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August 6 MLB DFS: Wheeler of Fortune

Adam Hummell
August 6 MLB DFS: Wheeler of Fortune
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Welcome to August 6 MLB DFS action. You’ll find Daily Fantasy Baseball Premium Cliff Notes for August 6 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!

00:57 Starting Pitcher
12:47 Stacks/Tournament Thoughts
23:52 C
25:32 1B
28:08 2B
30:54 3B
34:31 SS
36:45 OF



  • 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.

MLB DFS Optimizer Tutorial

Our MLB DFS Optimizer is live. Arturo put together an overview with MLB DFS Optimizer Cliffnotes that walk through the various features and frequently asked questions (FAQs) from customers during testing. We have also produced a basic optimizer tutorial video on YouTube (linked below) as well as a power user optimizer tutorial for the most advanced tournament players on how to get the most out of the optimizer. You can join the #MLB channel in slack if you have additional questions.


Starting Pitcher

Zack Wheeler (NYM) is projecting for about three FanDuel fantasy points more than any other pitcher on Thursday’s slate and he is not even the most expensive pitcher on either site. Wheeler is the lucky pitcher who will square off against the Marlins and their National League worst wOBA and wRC+ against RHP. The Mets opened as -195 home favorites (line has moved to -260) and the Marlins’ 3.4-run implied run total is the lowest on the slate. Furthermore, the Mets have felt comfortable allowing Wheeler to pitch deep into games as he is averaging almost 18.8 outs per start. In other words, our 18 out base line could even prove to be low, so there is even upside beyond his projection. We view him as a cash game building block on this slate and a RHP versus the Marlins always features quite a bit of upside in GPPs as well.

Jon Lester (CHC) and Zack Greinke (HOU) constitute the next tier at starting pitcher on DraftKings with Lester popping as the slightly superior value despite the negative umpire boost. The Athletics lineup may be without Khris Davis (although the manager suggested he would play at least one game during this series) playing in a National League park and Lester opened as a -140 home favorite. The wind is expecting to be blowing in at the time of first pitch and yet Vegas is still implying 4.4-runs for the visiting Athletics. On paper, the team has only struck out at a 17.1-percent rate versus LHP, but his solid duration baselines and relatively affordable price tag are the reasons he is edging out some pitchers priced similarly.

Greinke is expensive and therefore difficult to fit alongside another ace like Wheeler but he can also be used as an alternative SP1 in tournaments if needing the salary relief. On Tuesday, he will square off against a team that he is familiar with as he was just traded out of division. The Rockies will gain a designated hitter heading to an American League park and the Astros opened as whopping -200 favorites. The Astros pitching staff have found a way to get the most out of all their other pitchers and it remains to be seen how that goes with Greinke. Regardless, the Rockies are a team that has posted a wRC+ below league average versus RHP despite playing half their games in Coors Field. His strikeout projection is just uncomfortably low (5.8) for a pitcher that costs almost $10,000 on DraftKings.

On FanDuel, Dinelson Lamet (SD) is priced at just $6,500 versus a Mariners team whose active hitters have struck out at the second highest rate of any team versus RHP (26.4-percent). For a pitcher priced in this range, Lamet comes equipped with unusual strikeout upside as he has struck out 28.7-percent of the hitters he has faced as a professional (and 29.1-percent of the hitters he has faced this year alone). Lamet’s 14.0-percent swinging strike rate is up significantly from even last year’s 11.8-percent rate and his underlying numbers suggest he has pitched better than his 5.09 ERA. His 6.4 K projection is only 0.2 less than Clayton Kershaw who is the most expensive pitcher on the slate. The main downside with Lamet is his lack of control (10.7-percent career BB rate) and the Mariners walk at a rate higher than the league average. At least he will be pitching in one of the top pitching environments in the entire American League and rostering him is the path to expensive bats.

Steven Brault (PIT) is priced below $5,000 on DraftKings in a matchup versus a lefty-heavy Brewers lineup that also recently traded away Jesus Aguilar. On paper, the Brewers are nothing more than a league average offense versus LHP dealing with a negative park shift. If needing an almost free SP2 to fit bats, Brault is at least projecting for almost 11 DraftKings points, and fantasy owners are just hoping for double-digits.

Trent Thornton (TOR) is also priced like a pure punt on DraftKings but he is not a pitcher who typically pitches deep into games. In 22 starts, Thornton has averaged 14.3 outs per game while posting an ugly 4.93 SIERA, 4.60 FIP and 4.98 xFIP along the way. Tampa Bay is a solid pitching environment, and constitutes a positive park shift for Thornton, but the real reason to like him is due to the price tag. The Rays have also struck out at about a league-average rate versus RHP, and Thornton has struck out opposing hitters at a 21.8-percent rate (8.74 K/9), so this is at least not a total nothing pitcher in terms of talent/upside.

