Daily Fantasy Rundown – August 27 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Thursday’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 concerns.
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.
Catcher notes: The catcher position is barren this evening and the only catcher that I consider a primary value is Geovany Soto (CWS). He won’t have the benefit of a good lineup spot but that’s the case with every catcher on this slate. In 169 PAs this season, Soto has accumulated a .354 wOBA/.215 ISO. His power will likely regress some (22 percent HR/FB rate this season; 14 percent HR/FB rate over his career) but the White Sox have the highest team total on this slate (between 4.5 and 5 runs). He’s the best cash game option on this slate relative to his price and contextual factors (platoon edge at home against Seattle’s Roenis Elias). Travis d’Arnaud (NYM) is actually the top play at the catcher position but he’s priced wildly around the industry (still priced from a trip to Coors Field on DraftKings). Aaron Harang isn’t any good and the Mets have a team total of 4.5 runs, which makes d’Arnaud a viable tournament option. Yadier Molina (STL) doesn’t have a good matchup vs. Rubby De La Rosa but he has a top six spot for a Cardinals offense that has a team total approaching 4.5 runs. Molina is a decent secondary target.
Jose Abreu (CWS) – Abreu is the number one ranked hitter on this slate and first base doesn’t have any sort of depth. I’m paying up for him in cash games for two reasons: 1) There’s a large gap between Abreu and the rest of his peers at his position and 2) his skills are the reason why there’s a gap on a short slate (.392 wOBA/.232 ISO vs. LHP in 273 PAs). His matchup/hitting environment are favorable (Roenis Elias has allowed a .324 wOBA/1.10 HR per 9) and Vegas has taken notice (White Sox have a team total approaching five runs, which is the highest on this slate). Abreu is a core play for cash games, which isn’t surprising on a six game slate with limited offensive options.
Additional first base notes: If you’re not paying for Jose Abreu in cash games, it makes sense to punt the position altogether. Darin Ruf (PHI) is minimum priced around the industry and he will have the platoon edge/a top five spot for the Phillies offense this evening. He’s not much of a hitter but he does have solid pop vs. LHP (.174 ISO in 388 PAs vs. LHP) and he’s the best punt option available relative to his price. Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) is one of the best hitters in baseball and on a short slate, he will always be considered for tournaments at the very least (regardless of the matchup). Opposing pitcher Carlos Martinez is a good pitcher (particularly vs. RHBs) and the Cardinals have one of the best bullpens in baseball, which makes Goldschmidt a tournament only option at his current price.
Daniel Murphy (NYM)/Logan Forsythe (TB) – While Murphy rates a bit ahead of Forsythe in our model, I’m willing to let price dictate my decisions here. Both are skilled hitters when they have the platoon edge and they’ve made similar adjustments this season, which have led to more power. Murphy has cut his K rate by around four percent, is generating a bit more loft than usual and is hitting the ball a little harder. Forsythe has also cut down the Ks (by around four percent) and he’s generating more loft (41 percent FB rate this season compared to 37 percent over the course of his career). Not surprisingly, their power has taken a step forward (both own a .152 ISO this season). They also have similar matchups against homer prone pitchers. Forsythe is the obvious cash game choice on FanDuel ($3,300 on that site and Murphy is $4,200) but Murphy is the better option on sites where they’re priced similarly (DraftKings).
Additional second base notes: Brian Dozier (MIN) is a good hitter vs. LHP and we love his power (.224 ISO). Drew Smyly is a good pitcher but it’s a short slate so I don’t mind taking some tournament shots with Twins RHBs in order to be a bit contrarian. If Wilmer Flores (NYM) has a top six spot in the Mets offense, he would emerge as a solid secondary target on DraftKings ($3,300). Teammate Kelly Johnson has second base eligibility on FanDuel and will have the platoon edge against Aaron Harang. He usually hits no worse than sixth when he’s in the lineup, which makes him a fine target on FanDuel ($2,400) if you can’t pay for Forsythe.
