Daily Fantasy Rundown – July 6th MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Monday’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: PIT and WSH are games to watch but major problems are not expected. Rough weather may cause cancellations in Chicago.
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.
Yasmani Grandal (LAD) – Grandal is the clear cut top catcher and on a somewhat shortened slate, you want to mini-stack Dodgers, even in cash games. The Dodgers are the top team in wRC+ against RHP and will be facing Sean O’Sullivan, owner of a 5.76 ERA, which is sadly better than his current FIP and career ERA. O’Sullivan is probably the worst MLB starter to make 10-plus starts this season, and he’s been particularly horrendous against LHBs since 2012, allowing a .455 wOBA and 2.45 HR/9. The underlying peripherals there are even worse: more walks than strikeouts and a 40.5 hard hit rate. Grandal hit cleanup in his last start against RHP, and with Adrian Gonzalez possibly sitting out (got hit on the hand yesterday), there’s a high probability he gets a top five lineup spot tonight. Grandal is a switch hitter but more effective as a LHB, where he has posted a .359 wOBA and .194 ISO since 2012.
Next in line: Buster Posey (SF) (absurd numbers versus LHP make him a worthy tournament option but in such a low run scoring environment and as the most expensive catcher, he’s unnecessary in cash games)
Matt Wieters (BAL) – Just when I swear off Matt Wieters, his price drops and he gets another prime matchup. In general I like the Orioles offense against a struggling Phil Hughes. Hughes is so homer prone, that he needs to post elite K/BB ratios (like he did last season) to survive. However, something is wrong this year. His velocity is down this year, which has resulted in a 5.5 SwStr rate (8.6 or better in each of the previous three seasons) and a huge drop off in K percentage from 21.8 last season to 14.7 this year. Allowing that many more balls in play is a recipe for disaster given Hughes’ fly ball oriented ways. Wieters is one of the better offensive catchers in the game as he comes with plus power and holds a top five lineup spot for a good offense.
Additional catcher notes: Value play alternatives are Jonathan Lucroy (MIL) (good lineup spot and home park against a young pitcher but lacks platoon edge and price is finally rising) and Miguel Montero (CHC) (hits cleanup against RHP and wind is blowing out, but there’s a good chance he sits with Lester pitching). For tournaments, Yan Gomes (CLE) (very tough matchup but incredibly cheap for having the platoon edge and has decent pop) and Yadier Molina (STL) (good splits against LHP, wind is blowing out at Wrigley) are two additional options.
Jose Abreu (CHW) – I don’t want to spend too much time here due to the weather concerns but Abreu ranks as a top five overall hitter in our model and the top first baseman. US Cellular Field is a phenomenal hitter’s park, particularly for right-handed power. Opposing pitcher Mark Buehrle is a soft tossing LHP who hasn’t missed any bats and allowed an above average amount of hard hit contact.
Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) – Gonzalez was hit by a pitch yesterday but is listed as day to day. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him rest today, but if he’s in the lineup, he’s a phenomenal value, particularly on FanDuel. We ripped Sean O’Sullivan above (Grandal’s blurb) and will continue to do so throughout today’s content. Gonzalez has a .365 wOBA and .200 ISO against RHP since 2012 and is currently posting his best set of peripherals since 2012 (most loft, best EYE).
Chris Davis (BAL) – Davis has a top 10 HR score in our model, and when you further account for Phil Hughes‘ drop off in K rate, he’s more like a top five option on the evening in that regard. We talked about Hughes’ struggles above, and the result has been 1.62 HR/9. That meshes well with Davis’ power as when he does make contact – it’s hard hit (39.2 hard hit rate, just a 2.5 IFFB rate) and in the air (32.1 GB rate is the lowest of his career). The Orioles burned me bad against John Danks on Friday, but I see plenty of reasons to get some exposure to them tonight. Aside from the HR upside facing Hughes offers, the Twins bullpen has the highest xFIP in all of baseball.
Additional first base notes: Anthony Rizzo (CHC) is a nice option with the wind blowing out at Wrigley and the platoon edge on John Lackey (who is solid but not someone you’re forcing yourself to avoid). Rizzo is someone we’ve been cognizant about getting exposure to in the right situations since his current peripherals are so phenomenal, but of course the weather will have to cooperate with us tonight. Joey Votto (CIN) is a solid value against a struggling Doug Fister. There are higher reward options, though, pushing Votto to secondary value play status. He’s more valuable on FanDuel due to scoring format. In tournaments, some guys I like are Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) (crushes LHP, great park but obviously a very difficult matchup), Adam Lind (MIL) (really solid skill set against RHP and favorable home park; low ownership continues due to rising price point) and Lucas Duda (NYM) (horrible park and expected team success but very cheap for his skills against RHP).
Brian Dozier (MIN) – Dozier rates as the top second baseman in our model as his splits (.371 wOBA, .230 ISO against LHP since 2012) match up well against opposing pitcher Wei-Yin Chen‘s splits against RHBs over the same timeframe (.326 wOBA, 1.31 HR/9). The reason I’m emphasizing Dozier, though, is the amazing season he’s currently putting together. Dozier has a career best hard hit rate of 32 percent, which in line with a ton of aerial contact (.62 GB/FB ratio) has led to a .251 ISO. He’s still running some on the base paths as well with seven steals. At only a few hundred dollars more than any viable mid-tier second base options (covered in the notes section below), I’m making Dozier a priority in cash games.
