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July 22 MLB DFS: Ace Of Spades

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July 22 MLB DFS: Ace Of Spades
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Welcome to July 22 MLB DFS action. You’ll find Daily Fantasy Baseball Premium Cliff Notes for July 22 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!

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  • 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.

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Range of Outcome Projections

July 22 MLB DFS CLIFF NOTES

Starting Pitcher

The top two starting pitchers in baseball, Chris Sale (BOS) and Max Scherzer (WSH), are the top projected scorers in this slate and it’s not close as you’d expect.

Sale is the highest favorite (-350) in this slate, has the lowest IRTA (2.8) and leads the way in K projection (9.6). His matchup isn’t perfect as the Tigers are ranked ninth in wRC+ vs. LHP and are striking out just 20% of the time vs. LHP, but Sale gets the benefit of facing all these RHBs away from Fenway Park. After starting the season with a K rate in the low 30s and a pitch mix that was a bit more contact oriented, Sale’s K rate is now in the high 30s (37.2%) as he’s reverted back to his pitch mix from last season (53% fastballs, 33.8% sliders, 15.5% change ups) and is throwing with more velocity. He’s the strongest building block in cash games on both sites at the starting pitcher position and he’s a phenomenal tournament play as well.

Scherzer is right behind Sale in projection with a matchup against a Braves offense that’s now ranked 22nd in wRC+ but they’re only striking out 20.6% of the time against RHP. It’s a good matchup for run prevention, but Scherzer’s K dominance is against RHBs in particular (40% K rate baseline against RHBs) and the Braves will throw at him at least five LHBs, which dings his K projection. We’re particularly intrigued by Scherzer on FD where he’s $700 cheaper than Sale, but even then Sale is projecting so strongly that our optimals are going after him regardless. All things considered, Scherzer is a viable play across all formats but might end up being a stronger tournament play if Sale carries a much bigger ownership number. That might not be the case, but even if Sale ends up being 1.3-1.5x higher owned than Scherzer that’s probably significant enough.

J.A. Happ (TOR) is all by his lonesome as the next highest projected scorer at the position. After Happ, the position takes a big hit in projection. Let’s face it – Happ hasn’t been great lately. He allowed five runs in his last start against the Red Sox, though they ended up being unearned due to errors. Happ allowed a combined 13 earned runs in his previous two starts. However, he got tagged with very difficult matchups, facing the Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers, Astros and the Braves over his last five starts. In other words, he had to face the top three offenses in wRC+ vs. LHP, another that’s ranked inside the top 10 and an improving Red Sox lineup vs. LHP. Today he faces an Orioles offense that shipped Manny Machado out of town and were ranked 29th in wRC+ vs. LHP even with Machado in the lineup. The Orioles make more contact vs. LHP (21% K rate), but they’re a terrible offense on the whole. Happ is affordable on DK ($8,600), has the third lowest IRTA (3.8) and the third best K projection (7.6) in this slate – only trailing Sale and Scherzer. He’s going to be our preferred SP2 in cash games on DK and he’s a viable tournament alternative on FD that allows you to free up plenty of funds on the offensive side.

The next bucket of starters don’t provide much in the way of discounts off Happ and have significantly worse projections. Mike Clevinger (CLE) has to deal with some serious heat (105-107 degrees projected throughout the game) in Texas, Alex Wood (LAD) is getting a significant park downgrade going into Miller Park and Chris Archer (TB) is still trying to find himself after an extended trip to the DL and will have to deal with the worst umpire in this slate for SPs. Next up in projection is Mike Foltynewicz (ATL), who’s simply overpriced in a matchup against a bunch of talented LHBs (Washington Nationals). Jose Quintana (CHC) is at home where there’s favorable conditions for pitchers but he’s priced accurately as well for a league average matchup. There’s some merit to using Archer and Wood (maybe even Quintana, though we like him the least out of this group for upside) in tournaments but in general we think this tier is priced very correctly, even for their potential upside in their respective contexts.

The cheap tier is more intriguing than the tier above because their projections aren’t that different and they allow you to fit more offense in tournaments. Jake Odorizzi (MIN) and Ivan Nova (PIT) are $6k and $5,700 respectively on DK and are projecting decently well at these price tags. Nova is a GPP only play and we’re not that enthused about him given a) the environment (Great American Ball Park), which is a significant downgrade from where he’s used to pitching, and b) a matchup against LH heavy lineup. Odorizzi is our preference. He’s on the road with a 4.4 IRTA but has a decent K projection (5) and a matchup against a Royals offense that’s ranked 28th in wRC+ vs. RHP. They don’t strikeout much (19.8% K rate vs. RHP), but like the Orioles they’re simply a terrible offense. We prefer the Happ route in cash games, but Odorizzi would be the key to unlocking expensive Indians + an ace SP1.

