Daily Fantasy Rundown – August 25 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Tuesday’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: No weather concerns on the MLB schedule tonight
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.
Russell Martin (TOR) – Martin is battling a hamstring injury that cost him some time over the weekend. If he’s able to play tonight, the price around the industry is really attractive as is the matchup with Derek Holland. Martin has posted an impressive .349 wOBA and .179 ISO against LHP since 2012 and he’s part of a Blue Jays offense that simply demolishes LHP (127 wRC+, .356 wOBA). For his career, Derek Holland has allowed a .335 wOBA and 1.39 HR/9 to RHBs. Power RHBs have always been a problem for him and the Jays have them in droves. The Jays have the second highest implied run total of the evening (4.8) and Martin typically gets a solid lineup spot (usually fifth). With a discounted price point, he’d represent our preferred target at an abnormally deep catcher position.
Yasmani Grandal (LAD) – Grandal is a wildcard as the Dodgers lineup has been in flux for the better part of two weeks. If Grandal garners a strong lineup spot, he ranks well in our model. John Lamb has had a resurrection in his prospect status this season. He’s improved his control and its let the big K Rate shine through. Our system still sees him as vulnerable to RHBs and Grandal owns a solid .320 wOBA and .126 ISO against LHP. Throw in a nice park shift in Grandal’s favor and a Dodgers implied run total of 4.5 and Grandal cracks our Top 30 hitters.
Yadier Molina (STL) – After getting scratched last night, Robbie Ray is back on the hill today. Our own Mike Leone covered this matchup yesterday, so I’ll lean on his analysis here: Molina’s peak power years (2011-2013) seem long gone, but his great contact rate and similar batted ball data to his career marks suggest he can still hit for average. This suggestion, though, has less to do with Molina’s skills and more the contextual factors surrounding him. For starters, he’s cheap, which is always something we look for at a scarce position on a night where pitching has a heavy emphasis. He may be the only cheap catcher with a top five lineup spot, and Molina benefits from a huge park shift in his favor, playing in Arizona. He’ll have the platoon edge against LHP Robbie Ray, who has allowed a whopping .354 wOBA and 39.1 hard hit rate to RHBs. While I prefer McCann’s power upside, Molina is probably a similar per dollar value given those contextual factors and a healthy Cardinals team total around 4.5 runs. Tonight’s slate is a bit deeper for catcher options, but many of those contextual factors remain in play.
Additional catcher notes: Francisco Cervelli (PIT) is another potential value play at the position that is dependent on lineup spot. He’s hit LHP well (.372 wOBA, .178 ISO since 2012) and the Pirates offense as a whole is very dangerous against LHP. Brad Hand has allowed a .333 wOBA to RHBs since 2013 but he generates ground balls and limits home run upside. Cervelli is a bit more expensive than the recommended options above so he’d need a surprising lineup spot to surpass them as a value play. Welington Castillo (ARZ) has been exceptional against LHP in his career (.375 wOBA, .190 ISO) and he always gets a good lineup spot in a good home park. He’s facing the most skilled pitcher of this group and his price point (on most sites) is elevated above the others. I think he’s better as a tournament play but if priced in this group is an acceptable value option. Kyle Schwarber (CHC) is our top play but getting a difficult park shift even in a favorable matchup against Matt Cain. He’s also better in tournaments. Travis’ d’Arnaud (NYM) is overpriced but acceptable as part of a Mets stack in tournaments.
After spending much of the first half picking on underpriced first basemen (David Ortiz, Chris Davis, etc), the pricing at the position has tightened substantially. We’re left with a site specific value play here or there, but mostly we’re searching out a little bit of value on an expensive price tag. The top options in our model are: Jose Abreu (CHW), Paul Goldschmidt (ARZ), Edwin Encarnacion (TOR), and Miguel Cabrera (DET). They all rank within our Top 10 overall hitters, so if you can find a discounted tag, we recommend taking advantage. They’re all great and I’ve listed them in the order they rank in our model. Abreu rates the highest and is the one that occasionally comes with a discount, so he looks like the most reasonable target of the group.
Mike Napoli (TEX) – Napoli will face Mark Buehrle in Arlington. Buehrle has allowed a .325 wOBA to RHBs since 2013 but he continues to limit power (0.83 HR/9) despite pitching in tough environments with almost no velocity. Napoli remains effective against LHP (.394 wOBA, .237 ISO since 2012) and he gets the benefit of hitting fifth in a great hitting environment. The price point is still depressed from his days hitting lower in the Red Sox order, which provides some value. Napoli cracks our Top 30 hitters.
