Daily Fantasy Rundown – August 21 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Friday’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: Only game with a weather risk is in BOS. Wind blows out left in Wrigley, great hitting environment in COL
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.
Welington Castillo (ARZ) – Castillo has been exceptional against LHP in his career (.374 wOBA, .191 ISO, and 36.2 percent hard hit rate) and he faces a below average LHP in an elite hitting environment. David Holmberg has allowed a .369 wOBA, 2.18 HR/9, and 35.1 percent hard hit rate to RHBs as a big leaguer and ZiPS projection system calls for a .359 wOBA and .194 ISO allowed. Castillo gets a premier lineup spot behind Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock who are on base machines against LHP. The catcher position is deeper than usual on Friday so price point matters with Castillo, but anywhere he’s priced like an average hitter, I’m investing.
Additional catcher notes: The rest of the position is very site specific. Victor Martinez (DET) ranks as our top overall catcher option in a favorable matchup with Colby Lewis. Martinez owns a .348 wOBA and .158 ISO against RHP since 2012 and Colby Lewis has allowed a .350 wOBA and 35.6 percent hard hit rate to LHBs since 2013. The Tigers have a solid 4.5 implied runs and Martinez hits in the middle of their lineup. If he’s catcher eligible, take advantage of a modest price tag. Travis d’Arnaud (NYM) rates very highly due to Coors Field and a Mets implied run total approaching 5.5 runs, but his price tag is pretty expensive around the industry. I’m only investing in tournaments. Matt Wieters (BAL) looks like the best value play at the position. He’s historically hit LHP very well (.377 wOBA, .233 ISO since 2012) and Tommy Milone has allowed a .336 wOBA and 1.48 HR/9 to RHBs since 2013. The challenge with Wieters is we’re uncertain on health. He’s battling a hamstring injury and his performance this season is really out of line with his career peripherals. At a near minimum price tag, I think he’s worth all the surrounding risk factors. Russell Martin (TOR) is a little more stable version of Wieters and if hitting fifth, I’d consider him a safer option than Wieters with less upside. Buster Posey (SF) is always deserving of top catcher consideration when facing a LHP. The Pirates tough park environment and elite defense make me hesitant to pay full price in cash games. Our model loves Alex Avila (DET) as a punt play. He’s hit RHP well (.331 wOBA, .158 ISO since 2012) and Colby Lewis is vulnerable to LH power. If you’re punting the position, Avila is your guy.
Paul Goldschmidt (ARZ) – Goldschmidt is either the top overall hitter or the second ranked hitter in our model depending on the site scoring. He has been incredible against LHP (.441 wOBA, .280 ISO since 2012) and he’s facing a below average LHP in a plus offensive environment. First base, as always, is deep. In general it’s best to let price point guide you, but Goldschmidt rates meaningfully higher than all of our other top first base options.
Next in line: Lucas Duda (NYM), Miguel Cabrera (DET), and Joey Votto (CIN) all crack our Top 10 overall hitters. The gap between each of those three is small and I’d let price dictate the decision, but I’d want a meaningful gap between them and Goldschmidt if I’m passing on Goldschmidt.
Ben Paulsen (COL) – The Rockies own the highest implied run total on the evening (5.7 runs) and Paulsen generally hits fifth. He’s been a very successful hitter in his career at Coors Field against RHP (.395 wOBA, .222 ISO) and Bartolo Colon has allowed a 30 percent hard hit rate to LHBs since 2013. I view Paulsen and Martinez very similarly with Coors Field giving him a slight edge.
Victor Martinez (DET) – We touched on Martinez in the catcher notes section but he also qualifies as a strong value at first base. He’s a borderline Top 20 overall hitter in our model and he’s simply not priced like this anywhere around the industry. The concern with Martinez is his production against RHP (.266 wOBA, .137 ISO) this year has been putrid. He battled through injuries early in the year which has skewed the data substantially. Of late, he’s been a bit better, but still not close to the historical production. I’m fine investing with a severe price discount.
Additional first base notes: Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) and Prince Fielder (TEX) are priced down in some areas. They qualify more as secondary value plays that primary targets. Chris Davis (BAL) and Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) are elite tournament targets with their power upside against fly ball prone starters.
Daniel Murphy (NYM) – Murphy is an adequate hitter against RHP (.334 wOBA, .143 ISO since 2012) and gets a huge park shift to Coors Field while hitting in a premier lineup spot (generally second). His price point is aggressive around the industry and Jon Gray is the Rockies starter with the best stuff. As a result, I’m more likely to utilize him as an insurance plan – either in tournaments or if Aaron Hill (ARZ) doesn’t get a premier lineup spot.