Catcher

It’s an uneventful day at the catcher position. Salvador Perez (KC) leads the way in projection but carries an accurate price tag ($3,800). Perez has a matchup against Jake Odorizzi, who’s allowed a .199 ISO to RHBs since 2017. We like the power upside here but would rather pay the fair tag in tournaments.

In cash games, we’re looking to save a buck at the position with Russell Martin (TOR). Martin is $3,200 and gets to hit sixth at home for an offense that has a 5.2 IRT against Andrew Cashner. He’s been a fine bat vs. RHP (.325 wOBA, .161 ISO, 14.7% BB rate since 2017) and has the second best projection at the catcher position, which tells you all you need to know about this position.

There are some other plays that aren’t that far off Martin’s price tag, like Tucker Barnhart (CIN) and Yan Gomes (CLE), that have strong contexts as well. Barnhart is at home facing a wide splits pitcher and Gomes is playing in a game with temperatures in the 100s. Martin rates ahead in projection but these two are viable alternatives. Sandy Leon (BOS) is $2,900 and gives you exposure to the Red Sox offense. He sucks but we don’t mind him given the cheap price tag.

First Base

Joey Votto (CIN) and Edwin Encarnacion (CLE) (on DK) carry the top projections at the first base position. Votto is at home in a great hitting environment, particularly for home runs, in a matchup against Ivan Nova. Nova has been tagged by LHBs, to the tune of a .366 wOBA and .213 ISO allowed since 2017. Encarnacion gets the benefit of playing in 105 degrees weather and gets a matchup against a washed up pitcher (Yovani Gallardo). Votto has a good price tag on FD ($3,900) that can be reached even if pursuing Sale in cash games.

The next in line targets at the position are Justin Smoak (TOR) and Yonder Alonso (CLE) (on DK). If you can’t reach Encarnacion in cash games on DK, Alonso is a strong pivot. He’s $400 cheaper than Encarnacion and gets the platoon edge against Gallardo. Alonso has generated a .365 wOBA and .212 ISO vs. RHP since 2017. Smoak is only $100 cheaper than Votto on both sites. He was crushing the ball right before the all star break and continues to do so, generating a 46.2% HHR over the L15 days. We’re fans of his power upside against Andrew Cashner but the price tag is now appropriate. He’s a strong tournament option.

Kendrys Morales (TOR) is a popular choice in our FD optimals today. Morales has generated a .193 ISO vs. RHP since 2017 and he’s just $2,500 on FD. We think Morales deserves consideration across all formats, especially in a context like this (at home in Rogers Centre facing Cashner).

We’ve also seen some value choices outside of Alonso populate some of our top DK optimals today. Ryan Braun (MIL) will have the platoon edge albeit against a tough southpaw (Alex Wood). Braun is just $3,600 on DK though, which is a cheap price tag for him against a LHP. Braun generated a .253 ISO last season vs. LHP and has followed it up with a solid .214 ISO vs. LHP this season. Kendrys Morales (TOR) is also appearing in some optimals but he’s priced more appropriately on that site ($4k). Lucas Duda (KC) and Anthony Rizzo (CHC) have low $4k price tags as well and they’ll have the platoon edge in their respective matchups. Duda is $2,900 on FD and has some cash game appeal on that site as well. Even if you don’t end up dipping into this tier for cash games, all of these names are worth considering in GPPs.

Second Base

Scooter Gennett (CIN) and Yangervis Solarte (TOR) represent the top projected scorers at the keystone position in this slate. Solarte is priced very differently on DK ($3,400) and as a result gets to be a big part of our top optimals as a standout value. Gennett is priced appropriately on FD and he’s certainly overpriced on DK. The context is a strong one and Gennett has been excellent vs. RHP (.393 wOBA, .227 ISO since 2017) but our baselines won’t be as aggressive. Even then, he’s simply not deserving of consideration in cash games with a whooping $5,300 price tag on DK.

Gennett will have to be considered in cash games on FD, as there’s not much value to be had at this position. Brian Dozier (MIN) and Whit Merrifield (KC) are the next in line projected scorers at the position but both are priced accurately and they have R/R matchups today. Jonathan Schoop (BAL) has the platoon edge but the matchup isn’t favorable (J.A. Happ) and the price tag ($3,200) isn’t very favorable either).

Without any of the options above standing out, our optimals have taken the cheap approach at the position with Eduardo Nunez (BOS) and Logan Forsythe (LAD). Nunez gives you a little bit more upside because he can run bases but he’s $2,800. Nunez is just $2,900 on DK, which is a price tag that makes him viable in cash games. Forsythe has a full punt price tag ($2,100) and he’ll have the platoon edge in Miller Park. He has an ugly projection but as long as he’s in the lineup you’ll have to consider him in a slate where expensive pitching is our top priority.

