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7/22 MLB DFS: Enjoy a summer Holliday in Chicago

7/22 MLB DFS: Enjoy a summer Holliday in Chicago
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Daily Fantasy Rundown – July 22nd MLB DFS Picks and Analysis

Welcome to Wednesday’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.

Glossary: See a term you’re unfamiliar with? Check out our glossary page. If there’s something you’d like to see added there, please email us at

Weather:  A very quiet weather evening. Only very small concerns in KC with a slight chance of a delay the worst case scenario

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.


Top Play:

Value Plays:

Matt Wieters (BAL) – Wieters is a slightly below average hitter overall against RHP (.304 wOBA) but he has shown good power (.169 ISO) since 2012. He gets a nice park for home run upside as Yankee Stadium inflates LH home runs 17 percent above the league average and he’s facing Ivan Nova who has allowed a .337 wOBA and 34.5 percent hard hit rate to LHBs since 2012. In an extremely small sample this season, Nova has allowed a .378 wOBA to LHBs while striking out just 3.9 percent of lefties. I love taking a shot on left handed power potential in Yankee Stadium against a starter that can’t miss bats. Wieters fits the bill on Wednesday.

Yadier Molina (STL) – Molina has historically hit LHP very well (.361 wOBA, .173 ISO since 2012) and he’ll draw a favorable matchup against John Danks who has allowed a .355 wOBA and 1.48 HR/9 to RHBs during that span. The park shift is a favorable one for Molina and it helps push him into our Top 20 hitters overall in our model. He’s very cheap around the industry as he’s struggled much of this season (even against LHP), but this is a good opportunity to lean on his historical performance and take advantage of a cheap tag.

Additional catcher notes: On sites where Victor Martinez (DET) has catcher eligibility, he would represent our top play at the position. The Tigers have the highest implied run expectation from Vegas and Martinez has always crushed LHP (.387 wOBA, .200 ISO since 2012). Michael Montgomery has enjoyed success early on but he profiles weaker than his current performance. Brian McCann (NYY) is always worthy of consideration against a RHP in Yankee Stadium, but his price point puts him in limbo. He’s generally as expensive as or more expensive than Martinez who we rank higher. McCann grades out as a strong tournament option. Josh Phegley (OAK) is another interesting tournament option. His price tag is elevated but he garners a good lineup spot against LHP and Felix Doubront has been homer prone to RHBs (1.26 HR/9 since 2012) the last few years.

First Base

Value Plays:

Victor Martinez (DET) – We touched on Martinez in the catcher section above but he ranks inside our Top Five overall hitters for this evening slate and is clustered among three strong values at the first base position. Michael Montgomery has held RHBs to just a .255 wOBA and 22 percent hard hit rate so far but ZiPS projection system was really pessimistic on Montgomery’s ability to get RHBs out coming into the season (.352 wOBA, .177 ISO projected). With little major league track record, it’s difficult to assess Montgomery’s baseline but Vegas handing the Tigers the largest implied run total suggests they also expect regression.

Chris Davis (BAL) – Davis is a great target this evening. Since 2012, Davis has compiled a .374 wOBA and .275 ISO against RHP while pulling the ball 48 percent of the time and generating hard contact on 40 percent of balls put in play. Match him up with a pitcher that has really struggled to miss bats this season in a park with a short right field porch and you’ve got one of the better opportunities for a home run on this slate. Davis’ overall skill set (losing the platoon advantage late) puts him behind Martinez in our rankings but he has by far the highest home run score in our model. He’s a Top 10 overall hitter this evening.

David Ortiz (BOS) – Ortiz faces the most talented pitcher of this group of first base values and as a result, he ranks as the weakest of the three options. The park shift is favorable for LH power and his incredible numbers against RHP (.405 wOBA, .277 ISO) make him a Top 10 play against almost any righty. I’m more focused on Davis and Martinez in cash game lineups, but Ortiz rates comparably in our models.