Alexei Ramirez (CWS) – Ramirez is the consensus play at shortstop around the industry. He’s priced below the average cost of a hitter on most sites and even though he’s not an above average hitter (.311 wOBA vs. LHP), the contextual factors are favorable (should obtain a top six spot and the White Sox have the highest team total on this slate). Ramirez is the only shortstop on this slate that ranks inside our top 40 hitters.
Additional shortstop notes: Jung-ho Kang (PIT) is a good hitter vs. LHP but I’d only consider him for cash games on sites where he’s priced adequately (DraftKings). Justin Nicolino doesn’t miss any bats and he wasn’t very good at the minor league level (this is a favorable matchup for Kang). Asdrubal Cabrera (TB) is a next in line option to Alexei Ramirez on DraftKings. He’s not a very good hitter (like most shortstops at the major league level) but he’s a switch hitter (good for his value)/will have a top five spot in the Rays offense and Tommy Milone is home run prone (1.46 HR per 9 this season). Those are fine contextual factors to pay for as long as the price tag is reasonable.
Evan Longoria (TB) – Longoria isn’t the same hitter he once was. In the last two seasons, his wRC+ has dropped to about a league average measure (107 wRC+). In his prime years, Longoria owned a wRC+ no worse than 130. His power has also dropped immensely (.151 ISO and .148 ISO in the last two seasons; his career ISO is .214). What Longoria continues to do very well is hit LHP (.414 wOBA, .194 ISO this season; .391 wOBA, .234 ISO vs. LHP in the last three seasons). Tommy Milone isn’t any good, particularly vs. RHBs (has allowed a .333 wOBA/1.46 HR per 9 to RHBs since 2012). Longoria is priced below the average cost of a hitter around the industry and he’s close to the minimum price on FanDuel ($2,500), which makes him the best cash game play at third base.
Aramis Ramirez (PIT) – Like Longoria, Ramirez is no longer the hitter he once was. That’s expected at his current age (37 years old and he’s retiring after this season). Still, in the last three seasons, Ramirez has crushed LHP to the tune of .393 wOBA/.273 ISO. He hit the ball much harder in 2012-2014 (around 38 percent hard hit rate) than he is now (29 percent hard hit rate this season) but continues to generate solid loft (42 percent FB rate). In this matchup (Justin Nicolino doesn’t miss bats), Ramirez is in play as long as his price takes into account that he’s not the same quality hitter he once was.
Additional third base notes: Matt Carpenter (STL) is a solid cash game option around the industry. He has a great matchup (Rubby De La Rosa has made major improvements vs. RHBs but he continues to struggle mightily vs. LHBs) in a nice hitting environment (Chase Field). Evan Longoria is much cheaper and he’s in great spot (vs. a home run prone LHP) so I’m hesitant to pay up for Carpenter. Admittedly, Carpenter is a better option for tournaments when taking price into account. Miguel Sano (MIN) and Trevor Plouffe (MIN) are solid tournament options where their prices are reasonable. As I mentioned earlier, we’re not going to pick on Drew Smyly in cash games (he’s a good pitcher) but on a short slate, I don’t mind taking tournament shots with powerful hitters. Jake Lamb (ARI) is tournament worthy on FanDuel ($2,400). He’s close to the minimum price on that site and even though Carlos Martinez is a good pitcher in general, he struggles with LHBs (.347 wOBA allowed to LHBs in the last couple of seasons).
Top Plays: Andrew McCutchen/Starling Marte (PIT) (It’s difficult to pay up for these two in cash games on DraftKings but they crush LHP and Justin Nicolino doesn’t miss bats, which gives them plenty of upside for tournaments; Marte is cash game eligible on FanDuel due to his price)
Next in line:
Jayson Heyward (STL) – If I’m “paying up” for an outfielder in cash games, it’s likely going to end up being Heyward. While he’s not as dominant of a hitter as Andrew McCutchen or Starling Marte when they have the platoon edge, he has that power/speed component that we love in a hitter. Heyward owns a .363 wOBA/.182 ISO and has swiped 20 bases this season. He probably won’t reach 20 home runs (currently has 11 home runs this season), but he’s likely going to hit over 30 doubles. In this particular matchup, Heyward can flash that power. Rubby De La Rosa has given up a .382 wOBA/1.47 HR per 9 to the 588 LHBs he has faced at the major league level. Heyward’s multi-dimensional skill set is worth paying up for this evening.
