Welcome to August 20 MLB DFS action. You’ll find Daily Fantasy Baseball Premium Cliff Notes for August 20 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!
00:47 Starting Pitcher
13:40 Stacks/Tournament Thoughts
- 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.
MLB DFS Optimizer Tutorial
Our MLB DFS Optimizer is live. Arturo put together an overview with MLB DFS Optimizer Cliffnotes that walk through the various features and frequently asked questions (FAQs) from customers during testing. We have also produced a basic optimizer tutorial video on YouTube (linked below) as well as a power user optimizer tutorial for the most advanced tournament players on how to get the most out of the optimizer. You can join the #MLB channel in slack if you have additional questions.
August 20 MLB DFS CLIFF NOTES
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) and Shane Bieber (CLE) top the projections at the starting pitcher position but Kershaw out-projects Bieber by almost four full FanDuel fantasy points. On both sites, Kershaw is the preferred spend as his duration baselines exceed those of any other pitcher and the 3.1-run implied run total against is the lowest on the slate. Kershaw’s strikeout rate is not what it used to be and yet he is finally projecting for the highest strikeout total of any pitcher (which has been uncommon for him on slates this year). Sans Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the Blue Jays’ lineup is nowhere near as potent, and their current active hitters rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+ and ISO while having struck out at a 23.8-percent rate in the split. The problem is Kershaw is by no means cheap (at least $12,000) across the industry.
Bieber, meanwhile, is projecting for just 0.1 less strikeouts than Kershaw and is being priced $1,200 cheaper on FanDuel specifically. The price difference is so minimal on DraftKings that simply spending up for Kershaw makes the most sense but there is at least a conversation to be had on FanDuel. The Mets have won 15 of their last 20 games and are averaging a season-best 5.8 runs in the month of August. Even so, this constitutes both a positive park and league shift for Bieber who will not have to face a designated hitter in Citi Field. The 3.8 implied run total against is one of the lowest on the slate and he is likely to get overlooked on a slate with Kershaw and a loaded mid-tier.
Cole Hamels (CHC) is popping on both sites as a strong option at his respective price points ($7,300 on FanDuel, $7,800 on DraftKings) at home versus the lowly Giants. Only the Pirates’ active hitters have posted a lower wOBA against LHP than the Giants and they rank in the bottom four of wRC+ and ISO as well. Hamels’ last two have been extremely ugly as he has only lasted a combined 5.0 innings in those games and allowed 13 total runs (12 earned). Hamels is certainly not as bad as he has shown recently and his velocity importantly has been on par with where it has been all season. The last two were on the road in Philadelphia and Cincinnati while this one will be in Wrigley Field in a game where the wind is blowing side-to-side. This will take a bit of a leap of faith but the price tag has depreciated due to the recent struggles and the combination of matchup/skills exceeds the cost.
Sonny Gray (CIN) and Michael Pineda (MIN) are pitchers who can be substituted as a SP1s on DraftKings if looking for a bit of salary relief beyond the ace tier. Gray is coming off only his second double-digit strikeout game of the season and the Padres are on the schedule Tuesday night. Both for his career and this season, Gray has posted reverse-splits, which is actually not quite ideal against a righty-heavy Padres lineup. For a visiting team in Great American Ballpark, the 3.8 implied run total for the Padres is rather low, and the Reds opened as -160 favorites.
Pineda matches up versus a White Sox team that has struck out at a massive 25.6-percent rate against RHP. When Pineda goes right, it is due to his ability to miss bats, and only three teams have struck out at a rate higher in the split the White Sox. Additionally, the White Sox rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO and BB rate plus they have hit the ball hard at the lowest rate in the split. Pineda has been susceptible to hard contact (45.5-percent hard hit rate against RHHs) so this is a correlation worth noting. His price point is more conducive to the slate on DraftKings but he is an interesting game theory tournament play on both sites.
Dallas Keuchel (ATL) is facing the Marlins for the second time in 11 days and they smoked him the last meeting to the tune of 10 hits, one walk and eight runs in 3.2 innings. While the Marlins rate near the bottom in wOBA, wRC+, ISO and BB rate in the split versus LHP but they have struck out at a rate below the league average. In that last meeting, Keuchel allowed a 100-percent HR/FB rate whereas his career average is 15.1-percent, so that is obviously destined to come back down to Earth this go-around. Keuchel opened as a massive -300 home favorite and the Marlins are only being implied to score 3.5-runs.
