Daily Fantasy Rundown – July 20th MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Monday’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: The two games with the greatest delay risk are in COL and CIN with minor ppd concern. Other games do have some delay risk but are very minor concerns.
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.
Kyle Schwarber (CHC) – It’s going to be tricky to predict Schwarber’s playing time each day but when he’s in the lineup, he’ll serve as one of the best values at the catcher position. Schwarber hasn’t come with the hype of Kris Bryant but he has come with the production. Schwarber has hit .333/.429/.613 in two minor league seasons while Bryant hit .327/.426/.667 in his three minor league seasons before promotion. Schwarber has earned premier lineup spots of late and he’d draw a stellar matchup against Michael Lorenzen who has allowed a ridiculous .431 wOBA, 2.19 HR/9, and 13.9 percent BB Rate to LHBs as a big leaguer. Lorenzen’s fastball is very straight and as a result he’s been very homer prone in Great American Ballpark. After sitting the last two days, I expect Schwarber will draw the start in a game where the Cubs likely emphasize offense (Clayton Richardon vs. Michael Lorenzen). If he draws the start and cracks the top of the lineup, he’d represent our top target at the position.
Robinson Chirinos (TEX) – Chirinos has shown great power against LHP in recent seasons (.206 ISO since 2012) but possesses an average .317 wOBA. The challenge for Chirinos is the lineup spot as he’ll likely hit seventh or eighth. The matchup with Chris Rusin is strong. Rusin has allowed a .373 wOBA and 1.45 HR/9 to RHBs since 2012 and of course Chirinos gets a positive park shift playing in Coors Field. He cracks our Top 30 overall hitting options before accounting for lineup positioning and comes at a reasonable tag around the industry.
Rockies Catchers – Wilin Rosario (where eligible), Nick Hundley, and Michael McKenry all rate favorably in our model. Nick Martinez hasn’t been great against RHBs (.351 wOBA allowed) as a big leaguer and all three get a big boost in our model from park environment and an expected run total pushing 5.5-6. Lineup positioning will help dictate priority on all the catchers in this game, but from a skills perspective we rank them: McKenry, Rosario, and then Hundley.
Additional catcher notes: John Jaso (TB) is a really intriguing option as well. Schwarber and Coors Field will take precedent, but Jason has a very strong matchup against David Buchanan. Jaso has compiled an impressive .374 wOBA and .173 ISO against RHP since 2012 despite playing largely in poor hitting environments. Buchanan has oddly held down LHBs (.296 wOBA) as a big leaguer but the skills (10.9 K Rate, 10.2 BB Rate) aren’t particularly impressive.
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) – You can make the argument for Paul Goldschmidt (ARZ) at home against David Phelps as the top first basemen in action today, but we prefer Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo gets a nice park shift going to Great American Ballpark and he gets that elite matchup with Michael Lorenzen. Rizzo has compiled an impressive .376 wOBA and .227 ISO against RHP since 2012 but this season he’s been even more dominant (.397 wOBA, .265 ISO). Lorenzen is also backed up by one of the weaker pens in the National League and with Rizzo hitting second or third on the road, we think the likelihood of five plate appearances is high. He’s in the conversation for our top overall hitter on Monday’s slate.
Additional first base notes: Pricing is so different around the industry that it is easier to talk about the rest of the “value” plays in the additional notes section. Albert Pujols (LAA) and Victor Martinez (DET) are solid mid-tier options on DraftKings where the price is depressed relative to the rest of the industry. Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) and Joey Votto (CIN) are generally stuck in pricing limbo on the big sites. They’re fine plays but slide down our list of preferences due to pricing. Ben Paulsen (COL) and Justin Bour (MIA) are available as cheap options around the industry. We prefer Paulsen as long as he’s hitting fifth as it gives you cheap exposure to a premium lineup spot in a Rockies offense that projects as the strongest offense to attack tonight. Bour gets a great ballpark boost and matchup with Rubby de la Rosa (.383 wOBA, 1.56 HR/9 since 2012) but his overall lineup support pushes him slightly behind Paulsen. Prince Fielder (TEX) and Paul Goldschmidt (ARZ) are the other top options worthy of pursuit at the position. Fielder is solid against lefties (.348 wOBA, .168 ISO) and gets the big park bump in Coors Field. He’s priced up and we prefer Rizzo, but I wouldn’t argue someone paying a similar tag to Fielder to get more exposure to a game with a total of 11. Goldschmidt is a better tournament play. David Phelps isn’t terrible but he’s getting a downgrade in park environment and the Marlins bullpen behind him isn’t great.
