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July 31 MLB DFS: Pineda Coladas on Sunday
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July 31 MLB DFS: Pineda Coladas on Sunday

01:12 Starting Pitchers
15:23 Catchers
16:11 First Base
19:27 Second Base
22:07 Shortstops
23:45 Third Base
25:05 Outfield
27:02 Cash Game Roster Construction & Stacks
29:16 Drew’s cat yells her stack rankings

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JULY 31 MLB DFS PRO TIP

Starting Pitcher Rankings

Tier One

1) Noah Syndergaard (NYM)

2) Michael Pineda (NYY)

3) Corey Kluber (CLE)

Tier Two

4) Carlos Martinez (STL)

Tier Three

5) Carlos Rodon (CHW) –pitch count?

6) Blake Snell (TB)

7) Francisco Liriano (PIT)

8) Aaron Sanchez (TOR)

9) Steven Wright (BOS)

10) Jerad Eickhoff (PHI)

Noah Syndergaard (NYM) tops our starting pitching rankings on Sunday as he faces a Rockies’ offense that ranks 18th in wRC+ and carries the 17th highest K Rate against RHP this season. By all accounts it’s a neutral matchup for Syndergaard who has the benefit of facing them at home. We’ve manually bumped down Syndergaard’s baselines due to concerns over the elbow issues he dealt with earlier in the year and he still ranks as our top starter. He has pitched well through these concerns (five of the last seven starts with an xFIP below 2.80) as the K Rate and the velocity have held. However, the type of contact he’s been allowing of late has been more of the hard variety and less of the soft. Since the beginning of June, Syndergaard has allowed a 30+ percent hard hit rate in six of eight starts and a soft hit rate below 15 percent in six of eight starts as well. Before June 1st, Syndergaard had held opponents below a 30 percent hard hit rate in nine of 10 starts and generated a soft hit rate above 20 percent in nine of 10 starts as well. It’s not showing up as much in the K Rate, BB Rate, or GB Rate, but the hard hit rates suggest he’s not quite the same dominant guy we saw earlier in the year. On FanDuel, where pricing is soft and the win matters a lot (Syndergaard opened at -190), Syndergaard is a strong selection as your ace. On DraftKings, the decision whether to pay $12,000 on a slate filled with expensive hitting is a legitimate question. Our hope is that lineups will help make the decision more clear.

The alternatives to Syndergaard in Tier One are: Michael Pineda (NYY) and Corey Kluber (CLE). Pineda’s been a frustrating asset all season as the combination of elite K Rate and BB Rate coupled with an egregious amount of hard contact allowed leaves him vulnerable to the long-ball and blow-up innings. Since the beginning of June, Pineda’s pitched like the ace his peripherals suggest he is: 3.30 ERA, 1.05 WHIP with 11.4 K/9 and a 4.75 K:BB Ratio. He’s allowed one earned run or less in five of those ten starts and he’s struck out at least eight batters in seven of 10. Pineda gets arguably the best matchup he can see in the American League as he’ll face the Rays (20th in wRC+, third highest K Rate against RHP) in Tampa which is a huge park shift that significantly mitigates the effects of the hard contact he allows. As a result, we have Syndergaard and Pineda as near equivalents in our model. Pineda is significantly cheaper on both sites and makes for the superior play on DraftKings ($9,900) and a viable cheaper alternative on FanDuel ($9,000) though the difference in win projection neutralizes that gap some. Corey Kluber gets a matchup with the Athletics’ offense that profiles as more strike out prone than they’ve shown all season. Kluber is also a significant favorite (-180) but meaningfully more expensive on FanDuel and rates comfortably below Syndergaard in our model and is priced similarly on DraftKings. The pricing leaves him a bit in limbo for cash games, unless you’d simply prefer to play him over Syndergaard in pairing with Pineda.

