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7/30 MLB DFS: The Price is just Tu-lo

7/30 MLB DFS: The Price is just Tu-lo
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MLB DFS Daily Fantasy Rundown – July 30, 2015

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:  Concerns in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic today with BOS having the most likely chance of a delay.

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.


Top Play:

Kyle Schwarber (CHC) – The catcher position isn’t as barren as it usually is (four viable cash game options all they’re all compelling) and despite our model adjusting slowly to Schwarber, I view him as the top option at the catcher position on this slate. He’s been powerful (.232 ISO) and he projects to have plus power moving forward, thanks to a 45 percent hard hit rate and 40 percent loft rate. Jimmy Nelson hasn’t quite figured out LHBs (.357 wOBA, 1.22 HR/9 surrendered to LHBs in the last few seasons) and Miller Park is friendly for left-handed power (increases left-handed power by around 10-11 percent above the league average). Schwarber has a good lineup spot (second) and he’s on the road (should have at least four PAs). When you take price into consideration, Schwarber feels like the strongest play at the catcher position on DraftKings ($3,500).

Value Plays:

Brian McCann (NYY) – McCann’s matchup is a bit tougher than Schwarber’s (Yovani Gallardo has allowed a .305 wOBA and 0.79 HR/9), which is the reason why he doesn’t rate as our top catcher option. However, McCann is a powerful hitter vs. RHP (.181 ISO against RHP since 2012) and the loft he generates (45 percent FB rate) tells us that his power is real. He will be hitting away from Yankee Stadium but Globe Life Park in Arlington is still a good hitting venue and despite Gallardo being solid vs. LHBs, he hasn’t performed well as of late (10 earned runs in his last two starts). At similar price points I want Schwarber, who has demonstrated to be the better, more powerful hitter (in a small sample at the major league level but he dominated the minors as well) but McCann is still a good option (ranked inside our top 40 hitters).

Additional catcher notes: Russell Martin (TOR) is a next in line option to the written values above. He’s a good hitter vs. LHP and the Blue Jays are the number one ranked offense in baseball against LHP. The Royals can limit upside due to their defense and bullpen but I still think Martin’s first few PAs against Danny Duffy (his lack of strikeout skills and fly ball ways have caught up to him) are worth pursuing in cash games. On sites where Martin, McCann and Schwarber are priced closely, I’ll give a small edge to Martin but keep in mind that all three are ranked similarly in our model. Matt Wieters (BAL) doesn’t have the same talent as the options above (especially against RHP) but he’s a switch hitter (keeps the platoon edge throughout games) that hits in the middle of the order and opposing pitcher Alfredo Simon doesn’t miss any bats (not a good recipe for success at Camden Yards). Wieters is cheaper than our written values at the position but the gap in skill makes him more of a secondary value. Victor Martinez (DET) has catcher eligibility on FanDuel and he rates very well in our model but he’s been terrible vs. RHBs this season (not hitting for any power). Despite our model’s optimism, I consider Martinez more of a secondary option.

First Base

Top Play:

Jose Abreu (CWS) – (Abreu has been an elite hitter vs. RHP and a matchup against the homer prone Steven Wright keeps him locked in as a top five hitter in our model; his high price point around the industry makes him more of a tournament play)

Value Plays:

Chris Davis (BAL) – Davis once again has the highest home run score in our model. We’ve noted in the past that his inability to make contact (31 percent strikeout rate) makes him a risky option but his upside can be unleashed against contact pitchers. Alfredo Simon fits that description (.340 wOBA, 15.1 K Rate, 1.27 HR/9 allowed to LHBs since 2012) and when Davis makes contact, it usually goes a long way (39 percent hard hit rate, 43 percent FB rate). The first base position has four mid-tier values that make a lot of sense on DraftKings and they rank closely but our model has given the edge to Davis (ranked inside our top five hitters).

Anthony Rizzo (CHC) – Rizzo is our top value on FanDuel ($3,000) and it’s not particularly close. Rizzo’s matchup against Jimmy Nelson is elite (struggles a ton with LHBs) and he’s a great hitter against RHP (.373 wOBA, .226 ISO). Rizzo has improved his contact rate (13 percent strikeout rate, a career high), he’s hitting the ball harder this season (34 percent hard hit rate) and he continues to generate loft at a nice rate (42 percent FB rate). Rizzo is priced below the cost of an average hitter on FanDuel and this price point doesn’t accurately reflect his skills and favorable contextual factors.

