Daily Fantasy Rundown – August 29 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Saturday’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: Our main concern is Cleveland (Corey Kluber is our top ranked pitcher).
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.
Jonathan Lucroy (MIL)– We have some depth at the catcher position and we’re letting price points dictate our decisions. Jonathan Lucroy ranks as the best catcher in our model (ranks inside our top 15 hitters) despite having a R/R matchup. He’s a fine hitter vs. RHP (.346 wOBA/.160 ISO vs. RHP since 2012) but our model ranks him this highly due to his matchup. Opposing pitcher Keyvius Sampson owns a 5.55 ERA/1.48 HR per 9 through six major league starts and ZiPS thinks he’s even worse (5.91 ERA/1.88 HR per 9 projected for the rest of this season). This makes Lucroy our primary target at catcher but his price point varies around the industry.
Derek Norris (SD) – Norris has historically hit LHP very well (.387 wOBA, .195 ISO since 2012) and faces Adam Morgan (.379 wOBA/2.28 HR per 9) in a friendly hitting environment in Philadelphia. It’s a nice park shift for Norris and the Padres have a healthy 4.2 implied run total.
Matt Wieters (BAL) – Wieters is minimum priced on FanDuel and close to the minimum on DraftDay, where I view him as just as good of an option as our primary targets at the position (after adjusting for price). Wieters is an elite offensive catcher from the right side of the plate (.377 wOBA/.228 ISO) and he draws a plus matchup vs. Martin Perez (.362 wOBA allowed to RHBs this season and he doesn’t miss any bats). Perez keeps the ball on the ground at a very high rate (61 percent GB rate) but he’s due for some power (hasn’t allowed a home run through 37 IP this season). Wieters doesn’t have as friendly of a matchup as our primary targets but his skills are too good to pass up for a minimum priced catcher.
Additional catcher notes: Brian McCann (NYY) is a bit more expensive than the written recommendations above but we love his matchup (Matt Wisler has given up a .464 wOBA/2.76 HR per to 147 LHBs). McCann can hit RHP well (particularly for power) but he’s away from the short porch at Yankee Stadium. If you can afford him, he’s just as viable as the recommended options above. Francisco Cervelli (PIT) has hit LHP well in a smaller sample (156 PAs) and the southpaw he’s facing tonight isn’t good (Chris Rusin owns a .363 wOBA/1.21 HR per 9 vs. RHBs). Cervelli is in a bad environment (PNC Park) and since the catcher position is rather deep on this slate, we would rather target him in tournaments. Stephen Vogt (OAK) is close to the minimum on FanDuel and he will have the platoon edge against Jhoulys Chacin (doesn’t miss any bats) at Chase Field (much better hitting environment than Oakland). He’s a fine choice for tournaments on sites where he’s priced this low.
Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) – Aaron Brooks hasn’t been any good from a run prevention standpoint and ZiPS is skeptical about his Ks; Goldschmidt has been priced ahead of his matchup against Felix Doubront but he has been scratched; A fully priced Goldschmidt only makes sense in tournaments.
Adam Lind (MIL) – Realistically, it’s going to be difficult to fit Paul Goldschmidt in cash games. Thankfully, we have values like Adam Lind and Prince Fielder in nice matchups and their price points are very appealing. We expected Lind to improve his power this season, as he was having back problems last season and was a bit unlucky (7.6 HR/FB rate; six home runs in 318 PAs). His ISO .189 is back to his career levels, thanks to his HR/FB rate normalizing (14.5 HR/FB rate; 14.9 HR/FB rate for his career). We expect power in his matchup vs. Keyvius Sampson (he owns a 1.48 HR per 9 and ZiPS projects a 1.88 HR per 9 moving forward). Lind is priced as an average first baseman on DraftKings and he’s our primary value option in cash games (ranked inside our top 10 hitters).
Prince Fielder (TEX) – Fielder is only $3,000 on FanDuel ($500 cheaper than Lind) and if you’re going with Corey Kluber in cash games, he represents the best value at the position. Fielder’s season was cut short last season (back surgery) and it was evident that injuries were nagging him (.305 wOBA/.113 ISO last season). Fielder is back (.363 wOBA/.157 ISO) and even though his power is not the same it once was, that’s understandable at this stage of his career (he’s 31 years old and had back surgery about a year ago). He continues to hit the ball hard (34 percent hard hit rate) and most importantly, he’s getting on base (.379 OBP). That matters on FanDuel, where there are negative repercussions for hitters that don’t reach base. He draws a fine matchup (Ubaldo Jimenez has given up a .320 wOBA/1.18 HR per 9 to LHBs), which gives us more reason to pick on his cheap price tag on FanDuel. Keep in mind that at similar prices, Lind is the better choice (Lind is cheaper on DraftDay).
