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August 23 MLB DFS: A Heavenly Matchup for Toronto
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August 23 MLB DFS: A Heavenly Matchup for Toronto

1:01: Starting Pitchers
14:24 Catchers
18:01 First Base
20:08 Second Base
22:35 Shortstops
24:41 Third Base
27:56 Outfield
31:45 Cash Game Roster Construction & Stacks

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August 23 MLB DFS PRO TIP

Starting Pitcher Rankings

Tier One

1) Jake Arrieta (CHC)

2) Madison Bumgarner (SD)

3) Danny Salazar (CLE)

Tier Two

4) Jonathan Gray (COL)

Tier Three

5) Chris Archer (TB)

6) Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA)

7) Carlos Rodon (CHW)

At first glance, the starting pitcher position looks fairly straight forward on Tuesday. However, the two starters that project as the strongest cash game targets are coming off disastrous outings. Jake Arrieta (CHC) gets the benefit of a park shift and a favorable matchup against the strikeout prone Padres’ offense that ranks 29th in wRC+ against RHP. Arrieta has had a strange season. His command faltered throughout the first half but he came out of the break looking like his old self until his last outing against the Brewers when the velocity was also down slightly. There are some red flags here that might make you hesitant to pay the full price tag, but on DraftKings the pricing is so soft thanks to Danny Salazar‘s (CLE) $7,700 price tag that it isn’t particularly difficult to build around Arrieta. Vegas has given Arrieta the lowest implied run total against (3.1 runs) and the most recent iterations of the Padres’ lineups against RHP have very few hitters with a projected OBP against RHP even above .300. This is an exceptional matchup for Arrieta, even amid control issues and one we’re fine targeting in cash games on DraftKings. Madison Bumgarner (SF) projects for a more difficult matchup against the Dodgers who haven’t hit LHP this season (27th in wRC+) but project as an above average offense against LHP. At the same price as Arrieta, Bumgarner represents a fine pivot. Danny Salazar is the starter we’re most comfortable with relative to price tag on both sites. The $7,700 tag on DraftKings is egregious if Salazar is healthy. He returned from the DL and was wild in his start against the White Sox that ended abruptly after just one inning. Salazar indicated he felt fine but was just “wild” and he then threw three innings in the pen after the start to continue to build his pitch count in preparation for his next start. The Athletics’ offense has become progressively more strikeout prone as the season has worn on. With clubhouse altercations removing Danny Valencia and Billy Butler from consideration and Marcus Semien away from the team, the lineup they ran out on Monday night was very weak and very strikeout prone which ended up vaulting Carrasco up our rankings. Vegas has given Salazar the second lowest implied run total against (3.4 runs), suggesting a level of confidence in Salazar in him. If we were positive Salazar was healthy, he’d represent a building block for us on both sites. As is, he’s a viable cash game target on both sites that carries some risk that is difficult to quantify.

Our second tier contains just one starter and it’s yet another starter coming off a string of difficult starts. Jon Gray (COL) has allowed 18 earned runs in his last three starts. Two were against above average offenses in Colorado but the road start in Philadelphia is one that is difficult to swallow. He faces a Brewers’ offense that projects as the most strikeout friendly matchup in the league for RHP and every park is a park upgrade for Gray. The good news with Gray is the velocity was up last game, the swinging strike rates have been fine (12.6 percent in PHI) and he generated plenty of ground balls (50 percent and 53.8 percent the last two starts). He carries an implied run total against of 4.2 runs but his hefty ranking in our model is driven by a projected K Rate north of 29 percent. He’s another risk-reward option that is viable in cash games due to soft pricing, but may be a better tournament pivot if you’re uncomfortable with the recent results. The third tier of starters contains two more volatile, but heavy strikeout options, and then Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA) who has been great at home all season (3.48 ERA with a 19.5 K Rate) but might not generate enough strikeouts as the other two options against a contact-heavy Yankees’ lineup. Chris Archer (TB) has a very difficult matchup with the Red Sox who lead MLB in wRC+ against RHP and have a below average K Rate (17.9 percent). Even if Archer does pitch well, the strikeout rate is likely suppressed due to the matchup. This leads us to Carlos Rodon (CHW) as an interesting cash viable target despite a price tag above Jonathan Gray who ranks above him in our model. Rodon has been pitching well (three straight starts of two earned runs or less against CLE, MIA, and BAL) and gets a Phillies’ offense that ranks 29th in wRC+ against LHP with the sixth highest K Rate. If you’re struggling to trust Gray or Salazar, Rodon serves as a viable pivot in a very favorable matchup.