Eric Hosmer (KC) – Hosmer ranks inside our top 15 hitters but there’s a gap in skill here. At the surface level, Hosmer looks like he has improved in a major way (.315/.373/.484 triple slash line this season) but when you look deeper, the surface statistics seem inflated. Hosmer continues to hit a ton of ground balls (51 percent GB rate) and generates very little loft (24 percent). A high BABIP (.365) has helped but his peripherals remain consistent. He will have a nice matchup against Marco Estrada (1.43 HR/9 allowed to LHBs since 2012). I view Hosmer as a better cash game option on sites where he’s discounted relative to some of his peers at the position (FanDuel).

Additional first base notes: Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) is a site-dependent value ($4,200 on DraftKings) but make sure he’s in the lineup before deploying him. He was scratched from the lineup last night due to a jammed finger but the injury isn’t considered serious. At $4,200 on DraftKings, you’re investing in an elite hitter that occupies a nice lineup spot for the best offense against LHP. Joey Votto (CIN) has a nice matchup overall against A.J. Burnett (.333 wOBA allowed to LHBs since 2012) but he doesn’t allow much power (0.68 HR/9 allowed to LHBs). I’d take a shot at Votto in a tournaments and hope that the high price point and a less than stellar matchup keeps his ownership low. Freddie Freeman (ATL) is a good hitter vs. RHP and his matchup is favorable (Aaron Harang) but he doesn’t have any support around him (Braves offense isn’t any good). Despite the plus skills, I view Freeman as more of a tournament option this evening.

Second Base

Top Play:

Brian Dozier (MIN) – (Elite skills vs. LHP and J.A. Happ is prone to the long ball; he’s cash game viable on sites where his price is fair but I’d rather take a shot at his plus skills in tournaments since there’s not a big need to pay up for a second baseman this evening)

Value Play:

Jimmy Paredes (BAL) – Our model has been slow in adjusting to Paredes and even though he’s been a better hitter this season (.333 wOBA), most of his peripherals this season are consistent with his career. Paredes doesn’t generate much loft and he hits into a ton of ground balls (career 52 percent GB rate). It looks like some regression can be expected moving forward (.372 BABIP, 16 percent HR/FB rate) but a matchup against Alfredo Simon (doesn’t miss any bats and his run prevention is bad) at Camden Yards makes him the top value play around the industry (especially when you take into account his price tag on most sites). He will hit second for an offense that has a team total approaching five runs.

Ben Zobrist (KC) – We’re not sure where Zobrist will hit in the order but assuming that he will hit in a top five spot, his $3,100 price tag on FanDuel is in play tonight. Zobrist has been a good hitter vs. RHP (.344 wOBA, .163 ISO against RHP since 2012) and opposing pitcher Marco Estrada is homer prone. This is a massive park shift in favor of the Royals offense (from Kauffman Stadium to Rogers Centre) and he’s a switch hitter (will have the platoon edge throughout the game). Paredes is the cheaper value around the industry but Zobrist is the better option on FanDuel since he’s priced as an average hitter on that site.

Additional second base notes: Ian Kinsler (DET) is in a nice spot tonight, hitting leadoff against Miguel Gonzalez (.320 wOBA, 1.66 HR/9 allowed to RHBs in the last few seasons). He’s priced more aggressively than the written values above and he’s not as skilled either so he makes a bit more sense for tournaments. Jason Kipnis (CLE) and Jose Altuve (HOU) are usually top plays at the position on a daily basis but our model isn’t very fond of either player today. Their price points are high, which makes them better options for tournaments.


The Play:

Troy Tulowitzki (TOR) – Tulowitzki had an incredible debut with the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, hitting a home run and two doubles. While there will likely be concerns that Tulowitzki will no longer hit in Coors Field and those concerns make sense, the drop off in hitting environment might not be as severe as you think. Coors Field is far and away the best hitting venue in baseball but Rogers Centre is more than serviceable (third best hitting environment). He won’t have the advantage of the high altitude any longer but he’s such a great hitter vs. LHP (.422 wOBA, .253 ISO against LHP since 2012) that we’re still going to invest at his current price point around the industry ($3,900 on DraftKings). That sort of price point mitigates any concerns with the Royals (elite defense/bullpen) and our model believes so as well (third ranked hitter in our model). Tulowtizki is a core play at the shortstop position this evening.

Additional shortstop notes: It’s tough to consider any other values since Tulowitzki is such a bargain tonight but other options that deserve some cash game consideration are: Jung Ho Kang (PIT) (awesome skills vs. LHP and the Pirates offense will benefit from hitting in the Great American Ball Park) and Marwin Gonzalez (HOU) (only if he hits second; low price point makes him a decent punt in cash games but I see no reason to fade Tulowitzki in this sort of format at his current price levels).

