Daily Fantasy Rundown – July 29 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.
Weather: We are on a string of weather cooperation in the DFS industry with no delays/ppd expected
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Brian McCann (NYY) – McCann and the Yankees (fresh off 21 runs) get to face Colby Lewis in Arlington tonight. Lewis has allowed a .350 wOBA and 36.4 percent hard hit rate to LHBs since 2013. McCann has posted a .326 wOBA and .195 ISO against RHP during that same span. McCann is vulnerable to the shift but against fly ball pitchers, his power gets highlighted. Lewis has been able to generate just a 34 percent GB Rate against LHBs. This is a plus matchup for McCann and puts him inside our Top 20 overall hitters for the evening slate. He ranks a few places ahead of Russell Martin in our model and the slight price savings over Martin makes him a stronger play.
Additional catcher notes: Russell Martin (TOR) is the other top catcher option to consider. He ranks a few spots behind McCann in our model but is also pricier. I like him as part of a Blue Jays stack but will opt for McCann’s discount in cash games. Like yesterday, if you’re not paying up for one of the few strong catchers you’ll want to emphasize salary relief. Matt Wieters (BAL) remains the most skilled cheap option. He’s not as good from the left side but he comes with a premier lineup spot and Mike Foltynewicz has been ripped by LHBs in his brief major league experience (.424 wOBA, 1.91 HR/9). If injuries force Dioner Navarro (TOR) into the lineup, he’d represent cheap exposure to a Blue Jays lineup we’re very fond of. A.J. Pierzynski (ATL) typically gets a good lineup spot and Chris Tillman is very homer prone. He’s an adequate secondary value play, but we’d prefer Wieters if emphasizing salary relief.
Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) – Encarnacion has been great against RHP in recent years, compiling a .380 wOBA and .264 ISO against since 2012. The Jays face Jerome Williams who has allowed a .342 wOBA and 1.50 HR/9 to RHBs since 2013. He’s likely the worst starter on the slate and facing the best offense in a great hitting environment. Encarnacion ranks inside our Top Five overall hitters for the evening slate. First base is deep with good options, so price point will likely determine whether Encarnacion finds his way into your lineup.
Chris Davis (BAL) – While Davis wasn’t one of our value plays at first base yesterday, we did note he had one of the highest home run scores in our model. This is the case again today as he faces Mike Foltynewicz who we’ve noted has struggled with LHBs. Davis owns an impressive .377 wOBA and .282 ISO against RHP and Foltynewicz has surrendered a 50 percent FB Rate to lefties. This is another great opportunity for Davis to leave the yard. He ranks just two places behind Encarnacion in our model (Top 10 overall) but has the highest home run score of any hitter in our model.
Jose Abreu (CHW) – Abreu ranks just a touch behind Davis in our model. Rick Porcello has historically been dominant against RHBs (.297 wOBA, 53.2 GB Rate) but since reducing the use of his two seam fastball he’s been more vulnerable. This season he’s allowed a .336 wOBA and 1.17 HR/9 to RHBs. Abreu is a tremendous hitter against RHP (.382 wOBA, .228 ISO since 2012) and the park shift is largely neutral for RHBs. He ranks on the cusp of our Top 10 hitters overall.
Freddie Freeman (ATL) – Freeman ranks just a few spots below Abreu in our model. He gets a big park shift for power and faces a fly ball prone starter in Chris Tillman. Tillman has allowed just a .309 wOBA to LHBs but a 39 percent GB Rate leaves him vulnerable to power. Freeman’s lineup support is far worse than the other options above, so he’s best used in tournaments where he’s perpetually under-owned.
Additional first base notes: Adam LaRoche (CHW) and Justin Smoak (TOR) were setting up as primary sources of salary relief if you were spending on Kershaw but with Kershaw scratched, it’s easier to just consider them secondary value plays. They each cracked our Top 35 overall hitters for the evening slate, but as you can see the position is just loaded with high end options. Mark Teixeira (NYY) hasn’t historically hit RHP as well as he has this season, so he doesn’t rank up with the group above in our model, but the elevated Yankees total makes him a fine option to attack in tournaments.
Kolten Wong (STL) – Anthony DeSclafani has struggled at the big league level with LHBs. He’s allowed a .352 wOBA and 1.31 HR/9 to lefties. Kolten Wong has really picked up his production against RHBs this season (.361 wOBA, .191 ISO) and gets the benefit of the leadoff spot. We’ve talked about this a bit lately but the Reds bullpen lacks LHP to attack the Cardinals in the middle innings. They only have one LH reliever in Aroldis Chapman and he’s only used in save situations. This boosts the profile of all the LHBs when facing the Reds. Wong’s price point isn’t particularly discounted around the industry, but without Kershaw on the slate, he’s a bit easier to fit in.