Jordan Yamamoto (MIA) and Anthony DeSclafani (CIN) are two other cheap pitchers worthy of consideration on FanDuel if avoiding spending up for an ace. They are viable on DraftKings as well if trying to differentiate the starting pitcher pool. Playing against the streaking Mets, Yamamoto and the Marlins opened as huge underdogs (+175), but he has held his own during his short tenure as a Major Leaguer. The 4.70 SIERA is disappointing but he has held both sides of the plate to under a .260 wOBA and has struck out opponents at a 25.3-percent rate. However, his ballpark has allowed his 51.3-percent hard hit rate to not kill him just yet, and that is a concern once again versus a Mets team that rarely strikes out (21.2-percent rate). Nevertheless, they have posted both a hard hit rate and line drive rate in the bottom 10 against RHP.

DeSclafani’s matchup is similar to Castillo’s yesterday in the sense that he is a pitcher that can miss bats and has dominated RHHs this year. The Angels opted to leave Shohei Ohtani on the bench yesterday which means their top left-hander will likely not be in the lineup once again. An extremely right-handed lineup is a solid correlation for DeSclafani who has held RHHs to a .244 wOBA, 26.7-percent K rate and 2.97 FIP. Sure, the Angels’ active hitters have only struck out at an 18.5-percent rate in the split, but Castillo showed yesterday the potential upside for a dominant RHP against a right-heavy version of the lineup. DeSclafani is not as talented but he is also a lot cheaper ($7,900) than Castillo was.

Conner Menez (SF) is also worthy of a mention on FanDuel as he posted a K rate of at least 30-percent at both Double-A and Triple-A prior to being called up. He has already made one Major League start in which he struck out 31.6-percent of batters in 5.0 innings. This will be just his second start but he is extremely cheap ($6,000) and it is possible our strikeout rate baselines are way low on him if he is able to keep this up.

In tournaments, Clayton Kershaw (LAD), Jake Arrieta (PHI) and German Marquez (COL) are three names to add to the MME mix, with Kershaw rating as the best value of the bunch. The problem with Kershaw is he is the most expensive pitcher on the slate and tough to fit on a slate with so many expensive stacks that project well.  Arrieta and Marquez are easier to fit with Marquez’s skill set being the more appealing of the two.


Tier One

1) New York Yankees

Orioles’ starter Asher Wojciechowski started to get exposed his last time out for his brutal underlying numbers versus LHP but continued to display his ability to miss bats. The Yankees’ lineup is a shell of its former self with Giancarlo Stanton, Edwin Encarnacion, Luke Voit and Aaron Hicks all on the injured list. The interesting aspect of these injuries is the fact that left-handed Mike Ford and Mike Tauchman will likely both make their way into the lineup after homering last night. More lefties in the lineup is not an ideal setup for Wojciechowski but these are not exactly guys who strike fear into the heart of opponents. Fantasy owners will need to decide how they feel about targeting these sorts of left-handers to complement the top bats before deciding if the Yankees are the stack for them. At first pitch, the weather should be in the mid-80s with the wind blowing out in a power-friendly park, so it is not like the set-up is scary.

Tier Two

2) Cleveland Indians

3) Boston Red Sox

The Indians and Red Sox comprise the second tier in matchups versus Ariel Jurado and Jakob Junis respectively. After starting the year allowing a wOBA under .300 in the months of April and May combined, he has now yielded a wOBA over .360 in back-to-back months. His groundball rate has decreased every single month to the point where he only managed a 31.9-percent GB rate in July. Following the trade deadline, the Indians lineup is loaded from top-to-bottom so the entire lineup can be targeted. The only downside is fantasy owners are going to have to watch the weather with rain expected until 11pm. If this game plays, the Indians are a spot to smash in one of the top hitters’ environments in the league (Progressive Field).

The probable pitcher against the Red Sox has allowed a 1.63 HR/9 rate this year after allowing exactly a 1.63 HR/9 rate last year so he is nothing if not consistent. Junis’ 4.60 SIERA this year is over one quarter of a run higher than his career tally and it is partially because he is allowing hard contact at the highest rate of his career. Furthermore, the weather in Boston should be more cooperative (80-degrees with the wind blowing out at time of first pitch), so targeting these bats should not be as nerve-racking as the other team in the tier.

