MLB DFS Daily Fantasy Rundown – July 23 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Thursday’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: I see no weather problems today or tonight.
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.
Yasmani Grandal (LAD) – Grandal has been a nice hitter against RHP (.366 wOBA, .199 ISO against RHP since 2012) and he draws a plus matchup against Bartolo Colon (21 percent hard minus soft hit rate and 1.08 HR/9 allowed to LHBs in the last three seasons). While I view him as the superior play over Jonathan Lucroy (better skills vs. RHP), Grandal’s lineup spot isn’t secure (usually hits fifth but there’s always a chance that he could hit seventh or worse) so I’m leaning on price points (Grandal is the cheaper value on DraftKings while Lucroy is cheaper on FanDuel).
Jonathan Lucroy (MIL) – Lucroy isn’t as skilled as Yasmani Grandal against RHP (.345 wOBA, .154 ISO) but he has a secure lineup spot (second) and the matchup against Zach Godley (making his major league debut and he wasn’t good at the AA level) is a strong one (Brewers have a team total of 4.5 runs). I’d still play Grandal over Lucroy on a site like DraftKings where the price point is slightly more compelling for Grandal (as long as he’s hitting fifth) but the decision becomes tougher on FanDuel, where Lucroy is cheaper and Clayton Kershaw costs 37 percent of the salary cap (you’ll need as much savings as possible on that site in order to fit Kershaw).
Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) (No other first baseman is averaging more Fantasy Points than Goldschmidt and he draws a matchup against the homer prone Mike Fiers; Clayton Kershaw is a priority start for us in cash games and he has a challenging price tag so Goldschmidt is a better option for tournaments)
Jose Abreu/Adam LaRoche (CWS) – While the White Sox offense has certainly not been good (ranked 28th in wRC+ against RHP), Jose Abreu (.380 wOBA, .228 ISO) and Adam LaRoche (.359 wOBA, .209 ISO against RHP since 2012) are simply underpriced relative to their skills. They’re away from their home park (U.S. Cellular Field represents one of the strongest hitting environments in all of baseball) but their matchup against Trevor Bauer (45 percent FB rate, 1.15 HR/9 this season) is a favorable one. Abreu ($2,900) and LaRoche ($2,200) are my favorite values at the position on FanDuel, where Clayton Kershaw is a bit tougher to fit (costs 37 percent of the salary cap).
David Ortiz (BOS) – Ortiz is simply underpriced on DraftKings ($3,900) relative to his skills against RHP (.405 wOBA, .276 ISO against RHP since 2012). The matchup isn’t favorable (Lance McCullers has been able to beat his projections thanks to a 27 percent K rate, 48 percent GB rate and seven percent hard minus soft hit rate) and this reflects on the Red Sox total (3.5 team total) but Ortiz is a great hitter against RHP (ranked inside our top five hitters) so he deserves cash game consideration on sites where his price is depressed.
Additional first base notes: Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) has a favorable price tag on DraftKings ($4,000) and he has nice skills against RHP. I’d take a shot at his skills and matchup (Bartolo Colon) on that particular site but keep in mind that he’s more expensive than Ortiz, Abreu and LaRoche around the industry and he rates below those hitters in our model (20th ranked hitter). Adam Lind (MIL) is a touch too expensive around the industry to consider him for cash games but he’s facing a rookie pitcher that’s making his first start at the Major League level. Lind is one of my favorite tournament plays at the position. Pedro Alvarez (PIT) will have the platoon edge against Doug Fister (1.11 HR/9 allowed to LHBs this season) but the hitting environment is awful (PNC Park). His boom or bust nature plays better on high variance formats.
