Daily Fantasy Rundown – July 27 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: Another quiet day. Low risks in BOS, BLT and STL with BOS the place most likely to see a delay (still do not see it as a big problem though).
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.
Buster Posey (SF) – Posey is pretty much the default top play at a weak catcher position tonight. He doesn’t hold the platoon edge and is at home (terrible pitcher’s park), but his overall skills (1.09 EYE as he’s cut his K rate down at no expense to power) trump his peers. It’s also a somewhat friendly matchup despite being same handed as Kyle Lohse has struggled this season (6.29 ERA, 5.01 FIP) as a dip in GB rate and rise in hard hit rate has finally made his low K rate intolerable. Still, Posey’s likely not worth paying up for in cash games on sites like FanDuel where he’s expensive and there’s a large gap between him and the punts. He’s more viable on DraftKings (where he’s actually the same price as he is on FanDuel, which is rare).
Matt Wieters (BAL) – Wieters was scratched yesterday due to a stiff back but is expected back in the lineup today. Wieters has been a wreck at the plate from a plate discipline standpoint (.16 EYE, career mark is .45). As a result, we’ve been a bit more selective in using him after relying on him too heavily when he was first activated off of the DL. Today, is a spot where he’s worth the risk. First off, his price has bottomed out. At $2,300 on FanDuel and $2,600 on DraftKings, you’d pretty much take a catcher regardless of skills who had the platoon edge, top five lineup spot and a favorable hitter’s park, which Wieters does. Secondly, the opportunity cost is almost nothing on today’s nine game slate. The catcher position is about as weak as I remember it. Finally, Wieters is not without upside despite the problems he’s had. He projects to be one of the more powerful hitting catchers, and his hard hit rate of 35.4 percent is fine. Wieters simply needs to be a bit more selective at the plate so he can cut down on the Ks and elevate the pitches he is swinging at.
Brian McCann (NYY) – McCann is tough to use in cash games as he doesn’t hit lefties well and opposing pitcher Matt Harrison has been really tough on LHBs for his career. However, Harrison will likely struggle overall (really pessimistic projections on him, walked more than he struck out in two starts) and not pitch deep in the game. He’s backed up by one of the league’s worst bullpens. As a result, the Yankees have the highest team total on the night and are one of our favorite stacks, giving McCann tangible upside despite what looks like a bad one on one matchup initially.
Additional catcher notes: Outside of the written up options, Welington Castillo (ARI) and Yan Gomes (CLE) are viable cash game punts depending on batting order. For tournaments, other options include Salvador Perez (KC), Mike Zunino (SEA) and Ryan Hanigan (BOS).
Top Play: Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) (absurd overall skill set being displayed this season and phenomenal historic splits; while we’re pessimistic on Montogmery’s success continuing, view Goldschmidt primarily as a tournament option due to price, ballpark and to some extent Montgomery’s success)
Next in line:
Mark Teixeira (NYY) – Teixeira has a favorable splits matchup against Matt Harrison, who in a limited sample (has missed a ton of time due to injury) has allowed a .392 wOBA and 1.20 HR/9 to RHBs since 2013 (145 batters faced). For Harrison’s career those splits sit at .340 and 1.01 respectively. Teixeira, since he’ll start off batting right-handed, actually gets a small uptick in park factor playing in Texas. Teixeira’s three year splits against LHP are okay (1.12 EYE is phenomenal but .335 wOBA and .169 ISO leave a little bit to be desired). However, he’s been a better hitter from the right side most of his career and is displaying some great overall peripherals this season, which instill us with a bit more confidence. He’s posting the second best EYE (.79) of his career as both his BB and K rates are better than his career averages. Most importantly, Teixeira is displaying a ton of power as his current .291 ISO represents a career best. He’s an elite tournament option on DraftKings, where his price is heavily inflated. Anywhere he’s priced reasonably, such as FanDuel, he can be utilized in all formats.
