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August 18 MLB DFS: The Bryce is Nice
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August 18 MLB DFS: The Bryce is Nice

00:39 Starting Pitchers
11:58 Catchers
12:01 First Base
16:13 Second Base
18:50 Shortstops
20:59 Third Base
23:39 Outfield
29:28 Cash Game Roster Construction & Stacks

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August 18 MLB DFS PRO TIP

Starting Pitcher Rankings

Tier One

1) Jose Fernandez (MIA)

Tier Two

2) Madison Bumgarner (SF)

Tier Three

3) Danny Salazar (CLE)

4) Jacob deGrom (NYM)

5) Archie Bradley (ARZ)

6) Matt Shoemaker (LAA)

Tier Four

7) Kevin Gausman (BAL)

8) Reynaldo Lopez (WAS)

9) Ross Stripling (LAD)

10) Carlos Rodon (CHW)

11) Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA)

12) Joe Musgrove (HOU)

Thursday’s small slate does not lack starting pitching options. Jose Fernandez (MIA) and Madison Bumgarner (SF) kick off our first two tiers of starters as both get plus matchups against watered down opponents. The Reds have been without Adam Duvall and Billy Hamilton the last two days and lost Jay Bruce at the trade deadline. The resulting lineup contains just three LHBs and a projected wOBA of just .302. It’s a big park downgrade for Fernandez and the Reds lineup projects as contact heavy against RHP, but Fernandez’s incredible K Rate against RHBs (40.9 percent since 2015) leaves him with a projected K Rate over 35 percent. For a little perspective, Clayton Kershaw is second in baseball with a 32.9 K Rate. Madison Bumgarner has a lower implied run total against (2.9 vs. 3.3) compared to Fernandez and faces a Mets’ offense without their best hitter against LHP (Cespedes) that also got more strikeout prone against LHP at the deadline with the acquisition of Jay Bruce. Still, it’s not enough to approach Fernandez’s elite K Rate which makes Jose our choice as an anchor. It doesn’t hurt that he’s consistently cheaper as well.

In looking for a secondary starter to pair with Fernandez on DraftKings, we’re drawn to the return of Danny Salazar (CLE) who was sidelined for two weeks with elbow concerns. The Cleveland broadcast noted Salazar said he “let loose” for the first time since May or June as he had been pitching through the concerns. Salazar may be managed slightly since he didn’t make a rehab start and has only thrown 55 pitches since July 26th, but even at 90-95 pitches instead of the usual 100-110, Salazar has plenty of strikeout upside against the White Sox bottom 10 offense against RHP. If you’re uncomfortable with Salazar’s return from injury, there are viable cheaper alternatives in Archie Bradley (ARZ), Reynaldo Lopez (WAS), and Ross Stripling (LAD) that are viable alternatives. Bradley has the biggest strikeout upside against a Padres’ offense that has improved against RHP but still projects for a K Rate north of 23 percent and a wOBA of just .309. Reynaldo Lopez (WAS) and Ross Stripling (LAD) have elite matchups for run prevention against the Braves (30th) and Phillies (29th) weak offenses against RHP. Lopez and Stripling are just around $5,000 on DraftKings, while Bradley is priced at $6,500. All three are cheap enough to offer a positive return despite implied run totals around 4.1-4.2 runs against. Those cheap price tags also make them viable in tournaments.

In addition to the cheap tournament targets, we’re also intrigued by Joe Musgrove (HOU), Carlos Rodon (CHW) – where cheap, and Matt Shoemaker (LAA). Shoemaker has been dominant at home (allowing just six earned runs in last seven home starts) but draws a tough matchup with the Mariners. Rodon’s strikeouts are consistently there (six or more in six of eight starts) but Cleveland is another tough matchup. Musgrove is perhaps the most intriguing as his dominance of RHBs at AAA (35 K in 32 1/3 innings) and at the big league level (.139 wOBA, 35 percent K Rate) makes him an intriguing match for a RH heavy Orioles’ lineup. Musgrove projects as very homer prone and fly ball heavy so the matchup with Baltimore brings all sorts of risk, but the slumping Orioles (only Pearce above 4.3 in well hit tool) provide a matchup ripe for strikeouts.

