Daily Fantasy Rundown – August 6 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Thursday’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: Late game in ATL is the weather problem game tonight. There’s some risk of ppd but a delay is more likely. 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.
Russell Martin (TOR) – Martin is a better hitter against LHP but he’s still solid vs. RHP (.330 wOBA, .168 ISO against RHP since 2012). Opposing pitcher Kyle Gibson has surrendered a .313 wOBA to RHBs in the last few seasons and at the surface level that’s not terrible. However, he’s used to pitching at Target Field (great pitcher’s park) and he has allowed a 1.09 HR/9 to RHBs. He will pitch in one of the best hitting venues in all of baseball (Rogers Centre) so the environment won’t help him. The catcher position is usually barren but that’s even more obvious on a five game slate. Martin is the best value in a vacuum at the position when you factor in the high team total (Blue Jays have an implied run total of five runs) and his price (priced fairly around the industry).
Additional catcher notes: Buster Posey (SFG) actually ranks as the top play at the catcher position and he’s not in a great situation (facing Jason Hammel). He’s still pricey after coming off a trip to Globe Life Park in Arlington so we don’t view him as a cash game option tonight. Kyle Schwarber (CHC) doesn’t have a great matchup (Chris Heston) but he’s the best value play after Russell Martin at the position due to his skill set. Evan Gattis (HOU) has catcher eligibility on FanDuel and he represents the top play at the position on that particular site.
Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) – Encarnacion hasn’t been the same hitter we’re accustomed to seeing this season (.349 wOBA, .215 ISO) and that’s likely due to his reduction in hard hit rate (31 percent this season, around 37-38 percent in the last three seasons) and some bad luck (.248 BABIP). He’s still generating loft (43 percent FB rate) so we believe that more power could be in store moving forward. The three year data shows that he has been a great hitter vs. RHP (.381 wOBA, .264 ISO against RHP since 2012) and Kyle Gibson is prone to the long ball (1.09 HR/9 allowed to RHBs). The Jays hitters in general will additionally benefit from facing an awful Twins bullpen (highest xFIP in MLB) once Gibson departs. Encarnacion is priced fully on FanDuel but on DraftKings he’s still priced a bit low ($4,200). He’s our fourth ranked hitter on this slate.
Mike Napoli (BOS) – Most people believe that Napoli has regressed in a major way as a hitter and at the surface level that’s probably true (.209/.310/.391 triple slash line this season). However, his K and BB ratios are right in line with his career levels (26 percent K rate, 12 percent BB rate) and he still has power (.182 ISO). The only peripherals that aren’t in line for Napoli are his luck (.255 BABIP) and his hard hit rate (29 percent). Despite a pretty terrible season, he has still been able to hit LHP very well (.370 wOBA, .280 ISO). CC Sabathia struggles in a major way against RHBs (.370 wOBA, 1.66 HR/9 allowed to RHBs since 2012) so this represents a strong matchup for Napoli (ranks inside our top 10 hitters). He was one four model’s highest HR scores on the night.
Additional first base notes: Mark Teixeira (NYY) and David Ortiz (BOS) are my favorite tournament plays at the position on this slate. Teixeira is a switch hitter and he’s had a renaissance season (his contact rate is back to his career norm and he has accumulated a .399 wOBA and .311 this season). He will have the platoon edge even when the game reaches the late stages so he will likely have opportunities at the short porch in right. Ortiz doesn’t have the same benefit since he’s a LHB that’s facing a LHP and CC Sabathia can still get lefties out (.271 wOBA allowed to LHBs since 2012). We still want to take a shot at the short porch with Ortiz and we believe that the matchup will keep his ownership percentage relatively low in tournaments. This is a great spot to be contrarian on a five game slate.
Brian Dozier (MIN) – Dozier doesn’t rate as well as Altuve in our model but I’ve made some manual adjustments given his current peripherals so that Dozier can be ahead. He will have the platoon edge against Mark Buehrle (doesn’t miss any bats and his fastball velocity is down to 84 MPH) at Rogers Centre, which is a huge improvement over his home park (Target Field). Dozier is an awesome hitter vs. LHP (.371 wOBA, .231 ISO against LHP in the last few seasons) and the loft he’s generating this season (47 percent FB rate) has made him more powerful (career high .248 ISO). The Twins don’t have a very appealing total (3.6 implied runs) but we’re still going to pick on Mark Buehrle were it makes sense (Dozier should hit leadoff or second and that gives him at least 4 PAs on the road).
