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7/12 MLB DFS: Be Wilin to Cue the Liriano

7/12 MLB DFS: Be Wilin to Cue the Liriano
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MLB DFS Daily Fantasy Rundown – July 12th, 2015

Welcome to Sunday’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: Minor to moderate threat for delays in CLE and MIN late. Very minor threat in PIT and COL. Great hitting environments in TEX, BOS and especially COL

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.

Catcher

Top Play:

Wilin Rosario (COL) – Rosario is too cheap on DraftKings ($3,400) relative to his skills and contextual factors at hand this afternoon. Rosario has demolished LHP in the last three seasons, accumulating a .430 wOBA and .291 ISO. Opposing pitcher Alex Wood is certainly not a bad pitcher (neutralizes RHBs well due to an above average K-BB% and he has only allowed a 0.76 HR/9 to RHBs since 2012) but Coors Field is the best hitting environment in all of baseball and Rosario gets a premier lineup spot against southpaws. The Rockies have a team total of five runs and no other catcher has these skills or contextual factors on this slate. It’s a full slate but Rosario can be considered a core cash game play on sites where he has catcher eligibility. Rosario is ranked inside our top 10 hitters today (next ranked catcher is Yasmani Grandal, and he’s our 60th ranked hitter).

Value Play:

Yasmani Grandal (LAD) – While Grandal doesn’t have the same contextual factors or skills as Rosario does, he’s a nice hitter against RHP (.363 wOBA, .200 ISO against RHP since 2012) and opposing pitcher Kyle Lohse has deteriorated this season (run prevention is atrocious, he’s allowing harder contact and LHBs are feasting, as he has allowed a .344 wOBA and 1.61 HR/9 to opposing LHBs). I view Grandal as a fine value alternative to Rosario and on sites where Rosario isn’t catcher eligible, Grandal represents the top play at the position.

Additional catcher notes: A.J. Pierzynski (ATL) isn’t a great hitter but he does have power and that’s enough to consider a catcher at Coors Field in all formats. Wilin Rosario and Yasmani Grandal rate better than Pierzynski in our model but he’s an adequate secondary option nonetheless. I consider Wilson Ramos (WSH) a strong value on FanDuel ($2,800), where Wilin Rosario isn’t catcher eligible. If you’re not able to pay up for Yasmani Grandal, Ramos represents a good option (will have the platoon edge against Wei-Yen Chen, who has fly ball tendencies, at Camden Yards). We would feel even more confident if Ramos could lock up a top five spot in the Nationals lineup (has been hitting cleanup against LHP as of late). John Jaso (TB) is always a favorite of mine at the catcher position due to his awesome skills against RHP. Jaso has been leading off for the Rays, which only adds to his value moving forward. He doesn’t have a great matchup against Lance McCullers and the Rays aren’t a very good hitting group so Jaso fails to gain recognition as a primary value. I’d still consider him in just about any format due to his favorable skill set.

First Base

Top Play:

David Ortiz (BOS) – Ortiz is our third ranked hitter in our model and he’s not priced as such on any sites. In most cases, Ortiz isn’t even priced as a top 10 first baseman. Ortiz represents a very strong investment relative to his cheap price point, matchup (Opposing pitcher Nathan Eovaldi has allowed a .347 wOBA, 19 percent hard minus soft hit rate and he has only struck out 15 percent of LHBs in the last three seasons) and elite skills (.406 wOBA, .279 ISO since 2012). After a slow start to the season, Ortiz is back (.386 wOBA, .259 ISO against RHP this season) so we’re not concerned about a lack of recent performance here. He’s in play across all formats and he’s the best value investment at the position around the industry.

Value Play:

Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) – Gonzalez has been a good hitter against RHP (.365 wOBA, .202 ISO against RHP in the last three seasons) and a matchup against Kyle Lohse (has been awful this season and LHBs are feasting against him, especially with power) could help produce a positive DFS performance from Gonzalez. While Ortiz rates much stronger in our model, Gonzalez is our 30th ranked hitter and he’s underpriced on DraftKings ($3,900). He represents a great value investment on that particular site.

Lucas Duda (NYM) – Duda is minimum priced on FanDuel, where he seems way too cheap relative to his skills (.819 OPS against vs. RHP since 2012) and strength of matchup (Rubby De La Rosa has been tagged for a .373 wOBA and 1.34 HR/9 against 486 LHBs faced at the major league level). If you need extra salary relief on that particular site, I don’t mind going down from David Ortiz to Duda (15th ranked hitter).