Third Base

Jose Ramirez (CLE) represents the top projected scorer at third base and it’s not particularly close on DK. Ramirez is ahead of the next in line options by nearly two full DK points in projection. Ramirez smashes both LHP and RHP as a switch hitter, he can steal bases (up to 20 this season; on pace to easily surpass his career high of 22) and the context remains overly friendly given the temperatures in Texas being over 100 degrees. Ramirez has generated a .423 wOBA and .311 ISO vs. RHP since 2017 and he’s facing Yovani Gallardo and his 14.4% K rate/8.60 ERA this season. Ramirez is now over $6k on DK and given the way he’s produced, that’s a very deserving price tag. It’ll be one that’s out of reach for cash games but we’ll continue to pursue him in tournaments.

In cash games, you have to spend down at the position and thankfully we have a clear cut option in this slate. That’s Yangervis Solarte (TOR), who’s the top projected scorer at the position on FD where Ramirez isn’t available. Solarte is the next in line option from a projection standpoint on DK. He’ll hit from the left side against Andrew Cashner, and he’s generated a .324 wOBA and .177 ISO vs. RHP since 2017. No, he’s clearly nowhere near the caliber of hitter or DFS asset as Jose Ramirez but you’re also paying really cheap price tags for him ($3,400 on DK, $2,600 on FD).

Since Solarte has 2B/3B eligibility on DK, you could pursue an even cheaper target at the position and open up more salary. That’s where Eduardo Nunez (BOS) enters the conversation. Nunez isn’t a good hitter and he doesn’t get good lineup spots even with the platoon edge but he does gives you access to a Red Sox offense that has a 5.2 IRT – the second highest in this slate – at a very cheap price tag ($2,900). Adrian Beltre (TEX) is also $2,900 on DK. Skills aside, Beltre is a cleanup hitter for a team that gets to hit in 100 degrees weather. That should be enough to buy you in at that price tag.

Mike Moustakas (KC), Kris Bryant (CHC) and Colin Moran (PIT) (on FD) are intriguing tournament targets at the position. Moran in particular is an option that fits the slate on FD. He’s $2,600 and will have the platoon edge out of the cleanup spot against Matt Harvey, who’s allowed a .386 wOBA and .231 ISO to LHBs since 2017. Justin Turner (LAD) deserves to be part of this group, particularly on FD where he has a solid price tag. He hasn’t been in the lineup over the last couple of days though, so we’ll have to see if he’s back today.

Shortstop

Francisco Lindor (CLE) carries the top projection at the shortstop position on DK where he’s a standout option once again. Lindor is a leadoff hitter with power AND speed upside in a context where 5-6 PAs are very much within reach. He’s facing Yovani Gallardo, who’s allowed a .351 wOBA and .196 ISO to LHBs since 2017. Lindor has been great against RHP, generating a .357 wOBA and .257 ISO since the start of last season. Those might not look amazing relative to some of the other elite hitters at other positions, but at the shortstop position those are remarkable marks. Lindor also steals bases (15 SBs this season; 15 last season and 19 the previous season). He’s the one Indian we’re hoping to reach in cash games on DK but the price tag ($5,500) will make it a challenge.

Manny Machado (LAD) represents the next in line option at the position but he doesn’t project as strongly as Lindor and the price tag is similar. We like him in tournaments but Lindor remains our preferred target if spending up at the position.

Our optimals have gone cheap on both sites, going after Tim Beckham (BAL) on FD and Elvis Andrus (TEX) on DK. Beckham is a road leadoff hitter with the platoon edge and he’s just $2,500 on FD. The matchup isn’t enticing (Happ) but he fits the slate very well, especially on a site that’s not including the CLE-TEX game. Andrus is $3,600 and gets to hit second at home. We haven’t seen the event upside out of Paul DeJong (STL) him this season but there’s simply not much else we like behind Lindor at the position today.  is a decent alternative with the platoon edge that carries more power upside than Andrus but we’d prefer if he hit in a better lineup spot than sixth.

Aledmys Diaz (TOR) is the other cheap target on FD ($2,500) that has been a part of some of our optimals but he’s hitting ninth at home. We prefer Beckham in cash games despite the tougher matchup.

Outfield

Mookie Betts (BOS) represents the top projected scorer in this slate regardless of hitting position. Betts is a road leadoff hitter with the platoon edge against Blaine Hardy, who’s been more lucky than good this season. Hardy has a 3.31 ERA/4.54 xFIP with a 18.3% K rate and a 42% GB rate. Betts has obliterated LHP, to the tune of a .426 wOBA and .293 ISO since 2017. He’s very expensive in a slate we’re looking for value in the OF. He doesn’t quite fit in cash games but continues to be an exciting GPP target. The same can be said about teammate J.D. Martinez (BOS), who’s been even more impressive with the platoon edge (.468 wOBA, .363 ISO since 2017). Martinez is more affordable than Betts but if you’re going after Sale-Happ in cash games, you’re going to have a tough time finding room for an expensive bat.

