Daily Fantasy Rundown – August 28 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Friday’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: Only one game with a potential weather issue is in Chicago and right now it does not look too bad. The two California games will be warmer than normal
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.
Primary Value Play:
Russell Martin (TOR) – The Blue Jays have an implied run total approaching six and no others offenses are within a run of Vegas’ expectations. This creates a unique situation where the goal of your lineup building in cash games is almost entirely centered around fitting in as many Jays as possible. Martin’s price tag varies dramatically around the industry. His skills are elite against LHP (.349 wOBA, .178 ISO since 2012 but .406 wOBA and .228 ISO against LHP in his first year in Toronto) and he often hits fifth or six behind a bunch of great hitters against LHP. On sites, the price is down, he’s our primary target at the position and a Top 30 hitter overall in our model.
Secondary Value Plays:
Yan Gomes (CLE) – Gomes is a similarly effective hitter to Martin against LHP (.354 wOBA, .188 ISO since 2012) but plays in a worse offensive environment and faces a more difficult opposing starter. Andrew Heaney has been effective overall but as we’ve noted, RHBs have really hit him hard (.340 wOBA, 36.7 percent hard hit rate). He’s also very fly ball prone (39.3 percent GB Rate) which makes him vulnerable to power. Gomes should hit fifth against LHP and his price tag is generally affordable around the industry. He’s a secondary target at catcher.
John Jaso (TB) – Jaso has been a staple of our value plays since getting activated from the disabled list. He’s always had wide platoon splits against RHP (.370 wOBA, .171 ISO against RHP since 2012) and generally hits in a favorable lineup spot (leadoff or recently cleanup). He’s in a low scoring environment but Edinson Volquez has allowed a .326 wOBA and 32.6 percent hard hit rate to LHBs. For a cheap price tag, Jaso is a fine semi-punt.
Additional catcher notes: Victor Martinez (DET) is a fine play on FanDuel where he’s just $2,600. He’s struggled from the left side this season but the park shift is strong and the price tag is solid. The decision between Martin and Martinez is a challenging one if Martin hits sixth. Jesus Montero (SEA) is an acceptable pure punt where catcher eligible. He’s been hitting very low in the lineup but he gets a nice park shift and a favorable matchup against John Danks (.354 wOBA, 1.42 HR/9 allowed to RHBs since 2013). Matt Wieters (BAL) is a fun tournament play. He’s historically hit for power against LHP and has a near minimum price point. The matchup with Cole Hamels will keep his ownership down.
Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) – In Matt Boyd‘s brief MLB experience he’s allowed a .362 wOBA, 34.3 percent hard hit rate, and 54.4 percent fly ball rate against RHBs. It’s a dangerous combination against an elite Jays’ offense against LHP. Encarnacion has posted a .394 wOBA and .263 ISO against LHP since 2012. There is an elite first base value that makes Edwin more of a secondary target in cash games, but he does represent our top option at the position. Edwin ranks inside our Top 10 overall hitters.
Next in line: Jose Abreu (CHW) and Miguel Cabrera (DET)
Prince Fielder (TEX) – Fielder’s price tag is severely depressed around the industry and he’s facing an average RHP at home. Kevin Gausman has allowed a .309 wOBA and 30.6 percent hard hit rate to LHBs. His performance has been above average but his peripherals suggest he’s pretty neutral against LHBs (expected wOBA in the .320-.330 range). Fielder owns a .383 wOBA and .187 ISO against RHP since 2012. He’s a Top 30 hitter in our model but priced like an average hitter on most sites.
Additional first base notes: Ryan Zimmerman (WAS) could emerge as a solid alternative to Fielder if he lands a spot in the top five. Yunel Escobar left last night early so I’m hopeful Zimmerman could get bumped to the cleanup spot. If that’s the case, we’d consider him a strong value. Adam Conley has allowed a .327 wOBA to RHBs in his brief career, but profiles far worse. Zimmerman owns a .363 wOBA and .212 ISO against LHP since 2012. He’s a Top 25 hitter in our model before adjusting for lineup position. Mitch Moreland (TEX) and Victor Martinez (DET) are acceptable pivots with discounted price points. Carlos Santana (CLE) is priced fairly but is in a slightly lower run scoring environment. He’s more of a secondary value play.
