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August 20 MLB DFS: Max Your Winnings
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August 20 MLB DFS: Max Your Winnings

00:40 Starting Pitchers
09:03 Catchers
11:09 First Base
14:03 Second Base
16:39 Shortstops
18:44 Third Base
20:47 Outfield
25:38 Cash Game Roster Construction & Stacks

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August 20 MLB DFS PRO TIP

Starting Pitcher Rankings

Tier One

1) Max Scherzer (WAS)

Tier Two

2) Felix Hernandez (SEA)

3) Chris Sale (CWS)

Tier Three

4) Robbie Ray (ARI)

5) Luke Weaver (STL)

6) Ian Kennedy (KC)

7) Aaron Sanchez (TOR)

Tier Four

8) Drew Pomeranz (BOS)

9) David Phelps (MIA)

10) Chris Tillman (BAL)

11) Mike Fiers (HOU)

Max Scherzer (WAS) is the top starting pitcher option on this slate by leaps and bounds. He’s got the lowest implied run total against (2.9), is the largest favorite (-250), and possesses our top projected K percentage by several points. We suggest building around him on all sites, even if it costs you some Coors Field exposure.

Chris Sale (CWS) and Felix Hernandez (SEA) also possess low implied run totals against and are very heavy favorites. Hernandez gets the slight nod over Sale since he’s in the better pitching environment and faces the inferior offense both from a wRC+ standpoint and a K percentage standpoint. He’s been uncharacteristically wild recently but has consistently missed bats over his past four starts. On FanDuel, the pricing gap is small enough where you’re better off simply using Scherzer while on DraftKings the ability to use a cheap second pitcher negates the cap relief Hernandez/Sale provide from Scherzer.

The cap relief we’re referring to on DraftKings comes in the form of a $4,100 rookie RHP, Luke Weaver (STL). This play isn’t without risk, but FanGraphs pegs Weaver as a top 20 pitching prospect. He spent most of his time at AA where he racked up a 1.40 ERA thanks to 10.29 K/9 and a 8.80 K/BB ratio. Weaver struggled in his debut but it was against a very good Cubs offense, whereas he gets to face a poor Phillies offense today (29th in wRC+ against RHP).

A guy we love in tournaments is Robbie Ray (ARI) as he gets a massive park shift in his favor and will face a very strikeout heavy Padres team, whose lineup against LHP has diminished greatly (Norris hitting 7th, no Kemp nor Upton). Ray is a high K guy. The price prevents him from being used in cash on DraftKings, but on FanDuel he’s an option if you want to fit in some Coors Field exposure but aren’t comfortable dipping all the way down to Weaver.

Catcher Rankings

1) Victor Martinez (DET)

2) Welington Castillo (ARI)

3) Yasmani Grandal (LAD)

4) Brian McCann (NYY)

5) Nick Hundley (COL)

The catcher position isn’t barren on a full slate, but no single player really separates himself from the pack. There several break even options around $3,000 on each site, which you can see on our cheat sheets. If hitting cleanup, Brian McCann (NYY) finds himself in play on both sites against the homer prone Ricky Nolasco (1.39 HR/9). Derek Norris (SD) is a tough play if he keeps hitting outside the top six but not bad for a pure punt if making a play off his historical splits and the hard hit rate Robbie Ray allows to RHBs (around 38 percent like clockwork).

First Base Rankings

1) Anthony Rizzo (CHC)

2) Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)

3) Chris Davis (BAL)

4) Daniel Murphy (WAS) (where eligible)

5) Brandon Moss (STL)

On a large slate it’s not a surprise that first base is absolutely loaded, especially up top as Anthony Rizzo (CHC) faces a rookie RHP making his MLB debut in Coors Field. That rookie is Jeff Hoffman who has managed just a 4.16 FIP at AAA, leading the Cubs to a 6.5 team total. Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) has absurd splits versus LHP (highest wOBA since 2014) and will face Clayton Richard (.352 wOBA and .201 ISO allowed to RHBs since 2014). It’s possible to make Rizzo your expensive cash game spend even if paying up for Scherzer at SP. Chris Davis (BAL) gives you mammoth power upside at a lower cost on both sites, and on DraftKings their wider salary spread opens up a few other options for even cheaper if necessary.

Second Base Rankings

1) Ben Zobrist (CHC) (if hitting cleanup)

2) Matt Carpenter (STL)

3) Daniel Murphy (WAS)

4) Robinson Cano (SEA)

5) Jose Altuve (HOU)

While there are strong top tier options at second base, this is a good position to save some money. We’re particularly eyeing whichever cheap Cardinals MI hits leadoff, whether it’s Greg Garcia or Kolten Wong (STL) (platoon edge against Hellickson in Philadelphia). On FanDuel you can alternatively look to Howie Kendrick (LAD), who is too cheap facing a sub-par LHP in Brandon Finnegan (poor season overall and recent data, particularly hard hit rates allowed are really bad (9 of 10 starts with hard hit rate of 42.1 percent or higher; other one was at 36.8 percent, which is still well above the league average).