Jose Altuve (HOU) (Ranked inside our top 10 hitters, Altuve has a good matchup against Wade Miley and his skills against LHP separates him from the rest of the options at his position; we’ve prioritized Clayton Kershaw in cash games, which means that any high priced hitter we like will be a better option for tournaments today)
Next in line:
Jason Kipnis (CLE) (favorable matchup against Jeff Samardzija, who struggles with LHBs but the gap in expected production between Kipnis and Altuve is sizeable; Kipnis ranks inside our top 40 hitters but Altuve is our third ranked hitter)
Neil Walker (PIT) – Despite Jose Altuve being the undisputed top play at second base, it’s simply too difficult to fit him in cash games on most sites (this can be done on DraftKings, where it’s a bit easier to build a roster around Altuve and Kershaw). On a site like FanDuel where Altuve is too expesive, I view Walker as a good alternative for cash games. He’s certainly skilled (.352 wOBA, .191 ISO against RHP since 2012) and Doug Fister represents a fine matchup (hasn’t been the same pitcher this season; he’s allowing more hard contact and his K rate is down to 11 percent). To simplify things, Walker gives you enough salary relief to roster Kershaw around the industry and he’s a good hitter against RHP in a solid matchup.
Additional second base notes: Chris Owings (ARI) isn’t a good hitter but he has been hitting second as of late and the Diamondbacks have a solid team total of four runs. He’s a fine salary relief option if you can’t quite get up to Neil Walker‘s salary range in cash games. Kolten Wong (STL) has a plus matchup against the homer prone Chris Young but the hitting environment is poor (Busch Stadium) and the Royals defense/bullpen takes away some upside. Wong is a decent secondary option and we’re hoping that a few premium plate appearances against Young will yield a positive result.
Carlos Correa (HOU) (Ranked inside our top 15 hitters, Correa has been great against LHP and Wade Miley isn’t very good; as I’ve mentioned before, it’s tough to build a lineup with high priced hitters in cash games this evening since we’ve prioritized Clayton Kershaw but Correa certainly makes sense for tournaments)
Marwin Gonzalez (HOU) – Gonzalez is definitely not as skilled as Carlos Correa but he’s really cheap around the industry (especially on DraftKings, where he’s $2,700) and he’s a switch hitter that hits second. Gonzalez draws enough appeal as a punt option for cash games based on those factors alone.
Tyler Saladino (CWS) – I view Saladino as another solid punt option for cash games on DraftKings ($2,300). Like Gonzalez, Saladino has been hitting second as of late so we don’t really mind the below average hitting skills (.368 wOBA through 37 PAs at the major league level but has a .289 ZiPS projected wOBA for the rest of this season) in a fine matchup (Trevor Bauer has surrendered a .327 wOBA, 1.07 HR/9 to RHBs since 2012). I’ll give the edge to Gonzalez since the Astros are in a better spot against Wade Miley and they have the higher run total (Astros have a team total approaching 4.5 runs while the White Sox have a team total of 3.5 runs).
Jake Lamb (ARI) – Lamb hasn’t been a great hitter (.320 wOBA in 161 PAs this season) but he will hit sixth (possibly better if Peralta is out) and has the platoon edge against Mike Fiers (has surrendered a .335 wOBA, 37 percent hard hit rate and 1.29 HR/9 to LHBs this season) at Chase Field (good hitting environment). Lamb is cheap around the industry and I’ve already mentioned the benefits of low-cost hitters on this slate (helps you build around Clayton Kershaw). Lamb has just a .122 ISO curently both ZiPS and Steamer expect that to be around .150-plus moving forward. A quick glance at his 5.9 HR/FB rate (14.3 last season) and solid 34.0 hard hit rate also point towards increasing power as the HR/FB should be on the rise.
Matt Carpenter (STL) – There’s a tougher decision to be made at third base on FanDuel, where Carpenter ($2,900) and Lamb ($2,600) are priced similarly. Carpenter should be back to the top of the lineup against a RHP and Chris Young isn’t very good (.345 wOBA, 1.44 HR/9 allowed to LHBs in the last three seasons). The Royals defense/bullpen lurk around so I don’t view Carpenter as a must play but he’s certainly in play across all formats on sites that have priced him below the average cost of a hitter.
Additional third base notes: Aramis Ramirez (MIL) has secondary appeal for cash games on sites where his price is approachable ($3,300 on DraftKings). He usually hits sixth and Zach Godley is making his major league debut (Brewers have a team total of 4.5 runs). Another third base option that could emerge as a value play is Justin Turner (LAD). Bartolo Colon is tougher on RHBs but if Turner draws a top five lineup spot, I view him as a solid target relative to his skills against RHP (.393 wOBA, .174 ISO against RHP in his last 632 PAs).
