Daily Fantasy Rundown – July 5th MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Sunday’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: This has to be the quietest weather day this year so far. Extremely small concerns in ATL, TEX and WSH. Good hitting environment at Wrigley.
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.
Brian McCann (NYY) – McCann doesn’t come at a great price, but if you don’t need cap relief at the catcher position the upside here is very high. Sometimes we have to worry about catchers resting on Sunday, but McCann rested yesterday making it more than likely he’s in the lineup today. He has an excellent home matchup against a RHP, which should allow him to take advantage of the short porch in right. That’s something McCann has been doing more of in his second season as a Yankee as his increase in pull rate from 44.1 to 50.5 is likely at least partially responsible for his ISO rising from .174 to .213. McCann will face a below average RHP in Erasmo Ramirez and a Rays bullpen that allows the most HR/9 in MLB.
Welington Castillo (ARI) – Castillo has flashed strong platoon splits since 2012, hitting .303/.372/.477 against southpaws. He draws a very favorable matchup today as he’ll be at home and facing Jorge de la Rosa (.338 wOBA allowed to RHBs since 2012). This is a cheap way to get exposure to a Diamondbacks offense that has a healthy team total around 4.5 today.
Alex Avila (DET) – With Miguel Cabrera hurt, Avila started at first base yesterday and hit fifth. That’s a big boost to his value, and it comes at a good time as he’ll face off against the very homer prone Marco Estrada. Avila has solid skills against RHP (.340 wOBA, .165 ISO since 2012) and has flashed an increased EYE and loft this season. Both of those point towards a potential rise in power moving forward, if he can start making some harder contact. Admittedly, there’s not one thing that stands out as great about this matchup. This is mostly about a cheap hitter picking up value from a change in batting order. Teammate Victor Martinez (DET) carries similar per dollar value at a higher price point on FanDuel, where he is still catcher eligible.
Additional catcher notes: Jonathan Lucroy (MIL) is finally starting to be priced more accurately, but there’s still a little bit of value to be squeezed out here, especially in such a good ballpark against a mediocre pitcher. However, don’t be surprised if he rests after catching last night (third day in a row) and the game being during the afternoon today. Matt Wieters (BAL) has been really frustrating, but if the Orioles DH him today to get him in the lineup, he’s worthy of consideration, especially in tournaments and in all formats on FanDuel where the price is great. He has great numbers against LHP the last several season and US Cellular Field is one of the best parks for right-handed batters.
Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) – It’s a good day to pay up at first base and it’s possible to include Goldschmidt in cash game rosters without sacrificing your pitching staff. We keep mentioning his improved peripherals this season, and it’s really scary to see that out of someone who was already a consensus top five Fantasy player headed into the season. He’s raised his BB rate around five percentage points while decreasing his K rate by nearly the same amount. Goldschmidt has also reduced his GB rate, leading to more aerial contact and better power numbers. All the while he continues to make amazingly consistent contact (minuscule 1.2 IFFB rate, elite 43.2 hard hit rate). In today’s matchup, Goldschmidt will hold the platoon edge against Jorge de la Rosa, and he has a whopping .444 wOBA and .282 ISO against LHP since 2012.
Next in line:
Joey Votto (CIN) – Votto is one of the best offensive players in the game due to his plate discipline and high quality of contact, which has led to him posting a triple slash of .313/.448/.508 against RHP since 2012. He’s an on base machine and has a high probability of reaching base multiple times today. Opposing pitcher Taylor Jungmann has been decent through five starts, but keep in mind that his current 2.48 BB/9 is likely not sustainable given his AAA numbers (over 4 walks per 9 each of the last two seasons). He’ll get in trouble in a small park with that wildness. I do want to note that the Brewers bullpen, after a poor start, has been rather amazing, ranking third in MLB in xFIP. If possible, that gives me a little extra incentive to get all the way up to Goldschmidt, but if you can’t quite afford it, Votto is a fine cash game play.
Additional first base notes: Other first basement that rank among our top 20 overall hitters are Albert Pujols (LAA), Anthony Rizzo (CHC), Jose Abreu (CHW) and David Ortiz (BOS). Due to pricing and a preference for the written up options these players are mostly secondary values/tournament options. Cheap cash game plays at the position include Adam LaRoche (CHW) (platoon edge at home against an underwhelming RHP in Miguel Gonzalez), Logan Morrison (SEA) (pitcher’s park but leading off against Chris Bassitt, who has a 5.01 xFIP of 45.1 MLB innings and a ZiPS projected 5.21 ERA) and Garrett Jones (NYY) (great cheap play if hitting fifth, pinch hit risk is reduced with Beltran on DL). Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) doesn’t rate well in our model, but we like the Blue Jays offense as a whole a heck of a lot in tournaments given Verlander’s struggles last season and some ugly data through three starts this year (8.8 K percentage, 23.8 hard minus soft hit rate).
