Daily Fantasy Rundown – August 22 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Saturday’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.
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Please see Meteorologist Mark Paquette’s game by game weather forecasts below the Analysis.
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Russell Martin (TOR) – Martin is probably the most logical play from a cash game perspective at the position. Andrew Heaney has been good this season but the Blue Jays are the best offense in baseball vs. LHP (124 wRC+). Heaney will likely see some regression moving forward (35 percent hard hit rate, 2.43 ERA/3.46 FIP/4.11 xFIP) and this matchup won’t help him. Martin has historically hit LHP well (.351 wOBA, .181 ISO). The Blue Jays are playing away from Rogers Centre so Martin has an affordable price tag around the industry where that’s taken into account ($2,500 on FanDuel).
Additional catcher notes: Travis d’Arnaud (NYM) represents the top play at the position according to our model (ranked inside our top 10 hitters). He’s the most expensive catcher around the industry but he hasn’t been productive vs. LHP (.285 wOBA in 156 PAs against LHP) and usually hits seventh. The environment should help (Coors Field) and Chris Rusin hasn’t figured out how to get RHBs out at the major league level so I’m investing in tournaments. Victor Martinez (DET) has catcher eligibility on FanDuel and he’s priced as an average hitter on that site. We like his matchup (Yovani Gallardo doesn’t miss bats). If you need a bit more relief than what Russell Martin offers on FanDuel, Stephen Vogt (OAK) and Salvador Perez (KC) are only $2,300 on that site and they should have top six spots in their respective offenses.
Miguel Cabrera (DET), Paul Goldschmidt (ARI), Joey Votto (CIN) and Lucas Duda (NYM) are ranked inside the top 10 hitters in our model. Cabrera is arguably the best hitter in baseball and he has a matchup against a pitcher that doesn’t miss any bats. Goldschmidt hasn’t performed very well as of late (2 hits in his last 25 ABs with 10 Ks) and opposing pitcher Anthony DeSclafani doesn’t allow much to RHBs. He doesn’t miss many bats and Great American Ball Park won’t help. Goldschmidt makes sense for tournaments (his lack of production as of late might keep his ownership down). Votto has a matchup against a pitcher that struggles with home runs. He’s cash game worthy around the industry. Lucas Duda has a L/L matchup but he’s actually performed a bit better against LHP this season (.385 wOBA/.238 ISO vs. LHP; .343 wOBA/.220 ISO vs. RHP) and Coors Field is the best hitting environment in all of baseball (and it’s not close). I consider him cash game worthy on sites where he’s discounted ($4,600 on DraftKings). Salary aside, I’d rank these hitters in the order listed.
Jose Abreu (CWS) – Abreu is a bit of a better value on DraftKings, where he’s $4,600. He’s ranked just outside our top 10 but he has just as much upside as the top plays. Opposing pitcher Vidal Nuno is awful, particularly vs. RHBs (.340 wOBA/1.53 HR/9 allowed to RHBs in his last few seasons) and Abreu has destroyed LHP (.401 wOBA/.240 ISO since he made his debut in baseball last season). Abreu is a great option across all formats this evening.
Mike Napoli (TEX) – We’re hoping that Napoli has a top six spot in the Rangers offense tonight. Despite Napoli’s struggles this season (.310 wOBA), most of his peripherals are right in line with his career (especially his plate discipline). He hasn’t found any luck this season (.256 BABIP) but he’s also not hitting the ball as hard (30 percent hard hit rate, 37 percent or higher in his last two seasons). What he has been able to do is continue to hit LHP very well (.382 wOBA/.291 ISO) and Randy Wolf is making his first appearance at the major league level this season (.404 wOBA/1.63 HR/9 allowed to his last 93 batters faced at this level). Napoli is close to the bare minimum on FanDuel ($2,500) and if you need salary relief at the position, he’s your best source.