Additional first base notes: Joey Votto (CIN) ranks inside our top 15 hitters and he’s a next in line option to Paul Goldschmidt. Matt Garza is no longer the starting pitcher he once was and the problems for him stem from a lack of missing bats (as a result. he’s allowing more power). This is a plus matchup for Votto but we would rather spend on Goldschmidt if paying up for a first baseman in cash games. Votto is an elite tournament option. Greg Bird (NYY) has that matchup we love (Matt Wisler doesn’t miss bats and allows a ton of power) and his price tag is fair on most sites. The best price tag for Bird is on Yahoo (close to the bare minimum), where I view him as a nice target for tournaments. Hisashi Iwakuma‘s velocity was noticeably down during his last two starts (fastball velocity dipped below 88 MPH). He threw 116 and 118 pitches in two consecutive starts before his last two (one of those was a no-hitter performance), which has probably taken a toll physically. He’s in a tough environment for pitchers (U.S. Cellular Field) and that coupled with velocity troubles gives us some confidence in Jose Abreu (CWS) as a tournament option, particularly where his price point is friendly (DraftKings).
Robinson Cano (SEA) – Cano’s price tag varies around the industry but he’s a fun tournament option against Jeff Samardzija at U.S. Cellular Field; Samardzija struggles vs. LHBs and this is a good environment for hitters
Scooter Gennett (MIL) – Gennett is the best value at second base and it’s not particularly close according to our model (secondary values are top 60 options; Gennett is ranked inside our top 20 hitters). Gennett will leadoff for an offense that we view highly today and Vegas agrees (Brewers have an implied run total around 4.6 runs). We don’t want to bore you with the same details but Keyvius Sampson isn’t any good (run prevention is awful and he allows a ton of power). In this environment (Miller Park inflates home runs for LHBs by around 10 percent above the league average) and matchup, we’re confident that Gennett’s skills (.348 wOBA/.161 ISO vs. RHBs) can generate positive DFS results. Gennett is minimum priced on FanDuel, where we feel that he’s a staple of cash games.
Jedd Gyorko (SD) – Gyorko trails Gennett by a decent amount in our model but he comes at a friendlier cost on some sites (particularly on DraftKings). He will have the platoon edge in his matchup against Adam Morgan and Gyorko (.336 wOBA/.171 ISO) has historically hit LHP well. Gyorko has earned premier lineup spots of late and the porous Phillies bullpen also adds to the matchup.
Additional second base notes: Brian Dozier (MIN) has a very friendly price tag on FanDuel. We’re not considering him in cash games in a R/R matchup but his matchup could help his power (Mike Fiers misses bats but he has allowed a 36 percent hard hit rate). Dozier is a good tournament option on any site that has priced him as an average hitter.
Shortstop notes: This section isn’t usually reserved to breakdown an entire position. Unfortunately, that will be the case at the shortstop position on this slate. The position lacks primary values and our model agrees. The only shortstop that’s ranked inside the top 100 hitters in our model is Ian Desmond (MIA). He’s a better hitter vs. LHP but Tom Koehler gets hit hard (35 percent hard hit rate) and Desmond’s main tool as a hitter is power (career .161 ISO). Desmond also has some speed upside (accumulated at least 20 SBs in the last four seasons). The best price tag I’ve seen for Desmond can be found on DraftKings ($3,700). Jed Lowrie (HOU) has shortstop eligibility on some sites. He’s a decent hitter vs. RHP (.330 wOBA/.159 ISO) and Mike Pelfrey doesn’t miss any bats (K rate is under 12 percent). The Astros have a team total of 4.5 runs and Lowrie usually hits third or cleanup for this offense. Targeting that healthy total at the most barren position on this slate is a good approach. Ketel Marte (SEA) has an unfavorable price tag but he’s leading off for the Mariners at U.S. Cellular Field and he has speed upside. That’s good enough to be considered on FanDuel (no negative repercussions for getting caught stealing). Eugenio Suarez (CIN) has a matchup against Matt Garza (home run prone) at Miller Park. He’s priced below the average cost of a hitter on FanDuel, which makes him a solid cash game option.
