Daily Fantasy Rundown – August 20 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Thursday’s edition of the Daily Fantasy Rundown with “leonem”, “dinkpiece” and “thenumbersguy”. Each day throughout the MLB season our daily MLB scouting reports will highlight the best top, value and cheap plays of the day based on the Daily Fantasy Industry’s pricing for salary cap games. The goal of our analysis is to help you improve consistency and become a better player long-term.
Weather: BLT is a weather risk. Delay almost a certainty, cannot rule out a ppd. BOS and NYY have muggy conditions and low air density while COL is off the charts good for hitters.
Please see Meteorologist Mark Paquette’s game by game weather forecasts below the Analysis.
If any weather situations shift drastically, we will keep you updated with lineup alerts so make sure to check your email inbox up until roster lock.
Kyle Schwarber (CHC) (Through 140 PAs at the major league level, Schwarber has accumulated a 1.021 OPS; Mike Foltynewicz has allowed a .416 wOBA/2.22 HR/9 to 213 LHBs at the major league level; with a game in Coors Field and Archer/Arrieta available on this slate, it’s going to be difficult to pay up for Schwarber in cash games around the industry but it’s possible on DraftKings)
Next in line: Brian McCann (NYY) (McCann at Yankee Stadium facing a below average RHP will always earn a mention in our analysis; he’s a next in line option to Kyle Schwarber but if I’m paying up for a catcher, it’s going to be Schwarber)
DraftKings Value Play:
Steve Clevenger (BAL) – Clevenger isn’t a great hitter, even when he has the platoon edge (.305 wOBA). However, he will hit no worse than sixth at Camden Yards and the Orioles have a team total approaching five runs. Given his set of contextual factors, Clevenger is a good salary relief option if you’re looking to punt the catcher position on DraftKings ($2,700).
FanDuel Value Play:
Salvador Perez (KC) – Perez is very close to the bare minimum on FanDuel ($2,300) and he’s not priced correctly relative to his skills, matchup and favorable park shift. Perez can hit for power vs. LHP (.173 ISO against LHP since 2012) and Wade Miley isn’t all that good (.331 wOBA/1.02 HR/9 allowed to RHBs in the last three seasons). Fenway Park is a massive improvement over Kauffman Stadium for hitters (particularly for RHBs) and Perez has been hitting fifth lately. He’s too cheap on FanDuel.
Additional catcher notes: Wilson Ramos (WSH) won’t benefit from a good lineup spot but he will have the platoon edge against Yohan Flande at Coors Field. That’s good enough to earn tournament consideration this evening. Miguel Montero (CHC) has a matchup that we love (Mike Foltynewicz can’t get LHBs out) and he’s more than a fair hitter vs. RHP. Like Ramos, he won’t earn a good lineup spot and he’s at home so I’d only consider him for tournaments.
Paul Goldschmidt (ARI), Miguel Cabrera (DET), Chris Davis (BAL) and Anthony Rizzo (CHC) are ranked inside the top 10 in our model (Goldschmidt is our top overall hitter). They’re all in favorable matchups and will have the platoon edge against 1) below average pitchers or 2) young pitchers in great hitting environments. You won’t be able to pay for these first basemen in cash games since they’re priced fully around the industry. They’re my preferred tournament options at the position.
DraftKings Punt Play:
Greg Bird (NYY) – Bird is still minimum priced on DraftKings and it makes sense to take advantage of this cheap price tag tonight (Archer/Arrieta, Coors Field and Tigers vs. a below average LHP are available on this slate). Through 150 PAs at Triple-A, Bird posted a .388 wOBA and .199 ISO. His ZiPS projections are more than respectable for a minimum priced hitter (.322 wOBA, .182 ISO) and we haven’t even touched on his matchup/environment. Opposing pitcher Josh Tomlin is home run prone (1.56 HR/9 allowed in 104 IP last season) and this sort of environment will punish him (Yankee Stadium inflates LH power around 15 percent above the league average due to the short porch in right field). Bird allows you to fit one of Arrieta and Archer while giving you exposure to all the prominent hitting situations on the night.
