Welcome to August 25 MLB DFS action. You’ll find Daily Fantasy Baseball Premium Cliff Notes for August 25 MLB DFS along with LIVE Premium Chat. Make sure you’re using the customizable projections tool, you’re actively participating in the live chat, and you’re reviewing the cliff notes to supplement your research and roster construction process. Very best of luck in tonight’s action!
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01:15 Starting Pitcher
- In cash games, we recommend focusing on value plays to build your rosters (far right hand column of Projections page linked above). Value plays are those we feel have the highest probability of out-earning their current price tag. By packing value plays into your roster, you’re creating a team with a higher floor.
- In tournaments, we recommend building a core of the best value plays and then complementing them with players who have a high ceiling. This combination is essentially turning up the variance on a strong foundation and we believe often is the best recipe for tournament success.
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August 25 MLB DFS CLIFF NOTES
Corey Kluber (CLE) represents the top projected scorer at the starting pitcher position. Kluber is a -300 favorite in this slate as he takes on a Royals offense that has *one* hitter with a wOBA baseline over .330 vs. RHP. Kluber also carries the second highest K projection (7.2) in this slate. There’s probably not much of a bigger ceiling than 7-8 Ks for Kluber as the Royals don’t K much (20.2% K rate vs. RHP) and Kluber himself is having a down year in the K department (24.6% K rate). Kluber is very much a part of the cash game conversation in this slate.
You could argue that Clayton Kershaw (LAD), the next in line option at the position, is in a better position to generate a bigger ceiling than Kluber. He’s facing a Padres offense that’s ranked 19th in wRC+ but are striking out 24% of the time vs. LHP (third highest mark in the league). Kershaw is also having a down year in the K department (24.9% K rate), but he’s still pitching deep into games and he continues to provide elite run prevention. He’s a massive -410 favorite in this slate. We view Kershaw as a strong play across all formats on both sites.
We also have Justin Verlander (HOU) in this slate. Verlander is on the road facing an Angels team that’s ranked third in wRC+ on the season and are only striking out 20.6% of the time vs. RHP. Verlander is significantly more expensive than Kluber and Kershaw on DK where he’s $12,900. He can be included in your MME pool on that site but we prefer him on FD where the price tag is mostly in line with the other aces. He leads all starting pitchers in the league this season in xwOBA (.254).
There’s a significant gap in projection after the aces in this slate. Robbie Ray (ARI) is next up in projection. The one thing that Ray continues to do well is strike batters out (29.7% K rate this season). After that, there’s not much you’ll find attractive. Ray has a 4.91 ERA on the season and while we’re expecting his run prevention to be better than that (3.96 xFIP), it’s difficult to have much confidence when he’s walking 12.6% of batters and allowing a 42% hard hit rate (according to fangraphs). He’s facing a Mariners offense that’s getting a negative league shift going into the NL, which means Ray will face a pitcher instead of a DH. That’s certainly a positive, but the Mariners offense is contact oriented (19.9% K rate vs. LHP). Ray is probably a better target for tournaments than cash games at this point, but his ownership is usually on the high side because of the elite K upside and a depressed price tag.
Most of our optimals will default to a Kluber-Ray pairing on DK. We think Kershaw also belongs in that conversation, as well as Anibal Sanchez (ATL) as an SP2 option. Sanchez doesn’t have the K upside that Ray has but he still has an above average K rate (24.7%) on the season and he’s not as prone to having disaster starts. He’s in a much better context, too. Sanchez gets to pitch in a domed environment and faces a Marlins offense that’s ranked 27th in wRC+. The gap in projection between Sanchez and Ray is less than one DK point.
There’s not much intrigue after the top five pitchers in this slate. Mike Fiers (OAK) is someone that stands out to us more than our projections though. Over the last three starts with his new team, Fiers has averaged ~91 MPH on his fastball and he’s posted 34.9%, 21% and 40% K rates in those starts. We really like him in tournaments in this slate. Jameson Taillon (PIT) is getting a negative park shift going into Miller Park but his GB skill set plays well in any park. His price tags aren’t exciting but he should be included in your tournament pool. Sonny Gray (NYY) has an elite matchup against Baltimore but the price tag is appropriate. He’s okay in MME. Twins’ prospect Stephen Gonsalves (MIN) is just $5,200 on DK. He’s the only punt option in this slate that looks reasonable in GPPs. German Marquez (COL) is an underrated pitcher that’s pitching well this season, generating a career high 24.6% K rate coupled with a 3.77 SIERA. Unfortunately for Marquez, he’s in Coors Field and the price tag has caught up to the performance on both sites. We’re not as excited to target him tonight.