Jose Abreu/Adam LaRoche (CHW) – The best values at the first base position, if needing to save a little bit of money, come from the White Sox. This offense has struggled all season long, but they get a very good matchup today, which lands them with an implied run total somewhere between 4 and 4.5 runs. Opposing pitcher Joe Kelly has been a nightmare (5.74 ERA, 1.24 HR/9) as he’s yielding a ton of hard contact (33.5 hard hit rate) and no long has a well above average GB rate. Kelly is backed up by a Red Sox bullpen that has the fifth highest xFIP in MLB. Both Abreu and LaRoche have disappointed this season, but on sites where Abreu is priced below the average cost of a hitter and LaRoche near the minimum, they’re worthwhile upside risks.
Additional first base notes: David Ortiz (BOS) is a viable value play, despite a L/L matchup, as the Red Sox team has a high implied run total (4.5, approaching 5), and opposing pitcher John Danks hasn’t been dominant in L/L matchups (.318 wOBA, 1.04 HR/9 allowed since 2013). Ortiz is underpriced on DraftKings due to not holding the platoon edge. Victor Martinez (DET) doesn’t have a great matchup, but due to his price I’d consider him a secondary value across the industry. Some options that have high upside for tournaments include Prince Fielder/Mitch Moreland (TEX) (Nova isn’t missing any bats but be aware that four of the six non-closer relief pitchers for the Yankees are left handed) and my personal favorite Mike Napoli (BOS) (despite recent performance, we have no problems picking on John Danks and Napoli has the power upside for a huge night at a low cost).
Rougned Odor (TEX) – Odor is the top ranked second baseman in our model. Odor has displayed some impressive power for a middle infielder (.214 ISO). Projections systems believe to an extent (.176 ZiPS projected ROS ISO, .160 Steamer). Odor will be aided by his friendly home park tonight, and a pitcher in Ivan Nova who has had a tough time missing bats as he returns from TJS. Through five starts, Nova has struck out just 12.1 percent of batters, and he’s allowing a high hard hit rate of 32.3 percent. The strikeout problems are extreme against LHBs. He’s faced only 63 of them but has struck out just 3.2 percent of them, which is half his BB rate against LHBs. Aside from the numbers lining up well for Odor tonight, there are a couple of other reasons to like him. First, while we generally don’t do too much traditional scouting, analyst Drew Dinkmeyer has noted how good Odor has looked at the place recently. I gently mocked him about this yesterday, and Odor proceeded to homer in his next at bat. He has now homered in three of four games, and he’ll steal double digit bags over a full season. Secondly, the opportunity cost is incredibly low at second base. This makes Odor a core play for me on sites like DraftKings (priced at $3,800, actually cheaper than he is on FanDuel), and depending on what I can fit around him, I may even try to stretch to squeeze him on FanDuel despite the fact that he’s expensive.
Kolten Wong (STL) – On FanDuel, you may not be comfortable laying down such a pretty penny for Odor, but luckily Wong comes in at just $2,900. The Cardinals have a respectable team total around four, and Wong will be setting the table up top. I don’t think Raisel Iglesias is bad, but he’s not someone to be afraid of and has allowed a .389 wOBA to LHBs against the 85 he has faced. It’s difficult to find someone else in Wong’s price range in a leadoff spot for a team with a reasonable probability of offensive success tonight.
Jace Peterson (ATL) – Peterson is more of a secondary value for me as I prefer one of Odor or Wong depending on site pricing. However, he’s a viable alternative and probably possesses more stolen base upside than he’s flashed thus far this season. This play is mostly about opportunity at a scarce position, though. Peterson should get four to five plate appearances (leadoff hitter on the road), has the platoon edge against an average RHP and receives a nice park shift in his favor.