Additional first base notes: David Ortiz (BOS) and Chris Davis (BAL) are ranked a bit below the top options (top 25 hitters). Ortiz has a more difficult matchup (Yordano Ventura) but he’s an elite hitter and it’s not like Ventura is untouchable (32 percent hard hit rate this season). I’d give both a shot in tournaments. Albert Pujols (LAA) has been sensational vs. RHP this season and Marco Estrada is home run prone. He’s a good tournament option, especially on sites where he’s discounted. Victor Martinez (DET) is only $3,400 on DraftKings and his matchup is friendly (Yovani Gallardo doesn’t miss bats). If Napoli doesn’t get a good lineup spot, Martinez is a fine pivot.
Wilmer Flores (NYM) – Flores isn’t a very good hitter. Even when he has the platoon edge, he struggles (.268 wOBA in 190 PAs against LHP). However, the second base position lacks any sort of depth in terms of values and we’re willing to overlook his lack of skills due to 1) Coors Field and 2) Opposing pitcher Chris Rusin has allowed a .350 wOBA/1.15 HR/9 to RHBs and 3) he should have a top role in the Mets offense. The contextual factors couldn’t be any better for Flores and our model has taken note of that (Flores is ranked inside our top 15 hitters). The Mets have a team total of 5.5 runs and they’re our number one offense to target this evening. Also, for as bad as Flores’ overall offensive game is, both ZiPS and Steamer project an ISO around .150, which puts his power in the upper tier of second baseman.
Additional second base notes: Dee Gordon (MIA) is always in play due to his incredible speed upside and Aaron Harang represents a favorable matchup. Gordon is fully priced around the industry so I’d rather invest in tournaments. Brian Dozier (MIN) is a better hitter vs. LHP but opposing pitcher Chris Tillman is home run prone and Camden Yards is an elite hitting environment. Dozier is cash game worthy on FanDuel ($3,400). Kike Hernandez (LAD) has been an absurd hitter vs. LHP (.426 wOBA/.264 ISO in 105 PAs against LHP). Scott Kazmir is a good pitcher but second base doesn’t have much depth this evening so Hernandez is a fine target as long as he’s hitting second.
Troy Tulowtizki (BAL) – Tulowitzki ranks inside our top 15 hitters today and we can’t use the “he’s not a good hitter outside of Coors Field” because that’s not true. Tulowtizki owns a .358 wOBA/.197 ISO away from Coors Field. He’s in a bad hitting environment tonight but we’re willing to overlook that a bit since Andrew Heaney has pitched a bit above his head (has posted a 2.43 ERA but he doesn’t miss many bats, his hard contact rate is up to 35 percent and his 3.47 FIP and 4.12 xFIP points towards regression). Tulowtizki leads off for the best offense in baseball vs. LHP (that’s a baseline of four PAs). For some unknown reason, Tulowtzki is only $3,600 on DraftKings.
Next in line: Jose Reyes (COL) (not the same caliber of hitter as Troy Tulowtki but Coors Field and a good lineup spot will always earn a mention in our content; Reyes is our 25th ranked hitter in our model and he’s a better target on sites where he’s not priced fully)
Additional shortstop notes: Elvis Andrus (TEX) isn’t a very good hitter but Randy Wolf is more than a serviceable matchup. Even though the Rangers aren’t in friendly hitting environment, their team total is approaching five runs (that has a lot to do with Randy Wolf). Andrus is a fine target for tournaments.
Nolan Arenado (COL) – If you’re spending at third base, Arenado represents the best target at the position. He’s always hit LHP well (.362 wOBA/.211 ISO) and opposing pitcher Jon Niese has given up a .329 wOBA (doesn’t miss bats). It’s difficult to pay full price points for Charlie Blackmon/Carlos Gonzalez in a L/L matchup but that’s not the case with Arenado (best Rockies hitter vs. LHP). The Rockies team total is approaching 5.5 runs and we’re targeting any RHBs in their top six for cash games. Arenado’s home run totals have taken a leap forward this season, as we anticipated. He continues to generate a lot of loft in an ideal environment, and his raw power is on the rise given where he is age wise (evidenced by an increase in HR/FB rate).
