Daily Fantasy Rundown – August 30 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Sunday’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: The only game to watch for a possible delay is in ATL and even there they will likely have a several hour window of dry weather in which they can play.
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) – John Lamb is an interesting pitcher to try and pick on. He’s got swing and miss stuff (27.1 percent K Rate against RHBs in a small big league sample) but he’s also very fly ball prone (46 percent) and it allows home run upside in small parks like Milwaukee. Lucroy has hit LHP well in recent years (.340 wOBA, .155 ISO since 2012) and he garners a favorable lineup spot. Catchers always carry a risk on Sundays and Lucroy’s last off day was on the 20th. He rates as the top catcher in our model and a Top 25 hitter overall, but price tag makes him more of a tournament option.
Russell Martin (TOR) – Martin got consecutive days off on Thursday and Friday and the Jays optioned down Josh Thole so I think he’s likely to play on Sunday. The Blue Jays once again have an implied run total approaching six runs which makes them an emphasis in cash games. Martin is an above average hitter for a catcher even against same handed pitching (.327 wOBA, .164 ISO since 2012). While Alfredo Simon has been tough on RHBs (.279 wOBA), he’s backed up by the worst bullpen in baseball and has historically struggled late in the season. In his career, Simon has a first half ERA of 3.49 and a second half ERA of 4.73. Martin is an affordable way to get exposure to the Jays offense and it comes at a position without a ton of opportunity cost.
Matt Wieters (BAL) – Wieters owns a .377 wOBA and .228 ISO against LHP since 2012. His peripherals this season have been all out of whack (career worst K Rate, chase rate, contact rate, and swinging strike rate) but his price point is now hovering around the minimum. He got the night off on Saturday so I think there is a high likelihood he starts on Sunday. He almost always hits fifth which is a favorable spot and he’ll face Derek Holland who has allowed a 32.3 percent hard hit rate to RHBs. At a punt price, we’re willing to take a shot on Wieters’ history of success against LHP flashing in a plus hitting environment.
Additional catcher notes: Victor Martinez (DET) is a fine play on FanDuel where he’s just $2,600. He gets to hit from his favored side and the Tigers as a whole are much more potent against LHP. He ranks almost identically to Russell Martin in our FanDuel models. Brian McCann (NYY) is a fine secondary target if he’s in the lineup. We’re expecting he’ll rest after catching consecutive games but the matchup with homer prone Julio Teheran (.340 wOBA, 1.31 HR/9 to LHBs since 2013) is a fine one to target McCann’s power. Josh Phegley (OAK) doesn’t rate as well as all these other options in our model but he’s earned premier lineup spot against LHP. A big park shift and a favorable matchup with Robbie Ray (incredible 39.7 hard hit rate allowed to RHBs) earns him consideration in tournaments. The Pirates have a healthy implied run total (approaching five) which makes Francisco Cervelli (PIT) an acceptable target as a part of a Pirates stack or mini-stack.
Our model is loaded with elite first baseman inside the Top 10. So many of them have plus matchups that it’s easier to tackle in notes as opposed to individual recommendations. In general, this group is better used in tournaments as a part of stacks or mini-stacks, or as a solo power filler. Jose Abreu (CHW), Joey Votto (CIN), Edwin Encarnacion (TOR), Miguel Cabrera (DET), and Paul Goldschmidt (ARZ) are the five first baseman that rank inside our Top 10 hitters overall. Abreu has the most affordable price point and ranks highest in our model, so if spending (which we don’t recommend) in cash games; he’s likely the best target. Encarnacion is a part of the offense with the highest implied run total, so he’s going to be popular in tournament stacks. Votto is really intriguing given Peralta’s struggles against LHBs (.352 wOBA, 1.34 HR/9 since 2013). The Reds offense lacks depth to qualify as an elite tournament offense, but there is some mini-stack potential where Votto would be useful. Miguel Cabrera is a nice part of a Tigers stack or mini-stack while Goldschmidt is like Votto where he’s best used in a mini-stack or a solo power play.
