Welcome to August 31 MLB DFS action. You’ll find Daily Fantasy Baseball Premium Cliff Notes for August 31 MLB DFS along with LIVE Premium Chat. Make sure you’re using the customizable projections tool, you’re actively participating in the live chat, and you’re reviewing the cliff notes to supplement your research and roster construction process. Very best of luck in tonight’s action!
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00:51 Starting Pitcher
- In cash games, we recommend focusing on value plays to build your rosters (far right hand column of Projections page linked above). Value plays are those we feel have the highest probability of out-earning their current price tag. By packing value plays into your roster, you’re creating a team with a higher floor.
- In tournaments, we recommend building a core of the best value plays and then complementing them with players who have a high ceiling. This combination is essentially turning up the variance on a strong foundation and we believe often is the best recipe for tournament success.
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August 31 MLB DFS CLIFF NOTES
Corey Kluber (CLE) represents the top projected scorer at the starting pitcher position. Kluber has the lowest IRTA (3) and the biggest K projection (7.6) in this slate. Kluber is facing a Rays offense that’s ranked 11th in wRC+ and are striking out 22% of the time vs. RHP (middle of the pack). Kluber is finally priced down on DK. He’s $10,300, which is a more reasonable price tag in a season where his K rate is down to 24.6%. We think given the Vegas expectation at a reduced price tag, Kluber should be your cash game anchor on DK. You can certainly make him your anchor on FD as well but he’s close to being fully priced ($11,500) on that site.
If ownership condenses on Kluber in tournaments, we think you should be looking at alternatives given his reduced K rate this season. Luis Severino (NYY) is the immediate alternative. Severino has to pitch in a more difficult environment (Yankee Stadium) than Kluber, but has the edge in matchup as the Tigers are ranked dead last in wRC+ vs. RHP and are striking out ~22% of the time as well. Severino is a -330 favorite. He’s generated a 28.2% K rate this season, which is a more significant K rate than Kluber’s. You’re unlikely to get significantly lower ownership here though, especially on a site like FD where Severino is $700 cheaper than Kluber.
Kluber and Severino are the best cash game target at the position on FD. If you wanted to load up on offense though, you could include Nathan Eovaldi (BOS) in that conversation. Eovaldi is certainly not as talented as Kluber or Severino and that’s why he projects a notch behind. Eovaldi has pitched well this season. He’s posted a 3.82 SIERA, which stands out. His K rate (20.3%) is below league average, but he gets a boost facing a White Sox offense that’s striking out 25.5% of the time vs. RHP (second worst mark in the league). They’re also ranked 21st in wRC+ vs. RHP. They’re a dreadful offense and Eovaldi is just $7,400 on FD. You could use a Kluber-Eovaldi cash game pairing on DK, but that will cost you too much offense. Our optimals are taking us in a different direction, but Eovaldi is at the very least intriguing from a GPP perspective.
Zack Greinke (ARI) and Zack Wheeler (NYM) are the next bucket of starters from a projection standpoint. Both are overpriced but Wheeler in particular is enticing in GPPs given the recent performance and plus matchup (Giants are ranked 26th in wRC+ and are striking out 23.7% of the time vs. RHP). The Giants just traded Andrew McCutchen, which weakens their lineup considerably. Wheeler has gone at least seven innings in four of his last five starts and he’s posted K rates of 37%, 30% and 37.5% in three of those starts. The ceiling is there.
We have a group of targets in the mid-tier that have some appeal in GPPs. Nick Pivetta (PHI), Andrew Suarez (SF), Anibal Sanchez (ATL), Austin Gomber (STL) and Tanner Roark (WSH) have very similar projections (~15 DK points). The challenge with this group is that it’s tough to envision lots of Ks due to their contexts. Pivetta in particular is a favorite of ours when he gets to face a lineup loaded with RHBs, but this Cubs lineup is the complete opposite (five projected LHBs in that lineup). Pivetta is the most talented SP from this group. Suarez stands out because of the pitching environment (AT&T Park) and a matchup against the Mets (ranked 28th in wRC+, striking out 24.9% of the time vs. LHP) but his price tags are on the fair side. Sanchez has the least intriguing matchup for Ks (Pirates are only striking out 19.7% of the time vs. RHP).
