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August 17 MLB DFS Late Slate: Don’t Pout, Play Trout
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August 17 MLB DFS Late Slate: Don’t Pout, Play Trout

00:42 Starting Pitchers
10:01 Catchers
12:01 First Base
14:40 Second Base
16:50 Shortstops
19:05 Third Base
20:23 Outfield
24:12 Cash Game Roster Construction & Stacks




Starting Pitcher Rankings

Tier One

1) Jon Lester (CHC)

2) Carlos Carrasco (CLE)

3) Yu Darvish (TEX)

Tier Two

4) Tyler Skaggs (LAA)

5) Scott Kazmir (LAD)

6) David Price (BOS)

Tier Three

7) Homer Bailey (CIN)

It’s an interesting day for starting pitching as our top two tiers rank very closely to one another. In fact, if you remove win probability (the tier one options are all -210 favorites or better) and admittedly some gut feel, our model shows virtually no difference. The top options “feel” safer, but mathematically the tier two options appear to be the best values.

In that top tier, Jon Lester (CHC) is expensive enough that he’s only a secondary value on both sites, and we don’t yet have a total in this game. However as a huge favorite against the Brewers (-260) and coming off three straight strong starts following a tiny rough patch, Lester is a very high floor option. Yu Darvish (TEX) is a phenomenal tournament play due to his individual K rate, but a contact oriented opponent and tough park/opposing team total make him a tournament option only at his pricing.

Rather, the best value of the tier one options is Carlos Carrasco (CLE), particularly on DraftKings where the savings from Lester and Darvish is significant. Carrasco has been an up and down option, but he’s recorded 17 strikeouts over his last two starts and actually possesses the lowest implied run total against.

In the second tier, Tyler Skaggs (LAA) and Scott Kazmir (LAD) have the best price points. Skaggs is coming off two disappointing starts, but we can make excuses for him – and will. Two starts ago he had a very unfavorable home plate umpire, and last start out he allowed 7 ERs despite a 3.74 xFIP and -21.0 hard minus soft hit rate. It’s scary because the results haven’t been there, but the price is right. It’s also worth noting that all the implied run totals on the top five ranked options are between 3.6 and 3.9 (Lester’s pending). Kazmir is a heavy favorite against a Phillies team that is frankly not good and hasn’t been good all season – dead last in wRC+ against LHP with a high 22.9 K percentage.

David Price (BOS) has significant upside to be looked at in tournaments, but the pricing is just so-so (especially on FanDuel). It’s a pitcher that’s been volatile this season against an offense that can be volatile, so we think he’s better suited for tournament play.

Catcher Rankings

1) Victor Martinez (DET) (where eligible)

2) Jonathan Lucroy (TEX)

3) Welington Castillo (ARI)

4) Yasmani Grandal (LAD) (very hot)

5) Salvador Perez (KC)

On FanDuel, we really like the pricing on Welington Castillo (ARI) (home with platoon edge against Jon Niese and his .342 wOBA/.166 ISO split against RHBs since 2014) and Yasmani Grandal (LAD) (elite matchup amplified by absurd 6.00 well-hit rating over the last two weeks, not yet including last night’s homer and three hits). Grandal is arguably the top play at the position given that our model has the 1-4 options ranked pretty closely. On DraftKings, pricing makes this more of a “fill out last” type of position, simply using the best option who happens to fit.

First Base Rankings

1) Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)

2) David Ortiz (BOS)

3) Anthony Rizzo (CHC)

4) Joey Votto (CIN)

5) Carlos Santana (CLE)

We’re absolutely stacked at first base with all five ranked options sporting plus matchups – and consequently expensive price tags (all are $5,200-plus on DraftKings). Given the tight pricing on all five, Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) (top ranked hitter on the slate) is the best value up top. He’s a worthy spend, but the pricing dynamics also bring into play some cheaper guys, such as Albert Pujols (LAA) who faces Cody Martin in what could be a bullpen gam for the Mariners. We’re even more inclined to pay up on FanDuel, because the gap in pricing between Goldschmidt/David Ortiz (BOS) (good well-hit rating, good contextual factors) and the value options (Pujols/Eric Hosmer (KC)) is not nearly as large.

Second Base Rankings

1) Jason Kipnis (CLE)

2) Jean Segura (ARI)

3) Dee Gordon (MIA) (cold)

4) Ben Zobrist (CHC)

5) Neil Walker (NYM)

Up top, we’d much rather pay for Jason Kipnis (CLE) or Jean Segura (ARI) than Dee Gordon (MIA), who our model loves due to speed upside but we’re hesitant on due to an awful well-hit rating and a worse matchup overall. And it is feasible to spend up, depending what you do at pitching. In fact, second base becomes a good position to fill out last – not due to a lack of options but because of several similarly viable options at different price points. In the mid-tier you’ve got Ben Zobrist (CHC) (expecting a high team total, Jimmy Nelson has allowed a .362 wOBA and .191 ISO to LHBs since 2014). On the lower end of the salary spectrum, Chase Utley (LAD) sticks out on FanDuel (good way to get exposure to a Dodgers offense against Jake Thompson and his 4.65 ZiPS projected ERA), and Jonathan Schoop (BAL) sticks out on DraftKings (despite facing David Price, he’s too cheap for the power upside he possesses here).

