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August 4 MLB DFS: Don’t Tell Piscotty, Piscotty Doesn’t Know
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August 4 MLB DFS Early Slate: Don’t Tell Piscotty, Piscotty Doesn’t Know

00:55 Starting Pitchers
06:43 Catchers
08:11 First Base
09:41 Second Base
11:09 Shortstops
12:56 Third Base
15:09 Outfield
18:54 Cash Game Roster Construction & Stacks




Starting Pitcher Rankings

Tier One

1) Ian Kennedy (KC)

2) Drew Smyly (TB)

3) Matt Moore (SF)

Tier Two

4) Jordan Zimmermann (DET)

5) Vincent Velasquez (PHI)

6) Mike Leake (STL)

Tier Three

7) Jose Quintana (CHW)

8) Mike Clevinger (CLE)

9) Hector Santiago (MIN)

There’s nothing like sorting through a slate of mediocre pitching to increase the pain of a cold streak, but we’re looking to get back on track this afternoon. As a result, it’s a bit scary to see Ian Kennedy (KC) at the top of our rankings, but on a slate with no true ace up top, we’re big fans of his K upside. He has by far the highest K projection on the slate, and that’s driving his rankings. If Kennedy is able to keep the ball in the park (a big if but Tropicana Field should help), he’ll generate enough Ks to easily exceed value.

The one issue with Kennedy is some concern over run prevention, which is what keeps Drew Smyly (TB) and Matt Moore (SF) on his heels. Both are favorites (Kennedy an underdog), with lower implied run totals against. The one drawback for Smyly is that the Royals don’t swing and miss much (18.6 K percentage against LHP compared to 24.2 for the Rays against RHP). At -140, though, he’s the largest favorite of the tier one starting pitchers, and the Royals implied run total of 3.5 is the lowest on the slate. Smyly, like Kennedy, has good strikeout skills, but struggles giving up the long ball. Moore has perhaps the best matchup as the Phillies rank 29th in wRC+ against LHP and will strike out. However, his individual strikeout skills aren’t as strong as the other two, and Philadelphia represents a better hitter’s park than in Tampa Bay.

Given pricing, it’s pretty easy to stick with the tier one options in cash games. In tier two, Vincent Velasquez (PHI) is our favorite for tournaments given his individual K upside, but this Giants lineup that won’t swing and miss much and is an underrated offense overall. Jordan Zimmermann (DET) is in a nice spot but fresh off the DL with likely a somewhat shorter leash (78 pitches in last rehab start), the upside doesn’t wow you. On DraftKings, Michael Clevinger (CLE) misses enough bats to be considered a pure punt as a second pitcher in tournaments.

Catcher Rankings

1) Buster Posey (SF)

2) Victor Martinez (DET) (where eligible)

3) Cameron Rupp (PHI)

4) Yadier Molina (STL)

5) Salvador Perez (KC)

On FanDuel, we’re hopeful we get Cameron Rupp (PHI) in the lineup. Rupp, who has a .205 ISO on the season and career mark of .159, is at home with the platoon edge against Matt Moore, who has homer issues. Rupp hit cleanup against a LHP last time out, but after catching a night game last night, he could take the night off. His teammate Carlos Ruiz (PHI) has bounced back from a wretched May and is a punt option if Rupp is out. It’s also possible to go up to Victor Martinez (DET), who hits LHP very well (.421 wOBA, .226 ISO since 2014) but does face a quality pitcher in Quintana. On DraftKings, no one is really priced at a compelling value, at least one that meshes with roster construction. It’s a good position to fill out last there slotting in the highest ranked option that fits your budget.

First Base Rankings

1) Joey Votto (CIN)

2) Miguel Cabrera (DET)

3) Mike Napoli (CLE)

4) Brandon Belt (SF)

5) Victor Martinez (DET)

In cash games, we’re mostly focusing on paying up for the top two options or dropping down to Victor Martinez (DET), who we discussed above and is very cheap on DK where he holds first base eligibility. Joey Votto (CIN) is at home against Mike Leake, who has allowed a lot of quality contact to LHBs this season and already had a poor split there (.337 wOBA, .174 ISO since 2014). Miguel Cabrera (DET) is the hottest of our ranked first basemen, sporting a positive 0.7 delta in our well-hit tool. Quintana has been really good this year (.289 ERA), but he’s also been very fortunate, especially since he’s become a bit more fly ball risky. In tournaments, we’re big fans of the Cleveland duo, Mike Napoli/Carlos Santana (CLE). There’s plenty of power upside given the heat, a slight breeze out to left center, and Santiago allowing both an elevated amount of aerial contact and hard contact.