In cash games, our DK optimals are taking us towards the punts in Petco Park. Antonio Senzatela (COL) is $5,600 and Brett Kennedy (SD) is $4,400. Senzatela is the better pitcher of the two but that’s not saying much as Kennedy has been horrific throughout four starts this season. We’re projecting both of these pitchers to go five innings and they’re in a great context, pitching in a favorable pitching environment and facing below average offenses vs. RHP. Senzatela in particular has a doozy of a matchup as the Padres are ranked 29th in wRC+ and are striking out a league high 25.8% of the time vs. RHP. These plays feel thin in tournaments but with so much offense in this slate, they deserve to be considered in that format as well.
Friday’s slate features 15-games to choose from and yet there is not a single catcher who rates as a positive value on DK. Salvador Perez (KC) represents our top value on DK in a game where the Royals are being implied to score 5.0 runs. Whenever the Royals are flirting with such a high expected total, it raises an eyebrow because the team is not great offensively. Part of the reason for the projection is the fact the temperature should be in the low 90s in Kansas City and the wind should be blowing out to left center at 15-plus mph. Cashner is heavily reliant on his combination of fastball and sinker (67-percent combined) to left-handed hitters (RHHs) and Perez has posted a combined .418 xwOBA against right-handed sinkers and four-seam fastballs since the beginning of 2017.
Yadier Molina (STL) and Robinson Chirinos (TEX) are the next best alternatives as both rate as nearly neutral values on DK as well. Both are in prime power spots as Molina will square off against Homer Bailey and Chirinos will step up to the plate versus Stephen Gonsalves. Thus far, Bailey has yielded a .365 wOBA, 1.64 HR/9 rate, 25.6-percent line drive rate and 48.1-percent hard hit rate to RHHs and Molina is tied for fourth on the Cardinals with a .351 xwOBA against RHP. Chirinos is worth considering due to his upside potential against a pitcher sporting a minuscule 33.3-percent ground ball rate. Dating back to 2014, Gonsalves has basically produced a sub-40-percent ground ball rate at every level he has been at (especially the ones with extended samples) so this is a player who is giving to give up bombs at the Major League level. Furthermore, he has managed just a 6.95 FIP, 6.72 xFIP and 6.45 SIERA in his young career so he is someone worth targeting against every time out. Chirinos is an all-or-nothing type power hitter so the correlation here is unmistakable.
If looking for tournament pivots, look no further than Evan Gattis (HOU) and Wilson Ramos (PHI). As noted in yesterday’s article, Gattis has struck out at a significantly lower rate versus LHP than RHP, but that should not be an issue tonight against a starter who rarely misses bats. Probable starter Jaime Barria has only struck out righties at a 15.9-percent rate and they have hit 2.11 home runs (HRs) per nine innings against him. Ramos’ matchup is a little more daunting (Jose Quintana) but Quintana’s 4.70 SIERA ranks 10th worst amongst qualified starters. In fact, his 1.33 HR/9 rate allowed this year is a career-worst and Ramos has long been known as a lefty-masher (.353 career wOBA in the split).
Matt Carpenter (STL) owns the highest projection of any first basemen in our model and why not? Bailey has been roasted to the tune of a .387 wOBA, .302/.360/.577 slash line, 2.30 HR/9 rate and a 6.12 FIP by left-handed hitters (LHHs) and Carpenter leads the Cardinals in xwOBA against RHP (.436).
However, on DK, Greg Bird (NYY) is the guy finding himself in most of the optimal lineups against a subpar pitcher (Jordan Zimmermann) at home in the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium. The short porch in right helps enhance the power potential of lefties and Zimmermann has a done a great job in that department as well: .328 wOBA, 1.49 HR/9 rate, 34.1-percent hard hit rate and 40.1-percent fly ball rate allowed to the left side of the plate. Oh, and the Yankees’ 5.5-run implied total does not hurt either.
Anthony Rizzo (CHC), Freddie Freeman (ATL), Joe Mauer (MIN) and Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) constitute the tournament tier at the position and there is not a poor option amongst them. Whereas Nick Pivetta has held righties to a .296 wOBA, lefties have not had such a difficult time against him: .354 wOBA, 1.66 HR/9 rate and 37.1-percent hard hit rate. Our model credits Rizzo as being one of the better hitters in the league versus RHP (.392 wOBA, .247 ISO) plus he has been en fuego in the second half (.454 wOBA, 187 wRC+). Freeman’s team total is low but he too is one of the more talented players in the split (.396 wOBA, .243 ISO in our model) and Taillon has yielded a wOBA 80 percentage points higher to LHHs. Mauer is not exciting by any means but Drew Hutchison is arguably the worst pitcher on the slate (5.52 SIERA). Goldschmidt is facing a soft-tossing lefty (Hyun-Jin Ryu) and Goldschmidt owns a career .429 xwOBA, 1.537 xSLG and .758 xwOBA against Ryu in 23 career at-bats (ABs)…not to mention he leads all active hitters in career wOBA versus the handedness (.430).