Shortstop Rankings

1) Francisco Lindor (CLE)

2) Corey Seager (LAD)

3) Manny Machado (BAL) (where eligible)

4) Jonathan Villar (MIL)

5) Zack Cozart (CIN)

On FanDuel the pricing gap between the top options and the mid-tier options is tight enough we’d like to pay up for one of Francisco Lindor (CLE) or Corey Seager (LAD). In general it’s easier to get Cleveland exposure on FanDuel, and they’ve got a very plus matchup against Anthony Ranaudo and his career 6.09 ERA/6.89 FUO/6.15 xFIP in 65 MLB innings (ZiPS projects a 5.84 ERA). Seager may possess a bit more power upside given his splits against RHP (.414 wOBA, .245 ISO). On DraftKings the pair is very expensive, which brings Xander Bogaerts (BOS) (Chris Tillman historically has a small reverse splits and this is affordable access to the Red Sox lineup) and Orlando Arcia (MIL) (punt pricing, but the MIL speedsters have upside if they can get on base against Lester, who is horrible at holding runners).

Third Base Rankings

1a) Justin Turner (LAD)

1b) Kris Bryant (CHC)

3) Manny Machado (BAL)

4) Adrian Beltre (TEX)

5) Jose Ramirez (CLE)

We’ve got two hot hitters in plus matchups up top with a slight preference for Justin Turner (LAD) (+0.7 delta in our well-hit tool), who is a good hitter against same handed pitching and faces Jake Thompson (35.4 hard minus soft hit rate in first two MLB starts to go with a 4.5 K-BB%). Kris Bryant (CHC) is also hot and carries tons of power upside but I a bit more expensive. We like paying up here, if possible, especially since you aren’t really “paying up” for Turner on FanDuel.

Outfield Rankings

1) Mike Trout (LAA)

2) Ian Desmond (TEX)

3) Josh Reddick (LAD)

4) Ryan Braun (MIL)

5) Mookie Betts (BOS)

6) Lorenzo Cain (KC)

7) Mark Trumbo (BAL)

8) Dexter Fowler (CHC)

9) Curtis Granderson (NYM)

10) Max Kepler (MIN)

While it’s not exactly a small slate at night (10 games), there’s not a ton of depth in terms of value in the outfield. That’s fine though as it helps us to identify several key options and then, aside from a few one off options, look to outfielders in mini-stacks to round out rosters. Up top Mike Trout (LAA) is a great spend given his +0.7 delta in our well-hit tool, overall skills, and facing a subpar RHP who won’t pitch deep. He’s a good spend, but the scarcer infield positions probably deserve priority since the outfield contains two of our favorite mid-tier value options on the slate in Josh Reddick (LAD) (perfect matchup to buy low in) and Lorenzo Cain (KC) (too cheap given how much power Anibal Sanchez allows when things go wrong, which has been more often than not this season). The value options extend a bit further on FanDuel, where we get Rickie Weeks (ARI) at a punt price despite expecting him to hit cleanup against a subpar LHP at home in a favorable hitting environment. In tournaments we’re mostly looking to round out stacks here, but Curtis Granderson (NYM) getting a big park shift and Max Kepler (MIN) facing Mike Foltynewicz‘s horrendous splits (.393 wOBA and .267 ISO allowed to LHBs for his career) stick out as potential one off plays.

Stack Rankings

Tier One

1) Cleveland Indians

2) Los Angeles Dodgers

Tier Two

3) Texas Rangers

4) Arizona Diamondbacks

The top stacks are pretty chalky as they represent the four teams with the highest implied run totals on the slate (Cubs total pending). On FanDuel in particular it’s not difficult to construct a roster that heavily features players from these teams without going overboard on any one particular stack. On DraftKings, Cleveland is priced really high (makes them great for tournaments), and in general you’re looking to build around site-specific values a bit more (unless you cut out spending up for Goldschmidt/Trout).

Additional Tournament Stacks

-Kansas City Royals (pretty affordable top 5-6 hitters and Anibal Sanchez is giving up a ridiculous amount of power – 1.84 HR/9 – to go with seven starts of 4-plus ERs)

-Los Angeles Angels (multiple key hitters with positive well-hit rating deltas; Cody Martin‘s first MLB start of the season – gave up 11 ERs in six combined innings in his only two previous career starts, both last season)

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