Additional second base notes: Dee Gordon (MIA) is a nice cash game option on FanDuel. He’s leading off on the road (at least four PAs) against a contact pitcher and he’s always a threat to steal multiple bases (60 SB upside over a full season). One a short slate, there’s some logic in simply target the stolen base upside. Overall Dozier makes a bit more sense than Gordon (way better hitter) but at $3,100 for that type of upside on a site that doesn’t take away points for caught stealing, Gordon is worthy of consideration across all formats. Jose Altuve (HOU) won’t be hitting in a great environment (Oakland Coliseum) and his matchup against Aaron Brooks is difficult to evaluate. ZiPS projections think that Brooks won’t be good this season (projected ERA over 5.00) but he can still turn out to be a solid pitcher (based on his minor league track record this season). Altuve is slightly discounted on most sites and he’s on the road (like the other written options at second base, he will have at least four PAs) but I’d rather have exposure to him in tournaments.
Troy Tulowitzki (TOR) – If you thought that Tulowitzki would all of a sudden stop producing just because he’s no longer hitting at Coors Filed, you were wrong. Rogers Centre isn’t Coors Field but it’s still one of the best hitting environments in all of baseball and Tulowitzki is leading off for arguably the best offense. We’ve already seen the results, as Tulowitzki is hitting in front of Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion and he has produced (two home runs, five RBIs, nine runs in seven games with the Blue Jays). Kyle Gibson pitches to contact and he’s allowing a 1.09 HR/9 to RHBs since 2012. This bodes well for Tulowtizki and the Blue Jays (implied run total of five runs). Tulowitzki is our second ranked hitter on this slate so he’s worth his current price tag around the industry.
Additonal shortstop notes: If you can’t quite spend all the way for Tulowitzki on DraftKings, Hanley Ramirez (BOS) represents the strongest value at the position on that particular site. He’s only $4,000 and he will have the platoon edge against the underwhelming CC Sabathia (.370 wOBA, 1.66 HR/9 allowed to RHBs since 2012) at Yankee Stadium. Ramirez is an elite hitter vs. LHP (.392 wOBA, .259 ISO against LHP in the last three seasons) so he’s currently underpriced relative to his skills and overall strength of matchup. Teammate Xander Bogaerts (BOS) is also a good hitter vs. LHP but he’s not quite as skilled as Ramirez. He’s a fine secondary target for cash games on sites where Ramirez doesn’t have SS eligibility. Jed Lowrie (HOU) is back in a top four spot for the Astros offense and he’s $3,100 on FanDuel (fair price tag for him since he’s an average hitter vs. RHP). If you’re paying up for other high priced hitters and can’t pay for Tulowitzki or Bogaerts, Lowrie represents a fine secondary target after those two.
Alex Rodriguez (NYY) – If you read the Rundown at the beginning of the season, you probably saw that we had a very difficult time with Rodriguez. After all, he had multiple hip surgeries and was away from baseball for almost two years. It’s incredible that after all of that,at age 40, Rodriguez is still an elite hitter. He has accrued a .392 wOBA and .255 ISO this season, which are in line with his career baselines. He’s hitting the ball harder (38 percent hard hit rate) and he’s generating about the same loft as usual (37 percent FB rate this season, 39 percent over his career). He has destroyed LHP this season (.449 wOBA, .356 ISO in 129 PAs against LHP) and will face Eduardo Rodriguez (has been solid a pitcher but he’s still very young and his run prevention hasn’t been very good) at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees are tied for the highest team total on this slate with the Blue Jays (five implied runs) so we’re going to target them in cash games, particularly where it makes the most sense (third base, outfield).