For it being such a large slate, second base is unusually straightforward. On DK, Jose Altuve is fairly-priced and squaring off against the aforementioned Barria. Righties have produced all sorts of power against Barria in Angel Stadium so he is unlikely to fare any better in Minute Maid Park with the Crawford boxes in left. Our model always factors in the speed potential for Altuve as well and he clearly rates as the top cash play on DK.
On FD, Altuve rates as our top value as well, but Cesar Hernandez is featured in most of the optimal lineups because he is almost $1,500 cheaper. Hernandez is essentially a league average hitter versus lefties (.321 wOBA, 99 wRC+ this season) but Quintana’s SIERA, FIP and xFIP suggest he is due for some regression. The 9.0 run total in this game is helping to enhance the projection of those on the Phillies and we have Hernandez projected to lead off.
Daniel Murphy (CHC), Neil Walker (NYY) and Whit Merrifield (KC) are other options that have snuck into lower-projected optimals and for reasons already covered. Murphy is another skilled left-hander versus Pivetta, Walker is a superior hitter versus RHP and facing Zimmermann and Merrifield leads all active Royals in wOBA against RHP. This grouping all makes sense in their respective stacks but Murphy is the top cash option of the bunch.
If in the lineup, Adrian Beltre (TEX) draws the platoon advantage against Gonsalves and that has been a recipe for success for other righties before him. As noted in the Chirinos tidbit, Gonsalves has not looked like a big league pitcher in his small sample and, as a lefty, he is especially susceptible to RHHs. Beltre certainly fits the bill.
Jose Ramirez (CLE) is one of the best handful of players in the league and Tyler Glasnow presents a sneaky good matchup for him. Not only has Glasnow fared as a typically splits righty (.313 wOBA to LHHs, .278 wOBA to RHHs) but he has also been one of the easiest pitchers to run on (16 SBs allowed already this year). If there ever were a spot for Ramirez to put his five-tool offensive skill set on display, this would be the one.
Alex Bregman (HOU) has looked like the best hitter on the Astros this season so he naturally is in play against Barria. For what it is worth, Barria just faced this team and did not make it to the fourth inning against him. Furthermore, he only struck out one hitter in that contest, and Bregman is a tough one to strike out.
Jurickson Profar (TEX), Anthony Rendon (WSH) and Miguel Andujar (NYY) all hit in the middle of the order on teams with implied totals of 4.7 or greater. Profar ranks third on the Rangers with a .342 wOBA against LHP this season to complement his 112 wRC+ and .197 ISO. Andujar is the Yankees’ hottest hitter over the last month and the park is going to do Zimmermann no favors. Do not overlook these names especially in large field GPPs.
Regardless of site, Elvis Andrus (TEX) is popping atop our projections at shortstop as he is simply too cheap. Playing in hitter-friendly Globe Life Park in Arlington in nearly 100-degree heat, the conditions favor the hitters as-is, so adding in a gas can like Gonsalves only puts this matchup over the top. There is no question Andrus is the top per-dollar cash game investment and it would be tough to blame fantasy owners for rolling him out in tournaments as well.
If looking to differentiate, Francisco Lindor (CLE) draws the same favorable speed matchup as Ramirez. If he gets on, he should be looking to run, and he ranks second on the team with 16 SBs against RHP.
Carlos Correa (HOU) is yet another powerful righty on this roster against Barria and it is becoming increasingly clear that the Astros stack is firmly in play. Barria has thrown his slider 49-percent of the time to righties this year, and while Correa has not fared incredibly well against the pitch (.259 xwOBA since the beginning of last year), he has posted a .358 xwOBA overall in the split versus RHP during that same span.
Jorge Polanco (MIN), Greg Garcia (STL) and Trea Turner (WSH) all play on times with high expected run totals but rate as slightly negative values across the industry. Garcia’s cheap price point makes him playable as a punt as he is a lefty against Bailey. If Polanco is back in the lineup, he is a valuable piece in the middle of the order versus Hutchison. Meanwhile, Turner is a threat to both steal a base and/or hit for power as per usual, although Chacin has sort of dominated RHHs in 2018 (.249 wOBA, 3.35 FIP).