FanDuel Value Play:
Prince Fielder (DET) – Fielder has historically hit RHP well (.387 wOBA/.189 ISO) and he has a matchup against Alfredo Simon this evening. Simon is a bad pitcher, especially vs. LHBs (.341 wOBA/1.29 HR/9). Fielder won’t have the benefit of hitting at home (Texas is a great hitting environment) but given his plus skill and a great matchup, he’s more than a serviceable value on FanDuel ($3,400).
Additional first base notes: Ryan Zimmerman (WSH) also ranks inside our 10 hitters. He’s priced a bit too high on FanDuel relative to his lineup spot (sixth) but he will have the platoon edge against the underwhelming Yohan Flande (.349 wOBA/1.33 HR/9 allowed to RHBs) at Coors Field. If you’re not punting the position with Greg Bird on DraftKings, Zimmerman is likely the next best option relative to his price ($4,500). Carlos Santana (CLE) doesn’t have a strong matchup (.315 wOBA/0.49 HR/9 allowed to LHBs in the last few seasons) but Yankee Stadium is an awesome hitting environment for LHBs (due to the short porch). Santana is a solid hitter vs. RHP (.347 wOBA/.197 ISO) and he’s priced as an average hitter on FanDuel ($3,100).
Danny Espinosa (WSH) – It looks like the Nationals are giving Anthony Rendon some sort of break. Espinosa has drawn two consecutive starts at Coors Field and he will have the platoon edge against Yohan Flande this evening. Flande isn’t any good (.349 wOBA/1.33 HR/9 allowed to 288 RHBs at the major league level) and Espinosa has historically been a solid hitter vs. LHP (.334 wOBA/.162 ISO). Espinosa has hit second the last two nights, which gives him every single favorable contextual factor that I can think of (platoon edge at Coors Field against a below average pitcher and hits second). He represents the top option at second base and he ranks inside our top 15 hitters.
Next in line: Ian Kinsler (DET) – If stepping outside of Coors Field at second base, Kinsler is the next best option. He’s a good hitter when he has the platoon edge (.368 wOBA/.159 ISO vs. LHP) and Martin Perez has been pretty bad this season (he’s keeping the ball in the ground but he’s not striking anyone out). This is a terrible spot for Perez (Tigers are ranked second in wRC+ against LHP) and Kinsler hits at the top of the lineup for this offense. The Tigers have an implied run total approaching five runs (only team with a higher team total is the Nationals).
Additional second base notes: Jason Kipnis (CLE) is $3,400 on FanDuel and he’s hitting in a great environment (Yankee Stadium). His matchup against Ivan Nova isn’t very good but he’s still a viable secondary option for cash games relative to his skill set and price point on that particular site. Brian Dozier (MIN) and Dee Gordon (MIA) are awesome tournament plays this evening. Dozier has a R/R matchup but Miguel Gonzalez is home run prone and Gordon faces one of the worst starting pitchers in baseball (Jerome Williams). It’s not a terrible idea to step outside of Coors Field in tournaments and these second basemen will likely be lower owned in those type of formats.
Ian Desmond (WSH) – Desmond is our third ranked hitter this evening and there’s a huge gap at the shortstop position after him (the rest of the shortstop options are ranked outside the top 80). Desmond owns a .332 wOBA/.170 ISO vs. LHP since the beginning of 2012 and he’s facing Yohan Flande at Coors Field. The Nationals have the largest team total on this slate (approaching six runs) and Desmond is a shortstop (this position has the largest scarcity, particularly on this slate).
Additional shortstop notes: On FanDuel, Alcides Escobar (KC) makes sense as a punt play (Desmond is $4,200 on that site). He’s close to the bare minimum ($2,400) and he will leadoff on the road against Wade Miley at Fenway Park. The Royals have an implied runs total of 4.5 (Escobar ranks inside our top 85 hitters). Jose Reyes (COL) also ranks inside our top 85 hitters but he has a matchup against Max Scherzer. I’d only consider Reyes if his price point is severely discounted and I’d most likely target in tournaments only.
Kris Bryant (CHC) – Bryant ranks inside our top 15 hitters and I don’t understand how he’s still $3,300 on FanDuel. He’s basically priced close to the average price of a hitter and he’s more than just an “average” hitter. Through his first major league campaign, Bryant has accumulated a .360 wOBA/.202 ISO and we love that more power is likely on the way. He’s generating an incredible amount of loft (48.4 FB rate) and he’s hitting the ball hard (37 percent hard hit rate). ZiPS projects an ISO of .228 for the rest of this season for Bryant (they’re also expecting more power moving forward). Mike Foltynewicz has been anything but good at the major league level (5.61 ERA/5.00 FIP) and he’s allowed a ton of power (1.75 HR/9). This is a great matchup for Bryant’s strengths as a hitter and he’s a very strong play on any site that has priced him incorrectly.