On DraftKings, projected Rays long man Jalen Beeks (TB) is priced at just $4,400, but his duration upside is limited in this role. Furthermore, the Mariners have caught fire against LHP, as they have posted a .347 wOBA, 121 wRC+ and .197 ISO versus southpaws over the course of the last month. Still, the team strikes out a ton in the split (25.4-percent overall) and Tampa Bay is a poor hitting environment.
Aaron Sanchez (HOU) and Tyler Beede (SF) constitute a tier of inexpensive options that project as positive values and Sanchez is especially intriguing against the lowly Tigers. The current version of the Tigers lineup is awfully close to a Triple-A lineup and they are especially poor in the split against RHP. Their wOBA and wRC+ both rank dead last versus RHP and their 27.5-percent K rate in the split is by far the worst of any team. Sanchez is not a huge strikeout pitcher but opened as a -320 favorite and yet costs less than $7,000 on DraftKings.
Beede will only cost $5,100 on DraftKings and he has struck out opponents at a decent 21.3-percent rate. Realistically, Beede is not a great pitcher, as evident by his 5.42 FIP, 4.87 xFIP and 4.85 SIERA. However, Wrigley Field is not a terrible pitching environment when the wind is not blowing out (which it is not tonight). He is only worth a shot due to how cheap he is as he has now allowed four-plus earned runs in five consecutive starts. Naturally, he is a much better fit for tournaments than cash games.
In tournaments, Michael Wacha (STL), Alex Young (ARI) and Kyle Freeland (COL) are all worthy of mixing into MME builds due to their inexpensive price points. Being priced this cheaply means the pitchers do not need to do much to smash their price tags and only Young is priced above $5,000 in the trio.
1) Los Angeles Angels
The Angels will be playing a double-header in Globe Life Park in Arlington this evening and the nightcap features a matchup between Jaime Barria and Brock Burke. There is no Major League sample for the 23-year old Burke yet and he has only made two starts at the Triple-A level this year. Most of his sample size came has come at the Double-A level this year where he posted solid numbers but those have yet to translate to even Triple-A (5.31 FIP, 5.53 xFIP through 8.0 innings). One thing Burke has shown an ability to do is miss bats but projection systems view him as around a 7.00 K/9 pitcher in the MLB and the Angels are one of the most difficult teams to strike out. Due to the double-header, the lineup may be watered down a bit, but this looks a pitcher who is not ready for the big leagues. Behind Burke, the bullpen ranks in the bottom 11 of both FIP and xFIP, so there should be favorable matchups throughout.
2) Houston Astros
3) Philadelphia Phillies
Once again, the Astros are listed as over -300 favorites versus a brutal Tigers team whose active bullpen members rank in the bottom four of both FIP and xFIP. Prior to getting to the bullpen, Spencer Turnbull will take the bump and he has pitched as well as any Tigers starter this year. His Achilles heel has come in the split versus LHHs where he has allowed a .346 wOBA and 42.6-percent hard hit rate while only striking them out at a 17.9-percent rate (versus a 26.0-percent K rate versus RHHs). The team’s 5.7 run implied total is tied for third highest on the slate, and if they get to the starter Turnbull, this game could get ugly against the bullpen.
UPDATE: Brian Johnson was just announced as the starter for the Red Sox, and while he may not last long into the game, he is not a great pitcher by any means. RHHs have posted a .371 wOBA, 1.75 HR/9 rate and just 17.5-percent K rate against him for his career so starting with the righties makes sense. If he only lasts his usual 3-4 innings, that means right-handed relievers could be on the way behind him, so Bryce Harper and the lefties are a viable, contrarian way to complement the righties.
4) Chicago Cubs
5) Minnesota Twins
6) Texas Rangers
7) Boston Red Sox
8) Los Angeles Dodgers
9) Atlanta Braves
The Cubs and Twins headline the third tier in matchups versus pitchers on very different ends of the talent spectrum. Lopez’s 4.99 SIERA ranks 12th worst amongst qualified pitchers this year and the Twins’ lineup received a boost yesterday when Nelson Cruz returned. Now, with the lineup back and fully-loaded, they present a challenge for any pitcher, but especially one with a minuscule 34.4-percent ground ball rate. If relying on fly ball outs versus one of the most powerful teams in the league, well, good luck.