If you’re not paying all the way up for a Tier One pairing with Pineda on DraftKings, the choices are bit more clustered. Carlos Martinez (STL) gets the benefit of a weather-controlled pitching environment but the Marlins’ offense can get significantly more left-handed with Dee Gordon back. Martinez has extremely wide platoon splits (.264 wOBA, .062 ISO to RHBs, .326 wOBA, .147 ISO to LHBs since 2015) and as a result his ranking fluctuates based on lineups. He’s priced fairly on DraftKings, even for the best case scenario in a Marlins’ lineup. Carlos Rodon (CHW) would really fit perfectly on this slate if he weren’t coming off a rehab outing in which he only threw 58 pitches and thus we have no idea where the pitch limit will be set. The Twins’ loss of Eduardo Nunez thins out their lineup quite a bit, even against LHP, and Rodon’s K upside would make him an intriguing value at just $6,800. Instead, we’re only considering him a tournament target as the ranking above is set assuming his full workload. As a result, our secondary options are pretty thin. Blake Snell (TB) is an elite prospect pitching in a great environment against a Yankees’ offense that ranks 27th in wRC+ against LHP but also has the second lowest K Rate against LHP. Snell has an implied run total of just 3.5 runs against and his price tag will allow you the offensive flexibility to get big bats in but it’s not cheap enough ($8,600) that he’s a clear bargain. We’d feel significantly better about Snell if he was $1,000 cheaper. The other alternative is a relatively low upside Jerad Eickhoff ($8,400) facing a contact-heavy Braves’ lineup. In three previous starts this season against the Braves, Eickhoff has posted a 2.37 ERA but with just 13 K in 19 IP.

In tournaments, we like taking shots on big upside regardless of the risk involved. Francisco Liriano (PIT) fits that bill against a likely watered down Brewers’ lineup, albeit in a severe park shift against. At just $6,800, Liriano is cash viable for the risk-takers. His velocity ticked up each of the last two starts but the results were wildly different as his command failed him last time out. If the command is there, he can dominate. If it’s not, even a watered down lineup can put up big numbers on him. Andrew Cashner (MIA) is another viable tournament target. The Cardinals’ offense is typically very right handed and Cashner has at least held his own against RHBs (57.5 GB rate, 29.6 hard hit rate) despite awful results this season (.362 wOBA allowed). He’s pitched well in three straight starts against good offenses and the low price tag makes him a viable tournament target.

Catcher Rankings

1) Victor Martinez (DET) – where eligible

2) Salvador Perez (KC)

3) Francisco Cervelli (PIT)

4) Russell Martin (TOR)

A terrible position got worse as we were in production last night and received word that Jonathan Lucroy had been traded from MIL to CLE. We’re not expecting Lucroy will be available for Cleveland and there’s a good chance his statistics wouldn’t count anyway (at least on DraftKings). He was the only decent hitting catcher in a plus situation with a decent price tag on both sites, so we’re left largely looking to alerts. The one guy that could emerge is Travis d’Arnaud (NYM) since he’s very cheap and been hitting in better lineup spots of late but he never catches Syndergaard. Ultimately, this is a position with low opportunity cost and one we’ll likely just punt. We’ll tackle the punts as they emerge in alerts but you can also follow along with the beta model and optimizer.

First Base Rankings

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

2) Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)

3) Miguel Cabrera (DET)

4) Eric Hosmer (KC)

5) John Jaso (PIT)

6) Chris Carter (MIL)

7) Freddie Freeman (ATL)

8) Carlos Santana (CLE)

9) Jose Abreu (CHW)

10) Matt Adams (STL)

Chris Davis (BAL) tops our first base rankings but the caveat we’ve had on Davis’ ranking all week remains. He’s been very cold with a well hit rating of just 2.8 over the last 14 days and the matchup with Aaron Sanchez (.333 wOBA, .160 ISO since 2015 to LHBs) is good but not elite. The price tag is what draws you in on Davis as he’s just $2,800 on FanDuel and $3,800 on DraftKings. DraftKings main slate has two more games, so the value options are a bit deeper over there. Eric Hosmer (KC) and Kendrys Morales (KC) are the notable value adds in the TEX-KC game which is on DraftKings main slate. Both are priced around $3,500 and Lucas Harrell has historically been poor against LHBs (.336 wOBA, 12.8 BB Rate, and .143 ISO allowed in his career). The one issue with Harrell is the production allowed is more on-base than power but the park boost should help both Royals’ options. Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) faces Chris Tillman‘s reverse splits (.325 wOBA, .186 ISO allowed to RHBs since 2015) and is reasonably priced at $4,300. He’s much more expensive relative to the position on FanDuel and represents a better tournament option there. The other cheap target on both sites is John Jaso (PIT) who always seems like a low upside target due to his lack of power (.338 wOBA, .141 ISO since 2015 against RHP) but he’s been hitting the ball well of late (4.9 well hit rating) and Matt Garza has allowed a .371 wOBA and .196 ISO to LHBs since the start of 2015. As a road leadoff hitter, there is a very good chance of five plate appearances especially since the Brewers’ only have one LH reliever in their bullpen which mitigates his PH risk. On a slate without truly elite first basemen in elite matchups, Jaso is a stronger option.