Prince Fielder (TEX) – Fielder’s price tag is severely depressed around the industry and he’s facing an average RHP at home. Miguel Gonzalez has allowed a .334 wOBA and 1.26 HR/9 to LHBs since 2013. The Rangers have the second highest implied run total of the afternoon (over five runs) and Fielder is just way too cheap. He cracks our Top 15 overall hitters and on most sites he’s trading at the average cost of a hitter. He’s struggled in the second half which is why his price has dropped so severely. This matchup is one that should emphasize that power as Gonzalez is an extreme fly ball pitcher.
Additional first base notes: Justin Smoak (TOR) is not an elite hitter against RHP (.311 wOBA) but he does hit for a bunch of power (.177 ISO) and gets a great lineup spot (typically fifth). He’s a bit boom or bust, but when the power plays the Jays lineup is usually putting runners on in front of him that really aids his Fantasy value. On sites he’s severely discounted from Fielder, he’s a viable value alternative. Victor Martinez (DET) is also a fine secondary value play. As noted in the catcher section, we like the matchup with Buehrle as it comes from Martinez’s stronger side of the plate. Ryan Zimmerman (WAS) is another solid secondary value play. Brad Hand has allowed a .333 wOBA to RHBs as a big leaguer and projection systems think he’s even worse. Zimmerman owns a .362 wOBA and .210 ISO against lefties since 2012 and has been hitting cleanup of late.
Steve Pearce (BAL) – Pearce isn’t second base eligible on all sites, but we really like him as a second base option on Sunday. Pearce owns a .375 wOBA and .230 ISO against LHP since 2012. He’s hit second and fifth the last few games against LHP and either spot is fine on the road in a high scoring environment. Derek Holland is vulnerable to RH power (1.42 HR/9 allowed to RHBs in his career) and the Orioles have an implied run total over 4.5 runs. Our model loves Pearce (Top 20 option) but his production hasn’t met expectations this year (specifically the power). At depressed price points and especially wherever he has second base eligibility, we like taking a chance on the power rebounding.
Anthony Rendon (WAS) – Rendon owns a .356 wOBA and .146 ISO against LHP as a big leaguer. The matchup with Brad Hand is a favorable one and the Nationals offense is aided by a difficult home plate umpire for starting pitchers. The Nationals implied run total is just shy of 4.5 runs, but they have a few spare parts we really like against LHP. Rendon is one of them and he plays at a pretty thin position overall. Teammate Danny Espinosa (WAS) would also represent a value play (.330 wOBA, .160 ISO) if he landed in a good lineup spot.
Additional second base notes: Jose Altuve (HOU) and Ian Kinsler (DET) look like the two best tournament plays. Altuve’s price is a bit softer relative to his expected production, so we like him more individually. We also like the Astros as a whole a bit more, so we’ll lean towards Altuve as the better option.
Troy Tulowitzki (TOR) – Tulowitzki is a Top Ten 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 Tulowitzki is one of the best ways to get exposure to the Blue Jays implied run total approaching six. We’ve touched on Alfredo Simon‘s late season struggles and Tulowitzki owns a .378 wOBA and .202 ISO against RHP since 2012. Leadoff hitter for the best offense to target at the thinnest position makes sense as one of your primary spends in cash game lineup construction.
Ian Desmond (WAS) – Desmond has been hitting fifth against LHP of late and he’s the only other shortstop that cracks our Top 40 overall hitters. He’s hit for power against LHP (.175 ISO) and posted a solid .335 wOBA since 2012. The challenge with Desmond is his price tag has inched up close enough to Tulowitzki that there isn’t a big separation in price. Meanwhile, Tulowitzki is 25 spots ahead in our model and has an expected plate appearance advantage that isn’t yet factored in. Desmond is better in tournaments.