Opposing starter Tyler Beede should thank his lucky stars that half his games have come in Oracle Park because otherwise his subpar numbers would be worse. Despite his home park being the most pitcher-friendly in the league, he still owns just a 4.85 SIERA, 5.42 FIP and 4.87 xFIP while allowing a 1.85 HR/9 rate this season. Another number that jumps off the page is his 47.2-percent hard hit rate allowed. Beede owns a FIP over 5.30 versus both sides of the plate so both lefties and righties are playable here.
The Rangers will face Jaime Barria who actually presents them with a challenging matchup because he has posted reverse-splits both this season and over the course of his career. In 2019 alone, Barria has only managed a 5.75 FIP, 4.97 xFIP and 4.50 SIERA but most of the damage has been done by RHHs (.436 wOBA). Our projected lineup shows only four righties in the lineup and three of those are the 7-8-9 hitters (Logan Forsythe, Delino DeShields and Jeff Mathis). Hunter Pence making the lineup would make the matchup more challenging for Barria who has always been susceptible to the long ball (2.44 HR/9 rate this year and 1.54 HR/9 rate for his career). Pitching in Texas should only make it harder for him to keep the ball in the park.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox will square off against Aaron Nola and his career-worst 4.15 SIERA thus far. Nola started the year off by allowing a .367 wOBA in March and April combined and has not allowed a wOBA over .314 in any month since that time. In August, his .234 wOBA allowed to this point would be his lowest of any month, so he has clearly righted the ship. Having said that, the Red Sox are a tough opponent, ranking second in wOBA, third in wRC+, seventh in ISO and having struck out at just a 20.4-percent rate in the split. Rostering the Red Sox is a leap of faith in their talent as much as it is a leap of faith in Nola being amidst an “off year.”
The Dodgers are next in line and present Sean Reid-Foley with quite a challenge as he has walked LHHs at a 16.0-percent rate for his career and allowed a .347 wOBA to the handedness. The Dodgers are loaded with left-handed power: Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and Joc Pederson to name a few. Pederson and Muncy are popping as primary values on DraftKings and Pederson is popping on FanDuel as well. Essentially, fantasy owners are not going to get crazy low ownership on those two, but the other members of the stack will likely get overshadowed on a slate with 15 games to choose from.
Lastly, the Braves are listed as huge -300 favorites versus the Marlins and a pitcher they just saw 12 days ago: Elieser Hernandez. At every level with a substantial sample size, Hernandez has shown the ability to miss bats, and that has held true in the majors: 23.8-percent K rate. The problems in his skill set include the fact that he is a pure fly-baller which leads to too many homers (1.97 career HR/9 rate) and he is also wild (8.9-percent career BB rate). Since the Braves’ projected lineup includes four players with ISO baselines over .200, starting with their power bats in a stack makes for a solid correlation.
Yasmani Grandal (MIL), J.T. Realmuto (PHI), and Gary Sanchez (NYY) are the top projected catching options on this huge 15 game slate. The price tag on Grandal is the most compelling of the group but Gary Sanchez is also priced down at $4,300. If you’re spending on catcher we’d prefer the cheaper tags on Grandal and Sanchez.
As is usually the case at catcher, the position has some binary spending decisions because Max Stassi (LAA) is once again priced down at the minimum ($2,000). The Angels get a big park shift into Arlington but are playing a double-header so we’ll see if Stassi is in the lineup for game two. If so, the salary relief for a team with a slate high 6.1 implied total is a desirable route.
In tournaments, the mid-tier options on offenses that aren’t particularly compelling will go lower owned. Chance Sisco (BAL) and Buster Posey (SF) fit this mold well as viable one-offs. Posey isn’t the typical one-off target with a modest ISO baseline against LHP but he’s just $3,300.
In terms of adding onto stacks, Robinson Chirinos (HOU), Jason Castro (MIN), Yadier Molina (STL), and Brian McCann (ATL) are all parts of high powered offenses.