D.J. LeMahieu (COL) – LeMahieu isn’t a particularly great hitter (.310 wOBA, .097 ISO) but he’s a career .319/.365/.425 hitter in Coors Field and the Rockies typically give him a strong lineup spot (second). Nick Martinez is one of the weaker starters on the slate and he’s shown no dominance over same handed batters, as a result the Rockies team total is pushing six. LeMahieu isn’t exactly cheap, but the price isn’t a deterrent.
Robinson Cano (SEA) – Cano is the alternative to LeMahieu at the second base position. He’s looked more like himself in July (.317/.358/.571) and the price is still down from the struggles this season. Alfredo Simon has allowed a .338 wOBA and 32.2 percent hard hit rate allowed against LHBs since 2012. The Tigers bullpen behind Simon is also atrocious which amplifies the matchup for Cano.
Additional second base notes: Brandon Phillips (CIN) is the next best value after Cano and LeMahieu. Clayton Richard has struggled with RHBs (.359 wOBA, 1.70 HR/9) as a big leaguer and Phillips gets to lead off. His individual skill (.306 wOBA, .129 ISO) against LHP isn’t great but the leadoff spot in a great offensive environment against a bad starter earns him consideration. Ian Kinsler (DET) gets a favorable matchup against a below average lefty in J.A. Happ who has allowed a .331 wOBA to RHBs since 2012. Both LeMahieu and Cano rank inside our Top 35 hitters overall whereas Kinsler ranks inside our Top 70.
Troy Tulowitzki (COL) – Tulowitzki once again cracks our top five overall hitters and comes with added value in the positional scarcity at shortstop. He owns a .389 wOBA and .208 ISO against RHP since 2012 and we’ve highlighted Nick Martinez‘s struggles against both LHBs and RHBs. If Elvis Andrus (TEX) doesn’t earn a solid lineup spot, I think Tulowitzki earns a stronger priority in lineup construction.
Elvis Andrus (TEX) – Andrus ranks next highest in our model after Tulowitzki and it’s mostly due to park environment. Andrus owns just a .315 wOBA and .087 ISO against LHP since 2012 and of late he’s been shifted down in the lineup (hitting primarily seventh). If he remains lower in the lineup, I’m unlikely to invest in him outside of tournaments.
Erick Aybar (LAA) – Aybar comes at a cheaper price point and offers a bit more salary relief industry wide than Andrus. He does rank considerably lower in our model (Andrus cracks the Top 35 while Aybar is closer to the Top 75) but the extra salary relief is valuable and the lineup spot is more assured. Aybar also isn’t much of a hitter against RHP (.303 wOBA, .098 ISO) but he hits behind players with strong on base skills against RHP (Calhoun, Trout, Pujols) and his speed component has increased probability of hitting against a knuckle-baller.
Additional shortstop notes: Starlin Castro (CHC) has been pushed down in the lineup recently. We’re optimistic on the Cubs lineup as a whole so if he lands in a decent spot and comes with a punt price tag, he’s a fine source of salary relief. Cesar Hernandez (PHI) is another fine source of salary relief on DraftKings. If Andrus doesn’t get a prime lineup spot, there really isn’t a ton separating the punt plays so it’s fine to lean on salary relief.
Adrian Beltre (TEX) – Beltre ranks inside our Top Five hitters overall and as our top overall third basemen. He has historically hit LHP pretty well (.366 wOBA and .185 ISO since 2012) and gets the park shift in his favor at Coors Field. Chris Rusin has really struggled with RHBs (.373 wOBA, 1.45 HR/9 as a big leaguer) and Beltre is the easiest way to get exposure to the Rangers lineup. Third base has three top options we’re targeting for investment so Beltre isn’t a must play, but he is the strongest Rangers bat to get exposure to this evening.