Catcher Rankings

1) Yasmani Grandal (LAD)

2) Buster Posey (SF)

3) Welington Castillo (ARZ)

4) J.T. Realmuto (MIA)

5) Wilson Ramos (WAS)

Catcher is a really tricky position on this slate as the best options are in difficult matchups or poor lineup spots. Yasmani Grandal (LAD) tops our catcher rankings but he’s priced way up on DraftKings and the tight cap on FanDuel makes it difficult to fit his $3,200 salary if paying for Jose Fernandez. We’d love exposure to Grandal, but it most likely will have to come in tournaments. On both sites, salary relief will end up being a priority which makes the position one that is better to cover in alerts as we search for punt options.

First Base Rankings

1) Paul Goldschmidt (ARZ)

2) Chris Davis (BAL)

3) Joey Votto (CIN)

4) Wil Myers (SD)

5) Mike Napoli (CLE)

6) Freddie Freeman (ATL)

7) Eris Hosmer (KC)

8) Carlos Santana (CLE)

9) Brandon Belt (SF)

10) Adrian Gonzalez (LAD)

Paul Goldschmidt (ARZ) is our top option even with a steep park downgrade in San Diego. Paul Clemens profiles as one of the weakest starters on the slate and San Diego has played decently for RH power this year. Goldschmidt is fully priced on both sites, so we’re turning our attention to values. We noted Joe Musgrove‘s likely struggles with home runs and fly balls, especially from LHBs (allowed four home runs and a .312 average in 26 2/3 AAA innings against LHBs). This profiles well for Chris Davis (BAL) who has seen the price tag come down due to an extended slump. He rates as a great value in our model but cheaper alternatives are also in play on both sites. Derek Dietrich‘s (MIA) near punt price tag remains compelling on FanDuel where most of the first basemen carry at least a higher mid-tier price tag. Dietrich gets a big park shift for his power skills (.375 wOBA, .175 ISO against RHP since 2015) and faces a fly ball prone starter who has allowed a .165 ISO to LHBs since 2015. On DraftKings, Eric Hosmer (KC) and Albert Pujols (LAA) are incredibly cheap. Both are in neutral matchups, but the price tags at $3,600 and $2,900 make them strong value plays.

Second Base Rankings

1) Jose Altuve (HOU)

2) Dee Gordon (MIA)

3) Daniel Murphy (WAS)

4) Trea Turner (WAS) – where eligible

5) Jean Segura (ARZ)

6) Brian Dozier (MIN)

7) Chase Utley (LAD)

8) Robinson Cano (SEA)

Second base is a really deep position but most of the top options are priced appropriately. With Jose Fernandez as a building block, we’re looking for value which leads us to two distinct options on either site. On DraftKings, Derek Dietrich (MIA) is underpriced at $3,500 and if we like him as a cheap first base option we’re almost always going to like him as a cheap second base option. On FanDuel, Chase Utley (LAD) is a road leadoff hitter with a big park shift and facing an opposing starter with wide platoon splits (.352 wOBA, .223 ISO allowed to LHBs by Eickhoff). These are the best two options on each site that profile as values with some meaningful salary relief. If paying up, Dee Gordon (MIA) and the Nationals two second base eligible options (Daniel Murphy and Trea Turner) represent some of our favorite spends. The park boost isn’t as meaningful for Gordon and might actually over-value him some but the road leadoff hitter against a bad bullpen and a high scoring environment makes him viable. The Nationals get one of the weakest pitchers on the slate in Rob Whalen followed by one of the weakest bullpens. Their 4.8 implied run total is one of the highest on the slate and getting exposure through second base is one of the more viable routes.

Shortstop Rankings

1) Manny Machado (BAL) – where eligible

2) Carlos Correa (HOU)

3) Corey Seager (LAD)

4) Francisco Lindor (CLE)

5) Trea Turner (WAS) – where eligible

Shortstop is a tricky position on this slate as all the top options are in relatively strong spots but priced appropriately so. Of the expensive top tier options, we’re more likely to prioritize Corey Seager (LAD), Francisco Lindor (CLE), or Trea Turner (WAS) ahead of Manny Machado (BAL) and Carlos Correa (HOU) despite the rankings. Machado gets Musgrove who has been death on righties early in his career and even if our baselines expect him to be homer-prone we’d rather attack with lefties or at cheaper price tags. Carlos Correa faces a pretty good pitcher in Kevin Gausman so despite the park bump, we’d rather attack softer opposing starters. Hence our affection for Seager and Turner specifically but also Lindor as part of the team with the highest implied team total (4.9 runs) on the slate. On DraftKings, you might need to look for salary relief in which case we’re hoping to find Jorge Polanco (MIN) hitting second again (unlikely in an AL park) or perhaps Andrelton Simmons (LAA) as a pure punt play.

