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July 18 MLB DFS: Crush with Billy
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July 18 MLB DFS: Crush with Billy

0:38 Starting Pitchers
6:30 Catchers
8:25 First Base
11:22 Second Base
14:52 Shortstop
17:02 Third Base
19:16 Outfield
23:41 Cash Game Roster Construction & Stacks



Starting Pitcher Rankings

Tier One

1) Jose Fernandez (MIA)

Tier Two

2) Chris Sale (CWS)

3) Corey Kluber (CLE)

Tier Three

4) Jon Lester (CHC)

5) Aaron Nola (PHI)

6) Nick Tropeano (LAA)

7) Mike Fiers (HOU)

Tier Four

8) Mike Leake (STL)

9) Steven Matz (NYM)

10) Kevin Gausman (BAL)

11) Brandon Finnegan (CIN)

We have one of the best pitchers in baseball toeing the rubber in an elite matchup this evening. Jose Fernandez (MIA) has the highest strikeout projection in our model (34 percent – his strike out rate this season is nearly 37 percent) and he has the lowest implied run total against (3.1) of any pitcher in this slate as he takes on a Phillies offense that’s ranked 27th in wRC+ vs. RHP. Fernandez should be viewed as a cash game building block, particularly on a site like DraftKings where you’re able to punt with a second pitcher. We have two other “aces” in Chris Sale (CWS) and Corey Kluber (CLE) that are available to us, but their strikeout projection isn’t as significant as Fernandez’s and their implied run totals against are higher (3.4 and 3.7 respectively). They’re fine alternatives to Fernandez, but they’re priced correctly and their ceilings aren’t as compelling. If you want to go the mid-tier route, Jon Lester (CHC) should settle with an implied run total against around 3.5 runs and even though he’s coming off two disaster starts (hard hit rates were elevated in both), we’re still confident in his skills ROS (3.01 ERA backed up by a 3.58 xFIP and his K rate is sitting at 24.4 percent).

This is a Coors Field slate and with funds tight on FanDuel, it’s going to be impossible to lock in Fernandez and spend big multiple times on the hitting side. Mike Leake (STL) is not even close to Fernandez from a skill perspective (he doesn’t miss bats), but he does have a very friendly price on FanDuel ($6,900) and a nice matchup against a Padres offense that could help him generate more Ks (Padres are striking out 24.4 percent of the time vs. RHP). Leake is one of the few pitchers with an implied run total against below four runs (3.7), and that’s his biggest appeal (along with the friendly matchup/price). If loading up on offense on that site, Leake is your best choice at that price point. On DraftKings, a punt price tag for Mike Fiers (HOU) makes him our favorite complement to Fernandez. Fiers biggest weakness is the hard contact he allows (nearly 20 percent hard minus soft hit rate this season), but he’ll be pitching in one of the best pitching environment in all of baseball (Oakland) and will face a below average offense (Oakland is ranked 24th in wRC+ vs. RHP) that lacks power (ranked 26th in ISO vs. RHP).

Brandon Finnegan (CIN) is a good pivot from Fiers in tournaments on DraftKings (he’s not very good and doesn’t miss many bats but we’re simply playing the matchup here at a cheap price, as the Braves are terrible vs. LHP – they’re ranked 29th in wRC+ vs. LHP) and Nick Tropeano (LAA) is our favorite tournament pivot from Leake on FanDuel (he’s striking out almost a batter per inning and that’s supported by a hefty 12.7 SwStr rate; he does allow hard hit contact – 19.5 hard minus soft hit rate this season – and he’s been a bit lucky from a run prevention standpoint, but we like the Ks and the negative park shift working against the Rangers offense that’s just around average vs. RHP).

Catcher Rankings

1) Victor Martinez (DET) – where eligible

2) Willson Contreras (CHC)

3) Brian McCann (NYY)

Victor Martinez (DET) cracks our top 30 hitters in our model and his $3,100 price tag on FanDuel leaves some value for us to nibble on. If you’re making a big spend on the hitting side and want to lock in Fernandez in cash, it’ll be too difficult to make things work with V-Mart. If you’re searching for punts, Travis d’Arnaud (NYM) carries a near minimum price tag on FanDuel and Evan Gattis (HOU) is below $3,000 on DraftKings (will likely not hit fifth again but at least he has some power upside). If spending funds at the position on DraftKings, Willson Contreras (CHC) is our preferred target.

