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July 29 MLB DFS: Kenta the Money you Maeda
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July 29 MLB DFS: Kenta the Money you Maeda

0:39 Starting Pitchers
9:26 Catchers
12:39 First Base
16:07 Second Base
19:36 Shortstops
24:07 Third Base
26:06 Outfield
33:22 Cash Game Roster Construction & Stacks

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JULY 29 MLB DFS PRO TIP

Starting Pitcher Rankings

Tier One

1) Max Scherzer (WAS)

2) Kenta Maeda (LAD)

Tier Two

3) Vincent Velasquez (PHI)

4) Steven Matz (NYM)

5) Jose Quintana (CHW)

Tier Three

6) Jake Odorizzi (TB)

7) Trevor Bauer (CLE)

Tier Four

8) Jeff Samardzija (SF)

9) Junior Guerra (MIL)

10) Rick Porcello (BOS)

11) Ivan Nova (NYY)

12) Collin McHugh (HOU)

13) Kevin Gausman (BAL)

Max Scherzer (WAS) is on the bump and getting a nice big park shift in his favor that unfortunately comes with a tough matchup for strikeouts against the Giants (11th in wRC+, second lowest K Rate against RHP – 16.9 percent). While Scherzer’s implied run total (3.1 runs) is the lowest on the slate, the Giants extreme contact rates make it difficult to justify paying all the way up for Scherzer’s hefty price tag. As a result, we’re largely turning our attention to Kenta Maeda (LAD) who has an exceptional matchup for strikeouts and run prevention against the RH heavy Diamondbacks’ offense that has the fifth highest K rate against RHP and ranks 21st in wRC+. Additionally, Jake Lamb‘s injury could further deplete an already weak lineup getting a severe negative park shift. Maeda opened with an implied run total at just 3.2 runs against and we’re projecting a similar strikeout rate to Scherzer, despite the wide gap in their skills. Maeda is also the biggest favorite on the slate (-192) and while we wish the price tag was a little cheaper, he’s significantly discounted from Scherzer. The concern with Maeda is an inability to work deep into games. He’s pitched six innings in just two of his last six starts and just over half his starts this season. He’s really struggled the third time through the order and the Dodgers are aware of this keeping him on a bit of a shorter leash. We’re expecting so much efficiency when he is out there that he projects as a foundational piece for us.

If you’re looking for an option to pair with Maeda on DraftKings, our favorite target is Steven Matz (NYM). The Rockies rank just 25th in wRC+ against LHP and possess the eighth highest K Rate (23 percent) against LHP. Matz opened with just a 3.2 implied run total against and as a solid -152 favorite. The lingering concerns over bone chips in his elbow remain, but the price tag is depressed and Matz has pitched fairly effectively through the issues of late despite some tough matchups. The Rockies on the road qualify as a very favorable matchup and one we’re comfortable playing price tag on Matz. The best alternative to Matz may be Jake Odorizzi (TB) who looks a touch expensive on the surface but gets a great matchup for his skill-set against a LH heavy Yankees’ offense. Odorizzi is a reverse splits pitcher thanks to heavy use of his change-up. Since the start of 2015, Odorizzi has allowed a .272 wOBA and .145 ISO with a 26 K Rate and 5.4 BB Rate to LHBs. The Yankees don’t strike out a ton against RHP (sixth lowest in the league at 19.3 percent) but they rank 24th in wRC+. Unlike the matchup with reverse splits Lance McCullers that the Yankees struggled with so much, they are more competent against change-ups than curve-balls, making Odorizzi likely a better tournament target. The other option in that same tier is Trevor Bauer (CLE) who faces an Athletics’ offense that for much of the season has run out contact heavy lineups against RHP (fourth lowest K Rate against RHP) but has run some more strikeouts into their lineup of late. Bauer’s at home and his ability to rack up strikeouts and pitch deep into the game brings nice upside. His recent struggles bring a slight bit of caution but the price is discounted and he’s viable as a SP2 if you’re uncomfortable with Matz. Generally, the best tournament targets on this slate come from the discarded cash game options in the first three tiers. Junior Guerra (MIL) has some interesting upside against a RH heavy Pirates’ lineup and perhaps you can make a case for Ivan Nova (NYY) against a K-happy Rays’ offense with a big park shift in his favor against Tampa but the options for high upside are generally limited to the first three tiers.