Although we cut the rankings off after the third tier, there is an exceptionally deep group of starters bunched together in a fourth tier that could all move depending on lineups and line movement. The highest upside options from this tier is Joe Musgrove (HOU) who has flashed dominance at the minor league level against RHBs and his fly ball prone tendencies fit PNC Park perfectly. He gets the benefit of no DH and should hold the platoon advantage over all of the Pirates’ best hitters with the exception of Gregory Polanco. Our conservative baseline for Musgrove is pushing him down and his fly ball prone tendencies bring a bunch of risk (as seen last start out), but this is about as good of a matchup and park as his skill-set can find. Additionally, there are two minimum priced punt pitchers on DraftKings in very favorable matchups as Clay Buchholz (BOS) gets a big park shift and a RH heavy Rays’ lineup and Andrew Cashner (MIA) gets a Royals lineup without the use of a DH in Miami. Both guys are strong tournament targets and if we were on a slate with more elite hitting, they would earn cash game consideration as punt plays.

Catcher Rankings

1) Russell Martin (TOR)

2) Victor Martinez (DET) – where eligible

3) Nick Hundley (COL)

4) Jonathan Lucroy (TEX)

5) Gary Sanchez (NYY)

Russell Martin (TOR) ranks as our top catching option at home against a LHP on the team with the highest implied team total on the slate. We’re fans of Tyler Skaggs but a fly ball and homer prone lefty in Toronto is a recipe for disaster. Martin is priced appropriately on both sites and his value is largely tied to the alternatives at the position and how cheap you go at pitcher. He’s been mashing of late (4.7, +0.5 in well hit) and is a very solid play. Nick Hundley (COL) gets a reverse splits Chase Anderson who has been mashed by RHBs (.371 wOBA, .214 ISO since 2015). Hundley’s a solid hitter against RHP (.330 wOBA, .160 ISO since 2015) even if the performance is Coors-inflated. Hundley is really cheap on DraftKings ($3,000) and represents your best salary relief target. Gary Sanchez (NYY) is on an absurd tear (4.8 well hit + another two homers last night) and faces homer prone Hisashi Iwakuma (.179 ISO allowed to RHBs since 2015). Iwakuma is pretty good at home and the implied team total should come in pretty low, which keeps Sanchez’s ranking down. His price remains below $3,000 on FanDuel making him a fine cash game target. With the Rangers in the NL, we could get Jonathan Lucroy (TEX) in a good lineup spot which would inflate his value and make him cash viable despite elevated price tags.

First Base Rankings

1) Paul Goldschmidt (ARZ)

2) Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)

3) Freddie Freeman (ATL)

4) Daniel Murphy (WAS) – where eligible

5) David Ortiz (BOS)

6) Anthony Rizzo (CHC)

7) Brandon Belt (SF)

8) Jose Abreu (CHW)

9) Chris Davis (BAL)

10) Albert Pujols (LAA)

Paul Goldschmidt (ARZ) ranks as our top first base option once again with a below average RHP and a bad Braves’ bullpen in his home park. He’s followed by Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) who has that favorable matchup with Tyler Skaggs fly-ball tendencies in the Rogers Centre. Edwin and Goldschmidt are fine spends on FanDuel where there aren’t as many viable value alternatives. On DraftKings, a slew of cheap options make for better cash game targets. Jurickson Profar (TEX) and Albert Pujols (LAA) are both priced below $3,500 in strong offensive environments and rate as really strong values. Profar also carries second base eligibility but the depth of second base may actually be stronger than the depth at first base on this slate.

Second Base Rankings

1) Daniel Murphy (WAS)

2) Jose Altuve (HOU)

3) Brian Dozier (MIN)

4) DJ LeMahieu (COL)

5) Trea Turner (WAS) – where eligible

6) Dee Gordon (MIA)

7) Matt Carpenter (STL)

8) Devon Travis (TOR)

9) Ben Zobrist (CHC)

10) Jean Segura (ARZ)

11) Jurickson Profar (TEX)

We ranked 11 second base options because they all rank inside our Top 50 hitters overall. The position is loaded and the depth of the positon brings a lot of elite values. Devon Travis (TOR) represents a strong target on both sites as the leadoff hitter for the Jays’ offense with a 5.3 implied run total. Travis owns a solid .326 wOBA and .162 ISO against LHP since 2015. We noted Jurickson Profar‘s (TEX) incredibly cheap price tag on DraftKings ($2,900) at the first base position and he also qualifies at second base. On FanDuel, Jose Peraza (CIN) is just $2,700 and gets a matchup against contact heavy Derek Holland.

Shortstop Rankings

1) Trea Turner (WAS) – where eligible

2) Manny Machado (BAL) – where eligible

3) Carlos Correa (HOU)

4) Francisco Lindor (CLE)

5) Jose Peraza (CIN) – where eligible

6) Tim Anderson (CHW)

7) Jonathan Villar (MIL)

The shortstop position has strong depth as well but most of the options are priced appropriately at the top. Fortunately, each site has a pretty strong salary relief target. On FanDuel, Tim Anderson (CHW) is just $2,900 and has been reinstated at the top of the lineup of late. The Phillies’ catchers are easy to run on and Jake Thompson provides a solid matchup to get on base. On DraftKings, Francisco Lindor (CLE) is just $3,700 and while Sean Manaea has been much improved over the second half, Lindor’s underpriced. If you want more exposure to the Jays, Troy Tulowitzki (TOR) is priced similarly and makes for a fine pivot.