Carlos Santana (CLE) – Cleveland’s offense will fly under the radar a bit tonight but they have a healthy 4.5 implied run total against Wily Peralta. Santana is an above average hitter against RHP (.347 wOBA, .198 ISO) and Peralta has allowed a .350 wOBA and 33.7 percent hard hit rate to LHBs since 2013. Santana’s bat is average at first base, but the price point is acceptable in a plus matchup. Santana cracks our Top 30 hitters.
Additional first base notes: Albert Pujols (LAA) ranks just below that top tier of first baseman (Top 20 hitter in our model) and has a depressed price point on FanDuel ($3,500). He’s a strong play on any site where that price is separated strongly from that top tier. The matchup with Alfredo Simon is neutral but the Tigers pen behind him really adds to the projection for all Angels’ bats. Adam Lind (MIL) rates well individually against Josh Tomlin, but given the supporting cast, I’d only consider in tournaments. Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) has a left on left matchup but is in a nice park and against a bullpen that is very right handed. We like him as a tournament option on Dodgers’ stacks or mini-stacks. Similarly, Prince Fielder (TEX) is a slightly more expensive way of attacking a tournament stack and the Blue Jays bullpen is significantly stronger.
The second base position lacks a clear cut top play option. Daniel Murphy (NYM) hits in the middle of the offense with the highest implied run total (5.1) but his skills are rather ordinary (.336 wOBA, .145 ISO since 2012). The matchup with Jerome Williams (.351 wOBA allowed to LHBs since 2013) and a bad Phillies bullpen behind him makes him likely the top option. The price point is a bit restrictive for cash games and better for tournaments. Jason Kipnis (CLE) ranks similarly to Murphy in our model. The matchup with Wily Peralta is similarly favorable (.350 wOBA allowed to LHBs since 2013) and Kipnis’ skills are slightly better (.356 wOBA, .147 ISO). The Brewers bullpen is far better than the Phillies and the run scoring environment is lighter. Where Kipnis is cheaper, he’s a strong alternative to Murphy in cash games.
Justin Turner (LAD) – It’s difficult to know how much to pick on young pitchers that are making major league debuts. John Lamb has had a great season for his development but his minor league profile is shaky and Vegas has the Dodgers for an implied run total of 4.5 runs. The Dodgers are cheap after an extended slump fueled by a string of strong opposing starters. Turner owns a .320 wOBA and .141 ISO against LHP since 2012 and he generally hits third or fourth against LHP. With a friendly price point around the industry, he rates as our strongest pure value at the second base position and a Top 30 hitter in our model.
Brandon Phillips (CIN) – Phillips is very average against LHP (.310 wOBA, .128 ISO) but the Reds give him a premier lineup spot (fourth of late) and his price point around the industry is affordable. He rates significantly below Turner in our model, but is an adequate alternative if you need additional cap relief. Alex Wood has been more vulnerable than expected against RHBs this season (.344 wOBA, 30.6 hard hit rate) and our model still weights Wood’s strong historical performance against righties.
Additional second base notes: If Ivan DeJesus Jr. (CIN) lands in a good lineup spot, I’d prefer taking a shot on his cheaper tag over Phillips. The projected skill gap between the two is negligible. In terms of tournament options, Robinson Cano (SEA) and Jose Altuve (HOU) have favorable matchups but elevated tags that should push ownership down.
Troy Tulowitzki (TOR) – Tulowitzki owns a .414 wOBA and .242 ISO against LHP since 2012. He leads off for a road team with an implied run total approaching five runs. We’re looking at a good shot at five plate appearances for Tulowitzki which coupled with his immense skill advantage on the field makes him a strong target in cash games. Tulowitzki ranks inside our Top Five overall hitters.
Jhonny Peralta (STL) – Robbie Ray has allowed a .354 wOBA and incredible 39.1 percent hard hit rate against RHBs since 2013. Peralta gets a nice park shift in his favor and gets a premier lineup spot which is rare for shortstops. He’s historically hit LHP very well (.359 wOBA, .208 ISO since 2012) and consequently, he ranks inside our Top 45 hitters. We prefer targeting Tulowitzki, but if you’re looking for some salary relief Peralta is your next best option.