Third Base

Top Play:

Josh Donaldson (TOR) – (Donaldson is a great play on DraftKings at $4,600 but he’s not priced like this on many sites; one of the best hitters in baseball against LHP and he will face an underwhelming southpaw at Rogers Centre but keep in mind that the Royals defense/bullpen are elite components of that team so you want to invest where he’s discounted)

Value Play:

Aramis Ramirez (PIT) – Ramirez is only $3,300 on DraftKings, where he rates as an awesome salary relief option if you can’t quite pay up for Donaldson. Ramirez has been an elite hitter against LHP in the last three seasons (.399 wOBA, .282 ISO) and even though he’s probably not that type of hitter anymore (he’s 37 years old and will retire at the end of this season), he continues to hit for power (.179 ISO vs. LHP this season). David Holmberg wasn’t any good in the minor leagues (didn’t miss any bats and had a 4.40 ERA in 108 IP at AAA this season) and he will have to face Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen, Jung Ho Kang and Ramirez at the Great American Ball Park. Ramirez is in a great spot this evening and I’m willing to invest where it’s logical.

Kris Bryant (CHC) – Opposing pitcher Jimmy Nelson is tougher on RHBs but Bryant is too discounted relative to his skills on FanDuel ($3,300). For that price tag, you’re buying a hitter that has posted a .349 wOBA and .195 ISO in 399 PAs this season, with more power on the way (49 percent FB rate, 38 percent hard hit rate). The Cubs don’t have an appealing total (3.5 runs) but Bryant has a great lineup spot for production (third) and he’s simply underpriced on FanDuel.

Additional third base notes: Alex Rodriguez (NYY) and Manny Machado (BAL) are two high-end options that have some cash game appeal because of their skills but they’re probably better for tournaments (good cost-effective options are available at the position around the industry). Mike Moustakas (KC) is cheap on most sites and he will have a matchup against the homer prone Marco Estrada at Rogers Centre. Those contextual factors and his improving skill set are enough to consider Moustakas as a secondary cash game option. Nick Castellanos (DET) will have a matchup against Miguel Gonzalez (1.66 HR/9 allowed to RHBs in the last three seasons) at Camden Yards. Castellanos is generating more loft this season and as a result, he has hit for more power. He’s a worthy selection for tournaments.


Top Plays:

Mike Trout/Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte (PIT) – I prefer McCutchen and Marte to Trout since they don’t have any healthy concerns and they’re hitting in the better environment. However, Trout is our number one ranked hitter and despite the tough matchup against Scott Kazmir, he’s the best hitter in baseball. McCutchen and Marte will have the platoon edge against David Holmberg at the Great American Ball Park and they’re priced affordably on most sites. If you’re looking to spend on an outfielder, McCutchen and Marte represent the strongest options (I prefer McCutchen since he’s the better overall hitter).

Jose Bautista (TOR) – Bautista ranks inside our top 10 hitters and he’s a phenomenal hitter against any type of pitching. He will have a few premier PAs against Danny Duffy at Rogers Centre but the Royals bullpen looms ahead (strength of matchup won’t be as strong late in the game). This puts Bautista in a separate tier from McCutchen and Trout but he’s still cash game worthy on sites where his price is low relative to his skills ($4,600 on DraftKings).

Value Plays:

Jacoby Ellsbury (NYY) – The Yankees have the highest team total on this slate (five runs) and Ellsbury is the leadoff hitter for this offense. While he doesn’t hit for much power (.137 ISO vs. RHP since 2012), he’s a solid hitter (.335 wOBA) and he’s always a threat to steal multiple bases (45 SB upside over a full season worth of ABs). That speed component doesn’t look like it has been factored in his current price tag, which is why Ellsbury rates as our top value (10th ranked hitter in our model).

Adam Jones (BAL) – Jones ranks right behind Ellsbury in our model. He’s a solid hitter vs. RHP (.344 wOBA) but he does posses power (.203 ISO against RHP since 2012). We’ve touched on Alfredo Simon already and without going too in depth, he just doesn’t miss bats. That’s not going to help him at Camden Yards (great hitting venue). Jones is only $3,000 on FanDuel.

Melky Cabrera (CWS) – Cabrera doesn’t rate as highly in our model as Ellsbury or Jones (25th ranked hitter) but Steven Wright isn’t any good and despite Fenway Park’s tough dimensions against LHBs, keep in mind that Cabrera will have good matchups even when the game reaches the late stages (Red Sox bullpen arms don’t miss many bats and they’re ranked in the bottom 10 in ERA). These sort of matchups bode well for Cabrera, who’s performed at a very high level as of late (21 hits in his last 44 ABs and he’s averaging 15 DraftKings points in his 10 games). He didn’t pan out for us when we tried to target him earlier this season at a more reasonable price tag but he’s turned it on now and there’s no better time to invest in him.