Jimmy Paredes (BAL) – If you’re not paying for Wong, I believe Paredes is the next best option. We’ve touched on Foltynewicz’s struggles against LHBs and Paredes has shown great growth against RHP this season (.347 wOBA, .181 ISO) that has earned him premier lineup spots. We’re hesitant to buy into the big power growth as it’s been helped by a 21.7 percent HR/FB Rate, but with Paredes price down around the industry; he’s a fine target. The Orioles team total is approaching five runs (second highest along with the Yankees on the slate) and Paredes gives you affordable exposure to one of those top offenses.
Additional second base notes: Devon Travis (TOR) would top our list as a value play if healthy, but he left yesterday with a shoulder issue that looked serious. In addition, his lineup spot is in question with the Jays incorporating Troy Tulowitzki into their lineup. He’s someone we’ll monitor in the alerts. Anthony Rendon (WAS) is a fine secondary value play. Tom Koehler has shown some reverse splits in his career (.320 wOBA and 32.3 percent hard hit rate allowed to RHBs) and Rendon is very cheap after missing an extended period of time. Jose Altuve (HOU) and Rougned Odor (TEX) are high priced tournament options. They both have difficult matchups and their price tags will inspire low ownership. On the cheap end, Stephen Drew (NYY) and Ryan Flaherty (BAL) are cheap power bats with poor lineup spots. They’re both facing fly ball oriented righties, which gives their power a good chance of showing up.
Troy Tulowitzki (TOR) – Tulowitzki ranks as a Top Five hitter in our model in a favorable matchup against Jerome Williams. The price tag is affordable around the industry, especially with Clayton Kershaw scratched, and the position is once again pretty thin. The original plan was that he’d be available tonight and as long as he earns a favorable lineup spot, he’ll be a foundation of my cash game lineups.
Additional shortstop notes: Xander Bogaerts (BOS) has strong skills against LHP (.361 wOBA, .146 ISO since 2012) and a great lineup spot. The park is also great for RHBs but the matchup with Jose Quintana is below average. Quintana is quietly effective against RHBs (.306 wOBA, 0.76 HR/9 allowed since 2013) and he’s getting a slightly positive park shift in his favor. This was a tougher decision with Kershaw’s high tag restricting spending but with Kershaw removed from consideration, it’s easier to just spend on Tulowitzki. The rest of shortstop is really thin. Didi Gregorious (NYY) and Stephen Drew (NYY) have a favorable matchup with Colby Lewis but lineup spots that aren’t conducive to Fantasy value. I think they’re both fine tournament targets. On DraftKings, Hanley Ramirez (BOS) comes with shortstop eligibility and a strong price tag. If Tulowitzki weren’t in the lineup for some reason, he’d be my primary alternative.
Josh Donaldson (TOR) – Donaldson isn’t as effective against RHP (.340 wOBA, .169 ISO since 2012) as he is against lefties, but he’s still a good hitter and he’ll likely earn a premier lineup spot. The challenge with Donaldson is he’s priced as if he’s facing a LHP on most sites. I’ll attack him in tournaments as a part of Blue Jays stacks, but in cash games it’s more difficult to justify the high price tag. He does rank within our Top 15 overall hitters and as our top third base option this evening.
Next in line:
Alex Rodriguez (NYY) – While we’ve largely focused on LHBs against Lewis in the past, he hasn’t exactly dominated RHBs. Lewis has surrendered a .331 wOBA and 1.58 HR/9 to RHBs since 2013. He’s very fly ball dependent (47 percent0 which meshes well with Rodriguez’s primary skill set: power. Rodriguez’s baselines are difficult to assess given the performance this season feels like an outlier for a 40 year old, but he’s compiled a .375 wOBA and .229 ISO against RHP this season. Like Donaldson, the price point is elevated and probably better suited to attack in tournaments.
Matt Carpenter (STL) – If you’re not spending up for one of the elite third basemen above, Carpenter is the best value alternative for cash games. We touched on DeSclafani’s struggles against LHBs and Carpenter owns a .367 wOBA against RHP since 2012. Carpenter’s value is walk-heavy and it doesn’t translate quite as well to DFS but he’s still a Top 45 hitter in our model and the price point reduces some of the frustration with a capped upside.