Anthony Rendon/Danny Espinosa (WAS) – We’re speculating a bit on Espinosa given Yunel Escobar left last night early. His situation is highly dependent on Escobar’s availability and his DFS value is significantly tied to his lineup spot. Both Rendon (.356 wOBA, .148 ISO) and Espinosa (.333 wOBA, .161 ISO) are above average hitters against LHP and we expect Adam Conley to struggle against a Nationals lineup that profiles above average against LHP. Vegas has an implied run total of 4.5 runs for the Nationals. Second base is a position to take a break from the Blue Jays and find some value. We believe the Nationals options present the best targets.
Additional second base notes: Darnell Sweeney (PHI) is priced as a punt play on DraftKings ($2,000) and he represents an effective way to get salary relief in order to afford more Toronto bats. Ian Kennedy has really struggled with LHBs (.347 wOBA, 37 percent hard hit rate allowed this season) and Sweeney has hit lead off against RHP of late. Leadoff hitters with minimum price tags at thin positions are always strong plays on sites that don’t deduct points for outs. Sweeney qualifies here. Robinson Cano (SEA) is a fun tournament play as a part of a Mariners stack or mini-stack. Danks doesn’t dominate LHBs like most lefties (.319 wOBA, 1.17 HR/9 allowed) and the park shift is significant for the Mariners.
Troy Tulowitzki (TOR) – Tulowitzki is a Top Five hitter overall in our model and he has one of the most reasonable price tags of any of the Blue Jays bats. The shortstop position is thin and I’m struggling to find another alternative I’d even consider against Tulowitzki. I think he’s the strongest building block in cash game lineups. He owns a .416 wOBA and .240 ISO against LHP since 2012 and hits leadoff for a team with an implied run total of 5.7 runs. He has the highest probability of accumulating a fifth plate appearance of anyone in action tonight. Play him in cash games.
Additional shortstop notes: Ian Desmond (WAS) is the other shortstop option that rates well in our model. His lineup spot varies but he could slide into a premier slot if Escobar is held out. I consider him more of a tournament option with Tulowitzki the focus in cash games. Ketel Marte (SEA) would be a viable alternative if he was cheaper. The elevated price tag is too close to Tulowitzki to consider in cash games but he’s a fine pivot in tournaments along with additional Mariners exposure. Wilmer Flores (NYM) and Jimmy Rollins (CHC) are acceptable secondary tournament targets.
Josh Donaldson (TOR) – Donaldson is the top option at third base and a Top Five overall hitter in our model. He destroys LHP (.421 wOBA, .308 ISO since 2012) and has made big strides against RHP this season (.383 wOBA, .256 ISO) to help hold his value when the game gets in the bullpen. His price tag is difficult to swallow on most sites in cash games, but third base doesn’t have much depth in terms of elite values. I’m far more likely to utilize Donaldson in tournaments than cash games, but on softer pricing sites Donaldson has some appeal due to a lack of depth at third base.
Next in line: David Wright (NYM) – If you can find a discounted tag, he’s a strong play. The home run in his return from the DL seems to have inflated his tag around the industry.
Adrian Beltre (TEX) – Gausman hasn’t shown wide platoon splits and Beltre’s historical success against right handed pitching (.367 wOBA, .192 ISO since 2012) make him a fine alternative to Donaldson. He isn’t particularly cheap, but he provides exposure to the Rangers offense at a reasonable price point. He’s our third ranked third baseman and a Top 40 overall hitter.
Additional third base notes: The rest of the position is really site dependent. If the Nationals options we like at second base (Rendon, Espinosa) carry third base eligibility, they represent fine options at third base as well. If Chase Headley (NYY) gets a favorable lineup spot with Alex Rodriguez unlikely available in a National League park, he’d represent a solid value. I don’t mind taking a shot on Todd Frazier (CIN) where the price is severely depressed like FanDuel. We like Kyle Seager (SEA) in tournaments as his improvements against LHP coupled with a strong park shift make him intriguing. Third base is a position that we’ll likely hit with more clarity in our alerts.