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) (ranks inside our top five hitters and he’s priced affordably on DraftKings; Doug Fister hasn’t been a good pitcher this season and RHBs are having success against him so I’d consider McCutchen for cash games on that particular site)
Gerardo Parra (MIL) – Parra is enjoying the best season of his career (.369 wOBA, .195 ISO), which has been fueled by a career high 35 percent hard hit rate (most of his peripherals are in line with his career). As I mentioned earlier, the Brewers will have a matchup against RHP Zach Godley, a rookie pitcher that’s making his Major League debut. This offense has a team total of 4.5 runs and Parra has one of the best lineup spots for DFS production (leadoff). I view him as a very strong play on a site like DraftKings ($3,800).
Diamondbacks outfield – David Peralta (.370 wOBA, .216 ISO) and Ender Inciarte (.317 wOBA) are strong values on sites that have priced them below the average cost of a hitter. This is the case for Inciarte on FanDuel ($2,600), where I’d take a shot at his below average skills just to have a leadoff hitter with the platoon edge against Mike Fiers (giving up a ton of hard contact to LHBs). Peralta is only $3,800 on DraftKings and he’s a much better hitter than Inciarte. Let price points guide your decisions here.
Joc Pederson (LAD) – Pederson has been a mess this month and we’re probably going to see more of these droughts since he doesn’t make contact at a league average rate (29 percent K rate). His price has dropped thanks to this stretch of bad performance but the rewards are still big (.357 wOBA, .236 ISO in 394 PAs this season). Bartolo Colon is homer prone against LHBs and he doesn’t miss many bats, which could help Pederson to get back on track. He’s not a must play by any means but I believe that he’s a nice value relative to his overall hitting skills, matchup and depressed price point.
Gregory Polanco (PIT) – Polanco hasn’t been a good hitter (104 wRC+ against RHP) but he gives you speed upside (35 SB upside over a full season) at the leadoff spot. Doug Fister hasn’t been the same pitcher this season (K rate has reached a career low) so we don’t mind picking on him in logical spots (Polanco is $2,300 on FanDuel).
Additional outfield notes: Michael Brantley (CLE) has a good matchup against Jeff Samardzija (struggles vs. LHBs) and he’s priced decently around the industry. He deserves cash game consideration based on his skills (elite EYE) and matchup alone. Teammate Brandon Moss is more of a boom or bust play due to his inability to make consistent contact. When he makes contact, it usually goes a long way so he’s a nice upside play in high variance formats. Ryan Braun and Carlos Gomez (MIL) are good tournament options against Zach Godley at Chase Field. They’re better hitters against LHP and their prices aren’t very friendly, making them better suited for tournaments (Brewers have a team total of 4.5 runs). Andre Ethier (LAD) could emerge as a solid target for cash games if he’s able to land a top six spot in the Dodgers offense. Jason Heyward and Matt Holliday (STL) will have great opportunities for production against Chris Young but the Royals defense/bullpen makes them better options for tournaments.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
2) Francisco Liriano (PIT)
3) Tyson Ross (SD)
4) Trevor Bauer (CLE)
5) Jeff Samardzija (CWS)
6) Lance McCullers (HOU)
7) Mike Fiers (MIL)
8) Tom Koehler (MIA)
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) – Kershaw is by far the most expensive pitcher on this slate but he’s also the top pitcher in our model and it’s not particularly close. There’s a certain security level with Kerhsaw (has scored at least 24 DraftKings points in his last 10 starts) that’s not applicable to some of the best starting pitchers in baseball and his skill set (28.4% K-BB, best mark of any pitcher at the major league level this season, 52 percent GB rate, five percent hard minus soft hit rate and 2.68 ERA/2.21 FIP/1.94 xFIP) separates him from the rest of the field. A matchup against the lowly Mets (ranked 23rd in wRC+ and are striking out 24 percent of the time against LHP) helps him cement the top spot at the starting pitcher position. He’s also a -200 favorite despite being on the road. I’m building around Kershaw in cash games this evening and the only format that I’m willing to fade him in a lineup or two is in a large field, multi-entry tournament.
