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August 31 MLB DFS Late Slate: A Box of Lindor’s Truffles
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August 31 MLB DFS Late Slate: A Box of Lindor’s Truffles

00:40 Starting Pitchers
08:16 Catchers
10:09 First Base
12:22 Second Base
15:22 Shortstops
17:33 Third Base
20:07 Outfield
24:09 Cash Game Roster Construction & Stacks

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August 31 MLB DFS Late Slate PRO TIP

Starting Pitcher Rankings

Tier One

1) Corey Kluber (CLE)

Tier Two

2) Luke Weaver (STL)

3) Gio Gonzalez (WAS)

4) Ian Kennedy (KC)

Tier Three

5) Aaron Sanchez (TOR)

6) David Phelps (MIA)

7) Bartolo Colon (NYM)

Corey Kluber (CLE) tops Wednesday’s late slate starting pitcher rankings as he’s a monstrous (-320) favorite with an implied run total nearly a run lower than everyone else on the slate (2.9 runs). The Twins are pesky against RHP (15th in wRC+) but they do carry the 11th highest K Rate against RHP and their best hitters are primarily right-handed. Kluber has dominated righties (.256 wOBA, .129 ISO with a 28.2 K Rate since 2015) which helps push his projected K Rate above 27 percent. Kluber’s priced appropriately on both sites, but he’s likely a cash game building block on both sites despite a fair price tag. The lack of elite alternatives on the bump, the consistency of Kluber, and enough value bats make it all possible. It’s exceptionally easy to do on DraftKings, thanks to Luke Weaver‘s (STL) $4,500 price tag, but on FanDuel your lineup won’t be as star-studded.

When looking to pair with Kluber, the price gap between Gio Gonzalez ($8,500) and Luke Weaver ($4,500) makes the decision an easy one. Weaver certainly carries some risk as he racks up pitches hunting strikeouts and his GB Rate is just 36.6 percent through three major league starts, but the strikeout upside against the Brewers really drives his ranking. The Brewers are striking out over 25.5 percent of the time against RHP and Weaver’s posted a K Rate just shy of 25 percent in his first three big league starts. We’re projecting a K Rate in-line with Kluber’s 27 percent, but obviously the run prevention and innings risk is far more severe. Weaver is also cheap on FanDuel and if you want to embrace risk, he’s cash game viable. He’s a solid favorite (-140) and the strikeouts are almost always there against the Brewers, but the floor feels so much lower than Kluber. In between Kluber and Weaver is Gio Gonzalez (WAS) who faces a Phillies’ offense that ranks 30th in wRC+ against LHP and strikes out at the eighth highest clip against LHP. Gonzalez is a big favorite (-180), his velocity has been climbing, and as a veteran his floor is a bit more known. Using Gio in FanDuel cash gets you an extra bat or two and a stronger floor than dipping all the way down to Weaver.

Outside of the top two tiers, there isn’t much pitching depth on this slate to get excited about. Aaron Sanchez (TOR) faces a tough Baltimore offense and is getting managed down the stretch, so it’s difficult to get excited about the upside in tournaments. Ian Kennedy (KC) faces a generally contact-prone Yankees’ offense against RHP but one that struggles to hit for power with the exception of Gary Sanchez. He’s a bit more expensive than Gio Gonzalez and viable as a low-ownership pivot. David Phelps (MIA) is the other potential upside starter but the Mets are another lineup that doesn’t project for very many strikeouts. In general, we’re hammering Luke Weaver‘s depressed price tag in tournaments and focusing most of our combinations around Kluber, Gonzalez, and Weaver.

Catcher Rankings

1) Russell Martin (TOR)

2) Gary Sanchez (NYY)

3) Wilson Ramos (WAS)

4) Yadier Molina (STL)

5) Brian McCann (NYY)