Jose Bautista (TOR) – Another position, another Blue Jay. Bautista’s skills hold against RHP (.383 wOBA, .259 ISO) so he never loses value when the game gets into the bullpen and he hits LHP very well (.383 wOBA, .249 ISO). We’ve touched on Matt Boyd‘s challenges and he’s backed up by one of the worst bullpens in all of baseball. Of all the Jays bats, Bautista is the one that ranks highest in our model, but he’s also at the position that is most replaceable. I’d rank the Jays in terms of likelihood in my lineups as: 1) Tulowitzki 2) Bautista 3) Donaldson and 4) Encarnacion. Russell Martin would float between two and five in that list based on his price point on sites.
Nelson Cruz (SEA) – Cruz is the only non-Blue Jay inside our Top Five overall hitters. He gets a huge park shift in his favor and is facing a below average lefty in John Danks. Cruz has always hit LHP exceptionally well (.423 wOBA, .269 ISO since 2012) and Danks is very vulnerable to RHBs (.354 wOBA, 1.42 HR/9 since 2013). Cruz is a great pivot from Bautista in tournaments and a viable alternative in cash games where cheaper.
Jayson Werth (WAS) – Werth is our favorite outfield value play. He’s historically hit LHP very well (.401 wOBA, .215 ISO) and should hit leadoff with Denard Span sidelined. We expect Adam Conley to struggle against RHBs and the Marlins bullpen behind him is very weak. The Nationals are one of our favorite offenses to target and Werth is a good way to get cheap exposure.
Shin Soo Choo/Mitch Moreland (TEX) – Choo has compiled a .390 wOBA and .196 ISO against RHP since 2012. His promotion to the second spot in the lineup is really important for his DFS value as it gets him more plate appearances and positions him in front of Fielder and Beltre. He’s a Top 25 hitter in our model. Moreland is a bit further behind Choo in our rankings (10-15 spots). He’s not as strong against RHP (.339 wOBA, .202 ISO) and hits a bit further down, but it’s a good scoring environment and the price tag in a few places is cheap enough to invest.
Chris Colabello (TOR) – He isn’t particularly cheap but he’s another Blue Jays RHB that profiles well this evening. Colablello hasn’t historically been a good hitter against LHP but this season he’s hit .324/.377/.563 (.404 wOBA, .239 ISO) and the batted ball rates (35.3 percent hard hit) support the great performance. He typically gets to hit fifth and is another way to get exposure to the Jays offense.
Ryan Raburn (CLE) – Raburn typically hits in the middle of the lineup against LHP and he costs near the minimum on most sites. We’ve touched on the extreme amount of hard contact Andrew Heaney has allowed to RHBs and Raburn owns a solid .194 ISO against LHP since 2012 to go with an adequate .331 wOBA. Raburn is a cheap source of power upside against an extreme fly ball pitcher.
Additional outfield notes: Mike Trout (LAA) is mis-priced on DraftKings and his matchup improves considerably with Trevor Bauer starting instead of Danny Salazar. Trout is perpetually inside our Top 10 and that price tag is very intriguing ($4,300). If Austin Jackson (SEA) continues to hit second against LHP, he’s a fine salary relief option on FanDuel ($2,500) where there are surprisingly few pure outfield values. Brett Gardner (NYY) and Jacoby Ellsbury (NYY) are secondary value targets. The matchup with Williams Perez is a good one and the Braves bullpen behind him is weak. We’d like to see Pierzynski behind the plate to improve their stolen base opportunities. The key with the Yankees outfielders is hunting price points. They’re both investable on FanDuel or any site they’re priced like an average hitting option.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
2) Max Scherzer (WAS)
3) Francisco Liriano (PIT)
4) Matt Harvey (NYM)
5) Masahiro Tanaka (NYY)
6) Danny Salazar (CLE) – scratched
7) Michael Wacha (STL)
8) Ian Kennedy (SD)
9) Jason Hammel (CHC)
10) Sonny Gray (OAK)
11) Raisel Iglesias (CIN)
12) Cole Hamels (TEX)
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) – For the last two months, we’ve shifted the focus on Kershaw’s skill set to his price tag. Early in the season when he was priced similar to other elite starters, he was actually underpriced and we recommended attacking repeatedly. Now that he’s priced well above all the other starters, it’s more of a decision. Tonight, I feel the decision is rather easy. The matchup is favorable against a Cubs lineup that ranks 22nd in wRC+ against LHP with a league leading 25.7 K Rate, but utilizing Kershaw comes with severe opportunity cost on the offensive side. With a plethora of other elite options, we believe you can get 85 percent of Kershaw’s production with other elite starters and still get exposure to the top offenses. Kershaw is in a tier of his own with his skill set (32.4 percent K Rate, 52.6 GB Rate, 2.12 xFIP) but with his price tag in that same tier, we believe he’s a secondary target in cash games.