Aaron Hill (ARZ) – Hill has earned some compelling lineup spots of late against LHP and if he’s in one of those first five slots again, he’ll represent the single best value at the second base position. We’ve touched on Holmberg’s struggles against RHBs and Hill has posted a solid .332 wOBA and .166 ISO against LHP. Given a price tag near the minimum around the industry, Hill is one of the most integral values to lineup construction. If he gets that premier lineup spot, you’ll be able to spend up on starting pitching and get some other good bats.
Additional second base notes: Jose Altuve (HOU), Brian Dozier (MIN), and Ben Zobrist (KC) are the “next in line” options at second base after Murphy. Given their power upside relative to Murphy, I think they all make a lot of sense as tournament pivots. Cesar Hernandez (PHI) isn’t particularly “cheap” but second base isn’t deep and he qualifies as an adequate value. The Marlins are starting a rookie RHP that projects as well below average. The large outfield in Marlins Park actually inflates the power of slap hitters like Cesar Hernandez because they weren’t hitting home runs anyway. Realmuto has been neutral at controlling the running game but we expect a rookie starter to struggle controlling the running game.
Troy Tulowitzki (TOR) – Tulowitzki grades out slightly above Reyes in our models. He’s got a strong matchup for potential power production against Hector Santiago who has allowed a .322 wOBA, 1.35 HR/9, 32.5 percent hard hit rate, and 51.3 percent fly ball rate to RHBs since 2013. Santiago allows tons of aerial contact which makes Tulowitzki a bit more boom or bust, but our model likes the power upside here. Tulowitzki owns a solid .371 wOBA and .231 ISO against LHP away from Coors Field in his career. He’s a Top 20 hitter in our model.
Jose Reyes (COL) – Reyes rates right alongside Tulowitzki in our model and I’m generally letting price dictate my decision here. It feels more comfortable to own Reyes and get exposure to Coors Field and the Rockies 5.7 implied run total but the gap in skill makes the two plays close. I do think Coors Field makes Reyes production less volatile. He’s posted a .333 wOBA and .126 ISO against RHP since 2012. The boost to Coors Field should bring baseline expectations closer to a .345-.350 wOBA. He’s a legit Top 20 hitter in our model and I think he’s safer than Tulowitzki in cash games, despite ranking very similarly.
Additional shortstop notes: If you’re not paying up for the big boys, it’s less about value and more about pure salary relief tonight. Alcides Escobar (KC) has a cheap tag on FanDuel, a leadoff spot, and a favorable matchup against Henry Owens. The Royals have an implied run total over 4.5 runs, which boosts Escobar’s modest skill set. J.J. Hardy (BAL) hasn’t hit for any power this year but historically he’s been adequate against LHP (.143 ISO since 2012) and he is dirt cheap. If he garners a lineup spot in the first six (ideally fifth), he’d represent a fine punt play. Nick Ahmed (ARZ) and Marwin Gonzalez (HOU) occasionally get strong lineup spots and come with cheap price tags. They’re each slightly better hitters than Escobar, so they deserve strong punt consideration. I’d rank them Ahmed, Escobar, and then Gonzalez if they all earn lineup spots near the top of the order.
Josh Donaldson (TOR)/Nolan Arenado (COL) – Both come with expensive price tags that are largely restrictive in cash games. Donaldson is facing a fly ball prone lefty which really brings out the power potential, while Arenado is hitting in the middle of the lineup for the offense with the highest implied run total. They’re both elite tournament options, but it’s hard to justify the price tags in cash games.
Next in line: Manny Machado (BAL) – His price point varies around the industry. It’s elevated on FanDuel and I’d consider it fair on DraftKings. The Orioles have an implied run total approaching five runs (4.8) and Machado has the platoon advantage against fly ball prone Tommy Milone. Machado has actually been better against RHP (backed up by peripherals) but the matchup with Milone and a very weak Twins bullpen behind him is a good one.
Additional third base notes: The value plays at third base are a bit more lineup dependent. Kelly Johnson (NYM) is a guy we really hope earns the fifth spot in the Mets lineup as it would open up some options around the industry. While Jon Gray has great stuff, his peripherals against LHBs are sub-par (13.8 K Rate, 10.3 BB Rate) and a cheap option in Coors Field is worth attacking. Todd Frazier (CIN) is really cheap on FanDuel but we need him back in a premier lineup spot if we want to invest. Rubby de la Rosa has simply dominated RHBs (.263 wOBA, 23.2 K Rate, and 59.6 GB Rate). We’re only picking on Frazier’s price tag here, so we need a good lineup spot. Trevor Plouffe (MIN) and Miguel Sano (MIN) both have power upside against Wei-Yin Chen (1.36 HR/9 to RHBs since 2013) and Plouffe’s price tag is low enough to consider in cash games. Sano is a secondary target to Machado and a better pure tournament play. Yasmany Tomas (ARZ) is the one guy that has the potential to turn into a core cash game value but it’s highly dependent on lineup spot. This is a position we’ll cover extensively via alerts.