First Base Rankings

1) Chris Davis (BAL)

2) Joey Votto (CIN)

3) Miguel Cabrera (DET)

4) Victor Martinez (DET) – where eligible

5) Mark Reynolds (TB)

6) Freddie Freeman (ATL)

7) Anthony Rizzo (CHC)

8) Carlos Santana (CLE)

9) Wil Myers (SD)

10) Eric Hosmer (KC)

Chris Davis (BAL) has been cold lately (-0.5 change in our well-hit tool over the last two weeks), but he gets to take shots at that short porch in Yankee Stadium and he’s facing a pitcher that struggles with LHBs (.374 wOBA and .219 ISO allowed to LHBs since 2015). Davis is the second ranked hitter in our model and his price is discounted around the industry, making him the best value play in this slate. If shopping outside of Davis, Joey Votto (CIN) and Miguel Cabrera (DET) are the best alternatives but come with higher price tags. For tournaments, we like Pedro Alvarez (BAL), Mark Reynolds (COL) and Kennys Vargas (MIN).

Second Base Rankings

1) Logan Forsythe (TB)

2) DJ LeMahieu (COL)

3) Jose Altuve (HOU)

4) Ian Kinsler (DET)

5) Brian Dozier (MIN)

Logan Forsythe (TB) and the Rays offense will experience a massive park shift (from the Trop to Coors Field), but their matchup vs. Tyler Anderson is a tricky one. Anderson has been very good thus far (3.03 ERA/2.96 xFIP – 21.5 percent K rate/10.4 SwStr rate and a 59.8 GB rate in six starts), but ZiPS remains skeptical (projected 4.80 ERA for the remainder of the season) and he’s in a difficult spot vs. the Rays (top three offense in wRC+ vs. LHP) at Coors. Forsythe has been incredible vs. LHP (.421 wOBA and .298 ISO vs. LHP since 2015) and will leadoff for a Rays offense that has a team total of 5.5 implied runs, so we like him in cash games if you’re willing to spend top dollar at second base. DJ LeMahieu (COL) (hits second for a Rockies offense that has the highest team total in this slate – 6.5 implied runs) and Ian Kinsler (DET) are good alternatives to Forsythe in all formats. We like Brian Dozier (MIN) (phenomenal hitter vs. LHP and Matt Boyd is a below average pitcher that allows a ton of fly balls) in tournaments.

Shortstop Rankings

1) Trevor Story (COL)

2) Manny Machado (BAL)

3) Eduardo Nunez (MIN)

4) Carlos Correa (HOU)

5) Aledmys Diaz (STL)

Our top three ranked shortstops carry the same projection in our model, but Manny Machado (BAL) is by far the best value. At just $4,100 on DraftKings, Machado is clearly underpriced (he’s usually a hitter that’s priced above $5,000). Ivan Nova neutralizes RHBs a bit better, but he still allows power (.170 ISO allowed to RHBs since 2015) and that’s one of Machado’s biggest strength (generating more loft this season, which has helped him generate more power – .248 ISO). If pursuing pure upside, Trevor Story (COL) is the play (Drew Smyly‘s biggest strength is missing bats but he’s a fly ball pitcher and he allows a ton of power – 1.79 HR/9 allowed this season). Machado doesn’t have shortstop eligibility on FanDuel, so we’re looking towards Story, Eduardo Nunez (MIN) or a cheap Javier Baez (CHC) for cash game value.