Curtis Granderson (NYM) – Granderson’s price tag on FanDuel ($3,300) has come back down to earth after a trip to Coors Field and it’s a good time to invest. After having a pedestrian season from an offensive standpoint last season (slugging percentage was down to .388), Granderson has turned his luck around this season. I say luck because that’s what Granderson lacked last season. He was generating more loft last season (47 percent FB rate) but his HR/FB rate was down (10 percent HR/FB rate last season; 15 percent HR/FB rate over the course of his career). His HR/FB rate has normalized once again (16 percent HR/FB rate this season) and he’s having more fortune with batted balls (.301 BABIP this season compared to .265 BABIP last season). His skills are back to where they used to be and he draws a favorable matchup against Aaron Harang tonight (has allowed a .340 wOBA/1.07 HR per 9 to LHBs since 2012).
Brandon Guyer (TB) – Admittedly, Guyer is more of a punt play than a value play. However, the Rays might be shorthanded in the outfield for the time being, as Desmond Jennings could be headed back to the disabled list (re-injured his surgically repaired knee). The lack of depth might keep Guyer in the game even when a RHP is on the mound. Nonetheless, his price accounts for this pinch-hit risk on most sites and we like the matchup against the home run prone Tommy Milone. Guyer is a skilled hitter when he has the platoon edge (.350 wOBA) and he will leadoff for the Rays (team total is hovering between 4 and 4.5 runs).
DraftKings Punt Play:
Trayce Thompson (CWS) – Thompson is $2,600 on DraftKings and he will have the platoon edge/hit fifth vs. Roenis Elias at U.S. Cellular Field. He flashed power at the minor league level (.180 ISO in the minor leagues in the last two seasons) and projections systems are buying it for the most part. ZiPS projects a .180 ISO for Thompson for the rest of this season. It’s a very small sample (25 PAs) but Thompson has ripped the baseball at the major league level (47 percent hard hit rate). While we don’t expect that to continue, it shows that Thompson is capable of hitting the ball pretty hard. That’s good enough for me to invest at his current price point on DraftKings.
Additional outfield notes: Nelson Cruz (SEA) crushes LHP and he’s in a much better environment than Safeco Field (U.S. Cellular). Carlos Rodon misses bats and he’s certainly not a bad pitcher but we don’t mind taking a shot with Cruz in tournaments. Temmate Mark Trumbo also hits LHP well but he usually doesn’t hit in a great lineup spot. I’d invest in tournaments where he’s priced cheaply (FanDuel). Bryce Harper (WSH) is fully priced around the industry but Andrew Cashner isn’t as dominant vs. LHBs. Harper is a good target for tournaments. Ender Inciarte and David Peralta (ARI) are fine tournament targets. Carlos Martinez handles RHBs very well but he continues to struggle with LHBs. On a short slate, it makes some sense to take advantage of this situation in tournaments.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Gerrit Cole (PIT)
2) Joe Ross (WSH)
3) Drew Smyly (TB)
4) Carlos Martinez (STL)
5) Andrew Cashner (SD)
6) Carlos Rodon (CWS)
7) Rubby De La Rosa (ARI)
Gerrit Cole (PIT) – Given the skill set and matchup, Cole belongs in a tier of his own today. He’s striking out a batter per inning (fueled by above average K peripherals) and when he does allow contact, it’s mostly on the ground (50 percent GB rate). His run prevention is great (2.49 ERA/2.72 FIP/3.10 xFIP). These skills should translate very well in this matchup (Marlins are ranked dead last in wRC+ against RHP). Cole is a staple of cash games on FanDuel ($10,000), where he’s not even the most expensive pitcher on the board.