Trevor Plouffe (MIN) – If you can’t pay up for Alex Rodriguez at third base, Plouffe represents a strong value option at a lower cost. Plouffe has been a productive hitter vs. LHP (.356 wOBA, .206 ISO against LHP since 2012) and he will face Mark Buehrle (soft tossing LHP who doesn’t miss any bats) at Rogers Center. His skill set and contextual factors are enough to consider him for cash games but Rodriguez is the better hitter in an offense with a higher run total and therefore rates as the stronger play at the position.
Additional third base notes: Chase Headley (NYY) will have a top six spot in the Yankees offense against Eduardo Rodriguez and the below average Red Sox bullpen. Rodriguez and Plouffe have the better lineup spots (Headley usually hits sixth and he’s at home) and they’re better hitters so Headley only rates as secondary option. Josh Donaldson (TOR) is the most expensive hitter on DraftKings ($6,200). He won’t have the platoon edge and he’s probably a bit overpriced relative to his skill set vs. RHP but Kyle Gibson doesn’t miss any bats and he struggles with the long ball against RHBs. Donaldson is a tournament worthy option but he’s too expensive to consider in cash games. Miguel Sano (MIN) will have the platoon edge against Mark Buehrle at Rogers Centre. Sano projects to strike out a ton at the major league level but he should also hit for a lot of power and this matchup could help (Buehrle doesn’t miss any bats and his fastball velocity has topped at 84 MPH). He’s priced appropriately around the industry and the Twins total isn’t very appealing for cash games so we’d rather take our shot with Sano in tournaments.
Jose Bautista (TOR) (top ranked hitter in our model and since we’re not spending up for any pitchers in cash games, it’s easier to fit a hitter like Bautista this evening).
Chris Young (NYY) – Young rates as our top value at the position. He will carry the platoon edge in his matchup against Eduardo Rodriguez and he has been a good hitter vs. LHP (.349 wOBA, .214 ISO). Young will have a top five spot in a Yankees offense that has an implied run total of five runs and at $3,300 on DraftKings, we consider him a very strong play.
Hanley Ramirez (BOS) – It’s no surprise that our top outfield values come from the same game (Red Sox and Yankees have a game total of nine runs, highest on this slate). Like Chris Young, Ramirez will have a top five lineup spot against a southpaw (CC Sabathia) and he’s an elite hitter vs. LHP (.392 wOBA, .254 ISO against LHP since 2012). Sabathia struggles a ton with RHBs, especially with power (1.66 HR/9 allowed to RHBs in the last three seasons) so we love picking on him. Ramirez is currently underpriced around the industry, particularly on DraftKings ($4,000). He ranks inside our top 10 hitters.
Aaron Hicks (MIN) – The Twins are in a weird spot tonight. They’re a better hitting group vs. LHP and they’re at Rogers Centre facing a soft tossing LHP but their implied run total is only 3.6 runs. Mark Buehrle has been able to outpitch his ERA predictors but it’s only a matter of time before the wheels fall off (fastball velocity is topping at 84 MPH). In this type of hitting venue, we’re going to pick on him where it makes sense (Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe and Hicks in the outfield). Hicks has been a good hitter against LHP (.368 wOBA, .178 ISO in 219 PAs vs. LHP) and he was leading off for the Twins offense last night. With that type of lineup spot on the road, Hicks is assured at least four PAs. He’s priced adequately relative to his skills on most sites but we like him a bit more as a value if he’s able to lead off.