Third Base Rankings

1) Nolan Arenado (COL)

2) Evan Longoria (TB)

3) Manny Machado (BAL) – where eligible

4) Eduardo Nunez (MIN) – where eligible

5) Kris Bryant (CHC)

6) Miguel Sano (MIN) – where eligible

Nolan Arenado (COL) is not only the top third baseman in our model, but he’s also our top overall hitter in this slate. As we mentioned earlier, Drew Smyly misses bats at an above average rate and his hard minus soft hit rate is just eight percent, but he’s a fly ball pitcher (47 percent FB rate this season) and those fly balls are turning into home runs too often. If making a big spend on the hitting side, Arenado is the our preferred target regardless of the position. Third base is a position that has depth tonight, with other strong alternatives in Evan Longoria (TB) (generating more loft has lead to a .232 ISO this season), Kris Bryant (CHC) (.391 wOBA, .282 ISO vs. LHP since last season and Steven Matz hasn’t been the same after his elbow injury). We’re waiting on that Cubs team total, but $3,700 for Bryant on FanDuel is simply too cheap. We think you should save funds in the outfield (and second SP slot on DraftKings) in order to fit an expensive third baseman in cash.

Outfield Rankings

1) Mike Trout (LAA)

2) Billy Hamilton (CIN)

3) Kris Bryant (CHC) – where eligible

4) Miguel Sano (MIN)

5) Jay Bruce (CIN)

6) Giancarlo Stanton (MIA)

7) Stephen Piscotty (STL)

8) Cameron Maybin (DET)

9) Charlie Blackmon (COL)

10) Hyun Soo Kim (BAL) – health risk

11) Christian Yelich (MIA)

12) Steven Souza (TB)

13) Carlos Gonzalez (COL)

14) Adam Jones (BAL)

15) Matt Holliday (STL)

Mike Trout (LAA) is our third overall ranked hitter, but he’s priced appropriately around the industry and our big spend on the hitting side will come at third base. We want you to think of Billy Hamilton (CIN) as a free square around the industry. Hamilton cracks the top 10 hitters list in our model this evening, and he’s just $3,700 on DraftKings and $2,600 on FanDuel. A.J. Pierzynski will do most of the catching for the Braves while Tyler Flowers is on the disabled list, and Pierzynski is beyond awful at controlling the running game (-16 rSB in his career, which is one of the worst marks in baseball over the last 14 years). If Hamilton gets on base tonight, he’ll have a pretty good chance of stealing a base. Cameron Maybin (DET), Hyun Soo Kim (BAL) (has missed some games with a hamstring injury so we’ll need confirmation that he’s playing once lineups are released) and Matt Holliday (STL) are good values on both sites. Carlos Beltran (NYY) is too cheap on DraftKings ($3,200) while Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich (MIA) are way too cheap on FanDuel ($3,100 – that price tag for a power hitter like Stanton, who’s getting a park shift boost, is just silly). Justin Upton (DET) doesn’t have a lineup spot that we’re fond of (hits sixth), but he’s nearly minimum priced on FanDuel, which frees up extra funds to spend elsewhere. Tommy Pham (STL) is another good value on FanDuel as long as he leads off, and Carlos Gomez (HOU) can be considered as a punt on DraftKings if he’s hitting fifth.


Tier One

1) Colorado Rockies

Tier Two

2) Tampa Bay Rays

3) Detroit Tigers

Tier Three

4) Baltimore Orioles

5) Cincinnati Reds

6) St. Louis Cardinals

7) New York Yankees

The Rockies are the only team in this slate with a team total above six runs, which is why they’re our top ranked stack. They have a few high priced bats that are very appealing for cash games, but some of the best values in this slate are part of teams that populate our third tier.

For tournament value, we really like the Tigers (Ricky Nolasco has allowed a hard minus soft hit rate of 30 percent or higher in two of his last three starts – it’s up to nearly 20 percent this season), Orioles (powerful offense that gets that short porch we love in Yankee Stadium) and the Reds (power with Votto/Bruce/Duvall as well as some speed with Hamilton; we love their matchup vs. Matt Wisler, who’s power prone and A.J. Pierzynski behind the plate). The St. Louis Cardinals can also be included in that conversation (their hitting environment is worse but they also have a good matchup vs. a below average pitcher and their best hitters will have the platoon edge).