Michael Brantley (CLE) is the next in line projected scorer at the position but he doesn’t have the upside of Betts-Martinez and the price tag ($5,100) is appropriate on DK. He’s a fine tournament target.

Curtis Granderson (TOR) remains a staple of cash game lineups. He’s $3,900 on DK and $2,900 on FD and he’ll have the platoon edge against Andrew Cashner in Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays’ OF depth is very thin right now with Kevin Pillar hitting the DL. As a result, Granderson’s PH risk disappears as long as he’s playing the OF. Granderson continues to hit for power against RHP, generating a .224 ISO since 2017.

Corey Dickerson (PIT) has a strong mid-tier price tag ($3,400) on FD that’s reachable in cash games. Dickerson continues to rake in Great American Ball Park, swatting two home runs yesterday and one on Friday. He’ll have the platoon edge once again and has a favorable matchup against Matt Harvey, who’s struggled immensely vs. LHBs since 2017. Harvey has generated better results against them of late but it feels like fools gold since he’s not missing bats.

Dickerson has a more appropriate price tag on DK, which makes it difficult to go after him in cash games. We’ve seen plenty of names fill out our OF2-OF3 needs on that site. Ryan Braun (MIL) and Marcell Ozuna (STL) stand out with the platoon edge and price tags in the low $3ks. Tyler Naquin (CLE) gives you Indians exposure at an affordable price tag. He hits ninth but on the road in this context that lineup spot doesn’t feel as terrible as it usually is. We’re not sure if Kevin Kiermaier (TB) will be back today, but the price tag ($3,800) for a leadoff hitter with the platoon edge would bring him into play if he’s back. Tommy Pham (STL) is a little bit more expensive than this tier ($4,100) but the price tag isn’t out of reach in cash games. Pham will have the platoon edge, and he’s posted a .388 wOBA and .205 ISO vs. LHP since 2017. He’s also in play on FD where the price tag is affordable.

Stacks

Tier One

1) Cleveland Indians

The Cleveland Indians are by far the top stack in this slate. It deserves to be mentioned again – they’re going to be hitting in 100 degrees weather for the third consecutive day in Arlington and they have a 6.1 IRT. Given the expensive pitching in this slate, it’s unlikely that the Indians as a stack are very high owned in tournaments. We remain high on them but if you want to include the expensive parts of this stack you’ll have to get away from the ace pitchers.

Tier Two

2) Boston Red Sox

3) Toronto Blue Jays

4) Cincinnati Reds

5) Pittsburgh Pirates

6) Los Angeles Dodgers

The second tier of offenses is a bit more congested with five teams in it. The Red Sox lead the way as a road team in Detroit facing a southpaw. The same thing applies to their expensive pieces – if you’re playing them in tournaments then you’ll have to get away from expensive pitching. We wouldn’t stack them without those expensive pieces in GPPs.

The Blue Jays are going to be popular in this slate. In fact, There’s a chance they might end up being overly popular in GPPs, which makes them solid fades. They have the cheap pieces that fit the slate with expensive pitching.

The Reds have a fantastic spot ahead of them. They’ll fill up their lineup with LHBs against a pitcher that struggles primarily against LHBs. They’re not cheap though, which makes them difficult fits alongside expensive pitching. There’s a chance they draw little ownership in this slate.

The Pirates and Dodgers are road teams in strong hitting environments. We prefer to stack the Dodgers outright since they’re by far the more talented offense but they’re not cheap and will have to face a more challenging bullpen, especially if they’re trailing late in the game. The Pirates aren’t cheap either, and outside of Dickerson most of their LHBs won’t have any ownership in this context. That’s a plus, but we’d rather go after expensive Indians or Red Sox if you’re spending up in tournaments.

Tier Three

7) Washington Nationals

8) Texas Rangers

9) St. Louis Cardinals

10) Minnesota Twins

This third tier is a very interesting one for tournaments. All of these teams are full of players with mid-tier price tags.

Take a team like the Rangers for example. They’re in a ridiculous hitting environment and have affordable middle infield options (hello $2,900 Adrian Beltre) that could allow you to get up to those mid-tier options in the OF like Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Gallo. While you’re doing that, you could still roster expensive pitching.

The Nationals will throw a bunch of LHBs against Mike Foltynewicz, who’s allowed four home runs in his last two starts and primarily struggles against LHBs.

The Cardinals are facing Jose Quintana, who’s been pretty meh all season and has allowed a 22% hard minus soft hit rate.

The Twins are facing Brad Keller and his 13.5% K rate, backed up by the worst bullpen in all of baseball.

Of this group, we’d say the Rangers in particular deserve to be considered in all types of tournament formats while the Nationals stand out in MME.

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