Additional shortstop notes: We actually have a decent number of shortstop options in favorable matchups on Sunday, it’s just that we don’t get many with the combination of a favorable lineup spot and price tag. Alexei Ramirez (CHW) will face Edgar Olmos, a journeyman bullpen arm that is making a spot start. He’ll have the platoon advantage and has the upside of hitting sixth in a favorable lineup spot. Marwin Gonzalez (HOU) could hit second and comes with the most affordable price tag of these shortstop options. He’s a nice piece of an Astros stack or mini-stack. Jung Ho Kang (PIT) has an elevated price tag but typically garners a good lineup spot in a lineup that hits LHP very well. He’s a tournament target as part of a Pirates stack or mini-stack.
Josh Donaldson (TOR) – Donaldson ranks as the top play in our model at the third base position, but his price tag is prohibitive in cash games. He’s fine as a part of a Jays stack or mini-stack.
Adrian Beltre (TEX) – Miguel Gonzalez has been very homer prone to RHBs in his career (1.56 HR/9 since 2013) and Beltre has historically held neutral splits (.368 wOBA, .192 ISO against RHP since 2012). Beltre has been performing well of late (four multi-hit games in his last seven games) and it hasn’t quite been taken into account in his price tag. He’s a Top 20 hitter in our model and only a few spots behind Donaldson, but comes at a far cheaper price point. He’s your primary target at third base.
Additional third base notes: Beltre stands above the rest of the potential value plays, but the position does not lack depth. Josh Harrison (PIT) and Aramis Ramirez (PIT) are Top 40 hitters in our model with a favorable matchup against lefty Jorge de la Rosa. Todd Frazier (CIN) ranks a little behind those two but Wily Peralta hasn’t been nearly as dominant against RHBs this season (.344 wOBA, 14 percent K Rate, nine percent BB Rate) as he has in years past (.302 wOBA, 16.5 K Rate, 8.1 BB Rate). A slight manual bump gets Frazier in line with Ramirez and Harrison. Those three represent your primary value alternatives and I’d rank them Frazier, Ramirez, and then Harrison. Manny Machado (BAL) is a secondary tournament play after Josh Donaldson. He’s priced fairly for his skill growth this season but doesn’t rank as well as Beltre or Donaldson in our model. Danny Valencia (OAK) is another secondary tournament target. We like the Athletics RH power against Robbie Ray‘s high hard hit rate allowed.
Like the first base position, the top end of the outfielders list is pretty deep. Jose Bautista (TOR), Mike Trout (LAA), Ryan Braun (MIL), and Andrew McCutchen (PIT) are the four outfielders that rank inside our Top 10 overall hitters. Our model still has Trout slightly ahead of Bautista and Braun but all three rank similarly with McCutchen slightly behind. If you’re spend up on an outfielder, those are the four you should hone in on. I’d personally rank them Bautista, Braun, Trout, and then McCutchen.
Shin Soo Choo (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 20 hitter in our model in a favorable matchup with Miguel Gonzalez. Outfield is incredibly deep on Sunday with value plays but Choo is the one I’m most consistently filling lineups with.
Jayson Werth (WAS) – Werth is my next favorite outfield option even though he ranks a little bit below some of the other outfield values in our model. Werth cracks our Top 25 hitters fueled by his .401 wOBA and .216 ISO against LHP since 2012. The favorable home plate umpire for hitters is a big thing for Werth since he derives a lot of his value from walks (14.2 percent BB Rate). He’s been leading off which gives him an outside chance at a fifth plate appearance. We think he has the safest floor for production of the other outfielders and consistently a strong price tag. The next three outfield recommendations all carry a bigger upside and power probability but have a bit more volatility in their on-base profile.