Yadier Molina (STL), playing in Coors Field, rates as our only positive value at the catcher position on DK in a matchup against German Marquez. Although Marquez has held right-handed hitters (RHHs) to a sub-.300 wOBA this season, his career numbers suggest he is closer to an even splits pitcher than he has shown thus far. Molina and the rest of the team will enjoy the substantial positive park shift and the team’s implied run total (5.1) is tied for the fourth highest on the slate. Yasmani Grandal (LAD) is the other expensive option at the position but he more expensive than Molina, expected to hit lower in the lineup and his projection is not as high as Molina’s. For those reasons, he rates as the tournament alternative as opposed to an interchangeable cash game play.
Jonathan Lucroy (OAK) is cheap as per usual but Josh Phegley (OAK) has been earning some playing time recently versus LHP as well. Regardless of who starts, they will rate as a decent value on DK due to their minuscule price points. If spending up elsewhere, both players are reasonable alternatives to the top tier at the position versus a fly-ball prone Stephen Gonsalves. RHHs produced a 60-percent line drive rate and 60-percent hard hit rate against him in his MLB debut and projections according to the models on FanGraphs are not exactly bullish on him. Either of these players are fine punts.
If looking for pure GPP plays, look no further than Evan Gattis (HOU), Mike Zunino (SEA) and Tony Wolters (COL). Both Gattis and Zunino are players reliant on power and in matchups conducive to their skill sets. Jaime Barria has only struck out righties at a 16.8-percent rate this season and has yielded a .387 wOBA, 2.22 HR/9 rate and 39.7-percent hard hit rate in the split. Zunino faces a more difficult contact matchup, as Robbie Ray has whiffed nearly 30-percent of the righties he has faced, but the hard contact correlation is unmistakable. Ray has allowed a hefty 44.1-percent hard contact rate to righties this year and Zunino has hit the ball hard 40.0-percent of the time versus LHP. The hard contact correlation is there for Wolters as well against a pitcher who has allowed by far the highest hard contact rate versus left-handed hitters (LHHs) of any pitcher on the slate (58.7-percent).
Over the course of the last 15 days, Matt Carpenter (STL) has only produced a 29.4-percent hard hit rate but playing in Coors Field is typically an ideal elixir for struggles. For his career, Marquez has only produced a 4.12 FIP against LHHs to go along with a .344 wOBA allowed and measly 18.0-percent K rate. In 2018, Marquez has struck out RHHs at an impressive 31.8-percent rate but his K rate in the split versus LHHs (18.4-percent) is still hovering around his mediocre career average. With Carpenter being guaranteed to at least tie for the team lead in plate appearances being that he will be hitting in the leadoff spot, he is the ideal cash game play at the position.
The next tier of first basemen, especially on FD, begins with a pair of Indians: Edwin Encarnacion (CLE) and Yonder Alonso (CLE). Opposing starter Heath Fillmyer has only induced a 7.2-percent swinging strike rate and his BB rate (11.8-percent) is nearly as high as his strikeout rate (13.9-percent). Essentially, his 5.47 SIERA tells the true story of his talent level and this Indians team is set to tee off. He has looked like a reverse-splits pitcher in the early-going of his career as RHHs currently own a .368 wOBA, 2.57 HR/9 rate, 50.7-percent hard hit rate and 36.2-percent hard hit rate against him. Therefore, Encarnacion is the preferred play of the two.
Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) is our second highest projected player but his price is right around Carpenter’s throughout the injury so he does not fit the slate (at least for cash games). However, he will face a high contact left-hander who relies heavily on fly ball outs. Amongst active hitters, Goldschmidt leads them all with a career .432 career wOBA against LHP (min. 200 ABs). Ian Desmond (COL) and Joe Mauer (MIN) are interesting plays across all formats as Desmond is on the wrong end of his platoon split (but playing in Coors Field) and Mauer will battle a pitcher who owns a 4.92 FIP against lefties. Normally, Mauer is not very exciting, but Fiers pitches to contact and most of it is of the hard variety (40.6-percent hard hit rate by LHHs against him).
D.J. LeMahieu (COL) represents our top value at the second base position on both sites with Jose Altuve (HOU) not far behind. LeMahieu draws a tough task versus a pitcher who has held righties to a slate-best .238 wOBA and has not allowed a homer yet to the handedness. Even though LeMahieu is a fine investment in cash games, we would not blame anyone for pivoting to Altuve. Not only does he face a pitcher who is susceptible to the long ball but he always possesses the ability to swipe a bag as well. The team total is significantly lower but there is a strong case to be made for him.
Kolten Wong (STL), Jason Kipnis (CLE) and Ozzie Albies (ATL) make up the tournament tier at the position with Wong headlining the group because of the hitting environment. Wong is cheaper than LeMahieu and should come at a drastically depreciated ownership to his second base counterpart. Kipnis is another member of the Indians stack worth deploying against Fillmyer and he will be contrarian due to this lineup spot. Albies is in a poor running matchup, and the park suppresses power, but Chen’s 5.55 FIP against RHHs is fourth worst on the slate and simply cannot be overlooked.
Nolan Arenado (COL) is our highest projected player and top value throughout the industry at the third base position as is tradition when he is at home. Our model gives him credit for a .368 wOBA and .254 ISO in the split and the team total is off the roof…
Still, it is tough to discount the matchup for Jose Ramirez against Fillmyer. Lefties have walked at a higher rate (16.0-percent) than they have struck out (13.2-percent) against Fillmyer and 32 of his 37 bombs have come off RHP. There is no question his individual matchup is superior to that of Arenado but the ballpark is the major downside. Instead of playing in hitter-friendly Progressive Field, he will have to face Fillmyer in pitcher-friendly Kauffman Stadium. That fact should depreciate his ownership, at least compared to Arenado, and he consequently is a strong pivot from Arenado especially in tournaments.
Beyond the top tier, Matt Chapman (OAK) and Mike Moustakas (MIL) are the next best values on FD and Moustakas especially is underpriced. At just $3,300, he is almost $2,000 cheaper than Ramirez, so he is a valuable piece for those looking to save salary. His matchup is more difficult (Jameson Taillon) than any player discussed at the position but Miller Park helps enhance left-handed power,. Gonsalves is a player who neither FanGraphs nor our projections believe in and we believe he will give up a solid amount of power over the long run. Chapman ranks third on the Athletics with a .348 wOBA versus LHP and he has produced a .397 wOBA, 156 wRC+ over the course of the last two weeks.
Miguel Sano (MIN) and Jedd Gyorko (STL) are the next highest projected players due to their power potential. Fiers’ career reverse splits make the matchup look juicy for Sano if he can make contact and Gyorko ranks third on the team in fly ball rate versus RHP (which is ideal for the hitters’ haven of Denver).
Francisco Lindor (CLE) is the cream of the crop at the shortstop position and the only reason he is not projected even higher is because Salvador Perez (KC) normally does a great job limiting the run game. Even so, the Indians’ 5.4 implied run total is second highest on the slate and edges out the road team in Coors Field. Lindor is known for being a contact hitter but he ranks second on the Indians with a .266 ISO against RHP, edging out the aforementioned Encarnacion (.264). That is a ton of power from a shortstop and he is set up for contact in this matchup.
Marcus Semien (OAK) and Alex Bregman (HOU) may go overlooked because Lindor will (rightfully) be the field’s focus but Semien is projected to leadoff against one of the worst pitchers on the slate (Gonsalves). Semine’s wOBA is 30-percentage points higher against LHP than RHP and he has displayed significantly more power (.200 ISO versus .089) in the split as well. Meanwhile, all the right-handed Astros profile well against Barria; the team overall ranks in the top 10 of wOBA and wRC+ against a RHP who has struggled to retire righties. Altuve leads the (qualified) team’s righties in wOBA against RHP this season but Bregman is not far behind and his .222 ISO leads the squad. Power is ideal against Barria and Bregman is loaded with it.