Joe Ross (WSH)/Drew Smyly (TB) – Gerrit Cole is such an elite play on FanDuel that Ross and Smyly are unnecessary for cash games on that particular site. They do make sense on multiple starting pitcher sites, particularly on DraftKings. Cole is almost 13K on that site, which pushes me towards a more balanced approach at the starting pitcher position. Ross and Smyly are striking out around a batter per inning and they’re solid favorites (-155) in their respective matchups. Ross has a better matchup (Padres are ranked 24th in wrC+ and are striking out over 22 percent of the time against RHP) than Smyly (Twins are ranked 16th in wRC+ and are striking out 20 percent of the time against LHP) and his umpire is a bit more favorable. However, Smyly has a chance for his run prevention to be even better moving forward (3.42 ERA but his HR/FB rate is sitting at 19 percent, which should regress to about 10 percent) and he’s already neutralizing batters pretty well (20 percent K-BB%). There’s still a way to force in Gerrit Cole in cash games on DraftKings (by playing Andrew Cashner) but that’s a bit riskier than going the Ross/Smyly route.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Carlos Martinez (STL) is striking out around a batter per inning and he has taken a step forward in the run prevention department but he continues to struggle with LHBs. Additionally, he’s pitching in a bad environment in a matchup against a league average offense. The Diamondbacks have a team toal approaching four runs and the umpire isn’t very favorable for pitchers so I’d rather target Martinez for tournaments at his current price (he’s the most expensive pitcher on FanDuel and second most expensive on DraftKings). Andrew Cashner (SD) is a fine alternative to Joe Ross/Drew Smyly on multiple starting pitcher sites, especially if you’re trying to fit Gerrit Cole. The Nationals have a team total approaching 4.5 runs but that might be a bit too high in this matchup. Cashner has historically dominated RHBs (.265 wOBA/0.38 HR per 9/19 percent K rate vs. RHBs in the last few seasons) and the Nationals are a right-handed heavy offense (usually about seven RHBs). Keep in mind that Cashner has a favorable umpire assignment, which could help him as well. Rubby De La Rosa (ARI) and Carlos Rodon (CWS) are my favorite tournament options on this slate. They can K batters (which is important for upside) and even though they’re not in great environments, they’re facing league average offenses. De La Rosa has dominated RHBs this season and the Cardinals are a heavy right-handed offense (usually about seven RHBs). Rodon has issues with walks (12 percent BB rate) but he’s striking out over a batter per inning (9.62 Ks per 9). I wouldn’t touch them in cash games but they make sense in tournaments on a six game slate.
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) Chicago White Sox (facing Roenis Elias at the Cell; tied for the highest team total on this slate)
2) New York Mets (Aaron Harang is home run prone; team total is approaching five runs, which is tied for the highest on this slate).
1) Tampa Bay Rays (Tommy Milone doesn’t miss many bats and he serves up the long ball; the Rays are the third best offense vs. LHP according to wRC+)
2) St. Louis Cardinals (team total is approaching 4.5 runs; Rubby De La Rosa struggles a ton with LHBs and the Cardinals have a couple that can do damage as a mini-stack)
3) Minnesota Twins (Drew Smyly is a good pitcher but the Twins have some powerful RHBs like Miguel Sano and Brian Dozier that are worthy of tournament consideration)
4) Seattle Mariners (U.S. Cellular Field is a nice hitting environment; I wouldn’t pick much on Rodon but a Cruz/Trumbo mini-stack is fine 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.
SD at WSH 7:05: Dry. Temps in the upper 70s falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind north 6-12 mph lessening to 3-6 mph which blows in from left-center. The wind is a 4.
NYM at PHL 7:05: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling to near 70. Air density is 7 becoming a 6. Wind northwest 5-10 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 4.
PIT at MIA 7:10: The retractable roof will likely be closed.
MIN at TB 7:10: Dome.
SEA at CHW 8:10: Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind southeast 6-12 mph lessening to 4-8 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
STL at AZ 9:40: Retractable roof. A 10-20% coverage of thunderstorms over the central Arizona desert. Temps in the mid 100s falling into the upper 90s. Air density is a 9. Wind west 7-14 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.