Next in line: Manny Machado (BAL) (Machado is fully priced around the industry but I don’t mind paying for his services in tournaments; he’s an elite hitter vs. RHP and Camden Yards is a great hitting environment)
DraftKings Value Play:
Nick Castellanos (DET) – Castellanos isn’t a great hitter (.306 wOBA) but he’s improved his power (.165 ISO this season, .135 ISO last season) and there might be room for improvement in the future. He’s generating more loft (41.3 percent FB rate this season, 36.5 percent last season) and that has a direct correlation to power. The matchup with Perez is a difficult one to generate loft (63 percent GB Rate) but the price tag is compelling on a day where salary relief is needed.
Additional third base notes: Alex Rodriguez (NYY) has regressed against RHP as the season has progressed. He’s still hitting for power and Yankee Stadium/Josh Tomlin is a good combination for that sort of upside. Another power upside play at the position is Miguel Sano (MIN). He strikes out a ton but when he makes contact with the ball, it usually goes a long way. The Twins are a fun tournament team to target tonight (Miguel Gonzalez is home run prone, the Twins can hit for power and they’re facing a substantial park shift in their favor) and Sano is their most powerful hitter. Adrian Beltre (TEX) is a secondary cash game option (facing the below average Alfredo Simon). Todd Frazier (CIN) is too cheap on FanDuel ($2,800) relative to his skills against LHP and the environment (Great American Ball Park). I’d consider him a next in line option to Kris Bryant on that particular site and I’m willing to ignore the less than stellar matchup against Patrick Corbin since he’s so cheap.
Mike Trout (LAA)/Bryce Harper (WSH) – Trout and Harper are ranked inside our top ten hitters. Trout is way more affordable than Harper around the industry but he has a tougher matchup in a more difficult environment (I’m willing to overlook these factors since he’s arguably the best hitter in baseball). Harper has a L/L matchup but he’s at Coors Field and he will have premier opportunities throughout this game (Rockies bullpen is the worst in baseball). I consider them both great tournament targets.
Jayson Werth (WSH) – Werth has been leading off in the last few games (has faced a LHP in those games), which makes that $3,700 price tag on DraftKings even more enticing for cash games. We love leadoff hitters at Coors Field (baseline of 5 PAs almost guaranteed), especially those with plus skills. Werth has historically destroyed LHP (.405 wOBA, .217 ISO), so doesn’t just have “plus’ skills (he’s an elite hitter vs. LHP). He’s had an underwhelming season (.197/.271/.301 triple slash line) but there are some indicators that point towards some progression moving forward, particularly his HR/FB rate. Werth continues to generate the same amount of loft (39 percent FB rate) and has no results to show for it (5.7 percent HR/FB this season). His personal average is 14 percent and the league average is anywhere from 10-12 percent so more power can be expected before the season concludes. The set of contextual factors couldn’t be better (facing a below average LHP at Coors Field). It’s difficult to name one hitter a core play in MLB DFS (due to the high variance) but that’s just what Werth is on DraftKings.
Rajai Davis/J.D. Martinez (DET) – Davis (.363 wOBA/.175 ISO) and Martinez (.346 wOBA/.205 ISO) have historically hit LHP well. As mentioned earlier in the content, Martin Perez is difficult to generate loft against but the Tigers have a good amount of RHBs that could hurt him in this department. Davis has speed upside (40 SB upside over a full season) and he’s close to the bare minimum on FanDuel ($2,300). Davis represents the better value of the two around the industry (since he’s much cheaper than Martinez).
Jacoby Ellsbury/Brett Gardner (NYY) – So many offensive options to choose from on this slate. The Nationals, Tigers, Yankees, Orioles, Red Sox, Royals and Rangers have team totals of 4.5 runs or more. Out of these teams, only Jayson Werth, Rajai Davis, J.D. Martinez and the Yankees outfield are ranked inside the top 20. Ellsbury (.333 wOBA/.140 ISO) and Gardner (.339 wOBA, .156 ISO) are fine hitters vs. RHP and they’re at Yankee Stadium (short porch for LHBs) facing Josh Tomlin (home run prone). They’re not as skilled as the recommendations above (hence why they’re ranked slightly below) but the environment/matchup could help make up for it.