Freddie Freeman (ATL) outpaces msto of the first base options on the slate with a home matchup against Elieser Hernandez who has allowed a .379 wOBA and .214 ISO to LHBs since 2017. Freeman’s price tag is appropriate on both sites and thus he doesn’t get into many optimals but he remains a fine tournament target.
Rhys Hoskins (PHI) is the other top tier first base option with the platoon edge against Brian Johnson in Fenway a park that is very favorable to RH power. Hoskins is priced affordably on both sites and makes for a strong cash game target.
Joc Pederson (LAD), Danny Santana (TEX), Anthony Rizzo (CHC), and Max Muncy (LAD) form the next tier of first base options.
On DraftKings, Joc Pederson comes with a sub-$4,000 price tag in a matchup against a below average RHP. Sean Reid-Foley has allowed a .335 wOBA and .194 ISO to LHBs in his big leaguer career while walking 17.3 percent of the LHBs faced. Pederson owns a .360 wOBA and .263 ISO against RHP since 2017. He’s been a dominant hitter against righties and he usually leads off for the Dodgers. He’s too cheap for the opportunity and projects as our strongest value at the position on DraftKings.
On FanDuel, the game in Arlington will pop into more optimals as Danny Santana and Albert Pujols are priced affordably. Both will hold the platoon edge and hit in favorable lineup spots for a game with a total of 12.
On both sites, Ryan O’Hearn (KC) is extremely cheap and gets a favorable matchup for power against Dylan Bundy and the Orioles bullpen. Bundy has allowed a .368 wOBA and .211 ISO to LHBs since 2017. O’Hearn doesn’t project as a particularly good hitter for a first basemen but he’s priced at just $2,200 on FanDuel and $2,900 on DraftKings. In builds where you emphasize more spending at catcher you may need this kind of salary relief at first base.
Jose Altuve (HOU), Whit Merrifield (KC), and Max Muncy (LAD) are the top tier of options at second base with Ozzie Albies (ATL), Ketel Marte (ARI), and Mike Moustakas (MIL) not far behind.
On FanDuel, the price tag on Merrifield really stands out at just $3,200. While Dylan Bundy has been better against RHBs (.313 wOBA, 28.8 percent K Rate), he’s still allowed a ton of power (.217 ISO). The Royals have an underwhelming 4.6 implied total on the road in Baltimore but Merrifield is underpriced as a road leadoff hitter. In cash games, he’s the primary target on FanDuel.
On DraftKings, the options vary considerably for cash games. The values are bunched pretty tightly with pricing more appropriate. Jose Altuve is the best option with a matchup against Turnbull and the Tigers bullpen. The price below $5,000 is compelling. Max Muncy and Mike Moustakas have a bunch of power upside for slightly cheaper. They both carry the platoon edge where they have huge ISO baselines (.257 and .274 respectively) and teams with implied totals at five or better.
The cheapest of the options that gets into optimals is Rougned Odor (TEX). Odor’s production is more valuable in Fantasy than in real life as his power speed combination helps generate Fantasy points in bunches despite a below average wOBA. The matchup with Jaime Barria is an interesting one as Barria has done really well against LHBs (.273 wOBA, .122 ISO since 2017) and even in a small sample demonstrated reverse splits that have shown up in our baselines. Our baselines expect his performance against LHBs won’t hold given the outsized struggles against RHBs (.362 wOBA, .197 ISO) and the gap will narrow over time but if you’re a believer in Barria’s performance against LHBs Odor shouldn’t be your priority.
Luis Rengifo (LAA) is a relatively affordable option given the Angels hefty implied total but he’s a weak hitter (.292 wOBA baseline) with a poor lineup spot. Projections like him ok, but we’d prefer to keep any exposure in Angels stacks.
Garrett Hampson (COL), Bock Holt (BOS), and Nicky Lopez (KC) are pure punt options on both sites that may fit in MME builds.
Alex Bregman (HOU) is the top option at third base. The Astros have a 5.7 implied total against Spencer Turnbull and the Tigers bullpen. Turnbull has been successful in the small sample against RHBs this season (.271 wOBA, .115 ISO allowed) but our baselines expect some regression over time. Bregman is priced appropriately on both sites so he doesn’t get into a lot of optimals.
Nolan Arenado (COL), Rafael Devers (BOS), Kris Bryant (CHC), David Fletcher (LAA), and Josh Donaldson (ATL) form a very deep second tier of options that all project above 13 FanDuel points.