Third Base Rankings

1) Manny Machado (BAL)

2) Jake Lamb (ARZ)

3) Justin Turner (LAD)

4) Miguel Sano (MIN) – where eligible/health risk

5) Alex Bregman (HOU)

6) Martin Prado (MIA)

7) Maikel Franco (PHI)

8) Kyle Seager (SEA)

This is another position where we’ll look for a little more value than paying top dollar. Jake Lamb (ARZ) fits the mold on FanDuel. Despite the tough park shift, the matchup is favorable as Paul Clemens profiles as a weak starter against lefties (.346 wOBA, .229 ISO allowed to LHBs as a big leaguer). Lamb’s price tag is down around $3,200 on FanDuel, making him a very strong value. On DraftKings, Yunel Escobar (LAA) carries a punt price tag ($2,400) and a leadoff spot. The matchup with Iwakuma isn’t particularly attractive (.305 wOBA, .178 ISO allowed to RHBs since 2015) but that tag allows you to spend up for premium outfield options and still lock in top tier starting pitching. Without many other elite price tags, it looks like a good position to punt. The next best values on both sites are Alex Bregman (HOU) and Maikel Franco (PHI) both are facing decent starters with really good bullpens behind them. Franco’s been in a deep slump (3.3 well hit) while Bregman has turned it around of late (4.5 well hit), so if we’re choosing for the next best salary relief option Bregman is likely our choice.

Outfield Rankings

1) Bryce Harper (WAS)

2) Mike Trout (LAA)

3) Rajai Davis (CLE)

4) Christian Yelich (MIA)

5) George Springer (HOU)

6) Josh Reddick (LAD)

7) Miguel Sano (MIN) – health risk

8) Adam Jones (BAL)

9) Trea Turner (WAS) – where eligible

10) Marcell Ozuna (MIA)

11) Hyun Soo Kim (BAL)

12) Nelson Cruz (SEA)

13) Lorenzo Cain (KC)

14) Odubel Herrera (PHI) –if second

15) Travis Jankowski (SD)

Bryce Harper (WAS) has returned from a week off with a neck issue and has regained his early season form. The well hit rate is up to 5.5 (+1.4 change) over his last 21 plate appearances and then added a long home run on Wednesday to those totals. The price is reasonable around the industry which makes him a very strong value and perhaps the best way to get exposure to the Nationals offense. He’s the top overall hitter in our model. Mike Trout (LAA) is a fine play in his own right given Iwakuma allows some power to RHBs, but it’s hard to justify Trout over Harper given the wide difference in their matchups. Rajai Davis (CLE) is our third ranked outfielder as the leadoff hitter for the team with the highest implied run total (4.9) and his great skill against LHP (.331 wOBA, .180 ISO since 2015). He’s very expensive on DraftKings but priced down on FanDuel ($3,400) and a more reasonable cash game target there. Once again, most of the value on FanDuel is in the mid-$3,000s which makes lineup building in the outfield a bit more difficult. Harper, Trout, and Davis all rate as strong values and then it’s Christian Yelich (MIA) and Josh Reddick (LAD) with positive park shifts and road middle of the order lineup spots. We’ll monitor alerts for potential pure punt or salary relief targets in the outfield to add to the list. On DraftKings, the outfield pricing is a little softer with Josh Reddick ($3,700), Lorenzo Cain ($3,600), and George Springer ($4,200) all making for strong value plays.

Stack Rankings

Tier One

1) Washington Nationals

2) Los Angeles Dodgers

3) Baltimore Orioles

4) Cleveland Indians

The Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers represent our top stacks. With both clubs delivering strong offensive performances of late, they’ll likely represent the chalk on this slate. We like getting exposure where we can to both offenses in cash games but the extreme spending on starting pitching makes it more of a value slate as a whole for hitting.

Contrarian Tournament Stacks

Minnesota Twins – Dillon Gee is one of the weaker starters on this slate and the vaunted Royals’ bullpen no longer exists. With a number of hot hitters (Dozier +1.1, Mauer +0.5, Vargas/Sano +0.2, Rosario +0.9), the Twins represent our favorite contrarian stack.