Another day, another slate where Giancarlo Stanton (NYY) tops our projections in the outfield. To be fair, he is on the wrong side of his platoon split but Zimmermann is not one to miss bats. In 46.1 innings versus RHHs this season, he has only struck them out at a 20.9-percent rate and he has walked them at a 2.0-percent rate. Stanton has struggled with whiffs this year but Zimmermann is going to pound the zone. This should lead to positive outcomes for Stanton.
Brett Gardner (NYY) and Eddie Rosario (MIN) pop as the next tier of our projections and Gardner should benefit on FD from the heavy weighting on both runs scored and RBIs. Hitting atop the Yankee lineup, there are many talented hitters behind him, so he has the potential to score multiple runs on a team with a 5.5 run implied total. Rosario is the top play on the Twins against Hutchison because he is the team’s most powerful lefty and Hutchison has only struck out lefties at a 19.9-percent rate in his career.
Mookie Betts (BOS), Max Kepler (MIN), Rhys Hoskins (PHI) and George Springer (HOU) are all positive values who can be found sprinkled into optimals throughout the industry. Many will overlook Betts against the talented Michael Kopech but Omar Narvaez is one of the easiest catchers to steal on and our model credits Betts for a .381 wOBA, .223 ISO against RHP. Kepler is another lefty against Hutchison and an important piece of any Twins stack. Hoskins against a lefty with ugly peripherals is naturally in play and Springer will lead off against Barria and his power struggles.
Rosell Herrera (KC) is so darn cheap that our FD optimal does not want to overlook him because he complements the Kluber price tag quite well. If punting a spot with Herrera, a plethora of upside bats can be rostered alongside Kluber, and that is the ideal setup for cash games.
1) New York Yankees
The Yankees once again have a big IRT (5.5) as they face Jordan Zimmermann (1.61 HR/9 allowed this season) in Yankee Stadium. The wind is blowing in and temperatures are in the 70s instead of the 90s though. If they’re chalk, it’s easier to pivot off them in this slate since there’s so many other stacks to consider in strong spots.
2) Boston Red Sox
3) Cleveland Indians
4) Houston Astros
5) Texas Rangers
The second tier immediately offers strong pivots off the Yankees in GPPs. The Red Sox are getting nine guaranteed innings on the road but they’re facing a talented rookie pitcher in Michael Kopech. With how much buzz Kopech is generating, we think the Red Sox could end up with significantly lower ownership than the Yankees.
We view the Astros as a more exciting stack than the Indians tonight. The Astros are at home but are facing Jaime Barria, who’s had a very hard time against RHBs. Barria has surrendered a ridiculous .392 wOBA and an even more ridiculous .245 ISO to RHBs. This offense is filled with RHBs that can hit for power. They’re our favorite stack and are likely the strongest leverate stack available.
Similar things can be said about the Rangers. It’s a home team but one that’s facing a rookie SP that’s been a mess through two starts. He has a higher walk rate (16.7%) than K rate (13.9%). We’re playing with a very small sample here, but the Rangers do have the highest IRT (5.8) in the entire slate. Because they’re facing a LHP, you’re not going to get the same level of ownership on their LHBs as you usually do.
6) Minnesota Twins
7) Chicago Cubs
The Twins are getting nine guaranteed innings on the road in Arlington. It’s a huge park shift in their favor, and Drew Hutchison is very susceptible to power (1.86 HR/9 allowed this season). This isn’t a very exciting offense but we think they’re probably the last stack we’d consider in single entry/three max type tournaments.
The Cubs’ LHBs represent good tournament options in this slate. While Nick Pivetta is a talented pitcher, LHBs give him fits (.354 wOBA, .161 HR/9 allowed to LHBs this season). This Cubs lineup has plenty of LHBs that could give him issues, and they’re a road team, which guarantees them nine innings. We think they offer the most leverage in MME, but you could mini-stack them in single entry/three max type tournaments as well.
8) Colorado Rockies
9) St. Louis Cardinals
10) Philadelphia Phillies
11) Washington Nationals
There are some intriguing mini-stack opportunities from this tier, in particular the Rockies. They’re in a dreadful hitting environment but Brett Kennedy has been a horrific pitcher (6.90 FIP, below league average K rate) thus far. They’ll have very little ownership, but we wouldn’t play them outside of MME. The Cardinals are facing Homer Bailey, who’s exceptionally power prone. The Phillies and Nationals are facing wide splits pitchers. In the Phillies case, you want to attack Quintana with RHBs (.340 wOBA, 1.50 HR/9 allowed to RHBs this season). For the Nationals, you want to pick on Chacin with LHBs (.336 wOBA allowed to LHBs this season).