Additional first base notes: Jose Abreu (CHW) is too cheap for his price tag. Add in an expectation that Lance Lynn has a high ownership rate this evening and you can make a great case for Abreu as an elite tournament play. If he does well, you get leverage against all the Lance Lynn lineups as well. Albert Pujols (LAA) has been on an incredible tear and comes with a reasonable price tag around the industry. Mike Pelfrey has actually been a bit more homer prone to RHBs so if you wanted to play the “hot streak” with Pujols, I couldn’t argue. He rates as a Top 20 hitter in our model. Evan Gattis (HOU) and Michael Morse (MIA) are additional tournament plays with cheaper price tags.

Second Base

Top Plays:

Ian Kinsler (DET) – Kinsler has been very effective against LHP in his career. Since 2012, he owns a .361 wOBA and .159 ISO against lefties. He’ll likely hit second in a talented lineup against LHP. We’ve touched on the mystery that is Montgomery and admittedly are leaning a bit on preseason projections and Vegas here but Kinsler cracks our Top 20 overall hitters. On sites he’s priced well below Jose Altuve, he looks like your best choice at second base.

Jose Altuve (HOU) – I am incredibly torn on the decision between Altuve and Kinsler on sites like DraftKings where the price tag is similar. Altuve has been middling against RHPs (.310 wOBA, .092 ISO since 2012) but he’s been better in recent years (.330 wOBA, .106 ISO since 2014) and most of his speed value comes against RHP. Joe Kelly has been smacked around by RHBs this season (.303/.380/.469) and it has come with a 34.5 percent hard hit rate. My current lean is prioritizing Kinsler given the higher expected run total for the Tigers over the Astros.

Additional second base notes: Robinson Cano (SEA) continues to look more like himself. Anibal Sanchez isn’t a plus matchup but on sites the tag remains discounted, he’s an acceptable step down from Kinsler and Altuve in cash games. Martin Prado (MIA) is more consistently priced as a value and gets the combination of platoon advantage, lineup spot, and plus park shift that makes him a viable value play. Kolten Wong (STL) is my favorite tournament play at the position. Danks hasn’t dominated lefties (.331 wOBA, 1.10 HR/9 since 2012) and Wong gets a big park shift in his favor while likely hitting atop a lineup we’re very fond of this evening. Ben Zobrist (OAK) is another acceptable secondary value play with a plus matchup against Felix Doubront.


Top Play:

Jhonny Peralta (STL) – Peralta is the clear cut top option at the shortstop position this evening. He’s compiled a .360 wOBA and .209 ISO against lefties since 2012 and gets that favorable park shift to go with the plus matchup against John Danks. Peralta is a Top 20 hitter in our model at a very thin shortstop position and his price point is manageable around the industry. He’s a building block in cash games, in my opinion.

Additional shortstop notes: If you are looking for salary relief at the position, I believe Erick Aybar (LAA) and Adeiny Hechavarria (MIA) are the best alternatives. Neither are great individual hitters but both hold the platoon advantage against weaker starters and they each come with solid lineup spots. I lean Aybar over Hechavarria slightly on overall value. J.J. Hardy (BAL), Brad Miller (SEA), and Stephen Drew (NYY) are all viable tournament plays due to their power. Carlos Correa (HOU) is also a fine tournament play as part of an Astros-focused lineup.

Third Base

Additional third base notes: It’s a really unique night for the third base position as most of the players that rate highly in our model come with unappealing lineup spots. I’d recommend selecting your third baseman as the final piece of your lineup and finding someone who fits from the following list: Nick Castellanos/Jefry Marte (DET), Mark Reynolds/Matt Carpenter (STL), Martin Prado (MIA), Kyle Seager (SEA), Pablo Sandoval (BOS), and Alex Rodriguez (NYY).  The Tigers and Cardinals third basemen rank highest in our model but come with the most variance in lineup spot. Carpenter is a fine option where priced down (FanDuel) and the only option with a likely strong lineup spot. Seager and Prado are the cheaper options assured of solid lineup spots. We’ll try to address preferences a bit more directly via our lineup alerts.


Top Plays:

Mike Trout (LAA) – Our top overall hitter but an elevated price tag makes him a better play in tournaments. The matchup with Mike Pelfrey is a good one.