Russell Martin (TOR) leads off our catcher rankings as he gets the best combination of lineup spot, offensive environment, and opposing starter on the slate. Martin is priced wildly differently on the two sites ($5,000 on DraftKings, $3,100 on FanDuel). On DraftKings, he’s a tournament target, but on FanDuel we consider him your best cash game target. Gary Sanchez‘s (NYY) home run binge has slowed down in Kansas City’s big park and he’ll get a boom-or-bust matchup with Ian Kennedy. Sanchez is reasonably priced on DraftKings ($4,100) and in the cash game conversation but significantly more expensive than Martin and the other catchers on FanDuel ($4,000). The first three in our catcher rankings are basically in a tier of their own. Wilson Ramos (WAS) is the option who is priced reasonably on both sites but often gets a weak lineup spot (sixth) which pushes him down in our rankings. The matchup with Adam Morgan (.377 wOBA, .238 ISO allowed to RHBs since 2015) is great and the Nationals have the second highest implied team total (5.1 runs) on the slate. Ramos is a fine pivot off Martin or Sanchez, despite a slightly softer rating due to the weaker lineup spot.

First Base Rankings

1) Anthony Rizzo (CHC)

2) Brandon Moss (STL)

3) Chris Davis (BAL)

4) Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)

5) Freddie Freeman (ATL)

6) Mike Napoli (CLE)

7) Albert Pujols (LAA)

8) Joey Votto (CIN)

9) Eric Hosmer (KC)

10) Carlos Santana (CLE)

Anthony Rizzo (CHC) is once again our top ranked first base option and ranked inside our top three overall hitters on the slate. Ryan Vogelsong has a wide platoon split (.378 wOBA, .235 ISO allowed to LHBs since 2015) and is getting a park downgrade against a Cubs lineup that can get awfully left-handed. Rizzo’s priced appropriately and like Tuesday night there are ample alternatives at the first base position so he’s not a must. Brandon Moss (STL), Chris Davis (BAL), and Mike Napoli (CLE) are the viable alternatives where priced well below Rizzo. They all have the platoon advantage in plus hitting environments and Moss/Napoli get very weak opposing starters in Matt Garza and Pat Dean. Davis is a bit more of a price play for his skill set and his recent form makes the play viable, but Moss and Napoli’s production feels a bit safer as part of overall offenses with implied team totals over or just below five runs.

Second Base Rankings

1) Trea Turner (WAS) – where eligible

2) Matt Carpenter (STL)

3) Dee Gordon (MIA)

4) Daniel Murphy (WAS)

5) Ben Zobrist (CHC)

Second base is a position where cash game decisions should largely reside within the top three options. If you can afford to pay up, Trea Turner (WAS) and Matt Carpenter (STL) are in phenomenal matchups as road leadoff hitters with the platoon advantage against weak opposing starters. With their teams expected to score five runs, there is a good chance they get five plate appearances and both bullpens behind the starters are below average. If you can’t afford to pay the hefty price tag of either high-end second base option, Dee Gordon (NYM) is your most likely target. Gordon remains a bit underpriced for his Fantasy game ($2,800 on FanDuel, $3,800 on DraftKings). He’s a road leadoff hitter likely guaranteed four plate appearances and Bartolo Colon is vulnerable to lefties (.322 wOBA, .165 ISO allowed since 2015). The one knock on the matchup is that Colon is difficult to run on (+15 rSB for his career) which is Gordon’s primary way of reaching his upside. On DraftKings, you could also opt for Jason Kipnis (CLE) at a similar price tag to Gordon ($3,900). Kipnis has improved against LHP this season (.351 wOBA, .171 ISO) and he possesses more upside than Gordon given the favorable run scoring environment overall.

Shortstop Rankings

1) Francisco Lindor (CLE)

2) Jonathan Villar (MIL) – where eligible

3) Manny Machado (BAL) – where eligible

4) Didi Gregorius (NYY)

5) Zack Cozart (CIN)

The shortstop position is pretty straight forward. The lack of depth at the position and very few salary relief options makes Francisco Lindor (CLE) the primary target in cash games. Lindor gets you exposure to a Cleveland offense we’re very high on and the price is reasonable on both sites. The lack of opportunity cost at the position makes a pure punt viable, but we currently don’t see any attractive targets that could emerge.