Manny Machado (BAL) (we’re not interested in paying up for him in cash games but he will have the platoon edge against a pitcher that doesn’t miss bats in a good hitting environment; we’re targeting his power upside in tournaments)
FanDuel Value Play:
Todd Frazier (CIN) – We’re not sure why Frazier is priced below the average cost of a hitter on FanDuel ($2,800) but we’re taking advantage of this in cash games. Frazier is a better hitter vs. LHP but he’s still powerful against RHP (.185 ISO vs. RHP since 2012). Frazier has generated way more power than usual this season (.255 ISO). This is a direct result of the amount of loft he’s generating (47 percent FB rate this season; 41 percent over his career). In a favorable matchup for power purposes (Matt Garza owns a 1.41 HR per 9 this season), Frazier’s upside is enhanced. He’s by far the strongest cash game value at third base on FanDuel.
Additional third base notes: Jedd Gyorko (SD) is our primary cash game target on DraftKings. The salary relief he provides with 2B/3B eligibility allows you to spend on a big outfield bat and get top end starting pitching. Aramis Ramirez (PIT) has historically crushed LHP and he will hit cleanup but he’s 39 years old (no longer the same hitter). His price varies wildly around the industry. Where cheap, he’s a fine way to get exposure to the Pirates offense. On sites like DraftKings, he’s a secondary cash game target. Kyle Seager (SEA) is priced below the average cost of a hitter around the industry. Opposing pitcher Jeff Samardzija struggles with LHBs and U.S. Cellular Field is a nice hitting venue, which makes Seager a solid value. Yangervis Solarte (SD) isn’t a very good hitter but if he’s able to hit at the top of the lineup for the Padres offense, he becomes an acceptable option in tournaments.
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) – McCutchen is ranked as the top hitter in our model. McCutchen has historically performed at an elite rate vs. LHP (.447 wOBA/.258 ISO in the last three seasons) and his matchup against Chris Rusing is exceptional (owns a .363 wOBA/1.21 HR per 9 vs. RHBs). We realize that the environment isn’t great (PNC Park) but Vegas loves the Pirates tonight (implied run total of 4.8 runs) and McCutchen is their best hitter. If spending up for an outfielder on this slate, McCutchen is your best choice. Teammate Startling Marte is an elite hitter vs. LHP as well but he doesn’t maintain those skills vs. RHP (an average hitter vs. righties). He’s a good tournament target (cash game value on FanDuel due to his price) but I’d rather spend on McCutchen in cash games where they’re priced similarly.
Next in line:
Justin Upton (SD)/Ryan Braun (MIL) (I’m more likely to invest in these outfielders on FanDuel since it’s easier to fit them on that site; they’re ranked inside our top 10 hitters)
Khris Davis (MIL) – Another value play section, another Brewer. This has become the routine on today’s analysis and that has a lot to do with their matchup against Keyvious Sampson. In MLB DFS, pitchers that allow power are great to pick on because 1) power generates more Fantasy points and 2) Vegas usually takes notice. Back to that second point, Vegas has pegged the Brewers for an implied run total of 4.6 runs, which confirms what we already believed (this is a great matchup). Davis is a good hitter vs. RHP (.353 wOBA) but his value is attached to his immense power (.236 wOBA). This is a good matchup for his power potential and we view him as the strongest cash game value at the position on sites where he’s priced as an average hitter.
Shin-Soo Choo (TEX) – Choo has historically performed very well vs. RHP (.390 wOBA/.198 ISO) and we like his lineup spot (second) in this Rangers offense. Ubaldo Jimenez is a solid pitcher but he does struggle with LHBs, particularly in the power column. After adjusting for his price (Choo is priced as an average hitter on most sites) and environment (Globe Life Park in Arlington is one of the better hitting venues in baseball), Choo comes out as a strong cash game value.