Additional third base notes: Luis Valbuena (HOU) is a strong tournament play. He’s got the kind of power you want to target in tournaments, generally gets a good lineup spot, and is cheap. Garrett Richards minimizes hard contact so the matchup is far from ideal, but in tournaments the power upside is worthy of consideration. Maikel Franco (PHI) and Manny Machado (BAL) rank a bit better than Carpenter in our model, but they’re priced a bit closer to Rodriguez and Donaldson on most sites. As a result, they fall a bit in pricing limbo and make for better tournament plays. With Jose Bautista and Devon Travis leaving early last night it’s possible we see Danny Valencia (TOR) against a RHP. If he earned a premium lineup spot as well, he’d represent a fine value play.
Jose Bautista (TOR) – Along with Mike Trout (LAA), Bautista sits atop our OF rankings but comes with injury concerns. He left last night with a hamstring issue. If he’s in the lineup, he’s our top outfield option but I’m admittedly a bit gun-shy investing with the injury issue.
Jacoby Ellsbury/Brett Gardner (NYY) – Ellsbury and Gardner each rank in our Top 10 overall hitters. Neither are dominant hitters against RHP (Ellsbury – .341 wOBA, .139 ISO and Gardner – .349 wOBA, .167 ISO since 2013) but they extend their Fantasy value with their speed contributions. Colby Lewis projects very poorly against LHBs and the Yankees have a team total pushing five. Outfield is pretty shallow in terms of plus value plays, so the Yankees top of the order options should occupy at least one of your outfield spots.
Adam Jones (BAL) – We’ve touched extensively on Mike Foltynewicz‘s struggles with LHBs but his fly ball tendencies also translate against RHBs. He’s generated just a 39 percent GB Rate against righties. He doesn’t struggle with walks (7.1 percent) as much and he can whiff the righties (25 percent K Rate) but the .323 wOBA and 31.3 percent hard hit rate are representative of the struggles for the youngster. The Braves bullpen behind him is atrocious and Jones is simply too cheap for his expected production around the industry.
Melky Cabrera (CHW) – Cabrera is a guy we targeted heavily early in the season when the price was way down and favorable matchups were abundant. He’s done a lot of his good work of late in less than stellar matchups so we haven’t really reaped the rewards of our faith in his skill set. It’s been frustrating. He gets another favorable matchup tonight against Rick Porcello who has allowed a .338 wOBA to LHBs since 2013. Cabrera is a solid hitter against RHP (.340 wOBA) and he gets a premier lineup spot. I’d try to use him on sites where the price hasn’t adjusted aggressively yet (DraftKings).
Hanley Ramirez (BOS) – We don’t want to go nuts picking on Jose Quintana because he’s a pretty good starter and handles RHBs well, but if you can get a discounted tag on an elite hitter with the platoon advantage, it’s worth a look. This is the case with Hanley Ramirez who has compiled a .401 wOBA and .268 ISO against LHP since 2012. We’re hoping he’ll hit second or fourth instead of fifth, which would be a detriment to his value, but he ranks within our Top 20 hitters overall.
Chris Colabello/Ezequiel Carrera (TOR) – We could get a funky Jays lineup with the injuries they’re dealing with and if so it may open up opportunities for Colabello or Carrera in primary lineup spots. Colabello is priced appropriately around the industry. He owns a .325 wOBA and .168 ISO against RHP since 2012 and generally gets a strong lineup spot. He’s a more established target. Carrera is the wildcard. He’s hit leadoff on occasion and he’s not a good hitter (.274 wOBA, .103 ISO against RHP) but he is cheap.
Jason Heyward (STL) – Heyward is the Cardinals best DFS hitter against RHP as he couples plate discipline with the type of power that plays well in DFS and he adds in some speed. He’s compiled a .361 wOBA and .180 ISO against RHP since 2012 and generally hits in the middle of the Cardinals order. He’s another Top 25 outfield option in our model.
Additional outfield notes: Mookie Betts (BOS) and Matt Holliday (STL) rank a bit below the above options in our model but are acceptable parts of stacks or mini-stacks. I like Cameron Maybin‘s (ATL) power upside in Camden Yards against Chris Tillman‘s high fly ball rate, but the price tag and overall value doesn’t make him a great play in cash games. Jesse Chavez‘s struggles with LHBs makes Joc Pederson (LAD) a really compelling tournament play. He’s inconsistent but the power upside remains immense and it’s coming at a far cheaper cost now.