Todd Frazier (CIN) – Frazier gets a soft tossing lefty who struggles to miss bats at home. Frazier has posted a .356 wOBA and .238 ISO against LHP since 2012 while Clayton Richard has allowed a .359 wOBA and 1.70 HR/9 to RHBs during that span. Frazier doesn’t get the great hitting environment in Coors Field but he still ranks right around our Top 10 overall hitters.
Kris Bryant (CHC) – Bryant has compiled a .357 wOBA and .172 ISO against RHP as a big leaguer. We actually anticipated a bit more power against RHP from Bryant so our system rates him as comparable to Todd Frazier despite the lack of platoon advantage. Michael Lorenzen has had success against RHBs (.293 wOBA allowed) but its buoyed by a .214 BABIP allowed. His 14.5 K Rate, 11.8 BB Rate, and 1.16 HR/9 suggest he’s far from dominant against RHBs. Throw in a porous bullpen behind him and you can see why Bryant also ranks right around our Top 10 overall.
Additional third base notes: Nolan Arenado (COL) is deserving of consideration in that top group, but is consistently priced above and ranks slightly below (Top 20 hitter) in our model. Evan Longoria (TB) looks like the best tournament option at third base. He gets a nice park shift and faces David Buchanan who has allowed a .368 wOBA and 1.22 HR/9 to RHBs as a big leaguer. The Phillies bullpen behind Buchanan is also quite poor and given the strength of the three options above, I imagine Longoria will have ownership levels below five percent. Kyle Seager (SEA) and Maikel Franco (PHI) are more secondary tournament targets. Like Longoria, they’ll come with lower ownership levels because of the strength at the top, but their power upside is a smidge less.
Carlos Gonzalez/Charlie Blackmon (COL) – After a brutal first two months of the season (.219/.296/.331), Gonzalez has looked more like himself in June and July (.298/.331/.582). His price point hasn’t quite adjusted across the industry and he ranks as the top overall hitter in our model on Monday. Charlie Blackmon closes the gap when you adjust for lineup positioning, but his price point is consistently elevated above Gonzalez. Gonzalez represents not only our top play in the outfield, but one of the better values to target industry wide. Nick Martinez has allowed a .337 wOBA and 1.07 HR/9 to LHBs since 2012 and he’ll be tasked with a park downgrade pitching in Coors Field. With the Rockies team total approaching six, Gonzalez is one of the easier ways to get exposure to the high powered offense. Blackmon is a very strong play in his own right as the leadoff hitter for the team with the highest projected run total. The price point pushes him below Gonzalez in our preferences, but he’s a fine target to spend on.
Delino DeShields (TEX) – Leadoff hitters in Coors Field get a significant boost in projections as they are very likely to get a fifth plate appearance and often get a chance at a sixth plate appearance. DeShields has hit LHP well early in his career (.328 wOBA, .153 ISO) but the majority of his value really comes from the lineup spot. Despite an inferior hitter to other players around our Top 10, the added advantage in expected plate appearances makes him a borderline Top 10 hitter in our model.
Marlon Byrd (CIN) – Byrd has really hit LHP well in recent years (.364 wOBA, .212 ISO since 2012) and he gets that favorable matchup with Clayton Richard in a park that really inflates power. Byrd ranks like a top play (Top 15 hitter) in our model but is consistently priced like a value.
Ryan Rua (TEX) – Rua’s value is a little bit more tied to the lineup spot he earns. If he gets inside that Top Five, I’d consider him a stronger value than Byrd. Rua has posted a modest .301 wOBA and .161 ISO in 63 big league plate appearances against LHP since 2012. ZiPS projection system doesn’t like him for much more than that (projected .299 wOBA, .130 ISO). Given Chris Rusin‘s struggles against RHBs, our system rates him inside the Top 30 hitters overall.