Additional outfield notes: Bryce Harper (WSH) has been the best hitter in baseball this season and we’re not surprised that his power has taken a major step forward (he’s 22 years old and his prime years are still ahead of him). Tom Koehler has surrendered a 1.57 HR/9 to LHBs this season. Harper is an elite tournament target around the industry and he’s cash game eligible on FanDuel (Luis Severino is too cheap and gives you great flexibility). Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner (NYY) have one of the better matchups on this slate (Matt Wisler struggles with LHBs and he allows a ton of power) but they’re hitting away from Yankee Stadium. They’re fine targets for cash games (depending on price) but admittedly, their best use is likely in tournaments. Teammate Carlos Beltran can also be considered for tournaments. Steve Pearce (BAL) has battled injuries this season and he hasn’t had a strong campaign after posting the best hitting season of his career in 2014. He’s back from the disabled list and hit second last night against a LHP. Pearce has historically performed nicely vs. LHP (.375 wOBA/.230 ISO) and his price point is taking into account a disappointing 2015 season. If Pearce is able to hit second once again, he represents a fine pivot to the recommendations above. Josh Reddick (OAK), Carlos Gomez and Colby Rasmus (HOU) are all fine targets in cash games. Reddick and Gomez are particularly valuable on FanDuel (cheap on that site) while Rasmus is priced below the average cost of a hitter on DraftKings. Jay Bruce (CIN) and Mitch Moreland (TEX) are two hitters with the platoon edge that we like in their respective matchups/environments. Bruce draws the home run prone Matt Garza at Miller Park while Moreland faces Ubaldo Jimenez at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Both are better suited for tournaments.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Corey Kluber (CLE)
2) Jon Lester (CHC)
3) Luis Severino (NYY)
4) Mike Fiers (HOU)
5) Jordan Zimmermann (WSH)
6) Mat Latos (LAD)
7) Garrett Richards (LAA)
8) Jeff Samardzija (CWS)
9) J.A. Happ (PIT)
10) Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA)
Corey Kluber (CLE) – Kluber is the safest source of Fantasy points at the starting pitcher position on this slate. We realize that the matchup isn’t particularly great (Angels are ranked 11th in wRC+ against RHP) but should we ignore Kluber in cash games based on a slightly below average matchup? I don’t believe so. No other starting pitcher on this slate has a higher projected K rate, which stems from his skills. Kluber owns a 28 percent K rate this season and it’s supported by a 13 percent SwStr rate and 37 percent chase rate. Even if the matchup won’t help his run prevention, keep in mind that Kluber’s own run prevention should be better moving forward (3.43 ERA/2.73 FIP/2.92 xFIP). On FanDuel, Luis Severino is mispriced and he’s a tough fade (allows you to invest in high priced hitters without having to forego any safety at the position). However, On DraftKings, Kluber feels like a staple of cash games. He’s the most expensive pitcher but he also offers the highest floor/upside.
DraftKings Value Play:
Mat Latos (LAD) – On DraftKings, Corey Kluber is almost $13,000 but starting pitchers are priced a bit aggressively on that site (Jon Lester, Luis Severino, Mike Fiers and Hisashi Iwakuma are 10K or more). This creates a need for a lower priced starting pitcher. Enter Mat Latos. He’s $7,300 on DraftKings and has a matchup against the team that leads the majors in strikeouts (Cubs own 24 percent K rate). This rates as a favorable matchup for Latos from a wRC+ perspective too. The Cubs are ranked 20th in wRC+ against RHP. Matchup aside, Latos is a solid pitcher (20 percent K rate is league average and his BB rate is above average) and his FIP (3.54) and xFIP (3.68) are over a full run lower than his actual ERA (4.81). That likely has something to do with an unlucky strand rate (63 percent LOB rate; league average is 72 percent). Latos is the best complement to Kluber on DraftKings since he allows you to keep financial flexibility on the hitting side.