Second Base Rankings

1) Jose Altuve (HOU)

2) Jurickson Profar (TEX)

3) Rougned Odor (TEX)

4) Jason Kipnis (CLE)

5) Dee Gordon (MIA)

6) Ian Kinsler (DET)

7) Brian Dozier (MIN)

Jose Altuve (HOU) is our top ranked second baseman and he’s once again a Top Five overall hitter in our model. He’ll face Mike Pelfrey who has allowed a .342 wOBA and .114 ISO to RHBs since 2015. Pelfrey is a very weak pitcher but he generates enough ground-balls and limits the power that he can be frustrating to pick on. Altuve has lots of ways to contribute and they should see the weaker side of the Tigers’ bullpen in a game they’re favored. The Astros have a healthy 4.9 implied run total and Altuve (as always) is one of the more direct ways to get exposure. He’s priced appropriately but given the lack of depth at the position he’s a fine spend in cash games. On DraftKings, the two Rangers’ 2B are in play with Jurickson Profar (TEX) and Rougned Odor (TEX) get a soft matchup with Dillon Gee. We feel they’re a bit undervalued in our beta model as the Royals loss of Wade Davis in the bullpen and the shifting roles with Herrera likely assuming closer, makes it likely the Rangers see Gee for a few innings and then all the weak spots of the Royals pen. They’re both priced aggressively on DraftKings and the second base position has a lot of depth thanks to softer pricing on some alternatives, but if you’re getting exposure to the Rangers slate-leading 5.4 implied run total, it’s likely through one of these two bats. If you’re not spending way up at second base, you’re likely using the position for salary relief. On both sites Greg Garcia (STL) is cheap though he’s more valuable as a pure punt on FanDuel. On DraftKings, Neil Walker (NYM) and Jace Peterson (ATL) are both quite cheap and viable sources of salary relief.

Shortstop Rankings

1) Carlos Correa (HOU)

2) Jonathan Villar (MIL)

3) Francisco Lindor (CLE)

4) Manny Machado (BAL) – where eligible

5) Xander Bogaerts (BOS)

6) Aledmys Diaz (STL)

Carlos Correa (HOU) is our top option at shortstop and a borderline Top 10 hitter (depending on which site you’re playing on) overall. The position has some depth to it in terms of high-priced alternatives but they’re all priced similarly to Correa and none carry the matchup that Correa has with Mike Pelfrey. Jonathan Villar (MIL) and Francisco Lindor (CLE) are the two potential pivot options but both face starters who have at some point in their recent career been good, Mike Pelfrey has not. Given we have a higher baseline for Correa and he’s on the road which gives a slight plate appearance expectation advantage over Lindor and neutralizes the lineup positioning difference with Villar, our model prefers Correa. He’s slightly underpriced on FanDuel ($3,700) but very fairly priced on DraftKings ($5,300). There isn’t much in the way of dropping down on DraftKings which makes it tougher to avoid Correa. Asdrubal Cabrera (NYM) represents your best option with a slightly favorable matchup with Chad Bettis but we need Cabrera in a good lineup spot, ideally second for his $2,600 price tag to earn consideration.