Additional shortstop notes: Jimmy Rollins (LAD) rates well when we give him the leadoff spot in Cincinnati. He’s cheap, but I’m more likely to pursue exposure to Rollins in tournaments as opposed to cash games. Our model, rates him slightly below Peralta. Wilmer Flores (NYM) tantalized us with his power last night. The Mets have the highest implied team total but Flores has been below average historically against RHP (.299 wOBA, .133 ISO since 2012) and they generally push him down in the lineup some. I think he’s a strong tournament target, but not someone I’d target in cash games. Jung Ho Kang (PIT) has hit LHP well (.334 wOBA, .167 ISO) and gets one of those rare premier lineup spots for a shortstop, but his price is elevated. He’s a fine tournament option as part of a Pirates stack or mini-stack. Carlos Correa‘s (HOU) ownership should be low with an emphasis on Tulowitzki. Hanley Ramirez (BOS) grades out as a fine value play on DraftKings, but I’m more likely to use him in tournaments.
Josh Donaldson (TOR) – Donaldson against an average left handed pitcher in an elite hitting environment = top play. The price is prohibitive around the industry but he’s a key part of Blue Jays stacks or mini-stacks.
Adrian Beltre (TEX) – Beltre has historically hit both LHP and RHP very well. We prefer him against RHP because his teammates all profile better against RHP, but the addition of Mike Napoli has added some depth behind him. Buehrle continues to limit hard contact at his advanced age but it’s a great hitting environment and Buehrle doesn’t miss bats. Beltre cracks our Top 35 hitters in our model and carries the tag of an average hitter on most sites.
Todd Frazier (CIN) – On sites like FanDuel, where Frazier’s price has dropped like a rock, he’s a very strong value play. While Frazier is undoubtedly struggling after a scorching start to his season, there aren’t very many opportunities to get such a high upside player (homer/steal potential) at a low cost. He’ll have the platoon advantage against a LHP that has struggled against RHBs this season.
Aramis Ramirez (PIT) – Ramirez ranks a bit below the two above in our model, but he’s also cheaper around the industry. We touched on Brad Hand‘s modest struggles against RHBs and Ramirez has hit LHP well (.393 wOBA, .277 ISO since 2012) and gets a premier lineup spot (cleanup). Though he rates a bit lower in our model due to environment, the cheaper price tag makes him a fine alternative.
Additional third base notes: Josh Harrison (PIT) would also grade out as a fine value play (similar to Aramis Ramirez) if he leads off. David Wright (NYM) is one of the stronger tournament options at the position, given the Mets strong implied run total and the Phillies putrid bullpen.
Like first base, outfield is loaded with top options. Mike Trout (LAA), Andrew McCutchen (PIT), and Jose Bautista (TOR) are the three outfielders that rank inside our Top Five hitters overall. Trout and McCutchen both rank higher than Bautista in our model and with cheaper price points, I’m more likely to target them in cash games over Bautista. Bautista is a stronger tournament option as part of the Jays high powered offense. The next group of top options includes Starling Marte (PIT), Yoenis Cespedes (NYM), Bryce Harper (WAS) and A.J. Pollock (ARZ). They rank inside our Top 15 hitters, but I’m less likely to target them with similar price points to the three recommended above.
Yasiel Puig/Scott Van Slyke (LAD) – Both Van Slyke (.377 wOBA, .237 ISO) and Puig (.375 wOBA, .180 ISO) have hit LHP very well in their careers. They’re getting big park shifts in their favor (Cincinnati inflates home runs 14 percent above the league average while Dodger Stadium is neutral) and they’re exceptionally cheap around the industry. Puig hit second last time against a LHP and if he gets that lineup spot, he’ll represent a core value play in my cash game lineups. Van Slyke hit fifth in that same game. He’s more vulnerable to the bullpen and a pinch hit situation, so I prefer Puig over Van Slyke. They’re so cheap I’m comfortable using both in cash game lineups as long as they get those premier lineup spots. We’ve touched on John Lamb‘s growth this season and the challenge in projecting him, but if we remove him from the equation we have two players that have historically been well above average against LHP getting a huge park shift at price points below the average cost of a hitter. Without accounting for Lamb’s profile, they’re very strong plays.
Curtis Granderson (NYM) – Granderson is in between a top play and a value play and his price point represents this dilemma around the industry. He gets a tasty matchup with Jerome Williams who has allowed a .351 wOBA to LHBs since 2013 and he hits leadoff for the team with the highest implied run total on the evening. He cracks our Top 20 hitters overall but he’s the easiest entry point into the Mets offense tonight. Ideally, you’d want some exposure to the team with the highest implied run total on the evening and Granderson is your best target.