Carlos Gomez (HOU) – Ervin Santana has been a mess this season. His strikeout rate is way down, his BB Rate is up, and he’s allowing a ton of home runs. His hard hit rate allowed (26 percent) actually isn’t bad, but a GB Rate under 40 percent leaves him susceptible to power. Gomez has struggled since coming over to the Astros but he has big power and speed upside and the Astros have a healthy 4.5 implied run total. The matchup should also suit his specific skills given how much Santana struggles with the long ball and Kurt Suzuki struggles controlling the running game. Gomez ranks inside our Top 20 overall hitters.
Khris Davis (MIL) – Davis has oddly been abysmal against LHP this season (.241 wOBA) but it’s almost entirely BABIP related. Despite posting a hard hit rate of 33.3 percent and an ISO of .171, Davis owns a .156 BABIP against lefties. Historically (.325 wOBA, .247 ISO since 2012) he’s been productive and flashed big power. He gets a good lineup spot and lefty John Lamb is very fly ball, and thus homer prone. Davis swings and misses a ton which brings volatility in his projection but our model ranks him as a Top 20 overall hitter.
Jay Bruce (CIN) – Bruce broke out of an extended slump on Saturday with three hits including a home run and a double. He’ll face Wily Peralta who has always struggled against LHBs (.352 wOBA, 1.34 HR/9 since 2013) and particularly so this season (.374 wOBA, 1.61 HR/9, and 35.2 hard hit rate allowed). Bruce hit second on Saturday and if he holds that lineup spot, we’d view him as a very strong value. If he drops to fifth or below, it would hurt his value some. He ranks inside our Top 25 overall hitters.
Additional outfield notes: Outfield is very deep on Sunday and you could easily venture outside the recommendations above and find good players in plus matchups. Ender Inciarte (ARZ) and David Peralta (ARZ) are the next two options that come with affordable price points and plus matchups. Jesse Chavez is getting a negative park shift and has been vulnerable to LHBs in his career. Chavez is the most skilled pitcher of this group we’re attacking, so the Diamondback options slip down our preferences. Colby Rasmus (HOU) isn’t in a great park for LH power but the matchup with Ervin Santana is a good one. The park effects on lefty power push him down in our model. Delino Deshields Jr. (TEX) leads off for an offense we really like, but we feel the price tag is just a touch too high. He’s a great tournament option as part of a Rangers stack or mini-stack. Melky Cabrera (CHW) gets a bullpen game from one of the weaker bullpens in MLB. He didn’t really stand out in our model relative to these other options but the price tag isn’t restrictive. Starling Marte (PIT) and Adam Jones (BAL) don’t rank as well as our top plays but are underpriced for their matchups. We like the recommendations above a little bit more so they grade out more as secondary value plays.
Rankings (price not considered):
1a) Jake Arrieta (CHC)
1b) Stephen Strasburg (WAS)
3) Noah Syndergaard (NYM)
4a) James Shields (SD)
4b) Jaime Garcia (STL)
6) Lance McCullers (HOU)
7) Nathan Eovaldi (NYY)
8) Jose Quintana (CHW)
9) Alex Wood (LAD)
10) Chris Heston (SF)
Stephen Strasburg (WAS) – Decimal points separate Jake Arrieta (CHC) and Stephen Strasburg in our rankings. While Arrieta holds the slight edge in our model, the price gap between the two pushes our attention towards Strasburg. The Marlins offense ranks dead last in wRC+ against RHP this season. They strike out at a league average clip but they’re often very right handed. Strasburg has dominated RHBs in his career, allowing just a .288 wOBA while striking out 29.7 percent of RHBs faced since 2013. He’s the heaviest favorite on the slate (-260) in a game with a total of just seven. We’re looking at an implied run total of just 2.7 runs for the Marlins. The only negative working against Strasburg in this matchup is a difficult home plate umpire. Given the Marlins rank 26th in BB Rate against RHP, we’re less concerned about it.