Top Play: Jose Altuve (HOU) (elite tournament option given that he’s healthy, plays in a great park for right-handed batters and has good platoon splits against LHP; in cash games, would rather pay up at first base if spending big in the infield anywhere)
Robinson Cano (SEA) – Cano is a player you don’t want to get caught using too much as the perception doesn’t meet reality. His plate discipline has declined quite a bit this season, and he continues to hit an overwhelming amount of ground balls, which limits his power. However, a hot start to July coupled with a matchup against Chris Bassitt (ZiPS projected .362 wOBA and .163 ISO allowed to LHBs) at an affordable price tag makes him a playable cash option across the industry.
Scooter Gennett (MIL) – If Jonathan Lucroy gets the day off, Gennett could slide into the second spot in the lineup (where he hit last time Lucroy rested). Gennett has long been one of our favorite platoon guys given his low price tag at an MI position but simply hasn’t found himself in a lot of great spots this season. For his career he has a .354 wOBA and .166 ISO against RHP, and his high LD rate and low K rate against it support above average production out of this split. Gennett is in a great hitter’s park today, and opposing pitcher Mike Leake has one of the fourth worst split of any starting pitcher in action today against LHBs (.338 wOBA). I much prefer Gennett on DraftKings rather than FanDuel as a result of his pricing relative to his peers.
Johnny Giavotella (LAA) – This is purely a punt play, but it’s a good punt play and the right situation. Giavotella leads off for an Angels team that gets a massive park shift and faces a bad opposing pitcher in Colby Lewis (career 4.77 ERA). As a result, they have a team total hovering around 4.5. With opportunity cost at second base relatively low, this is one of the better spots to gain salary relief and simultaneously access to a top offense.
Additional second base notes: Additional options are Brian Dozier (MIN) (crushes LHP and power numbers overall this season are amazing) and Aaron Hill (ARI) (could end up in a top five or six lineup spot and team is in a good situation in general), although I prefer both in tournaments rather than cash games.
Top Play: Troy Tulowitzki (COL) (on the road but still in a good hitting environment and Rubby de la Rosa allows a ton of hard hit contact; cash game playable on FanDuel but way too expensive on DraftKings)
Next in line:
Jose Reyes (TOR) – On FanDuel, it’s not that difficult to pay up at shortstop, even if using Goldschmidt and a recommended starting pitcher. One of your two options there (and the best value if paying up at SS on DraftKings) is Jose Reyes. The Jays don’t rate that well in our model, but I’m a lot more pessimistic about Justin Verlander than our baseline projection. Reyes allows you to get cash game exposure to the Jays offense without forcing it. As mentioned above, Verlander has allowed a ton of contact through three starts and most of it has been quality contact. Reyes has always been a better hitter from the left side, where he’s hit .294 since 2012 with a .129 ISO (not good but at this position it’s okay). Reyes is 10-11 on stolen base attempts this season and the Tigers catchers range from neutral (McCann) to bad (Avila) at throwing out runners.
Nick Ahmed (ARI) – It’s not a guarantee but Ahmed has led off the past two games the Diamondbacks have faced a southpaw. If he’s in that spot again today, he’d be an excellent value on DraftKings ($2,900), which is fortunate as it’s a bit more difficult to pay up for shortstop there. Ahmed isn’t a very talented offensive player but he at least gives you some semblance of power/speed at the position (should go 10-10 or 10-15 in HR-SB over a full season). Mostly though this is about the contextual factors: platoon edge, leadoff spot, good park, expected team success around him.
Additional shortstop notes: Erick Aybar (LAA) is not a good offensive player, but he hits fifth and has the platoon edge on Colby Lewis in Texas, making him a viable cheap value, especially if Ahmed doesn’t lead off, which would limit options. Other cheapies include Alcides Escobar (KC) (FanDuel), Cesar Hernandez (PHI) (DraftKings) and Elvis Andrus (TEX). I think Carlos Correa (HOU) is playing over his head, but given his production, he’s worth considering in tournaments.