Next in line:
Josh Donaldson (TOR) (.420 wOBA/.305 ISO hitter vs. LHP; he’s one of the best hitters in baseball when he has the platoon edge and he’s only $4,600 on DraftKings, which makes him cash game worthy)
Juan Uribe (NYM) – Uribe isn’t a good hitter vs. LHP (.304 wOBA) but he does have some power (.167 ISO). He’s 1) at Coors Field and 2) facing Chris Rusin (awful vs. RHBs). Like teammate Wilmer Flores, the contextual factors elevate his status in our model (ranks inside our top 25). If you’re not paying for one of Arenado or Donaldson, Uribe represents the best value at the position ($3,400 on DraftKings).
Additional third base notes: Todd Frazier (CIN) remains priced incorrectly on FanDuel, where he’s too cheap ($2,700). He’s a good cash game option on that site (Randall Delgado struggles with home runs and Great American Ball Park is one of the best hitting environments in baseball). Miguel Sano (MIN) is very powerful (.283 ISO in 175 PAs at the major league level) and opposing pitcher Chris Tillman has historically struggled with power vs. RHBs (1.41 HR/9 allowed to RHBs in the last three seasons). Sano is priced fully around the industry but I’d still invest in tournaments. Adrian Beltre (TEX) has one of those matchups we really like today (Randy Wolf). He’s a fine cash game target but I’d rather pay all the way up for Arenado/Donaldson or go cheap with Uribe.
Yoenis Cespedes (NYM) – Cespedes is our top ranked hitter in our model and last night he showed the type of upside he has in this hitting environment. Cespedes slugged three home runs, a double, batted in seven runs and stole a base. We’re not expecting that sort of line again this evening (67 Fantasy points is the best performance of any player in baseball on DraftKings this season) but holding the platoon edge against Chris Rusin at Coors Field should give him plenty of opportunities. Even when Rusin is out of the game, the party should continue for Cespedes (Rockies have the worst bullpen in baseball). Let’s focus on his first few PAs (when he will have a LHP). Cespedes has historically hit for above average power vs. LHP (.207 ISO vs. LHP) and in this type of environment facing below average pitchers, we’re willing to overlook that he’s probably more of an average overall hitter against southpaws (112 wRC+ vs. LHP since 2012, league average hovers around 115 wRC+). Cespedes is the hitter that I want to get in my lineups this evening, regardless of the price (he’s not the highest priced hitter on any site that I’ve checked).
Next in line:
Mike Trout (LAA)/Jose Bautista (TOR) (Trout is arguably the best hitter in baseball and Bautista is an elite hitter in his own regard; both are well underpriced on DraftKings, which makes them cash game viable but keep in mind that Trout has hit for a triple slash line of .213/.344/.373 since his wrist injury so I’d rather use him in tournaments)
Juan Lagares (NYM) – Lagares isn’t exactly a good hitter, even when he has the platoon edge (.331 wOBA/.141 ISO,) but does it really matter with all the contextual factors in his favor tonight? I say it doesn’t matter. He’s been leading off vs. LHP and the Mets are facing the below average Chris Rusin at Coors Field (team total is 5.5 runs, which is the largest on this slate). Leading off at Coors Field should yield around five PAs (we don’t have tangible data on this but lineups turn over a bit more in this sort of environment since team totals are always around 5 to 5.5 runs). Lagares is priced as an average hitter on most sites yet he ranks inside our top 15 hitters.
Kyle Parker (COL) – Parker has the platoon edge and should hit sixth at Coors Field all for the grand price of $2,300 on DraftKings. Do we really care about his skill level? No, we do not. Jon Niese isn’t a terrible pitcher but he does allow too much contact and this sort of environment won’t help him. Parker represents the cheapest route to Coors Field around the industry.
Delino DeShields (TEX) – DeShields isn’t a great hitter, even when he has the platoon edge (109 wRC+ vs. LHP). However, a matchup against the underwhelming Randy Wolf (making his first MLB start of 2015 and he gave up a .404 wOBA to RHBs in his last stint at this level) helps. DeShields has awesome speed upside (over 100 SBs in two seasons at the minor league level and has stolen 21 bases in 334 PAs this season) and even though Wolf is a LHP, he doesn’t control the run game that well (he’s about average in rSB over his career). If stepping away from Coors Field for value, DeShields is a logical choice (Rangers have a team total that’s approaching five runs).