Next in line:
Fransisco Liriano (PIT) (Liriano draws a neutral matchup against the Nationals and his strikeout skills are always in play in DFS; he was scratched with neck tightness before making his last start so while he’s certainly in play for cash games due to his skills, I’m more comfortable deploying him in tournaments since Kershaw is the better pitcher and there are some health concerns here)
Tyson Ross (SD) – Every time I roster Ross I get this nervous feeling in my stomach. It’s not because he’s a bad pitcher but he does allow his fair share of walks (11 percent BB rate this season, which is fueled by a 58 percent F-Strike rate). However, his “wildness” comes with big rewards (25 percent K rate, 62 percent GB rate and four percent hard minus soft hit rate) and a matchup against the Marlins (ranked 29th in wRC+, striking out 20 percent of the time against RHP and their 0.31 EYE is the second worse mark in MLB), who are missing two key components (Giancarlo Stanton and Dee Gordon), aids his prospects as the best value play at the position. The elite matchup and strikeout skills set a pretty safe floor so he’s my favorite complement to Clayton Kershaw on multiple starting pitcher sites ($1,200 cheaper than Liriano on DraftKings).
Additional starting pitcher notes: Trevor Bauer (CLE) and Jeff Samardzija (CWS) are some of my favorite tournament options on this slate. Both are in favorable matchups (particularly Bauer, who’s facing one of the worst offenses in MLB) and their strikeout skills are above average. I believe that Samardzija has the safer floor since he goes deeper into games (averages seven innings per start) but both are viable in cash games on multiple starting pitcher sites if you’re not willing to play Tyson Ross in that type of format. Since I like Tyson Ross a bit more, both rate better as secondary values. Lance McCullers (HOU) doesn’t have a favorable matchup against the Red Sox but he’s only $6,700 on FanDuel. McCullers has tournament appeal on that particular site relative to his skill set and low price point. Mike Fiers (MIL) has a neutral matchup against the Diamondbacks in a bad pitching environment (Chase Field is a good environment for hitter). I’d take a shot at his plus strikeout skills on a site like DraftKings, where there’s a bigger reward for Ks and his price is friendly ($7,700). Tom Koehler (MIA) isn’t a great pitcher but the matchup against the Padres (ranked 25th in wRC+ and they’re striking out 22 percent of the time against RHP) makes him a tournament worthy 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have suggestions.
Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:
1) Milwaukee Brewers
2) Arizona Diamondbacks
The Brewers and Diamondbacks will face off in a good hitting environment (Chase Field) and both have team totals over four runs. The Brewers are in a better spot since their matchup against Zach Godley is better (making his major league debut) but the Diamondbacks are right behind them (Mike Fiers has good strikeout skills but he allows too much hard contact).
1) Los Angeles Dodgers
2) Houston Astros
3) Pittsburgh Pirates
The Dodgers, Astros and Pirates represent the strongest stacks after the written offenses above. They have good matchups against pitchers that have below average run prevention/allow too much contact. The Dodgers are the number one ranked offense against RHP this season so they rank a bit better than the Astros and Pirates in our model.
MLB Game Weather Forecasts
WSH at PIT 7:05: Dry. Temps in the upper 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind northwest 4-8 mph becoming nearly calm which blows out to center early in the game. The wind is a 6 becoming a 5.
LAD at NYM 7:10: Dry. Temps near 80 falling to near 70. Air density is a 7 becoming a 5. Wind west 4-8 mph becoming nearly calm which blows out to right early in the game. The wind is a 6 becoming a 5.
CHW at CLE 7:10: Dry. Temps in the mid 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.
KC at STL 7:15: Dry. Temps in the low 80s falling into the low to mid 70s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind northeast 5-10 mph lessening to 3-6 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
BOS at HOU 8:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the low 90s falling into the low 80s. Air density is a 9 becoming an 8. Wind south 8-16 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 7 becoming a 6.
MIL 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 7-14 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
MIA at SD 10:10: Dry. Temps in the mid 70s falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind west-northwest 8-16 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.