One of these names is not like the others from a skill perspective. Our skill baseline for David Fletcher is a paltry .308 wOBA, .114 ISO platoon split against RHBs. The projection is largely buoyed by the road leadoff spot for a team with an implied total over six. The matchup with Brock Burke brings the platoon edge and Burke looks underprepared for the big leagues after struggling mightily in a few starts at AAA. Fletcher comes with a mid-tier price tag that makes him one of the stronger values. His limited skill set certainly makes him a strong fade in GPPs.
In tournaments, the higher upside options are all the strong skill targets projecting similarly to Fletcher at more expensive price tags. Secondary options like Justin Turner (LAD), Jose Ramirez (CLE), and Miguel Sano (MIN) all make sense as high upside and potentially low owned targets.
On DraftKings, Matt Duffy (TB) is just $2,500 and would be a viable source of salary relief if in the lineup. We’re still waiting on the Mariners to announce a starter.
Trevor Story (COL) leads the way at shortstop. He gets a strong park downgrade in Arizona but the platoon edge against Alex Young who projection systems peg as a low 5s ERA type option. Story has compiled a ridiculous .421 wOBA and .313 ISO against LHP since the start of 2017. He’s difficult to fit in for cash games at his hefty price tag but certainly has one of the biggest upsides at the position for tournaments.
Alex Bregman (HOU) and David Fletcher (LAA) each come with SS eligibility on DraftKings and all the notes at third base apply to them at shortstop as well.
Francisco Lindor (CLE) is the next highest projected shortstop option and comes with a good price tag on DraftKings ($4,700) that can be targeted in all formats. The same can be said of Jorge Polanco (MIN) with a favorable matchup against Reynaldo Lopez and a $4,500 price tag.
Elvis Andrus (TEX) looks like the most popular mid-tier option on both sites given Barria’s wide platoon splits against same handed batters (.362 wOBA, .197 ISO allowed) and Andrus’ spot in the lineup for a team with an implied total above six. Andrus is meaningfully cheaper than most of his projection counterparts on FanDuel at $3,400 and really stands out.
Jean Segura (PHI), Corey Seager (LAD), Paul DeJong (STL), and Didi Gregorius (NYY) are all intriguing one-off pivots to Andrus on FanDuel who should come with far lower ownership.
Donovan Solano (SF) and Garrett Hampson (COL) are pure punt options on FanDuel for MME.
Mike Trout (LAA) laps the field in ptons in the outfield as the Angels get that big park bump in Arlington and Trout faces a below average lefty making an emergency start. The 6.1 implied total, the strong lineup spot on the road, and Trout’s incredible skill level combine to give him a nearly three Fantasy point advantage on the field on DraftKings. Trout is a priority in cash game builds.
Justin Upton (LAA) and Shohei Ohtani (LAA) are the next highest projected outfielders on the slate as the Angels outfield dominates the projections. Upton has delivered with the platoon advantage throughout his career and has compiled a .356 wOBA and .243 ISO against LHP since 2017. Ohtani is a tougher sell as left-on-left is a struggle (.317 wOBA, .160 ISO as a big leaguer) but the bullpen plate appearances against righties should be valuable. If we were to fade or de-emphasize an Angels outfielder in lineups this evening it would be Ohtani.
Christian Yelich (MIL), Cody Bellinger (LAD), Mooke Betts (BOS), Bryce Harper (PHI), and Ronald Acuna (ATL) form the next tier of outfielders and all are priced appropriately on both sites which makes them fine tournament pivots from the Angels chalk.
The Twins outfielders are a nice stack pivot from the Angels with Nelson Cruz (MIN) back and Max Kepler (MIN)/Eddie Rosario (MIN) also available as secondary values.
In terms of values in the outfield, Joc Pederson (LAD), Trent Grisham (MIL), Aaron Judge (NYY), and Khris Davis (OAK) are all underpriced on DraftKings. Pederson is the one whose cheap tag carries over most to FanDuel as well. These are strong options in all formats but there is more unknown in the recent performance of both Davis and Judge who may be battling through injuries we’re unaware of. It would make sense to prioritize Pederson-Grisham which our projections often do on DraftKings.