Welcome to July 28 MLB DFS action. You’ll find Daily Fantasy Baseball Premium Cliff Notes for July 28 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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00:43 Starting Pitcher
- 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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July 28 MLB DFS CLIFF NOTES
Justin Verlander (HOU) tops all pitchers on this slate in a tier of his own. We’ve seen some rather absurd Vegas lines recently, and Verlander’s is up there as he’s a -360 favorite with just a 2.9 IRTA. Verlander has been amazing, striking out double digit hitters in three of four starts and dropping his xwOBA to .241, the lowest of any starter in baseball. The only concern here is a combination of a negative umpire, high price tag, and opportunity cost, which is enough to push him out of our optimals.
The opportunity cost in using Verlander occurs both offensively and at the pitcher position where Patrick Corbin (ARI) comes in as the top value on both sites. Corbin has a stellar 2.71 FIP and 2.70 xFIP on the season, buoyed by a 30.6 K% that has held steady. He does allow some hard contact, but that risk is mitigated by a favorable matchup against the Padres in San Diego. The savings he offers is too tough to pass up on a slate with expensive offensive firepower that we’d like to target.
Corbin narrowly edges out Jacob deGrom (NYM), who is a better overall pitcher and having a great season. However, PNC Park deflates K rate a bit, and the Pirates, who are 11th in wRC+ against RHP, are one of the most contact oriented teams versus RHP. We’d rather play Verlander if going this high up the pricing spectrum.
In cash games on DK, you may want to sacrifice a little bit of upside in order to ensure a higher floor and that would mean grabbing a mid-tier SP2. The primary options are Alex Wood (LAD) and Johnny Cueto (SF). We feel more comfortable with Wood’s baselines, but he does have the tougher matchup, as evidenced by an IRTA half a run higher (heat in Atlanta contributes as well). Wood hasn’t replicated the same K rate as last year, but he still has a K-BB% 2.4 points higher than the league average to go with a slightly above average GB rate.
Cueto has been shaky since returning from the DL, posting FIPs of 9.16, 7.96, and 8.76. It’s possible that we’ve been too conservative in changing Cueto’s baselines, and if you downgrade his wOBA splits he pulls further behind Wood. However, Cueto was left in to face 29 batters last game, and his ability to pitch deep in a favorable home park with a low IRTA against a high K team is intriguing. On FD, Cueto the quality start scoring and wide gap in pricing makes Cueto the more intriguing mid-tier tournament option.
Our optimal lineups actually suggest going cheap at SP2. It’s more about the macro build than it is about any single strong cheap option. Right now all the options are shaky. Antonio Senzatela (COL) has significant downside pitching at home in Coors Field. He’s outprojected by Sean Reid-Foley (TOR) and Jalen Beeks (TB), two pitchers who aren’t confirmed to pitch yet and have duration concerns if they do pitch. Of that duo, Beeks carries the most intrigue. While we can’t fully trust Tampa Bay to pitch who we think the long man will be to follow up the opener, Manager Kevin Cash indicated Beeks could “pitch a lot tomorrow”. He came over in the trade with Boston and is striking out 33% of batters faced in AAA.
UPDATE: After pod production, the Blue Jays announced a bullpen game started by John Axford so we’ve removed Sean Reid-Foley from projections.
Kevin Gausman (BAL) is a mid-low tier second tournament play on DK, although he might be better off used as a cheap cap play in FD GPPs to help you clear room for offense.
Chris Iannetta (COL) tops the projections at catcher but the projection is based on Iannetta hitting sixth for a Rockies lineup that has a 6.3 implied total in a favorable matchup against Brett Anderson (.376 wOBA, .189 ISO allowed to RHBs since 2017). Iannetta hit eighth last night which would slide the projection down some but given the lack of depth at the position he’d still rate as a solid play.
The primary competitor to Iannetta at catcher is Evan Gattis (HOU) will face off against Ariel Jurado who is making his second start of the season. Jurado hasn’t been particularly impressive at AA this season (4.51 FIP, 4.24 xFIP) as he relies heavily on his GB Rate (51 percent) to mask his inability to miss bats. The Astros have the third highest implied total on the slate at 5.6 runs.