Additional outfield notes: Ender Inciarte and David Peralta (ARI) will have a matchup we love (Anthony DeSclafani hasn’t figured out how to get LHBs out at this level). Peralta is the better hitter so on sites where he’s cheaper, I view him as a better value. Keep in mind that Inciarte is the better value on FanDuel ($2,600 and Peralta is $3,500 on that site). They’re the most logical choices in the outfield for cash games after the written recommendations above. Jay Bruce (CIN) is right behind Inciarte/Peralta for us. He has tons of power potential at Great American Ball Park facing a pitcher that struggles with the long ball but he’s more of a boom or bust play since he either Ks or hits for power. He’s a fine option for cash games. J.D. Martinez (DET) is a better hitter vs. RHP and Yovani Gallardo doesn’t miss bats. Realistically, I’d rather invest in Martinez in tournaments (Coors Field/Deshields/Arizona outfield seems like the way to go in cash games) but he’s a sound secondary target nonetheless. Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez (COL) and Curtis Granderson (NYM) won’t have the platoon edge in their respective matchups but they’re in the best hitting environment in all of baseball. Things can always get out of hand at Coors Field since it’s such an incredible hitting venue but we’d rather invest in these L/L matchups in tournaments. Nelson Cruz (SEA) doesn’t have a great matchup against Carlos Rodon but he obliterates LHP. I don’t mind taking a shot with Cruz in tournaments. Kole Calhoun (LAA) is priced nicely around the industry and he will have the platoon edge against the home run prone Marco Estrada. I’m not investing in cash games here but he seems like a fine tournament option relative to his skills (solid pop vs. RHP) and the matchup.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Sonny Gray (OAK)
2) Zack Greinke (LAD)
3) Carlos Martinez (STL)
4) Joe Ross (WSH)
5) Taylor Jungmann (MIL)
6) Scott Kazmir (HOU)
7) Carlos Rodon (CWS
8) Erasmo Ramirez (TB)
9) Chris Tillman (BAL)
Zack Greinke (LAD)/Sonny Gray (OAK) – Both Greinke and Gray are high floor players for similar reasons. They go deep into games (both are averaging seven IP this season) and their run prevention is excellent (Gray: 2.04 ERA/2.99 FIP, Greinke: 1.58 ERA/2.54 FIP). Greinke is the higher upside play this evening. He Ks more than Gray (24 percent K rate compared to 22 percent) and even though his matchup might be a bit more difficult for run prevention purposes (Astros are ranked inside the top 10 in wRC+ against RHP), it should also yield more Ks (Astros are striking out over 24 percent of the time). Gray has the safer floor thanks to a matchup against the Rays (ranked 23rd in wRC+ and are striking out 22 percent of the time against RHP). On sites where they’re priced similarly, I don’t mind siding with Greinke due to the upside in Ks. However, Gray is a much better value on FanDuel (at home and he’s $10,700; Greinke is over 12K on that site).
Carlos Martinez (STL) – Martinez is only $9,200 on DraftKings and even though he’s on the road, the matchup couldn’t be better. The Padres are ranked 22 in wRC+ against RHP and they’re striking out over 22 percent of the time. Martinez is striking out over a batter per inning and even though he’s had issues with walks (nine percent BB rate, which is considered slightly below average), he’s getting ahead of batters (64.3 percent F-Strike rate, so there’s a chance that the BB rate improves). He doesn’t allow much hard contact (four percent hard minus soft hit rate) and he keeps the ball on the ground (55 percent GB rate). Martinez is by far the best value of the tier one starting pitchers on DraftKings (Greinke and Gray are over 11K on that site; Martinez is about $2,500 cheaper).