Catcher Rankings

1) Jonathan Lucroy (MIL)

2) Evan Gattis (HOU)

3) Derek Norris (SD)

4) Victor Martinez (DET) – where eligible

5) Salvador Perez (KC)

The catcher position isn’t particularly deep on Friday and we’re really focused on one or two values in particular as long as we get a good lineup spot. Evan Gattis (HOU) has been hitting fifth of late against LHP and the Astros’ lineup is exceptionally skilled against lefties. Gattis owns a career .332 wOBA and .233 ISO against LHP. Behind Springer, Altuve, and Correa you’re going to get runners on base so if he’s in that fifth spot the price tag on FanDuel ($2,900) is very compelling. Derek Norris (SD) has been a good hitter against LHP in his career (.361 wOBA, .183 ISO) and Brandon Finnegan has struggled with RHBs (.340 wOBA, .218 ISO allowed since 2015). Finnegan is getting a big park shift in his favor and Norris won’t benefit quite as much from the Reds’ bullpen struggles because they’re primarily RH relievers and Norris isn’t great against righties, but a good lineup spot and we’re in on Norris’ cheap tag around the industry. The Padres have a solid 4.4 implied run total at home against the Reds and Norris is one of the few compelling catcher targets that is actually cheap. If we don’t get Norris in a good lineup, Salvador Perez (KC) is likely the best alternative but he’s generally priced fairly for the big park shift and a matchup with AJ Griffin who has dominated RHBs (.260 wOBA, .070 ISO) since the start of last season (111 batters faced).

First Base Rankings

1) David Ortiz (BOS)

2) Chris Davis (BAL) – extremely cold of late

3) Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)

4) Joey Votto (CIN)

5) Wil Myers (SD)

6) Jose Abreu (CHW)

7) Miguel Cabrera (DET)

8) Eric Hosmer (KC)

9) Carlos Santana (CLE)

David Ortiz (BOS) is our top overall option at first base against the struggling Tim Lincecum. Ortiz is priced way up and he’s on the road against a reverse splits pitcher so he doesn’t seem like the best use of your funds in cash games. Instead, we’re looking for value and fortunately there is plenty of it. Our favorite target on DraftKings is Eric Hosmer (KC) who gets a big park shift and faces AJ Griffin who has been tattooed by LHBs (.371 wOBA, .282 ISO since 2015). Hosmer’s biggest weakness is sometimes he’s too ground-ball heavy, but Griffin has generated just a 33.8 GB Rate in his career against LHBs. At just $3,600, Hosmer is a great investment into a big park boost against a fly ball prone starter. Chris Davis (BAL) continues to rate well in our model and he’s showing signs of busting out of his slump of late (collected two more hits last night). The matchup with Marco Estrada is a bit boom or bust given Estrada allows lots of fly balls (and thus HRs) but not a ton else. Though he rates as a viable cash game target, we’re more likely to pass on the cold streak and cash and attack it in tournaments. Jose Abreu (CHW) is incredibly cheap on FanDuel ($2,700) for a matchup with Ricky Nolasco and a bad Twins’ bullpen behind him. He’s also a very strong play. John Jaso (PIT) is a low upside salary relief target on both sites against a RHP with a big park shift in his favor. The Pirates leadoff hitter has a good chance of generating five plate appearances on the road and is viable in cash games as well. For all the same reasons we like Hosmer, we also like teammate Kendrys Morales (KC) where priced below Hosmer.