Top Plays: None of the top play options have everything going in their favor, but there are reasons to like all of Todd Frazier (CIN), Josh Donaldson (TOR) and Alex Rodriguez (NYY), who I would probably rank in that order. Frazier’s power peripherals are so strong that he’s pretty much a viable option any time he’s at home, especially against a young prospect who we expect to struggle. Donaldson’s power, which was already good, has improved from last season thanks to a small reduction in GB rate and an increase in hard hit rate (mark of 38.9 is a career best). He gives you exposure to the Blue Jays offense. Rodriguez is at home against Erasmo Ramirez. He’s been pitching better recently but still considered a below average starter who won’t pitch deep into games. The Rays bullpen is not good, and Rodriguez is sporting some surprisingly strong peripherals.
Adrian Beltre (TEX) – With Beltre’s declining power and age (36), I wouldn’t automatically hone in on him. However, if you can’t afford the top plays mentioned above, he’s still the best mid-tier option. He’s very affordable on both DraftKings ($3,800) and FanDuel ($4,500) and is at home with the platoon edge on CJ Wilson (.323 wOBA allowed to RHBs since 2012). Over that same time span, Beltre has put up a .367 wOBA and .187 ISO against LHP.
Additional third base notes: Yasmany Tomas (ARI) is third base eligible on DraftKings and only a touch more expensive than Beltre. I prefer him as we’re higher on the Diamondbacks offense than the Rangers offense. Pablo Sandoval (BOS) is so cheap that I’d consider him a good tournament option across the industry, despite how well Lance McCullers has been throwing. Other tournament options include Manny Machado (BAL) (great park, great overall profile, holds the platoon edge on a volatile pitcher) and Chase Headley (NYY) (don’t love his peripherals but good lineup spot and short porch in right against a bad pitching staff).
Mike Trout/Kole Calhoun (LAA) – Trout is about even with Paul Goldschmidt as the top overall play in our model. The Angels have a phenomenal matchup as they get a huge park shift playing in Texas and face a bad pitching staff. Colby Lewis has a career 4.77 ERA and 1.30 HR/9. His season long ERA and HR/9 respectively of 4.13 and 0.99 will both likely rise as HR/FB rate (7.5, career mark of 10.8) normalizes moving forward. Behind Colby Lewis is a Rangers bullpen that ranks third to last in MLB in xFIP. So, it’s easy to see why the best Fantasy player in the game (Trout) ranks as a top play and is actually a good per dollar value, despite being expensive. Still, you may not be able to fit Trout in and if that’s the case (even if it’s not actually), you should be considering Kole Calhoun who is a superb value (ranks as a top 15 overall hitter in our model). Calhoun will have the platoon edge on Lewis, who is particularly susceptible to LHBs (.350 wOBA, 1.22 HR/9 allowed since 2012).
AJ Pollock (ARI) – Pollock has a very good .3567 wOBA against LHP since 2012, and what’s particularly impressive is the power he’s showcased out of that split (.217 ISO). That puts Pollock, who is on pace to go around 20-35 in HR-SB over a full season, in a great position as the Diamondbacks face a below average LHP in Jorge de la Rosa at home. Pollock actually ranks inside our top 10 overall hitters this evening, making him the best mid-tier value on the slate (Calhoun is the better value on FanDuel where he’s significantly cheaper).
Yoenis Cespedes (DET) – Cespedes doesn’t quite offer the same amazing per dollar value as Pollock and Calhoun, but he carries plenty of upside at a mid-tier price. He loses some value with Miguel Cabrera no longer hitting behind him, but his individual HR upside today is very high (top 20 HR score in our model, top 50 overall ranking). While Cespedes does not hold the platoon edge, he is still consistently powerful against RHP, posting an ISO of .186 or better every single year of his career. Opposing pitcher Marco Estrada is capable of serving up a HR to anyone, having allowed 1.35 per 9 to RHBs since 2012. Teammate JD Martinez (DET) has been absolutely on fire but his expensive price tag pushes him towards being a tournament consideration only.
Additional outfield notes: Bryce Harper (WAS) is the next in line outfielder to Mike Trout. He’s an okay cash game play but probably best used in tournaments (Trout is the better option if paying up in cash games). Another high end outfielder who is a great tournament option is Jose Bautista (TOR). Other mid-tier outfield values to help you round out your roster are Jay Bruce (CIN), Adam Jones (BAL) and Gerardo Parra (MIL). Cheap options include Nolan Reimold (BAL) and Anthony Gose (DET). Some tournament specific guys I like today (if looking for lower ownership but high upside) are Carlos Gonzalez (COL), Matt Joyce (LAA) and Mark Trumbo (SEA).