Additional outfield notes: Mike Trout (LAA) ranks as our second overall hitter (just behind Carlos Gonzalez) but the gap in price point makes him a less likely cash game play. There are a number of secondary value plays in the outfield but they all fall behind Byrd and Rua in our model. Christian Yelich (MIA), Dexter Fowler (CHC), Jorge Soler (CHC) and Joc Pederson (LAD) are all strong secondary values. Yoenis Cespedes (DET) and Rajai Davis (if leadoff) are solid plays with the platoon advantage.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Matt Harvey (NYM)
2) Gio Gonzalez (WAS)
3) Yordano Ventura (KC)
4) Andrew Heaney (LAA)
5) A.J. Burnett (PIT)
6) Rubby de la Rosa (ARZ)
7) Tim Hudson (SF)
8) Ian Kennedy (SD)
9) Matt Moore (TB)
Matt Harvey (NYM) – Harvey is undoubtedly the most talented starter on Monday’s slate and he gets a strong matchup against a watered down Nationals lineup. Without Denard Span, Anthony Rendon, and Ryan Zimmerman the Nationals offense projects as one of the weakest in MLB against RHP. Bryce Harper is an immense threat, but he’s the only regular in the lineup that has posted a wOBA above .330 against RHP since 2012. Ian Desmond is the only other regular with a wOBA above .310 against RHP since 2012. Throw in a depleted bullpen that likely will extend Harvey’s pitch count and we’ve got some additional upside in innings expectation. The one knock on Harvey today is price point. With Coors Field home to two weak starters spending on Harvey may cost you some offensive exposure to the game. I believe Harvey is the best combination of safety and upside at starter, but the price point doesn’t make him a necessity.
Next in line:
Gio Gonzalez (WAS) – The Mets rank 23rd in wRC+ against LHP with the third highest K Rate in the league against LHP (24.1 percent). As a result, Gio is a slight favorite (-120) despite going up against Matt Harvey. Gonzalez doesn’t have quite the strike out projection of Harvey and he falls a bit short in expected innings. This is why we have him a tier below Harvey, but the expected run prevention is similar and he’s certainly demonstrated an upside commensurate with Harvey in the past. The price discount makes Gonzalez an intriguing step down from Harvey in cash games.
Yordano Ventura (KC) – The Pirates rank 20th in wRC+ against RHP this season and possess a lineup that is largely filled with threats from the right side. Yordano Ventura has held RHBs to a .304 wOBA and 26.5 percent hard hit rate while generating a solid 21.1 K Rate. The benefit of a DH for the Pirates isn’t a substantial one as they’ll likely replace the pitcher’s slot with Sean Rodriguez, Jaff Decker, or Travis Ishikawa. From what Yordano is accustomed to, it’s a rather significant upgrade. The price point on DraftKings is particularly compelling ($5,900).
Andrew Heaney (LAA) – The Red Sox have struggled against LHP this season (24th in wRC+) but the lineup projects as very strong against LHP. Hanley Ramirez, Dusin Pedroia, Mike Napoli, Xander Bogaerts, and Mookie Betts all project as above average against LHP. Heaney gets the benefit of facing them in a plus pitching environment and in the second game of a double-header there is always the potential for a watered down lineup as well. The key on Heaney is price point. On DraftKings and Yahoo, he’s a better tournament option given a price tag above Gio Gonzalez and Yordano Ventura ahead of him, but on FanDuel he’s viable as a cash game starter if you want to stack offensive options in Coors Field.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Rubby de la Rosa (ARZ) is a strong tournament play. The Marlins have made efforts to get more LH of late which is important in evaluating de la Rosa. He’s allowed a .383 wOBA and 1.56 HR/9 to LHBs since 2012 while he’s become dominant against RHBs this season (.266 wOBA, 27.2 K Rate, 4.8 BB Rate, 56 GB Rate and 28.6 hard hit rate allowed). The LHBs aren’t a huge threat, but the presence of four as opposed to 2-3 we saw earlier in the season, makes de la Rosa a better option in tournaments. Matt Moore (TB) is another interesting tournament option. He’s been terrible in his first three starts but gets an upgrade pitching in the National League against a very weak Phillies offense. I wouldn’t trust the command issues or the surprisingly low K Rate (so far) in cash games, but in tournaments we can lean on the fact that he did strike guys out in his minor league rehab starts. A.J. Burnett (PIT) is simply overpriced for a negative league shift and facing an offense that refuses to strike out. Vegas gives Tim Hudson (SF) and the Giants one of the better run prevention expectations, but a lack of strikeouts really impedes his Fantasy value.