Carlos Gonzalez (COL) – Gonzalez is the top option alongside Paul Goldschmidt in our model. He owns a .400 wOBA and .252 ISO against RHP since 2012 and hits in the middle of a Rockies order with a 5.7 implied run total. If you had just one hitter to spend big on in tonight’s slate it’s either Goldschmidt or Gonzalez.
Next in line: Mike Trout (LAA), Bryce Harper (WAS), Yoenis Cespedes (NYM), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Charlie Blackmon (COL), Adam Jones (BAL), Jose Bautista (TOR) and A.J. Pollock (ARZ) are the other offensive options that rank inside our Top 20overall hitters. In considering them for cash games, I’m really looking for a discounted price point I can latch onto if I’m going to utilize them. Blackmon and Trout are discounted enough on DraftKings to earn consideration while Granderson and Cespedes may pop up as “cheaper” on sites that don’t inflate Coors Field hitters.
Jay Bruce (CIN) – While Rubby de la Rosa has dominated RHBs, he’s been manhandled by LHBs. He’s allowed a .397 wOBA, 31.2 hard hit rate, while generating just a 14.8 K Rate against LHBs this season. Bruce thrives off power and de la Rosa has yielded 2.21 HR/9 to LHBs. In a premier park for power, Bruce grades out as a Top 25 hitter in our model. On most sites, you can find him priced well outside the Top 40 hitters. He’s one of the better bargain in the outfield.
Carlos Gomez (HOU) – Brett Anderson is difficult to pick on because he induces so many ground balls (62.2 percent GB Rate against RHBs since 2013), but Carlos Gomez is underpriced. Gomez owns a .356 wOBA and .226 ISO against LHP since 2012 and he’s priced like an average hitting option on most sites. The Dodgers bullpen ranks in the bottom 10 in ERA and they have wide splits between when they play from ahead and when they play from behind. Add in some inconsistent velocity from Anderson over the past month and I think there is some reason to speculate he may be fatigued (last topped 100 innings in a season in 2010). This isn’t the primary reason we’re targeting Gomez (price is), but I think it’s worth speculating on given the recent inconsistent velocity readings.
Additional outfield notes: The rest of the outfield values are a bit more site specific. Ender Inciarte (ARZ) and Yasmany Tomas (ARZ) are really cheap on FanDuel and priced as near punt plays. We like targeting the Arizona offense and those cheap bats allow you exposure to an elite starter or some big bats. If Matt McBride (COL) hits sixth again for the Rockies, he’s bare minimum on DraftKings and would represent an elite value play. Our model really likes Yasiel Puig (LAD) but his lineup spot typically isn’t attractive (sixth). If he cracks the Top Five, we’d consider him a solid value play as he ranks within our Top 35 hitters overall. Byron Buxton (MIN) is worthy of consideration on sites he’s priced around the minimum. I’d prefer him on sites that don’t deduct points for outs given he projects for just a .300 wOBA rest of season. We’re taking a shot on the power-speed combination playing up in a great park environment.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Chris Sale (CHW)
2) Madison Bumgarner (SF)
3) Felix Hernandez (SEA)
4) David Price (TOR)
5) Carlos Carrasco (CLE)
6) Chris Bassitt (OAK)
7) John Lackey (STL)
8) Masahiro Tanaka (NYY)
9) Drew Smyly (TB)
10) Johnny Cueto (KC)
11) Gio Gonzalez (WAS)
12) Andrew Cashner (SD)
13) Jimmy Nelson (MIL)
14) Jerad Eickhoff (PHI)
Chris Sale (CHW) – Sale faces a Mariners’ offense that ranks 13th in wRC+ against LHP with a K Rate just above the league average (21.2 percent against LHP). On paper, this looks like a neutral matchup for Sale, but when you take into account the stark park shift in his favor (US Cellular inflates scoring 20-25 percent above the league average, SAFECO deflates it around 20 percent below the league average) and the likelihood that the Mariners have outperformed baseline projections against LHP this season (Cruz -.471 wOBA, Gutierrez -.424 wOBA, Seager – .340 wOBA), there is reason to believe this is the best matchup Sale could get while staying in the American League. Our model projects this Mariners offense as slightly below league average against LHP with an above average K Rate. Sale, in many ways, is Clayton Kershaw without the extraordinary Kershaw price tag. Our model views him as the premier number one starter on a slate filled with high end pitching.