Second Base Rankings

1) Jose Altuve (HOU)

2) Daniel Murphy (WAS)

3) Jason Kipnis (CLE)

4) Brian Dozier (MIN)

5) Dustin Pedroia (BOS)

6) Ian Kinsler (DET)

7) Jurickson Profar (TEX)

8) Rougned Odor (TEX)

Jose Altuve (HOU) tops our second base rankings but with a more appropriate price tag on both sites, it’s questionable whether he’s your one big spend on offense. Altuve is one of the Top Three overall hitters on this slate and has the platoon advantage against Matt Boyd who has been battered by RHBs (.364 wOBA, .229 ISO) as a big leaguer. The Astros’ implied run total (4.6) was a bit lower than we expected on the road, so we wouldn’t be surprised if they moved up tomorrow and these Astros bats all got some modest bumps in the model. If you’re not spending all the way up for Altuve, the salary relief options are a bit more site specific. On both sites, Jurickson Profar (TEX) remains relatively cheap for a leadoff hitter in Texas. He’s cheaper on FanDuel than DraftKings, but a viable source of mid-tier salary relief. If looking for extreme salary relief, Greg Garcia (STL) could leadoff for the Cardinals and is just $2,100 on FanDuel. Jace Peterson (ATL) is just $3,100 on DraftKings and if he can get on against Velasquez has a decent chance at a stolen base against the poor throwing Phillies’ catchers.

Shortstop Rankings

1) Carlos Correa (HOU)

2) Manny Machado (BAL) – where eligible

3) Jonathan Villar (MIL)

4) Francisco Lindor (CLE)

5) Xander Bogaerts (BOS)

6) Tim Anderson (CHW)

7) Brad Miller (TB)

8) Corey Seager (LAD)

Another Astros’ middle infielder tops our shortstop rankings as Carlos Correa (.342 wOBA, .193 ISO against LHP) gets that favorable matchup with Matt Boyd. Correa is pretty affordable on both sites so he’s a fine spend in cash games. On DraftKings, you’ve also got Xander Bogaerts (BOS) who has a favorable matchup with Tim Lincecum (.439 wOBA, .231 ISO against RHBs since 2015) and Manny Machado (BAL) with power upside against Marco Estrada at similar price points. Though Bogaerts doesn’t rank as well in our model, Lincecum’s extreme struggles against RHBs make him a viable pivot or alternative if you want to limit Astros’ exposure in cash games. If you’re looking for value at the position, it’s a little more site specific and might depend on something popping in lineup alerts. Aledmys Diaz (STL) remains underpriced on FanDuel at $2,900 though the matchup with Urena is more neutral than elite. Tim Anderson (CHW) has the same price tag and if he can get on it’s a very favorable matchup to run against the Minnesota catchers. Adam Frazier (PIT) would be a cheap name to keep an eye on if he landed in a good lineup spot with the big ballpark boost for the Pirates.

Third Base Rankings

1) Josh Donaldson (TOR)

2) Manny Machado (BAL)

3) Nolan Arenado (COL)

4) Miguel Sano (MIN) – where eligible

5) Maikel Franco (PHI)

Third base remains a vastly different position between the two sites. All the dual eligibility on DraftKings makes it easier to decide between options while generally tighter pricing and single eligibility on FanDuel makes it more difficult. Josh Donaldson (TOR) is our top play against Kevin Gausman (.368 wOBA, .235 ISO since 2015 to RHBs) who has been a bit reverse splits-y in his career. Donaldson is difficult to afford and the Orioles tough pen makes him a less enticing spend on this slate. Manny Machado (BAL) remains underpriced on DraftKings ($4,300) though less severe than earlier in the week. The matchup with Estrada is a little boom-or-bust given his extreme fly ball tendencies but it’s a good environment for hitters. Nolan Arenado (COL) is ridiculously cheap on FanDuel ($3,000) and grades out as a very strong value on that site. Maikel Franco (PHI) is another player we’re fond of targeting on this slate. Tyrell Jenkins is the weakest starter on this slate and backed up by one of the weakest bullpens. In warm weather on the road, Franco has a good shot at a fifth plate appearance. The price tag is incredibly cheap on DraftKings ($3,400) and while the tag on FanDuel ($3,300) is above Arenado who ranks ahead of him, we wouldn’t begrudge a choice towards Franco’s higher implied team total. Jung Ho Kang (PIT) is another hitter to track their lineup spot on FanDuel as he’s only $2,600 and would be a great value if he hit cleanup or even fifth with the big park boost for power.