FanDuel Value Play:
Luis Severino (NYY) – At $5,300 on FanDuel, Severino is simply mispriced. It’s the only site around the industry that has priced Severino as a high-priced hitter. We usually go the safe route with a pitcher like Kluber (he’s the best pitcher on this slate and he’s at home) but Severino is $6,400 cheaper on FanDuel. He’s on the road but Vegas is clearly on his side (-200) and according to co-writer Mike Leone’s research (link Mike’s article), this is significant for a pitcher’s probability of obtaining a Win. In a rather small sample (four starts), Severino has been impressive on several fronts. His run prevention has been strong (2.70 ERA) and that’s likely a result of yielding much softer contact (36 percent soft hit rate) than the harder kind (23 percent hard hit rate). He’s striking out over a batter per inning but he’s having issues getting ahead of batters (55 percent F-Strike rate) and he’s not generating enough swings and misses (8.5 SwStr rate; league average is 9.8 percent). I remain skeptical when it comes to his K skills and this matchup won’t help there (Braves are only striking out 17.8 percent of the time vs. RHP). However, that same matchup should give him a high probability of obtaining strong results from a run prevention standpoint (Braves are ranked 28th in wRC+ against RHP). He’s a great play on a FanDuel which allows you access to high end bats.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Jon Lester (CHC) is the next in line option to Corey Kluber. Lester is in a difficult matchup (facing the Dodgers) and he’s not discounted. He’s a better target for tournaments. Mike Fiers (HOU) is coming off the best performance of his career (threw a no-hitter against the Dodgers) but he was spent (134 pitches). The Astros awarded him with an extra day of rest and he hasn’t pitched in seven days. Fiers is striking out over a batter per inning and we love the matchup (Twins are ranked 25th in wRC+ and are striking out 21.4 percent of the time vs. RHP) but we remain a bit worried about his schedule being thrown off. I won’t use him in cash games but he’s my favorite tournament target on this slate. Jordan Zimmermann (WSH) has a pretty decent floor thanks to a phenomenal matchup (Marlins are ranked dead last in wRC+ against RHP) and solid run prevention skills but he doesn’t offer much upside (doesn’t miss many bats). He’s a fine secondary target. Similarly to Zimmermann, Garrett Richards (LAA) is solid from a run prevention standpoint but he doesn’t K many batters (19 percent K rate is below league average). His matchup is much worse than Zimmerman’s (Indians are ranked inside the top 10 in wRC+ against RHP), which pushes him away from cash game consideration. He should only be utilized in tournaments.
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) Milwaukee Brewers (facing Keyvius Sampson at home; like the Diamondbacks, their team total is approaching five runs)
2) Pittsburgh Pirates (Chris Rusin isn’t any good and the Pirates have some RHBs that can hurt him)
1) New York Yankees (Wisler struggles mightily against LHBs and the Braves bullpen behind him is one of the weaker units in all of baseball)
2) Arizona Diamondbacks (Despite the pitching change to RHP Aaron Brooks, the Diamondbacks have the highest implied run total on the slate. Prices are exceptionally difficult to attack in cash games, but they remain a strong tournament offense)
3) Texas Rangers (Ubaldo Jimenez struggles with LHBs and the Rangers have a heavy LH lineup)
4) San Diego Padres (Adam Morgan allows power and his run prevention is awful; Citizens Bank Park is a much better hitting venue than Petco Park)
5) Cincinnati Reds (Matt Garza doesn’t miss bats anymore and he’s allowing a ton of home runs as a result)
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 in the low 80s falling into the mid to upper 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind south 7-14 mph which blows out to left-center. The wind is a 6.
SD at PHL 7:05: Dry. Temps in the mid 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind almost calm. The wind is a 5.
COL at PIT 7:05: Showers and thunderstorms will not affect the southwestern Pennsylvania region until after 10-11 PM. Thus, they should have no problem getting this game in. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.
SEA at CHW 7:10: Widely scattered showers and thunderstorms. A 10% chance of a delay, no chance of a ppd. Temps in the low 70s falling into the mid to upper 60s. Air density is a 7. Wind east 4-8 mph which blows in from left-center. The wind is a 4.
LAA at CLE 7:10: More numerous showers and thunderstorms than the CHW game are around all game long. Even though this rain in more numerous, it is not a steady shield of rain nor is it overwhelmingly heavy rain. Thus, while there is a 30 to maybe 40% chance of a delay at anytime, it seems to me that it is highly unlikely that it will be ppd (<10%). Temps in the mid 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 7. Wind south 4-8 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
CIN at MIL 7:10: Retractable roof. A few widely scattered showers/sprinkles. Temps in the mid 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind east-southeast 4-8 mph becoming nearly calm. The wind blows in from left. The wind is a 4.
HOU at MIN 7:10: Dry. Temps in the mid 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind southeast 4-8 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.
NYY at ATL 7:10: A few widely scattered thunderstorms. A steadier shield of rain and thunder is forecast to be about 100 miles to their south so I will have to watch where that band sets up. As it looks right now, a 10-20% chance of a delay at basically anytime during the game with very little or no ppd threat. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling in to the low to mid 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind east 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 south 5-10 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.
OAK at AZ 8:10: Retractable roof. A 10% chance of a thunderstorm. Temps in the mid to upper 100s falling to near 100. Air density is a 9. Wind west-southwest 5-10 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
CHC at LAD 9:10: Dry. Temps near 80 falling into the mid 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind west-southwest 9-18 mph lessening to 7-14 mph which blows out to right. The wind is an 8 becoming a 6.