Rankings (price not considered):
1a) Tyson Ross (SD)
1b) Masahiro Tanaka (NYY)
3) Mike Bolsinger (LAD)
4) Lance McCullers (HOU) – if Trout out, drops to 6th if Trout in
5) Bartolo Colon (NYM)
6) John Lackey (STL)
7) Garrett Richards (LAA)
8) Jesse Chavez (OAK)
Tyson Ross (SD)/Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) – Ross and Tanaka rank almost identically in our model. Ross has the better matchup and scoring environment but the weaker skills negates much of those advantages. Ross is vulnerable to patient LHBs (11 percent BB Rate to LHBs) and the Mets can now run a lineup out with six LHBs in the first seven slots. If I can grab Ross at the price of a secondary starter, I’m fine investing but a quick glance at pricing around the industry doesn’t allow for that. Tanaka is more skilled than Ross but carries perpetual health concerns after he eschewed Tommy John Surgery this offseason. His velocity dropped last time out to its lowest point all season and then the Yankees gave him an extra day of rest. Throw in a Rangers lineup that projects well above average against RHP and a tough park environment with a total of 8.5 and there is risk on Tanaka as well. On most sites both pitchers are priced above what I’d prefer to spend, but the lack of elite starting pitching on this slate makes investing in one of them palatable. There are a few exceptions to the pricing challenges for Tanaka and Ross. Tanaka at $40 on Yahoo is a bargain I’d strongly consider while Ross’ price point on FanDuel ($8,500) is compelling.
Mike Bolsinger (LAD) – Bolsinger is getting the start in place of Kershaw this evening. He’ll get the benefit of facing the A’s offense without a DH and without Ben Zobrist. The A’s have been good against RHP this season (13th in wRC+ with a below average K Rate – 17.6 percent) but the lineup is diminished without a DH or Zobrist. Bolsinger is way too cheap for his skill set around the industry. He generates an elite GB Rate (57 percent) with a plus K Rate (22.1 percent) and adequate control (8.2 percent BB Rate). The lone knock on Bolsinger has been the Dodgers unwillingness to let him work deep into the game. Given the lack of elite options on this slate and the price tag with Bolsinger, I think it’s an easier risk to accept this evening.
Bartolo Colon (NYM) – The Padres rank 27th in wRC+ against RHP and have struck out in 22.1 percent of their plate appearances against righties (fourth highest in the league). Colon isn’t exciting, but he is affordable and the matchup is strong. He has historically controlled RHBs (.306 wOBA allowed) while struggling with left handed power (career 1.32 HR/9 allowed to LHBs) but limiting the damage through elite command. The Padres have very little in the way of left handed power and max out with four LHBs in their lineup. This sets up well for Colon to limit runs. Vegas has listed him as a slight favorite (-115) in a game with a total of just seven. There is very little upside investing in Colon, but the price point on multiple SP sites should allow you to spend on Kershaw and still field a competitive lineup.
Garrett Richards (LAA)/Lance McCullers (HOU) – I would upgrade McCullers to a value play if Trout is out of the lineup again (yes, he matters that much). Both starters have big strike out potential but face Top 10 offenses against RHP in a favorable hitting environment with an unfavorable umpire behind the plate. Richards has flashed above average indicators as he’s generating an above average swinging strike rate (10.6 percent vs. league average of 9.8 percent), below average hard contact (24.6 percent) and above average GB Rate (53.2 percent) but it hasn’t translated to the type of elite peripherals we’d hope for. His overall K Rate is just 18.3 percent and he’s struggled with walks (8.1 percent). His performance looks more like the 2013 version we saw rather than 2014’s breakout campaign but the indicators are more in line with 2014. This suggests, the performance should improve over time but picking a matchup on the road against the Astros is a tough starting point. McCullers has translated the indicator skills (9.6 swinging strike rate) into strikeouts (25.5 percent) which has made him a more valuable DFS starter than Richards early on. I was hoping the pricing on the two would reveal a value opportunity on Richards, but on most sites it looks like McCullers is still the cheaper option (despite the year-to-date performance differences). If we get a lineup without Trout, I’m happy to consider him a cash game value play, but for now I think they’re both strong tournament options with a slight lean towards McCullers because of price.