Next in line:
Madison Bumgarner (SF)/Felix Hernandez (SEA) – Bumgarner’s stronger peripherals this season and a higher expected K Rate push him ahead of Hernandez in our model but Hernandez has a more investable price point after a horrific outing in Boston. Hernandez’s velocity was down in that disaster start in Boston but it’s been at that level three other times this season and rebounded. The White Sox are a plus matchup. They rank 21st in wRC+ against RHP and are getting a significant downgrade in hitting environment. The Mariners are slight favorites (-109) in a game with a total of just six. Where the price has dropped considerably, Hernandez is an intriguing cash game option (DraftKings most notably at $9,900). Bumgarner is priced close enough to Sale that I’d rather just reach up for Sale’s security. Bumgarner is a better tournament play.
Chris Bassitt (OAK) – Bassitt has been impressive in his time with the Athletics and on most sites the price hasn’t caught up to the performance. His velocity is up this season (92.9 average FB velocity, compared to 91.8 mph last season) and his propensity for fly balls (39.6 percent fly ball rate) is a strength in Oakland. The Rays rank 23rd in wRC+ against RHP and possess the fourth highest K Rate against RHP (22 percent). Most of Bassitt’s peripherals (9.1 swinging strike rate, 25 percent hard hit rate) suggest the improvement we’ve seen from him this season is indeed real. With the price tag lagging the performance, we feel there is some value in Bassitt’s modest price point on multiple SP sites.
Additional starting pitcher notes: John Lackey (STL) has another terrific matchup in PETCO against a Padres offense that ranks 22nd in wRC+ against RHP. Lackey’s been exceptional on the run prevention side all season but lacks strikeout upside. He’s very safe for a good outing, but his price tag always seems to require a bit more. The lack of upside doesn’t make him a great tournament option, so he’s caught a bit in limbo. He’s an acceptable cash game option, but he ranks similarly to Bassitt in our model and that extra savings is really valuable with great hitting environments in play. I wouldn’t argue if someone used Lackey, but I’m unlikely to have much exposure. Carlos Carrasco (CLE) is a really interesting tournament play given the Yankees offensive struggles of late. He has as big of a strikeout upside as all the other top starters but just a more difficult matchup. His ownership should be extremely low this evening. Drew Smyly (TB) has a good matchup and posted elite peripherals before his shoulder issue caused him to miss time. I’m not entirely sure where his health is right now, which makes him a tournament only option for me. Our model likes the matchup with Oakland but there is a lot of volatility in his projection. Gio Gonzalez (WAS), Andrew Cashner (SD), and Jimmy Nelson (MIL) are all acceptable tournament targets. Gonzalez and Cashner are facing watered down versions of previously strong offenses at home. Nelson gets a positive park shift and faces a predominantly RH Nationals lineup that is struggling. The Nationals are far better on paper which pushes Nelson down in our model, but the recent struggles coupled with Nelson’s dominance against righties (.270 wOBA, 24.4 hard hit rate allowed) makes him interesting. Jerad Eickhoff (PHI) is someone whose peripherals and projection really jumped out. I asked our own Mike Diaz for a scouting report and here is what Mike had to say:
Eickhoff will be making his MLB debut tonight against the Miami Marlins. He was part of the return package the Phillies received in the Cole Hamels trade. According to a scout I spoke to, Eickhoff will feature two above average pitches. Both the fastball (low to mid 90s) and the curveball both received a 60 grade (20-80 scale). If move to the bullpen, Eickhoff’s fastball could reach a 70 grade. The question that lingers on Eickhoff is the development of his changeup. Should this pitch develop as an effective weapon his ceiling is a #3 starter, otherwise he is more of a back end starter but could transition as a two pitch late inning reliever.
Eickhoff is a big physical kid standing at 6’4” and 240lbs. Looking at his minor league numbers, Eickhoff has been susceptible to giving up the long ball. He has given up 70 HR in 578 1/3 innings. His strikeout totals have gone up over the last two seasons, and is known across the industry generally as a strike thrower. With the lack of an effective change-up, Eickhoff will be more vulnerable to left-handed hitters. He is a fly ball pitcher, which will not benefit him pitching his home games at Citizens Bank Park.
I think Eickhoff’s minimum price tag makes him a compelling tournament target.