Additional second base notes: Jason Kipnis (CLE) is worth using in tournaments as one of the better offensive second baseman, matchup aside. Robinson Cano (SEA) is better used in tournaments ina L/L matchup, but at a mid-tier price with few alternatives, I could see using him in cash games as well against Robbie Ray and his high hard hit rate. Punt options for tournaments that could potentially be used in cash if simply fed up with the more expensive options are Addison Russell (CHC) and Aaron Hill/Chris Owings (ARI).
Xander Bogaerts (BOS) – For me shortstop is one of the easiest positions to figure out today for cash games – the answer is Xander Bogaerts. He has decent splits (career .365 wOBA against LHP), an improving overall skill set (has cut down K rate dramatically), a good environment (Red Sox have one of the highest team totals and Fenway Park is very friendly for right-handed hitters) and an elite matchup (John Danks has a .356 wOBA and 1.50 HR/9 allowed to RHBs since 2013). It’s not all roses as Bogaerts’ power (too many ground balls, not enough hard hit contact) has dipped, and John Danks has been on a roll lately. The latter issue is of very little concern to me, though. While Danks hasn’t allowed a run in three of four starts, a closer look at his peripherals in those starts does not show any marked improvement; rather, the good results have been a result of variance over a small sample. With Bogaerts hitting third and very affordable across the industry, he’s a core value in cash games.
Additional shortstop notes: Troy Tulowitzki (COL) is outside of Coors Field but a reduced price tag keeps him in play in tournaments, and possible even cash games on FanDuel. Hanley Ramirez (BOS) is an elite shortstop value on DraftKings, and I’d try to utilize both him and Bogaerts on that particular site. Jhonny Peralta (STL) is the best mid-tier cash game alternative, and Starlin Castro (CHC) is the best cheap cash game option, assuming a top five or six lineup spot (Jorge de la Rosa has allowed a .333 wOBA to RHBs since 2012). There aren’t a lot of additional tournament options. One punt play for tournaments is possibly Chris Taylor (SEA), who is minimum price on most sites.
Alex Rodriguez (NYY) – Rodriguez is the pretty logical top option at third base. We’re high on the Yankees offense but struggling to find a lot of great individual values since the lineup is very left-handed. Rodrgiuez is clearly the team’s best right-handed bat and is showing no signs of slowing down. You’f heard this from us before, but the power numbers here are legitimate as Rodriguez’s current 28.2 hard minus soft hit rate is more than eight points higher than his career mark. He’s expensive so not a core option, but we’d consider him a top five overall hitter this evening, salary aside.
Next in line:
Kris Bryant (CHC) – Bryan lags behind Rodriguez as the Cubs don’t carry the same expected team success, but he’ll give you similarly huge power upside at a lower cost, particularly on FanDuel where he’s well underpriced. Bryant has shown the peripherals that give him mammoth power upside: 49.5 fly ball rate, 37.3 hard hit rate, 13.2 BB rate. However, what I view to be an unlucky 12.4 HR/FB rate has masked this phenomenal profile. Both Bryant’s scouting profile and Minor League numbers indicate that the raw power is there so look for a meaningful increase in power output the rest of the way. Bryant will hold the platoon edge tonight on Jorge de la Rosa (.333 wOBA, 1.02 HR/9 allowed to RHBs since 2013) and a Rockies bullpen that is dead last in MLB in ERA.
Additional third base notes: With some scarce positions that are easy to save money at (C, 2B, SS) and no very expensive pitcher to spend on, I’ll try to work in one of the above high end third base options or use the positional flexibility of the Red Sox guys (Bogaerts, Hanley) to cover third base on sites like DraftKings. However, there are a few viable cash game alternatives for a lower price tag. In order of preference, these options are Matt Carpenter (STL) (particularly viable on FanDuel, where his on base ways mesh with the scoring system rather well and he’s cheap), Adrian Beltre (TEX) (very skeptical of Ivan Nova and a lot of LHPs in the Yankee bullpen) and Brock Holt (BOS) (day to day but expected to be okay, hitting second for a high upside offense and surprisingly solid numbers against LHP). Tyler Saladino (CHW) remains a viable punt on DraftKings.