Outfield Rankings

1) Bryce Harper (WAS) – extremely cold of late

2) Mike Trout (LAA)

3) Mookie Betts (BOS)

4) Starling Marte (PIT)

5) Gregory Polanco (PIT)

6) Jose Bautista (TOR)

7) George Springer (HOU)

8) Andrew McCutchen (PIT)

9) Michael Saunders (TOR)

10) Giancarlo Stanton (MIA)

11) Billy Hamilton (CIN)

12) Matt Kemp (SD)

13) Ian Desmond (TEX)

14) Miguel Sano (MIN)

15) Kendrys Morales (KC) – where eligible

16) Adam Eaton (CHW)

17) Odubel Herrera (PHI)

18) Christian Yelich (MIA)

19) Jay Bruce (CIN)

20) Nomar Mazara (TEX)

Bryce Harper (WAS) once again tops our outfield rankings but the cold streak (-0.9 in well hit tool) and a tough hitting environment make him a more difficult spend even when our model loves him. Mike Trout (LAA) is also atop the rankings against an average RHP. Though both rate as compelling values, we’re more interested in searching for high-ranking outfielders with mid-tier price points. Michael Saunders (TOR) and Andrew McCutchen (PIT) fit the mold on both sites. George Springer (HOU) on FanDuel and Jose Bautista (TOR) on DraftKings also fit that mold.  Nomar Mazara (TEX) remains free on FanDuel ($2,200) which is a great way to get exposure to Arlington’s warm temperatures and get salary relief to spend up at other positions. Kendrys Morales (KC) comes with outfield eligibility on DraftKings but a depressed price tag of a first basemen ($3,300) making him a nice value play. We’re also comfortable spending up for pieces of elite offenses if you have the funds with a guy like Mookie Betts (BOS) who has an elite platoon matchup but an admittedly difficult price tag. As is always the case in the outfield, there are lots of unique combinations you can make that grade out as relatively strong values.

Stack Rankings

Tier One

1) Boston Red Sox

2) Houston Astros

Tier Two

3) Texas Rangers

4) Toronto Blue Jays

5) St. Louis Cardinals

6) Chicago White Sox

7) Milwaukee Brewers

8) Philadelphia Phillies

9) Cleveland Indians

10) Pittsburgh Pirates

The Red Sox and Astros are the highest projected stacks in our model. We expect the Astros will be very chalky on FanDuel where the price tags are extremely accessible, while the Red Sox will also command ownership given Tim Lincecum‘s extreme struggles, even on the road with high price points. In cash games, we’re more likely to end up with Astros’ exposure than Red Sox simply due to price points.

Additional Tournament Stacks

Philadelphia Phillies – The Phillies might see a slight bump in ownership after last night’s charge, but generally they’re a tough team to click on. They come with generally cheap price tags and are facing likely the worst starter on this slate in Tyrell Jenkins (perhaps Lincecum only worse) in very warm conditions. The Braves’ catchers are easy to run on, providing upside for even the weaker hitters in the lineup and the Braves’ bullpen is one of the worst in the league.

Cincinnati Reds/San Diego Padres – A potentially under-the-radar game stack with two of the weaker pitchers and bullpens in the league going. The Padres have enough power bats from the right side to attack Finnegan with Myers-Kemp-Norris and the Reds have been an intriguing stack of late with Votto-Bruce-Hamilton-Duvall all rating well in our well-hit tool (Bruce – scorching)