Third Base Rankings

1) Matt Carpenter (STL) – where eligible

2) Josh Donaldson (TOR)

3) Kris Bryant (CHC)

4) Anthony Rendon (WS)

5) Jedd Gyorko (STL)

Matt Carpenter (STL) leads the way on DraftKings, where he’s third base eligible. Josh Donaldson (TOR) and Kris Bryant (CHC) are a bit behind and priced similarly to Carpenter, making them preferred pivots in tournaments. Bryant is likely to come with lower ownership of the two. Anthony Rendon (WAS) is priced way up on DraftKings but a viable alternative on FanDuel where Carpenter isn’t eligible and Donaldson/Bryant are both very expensive. Rendon hits LHP well (.353 wOBA, .118 ISO since 2015) and is part of an offense overall that really crushes LHP. Jedd Gyorko (STL) is also viable as an alternative. The power stroke has broken out this season in St. Louis (.373 wOBA, .335 ISO against RHP) and he’s been performing well in the well-hit tool (4.5, +0.4) of late. With all the top guys priced appropriately, this may be a position to look for some value. On both sites, Yangervis Solarte (SD) is a bit underpriced. Matt Wisler has allowed a .373 wOBA, .202 ISO and nearly walked (11.6 percent) as many LHBs as he’s struck out (11.8 percent) since 2015. Solarte is solid against RHP (.342 wOBA, .176 ISO since 2015) and the Padres as a whole project a bit stronger against RHP. Solarte’s your best bet for some salary relief at a position that doesn’t have much in the way of value.

Outfield Rankings

1) Mike Trout (LAA)

2) Bryce Harper (WAS)

3) Rajai Davis (CLE)

4) Trea Turner (WAS) – where eligible

5) Brandon Moss (STL) – where eligible

6) Jose Bautista (TOR)

7) Kris Bryant (CHC) – where eligible

8) Dexter Fowler (CHC)

9) Jayson Werth (WAS)

10) Jarrod Dyson (KC)

11) Ben Zobrist (CHC)

12) Michael Saunders (TOR)

13) Ryan Braun (MIL)

14) Stephen Piscotty (STL)

15) Billy Hamilton (CIN)

The outfield situation is very similar to Tuesday. Mike Trout (LAA) and Bryce Harper (WAS) are nightly top options. Trout is somehow priced at $4,500 on DraftKings tomorrow and is an elite value, but he’s difficult to squeeze in if paying for Kluber on FanDuel. Rajai Davis (CLE) remains the top tier outfielder that isn’t priced as one on both sites and a great way to get exposure against Pat Dean (.417 wOBA, .259 ISO to RHBs since 2015). On both sites, the better values are in the more expensive outfielders. It’s easy to get exposure to these options on DraftKings where Trout is priced down and Luke Weaver‘s price tag makes it easy to spend on one of Harper, Turner, or Moss alongside Davis and Trout. It’s more difficult to do on FanDuel, especially if paying up for Kluber. Jarrod Dyson (KC) is our favorite salary relief option at just $2,600. He’s been productive in the first two games of the series against far better starters than Luis Cessa. The tricky part is finding a third outfielder to add to Davis and Dyson. Brett Gardner (NYY), Hyun Soo Kim (BAL), Billy Hamilton (CIN), Travis Jankowski (SD), and Aaron Altherr (PHI) are all viable targets but we’d love for a punt value to open up during lineup alerts.

Stack Rankings

Tier One

1) Washington Nationals

2) Cleveland Indians

3) Toronto Blue Jays

Tier Two

4) St. Louis Cardinals

Washington, Cleveland, and Toronto represent our top tier of stacks. In cash games, these are the offenses we’re targeting most heavily. Pricing is most favorable on Cleveland, so their players may be populating your lineups a bit more frequently than the other two top options. As a result, we expect they’ll likely be among the heaviest owned stacks in tournaments. The Nationals represent our favorite pivot as Murphy/Harper always come with lower ownership against LHP and the depth in the lineup (Zimmerman, Espinosa both crush LHP) really allows multiple ways to stack them in tournaments and lots of upside turning the lineup over. As far as expensive stacks go in tournaments, the Nationals look like a great first target.

Contrarian Tournament Stacks

San Diego Padres – The Padres have enough quality Fantasy bats against RHP (Solarte’s skill, Schimpf’s power, and Jankowski’s speed) to make for an intriguing mini-stack or full stack against a weak RHP backed up by a very weak bullpen. They’re cheap enough to facilitate pairing with high-end pitching, which makes them a nice way to be contrarian on offense with a chalkier SP selection.

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