Both Iannetta (.345 wOBA, .179 ISO against LHPs since 2017) and Gattis (.329 wOBA, .209 ISO against RHPs) are solid hitters in the respective platoon split and they have favorable matchups in great hitting environments. They are the potential spends at the position.
For value, Jonathan Lucroy (OAK) and Russell Martin (TOR) are slightly more affordable targets in favorable matchups as well. Lucroy faces Antonio Senzatela who has struggled as a starter at the big league level (.324 wOBA, .170 ISO to RHBs since 2017) while Martin faces Lucas Giolito who has been competent against RHBs (.305 wOBA, .179 ISO allowed since 2017) but has struggled on the whole (6.09 ERA, 6.12 FIP, 6.20 xFIP). These two are both priced in the low $3,000s and offer a bit of salary relief from the top options.
In general, we’d keep our cash game selection limited to one of the four options above.
In tournaments, the list can expand to one-off power options like Mike Zunino (SEA) or Tyler Flowers (ATL) or pieces of stacks like Austin Barnes (LAD), Max Stassi (HOU), or Sandy Leon (BOS).
An unusual name sits atop the first base rankings as Ian Desmond‘s (COL) recent promotion in the lineup spot coupled with a fantastic matchup with Brett Anderson have Desmond projected for over 10 DraftKings points and over 13 FanDuel points. Desmond has been a solid hitter against LHP (.349 wOBA, .208 ISO since 2017) but he’s mostly earning this projection on the matchup and the Rockies monstrous 6.3 implied total.
Matt Olson (OAK) isn’t far behind Desmond in projection and has a slightly better price tag on both sites. Olson is a bit more vulnerable to a good bullpen as a lefty but he’s been ridiculous with the platoon edge (.385 wOBA, .323 ISO since 2017) and is getting a huge park shift from The Coliseum to Coors Field. If choosing between the two Coors Field spends at first base, we prefer Olson.
Mitch Moreland (BOS) is the cheaper alternative on a high-powered offense but this is dependent on Moreland’s health as he sat out the last few games with left knee soreness. The Red Sox have a 5.5 implied total and if Moreland plays he’d be in the middle of the lineup with a reasonable price tag.
Without Moreland, Yuli Gurriel (HOU), Justin Smoak (TOR), and Jose Abreu (CHW) become the more reasonable alternatives away from the Coors Field options. Gurriel is the cheapest of the bunch and has that matchup with Ariel Jurado and the Rangers pen who both project as well below average.
In tournaments, the list at first base can always get extended. Logan Morrison (MIN) comes with cheap power upside albeit a below average matchup against Rick Porcello and the Red Sox bullpen. Kendrys Morales (TOR) is typically the lighter owned of the Blue Jays first base options and comes with a similar price tag to Smoak. Matt Adams (WAS) has a good matchup with Trevor Richards but we’ll have to see where he hits in the lineup given it’s a difficult park for power.
Jose Altuve (HOU) leads the projections at second base and comes with a reasonable sub-$4,000 price tag on FanDuel and $4,500 on DraftKings. Despite the good price tag and the sold matchup, it’s a difficult spend on a Coors Field slate. We’d consider Altuve a better tournament target.
Jed Lowrie (OAK) and Yoan Moncada (CHW) are the next highest projected targets at second base but like Altuve a bit expensive for overall builds. We also prefer them in tournaments with Lowrie as a part of A’s stacks and Moncada a low-owned contrarian one-off target.
In the pursuit of value we’re left with site specific targets. On DraftKings, Yangervis Solarte (TOR) is $3,800 and has a great matchup with Lucas Giolito. We just need to see where Solarte hits in the lineup. Eduardo Nunez (BOS) is cheap on both sites ($2,500 on FanDuel, $3,200 on DraftKings) and is cheap exposure to the Red Sox 5.5 implied totla. With the position generally priced well, this is the most likely route on FanDuel. DraftKings depends a bit more on the lineup spots of other similar values.