Next in line:
Max Scherzer (WAS) – Scherzer has a similarly friendly matchup against a hapless Marlins offense that ranks dead last in wRC+ against RHP. Scherzer has scuffled of late but his velocity has actually climbed slightly and the strikeout rates have been fine. We’re not concerned about the recent performance. Vegas has Scherzer as the heaviest favorite (-290) in a game with a total of just seven, and we have him projected for the second highest K Rate of the evening. He’s a slightly stronger option than Kershaw in cash games due to the price tag, but like Kershaw, we feel there are other options you can attack and maintain financial flexibility for your offense.
Francisco Liriano (PIT) – Liriano is the primary reason we feel comfortable fading Kershaw and/or Scherzer in plus matchups. Liriano comes 10-30 percent cheaper than the other two studs and his projection isn’t as far behind. Liriano faces a Rockies offense that ranks dead last in wRC+ against LHP and possess the third highest K Rate (23.4 percent) in the league against lefties. They only have one plus hitter from the right side (Arenado) and their next two best hitters (Gonzalez and Blackmon) are both left handed. Liriano has held lefties to a .246 wOBA since 2013. Liriano is the second heaviest favorite (-280) in a game with a total of just seven and has our third highest projected K Rate. With a price tag well below Kershaw and Scherzer, we feel Liriano is your best target in cash games.
Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) – Tanaka is priced right around Liriano but grades out slightly below. He gets a huge park shift in his favor and moves to the National League without having to face the DH. On top of all that, the Braves rank 28th in wRC+ against RHP. The one knock on Tanaka and the matchup is the strikeouts. Tanaka’s K Rate has dropped to 22.5 percent this season (26 percent in his rookie year) and the Braves strike out at just a 17.8 percent clip against RHP. As a result, Tanaka has one of the lighter expected K Rates of all the top end starters, but the run prevention probabilities are strong. We feel strongly that Liriano is your top target, but Tanaka is an acceptable secondary target in cash games.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Pitching tonight is very binary. There are few true “value plays” that stand out in the mid-tier. Instead, we’re left with a lot of back-end starters we want to attack with bats and elite pitchers. The goal when constructing a lineup should be to try and get as much exposure to the high end pitching without compromising your ability to fit in high end bats. Raisel Iglesias (CIN) stands out as the best mid-tier option, but he’s better suited for tournaments. Iglesias has been dominant in five August starts (34.9 K Rate, 59.5 GB Rate) but Vegas is hesitant with him on the road against the Brewers. He’s an underdog (+116) and has an implied run total of four runs. We’re a bit more optimistic as Iglesias has simply dominated RHBs all season (.255 wOBA, 36 percent K Rate, and 25 percent hard hit rate) and the Brewers typically run out just two LHBs in the first seven slots in their order. The opportunity cost at pitching is high with all the studs in favorable matchups which is why we believe Iglesias is better suited for tournaments. Ian Kennedy (SD) profiles well in our model against a Phillies offense that ranks 29th in wRC+ and 28th in ISO against RHP. Kennedy’s struggles have been well documented this season. He’s allowed a 34.1 percent hard hit rate which has translated to 1.83 HR/9 allowed despite pitching in spacious PETCO Park. Philadelphia is a tough park adjustment for his homer prone ways. Even though the matchup is above average, the price point isn’t particularly discounted. He’s a secondary tournament target after Iglesias. Taylor Jungmann (MIL) has Vegas on his side but we remain skeptical of his transformation at the big league level. Fangraphs Tony Blengino did an amazing job breaking down Jungmann recently and it hits on most of our question marks. Jungmann, Kennedy, Jason Hammel (CHC) and Aaron Nola (PHI) are the secondary tournament targets we’re interested in this evening. On the high end, Danny Salazar (CLE) will likely go overlooked based on price tag and the other options around him. He’s an elite high end tournament play. UPDATE: Danny Salazar has been scratched and Trevor Bauer (CLE) will start in his place.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have suggestions.
Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:
1) Toronto Blue Jays
2) Washington Nationals
3) Texas Rangers
These are the three teams we think are best to attack in cash games. The Blue Jays are the top overall offense by a wide margin and we’re trying to emphasize exposure wherever we can. The Nationals and Rangers are secondary offenses to target but they have solid value plays at positions that complement the Jays lineup well.
1) Seattle Mariners
2) New York Yankees
3) Houston Astros
4) Detroit Tigers
The Mariners and Yankees have the next highest implied run totals after the Blue Jays but price points make them more difficult to attack in cash games.
Kyle Gibson has historically been very volatile. This season he’s allowed six or more runs in five of his 25 starts (20 percent) and last year in 11 of his 31 starts (35 percent), he allowed five runs or more. The Astros offense is a great one to attack in tournaments. They’re volatile and have a lot of power and speed throughout their lineup. The Twins bullpen behind Gibson is very weak and I think they’ll come with low ownership due to an implied run total hovering around four and a perceived negative park shift (more neutral).
The Tigers get a big park shift in their favor and facing R.A. Dickey who is very volatile. The Jays bullpen behind them is very strong and they’ll likely face the stronger parts of it as they’re heavy underdogs. The environment coupled with the volatility of Dickey make them appealing but the upside is impacted by the likely game situation.
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
MIA at WSH 7:05: Dry. Temps near 80 falling into the low to mid 70s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind south-southeast 4-8 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6.
SD at PHL 7:05: Dry. Temps in the upper 70s falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 6. Wind southwest 5-10 mph lessening to 3-6 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
COL at PIT 7:05: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 70s falling into the mid-60s. Air density is a 6 or a 7 becoming a 5. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.
DET at TOR 7:07: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps near 70 falling into the low 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind south 4-8 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
LAA at CLE 7:10: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 70s falling into the mid-60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.
BOS at NYM 7:10: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.
KC at TB 7:10: Dome.
NYY at ATL 7:35: A 10% chance of a delay due to a thunderstorm. Temps in the low 80s falling into the mid-70s. Air density is a 7. Wind east-northeast 7-14 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.
BLT at TEX 8:05: Dry. Temps in the mid-90s falling into the mid-80s. Air density is a 9 becoming an 8. Wind southeast 7-14 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
SEA at CHW 8:10: Some light rain showers around. Right now, the models I use are showing a big “blob” or thunderstorms pass by well to the north of the city with the ballpark only seeing the extreme southern fringe of it causing these showers. We will have to watch and see if this complex of thunderstorms shifts south during the day and causes problems (I do not think this will happen). Thus, I am not expecting any problems with this game right now. Temps in the low 70s falling into the mid to upper 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind east-southeast 7-14 mph which blows in from left-center. The wind is a 4.
CIN at MIL 8:10: Retractable roof. Rain around, thus the roof will likely be closed.
HOU at MIN 8:10: Dry. Temps in the upper 60s falling into the low to mid 60s. Air density is a 5. Wind southeast 7-14 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows from right to left or in from right at times. The wind is a 4 or a 5.
OAK at AZ 9:40: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the mid-100s falling into the upper 90s. Air density is a 9. Wind west 5-10 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
CHC at LAD 10:10: Dry. Temps near 80 falling into the mid-70s. Air density is a 7. Wind west-southwest 9-18 mph lessening to 6-12 mph which blows out to right. The wind is an 8 becoming a 6.
STL at SF 10:15: Dry. Temps in the upper 70s falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind west-southwest 12-25 mph lessening to 10-20 mph which blows out to right=center. The wind is a 9 becoming an 8.