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) Colorado Rockies
2) New York Mets
3) Arizona Diamondbacks
The two teams in Coors Field have implied run totals over 5.5 runs while all other offenses have implied run totals below five runs. As is usually the case, I think it makes sense to prioritize Coors Field where you can.
Our model is higher on the Diamondbacks implied run total (4.5) than Vegas. David Holmberg‘s peripherals are really poor and the Diamondbacks best hitters all hit LHP very well. The price points vary and Aaron Hill is very much a key cog in lineup construction, but we see cash game appeal in targeting Paul Goldschmidt (on any site his price is down), Welington Castillo, and Aaron Hill along with potential investments in Ender Inciarte and Yasmany Tomas.
1) Baltimore Orioles
2) Detroit Tigers
3) Kansas City Royals
4) Houston Astros
5) Texas Rangers
The Orioles have the next highest implied run total of any team not in Coors Field. They also have some of the highest HR probabilities of any team in the slate given Milone’s reliance on fly balls in Camden. The only thing that keeps them out of cash game mini-stack conversation is price points. Adam Jones and Manny Machado are our favored options and neither comes at much of a discount. Wieters is the best potential value in the lineup and then you have the LHBs that could come with low ownership (Parra and Davis).
The Tigers are a right hand heavy offense and we typically try to attack Colby Lewis with LHBs but Lewis has been homer prone to RHBs (1.66 HR/9 since 2013). Elevated price tags for Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez make them better tournament plays. We like the tag on Victor Martinez in cash games. If Gose was leading off, we’d consider him in cash games as well.
The Royals best RHBs are expensive (Zobrist and Cain). Escobar and Perez are potentially cheap options at thin positions that boost the stack appeal. The lefties are overpriced for the individual matchup but in a stack, you’re betting on the game getting into the bullpen where they’ll have advantageous plate appearances.
I noted in the Carlos Gomez recommendation that there is some reason to believe Brett Anderson might be battling fatigue. The Astros are always a fun stack option because of their power-speed combination. Correa and Altuve are a bit expensive for cash games but pair them with Gomez and you’ve got a lot of upside.
Verlander’s game logs have been bipolar. He’s either great or horrendous. This is a nice recipe for attacking in tournaments and the really bad bullpen behind him only exaggerates it.
MLB Game Weather Forecasts
In the scales below, a 10 strongly favors the batter, a 1 strongly favors the pitcher and a 5 has no impact on the game.
ATL at CHC 4:05: Dry. Temps in the low 80s. Air density is a 7. Wind south-southwest 8-16 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 7.
MIN at BLT 7:05: Dry. Temps near 80 falling to near 70. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind northwest 4-8 mph becoming nearly calm. The wind blows from left to right early in the game. The wind is a 5.
CLE at NYY 7:05: Dry. Temps near 80 falling into the mid-70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind northeast at 3-6 mph which blows in from left-center. The wind is a 4.
MIL at WSH 7:05: Dry. Temps in the low 80s falling into the mid-70s. Air density is a 7. Wind northwest 6-12 mph lessening to 4-8 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 4.
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 north-northwest 5-10 mph lessening to nearly calm. The wind blows out to center early and is a 6 on the wind scale becoming a 5.
TEX at DET 7:08: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 70s falling into the mid-60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind southwest 4-8 mph becoming nearly calm. The wind blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.
KC at BOS 7:10: A light to moderate rain at times. They should be able to play through the rain as I would put the chance of a delay at 20-30% while the chance of a ppd is around 10% or less. Temps in the low to mid 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind south-southeast 5-10 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6.
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 northeast 2-4 mph becoming calm early. The wind blows from left to right early. The wind is a 5.
PHL at MIA 7:10: The retractable roof will likely be closed.
LAD at HOU 8:10: A 20-30% coverage of thunderstorms across the region. Thus, the roof may be closed. If it is open, temps will be in the low to mid 80s falling to near 80. Air density will be a 9. Wind southeast 7-14 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6.
NYM at COL 8:40: Dry. Temps near 90 falling into the mid to upper 70s. Air density is a 10. Wind south-southwest 8-16 mph which blows out to right-center. The wind is a 7.
TOR at LAA 10:05: Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the mid to upper 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west-southwest 7-14 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
TB at OAK 10:05: Dry. Temps near 70 falling into the mid-60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west-northwest 10-20 mph lessening to 8-16 mph which blows out to right. The wind is an 8 becoming a 7.
CHW at SEA 10:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind west becoming northwest 5-10 mph lessening to 3-6 mph which blows out to right-center and then from left to right or out to right at times. The wind is a 6.
STL at SD 10:10: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 7 or a 6. Wind west 7-14 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.