J.D. Martinez/Yoenis Cespedes (DET) – Cespedes price tag is actually a bit closer to a “value” than a top play but both rank inside our Top Five overall hitters on Wednesday’s evening slate. Martinez (.404 wOBA, .288 ISO since 2014) has really destroyed LHP the last few years, while Cespedes has been merely “good” against lefties in his big league career (.329 wOBA, .206 ISO). On sites where the gap is minimal, I’d really try to stretch for Martinez if I could but both are very strong options this evening.

Value Plays:

Matt Holliday (STL) – Matt Holliday has compiled a .409 wOBA and .222 ISO against LHP since 2012 and he gets a tasty matchup against John Danks (.355 wOBA, 1.48 HR/9 allowed since 2012) in a park environment that inflates right handed power 14 percent above the league average. Holliday’s price point is down around the industry after an extended stay on the disabled list and he ranks just outside our Top Five overall hitters in our model. Holliday is a building block in cash game lineups on Wednesday night.

Rajai Davis (DET) – Davis typically leads off against LHP and with good reason. Since 2012, he owns an impressive .370 wOBA and .173 ISO while racking up 54 SB in 532 plate appearances. This is a rather incredible combination of power and speed for an outfielder that you can get at the cost of an average hitter. Davis won’t hold his platoon advantage all game and his poor performance against RHP (.279 wOBA) impacts his overall value, but he still ranks inside our Top 10 hitters overall. I believe Davis and Holliday are foundational pieces in your outfield in cash games. They’re simply too cheap for their expected value.

Additional outfield notes: The rest of the potential outfield values are more site specific and lineup dependent. Jacoby Ellsbury (NYY) is abnormally cheap on DraftKings and also cracks our Top 10 overall hitters. He’s priced appropriately on most other sites I scanned. Nelson Cruz (SEA) is abnormally cheap on FanDuel and ranks inside our Top 35 hitters. The Cardinals RH outfielders could earn strong value consideration if one of them lands in a good lineup spot. This is something we’ll address in alerts. Colby Rasmus (HOU) and Preston Tucker (HOU) are solid secondary values that would be solidified with lineup spots inside the Top Five.

Starting Pitcher

Rankings (price not considered):

Tier One

1) Jose Fernandez (MIA)

Tier Two

2) Sonny Gray (OAK)

3) Lance Lynn (STL)

Tier Three

4) C.J. Wilson (LAA)

5) Anibal Sanchez (DET)

6) Robbie Ray (ARZ)

Tier Four

7) Edinson Volquez (KC)

8) Collin McHugh (HOU)

Top Play:

Jose Fernandez (MIA) – Fernandez has shown no signs of rust since coming back from Tommy John Surgery. His average fastball velocity (95.7 mph this season, career average – 95 mph) is up and his command is in line (52.6 zone percentage compared to 52.2 percent in 2014). He’s generating a lot more swings outside the zone (44.2 percent chase rate compared to career 33.5 percent rate) and as a result his swinging strike rate is at a career best 15.4 percent. The Diamondbacks are a below average offense against RHP (rank 19th in wRC+) but a favorable offensive environment masks some of their deficiencies. Fortunately for Fernandez, they’re exceptionally right handed. Jose has held RHBs to an absurd .164/.212/.258 line (.207 wOBA) in his career while striking out 32.2 percent of RHBs faced. Fernandez is a clear cut top option on the evening slate and our top overall pitcher for all of Wednesday’s games.

Next in line:

Sonny Gray (OAK)/Lance Lynn (STL) – Gray ranks slightly ahead of Lance Lynn in our model and it’s largely due to the difference in pitching environments. While Lynn faces a putrid White Sox offense that ranks 28th in wRC+, he’s pitching in one of the best offensive park environments in baseball and has to deal with a league shift (typically accustomed to facing an opposing pitcher in the lineup instead of a DH). Gray gets a great park environment but has to face the Jays who rank fifth in wRC+ against RHP. The Jays lineup is largely RH and Gray has dominated righties in his career (.258 wOBA and 24.3 percent hard hit rate allowed). Both starters have great umpires behind home plate tonight. Vegas has enlisted Gray as a strong favorite (-160) in the game with the lowest total on the evening slate. Lynn is a strong favorite as well (-145) but the game has a total of eight. The implied run total difference between the two is essentially the difference in their ranking in our model. The price gap between Lynn and Gray makes me gravitate slightly towards Lynn on multiple starting pitcher sites, but I think both are strong secondary options on multiple starter sites.