Hanley Ramirez/Mookie Betts (BOS) – As mentioned in Bogaerts’ blurb, I’m not too concerned over Danks’ recent strong run. It’s still okay to have multiple Red Sox in cash game lineups, and outside of Bogaerts the best way to accomplish that is via the outfield as both Ramirez and Betts are pretty affordable around the industry. Danks has a 4.66 ERA, 4.30 FIP and 4.50 xFIP, making him one of the worst starters in action tonight. His struggles against RHBs combined with Fenway Park’s friendliness to RHBs should cause trouble. Ramirez leads all Red Sox with a .405 wOBA and monstrous .271 ISO against southpaws since 2012. Betts hasn’t been nearly effective against LHP, but it’s a smaller sample size for him. We’re still excited about the power/speed combination he provides out of the leadoff spot, and his overall 11.9 K percentage combined with a .173 ISO are very promising signs from a young player. Shane Victorino (BOS) also has a nice history against LHP. He’s a great tournament option and would be an amazing cheap play for cash games if given a top five or six lineup spot.
Nelson Cruz (SEA) – Cruz is right in line with the Red Sox outfielders in our model, and he boasts a ton of homer upside. He’d rank ahead of Ramirez/Betts but if not for a lower team total and worse park. Cruz has an outstanding .416 wOBA, .254 ISO and 20 HRs in 368 PAs against LHP since 2012. He’s currently on his third straight season with an overall ISO of .240 or greater. While opposing pitcher Robbie Ray has a sparkling ERA (2.72), he’s playing with fire a bit as he’s very fly ball oriented (35.1 GB rate) and allows a lot of hard hit contact (39.5 hard hit rate is very, very high). For Ray, the numbers are even worse when looking at just his split against RHBs: 33.7 GB rate, 42.0 hard hit rate. Clearly there is a ton of power potential for opposing hitters that hold the platoon edge over Ray. Teammate Mark Trumbo (SEA) is one of our favorite tournament options, and he could be used in cash games given a top five lineup spot.
Next in line: Yankees Outfielders (both Ellsbury and Gardner are viable cash game options; it’s a difficult situation as the L/L matchup is very poor for them but the game provides a ton of upside from a macro perspective leaving me viewing them as secondary value plays for cash but elite tournament options)
Corey Dickerson/Carlos Gonzalez (COL) – While Dickerson and Gonzalez are outside of Coors Field, they still hold plenty of value today, particularly considering the price drop as a result of the negative park shift. Dickerson comes in at $3,000 on FD and $3,400 on DK while Gonzalez is $3,000 on FD and $4,100 on DK. Opposing pitcher Kyle Hendricks has held LHBs in check, but some of that is due to luck (low BABIP and HR/FB rate). I don’t consider Dickerson/Gonzalez core options due to high opportunity cost, but the upside they provide at these price points when holding the platoon edge on an average to above average RHP is meaningful. They make for excellent complementary plays to or pivots off of the Red Sox outfielders at similar or more expensive prices.
Additional outfield notes: Chris Young (NYY) is a lefty hitting specialist, and if he hits second, he’d represent the most affordable way to get exposure to the Yankees offense. Some complementary options in the outfield for cash games include the Cubs outfield (Fowler/Soler/Denorfia) and Angel Pagan (SF) (not a ton of upside but a very cheap leadoff hitter against a struggling pitcher). For tournaments, look to the Rangers outfield (Choo/DeShields), White Sox outfield (Eaton/Cabrera) and Brandon Moss (CLE).