Carlos Correa (HOU) is amidst a down season but he is yet another Astros righty sporting a .200-plus ISO against RHP (.206). Otherwise, Trevor Story (COL) at home and Jorge Polanco (MIN) versus Fiers are our next best values and Polanco is rather cheap facing a power-prone pitcher. Fiers has tossed back-to-back quality starts but he has still allowed two homers in his last three games. For what it is worth, Polanco leads the Twins with 13 RBI over the last two weeks as well.
Charlie Blackmon (COL) is at home versus a RHP so of course he is our highest projected outfielder on both sites. If being objective, Blackmon’s 2017 season has been nowhere comparable to 2018, but our metrics project as somewhere in between both seasons: .382 wOBA and .241 ISO. All Gant does is allow hard contact to lefties and Blackmon has slashed .317/.388/.514 at home versus RHP this year with a .197 ISO, .386 wOBA and 128 wRC+. What else needs to be said here?
Carlos Gonzalez (COL) is viable for similar reasons and he has hit the ball hard at a significantly higher rate versus RHP (43.3-percent compared to 35.5-percent) this season. Gonzalez is $400 cheaper on DK and the preferred bat in tournaments if salary is only available to afford one.
Joc Pederson (LAD) should leadoff Brett Kennedy and his 5.16 SIERA. In just 14 innings as a big-leauger, Kennedy has allowed five homers while only managing a 33.3-percent ground ball rate. In an extended sample size at Triple-A in 2017, Kennedy had a difficult time inducing grounders (40.5-percent hard hit rate), so this may just be who he is. If so, he is in for a long day against the Dodgers lefties, beginning with Pederson.
Cody Bellinger (LAD), Michael Brantley (CLE), David Dahl (COL) and Jose Martinez (STL) are all members of previously discussed stacks who are standalone values in their own right. Martinez is one of the better fastball hitters in the league and Marquez throws his fastball and sinker nearly 60-percent of the time to both sides of the plate. The last few players worth mentioning are A.J. Pollock versus a fly-ball prone lefty and Nelson Cruz against a lefty susceptible to left-handed power. Both are elite tournament plays but Cruz is particularly interesting because he should be focused on as a one-off (whereas other members of the Diamondbacks team are high in our projections too).
1) Colorado Rockies
The Rockies are by far our top ranked stack of the night. They’re facing John Gant, who’s generated good results this season but they’re backed up by a 4.57 SIERA and a massive 29% hard minus soft hit rate. We think he’s headed towards regression, and this is the spot that will likely undo him. It’s not going to be easy to stack the Rockies in this slate since there’s expensive pitching that takes priority, which will likely keep the ownership at bay.
2) Cleveland Indians
The Indians are in an incredible spot as our second ranked stack. They should be lower owned than Coors Field and as a road team they’re getting guaranteed nine innings in 90 degree weather. They’re facing the worst pitching staff in all of baseball (Royals).
3) Los Angeles Dodgers
4) Oakland Athletics
5) New York Yankees
The Dodgers and Athletics are additional ways to be different in this slate if you don’t want to go the Coors Field route. The Dodgers are a home team but they’re facing an awful starting pitcher in Brett Kennedy (12.9% K rate, 8.36 ERA/7.37 xFIP through three starts). The Athletics are a road team facing a rookie SP that had major control issues in the minors.
We’re assuming that the Yankees will have a total somewhere in the 5s against a wretched Baltimore bullpen, but their offense is certainly diminished nowadays without Judge-Didi-Sanchez. They’re a fine stack but it’s not one we’d prioritize.
6) Houston Astros
7) Milwaukee Brewers
8) Arizona Diamondbacks
9) Minnesota Twins
This is a better tier for MME than single entry and three max type GPPs and we prefer to use bits and pieces of these offenses rather than stacks. Of this tier, we think the Astros are more exciting as a road team facing a pitcher in Jaime Barria that’s power prone, particularly against RHBs (.241 ISO allowed). The main offensive pieces in this Astros offense are right handed, which meshes well with this particular matchup.