Additional first base notes: Paul Goldschmidt (ARI), Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) and Joey Votto (CIN) are elite DFS options on any given day. Goldschmidt and Votto will have the platoon edge against below average pitcher and Encarnacion is simply under-priced on DraftKings. I view Goldschmidt as a great tournament option (negative park shift and a lack of support from Vegas could help keep his ownership down in tournaments) while Enarnacion makes our cash game recommendations on DraftKings due to discounted price. Votto is a fair option on any format of your choosing but keep in mind that he’s facing a really tough park shift and Dan Haren’s fly ball tendencies play well in these type of pitching environments. Mark Teixeira (NYY) will have the advantage as a RHB at Fenway Park due to the Green Monster. He doesn’t rate as well in our model as the options above but I still view him as a strong option due to a favorable matchup and good park for his pull power as a right-handed hitter. Prince Fielder (TEX) doesn’t have a great overall matchup against Tyson Ross but Globe Life Park in Arlington is an elite hitting venue and Fielder’s level of productions from his prime years are back. The matchup could cause lower ownership in tournaments, where I view him as a strong option. Albert Pujols (LAA) is under-priced on DraftKings relative to the type of season that he’s having (.936 OPS against RHP this season). Taijuan Walker has been a much better pitcher as of late but he has struggled with RHBs this season, particularly with power (1.91 HR/9 allowed to RHBs this season). Pujols is a great tournament option on any site that has priced him close to the average price of a hitter.

Second Base

Top Play:

Jose Altuve (HOU) – (Elite skills against LHP and his ability to rack up stolen bases only adds value to his already awesome DFS profile; the Astros have struggled with LHP this season and the scoring environment isn’t ideal so Altuve is a better option for tournaments despite his discounted price tag on DraftKings)

Value Play:

Jace Peterson (ATL) – Peterson isn’t a good hitter (.286 wOBA) but he has every single contextual factor that I’m looking for in a second baseman this afternoon. Peterson is leading off for an offense with a team total of five runs at Coors Field (best hitting environment in baseball), facing a below average pitcher (Chad Bettis has allowed a .342 wOBA and 1.01 HR/9 to 326 LHBs at the major league level). The Braves aren’t a great offense and they don’t have much power but we’ve been targeting them at Coors Field this weekend for obvious reasons and we won’t stop today.

Additional second base notes: We’re hoping that Jimmy Paredes (BAL) can hit second since a matchup against Doug Fister (tougher on LHBs than RHBs) won’t help him much. Paredes has been a good hitter against RHP this season and Camden Yards is an elite-hitting environment so he’s a fine value alternative to Jace Peterson as long as he can scrap a good lineup spot. Justin Turner (LAD) has second base eligibility on DraftKings, where he makes for a fine value. Turner is a much better hitter against RHP (.389 wOBA) than LHP (.307 wOBA) and he has a good matchup against Kyle Lohse, who hasn’t looked like the pitcher he once was this season. The Dodgers have a fluid lineup so we have no idea where Turner will end up in the lineup. If he can garner a good lineup spot, I view him as another value alternative to Jace Peterson in cash games.

Shortstop

Top Play:

Troy Tulowitzki (COL) – Tulowitkzi is our top overall hitter and he’s not even the most expensive shortstop option on DraftKings ($4,400). His skills against LHP are absurd for a shortstop (.430 wOBA, .259 ISO against LHP since 2012) and he will carry these skills into Coors Field. The Rockies have a team total approaching 5.5 runs (highest on this slate) and the gap at the shortstop position is rather wide. Our next ranked shortstops (Hanley Ramirez and Ian Desmond) are ranked inside our top 40 hitters. Tulowitzki is a core play on DraftKings.

Value Play:

Ian Desmond (WSH) – While Desmond isn’t Troy Tulowiztki (frankly, no one is at the position), he has accumulated a .338 wOBA and .182 ISO against LHP in the last three seasons. Desmond is facing a pitcher with fly ball tendencies at Camden Yards (excellent park shift) and he’s minimum priced on FanDuel. He’s not a great overall hitter but he does have power and that plays well in this type of environment. Tulowitzki is a bit expensive on FanDuel and it’ll be tough to fit him in cash games on that site so if you can’t pay up for him, Desmond represents a strong value alternative in all formats. We’re hoping that he can garner a top six spot in the Nationals offense (has been hitting sixth against LHP as of late).