Tier Three

4) Cincinnati Reds

5) Minnesota Twins

6) Milwaukee Brewers

The Reds and Twins headline the third tier where both are listed as at least -140 favorites at home. Probable starter Jose Suarez has allowed a .407 wOBA, 2.88 HR/9 rate and over 40-percent hard hit rate to RHHs this year and now will be battling the power-friendly environment of Great American Ballpark. If the Reds go with a similar lineup to yesterday, the only two lefties in the lineup will be at the top, meaning everyone else in the lineup will likely be right-handed. With seven straight hitters potentially owning the platoon edge, this is another solid spot for this squad from Cincinnati, and most of the lineup is cheap.

Mike Foltynewicz will be making his return to the big leagues tonight after pitching relatively well during a six start stretch at Triple-A. He allowed one run or less in each of his final three starts although he only lasted 3.0 innings and 40 pitches in his final start prior to being called back up. One thing we know about Foltynewicz is lefties give him fits and the Twins lineup includes such lefties as Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, Eddie Rosario and Luis Arraez. If targeting Twins, start with the left-handers, and feel free to complement with the righties if projecting a positive game script and Foltynewicz early implosion.

After nearing double-digit runs last night, the Brewers will have a chance at an encore versus Steven Brault. Even against a lefty, we are projecting the Brewers to roll out at least three lefties in their lineup, and that is before noting Yasmani Grandal has displayed much more power in the split versus RHP over the course of his career. Even dealing with a negative park shift, Vegas is still implying 5.3-runs for the Brewers, and only Yelich drew significant ownership yesterday, so expect only 1-2 Brewers (Ryan Braun) to draw any public interest tonight.

Tier Four

7) Los Angeles Angels

8) San Diego Padres

9) Texas Rangers

The Angels are a bit of a tough sell other than Mike Trout and whatever left-handers are in the lineup despite the positive park shift. DeSclafani has consistently been tough on RHHs but has struggled with lefties and heading to a National League park negates Shohei Ohtani from the lineup. Brian Goodwin could potentially lead-off, which would make him part of the mini stack worth targeting, but the Angels full stack should be considered nothing more than a MME sprinkle.

The Padres and Rangers round out the fourth tier as road teams with nine guaranteed innings worth of at-bats (ABs). Well, the ABs would be guaranteed if the game plays, and that is not a 100-percent sure thing for the Rangers with rain in the forecast until 11pm (but delays still seem like the likelier scenario). Starting with the Padres, the lineup is extremely right-handed and Wade LeBlanc, at 34-years old, has begun to depreciate. Both LeBlanc’s FIP and xFIP would be a career-worst and his 1.97 HR/9 rate is bordering on a career-worst as well. His 86.6mph average on his fastball is the lowest of his career since 2009 so this is just not a great pitcher any longer. T-Mobile Park is not a great hitting environment but that should keep the ownership of the Padres down.

The Rangers should go completely overlooked and Zach Plesac’s underlying numbers (5.23 FIP, 5.21 xFIP) tell a completely different story than his ERA (3.41). Not only is Plesac’s K rate subpar (17.6-percent) but he has walked opposing hitters at nearly a double-digit rate and sits with a brutal 5.31 SIERA. No Joey Gallo or Hunter Pence waters down the lineup at a bit but 1-6 in this lineup is still a solid bunch. The Rangers strike out at a rate inside the top 10 versus RHP, but Plesac does not miss many bats, so he will not be able to take advantage of their kryptonite.


Yasmani Grandal (MIL) projects well out in front of the majority of catching options on this big slate. The price tag for Grandal is reasonable but the environment is below average as he’ll earn the bulk of his plate appearances from the right side in a park that decimates RH power. The Brewers have a solid 5.1 implied total but the optimals prefer emphasizing salary relief early on which makes Grandal more of a tournament play.

James McCann (CHW) is the next highest projected catching option and he comes with a slightly less expensive salary on DraftKings at $3,600. Drew VerHagen and the Tigers bullpen project as a plus matchup for McCann even without the platoon edge. If we lose out on punts, optimal lineups will prefer McCann to Grandal simply due to the cost savings. They project as similar values.

For cash games, optimal lineups really want a punt catcher. Welington Castillo (CHW) is the most skilled option but he’s catching game 1 of the double-header so we’ll have to see if they use him as a DH. Castillo is just $2,100. Max Stassi (LAA) is another guy who fits with a $2,100 price tag and hopefully a good hitting environment in Cincinnati. Stassi isn’t much of a hitter and the matchup with DeSclafani is a difficult one for RH hitters but this is all about the price tag. With primary pitching options expensive, we want salary relief at your catcher spot. If Stassi is in the lineup, he’s your best bet. If no Stassi, there is always Jeff Mathis (TEX) for the pure minimum. 