Third Base Rankings

1) Josh Donaldson (TOR)

2) Miguel Sano (MIN) – where eligible

3) Jurickson Profar (TEX) – where eligible

4) Adrian Beltre (TEX)

5) Manny Machado (BAL)

6) Jung Ho Kang (PIT)

7) Maikel Franco (PHI)

Josh Donaldson (TOR) leads the way at third base. Donaldson’s evolved into more than just a lefty-masher (.392 wOBA, .257 ISO against RHP since 2015) and Chris Tillman is a fly ball prone RHP. It’s a good matchup for Donaldson’s power to shine as we expect the roof will be open and the forecast has a helping wind out to left field. Donaldson is prohibitively expensive on FanDuel ($5,200) but reasonably priced on DraftKings ($4,800). Outside of Donaldson the position is pretty thin. On DraftKings, we jet Jurickson Profar (TEX) with third base eligibility. He’s slightly overpriced but once again represents one of the few ways to access the Rangers’ hefty implied team total. On FanDuel, Jung Ho Kang (PIT) is just $2,500 and we should all pray that he makes his way into the lineup again because he’s the only option that looks like a good value. If Kang isn’t in the lineup, we might have to take a bad price on Maikel Franco (PHI) who has a good matchup with Joel de la Cruz (.373 wOBA, 37.1 hard hit rate against the first 44 RHBs he’s faced at the big league level). On DraftKings, Miguel Sano (MIN) is also very affordable for a matchup with the platoon advantage and one that likely gets into the White Sox pen early.

Outfield Rankings

1) Mike Trout (LAA)

2) Starling Marte (PHI)

3) Gregory Polanco (PIT)

4) Andrew McCutchen (PIT)

5) George Springer (HOU)

6) Jose Bautista (TOR)

7) Yoenis Cespedes (NYM)

8) Miguel Sano (MIN)

9) Michael Saunders (TOR)

10) Mookie Betts (BOS)

11) Ian Desmond (TEX)

12) Lorenzo Cain (KC)

13) Nomar Mazara (TEX)

14) Curtis Granderson (NYM)

15) Odubel Herrera (PHI)

The Pirates once again dominate the top of our outfield rankings in a soft matchup with Matt Garza (5.74 ERA, 4.85 xFIP, and 38.2 hard hit rate allowed). The Pirates’ offense is getting a huge park shift in their favor and while they didn’t come through for us last night it’s another very favorable spot (4.7 implied run total). Andrew McCutchen (PIT) remains affordable on both sites although he’s the least compelling Pirate player to spend on (-0.5 well hit rate, elevated K Rates all year). Gregory Polanco (PIT) has an elite price tag on FanDuel ($3,500) that we’d lock in for cash games as our favored target of the Pirates’ offense. The one knock on this matchup is the likely trade of Jonathan Lucroy brings in Martni Maldonado who is an elite throwing catcher and might limit some of the SB upside here. On both sites, we’re largely focused on mid-tier OF values that are site-specific in nature. George Springer (HOU) is another fairly priced member of the Astros on DraftKings but he’s pretty cheap on FanDuel ($3,600) making him a very nice spend. Miguel Sano (MIN), Yoenis Cespedes (NYM), Jose Bautista (TOR), and Michael Saunders (TOR) are all affordable mid-priced options on DraftKings. Kendrys Morales (KC) also has an affordable price tag and outfield eligibility on DraftKings. If Preston Tucker (HOU) lands the second spot again for the Astros, he’d represent a strong punt target on FanDuel ($2,200).

Stack Rankings

Tier One

1) Houston Astros

2) Pittsburgh Pirates

Tier Two

3) Kansas City Royals

4) Toronto Blue Jays

5) Texas Rangers

The Astros and the Pirates represent our top tier in the stacks section. On FanDuel, both teams come with rather affordable pricing, which makes them a priority in cash games. Additionally, FanDuel doesn’t have the TEX-KC game which contains two of our other first five stacks, making PIT and HOU all the more valuable. We expect ownership will be high on both sets, so look to pivot in tournaments. On DraftKings, the appropriate pricing plus the additional two games should keep ownership a bit more spread out.

Contrarian Options:

Philadelphia Phillies – Joel de la Cruz is going to draw the emergency start for the Braves and de la Cruz is a very weak starter who is also unlikely to go deep into the game. He’s backed up by the least skilled bullpen in the league and while the Phillies are a terrible offense, they’re coming with no ownership and one of the best matchups on the slate. The unappealing price tag on Odubel Herrera on both sites will keep overall stack ownership down and with Pierzynski likely behind the plate the Phillies non-power threats bring speed upside.