Additional shortstop notes: Carlos Correa (HOU) has been a great hitter against LHP so despite the bad environment, I’m willing to take a shot at the plus skills in tournaments. Chris Taylor (SEA) is a pure punt option on DraftKings. He was the leadoff hitter for the Mariners a few nights ago against LHP and he’s close to the bare minimum on DraftKings. I’m prioritizing Troy Tulowitzki in cash games but if you’d like to go a different route, punting with Taylor is an option (albeit not a great one).

Third Base

Top Play:

Nolan Arenado (COL) – It feels like I repeat myself a lot with Arenado but here it goes again: he has become one of the best third baseman in all of baseball and his offensive adjustments are real (hence why his production has sky-rocketed). He’s producing more loft (46 percent FB rate and has increased his loft rate every season at the major league level) and he’s hitting the ball harder (35 percent hard hit rate, three percent increase over his career rate). The one thing that Arenado has always been able to do is hit LHP (.372 wOBA, .222 ISO since 2012). The Rockies have a team total approaching 5.5 runs despite facing a solid pitcher (Alex Wood). I view Arenado as a very strong play on a site like DraftKings ($4,300) where his price is just too low relative to his skill set and contextual factors this afternoon.

Next in line:

Alex Rodriguez (NYY) – Rodriguez has a friendly matchup against Wade Miley (has allowed a .326 wOBA and 19 percent hard minus soft hit rate vs. RHBs since 2012) and despite not being the hitter that he once was, he’s still elite (.372 wOBA, .200 ISO against LHP this season). Yankee Stadium is a favorable environment for LHB but it’s tougher on RHBs so this is a favorable park shift for Rodriguez (Fenway Park is a great environment for RHBs). Kris Bryant rates better in our model but a better matchup/environment gives me more confidence in Rodriguez as a cash game option at similar price points.

Kris Bryant (CHC) – (Not a friendly matchup against Jose Quintana and it seems like the wind is neutral for the most part at Wrigley Field but he has a friendly price point on FanDuel, where Nolan Arenado is priced fully; he has produced a .201 ISO in his first 332 PAs at the major league level but more power is coming since he’s generating a 48 percent loft rate)

Additional third base notes: Todd Frazier (CIN) has a favorable matchup against Dan Haren (fly ball tendencies) but the environment is difficult for power (Marlins Park is an elite pitcher’s park). Frazier is a better option for tournaments today. Justin Turner (LAD) has third base eligibility on FanDuel, where I view him as a fine value alternative to the written options above.

Outfield

Top Plays:

Mike Trout (LAA)/Andrew McCutchen (PIT) – (Both are ranked inside our top 10 hitters and they have good matchups in difficult hitting environments; they’re worth their full price points in tournaments)

Value Plays:

Braves outfield – Nick Markakis (.332 wOBA) and Kelly Johnson (.171 ISO) are solid hitters against RHP and they’re facing a below average pitcher at Coors Field (team total of five runs). Markakis and Johnson represent cheaper entries into this offense and their not priced appropriately on DraftKings.

Chris Young (NYY) – Young has been a good hitter against LHP, particularly from a power perspective (.198 ISO vs. LHP since 2012). A matchup against Wade Miley at Fenway Park is enough to consider Young a strong cash game value relative to his skills and price (below the average price of a hitter around the industry).

Dodgers outfield- Joc Pederson (.374 wOBA, .258 ISO) and Yasiel Puig (.384 wOBA, .203 ISO) have been very good hitters against RHP and their matchup against Kyle Lohse (getting hit harder this season and his run prevention has been awful) is a favorable one. Pederson has the better lineup spot and at similar price points I view him as the better value but both are strong options in all formats.

Additional outfield notes: Bryce Harper (WSH) has a L/L matchup against Wei-Yin Chen but he’s playing in a park that could help his power (Camden Yards is an elite hitting venue). I’m willing to pay full price points for Harper in this matchup (Chen has fly ball tendencies) and this type of environment. Teammate Michael Taylor has been leading off and he’s cheap around the industry. He’s a fine value alternative to the written options above as long as he continues to leadoff. Drew Stubs (COL) would quickly emerge as one of the better industry wide value plays if he could lock up a top six spot in the Rockies lineup (lately he’s been hitting eight against LHP). Stubbs can hit LHP (.347 wOBA, .161 ISO) and his price point is too cheap relative to his skills and contextual factors. A.J. Pollock (ARI) and Ryan Braun (MIL) are awesome hitters against LHP but their facing negative park shifts and their matchups aren’t very appealing. They’re tournament worthy options today. Curtis Granderson (NYM) has a great matchup against Rubby De La Rosa (struggles mightily with LHBs) but the offense he plays for isn’t very good. Granderson still rates as a cash game value for us due to a fair price point and good skills but he’s more of a secondary option. Shin-Soo Choo (TEX) deserves consideration due to his ability to hit RHP but his matchup isn’t very good. Like Granderson, he rates better as a secondary option rather than a primary cash game play.

