (TB) – if top 5

10) Andrew McCutchen (PIT)

It’s no surprise that Bryce Harper (WSH) is our top ranked hitter in this slate (one of the best hitters in baseball and cleanup hitter for the Nats in Coors), and not having to pay exorbitant prices at the starting pitcher position facilitates our ability to fit him into our cash game lineups. We’re locking Harper in cash games in a slate that’s very difficult from a value perspective after him. Our second best value in the outfield is Steven Souza Jr. (TB), but that’s dependent on his lineup spot. If Souza can crack a top five lineup spot for the Rays today, he’d represent a great value. Souza Jr. has generated a boring .322 wOBA vs. LHP since 2015 but it’s his power that interests us (.193 ISO vs. LHP) vs. Christian Friedrich (4.84 ERA/4.80 xFIP while pitching in the NL). Denard Span (SF) represents a good value in the outfield on FanDuel where he’s just $3,000, but things get very muddy after these guys. We’re depending on whether Nick Franklin (TB) ($3,600 on DraftKings) leads off yet again for Tampa while Logan Forsythe deals with back spasms, or Tommy Pham (STL) leading off again despite facing a RHP (just $2,400 on FanDuel). Jacoby Ellsbury (NYY) represents a plus value on both sites since he’s usually the leadoff hitter for the Yankees but he won’t have the platoon edge against Happ (viable if you’re filling out your third outfield spot with someone cheap but we don’t love him in this matchup). The Pirates outfield gets a matchup vs. Matt Cain (very power prone, even in his home park), but they’re priced right where they need to be on both sites so there’s not much cash value to nibble on in cash games. With the outfield position so unsettled after a couple of hitters, lineup alerts will ultimately determine who you’ll surround Harper with (outside of Span on FanDuel since he usually leads off when healthy).

Stack Rankings

Tier One

1) Washington Nationals

Tier Two

2) Toronto Blue Jays

3) Tampa Bay Rays

4) Colorado Rockies

The Nationals’ team total laps the field this afternoon, as their implied team total is close to a full run higher than our next ranked offense. They’ll be chalky in cash games even against Jon Gray, so we’re looking to fit at least one (ideally two) of their expensive bats in cash.

After the Nationals, the stacks get interesting. Outside of Russell Martin on FanDuel, the Blue Jays are priced right where they need to be against CC Sabathia in Yankee Stadium, and with the Nationals drawing most of the interest, the Jays (very powerful offense, especially vs. LHP) represent nice upside plays in tournaments. The Rays have a couple of values bats that could swing our way if they get favorable lineup spots but the Rockies have to deal with Strasburg (one of the best pitchers in baseball) and they’re priced fully around the industry. It’s one of those weird short slates that you might see the Rockies with depressed ownership in tournaments due to their matchup, so we’re taking advantage of that opportunity in tournaments. If you’re looking for a more contrarian offense to attack in tournaments, the St. Louis Cardinals have an implied team total just under four runs but they get a nice park shift and a league shift and we could see three LHBs atop the lineup against Doug Fister (.349 wOBA, .192 ISO surrendered to LHBs since 2015).