Next in line:
Noah Syndergaard (NYM) – Syndergaard rates a bit below Arrieta and Strasburg in our model, but this could change if the Red Sox let David Ortiz rest on Sunday. Ortiz sat on Saturday and the lineup the Red Sox ran out would have Syndergaard rated as an equal to Arrieta/Strasburg in our model. He also has a tough umpire in this matchup which concerns me more than it does for Strasburg. The Red Sox rank have a slightly above average walk rate while ranking 14th in wRC+ against RHP. They also have a below average K Rate (17 percent) that could limit the strikeout upside. The decision in utilizing Syndergaard will ultimately come down to the Red Sox lineup and price point. On sites he’s priced close to Arrieta, I’d only consider him if Ortiz was out of the lineup. If Ortiz is in the lineup, I’ll need a discounted tag from Arrieta to consider Syndergaard in cash games and it would only come on multiple starter sites.
Lance McCullers (HOU) – McCullers has a projected K Rate that is competitive with all the stud starters on Sunday, but he comes with a lot of volatility. The command issues that plagued McCullers in the minors bring a downside in performance and expected innings. The Twins don’t walk a ton (6.7 percent against RHP is 23rd in MLB) and home plate umpire Mark Ripperberger is a favorable umpire for starting pitchers. The volatility with McCullers shifts the attention to price and format. On sites the price is way down, I think he’s an exceptional option as a second starting pitcher (Yahoo stands out as very affordable). On one starting pitcher sites, I think he’s an exceptional tournament play (FanDuel). The game has an elevated total (8.5) but McCullers is a modest favorite on the road. We’re hopeful the total will keep ownership levels down as we think the strikeout upside warrants serious consideration.
Nate Eovaldi (NYY) – Eovaldi has really found something with this split finger fastball. Since an adjustment was incorporated in the middle of June, Eovaldi has been lights out. In 12 starts since the reported adjustment, Eovaldi has posted a 2.93 ERA, 1.20 WHIP while his K Rate has bumped up to 18.8 percent. He still doesn’t have that elite K Rate we look to target in Daily Fantasy but the run prevention expectations are very strong in a favorable matchup in Atlanta. The Braves rank 28th in wRC+ against RHP and are looking at an implied run total just above three runs. Eovaldi’s price hasn’t adjusted to his recent performance which makes him a nice target on multiple SP sites. McCullers strong K Rate expectation pushes him ahead of Eovaldi in our model, but Eovaldi is a less volatile commodity. Where the price is below McCullers, we view him as a viable cash game alternative on multiple SP sites.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Jaime Garcia (STL) and James Shields (SD) both rate well in our model but for different reasons. Garcia has a friendly home plate umpire and faces a depleted Giants offense that features a banged up Buster Posey (battling an elbow issue). Shields rates well on an expected strikeout rate that plays well against the Phillies who rank 29th in wRC+ against RHP. Garcia is priced as an ace because of a 1.77 ERA and his 3.02 FIP/3.19 xFIP suggest the price is ahead of the expected future performance. It’s difficult to justify him in cash games and really he’s more of a secondary tournament target because of the price. Shields has a more investable price tag and makes for an exceptional tournament play or viable second starter.
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) Texas Rangers
There are a number of top offenses to target in favorable situations on Sunday but these are the two I’m emphasizing most in cash games. The Rangers have the soft price points that allow you exposure to a Blue Jay or two in your lineups. Both teams have an implied run total above five with the Blue Jays approaching six runs.
1) Houston Astros
2) Washington Nationals
3) Pittsburgh Pirates
4) Milwaukee Brewers
5) Baltimore Orioles
6) Cincinnati Reds
The Astros offense is a bit watered down without Carlos Correa but it makes them a bit more cost effective when stacking. Ervin Santana has just been a mess all season since returning from his suspension and his velocity ticked down last start. He serves up home runs, the Twins struggle to control the running game, and they have a weak bullpen behind him. With temperatures in the 80s in Minnesota, we like the scoring environment for the Astros event driven offense.