Second Base Rankings

1) Ian Kinsler (DET)

2) Brian Dozier (MIN)

3) Jason Kipnis (CLE)

4) Cesar Hernandez (PHI)

5) Logan Forsythe (TB)

The difficulty on a short slate like this is while you avoid aces, you get a slew of mediocre pitching, which sometimes makes it difficult to decipher value, especially at positions where our top offenses (Cleveland, St. Louis) are priced correctly. The second base position on the afternoon slate is a good microcosm of this. On DraftKings, our top ranked option, Ian Kinsler (DET), rates as a strong value given his splits (.350 wOBA, .165 ISO against LHP since 2014), and Quintana has been allowing more pop to RHBs of late (.177 ISO to his last 250 faced). However, you don’t want to get sucked into too much Detroit value and be overly reliant on them in cash games against a good pitcher. Alternative options are to simply pay up for Jason Kipnis (CLE) to be able to get exposure to Cleveland (highest team total) or go with Brian Dozier (MIN) (hottest hitter of our ranked second basemen and Clevinger has allowed at least four earned runs in all three of his starts this season).

Shortstop Rankings

1) Francisco Lindor (CLE)

2) Brad Miller (TB)

3) Jhonny Peralta (STL)

4) Brandon Crawford (SF)

5) Alcides Escobar (KC)

The shortstop position is pretty straightforward. Despite a negative delta in our well-hit tool (improving over last few days however), Francisco Lindor (CLE) is our clear-cut top ranked shortstop and preferred value. He’ll give you exposure to a Cleveland offense with the highest team total facing a suspect Hector Santiago (5.03 FIP, 5.12 xFIP). The alternatives are likely Brad Miller (TB) (good power upside given the big power Kennedy allows to LHBs) or Alcides Escobar (KC) (rates as a strong value due to pure punt price, but the cap relief isn’t that necessary on this slate). We like Brandon Crawford (SF) a lot in tournaments as he has perhaps the most power upside at the position.

Third Base Rankings

1) Miguel Sano (MIN) (where eligible)

2) Maikel Franco (PHI)

3) Jhonny Peralta (STL) (where eligible)

4) Evan Longoria (TB)

5) Cheslor Cuthbert (KC)

We like to focus on power upside here since, especially on DraftKings where price really isn’t an issue at the position. As a result, we’d much rather take a chance on Miguel Sano (MIN) than Cheslor Cuthbert, even though the latter ranks as a better per dollar option. Evan Longoria (TB) is also too cheap in a matchup where he can make DFS value with a long ball even if his team’s scoring is depressed. The best industry wide value at the position, though, is Maikel Franco (PHI). Franco is too underpriced in a home matchup where he holds the platoon edge, especially since Matt Moore is homer prone (1.38 HR/9 this season). He’s especially viable on FanDuel where Sano and Jhonny Peralta (STL) aren’t eligible.

Outfield Rankings

1) Stephen Piscotty (STL)

2) Rajai Davis (CLE)

3) Matt Holliday (STL)

4) Billy Hamilton (CIN)

5) Lorenzo Cain (KC)

6) Miguel Sano (MIN)

7) Kevin Kiermaier (TB) (if second)

8) Denard Span (SF)

9) JD Martinez (DET)

10) Max Kepler (MIN)

Unlike many of the other positions on this slate, we’re not stuck looking for who we have to play here, as there are several options we want to play. It’s a great position to get a combination of good splits plays, top of the lineup bats with event upside, and access to our top two offenses. All three of Rajai Davis (CLE), Matt Holliday (STL), and Stephen Piscotty (STL) are pretty accessible across the industry. If you really need cap relief, Kevin Kiermaier (TB), who has been vaulted to second in the lineup, leads our cheaper values. For tournaments, there are a slew of upside options to target, most notably Billy Hamilton (CIN) (like his speed upside especially when facing a more contact oriented starting pitcher), Miguel Sano (MIN), Aaron Altherr (PHI) (SSS but a career .250 ISO), and JD Martinez (DET) (homered in his return from the DL last night and seems a touch underpriced). Most of those options can be used as cash game alternatives as well.

Stack Rankings

Tier One

1) St. Louis Cardinals

2) Cleveland Indians

Tier Two

3) Minnesota Twins

We’re fine straying a bit from per dollar values at certain positions if it means forcing in Cardinals/Cleveland mini-stacks in cash games. They have the highest implied run totals, which makes a lot of sense to us the rest of the offenses on the slate are facing at least mediocre starting pitching. Especially on FanDuel, it may be reasonable to full punt a couple of positions where you’re unable to get STL/CLE exposure, in order to clear cap room so you can pay up for that exposure where it makes sense.

The red-hot Twins offense is looking to force another disaster start out of the Cleveland starting pitchers, and objectively this is the best matchup for them of the series, as Mike Clevinger has given up a combined 14 runs in his only three MLB starts.

Additional Tournament Stacks

-San Francisco Giants (pretty deep lineup against RHP and a massive park shift)