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Gerrit Cole (PIT)
2) Lance Lynn (STL)
3) Danny Salazar (CLE)
4) Cole Hamels (PHI)
5) Shelby Miller (ATL)
6) Mike Bolsinger (LAD)
7) Steven Matz (NYM)
8) Eduardo Rodriguez (BOS)
9) Lance McCullers (HOU)
10) Kyle Hendricks (CHC)
11) Mat Latos (MIA)
12) Jordan Zimmermann (WAS)
13) Ian Kennedy (SD)
14) Carlos Rodon (CHW)
15) Ivan Nova (NYY)
16) Mike Montgomery (SEA)
Gerrit Cole (PIT) – The top four options all rank very closely in our model, leaving me breaking the tie by giving the top option to the skills I trust the most. Cole has been phenomenal this season, as the young star has improved in all three major skill categories, taking his K rate from 24.2 to 26.0, GB rate from 49.2 to 52.0 and BB rate from 7.0 to 6.0. These small gains across the board have turned a very good pitcher into an elite pitcher. Cole of course is helped by calling pitcher friendly PNC Park his home and additionally benefits from that today as Cleveland will lose the DH playing in an NL park. Overall, Cleveland doesn’t represent a great matchup but it’s not one to avoid either. It’s probably not necessary to pay up for Cole on sites where he’s markedly more expensive than Lynn and Salazar (FanDuel), but it does make a lot of sense to use him as an anchor in cash games on DraftKings where he’s priced similarly.
Next in line:
Lance Lynn (STL) – One nice thing about the top three options today is they all have very favorable home plate umpires, which increases our confidence level in using them. That goes for Lance Lynn as we continue to pick on a Padres lineup that has been pretty brutal all season long and continues to churn out bad lineups against RHP. They’ll play anywhere from 3-4 LHBs, which means Lynn will have the platoon edge on the majority of hitters (including their best ones), which is really important for him given his wide splits. Since 2012, Lynn has absolutely dominated same handed hitters (.286 wOBA, 21.2 K-BB%, 20.6 soft hit rate) but hasn’t had the same success against opposite handed hitters (.332 wOBA, 6.3 K-BB%, 16.0 soft hit rate). I’m hoping the Padres lineup construction and the favorable umpire mitigates the problems with LHBs and allows Lynn to breeze through the RHBs. It also needs to be noted that Lynn is having his best season overall. He has a 2.74 ERA and 2.78 FIP as he has career bests in K percentage (24.8) and BB percentage (7.8). Lynn is GB neutral, which isn’t much of a problem for him as he has a favorable home park and is easily outperforming the league average HR/FB rate for the third consecutive season (7.4/6.1/6.0). Lynn is the heaviest favorite of the top three starting pitchers (-175), and given price points is the guy I’d be most likely to use on FanDuel.
Danny Salazar (CLE) – Salazar actually ranks slightly ahead of Cole and Lynn in our model (before taking into account win probability), as it heavily weights K upside. I think when you take into account that he’s an underdog and has the most volatility, it makes sense to rank him third. However, he’s still very usable in all formats, especially on multi-SP sites where he’s discounted to Cole/Lynn. Salazar has a neutral matchup (Pirates middle of the pack in wRC+ and K% against RHP) but we like his elite strikeout skills (28.6 K percentage) going up against an NL team in an NL park that ranks as one of the most favorable for starting pitchers. That should mitigate Salazar’s biggest weakness (14.8 HR/FB rate) and allow him to have results more in line with his xFIP (3.02) than his actual ERA (3.80).