Shortstop Rankings

1) Manny Machado (BAL) (where eligible)

2) Carlos Correa (HOU)

3) Xander Bogaerts (BOS)

4) Tim Anderson (CHW)

5) Marcus Semien (OAK)

You can continue to look for cap relief up the middle. While Manny Machado (BAL) is a fine spend where you happen to have room, several other options emerge – Xander Bogaerts (BOS) at a mid-tier tag (.373 wOBA versus LHP since 2014) and Tim Anderson (CHW) (FanDuel only, Ross Detwiler is horrific and Anderson was back hitting second last night)/Marcus Semien (OAK) (great park shift for his power and Chris Sale has been at least human versus RHBs this year) at mid-low tags.

Third Base Rankings

1) Kris Bryant (CHC)

2) Nolan Arenado (COL)

3) Justin Turner (LAD)

4) Manny Machado (BAL)

5) Josh Donaldson (TOR)

Third base also not surprisingly stacked on a large slate that lacks strong starting pitching (as you can see by the steep drop off in our starting pitcher rankings). In an ideal world you’d look the way of Kris Bryant (CHC) (hot, elite power, Coors Field, highest team total) or Nolan Arenado (COL) (platoon edge against Mike Montgomery who has had success as a reliever this year but had a problem with walks, HR/FB rate as a starter last year). On DraftKings, the ability to basically punt with Weaver as your second starting pitcher makes paying up here a realistic possibility. Over on FanDuel we continue to like the value on Justin Turner (LAD) in another phenomenal spot in Cincinnati.

Outfield Rankings

1) Bryce Harper (WAS)

2) Kris Bryant (CHC) (where eligible)

3) Mke Trout (LAA)

4) Dexter Fowler (CHC)

5) Ben Zobrist (CHC) (where eligible)

6) Mookie Betts (BOS)

7) Brandon Moss (STL) (where eligible)

8) Charlie Blackmon (COL)

9) Howie Kendrick (LAD) (where eligible)

10) JD Martinez (DET)

11) Carlos Gonzalez (COL)

12) Trea Turner (WAS) (where eligible)

13) Michael Saunders (TOR)

14) Lorenzo Cain (KC)

15) George Springer (HOU)

The outfield strategy really differs by site. On DraftKings you can definitely fit in a top five option. Three of which are Coors Field options, and we side with Kris Bryant (CHC) there, but you can also get Mike Trout (LAA) (Luis Cessa making first ever MLB start and has a ZiPS projected 5.70 ERA and 1.54 HR/9)) or Bryce Harper (WAS) (good well-hit rating and Tyrell Jenkins is horrific – no Ks, lots of BBs and hard hit contact). On FanDuel, you can wave goodbye to these options if using Max Scherzer. The mid-tier value plays are similar from site to site with JD Martinez (DET) (big time power upside against the fly ball oriented Pomeranz) and Michael Saunders (TOR) (hitting cleanup against RHP; Josh Tomlin is homer prone) in play. On FanDuel you’ll definitely need at least one option sub-$3k. We’ll be on the lookout when lineups are released, but in the interim we’re eyeing Paulo Orlando (KC) (should hit leadoff against LHP; Santiago has a 5.15 xFIP and 5.17 FIP), Ben Revere (WAS) (if he hits second he’s a very plus value given our lack of respect for Tyrell Jenkins), and Justin Upton (DET) (cold an less than ideal lineup spot but punt pricing combined with historical production against southpaws makes him very intriguing).

Stack Rankings

Tier One

1) Chicago Cubs

Tier Two

2) Colorado Rockies

Tier Three

3) Chicago White Sox

4) Washing Nationals

5) Seattle Mariners

6) Boston Red Sox

7) Los Angeles Dodgers

With an emphasis on Max Scherzer, you’re likely not mini-stacking Cubs, but it should be possible to get exposure to one of their high end options in cash. The Rockies are great for tournaments, but outside of Nolan Arenado (COL) we’re mostly interested in them in tournaments.

There’s a huge drop off between the Cubs and Rockies in our stacks rankings and then another one between the Rockies and our tier three stacks. All of the tier three stacks should come with similarly low ownerships in tournaments as a result. The White Sox are interesting since they don’t really pop on an individual player level, but Ross Detwiler’s inability to miss bats puts a disaster start in play.

Additional Tournament Stacks

Keep in mind that while there’s a big drop off between our tier two and tier three stacks, there isn’t much of a drop off between our tier three stacks and everyone else, so you really have a wide array of options at your disposal in tournaments. Two of our favorites that did not crack the third tier are the Los Angeles Angels (ZiPS is really down on Luis Cessa) and the Arizona Diamondbacks (may get overlooked due to park, but Clayton Richard doesn’t miss bats and allows a lot of power to RHBs).