Joe Ross (WSH) – It might not be necessary to spend on Greinke and Gray in cash games on DraftKings. We’ve already discussed Carlos Martinez (best cash game value on that site) but Joe Ross deserves consideration as well. Ross has been much better than advertised. Through nine starts, he has accumulated a 21 percent K-BB%, his run prevention has been solid (3.86 ERA) and he’s averaging six IP per start. There might be some positive correction in his run prevention moving forward, as his FIP (3.17) and xFIP (3.10) are over 50 points lower than his ERA. So we’ve concluded that he’s a nice cash game value before even adjusting for his matchup. The Brewers are facing a negative park shift and they’re a dreadful offense vs. RHP (ranked 26th in wRC+ and are striking out 21 percent of the time against RHP). To put the cherry on top, Ross is at home and he’s a -155 favorite (biggest favorite on this slate). He’s an excellent complement to any of the tier one starting pitchers on DraftKings but we’re not shying away from him on FanDuel either (he’s only $7,300 on that site and he allows you to stack Coors Field/whatever hitters you’d like).
Additional starting pitcher notes: Taylor Jungmann (MIL) has found success by keeping the ball on the ground and striking out close to a batter per inning. He’s a bit pricey around the industry but I’d still give him a shot in tournaments. I’m keeping my cash game exposure to the tier one starting pitchers and Joe Ross but Carlos Rodon (CWS) is a fine secondary target. He has K upside (striking out over a batter per inning) and the Mariners are about an average offense vs. LHP. Rodon is also pitching in a much better environment than U.S. Cellular Field (Safeco Field). I’m more likely to deploy him in tournaments than cash games. Chris Tillman (CWS) and Erasmo Ramirez (TB) are two cheap options that deserve some merit on multiple starting pitcher sites. I’m not touching them in cash games but their cheap price tags/favorable matchups keep me interested in multi-entry tournaments. Tillman carries a bit more risk since he’s pitching in a difficult environment (Camden Yards) but the matchup against the Twins could help (bottom five offense against RHP according to wrC+).
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 (email@example.com) if you have suggestions.
Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:
1) Coors Field
1) Texas Rangers (Randy Wolf; you get the picture)
2) Detroit Tigers (Yovani Gallardo doesn’t miss bats and that could be a recipe for disaster against this offense)
3) Toronto Blue Jays (Andrew Heaney has pitcher a bit above his head and the Blue Jays are the best offense in baseball against LHP)
4) Great American Ball Park (The Reds are facing Randall Delgado, who struggles with the long ball; The Diamondbacks face a little tougher matchup in Anthony DeSclafani but I’m open to using the LHBs/Goldschmidt)
5) Camden Yards (Kyle Gibson and Chris Tillman aren’t very good and they don’t miss many bats; that’s good enough here for tournaments)
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.
MIN at BLT 7:05: Dry. Temps in the low 80s falling into the low to mid 70s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind north-northwest 7-14 mph lessening to 3-6 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 4.
MIL at WSH 7:05: Dry. Temps in the mid 80s falling into the mid 70s. Air density is a 7, almost an 8 becoming a 6. Wind north 6-12 mph lessening to 3-6 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 4.
TEX at DET 7:08: Dry. Temps near 80 falling to near 70. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind southeast 6-12 mph lessening to 3-6 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
KC at BOS 7:10: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 7, almost an 8 becoming a 6. Wind east-northeast 7-14 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows in from right. The winf is a 4.
AZ at CIN 7:10: Dry. Temps in the low 80s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 5. Wind east 3-6 mph becoming calm. The wind blows in from left. The wind is a 4.
LAD at HOU 7:10: Retractable roof. A 20% coverage of thunderstorms across the region. Temps near 90 falling into the low 80s. Air density is a 9 becoming an 8. Wind south-southeast 8-16 mph which blows out to left-center. The wind is a 7.
PHL at MIA 7:10: The retractable roof will likely be closed.
NYM at COL 8:10: A 10-20% chance of a delay due to a thunderstorm. Not concerned about a ppd. Temps near 80 falling to the upper 60s. Air density is a 10. Wind northeast 10-20 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 2.
STL at SD 8:40: Dry. Temps in the mid 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind west-northwest 8-16 mph lessening to 6-12 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 3 becoming a 4.
TOR at LAA 9:05: Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the mid to upper 60s. Air density is 6. Wind west-southwest 8-16 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 7.
TB at OAK 9:05: Dry. Temps near 70 falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. 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 9:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps near 80 falling into the mid 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind northwest 6-12 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.