If Stassi isn’t in the lineup, John Hicks (DET) may be the best alternative. The matchup with Hector Santiago and the White Sox pen is a good one and Hicks generally gets a decent lineup spot for a Tigers offense that comes with a 5.4 implied total today.

In tournaments, Austin Romine (NYY), Tucker Barnhart (CIN), Kurt Suzuki (WSH), and Roberto Perez (CLE) may make sense as part of stacks. They’re all a bit pricey for cash game consideration. One off power plays like Austin Hedges (SD) or Chance Sisco (BAL) may also mix in.

First Base

Carlos Santana (CLE) leads the projections at first base as Cleveland has one of the largest implied totals on the slate at six. After a sluggish offensive start to the year, Cleveland’s lineup looks deep after the trade deadline and the reemergence of Jose Ramirez. Their matchup with Ariel Jurado and a watered down Rangers bullpen is a good one to target. Santana is appropriately priced on both sites which makes him a difficult spend in cash games. He’s a fine tournament option.

The projections bunch a bit at first base after Santana with Jose Abreu (CHW), Danny Santana (TEX), Joc Pederson (LAD), Freddie Freeman (ATL), and Rhys Hoskins (PHI) forming a deeper second tier.

The price tags on Abreu and Pederson are the most compelling of this group and the ones that draw our attention in cash games. Abreu gets a favorable matchup against Drew VerHagen who has posted a 5.43 ERA in his big league career and struggled mightily with command this season. His track record in the minor league isn’t horrible and he can miss some bats but the overall projection and picture for VerHagen is one of a borderline big leaguer. 

On FanDuel, the White Sox-Tigers game isn’t available. With Joc Pederson priced at $3,100 though we don’t need the White Sox bats. Miles Mikolas is an above average pitcher but Pederson’s baseline skills against RHP (.373 wOBA, .286 ISO) make him one of the more underpriced targets. With first base options a bit thinner due to efficient pricing on FanDuel, we lean on the tag for Pederson.

Joey Votto (CIN) is also an affordable alternative on FanDuel and certainly makes sense as a part of Reds stacks. The game environment for Votto is stronger (5.4 implied total) but the left-on-left matchup keeps his projection well behind Pederson. 

Gio Urshela (NYY) is another stack candidate on FanDuel with the Yankees injuries pushing him up in the projected lineup. If Mike Ford (NYY) gets another opportunity to hit in the middle of the lineup, he’ll immediately jump into consideration as the top value at first base. He’s priced at just $2,300 and hit fifth yesterday.

Second Base

The Yankees dominate the projections at second base with Gleyber Torres (NYY) and DJ LeMahieu (NYY) as the top projected options on DraftKings where both carry eligibility. On FanDuel it’s just Torres who we’ve bumped up to fourth in the projected lineup with so many injuries. The matchup with Asher Wojciechowski remains a conundrum for RHBs. We discussed this last time he pitched against the Jays that his dominance of RHBs in a small sample this year is concerning for the platoon split. However, at every stop in his minor league journey he’s allowed RH power and sure enough last time out the Jays RH power got to him a bit. This makes the matchup a bit boom or bust as Woj’s small sample (36.5 percent K Rate, 2.7 BB Rate, and 1.40 HR/9) in the platoon split looks wild but when you layer in the bad Orioles pen behind him and the skill of these Yankees RHBs it appears to be a good spot to invest. Vegas certainly agrees giving the Yankees an implied total around 6.5 runs.

The big dropoff in projections from the Yankees guys to everyone else makes the positional approach binary on both sites. Either spend up or punt. The punt play on boh sites is Jose Peraza (CIN) who is priced at $2,000 on FanDuel and $2,900 on DraftKings. The Reds have a healthy implied total (5.4) and Peraza will hold the platoon edge against Suarez. For the salary relief he brings, he’s a fine alternative in cash games.

This leaves a wide array of options in the middle to consider for tournaments. Rougned Odor (TEX), Jason Kipnis (CLE), Jeff McNeil (NYM), Keston Hiura (MIL), and Michael Chavis (BOS) all fit the old well on FanDuel as mid-priced options with decent power baselines and solid team totals.

Third Base

Jose Ramirez (CLE), DJ LeMahieu (NYY), Eugenio Suarez (CIN), and Rafael Devers (BOS) are the top projected options at third base. Ramirez and Suarez come with best price tags on both sites and end up in the majority of optimals. Both options get the platoon edge in strong hitting environments and facing teams with weak bullpens behind the starters. We view those two as your priority cash game targets with Devers and LeMahieu viable in tournaments.