Value Play:

C.J. Wilson (LAA) – My inclination is to stay within the top two tiers for cash games. However, if you’re searching for value, I believe C.J. Wilson is the best option. The Twins are thought of as lefty-mashers and they do have some good power bats against LHP, but they rank 22nd in wRC+ against LHP this season. They’re getting a park downgrade for power (LAA suppresses RH home runs seven percent below the league average) and Miguel Sano has been out of the lineup the last few games. If Sano remains out, the lineup contains three above average hitters against lefties (Dozier, Hunter, and Plouffe) but lacks depth. Vegas has Wilson pegged as a -180 favorite in a game with a total of 7.5.

Additional starting pitcher notes: Anibal Sanchez (DET) has the strikeout upside to warrant tournament consideration but he’s been very volatile all year long. Sanchez has made 19 starts and allowed five or more earned runs in 26 percent of them. He’s actually been better against LHBs in his career (.282 wOBA, 26.5 hard hit rate allowed and a 23.1 K Rate since 2012) so the lefty heavy Mariners offense isn’t a particularly bad matchup. With a total of nine though, he’s not a great cash game option.

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 ( if you have suggestions.

Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:

1) Detroit Tigers

2) St. Louis Cardinals

These are the two teams most heavily featured in our content. The combination of their skills against LHP and the price points on individual plays tends to feed a lot of recommendations into cash game lineup construction.

Contrarian/Secondary Stacks:

1) Houston Astros

2) New York Yankees

3) Baltimore Orioles

4) Los Angeles Angels

5) Oakland Athletics

The first three on this list are solid offenses against below average pitchers in strong offensive environments. On a short slate, I don’t see any of them going particularly under-owned or fitting the contrarian description, but they generally lack a plethora of cash game options due to pricing. On the contrarian side I think the west coast options hold some intriguing weight. The price tags on Trout, Pujols, and Calhoun should force some lower ownership. The Athletics are perhaps the most contrarian stack of the group. The tough park environment always forces lower ownership and they don’t have a lot of players you typically think of as lefty mashers but Zobrist, Butler, Phegley, Burns, and Smolinski all come with reasonable price tags. The last stack (unlisted) I wanted to mention is DraftKings specific. The Blue Jays have some pieces priced way down because they’re facing Sonny Gray (Encarnacion and Martin) which paired with the normal prices on Bautista, Reyes, and Donaldson may force really low exposure. The A’s bullpen has really struggled this year and the Blue Jays are a very good offense overall, even if experiencing a severe negative park shift. Any time I can get the Jays at below five percent ownership, I think they’re a compelling stack. Tonight I think that is the case and comes with some salary relief given the low prices on Edwin and Martin.

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.

BLT at NYY 7:00: Dry. Temps near 80 falling to near 70. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind west-northwest 4-8 mph becoming nearly calm. The wind blows out to right early. The wind is a 6 becoming a 5.

SEA at DET 7:08: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.

STL at CHW 8:10: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind east-southeast 5-10 mph becoming nearly calm. The wind blows in from left-center early. The wind is a 4 becoming a 5.

PIT at KC 8:10: A 10% chance of a delay due to a thunderstorm. Temps in the upper 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 7. Wind east 6-12 mph which blows in from right-center. The wind is a 4.

BOS at HOU 8:10: Retractable roof. A 10-20% chance of a thunderstorm. Temps in the low 90s falling into the mid-80s. Air density is a 9. Wind south-southeast 7-14 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.

MIA at AZ 9:40: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the low 100s falling into the mid-90s. Air density is a 9. Wind west-southwest 8-16 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.

MIN at LAA 10:05: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind west-southwest 10-20 mph which blows out to right. The wind is an 8.

TOR at OAK 10:05: Dry. Temps near 70 falling into the low to mid 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind west 10-20 mph which blows out to right-center. The wind is an 8.

MLB Daily Analysis