Additional outfield notes: Adonis Garcia (ATL) is a pure punt option on DraftKings. He’s minimum priced and even though he doesn’t project to be much of a hitter, he has been hitting cleanup as of late and he will face Aaron Harang this evening. Those contextual factors are enough to consider a minimum priced hitter. J.D. Martinez (DET) and Yoenis Cespedes (DET) are next in line options to the written values above. They have a great matchup against Miguel Gonzalez (struggles with right-handed power) at Camden Yards. I prefer J.D. Martinez since he’s the better hitter. Randal Grichuk (STL) should have a top five spot against Chris Rusin and he has been a good hitter vs. LHP. The hitting environment isn’t any good and Matt Holliday looks like he will be out so I view Grichuk as a tournament option that has some secondary cash game appeal. Brett Gardner (NYY) is priced fully around the industry, which is about the only reason that we’re only targeting him in tournaments instead of cash games. The Yankees have the highest team total on this slate and even though Yovani Gallardo seems like a tough matchup at the surface level, he doesn’t miss bats and he has been terrible lately (10 earned runs in his last two starts). Avisail Garcia (CWS) is $2,300 on FanDuel, where it’s logical to invest (top five spot against Steven Wright and the below average Red Sox bullpen). If looking for other secondary options, Dexter Fowler (CHC) (matchup against Jimmy Nelson at Miller Park), Preston Tucker (HOU) (Matt Shoemaker has been homer prone and Tucker has been a good hitter vs. RHP) and Chris Colabello (TOR) (should have a top six spot against Danny Duffy at Rogers Centre) have some cash game appeal where the prices are down.

Starting Pitcher

Rankings (price not considered):

Tier One

1) Chris Sale (CWS)

Tier Two

2) Carlos Carrasco (CLE)

3) Jake Arrieta (CHC)

4) Carlos Martinez (STL)

Tier Three

5) Shelby Miller (ATL)

6) Jimmy Nelson (MIL)

7) Scott Kazmir (HOU)

Tier Four

8) Matt Shoemaker (LAA)

9) Michael Pineda (NYY)

10) A.J. Burnett (PIT)

Top Play:

Chris Sale (CWS) – Sale is almost always deserving of his own tier. His insane strikeout skills (15.4 SwStr rate, 69 percent F-Strike rate and 38 percent chase rate) have led to a 32 percent strikeout rate. When he does allow contact, it’s not the hard kind (0 percent hard minus soft hit rate) and because he neutralizes batters so well (27 percent K-BB%), his run prevention is elite (2.85 ERA/2.32 FIP 2.41 xFIP). We were hesitant to pick on the Red Sox with LHPs because they projected much better than this (ranked 23rd in wRC+ against LHP) but we don’t mind picking on them now. Their leadoff man (Mookie Betts) and Dustin Pedroia (hits LHP well) are both out and they’ve been replaced by two below average hitters against LHP (Brock Holt and Jackie Bradley Jr.). In addition, Sale has one of the friendliest umpires in baseball for starters behind the plate. Sale is the most expensive pitcher on DraftKings ($13,200) and while it’s difficult to fit him on that site, his FanDuel price tag ($11,800) looks compelling for cash games.

Value Plays:

Carlos Carrasco (CLE) – We’ve pointed out that Carrasco’s strikeout skills makes him awesome for DFS (13 percent SwStr rate, 65 percent F-Strike rate and 39 percent chase rate). However, we’ve also noted that the hard contact he allows (15 percent hard minus soft hit rate) could get him into trouble. It certainly has (4.26 ERA) but some regression is on the way (2.91 FIP, 2.74 xFIP) and this is a good spot for this to happen. The A’s don’t hit for much power (ranked 21st in ISO), they’ve traded Ben Zobrist and Oakland Coliseum is an elite pitcher’s park (Carrasco usually pitches in a neutral environment). The hard contact he allows will likely make it difficult for regression to happen all at once but we feel pretty confident in saying that this matchup in this ballpark can help him. It’s harder to fit Chris Sale on DraftKings, where I believe that a mid-tier approach at the starting pitcher position (Martinez and Carrasco) is likely the best strategy to enforce in cash games (they allow you to have exposure to the best offensive situations without sacrificing any pitching).