Manny Machado (SD) projects slightly behind this tier and has a similar price tag. The upside against homer prone Wade LeBlanc is strong and Machado earns tournament consideration as well.

In terms of value at the position, there isn’t a ton to be had. If Luis Arraez (MIN) slides up in the lineup he’d provide a source of salary relief. Renato Nunez (BAL) has some power upside but the Yankees bullpen is a tough nut to crack. Travis Shaw (MIL) and Matt Thaiss (LAA) are all or nothing power options and on DraftKings Ryan Goins (CHW) is a viable salary relief option just due to the lineup spot. Goins has a woeful .272 wOBA, .119 ISO baseline.

The lack of value options at the position is one of the reasons we strongly recommend Suarez or Ramirez in cash games.

One leverage option in the upper/mid tier is Matt Chapman (OAK). Jon Lester should come with healthy ownership on DraftKings as a possible SP2 and he’s vulnerable to RH power.


Francisco Lindor (CLE), Gleyber Torres (NYY), and Didi Gregorius (NYY) represent the shortstop triumvirate at the top of the projections. Lindor is the cleanest projection wise from the group. He hits atop the lineup, always has the platoon edge as a switch hitter, and runs a bit to boost the projection. Gregorius is the next most stable given Wojciechowski’s splits against LHBs haven’t improved at the big league level to the amount his splits against RHBs have improved. With Gregorius also the cheapest of the three it’s easy to get exposure to him as your primary Yankee in cash games. On FanDuel, Gregorius gets into 100% of our first 50 vanilla optimal lineups. On DraftKings Gregorius trails Torres slightly but it’s close enough the “feel” of the platoon split issues for Woj make sense to lean into Torres.

Like third base, there isn’t much value to contend with this group up top and so optimals almost always prefer spending at the position. Ryan Goins (CHW) and Jose Peraza (CIN) are the cheap options with multi-position eligibility on DraftKings that we discussed at other positions.

On FanDuel, David Fletcher (LAA) and Jose Iglesias (CIN) are the cheap options and both come with better lineup spots than the salary relief options on FanDuel. They’re similarly weak values though.

With ownership likely condensing at the top there are opportunities to pivot among the high-end shortstops with Xander Bogaerts (BOS), Fernando Tatis Jr. (SD), and Jorge Polanco (MIN) who all have favorable matchups for power. 

Marcus Semien (OAK), like his teammate in Matt Chapman, represents a solid leverage play as well on DraftKings where Lester figures to command ownership.


Aaron Judge (NYY) and Mike Trout (LAA) are the top two projected outfield options. Judge remains more affordable than Trout on both sites and our preferred spend if you can get there. On DraftKings, it shouldn’t be a problem with a reasonable $4,900 price tag but on FanDuel it might be harder to squeeze him in.

For value, the Reds and former Reds are flooding the optimals with Yasiel Puig (CLE), Nick Senzel (CIN), Philip Ervin (CIN), and Aristides Aquino (CIN) all finding the optimals frequently on each site. The Reds salary relief options like Ervin and Aquino are more frequently in play on FanDuel where they’re priced near the minimum. Puig is a priority target on both sites as a middle of the order bat against Ariel Jurado for a Cleveland offense with a big implied total. We should note there is some slight projection concern with the Reds who have been double-switching like crazy in recent weeks with their outfielders and even using a RP in the outfield at times. We’ve incorporated some of the risk into the projections with all of them.

On FanDuel, Hunter Renfroe (SD) remains cheap for his power upside against LHP (.362 wOBA, .294 ISO baseline against LHP) and at just $2,900 gives you an option to diversify off of all the Reds exposure. At $4,400 on DraftKings he’s more of a secondary target.

If Justin Upton (LAA) and Khris Davis (OAK) are in the lineup on DraftKings they’d represent the best sources of salary relief. Both are on teams playing in NL parks and are vulnerable to the roster crunch but they’re each priced at $3,700 and $3,300 respectively.

Nicholas Castellanos (CHC) is a more reliable salary relief option on DraftKings and gets the platoon edge against Brett Anderson (.348 wOBA, .177 ISO allowed since 2017 to RHBs). 

There are a slew of secondary values on both sites that earn consideration for tournaments or last pieces of lineups. Brett Gardner (NYY), Lorenzo Cain (MIL), Ryan Braun (MIL), and Manuel Margot (SD) all fit this mold as options with the platoon edge and road hitters near the top of the lineup.

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