Third Base Rankings

1) Nolan Arenado (COL)

2) Josh Donaldson (TOR)

3) Kris Bryant (CHC)

4) Miguel Sano (MIN) – where eligible

5) Manny Machado (BAL)

6) Jake Lamb (ARZ)

7) Matt Carpenter (STL) – where eligible

8) Adrian Beltre (TEX)

9) Maikel Franco (PHI)

Third base is another position that is stacked at the top as Nolan Arenado (COL) and Josh Donaldson (TOR) are Top Five overall hitters on the slate. Arenado gets a reverse splits righty backed up by a bad pen and Donaldson gets a lefty at home. With soft price tags on DraftKings, we’d prefer to focus our cash game attention on one of those two elite options. Arenado owns a .386 wOBA and .295 ISO against RHP since 2015 while Donaldson has posted a .422 wOBA and .284 ISO against LHP during the same span. Even on FanDuel, they’re fine as priority spends, though easier to do if you’re not throwing Arrieta in cash games. The pivot downward on FanDuel is Jake Lamb (ARZ) who gets another soft matchup with a weak Braves RHP. The problem with Lamb is the prolonged slump which was broken up briefly by a DL stint which makes you question his health this time of the year.

Outfield Rankings

1) Mike Trout (LAA)

2) Bryce Harper (WAS)

3) Kris Bryant (CHC) – where eligible

4) Miguel Sano (MIN)

5) Carlos Gonzalez (COL)

6) Ryan Braun (MIL)

7) Stephen Piscotty (STL)

8) Billy Hamilton (CIN)

9) Rajai Davis (CLE)

10) Adam Eaton (CHW)

11) Ian Desmond (TEX)

12) Nelson Cruz (SEA)

13) Dexter Fowler (CHC)

14) Starling Marte (PIT)

15) Trea Turner (WAS) – where eligible

Mike Trout (LAA) represents our top overall hitter on the slate thanks to an enormous park shift in Toronto. He’s a strong target in all formats and our favorite outfielder if spending up. This slate isn’t one where spending big in the outfield is necessary as both sites have pretty soft pricing. On FanDuel, Jurickson Profar (TEX), Miguel Sano (MIN), and Billy Hamilton (CIN) are all solid values right around $3,000. On DraftKings, Ian Desmond (TEX), Dexter Fowler (CHC), Carlos Beltran (TEX), Miguel Sano (MIN) and Melky Cabrera (CHW) are all undepriced with some of the Texas outfielders around $3,500. The extreme values in the outfield allow for spending at other positions and still have access to high-end starting pitching.

Stack Rankings

Tier One

1) Toronto Blue Jays

2) Baltimore Orioles

3) Chicago White Sox

4) Colorado Rockies

5) Arizona Diamondbacks

6) Chicago Cubs

Tier Two

7) Minnesota Twins

8) St. Louis Cardinals

Toronto leads off our stack rankings against a fly ball oriented lefty backed up by one of the worst bullpens in all of baseball. The Jays are cheap enough to get mini-stack exposure in cash games on DraftKings and that’s a viable route on FanDuel if paying down at SP as well. Skaggs isn’t a gas can, but this is a nightmare matchup for him and the Angels’ bullpen in aggregate are gas cans, so we’re comfortable loading up in cash. The soft price tags coupled with their historical success against LHP should keep their ownership elevated in GPPs. We think the Blue Jays ownership will strongly outpace all the other tier one stacks, making any other stack in that group a fine pivot.

Contrarian Tournament Stacks

Minnesota Twins – Anibal Sanchez has been much better of late but the combination of extreme fly ball rate and hard contact allowed remains. Even amid better results with strikeouts, he’s allowed a fly ball rate north of 50 percent in three straight starts and hard hit rates of 30.8, 56.3, and 5.6 (nice job Mets). The Twins have RH power which is where Sanchez is vulnerable and the Twins home park really inflates RH power. If you’re looking for a really contrarian stack or a team to fire “one-off” options from, the Twins look like a great target

Chicago White Sox – No one ever likes stacking the White Sox, but they have the second highest implied team total on this slate and Jake Thompson is one of the weakest starters on the slate. The Phillies bullpen, especially the long relievers, aren’t very strong and should be asked to cover a few innings in this one. It’s hard to single out any individual White Sox play as a clear one-off in tournaments, so we view this team as a better pure stack option.

MLB Daily Analysis

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