Additional starting pitcher notes: John Lackey (STL) is overpriced for his skill set but if Clayton Kershaw is scratched we may just have to accept his stability and ignore the cost. Lackey’s K Rate is down but he doesn’t walk anyone and relies on a good Cardinals defense and bullpen to help keep his ERA deflated. The Reds are a neutral matchup. They rank 17th in wRC+ against RHP with a league average K Rate. There isn’t much that jumps out but Lackey is a big favorite (-170) in a game with a total of just 7.5. He’s one of the safer options to produce an average start which might be enough on multiple starting pitcher slates on this short slate. Jesse Chavez (OAK) has a great price tag around the industry and he gets the benefit of facing a National League offense but the lineup the Dodgers throw out will go a long way in assessing his value. Chavez has extreme splits (.285 wOBA and 24.5 K Rate against RHBs, .307 wOBA and 19 K Rate against LHBs). If the Dodgers get really LH in their lineup, he’d lose some appeal. However, if they roll out a more RH heavy lineup, he’d make for a solid salary relief option. The rest of the slate is devoid of above average pitchers. R.A. Dickey (TOR) gets the Phillies who rank 30th in wRC+ against RHP. It’s a great matchup but Dickey hasn’t been able to generate strikeouts this season. Without strikeouts, it’s difficult to score in DFS and we have him projected for just a 17 percent K Rate tonight. Tom Koehler (MIA) and Doug Fister (WAS) get the benefit of a plus umpire in a great park but both pitchers have questionable skills. Fister hasn’t missed any bats all year and Koehler has to face a healthy Nationals offense. The lower total (7.5) may draw an eye, but we don’t see much upside. Fister is a guy we want to like, but the peripherals are so ugly (41 percent GB Rate, 5.4 percent swinging strike rate, and 11.6 K Rate overall).
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:
1a) Toronto Blue Jays
1b) New York Yankees
3) Baltimore Orioles
These are the three offenses we think are the focal point of cash game rosters. The difference between the Blue Jays and Yankees results yesterday should tip the scales in the ownership percentages. I’d imagine the Yankees are more popular tonight, but we still feel like the Blue Jays have the better matchup. Some of that is neutralized by the Yankees getting a guaranteed nine innings but I imagine the ownership differences will mitigate that in tournaments.
1) Chicago White Sox
2) St. Louis Cardinals
3) Texas Rangers
The White Sox have been the “under-the-radar” stack cashing in over the last few weeks. They get another favorable matchup against a below average starter. Adam Eaton, Melky Cabrera, and Jose Abreu or Adam LaRoche, are the foundation and can get filled in with Alexei Ramirez or Tyler Saladino to get exposure to a scarce position or Avisail Garcia to get more of the middle of the order.
The Cardinals actually had a few options featured in the content as cash game relevant. Wong, Carpenter, and Heyward all got nods. Throw in Holliday and you’ve got a nice stack that can be extended to include Jhonny Peralta. If mini-stacking, I like the LHBs most given the state of the Reds pen.
The Rangers will come with extremely low ownership because they’re facing Tanaka but they’re a good offense against RHP and in an elite park. Throw in Tanaka’s ownership getting pushed up with Kershaw scratched and you’ve got a nice leverage stack. If it goes off, you’re also knocking out any Tanaka owned SP teams (which many Yankees stacks will likely incorporate).
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: A 10% chance of a delay caused by a widely scattered, popup thunderstorm. Temps in the upper 80s falling into the lower 80s. Air density is a 9. Wind south-southwest 6-12 mph lessening to 3-6 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
PHL at TOR 7:07: Dry. Retractable roof. Temps in the low to mid 80s falling into the mid to upper 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind south 6-12 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
CHW at BOS 7:10: A 10% chance of a delay due to a widely scattered, popup thunderstorm. Temps in the mid to upper 80s falling to near 80. Air density is an 8. Wind south-southwest 8-16 mph which blows out to left-center. The wind is a 7.
SD at NYM 7:10: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 80s falling to near 80. Air density is a 9 becoming an 8. Wind southwest 5-10mph lessening to 3-6 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
WSH at MIA 7:10: The retractable roof will likely be closed.
LAA at HOU 8:00: Retractable roof. A 10% chance of a widely scattered thunderstorm. Temps in the low 90s falling into the low 80s. Air density is a 9. Wind south 5-10 mph becoming nearly calm. The wind blows out to center early in the game and is a 6 on the wind scale becoming a 5.
NYY at TEX 8:05: Dry. Temps in the upper 90s falling into the upper 80s. Air density is a 9. Wind south-southeast 7-14 mph lessening to 4-8 mph which blows in from right-center. The wind is a 4.
CIN at STL 8:15: A 10% chance of a delay caused by a thunderstorm. Temps in the mid-80s falling to near 80. Air density is an 8. Wind northwest 8-16 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
OAK at LAD 10:10: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind west-southwest 8-16 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 7.