Mike Bolsinger (LAD) – I’d make my best effort to fit in two of the top three starting pitchers on multi-SP sites, but if you want to save a little money on DraftKings, Bolsinger makes a lot of sense. The negative with Bolsinger is a propensity for short outings, which could be exacerbated by a tough umpire. Aside from that though, this looks like a very safe choice. This Mets offense has been outright anemic the past several weeks. On Friday I wrote how they had scored more than twice just two times in 15 games and since then they’ve put up run totals of two and three. On the season they rank 28th in wRC+ against RHP with the eighth highest K rate. Meanwhile, Bolsinger has put together a rather gaudy K (23.7 percent) and GB (57.4 percent) combination that allows him to dominate, even if only over shorter stints.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Cole Hamels (PHI) is a high upside option but as a slight underdog with an unfavorable umpire and more expensive than all of the tier one options aside from Cole (even then only on some sites), he’s a tournament option only for me. Shelby Miller (ATL) is a very high floor option as the run total is not surprisingly low here (6.5) with Miller as a slight favorite facing a Phillies team that is dead last in wRC+ against RHP. I think there’s more K upside in the tier one options, which makes Miller more of a secondary value for me but I could envision using him in both cash games and tournaments. Steven Matz (NYM) is a highly touted rookie who can be trusted right away in DFS. There’s not much reason to use him today with a bevvy of strong tier one options that are affordable (he’s also hurt by lack of run support), but a quality start with 5-6 Ks is a reasonable expectation against a Dodgers team that hasn’t been nearly as good against LHP as they have been against RHP. In the third tier of options, Kyle Hendricks (CHC) is ranked last due to lowest K upside. However, he probably has a higher floor than the two names ahead of him and the guy from this group I’d be most likely to use in cash games on a multi-SP site. Facing a Marlins team without Stanton and having a favorable umpire on his side, Hendricks is a viable alternative to Bolsinger on sites like DraftKings. Both Eduardo Rodrgiuez (BOS) and Lance McCullers (HOU) are very high risk, high reward options that make for excellent tournament plays. I’d stay out of the fourth tier in cash games. In tournaments, the two names I like most from that tier are Ivan Nova (NYY) (K-GB combo was working in second start back and Tampa lineup is horrific) and Carlos Rodon (CHW) (great source of cheap strikeout upside, particularly as a second SP on DraftKings).
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:
1) Los Angeles Angels
2) Arizona Diamondbacks
3) Toronto Blue Jays
4) Cincinnati Reds
5) New York Yankees
1) Chicago White Sox (will be underowned due to team’s struggles but a lot of good value through this lineup at home against a homer prone pitcher in Miguel Gonzalez)
2) Houston Astros (you know the drill – homers and steals that can come in bunches)
3) Colorado Rockies (will be underowned on the road, but Rubby de la Rosa allows lots of hard hit contact, which results in significant upside for the opposition despite de la Rosa’s solid peripherals)
4) Kansas City Royals (Santana’s first MLB start of the year, bad bullpen, could be low owned due to park)
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.
TB at NYY 1:05: Dry. Temps in the low 80s. Air density is a 7. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.
TOR at DET 1:08: Dry. Temps in the low 80s. Air density is a 7. Wind south-southeast 5-10 mph which blows in from right-center. The wind is a 4.
MIL at CIN 1:10: Dry. Temps in the low 80s. Air density is a 7. Wind northeast 4-8 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 4.
HOU at BOS 1:35: Dry. Temps in the low 80s. Air density is a 7. Wind southwest 8-16 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
PHL at ATL 1:35: A few thunderstorms around but there is no threat for a cancellation. A 10-20% chance of a delay with a very small chance of multiple delays. Temps in the low 80s. Air density is an 8. Wind west-southwest 8-16 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
CLE at PIT 1:35: Dry. Temps near 80. Air density is a 7. Wind east 4-8 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 4.
BLT at CHW 2:10: Dry. Temps in the mid 80s. Air density is a 7 or an 8. Wind south 8-16 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 3.
MIN at KC 2:10: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 80s. Air density is an 8. Wind southeast 5-10 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.
SD at STL 2:15: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 80s. Air density is an 8. Wind southeast 5-10 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.
MIA at CHC 2:20: Dry. Temps in the mid 80s. Air density is a 7 or an 8. Wind south 8-16 mph which blows out to left-center. The wind is a 7.
SEA at OAK 4:05: Dry. Temps in the upper 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west-northwest 10-20 mph which blows out to right. The wind is an 8.
NYM at LAD 4:10: Dry. Temps near 70. Air density is a 7. Wind west-southwest 10-20 mph which blows out to right. The wind is an 8.
COL at AZ 4:10: With temperatures near 100 and a few thunderstorms around, I am not sure how they will handle the retractable roof. If it is open, temps will be near 100, air density will be a 9. Wind west-southwest 8-16 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
LAA at TEX 7:05: A 10-20% chance of a delay caused by a thunderstorm. Not concerned about a cancellation. Temps in the upper 80s falling into the mid 80s. Air density is an 8. Wind south-southeast 10-20 mph with gusts past 25 mph which blows in from right-center. The wind is a 2 or a 3.
SF at WSH 8:00: A 10% chance of a delay due to a thunderstorm late in the game, after 10 PM. Temps in the low 80s falling into the mid 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind southeast 5-10 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.