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) Colorado Rockies
2) Texas Rangers
3) Chicago Cubs
4) Cincinnati Reds
Coors Field takes precedent, but the hitting options in Great American Ballpark are not far behind this evening. All four pitchers in these parks are borderline major leaguers and should be attacked.
1) Seattle Mariners
2) Tampa Bay Rays
3) Detroit Tigers
4) Los Angeles Angels
All four of these teams will likely come with lower ownership levels. The SEA-DET game actually has the second highest total on the slate (9.5) but the individual hitters rank worse in our model than the options from COL-TEX and CIN-CHC. The Mariners have a bit friendlier price tags to attack and have the advantage of a guaranteed ninth inning, so I prefer them over the Tigers. The Rays face the worst team in baseball and get a positive park shift to go with affordable prices to invest in. The Tigers are built to attack LHP but without Miguel Cabrera rank a bit lower in our model. The Angels are the last team I’d consider stacking in tournaments. Platoon advantages aren’t as big of a concern against a knuckle baller and the Red Sox bullpen is weak in the middle. In the second game of a double header, I think we could see the weaker parts of that pen supporting Wright.
MLB Game Weather Forecasts
In the scales below, a 10 strongly favors the batter, a 1 strongly favors the pitcher and a 5 has no impact on the game.
NYM at WSH 7:00: A 10-20% chance of a delay due to a thunderstorm. Not expecting a ppd. Temps near 90 falling into the mid-80s. Air density is a 9. Wind southwest 7-14 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
TB at PHL 7:05: A 10% chance of a delay due to a thunderstorm; not worried about a ppd. Temps near 90 falling into the mid-80s. Air density is a 9. Wind west-southwest 8-16 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 7 becoming a 6.
SEA at DET 7:08: Dry. Temps near 80 falling into the low to mid 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind southwest 8-16 mph lessening to 6-12 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.
LAD at ATL 7:10: A 10-20% chance of a delay due to a thunderstorm; not worried about a ppd risk. Temps near 90 falling into the mid-80s. Air density is an 8. Wind west-northwest 7-14 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
CHC at CIN 7:10: A 30% chance of a delay due to a thunderstorm with a slight ppd risk (<10%). There will be thunderstorms around and there is the threat of them to be strong or severe so that is where the ppd risk comes from. Temps in the mid-80s falling into the mid to upper 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind west-southwest 5-10 mph becoming nearly calm. The wind blows out to left. The wind is a 6 becoming a 5.
PIT at KC 8:10: A 20% chance of a delay due a thunderstorm around, most likely early in the game. Very little (<10%) ppd threat. Temps in the mid-80s falling into the mid to upper 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind northwest 5-10 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
TEX at COL 8:40: Looks like there will be some rain and thunder around during the game. Right now, the guidance I use the most is showing a nice break from the rain right about the scheduled start time that lasts for a few hours. This looks like a situation to me where most of the rain stays to the west of the city in the mountains but it is a close call. Let’s put the delay threat at 30-40% while the ppd risk is 10%. Temps in the upper 70s falling in the mid to upper 60s. Air density is a 10. Wind northeast becoming southeast 9-18 mph which blows in from right to begin the game and then out to left. The wind is a 3 becoming a 7.
MIA at AZ 9:40: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps near 100 falling in the low to mid 90s. Air density is a 9. Wind west 8-16 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
BOS at LAA 10:05: Dry. Temps in the upper 70s falling into the low to mid 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind west-southwest 7-14 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
SF at SD 10:10: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling in the low to mid 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind southwest 7-14 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.