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Lance Lynn (STL)
2) Anibal Sanchez (DET)
3) Chris Heston (SF)
4) Nate Karns (TB)
5) Kyle Hendricks (CHC)
6) Kevin Gausman (BAL)
7) Robbie Ray (ARI)
8) Alex Wood (ATL)
9) Mike Montgomery (SEA)
10) Jorge de la Rosa (COL)
11) Edinson Volquez (KC)
12) Raisel Iglesias (CIN)
13) Kyle Lohse (MIL)
Lance Lynn (STL) – On a day with very limited pitching options at both the high end and mid-tier levels, Lynn emerges as our clear number one starting pitcher, in a tier of his own. We like Lynn when he’s facing three or less LHBs. Against the Reds, he’ll face four, but outside of Joey Votto (158 wRC+ against RHP since 2012) you have Jay Bruce (109), Brayan Pena (99) and Billy Hamilton (71). It should also be noted that Lynn has improved a ton against LHBs as his career has progressed. Here are Lynn’s wOBAs allowed to LHBs in sequential order from 2012 to 2015: .466/.340/.314/.294. He’s currently striking out a career best 21.5 percent of LHBs. With that concern taken care of, or at least mitigated, we can focus on some more macro contextual factors in his favor, such as Lynn’s overall skills, the ballpark and Vegas. Lynn is having the best year of his career (the improvements against LHBs surely help), posting a 2.68 FIP, 3.24 xFIP and career best 26.1 K percentage. He’ll be at home tonight in pitcher friendly Busch Stadium (2.64 career home ERA, 4.11 on the road), which represents a significant downgrade in park factor for the Reds offense. Finally, Vegas is also very optimistic in regards to Lynn. He’s the heaviest favorite on the day (-205), and the total is just 7.5, pushing downwards, giving the Reds an implied run total in the low three’s. Perhaps Lynn isn’t (and shouldn’t) be the pitcher we’d normally associate with top billing, but given the uncertainty of the alternative options, he strikes me as a core cash game play this evening.
Next in line:
Anibal Sanchez (DET) – Sanchez had some red flags in the beginning of the season (elevated fly ball rate in April, high hard hit rate in May), but he seems to have corrected in both of those areas since. As a result, his 4.59 ERA really isn’t indicative of how he’s pitched. He’s been a bit more homer prone (the early season fly ball rate, which seems to have popped back up a bit recently) but other than that his peripherals are pretty much in line with his career marks. This is evidenced by a 3.84 xFIP that’s just a touch higher than his career xFIP (3.81). Tonight Sanchez will pitch at Tropicana Field (favorable park for pitchers) against a Rays offense that is pretty bad despite getting a bit healthier over the last month. Our model has them projected as the second worst offense overall tonight with one of the higher K rates. As a result, we really aren’t concerned that Sanchez is actually a slight underdog in this one.
Chris Heston (SF) – Heston is third in our rankings, but I like his value better than Sanchez’s, particularly if the Brewers lineup is without Adam Lind, who is dealing with some back concerns. In fact if Lind is out, Heston would be the number two overall pitcher, salary aside. Heston benefits from pitching in the most favorable pitcher’s park in all of baseball and a very solid skill set. His K and BB rates hover around league average, but that’s all that’s needed for him to be successful when you consider the elite 56.8 GB rate. That mark puts Heston sixth in all of baseball. Often times extreme GB pitchers benefit from a favorable BABIP as a lot of ground balls correlate with weak contact. This is the case with Heston as his 19.5 soft hit rate is a touch better than league average, but the 25.0 hard hit rate is much better than the average pitcher. All this would point towards a high floor pitcher, but admittedly with Heston the game log has indicated quite a bit of volatility through his rookie season. Still, he’s my second favorite target for cash games this evening. His savings from Lynn on FanDuel makes him the only viable alternative there (still strongly prefer Lynn), and he’s a more usable second starting pitcher on DraftKings than Sanchez due to pricing. Heston is listed as a -175 favorite in a game with a 7.5 total that is heavily pushing downwards.