Additional outfield notes: Gerardo Parra (BAL) and Adam Jones (BAL) are ranked inside our top 30 hitters. They’re at Camden Yards facing Tyler Duffey (ZiPS projections have pegged him for a 5.94 ERA for the rest of this season). They’re good secondary targets but I’m less likely to invest in cash games at their current price points (both are finally priced fairly). Other secondary targets that are geared more towards tournaments are: Lorenzo Cain (KC) (excellent hitter vs. LHP and facing Wade Miley at Fenway Park), A.J. Pollock (ARI) (not a great matchup vs. John Lamb but he’s an elite hitter when he has the platoon edge and the hitting environment is one of the best in baseball), Mookie Betts (BOS) (Danny Duffy is fly ball oriented and Fenway Park won’t help him, especially the RHBs), Carlos Beltran (NYY) (great matchup against Josh Tomlin at Yankee Stadium but he’s priced a bit too high for cash games) and Shin-Soo Choo/Mitch Moreland (TEX) (awesome matchup against Alfredo Simon but the negative park shift keeps our focus here for tournaments). Charlie Blackmon (COL) is too cheap on DraftKings ($3,900) and even though the matchup is terrible, his price point on that particular site mitigates those concerns.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Chris Archer (TB)
2) Jake Arrieta (CHC)
3) Collin McHugh (HOU)
4) Jose Quintana (CWS)
5) Max Scherzer (WSH)
6) Patrick Corbin (ARI)
7) Nick Tropeano (LAA)
8) John Lamb (CIN)
9) Tyler Duffey (MIN)
10) Brad Hand (MIA)
Chris Archer (TB)/Jake Arrieta (CHC) – Archer and Arrieta are clearly the top starting pitchers on this slate. Our model agrees. After both of these pitchers, there’s a substantial gap in our model and that’s due to their individual skills. Before adjusting for their matchup, here’s where they stand: they both have elite run prevention skills (ERA/FIP/xFIP are under 3.00) but Archer has the clear edge in Ks (30.3 percent K rate compared to 26 percent K rate). When you adjust for their individual matchups, Archer becomes the clear upside pick (Astros are striking out 24 percent of the time against RHP) but Arrieta has a safer floor (Braves are only striking out 17 percent of the time against RHP but they’re ranked 28th in wRC+). While Arrieta faces a pretty terrible offense, Archer has a matchup against an offense that’s ranked inside the top 10 in wRC+ against RHP. The Ks are enough to put Archer slightly ahead but I’m willing to let their prices dictate my decision here. Arrieta is the superior cash game play on FanDuel ($10,600 and Archer is $11,900 on that site) while Archer makes a bit more sense on DraftKings (Archer is only $500 more expensive and that site rewards more points for Ks).
Collin McHugh (HOU) – Admittedly, McHugh makes a bit more sense as a cash game play on multiple starting pitcher sites but that’s because Archer and Arrieta are clearly ahead (better skills). However, he’s in a prime position to return positive value in those sites. He has a plus matchup against a Rays offense that’s ranked 21st in wRC+ and are striking out 22 percent of the time against RHP. Most importantly, he should be better moving forward, particularly from a run prevention standpoint. Even though he has posted a 4.09 ERA this season, the ERA predictors (3.70 FIP/3.91 SIERA) are calling for a positive adjustment. When that’s the case, I usually look at how hard a pitcher is getting hit and try to evaluate if that sort of adjustment could actually happen. McHugh has only allowed a four percent hard minus soft hit rate so it’s evident that an adjustment in run prevention is likely coming his way. His K skills are likely going to be on the rise as well. He’s only striking out 19 percent of batters this season yet his K peripherals are very strong (10.4 percent SwStr rate, 63 percent F-Strike rate and 34 percent chase rate). McHugh rates as the strongest complement to Arrieta/Archer on multiple starting pitcher sites.