In tournaments, Jonathan Schoop‘s (BAL) been ridiculous of late. He’s homered in six of his last seven games and five straight. We expect newly acquired Jalen Beeks (TB) to handle most of the middle innings after an opener for the Rays. The matchup isn’t great as Schoop would get a righty reliever then maybe two plate appearances with the platoon edge but matchups haven’t matted much of late for Schoop. The price is still cash game reasonable on DraftKings if you want to ride the hot streak but it’s difficult to access on FanDuel.
Garrett Hampson (COL) is priced appropriately for his modest hitting skills but as part of a Rockies stack his lower spot in the order will make him a bit contrarian.
Nolan Arenado (COL) tops the third base projections by an enormous margin. On DraftKings it’s nearly two and a half points while on FanDuel it’s nearly three and a half points. Arenado is ridiculous against LHP. Since the start of 2017, he’s compiled a .540 wOBA and .422 ISO against LHP. We’d love to be able to get up to Arenado in cash games but he’s very expensive and the position has a bit more depth to it than in the outfield. As a result, he doesn’t immediately pop into our top optimals.
The main value target popping up on both sites is once again Rafael Devers (BOS) who homered late last night. Devers is an average hitter against RHP with above average power (.320 wOBA, .200 ISO as a big leaguer) and he hits lower in the lineup so he’s a bit boom-or-bust. The matchup with Jake Odorizzi is a good one for power as Odorizzi has allowed a whopping .235 ISO to LHBs since the start of last season. If you’re unable to get up to Arenado, you’re likely settling for cheaper exposure to the Red Sox 5.5 implied total.
The alternatives to Devers are Tim Beckham (BAL), Kyle Seager (SEA), and Yangervis Solarte (TOR) who all have implied totals nearly a run lower and Seager is the only one of the group that has a claim as a more skilled hitter. We view this group more as tournament pivots or emergency alternatives should Devers get a poor lineup spot.
In tournaments, Alex Bregman (HOU) should go un-owned with a similar price tag to Nolan Arenado and a good, but far worse, matchup and hitting environment. The same can be said for Matt Chapman (OAK) and Manny Machado (LAD). If anyone is paying up on this slate at third base, it’s likely for Arenado.
Trevor Story (COL) also holds a wide projection gap over his counterparts at shortstop thanks to Brett Anderson‘s struggles with RHBs and the Rockies big total. Story has crushed LHP in recent years (.416 wOBA and .316 ISO against LHP since 2017) and the shortstop position has very little in the way of cheap competition for Story. This lack of positional depth will sometimes push a worse overall hitter like Story over Arenado due to the positional replacements. This is the case some on FanDuel where Story is priced reasonably but on DraftKings he’s aggressively priced at $5,800.
On FanDuel, Tim Beckham (BAL) is the most reasonable source of salary relief at just $2,800. The matchup is hard to assess given the way the Rays utilize their bullpen but the bullpen is worn down and has lost some depth at the trade deadline.
On DraftKings, the options are more split. Marcus Semien (OAK) and Trea Turner (WAS) are priced appropriately but meaningfully cheaper than Story. Semien is a potential top of the order hitter on the road in Coors Field which opens up a big plate appearance expectation. He’d be our choice over Turner if you can get up to him given Turner’s significantly worse hitting environment (though stronger skill set keeps the projection tight).
If you need salary relief for the position, Marwin Gonzalez (HOU) is a possible alternative for just $3,400. It’s unclear where he’d hit against RHP as our defaults have him hitting ninth but he was up to sixth last night.
Amed Rosario (NYM) and Lourdes Gurriel (TOR) are secondary targets as both have been hot of late but have weak overall baselines and are priced up a bit. The better lineup spots than Marwin Gonzalez keep the projections in range.
In tournaments, Manny Machado (LAD), Chris Taylor (LAD), and Xander Bogaerts (BOS) all make sense as part of stacks.
As a one-off power play, Brandon Crawford (SF) has some appeal given the power Jhoulys Chacin has allowed.