Kevin Gausman (BAL) – Pitching is really isn’t all that safe anywhere tonight, and the uncertainty grows exponentially when you get out of the top two tiers. As a result, one strategy may be to embrace the volatility of the slate by simply going cheap at the position and loading up on bats. The best candidate to do this with is Gausman. He’s too risky to be used in cash games on single-SP sites, but he’s great for tournaments there and a viable second starting pitcher in cash games on multi-SP sites for the more risk tolerant. For example, on DraftKings Gausman is just $4,300, making Sanchez-Heston more than double his price. Utilizing him there would allow you to load up on offense while still locking in Lance Lynn. Vegas certainly likes this move with Gausman pegged as a heavy favorite (-175) in a game with a 7.5 total. His prospect status indicates upside as well against a weak Atlanta lineup. However, it’s far from risk free. Gausman has been bad this year (5.18 ERA, 11 ER in his past two starts), and if things go awry Atlanta’s contact oriented ways and a hitter friendly park won’t do much to save his DFS value.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Nate Karns (TB) rates fourth in our model, and he’s surprisingly getting a lot of love from Vegas. Still, he’s more of a tournament option in our eyes. The same can be said for Kyle Hendricks (CHC) who will get a Rockies team that has struggled mightily on the road, yet lines up dangerously against RHP with Corey Dickerson back. Robbie Ray (ARI) is a very high risk, high reward option. He has plus strikeout skills and a large park shift in his favor. However, I can’t quite get around his ridiculously high hard hit rate, which makes me think the floor here is rather low despite some favorable contextual factors.
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) Boston Red Sox (combination of team upside and easily identifiable individual values)
2) New York Yankees (better team upside than the Red Sox but tougher to discern individual values from this offense; could be underowned as a full stack in tournaments as a result, particularly on DraftKings)
3) Texas Rangers (at home in a great hitter’s park against a pitcher who isn’t missing bats, particularly against LHBs of which he will have to face plenty)
1) Chicago White Sox (disappointing year for this offense but a good park and a combination of a well below average starting pitcher and bullpen gives them plenty of upside)
2) Seattle Mariners (as mentioned throughout the content, Ray’s fly ball riskiness and hard hit rate provides plenty of upside for the opposition; Cruz and Trumbo have a couple of the best HR scores in our model and Cano/Seager will likely go underowned)
3) Chicago Cubs (even on the road it’s certainly possible to get a blow up out of Jorge de la Rosa, and the Rockies bullpen is one of the worst in the game; Cubs are 15th in homers and fourth in stolen bases)
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.
ATL at BLT 7:05: Widely scattered showers. 10% chance or less of a delay. Temps in the low to mid 80s falling into the mid to upper 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind south-southeast 5-10 mph lessening to nearly calm. The wind blows out to left early in the game and is a 6 on the wind scake becoming a 5 later on.
CHW at BOS 7:10: Scattered thunderstorms. While the risk for ppd is low or none (<10%) there is a 20% to may be 30% chance of a delay at some point. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling into the low to mid 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind south-southwest 7-14 mph which blows out to left-center. The wind is a 6.
KC at CLE 7:10: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 80s falling into the mid 70s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind northeast 5-10 mph becoming nearly calm. The wind blows in from right to begin the game and is a 4 on the wind scale becoming a 5.
DET at TB 7:10: Dome.
NYY at TEX 8:00: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 90s falling into the mid to upper 80s. Air density is a 9. Wind southeast 8-16 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 3 becoming a 4.
COL at CHC 8:05: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 80s falling into the mid 70s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind east-northeast 7-14 mph lessening to 3-6 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.
CIN at STL 8:15: A 10% chance of a delay due to a widely scattered thunderstorm. This chance may be wiped out in the later updates. Temps in the upper 80s falling into the lower 80s. Air density is a 9. Wind northeast 5-10 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
AZ at SEA 10:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps near 70 falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind southwest 5-10 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
MIL at SF 10:15: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 70s falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west-northwest 15-25 mph lessening to 10-20 mph which blows out to right-center. The wind is a 9 becoming an 8.