Carlos Gomez (HOU) – Gomez hasn’t had wide splits for his career. Against RHP he’s compiled a .342 wOBA and .183 ISO while swiping 96 bags since 2012. He’ll face Ivan Nova who has allowed a .324 wOBA, 1.23 HR/9 and a 31.2 percent hard hit rate to RHBs since 2013. Gomez is a Top 25 hitter in our model and he’s priced as an average hitter on most sites.
Additional outfield notes: Melky Cabrera (CHW) is caught in pricing limbo. He has a good matchup with Wade Miley but we wish he was a little bit cheaper around the industry. Jason Bourgeois (CIN) remains a fine punt play on DraftKings leading off for the Reds. Mookie Betts (BOS) and Hanley Ramirez (BOS) are secondary targets with the platoon advantage in an elite hitting environment.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Jake Arrieta (CHC)
2) Noah Syndergaard (NYM)
3) Stephen Strasburg (WAS)
4) Dallas Keuchel (HOU)
5) James Shields (SD)
6) Nate Karns (TB)
7) Charlie Morton (PIT)
8) Josh Tomlin (CLE)
9) Jaime Garcia (STL)
10) Jose Quintana (CHW)
Jake Arrieta (CHC) – Arrieta edges out Strasburg and Syndergaard on Tuesday night largely due to a combination of run prevention probability and ability to pitch deep into games. Arrieta gets a nice big park shift pitching in San Francisco and will face a watered down Giants lineup since the loss of Hunter Pence. On the season, Arrieta has improved his GB Rate (54 percent) and hard hit rate (23.2 percent) while maintaining the plus K Rate (25.9 percent) and BB Rate (6.4 percent). The Cubs are solid favorites (-145) in the only game with a total under seven. Arrieta’s price tag is hefty, especially relative to the other top options. He’s a fine cash game option, but we prefer dipping down into the Syndergaard/Strasburg range for a bit of extra savings.
Next in line:
Noah Syndergaard (NYM)/Stephen Strasburg (WAS) – The Phillies and Padres rank 28th and 23rd respectively in wRC+ against RHP and Syndergaard (-220) and Strasburg (-170) are two of the biggest favorites on the slate. Our model gives Syndergaard the edge as it projects a higher strikeout rate (29.2 vs. 28.3 percent), win probability, and innings. The gap in projection, however, isn’t as large as the gap in price on most sites. As a result, I’m more likely to deploy Strasburg. Strasburg has been exceptional since returning from the DL (20 IP, 12 H, 2 BB, 3 ER, 25 K) and he has the benefit of home field advantage (career 2.61 ERA, 2.58 xFIP at home – 3.76/2.99 on the road) against a largely right handed Padres lineup (career .275 wOBA, 31 percent K Rate against RHBs).
Nate Karns (TB) – Karns isn’t allowed to work deep into games as the Rays implement a strategy that limits their starting pitchers from facing an offense a third time. It caps his upside, which always shifts the emphasis towards price point. Fortunately, the price tag is friendly this evening in a favorable matchup at home against the Twins. The Twins rank 26th in wRC+ against RHP and are getting a park downgrade in Tampa. The offense has also become a bit more volatile with the insertion of Byron Buxton (.223 wOBA, 32.8 K Rate in a very small sample) at the top of the lineup. While Buxton is an elite prospect, he’s struggled mightily with the adjustment to the big league level. The Twins are heavily right handed which presents an interesting matchup for Karns. He’s always shown better command and thus overall results against RHBs but he’s allowed harder contact, struck out fewer batters, and yielded more home runs to RHBs. A righty heavy lineup makes it more likely he’ll limit overall runs and work deeper into the game because his command is so much better, but the strikeouts are what drive his Fantasy value since the Rays cap his innings. The price point mitigates some of the risk here and on multiple SP sites, we think Karns is a fine option to pair with one of the elite arms. The Rays are a solid favorite (-155) in a game with a total of 7.5.
Charlie Morton (PIT) – Morton doesn’t possess the strikeout upside of Karns but he carries similar probability of strong run prevention (Marlins implied run total is 3.5) and a strong win probability (-160). Morton has severe splits (.374 wOBA allowed to LHBs, .296 wOBA allowed to RHBs in his career) so the type of lineup matters significantly. The Marlins generally have four LHBs (Gordon, Ichiro, Bour, and Dietrich) but they’re all bunched towards the top of the lineup. It presents some variance for Morton. If he can get through the top of the order, he should dominate the bottom half. He’s very cheap and while the upside isn’t immense, I think he’s a strong tournament play simply due to the salary relief his tag offers.