Mookie Betts (BOS) once again the leads the way in a crowded top tier of outfielders as J.D. Martinez (BOS), Mike Trout (LAA), Andrew Benintendi (BOS), Charlie Blackmon (COL), Khris Davis (OAK), and George Springer (HOU) all have strong matchups and thus projections. The price tags on this top tier are largely efficient with optimals including representation from most of them. Betts slightly outpaces the group with his speed-power combination, a strong recent hard hit rate, and Jake Odorizzi‘s struggles limiting opposing power. If we were to spend on one outfield or big bat on this slate, Betts is the outfielder and he’s in strong contention with Nolan Arenado as a top overall spend.
Curtis Granderson (TOR) and Josh Reddick (HOU) are once again strong values on both sites. Granderson leads off against Lucas Giolito who has really struggled with LHBs (.362 wOBA, .227 ISO against LHBs since 2017) and Granderson has posted a strong .336 wOBA and .218 ISO against RHP during that span. Reddick hasn’t been similarly strong overall but with a bit less power posting a .347 wOBA and .170 ISO against RHP since 2017. The matchup with Jurado projects as a good one but one of the concerns for Reddick is a strongly LH heavy Teaxs pen (4 LH relievers). We’d prioritize Granderson clearly ahead of Reddick.
We’ll see how lineups come out but there is a clear lack of mid-tier or even cheap value on the slate beyond Granderson and Reddick. On FanDuel, Adam Eaton (WAS) has a reasonable price tag for a road leadoff hitter on a good offense and Carlos Gonzalez (COL) has an ok tag for a left-on-left matchup but one in Coors Field with the Rockies big implied total. We’ll see where guys like Jackie Bradley Jr. (BOS) and Kyle Tucker (HOU) hit in the lineup but it’s hard to find cheap bats on the offenses we want to attack.
The rest of the cheap or mid-tier values on both sites largely belong to the Orioles as Adam Jones (BAL) and Mark Trumbo (BAL) are affordable. We view Jalen Beeks as a neutral matchup given their platoon edge but a neutral matchup pushes them down our projected value ratings a bit.
One other FanDuel specific value is Max Kepler (MIN) who is just $2,500 and should move up in the lineup with Eduardo Escobar gone. The concern here is the lack of run support and a below average matchup against Rick Porcello but Kepler is cheap and provides nice GPP upside.
Stacks on Stacks on Stacks
1) Colorado Rockies
2) Boston Red Sox
3) Oakland Athletics
4) Houston Astros
There’s a clear delineation between the top two tiers of stacks and everyone else. All four teams in the top two tiers of stacks have an IRT of at least 5.5, and all the other teams on the slate max out at a 4.8 IRT.
Of these teams, the Rockies do have some separation as the top overall stack, which isn’t surprising given the 6.3 IRT. We prefer the Rockies against LHP where they rank 15th in wRC+ and have a .185 ISO (28th and .175 against RHP). Brett Anderson has only made a combined 23 starts over the past three seasons at the MLB level, posting ERAs of 11.91 (3 starts), 6.34 (13), and currently 5.46 (7).
The Red Sox are a nightly fixture among our top stacks because of how phenomenal their offense is. They lead MLB in both wRC+ and ISO against RHP.
Oakland is the road team in Coors and have been enjoying a week of phenomenal context. Opposing pitcher Antonio Senzatela does a good job of keeping the ball on the ground, but he has a below average K rate and most projections systems are calling for a mid-4s ERA, even with some relief work expected in the mix.
5) Washington Nationals
6) Toronto Blue Jays
7) Los Angeles Dodgers
The Nationals have gone off as a contrarian stack a couple of days in a row now. This slate they’ll face Trevor Richards. The combination of wildness (10.5 BB%) and favorable batted ball data for opposing hitters (37.6% GB rate and 42.4 Hard%) create meaningful upside for a deep Washington team.
The Blue Jays are once again our favorite stack for cap relief, but the issue is likely high ownership after going off last night. Lucas GIolito continues to be a disaster, walking nearly as many batter’s as he’s struck out to go along with a 1.48 HR/9 (1.69 for his career).
The Dodgers may possess the lowest ownership of any of the ranked stacks. In a a small sample size at the MLB level, Max Fried has been volatile across the board – posting decent strikeout numbers and a good GB rate but walking tons of batters to go with a high Hard%. All in all he has a poor ZiPS projected ERA of 5.23