The Nationals perhaps belong in the cash game section since they have a few pieces we’re targeting in cash games but I wanted to draw a distinction between the Jays and Rangers and everyone else. Warm temperatures are expected in Washington along with a helping wind to center. The Nationals lineup as a whole profiles much better against LHP. We like Rendon, Zimmerman, Desmond, Werth, and Harper as a stack.
The Pirates are a very skilled offense against LHP. Ideally we’d see Polanco get a day off, allowing Harrison to hit lead off. We’d then have Harrison, Marte, McCutchen, Ramirez, Kang, Cervelli as six bats to target in a full stack while leaving first base open for a stack filler. The park environment is tough on RH power, but they’re accustomed to it and a helping wind out to LF could make things easier.
John Lamb is very fly ball driven and in Miller Park that is a recipe for home runs. Ryan Braun, Jonathan Lucroy, and Khris Davis all have elite power against LHP. Our concern with the Brewers is if they rest Lucroy, the appeal of the lineup drops dramatically. They’re third in our rankings here, but if Lucroy is out I’d consider them a mini-stack only with Braun-Davis and perhaps Segura. I’d bump them to the bottom of this list if Lucroy is out.
The Orioles and Derek Holland are a volatile combination. Holland has good enough stuff to shut the Orioles offense down but they also have enough RH power to attack him. Machado, Pearce, Jones, Wieters are a nice mini-stack to target and you can add Chris Davis in for late inning home run potential to round out a full stack.
The Reds don’t have the gaudy implied run total that the Brewers do, but they have a better chance of holding their value when lineups come out. Bruce and Votto are the primary targets here and you can add in Bourgeois and Frazier to extend the 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.
DET at TOR 1:07: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the low to mid 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind south-southeast 4-8 mph which blows out to left-center. The wind is a 6.
BOS at NYM 1:10: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 80s. Air density is an 8. Wind southwest 4-8 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
LAA at CLE 1:10: A few, widely scattered showers. Coverage of the rain across northern Ohio is less than 10% so I am not expecting a delay. Temps in the low 80s. Air density is an 8. Wind southwest 7-14 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
KC at TB 1:10: Dome.
NYY at ATL 1:35: Showers and thunderstorms around this morning are forecast to left north and there should be a dry window to play the game between about 1-4 PM eastern. A 10% chance of a delay between those times, increasing to 30-40% chance after 4 PM. Temps in the mid to upper 70s. Air density is a 7 or an 8. Wind east 9-18 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 3.
MIA at WSH 1:35: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 80s. Air density is an 8. Wind south-southwest 7-14 mph which blows out to left-center. The wind is a 6.
SD at PHL 1:35: Dry. Temps in the mid-80s. Air density is an 8. Wind southwest 8-16 mph which blows
out to right. The wind is a 7.
COL at PIT 1:35: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 80s. Air density is an 8. Wind southwest 6-12 mph which blows
from right to left. The wind is a 5.
SEA at CHW 2:10: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 70s. Air density is a 7, close to an 8. Wind east-northeast 4-8 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 4.
CIN at MIL 2:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the low 70s. Air density is a 6, almost a 7. Wind southeast 6-12 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
HOU at MIN 2:10: Dry. Temps near 80. Air density is a 7, almost an 8. Wind south 8-16 mph which blows
from right to left. The wind is a 5.
BLT at TEX 3:05: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 90s. Air density is a 9. Wind southwest becoming south 7-14 mph which blows first from right to left and then in from right. The wind is a 5 becoming a 4.
STL at SF 4:05: Dry. Temps in the mid-70s. Air density is a 6 or a 7. Wind west-northwest 10-20 mph which blows out to right-center. The wind is an 8.
OAK at AZ 4:10: Retractable roof. A 10% coverage of thunderstorms in the desert. Hot with temps in the mid-100s. I saw yesterday that the roof was closed due to the heat so I will assume it will be again today.
CHC at LAD 8:00: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling into the low to mid 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind west-southwest 10-20 mph lessening to 7-14 mph which blows out to right. The wind is an 8 becoming a 7.