Starting Pitcher

Rankings (price not considered):

Tier One

1) Johnny Cueto (CIN)

2) Corey Kluber (CLE)

3) Francisco Liriano (PIT)

Tier Two

4) Jake Arrieta (CHC)

5) Lance McCullers (HOU)

Tier Three

6) Andrew Heaney (LAA)

7) Sonny Gray (OAK)

8) Matt Moore (TB)

9) Chris Heston (SFG)

Tier Four

10) Tyson Ross (SD)

11) Rubby De La Rosa (ARI)

12) Taijuan Walker (SEA)

UPDATE: Max Scherzer will draw the start for the Nationals instead of Doug Fister. Scherzer would slide into our top tier as our third ranked starter. 

Top Play:

Johnny Cueto (CIN) – Cueto has been fantastic this season, posting a career high 20 percent K-BB%, 2.61 ERA and a hard minus soft hit rate of seven percent. His ERA predictors point towards some form of regression (3.06 FIP/3.11 xFIP) and he’s been a bit lucky (.227 BABIP, league average is .294) but his ability to yield soft contact and neutralize batters with his above average K-BB% allows him to outperform these predictors year in and year out. He has a very strong matchup today (Marlins are ranked 29th in wRC+ and are striking out over 21 percent of the time against RHP) and he’s cheaper than Corey Kluber around the industry.

Next in line: Corey Kluber (CLE) – (Difficult matchup against an Athletics offense that ranks inside the top 10 in wRC+ and don’t strike out much against RHP; Kluber’s strikeout skills and overall ability to neutralize batters (24 percent K-BB% this season) puts him close to the top of our starting pitcher rankings.

Value Plays:

Francisco Liriano (PIT) – While Johnny Cueto is a stronger buy than Corey Kluber, I could argue that Liriano is the best investment out of the tier one starting pitchers. Liriano has improved his wildness (eight percent BB rate this season, 10 percent for his career) and that’s likely a result of getting ahead of batters at a career high rate (60 percent F-Strike rate, league average is 61 percent). He’s always been able to create swing and misses (13 percent SwStr rate for his career) but he’s doing more of that this season (14.4 percent SwStr rate) while getting hitters to chase at an above normal rate (34 percent chase rate). When you combine the gains he has made with his command, his awesome strikeout abilities (which have led to a 27 percent K rate), his hard minus soft hit rate (negative six percent hit rate) and a strong matchup (Cardinals are ranked 25th in wRC+ and are striking out over 25 percent of the time against LHP), Liriano seems like the best value on this slate (our third ranked pitcher and he’s normally priced as the fourth or fifth highest starting pitcher on most sites).

Lance McCullers (HOU) – McCullers can be a bit wild (nine percent BB rate) but that can be attributed to the fact that he doesn’t get ahead of batters at a league average rate (56 percent F-Strike rate). Either way, McCullers has been able to K over a batter per inning (9.41 K/9) and that’s fueled by a 10 percent SwStr rate. He doesn’t allow much hard contact (seven percent hard minus soft hit rate) and a matchup against the Rays (ranked 23rd in wRC+ and striking out over 22 percent of the time against RHP) gives us confidence in investing on multiple starting pitcher sites.

Additional starting pitcher notes: Chris Heston (SFG) doesn’t have the strikeout skills as the written options above but he allows soft contact for the most part (four percent hard minus soft hit rate) and a matchup against the Phillies (ranked dead last in wRC+ against RHP) gives us confidence to invest in cash games. Heston is the largest favorite on this slate (-220) and he’s cheap around the industry. After Jake Arrieta (CHC), our model picks up some sort of gap. The White Sox offense was pedestrian for about two months but they’ve been much better as of late and our model looks at them as a close to league average offense against RHP moving forward. Arrieta’s elite skills (striking out over a batter per inning, above average BB rate, great run prevention which has been fueled by a puny four percent hard minus soft hit rate) puts him in the cash game conversation but I believe his best use comes via tournaments (Liriano and Cueto are better cash game investments). Andrew Heaney (LAA) has been a good addition to the Angels rotation (above average K rate and BB rate) and he has a neutral matchup (Mariners) but he’s gotten hit hard (20 percent hard minus soft hit rate) and batters haven’t gotten results (.222 BABIP). He’s a fine secondary cash game option but ultimately I’d rather spend about $1,000 less and invest in Chris Heston on multiple starting pitcher sites. Tyson Ross (SD) is pitching in a difficult environment against an above average offense but I’d still pursue his strikeout skills on a site like DraftKings. Rubby De La Rosa (ARI) is a good tournament option today due to his matchup against the Mets. De La Rosa has been able to neutralize RHBs at a great rate this season but he continues to struggles vs. LHBs. The Mets only have three LHBs that can give him issues (Granderson, Murphy and Duda) but the rest of this offense shouldn’t be much of a problem. He’s also pitching in a much better environment than his home park (Citi Field is an elite pitcher’s park). Matt Moore (TB) has a great matchup for K purposes and his price point his dipped considerably on multiple starting pitcher sites. Moore’s main problem has been his command (not getting ahead of batter) but that’s a career trend. His matchup can help him overcome theses issues but keep in mind that he’s been getting hard and the Astros can hit for power. Moore gives you a chance to buy cheap Ks but he’s only a tournament worthy option for us.