Carlos Martinez (STL) – Martinez is the largest favorite on this slate by a wide margin (-230) and the Rockies have the lowest team total on this slate (three runs). The Rockies have traded Troy Tulowitzki and they’re facing a massive negative park shift (Busch Stadium is a terrible hitting environment). Martinez does struggle a bit with LHBs (.323 wOBA, 1.13 HR/9 allowed to LHBs this season) but he’s a good pitcher (striking out over a batter per inning and he’s getting ahead of batters at an above average rate so I expect his walk rate to improve). He doesn’t allow hard contact (two percent hard minus soft hit rate) and he keeps the ball on the ground (56 percent GB rate). Martinez’s price tag has caught up to his performance but the middle tier of starting pitching is really devoid of values tonight. On sites that emphasize the win (like FanDuel), we prefer Martinez over Carrasco.

Additional starting pitcher notes: Jake Arrieta (CHC) is expensive around the industry (especially on DraftKings, where I’d rather pay for Sale if paying up at the position) but he’s an elite DFS option this evening. The Brewers have been better a better offense with Gerardo Parra leading off but they’ve traded Aramis Ramirez. Arrieta’s skill set is elite (striking out over a batter per inning and the run prevention is awesome) and I’m willing to pay up for him in tournaments despite the difficult environment (Miller Park). He draws cash game consideration at $10,400 on FanDuel. On the riskier side of things, Matt Shoemaker (LAA) has some appeal on DraftKings. He’s only $6,600 on that site and he’s facing the strikeout happy Astros (striking out 25 percent of the time against RHP). Shoemaker is not an elite pitcher (homer prone) but if you want to fit Chris Sale on DraftKings, he’s a fine complement at a cost that won’t make you sacrifice any hitting upside. Jimmy Nelson (MIL) is a fun tournament option on sites that reward a bit more for strikeouts (DraftKings). The Cubs have added Kyle Schwarber and he’s hitting at the top of the lineup so Nelson will have to face Schwarber, Bryant and Rizzo. I don’t see any cash game value here but the strikeout upside is compelling (Cubs are striking out 24 percent of the time against RHP).

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 ( if you have suggestions.

Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:

1) New York Yankees

2) Baltimore Orioles

3) Toronto Blue Jays

4) Pittsburgh Pirates

Contrarian/Secondary Stacks:

1) Chicago White Sox – (Steven Wright/Red Sox bullpen represents strong matchups for this offense; they’re a better offense than what they’ve shown and they’re starting to play much better but they don’t rate as highly as the offenses above)

2) Kansas City Royals – (Marco Estrada at Rogers Centre should be enough for the contact-oriented Royals to create offense; we’re hoping for more power due to the mathcup/ballpark)

3) Chicago Cubs – (Jimmy Nelson struggles with LHBs and the Cubs can give him problems at the top of the order with three LHBs in the first four spots)

MLB Game Weather Forecasts

DET at BLT 7:05: A loosely organized band of thunderstorms and showers should push through the city right about the start of the game. A 20% chance of a delay in the beginning of the game or a late start, little to no ppd risk. Temps in the low 80a falling into the mid 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind west-southwest 4-8 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.

ATL at PHL 7:05: A 10% chance of either a late start to the game or a delay in the beginning of the game. Temps in the low 80s falling into the mid to upper 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind west-southwest 5-10 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.

KC at TOR 7:07: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps near 80 falling into the low to mid 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind 8-16 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.

CHW at BOS 7:10: A loosely organized band(s) of showers and thunderstorms will be around. This certainly looks like a game where a late start or a delay(s) is possible. Ppd risk, while no insignificant, looks low (10 -20%). The risk of some sort of stoppage of play is higher, 40-60%. Temps in the low 80s falling into the upper 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind southwest 10-20 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 9.

PIT at CIN 7:10: Dry. Temps near 80 falling to near 70. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind northwest 7-14 mph lessening to nearly calm. The wind blows out to center early in the game; thus the wind is a 7 on the wind scale becoming a 5.

COL at STL 7:15: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 80s falling into the upper 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind northwest 4-8 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.

NYY at TEX 8:05: Dry. Temps near 100 falling to near 90. Air density is a 9. Wind east 5-10 mph lessening to 3-6 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 4.

CHC at MIL 8:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the mid 80s falling into the upper 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind west 8-16 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 7 becoming a 6.

SEA at MIN 8:10: Dry. Temps in the mid 80s falling to near 70. Air density is an 8 becoming a 6. Wind west 5-10 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.

LAA at HOU 8:10: Retractable roof. A 10-20% chance of a thunderstorm around. If the roof is open, temps will be in the low to mid 90s and will fall into the low 80s. Air density is a 9. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.

CLE at OAK 10:05: Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind northwest 10-20 mph lessening to 7-14 mph which blows out to right. The wind is an 8 becoming a 6.

MLB Daily Analysis