Additional Starting Pitcher Notes: Josh Tomlin (CLE) is a cheaper and more volatile Charlie Morton. The Brewers offense is severely depleted and the move to the American League park won’t significantly impact them (adding Jason Rogers as DH). Tomlin is a league average back-end starter, but the matchup and price tag make him viable in tournaments. Mike Montgomery (SEA) is in this same boat, but a bit pricier and a bit less skilled. If Carlos Gonzalez is out, I’d consider Mike Foltynewicz (ATL) an interesting tournament option as well. Foltynewicz has flashed an above average K Rate but is really homer prone and struggles with LHBs. Remove Carlos Gonzalez from the Rockies lineup and replace him with Matt McBride and it’s a significant step back. James Shields (SD) and Dallas Keuchel (HOU) are the higher end tournament options. I think they’ll both come with low ownership.
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) Toronto Blue Jays
2) New York Mets
3) Los Angeles Dodgers
4) Pittsburgh Pirates
These are the four offenses I find myself gravitating towards in cash games. The Blue Jays and Mets have the two highest implied run totals with the Pirates and Dodgers a bit further behind but offering better price points to attack.
1) Los Angeles Angels
2) Cleveland Indians
3) St. Louis Cardinals
These three offenses each lack much in the way of cash game consideration, but their overall matchups are strong. The Angels are my favorite from this group. They’re a skilled offense getting a slight park upgrade and the Tigers bullpen is incredibly weak. Calhoun, Trout, and Pujols are a nice foundation for a mini-stack.
The Indians load up on LHBs and Wily Peralta has really struggled with lefties. A good Brewers bullpen behind Peralta limits the upside a bit but Kipnis and Santana are solid individual values and you can throw in Brantley/Chisenhall while keeping the price points reasonable enough to afford some top end pitching and one other big bat.
The Cardinals get a big park shift in their favor and are very cheap. You can stack or mini-stack and get exposure to thin positions (Molina, Peralta) while supplementing them with values. I think they’re best in a mini-stack.
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.
HOU at NYY 7:05: Dry. Temps near 80 falling into the lower 70s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind west-northwest 4-8 mph becoming nearly calm. The wind blows out to right early in the game. The wind is a 5 becoming a 4.
SD at WSH 7:05: Dry. Temps near 80 falling into the low to mid 70s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind northwest 5-10 mph lessening to 3-6 mph. The wind blows in from left. The wind is a 4.
NYM at PHL 7:05: Dry. Temps in the low 80s falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind northwest 7-14 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 4.
LAA at DET 7:08: Dry. Temps in the upper 60s falling into the lower 60s. Air density is a 5 becoming a 4. Wind west 7-14 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6.
MIL at CLE 7:10: Dry. Temps in the mid-60s falling into the upper 50s. Air density is a 5 becoming a 4. Wind west 6-12 mph becoming southwest 5-10 mph which blows from left to right and then out to right. The wind is a 5 becoming a 6.
COL at ATL 7:10: Dry. Temps in the upper 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 6 or a 7 becoming a 5 or a 6. Wind northwest 9-18 mph lessening to 6-12 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
LAD at CIN 7:10: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 60s falling to near 60. Air density is a 5 becoming a 4. Wind northwest 4-8 mph becoming nearly calm. The wind blows out to center early. The wind is a 6 becoming a 5.
PIT at MIA 7:10: The retractable roof will likely be closed.
MIN at TB 7:10: Dome.
TOR at TEX 8:05: A 10% chance of a widely scattered thunderstorm causing a delay. Temps near 90 falling to near 80. Air density is an 8. Wind northeast 7-14 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
BOS at CHW 8:10: Dry. Temps near 70 falling into the low to mid 60s. Air density is a 5 becoming a 4. Wind northwest 6-12 mph lessening 3-6 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
BLT at KC 8:10: Dry. Temps in the upper 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind northeast 4-8 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
STL at AZ 9:40: Retractable roof. A 30% coverage of thunderstorms around and with temps near 100, the roof will likely be closed.
OAK at SEA 10:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the mid-70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind northwest becoming north at 6-12 mph which blows from left to right and then in from center. The wind is a 5 becoming a 4.
CHC at SF 10:15: Dry. Temps near 70 falling into the low 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west-northwest 10-20 mph lessening to 8-16 mph which blows out to right-center. The wind is an 8 becoming a 7.