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 (help@dailyroto.com) if you have suggestions.

Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:

1) Colorado Rockies

2) Atlanta Braves

This isn’t surprising at all. The Rockies and Braves are wrapping up a series at Coors Field and they have the highest team totals on this slate. They represent the options across all formats but I could see myself fading this game altogether in large field, multi-entry tournaments in an effort to be contrarian.

Contrarian/Secondary Stacks:

1) Boston Red Sox

2) New York Yankees

3) San Francisco Giants

I’m not sure how “contrarian” the Red Sox and Yankees are today but I’d say that the market agrees here: most exposure will come via Coors Field. Both of these teams are facing below average pitchers in a park that has complex dimensions (Fenway Park is a much better hitting environment for RHBs than it is for LHBs). Some of their hitters grade out as cash game values but I could see low ownership here for tournaments on a full slate and a game at Coors Field.

The Giants grade out as more of a contrarian offense since they’re playing in one of the worst environments in all of baseball (AT&T Park). They’re facing a below average pitcher (Chad Billingsley doesn’t miss many bats and he struggles a ton with LHBs). I don’t mind throwing a full Giants stack on a multi-entry tournament and hope that a matchup against Billingsley/average Phillies bullpen can overcome the difficult hitting venue.

MLB Game Weather Forecasts

OAK at CLE 1:10: A band of showers/t-storms may try and move in during the game. They key point here is that the game starts dry so they will do their best to get this game in. I see a 30% chance of a delay after 2 PM. Will keep an eye on this one. Temps in the low to mid 70s. Air density is a 6. Wind northeast 5-10 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.

AZ at NYM 1:10: Dry. Temps in the mid 80s. Air density is a 7 or perhaps an 8. Wind south 4-8 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6.

CIN at MIA 1:10: The retractable roof will likely be closed.

HOU at TB 1:10: Dome.

NYY at BOS 1:35: Dry. Temps in the upper 80s. Air density is an 8. Wind southwest 8-16 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 7.

WSH at BLT 1:35: Dry. Temps in the mid 80s. Air density is an 8. Wind south 3-6 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6.

TOR at KC 2:10: Dry. Temps near 90. Air density is a 9. Wind south 8-16 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 7.

DET at MIN 2:10: Severe thunderstorms possible. The good news is that there is NOT a steady shield or line of rain/thunderstorms and things should not really get going until after 4 PM. The bad news is that any particular location can experience a severe thunderstorm. Basically, I am expecting them to play but there could be issues late in the game. Temps in the mid 80s. Air density is an 8 or a 9. Wind southeast 8-16 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.

CHW at CHC 2:20: Dry. Temps in the upper 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind northeast 5-10 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.

SD at TEX 3:05: Dry. Temps in the mid 90s. Air density is a 9. Wind south 8-16 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 3.

PHL at SF 4:05: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind west-southwest 10-20 mph with gusts past 25 mph which blows out to right-center. The wind is an 8.

LAA at SEA 4:10: Retractable roof. There will be showers around at times so the roof will likely be closed.

MIL at LAD 4:10: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind west-southwest 10-20 mph which blows out to right. The wind is an 8.

ATL at COL 4:10: Just a 10% chance of a delay due to a thunderstorm. Not a big worry obviously. Temps near 90. Air density off the charts, a 10. Wind southwest 8-16 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 7.

STL at PIT 8:00: A few showers and/or thunderstorms around. Not a solid, soaking area of rain and no severe weather expected. Thus, I expect them to play this game with maybe a 10-20% chance of a delay. Temps near 70 falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.

MLB Daily Analysis

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