Additional outfield notes: Carlos Gomez (HOU) rates as a top 10 hitter in our model but that’s mostly due to the projection systems hatred towards Aaron Brooks. He was a solid pitcher at AAA and he could turn out to be a fine pitcher at the major league level so we don’t want to pick on him too much in cash games (especially at Oakland Coliseum). Realistically, Gomez should be a top 25 hitter in our model so he’s still cash game worthy. If Chris Colabello (TOR) obtains a top five spot in the Blue Jays offense, he would emerge as a solid secondary target for cash games (surrounded by great hitters but he’s not very good vs. RHP). Torii Hunter (MIN) should have a top five spot in the Twins lineup against Mark Buehrle but we prefer Aaron Hicks as long as he’s leading off. Hunter is a fine secondary target (good skills against LHP and Rogers Centre is a huge improvement over his home park, Target Field). Rusney Castillo (BOS) is a good tournament target in this particular matchup (CC Sabathia). He’s not cash game worthy since he will likely hit towards the bottom of the Red Sox lineup but we’re willing to take shots in tournaments with cheap RHBs against Sabathia in Yankee Stadium.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Chris Heston (SFG)
2) Jason Hammel (CHC)
3) Aaron Brooks (OAK)
4) Matt Wisler (ATL)
5) Scott Feldman (HOU)
6) Mark Buehrle (TOR)
7) Eduardo Rodriguez (BOS)
8) Jose Urena (MIA)
Chris Heston (SFG) – The starting pitcher position represents a challenge this evening. It feels like every pitcher on this slate is either a below average pitcher or a good pitcher in a bad matchup. Heston is the only starting pitcher who rates as a solid pitcher in a plus matchup. While he doesn’t K batters at a league average rate (19 percent K rate, nine percent SwStr rate), he keeps the ball on the ground (56 percent GB rate) and doesn’t allow much hard contact (five percent hard minus soft hit rate, 0.41 HR/9). In this matchup (Cubs are ranked 27th in wRC+ and are striking out close to 25 percent of the time against RHP), Heston feels like the most logical play at the starting pitcher position. It looks like the wind will be blowing in 10 MPH at Wrigley Field this evening so the weather isn’t a concern.
Aaron Brooks (OAK) – Brooks is only cash game viable on multiple starting pitcher sites and after Chris Heston (and Jason Hammel), the rest of the options are underwhelming. Brooks has one major league start under his belt this season and performed well (seven IP, one ER, five Ks and zero BBs). That’s obviously a very small sample so let’s take a look at his minor league resume and see if we can get a clearer picture. At AAA this season (106.2 IP), Brooks accumulated a 21 percent K rate, five percent BB rate, 3.71 ERA/3.61 FIP. Those are above average skills at the major league level but it remains to be seen if he can translate those skills from the minor league level to the highest level of baseball. The Astros are ranked fifth in wRC+ against RHP but they’re striking out 24 percent of the time and they’re facing a negative park shift (Oakland Coliseum is a great pitching environment). He’s not a must play by any means but he’s $5,600 on DraftKings and we’re hoping that the upside in strikeouts in this matchup/elite pitching venue can help produce a positive DFS performance while allowing you to stack the big bats from the high total teams.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Jason Hammel (CHC) is the most skilled starter on this slate but he’s also the most expensive and his matchup is terrible (Giants are the number one ranked offense against RHP in terms of wRC+, which is park adjusted. His skill set is enough to make him cash game viable but I feel like punting the position with Aaron Brooks on multiple starting pitcher sites makes a bit more sense (helps you load up on the best offensive situations). Matt Wisler (ATL) doesn’t miss any bats and he’s not very good but he has a matchup against a Marlins team that’s ranked dead last in wRC+ against RHP and he’s at home. That’s enough to consider him in cash games on multiple starting pitcher sites. Intriguing options for tournaments include: Scott Feldman (HOU) (he will pitch in a great pitching venue and the Athletics are a neutral matchup against RHP), Eduardo Rodriguez (BOS) (he’s only a contrarian tournament play; he will be low owned due to the high total on this game but he’s a southpaw so it will make it tougher for LHBs to aim for the short porch) and Mark Buehrle (TOR) (the Twins are a better hitting club against LHP and they’re at Rogers Centre tonight; Buehrle pitches to contact but we’re hoping that he can sustain his 3.32 ERA for one more start).
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) New York Yankees
2) Toronto Blue Jays
3) Boston Red Sox
1) Minnesota Twins (facing a LHP that should regress any time now at Rogers Centre; their implied run total isn’t very appealing for cash games but they’re a fun tournament team to stack relative to their contextual factors and skills against southpaws)
2) Houston Astros (difficult to establish a baseline for opposing pitcher Aaron Brooks since he doesn’t have much of a history at the major league level; I’d rather target the Astros in tournaments, where I’m willing to take on this level of uncertainty)
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