Additional starting pitcher notes: The written recommendations above are the most optimal cash games plays (according to our model and Vegas). After those three pitchers, there’s Jose Quintana (CWS), who rates as a viable secondary cash game option on multiple starting pitcher sites. He has a matchup against the Angels in a good pitching environment and his skills are solid. After Quintana, things get a bit messy. Max Scherzer (WSH) is one of the best pitchers in baseball yet he’s pitching in an environment (Coors Field) that punishes pitchers, regardless of skill. He deserves tournament recognition but I would need a much bigger discount around the industry in order to consider him for cash games. On most sites, Scherzer is priced like Archer and Arrieta yet his matchup/environment are much worse. Patrick Corbin (ARI) is a good pitcher and he has K upside yet he’s in a difficult situation (facing an offense that hits LHP well in an elite hitting environment). I don’t mind paying for him on sites where he’s heavily discounted ($6,700 on FanDuel) but I won’t do it in cash games. John Lamb (CIN) and Tyler Duffey (MIN) are also in difficult environments for pitchers but their minor league profiles suggest that they could turn into solid major league pitchers. I’d consider them for tournaments on multiple starting pitcher sites, especially where they’re very cheap (DraftKings).
Macro Thinking, Stacks, and Tournament Notes:
This is a new section we’ve created to try and offer more dedicated macro thinking to our analysis and hopefully add more value to those playing tournaments. The format is a bit of a work in progress and we welcome feedback (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have suggestions.
Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:
1) Washington Nationals
2) Detroit Tigers
3) New York Yankees
1) Baltimore Orioles (facing Tyler Duffey, who has a ZiPS projected ERA close to 6.000, at Camden Yards)
2) Texas Rangers (Alfredo Simon doesn’t miss any bats and his run prevention is awful; I’m willing to overlook the negative park shift in tournaments)
3) Fenway Park (This game between the Royals and Red Sox has a total of nine runs and both staring pitchers are below average)
4) Minnesota Twins (Miguel Gonzalez struggles with home runs and Camden Yards should help this offense)
5) Colorado Rockies (Max Scherzer is one of the best starting pitchers in baseball but Coors Field won’t help him; I don’t mind taking some tournament shots with Rockies LHBs).
MLB Game Weather Forecasts
MIN at BLT 7:05: Showers and thunderstorms, heavy rain at times, from 5-6 PM through about 9 PM. This is a solid line of rain/thunder so I do not think there is anyway they escape a delay or even a ppd. Much like CIN last night, there is an end to the rain is sight so I think they just wait this one out so even though the ppd risk is not non-existent, a delayed start is probably more likely. Of course, as we go through the day, I will watch the timing of the rain. If it is slower to exit, that would increase the ppd risk. Temps in the mid to upper 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind southeast becoming west late 4-8 mph which blows from right to left and then out to right. The wind is a 5 becoming a 6.
CLE at NYY 7:05: Scattered light showers throughout the game but the heavy line of thunderstorms waits until after midnight to arrive. 10-20% chance of a delay. Temps in the mid to upper 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind southeast 6-12 mph which blows from right to left or in from right at times. The wind is a 4 or a 5.
SF at PIT 7:05: Dry. Temps in the mid 70s falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind west-northwest 6-12 mph lessening to 3-6 mph which blows out to left-center. The wind is a 6.
TEX at DET 7:08: Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind west-southwest 10-20 mph lessening to 6-12 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.
KC at BOS 7:10: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling only a bit into the low to mid 70s. Air density is an 8 (very muggy). Wind southeast 7-14 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.
AZ at CIN 7:10: Dry. Temps in the mid 70s falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind west-southwest 5-10 mph lessening to 3-6 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6.
PHL at MIA 7:10: The retractable roof will likely be closed.
ATL at CHC 8:05: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 70s falling into the mid to upper 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind west-northwest 8-16 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows from left to right or sometimes out to right. The wind is a 5 or a 6.
TB at HOU 8:10: Retractable roof. Numerous showers and thunderstorms. The roof will likely be closed.
WSH at COL 8:40: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 80s falling to near 70. Air density is a 10. Wind northeast becoming southeast 8-16 mph which blows in from right and then out to left. The wind is a 3 becoming a 7.
CHW at LAA 10:05: Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the mid to upper 60s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind west 9-18 mph which blows out to right. The wind is an 8.