Additional second base notes: If not paying up for Dozier, there are several second basemen I view as similar values. Howie Kendrick (LAD) tops that list, primarily due to our affinity for a Dodgers stack/min-stack this evening. Two other options near his price point are Jimmy Paredes (BAL) and Robinson Cano (SEA). I prefer Paredes. If you want to go a little bit cheaper, look the way of Jace Peterson (ATL). His price has started to correct itself. He’ll have the platoon edge against the struggling Kyle Lohse in a nice hitter’s park and carries strong stolen base upside. If Lucroy rests for the Brewers, that would bolster Peterson’s stolen base upside and it also might create a situation where Scooter Gennett (MIL) hits second. He’s displayed solid skills against RHP over his young career and is very favorably priced on DraftKings. A longer shot tournament option is Neil Walker (PIT). He doesn’t rate particularly well in our model due to park and a good opposing pitcher. However, Walker has always flashed good power for a second baseman from the left side of the plate, and James Shields has particularly struggled with allowing the long ball this season.
Additional shortstop notes: With no Tulowitzki in action and Jose Reyes (TOR) having a difficult matchup (secondary tournament option only), there’s not much reason to spend at the shortstop position. If you want a mid-tier value, the best guy to target is Jhonny Peralta (STL) who has some pop, the platoon edge and should benefit from the Wrigley winds. If I’m not strapped for cash I’ll entertain that option, but more than likely I’ll simply punt the position. Starlin Castro (CHC) is having a horrific season (high GB rate, lots of weak contact) but at bottom of the barrel pricing you get a top five in the order shortstop and exposure to the Cubs (if wind blowing out). Other punt options include Cesar Hernandez (PHI) (preferred punt on DraftKings as price isn’t budging, has speed and opposing pitcher Erik Surkamp is not very good) and Alcides Escobar (KC) (near minimum price on FanDuel and leading off for a Royals team with a decent team total of four). Tournament options include Ian Desmond (WAS) (terrible year and bad lineup spot but may be worth a shot based on historic HR/SB production given how low opportunity cost is at the position), Alexei Ramirez (CHW) (value if top five in order) and Jimmy Rollins (LAD) (as part of a Dodgers stack).
Top Plays: The three top options in order of model ranking are Todd Frazier (CIN), Kris Bryant (CHC) and Manny Machado (BAL). None have a lot of contextual factors going in their favor so this is primarily based on skills and the value at spending up at third base isn’t great. Of these three players, the one I’d be most likely to use in cash games is Machado on DraftKings, where his price has dropped off significantly (now $3,900).
Miguel Sano (MIN) – The Twins top hitting prospect is up in the big leagues and is being put in some pretty favorable lineup spots right away, hitting sixth against RHP and fifth against a LHP yesterday. If he’s in the fifth spot again, he represents a really strong value across the industry, and particularly on FanDuel where he’s minimum priced. Sano may not be the safest option at the position today, but with no obvious values it makes sense to hone in on his power upside. In the Minors, Sano had ISOs around .300 and it’s remarkable how consistent his HR prowess was regardless of level/missing a year with TJS. He hit 15 homers at AA this season in 286 PAs, had 19 in 276 in 2013 (missed 2014) at AA, 16 in 243 at high A in 2013 and 28 in 553 at A in 2012. Both ZiPS and Steamer project Sano to hit a HR around every 20 plate appearances, and ZiPS projects Sano to have a .229 ISO against LHP. While Target Field is a big park, Sano’s homer upside tonight is aided by facing a fly ball oriented pitcher in Wei-Yin Chen (35.6 GB rate, 1.31 HR/9 allowed to RHBs since 2012).
Justin Turner (LAD) – Where Sano and Turner are priced similarly, you could make the case to simply err on the side of more Dodgers exposure. The Dodgers have a team total right around 5 this evening, the highest of the night. Turner has shown surprising pop this season (11 HRs in 223 PAs, .246 ISO). While we don’t expect that to last (HR/FB rate is more than double career mark), his solid hard hit rate and LD rate do support an elevated HR/FB rate and an increase in loft (GB rate dropped 10.3 points from 2013) gives him more opportunity for power production. I’m also hesitant to say any hitter has reverse splits, but in a 602 PA sample size since 2012, Turner has dominated same handed pitching to the tune of a .392 wOBA and .178 ISO. Note that he’s second base eligible in addition to third base on DraftKings.
Additional third base notes: Josh Donaldson (TOR) ranks behind the top plays above due to facing an elite pitcher in Chris Sale, but he’s just as deserving in tournaments due to the crazy splits he’s displayed (.410 wOBA, .210 ISO since 2012 against LHP and improving with the Jays). Secondary value plays include Matt Carpenter (STL), Trevor Plouffe (MIN) and Kyle Seager (SEA) (on FanDuel specifically).
Joc Pederson/Yasiel Puig (LAD) – Pederson should be a staple in your cash games this evening. He rates as the best value of any hitter in our model as he gets a matchup against the horrific Sean O’Sullivan. O’Sullivan doesn’t miss bats (4.39 K/9), walks more than the league average amount of guys and has a an elevated HR/FB rate of 12.7 percent over 297 MLB innings (in which he has a 5.88 ERA and 5.67 FIP). On the other hand, the Dodgers lead MLB in wRC+ against RHP making this an unbelievable mismatch. More specific to Pederson, he has an extraordinary 42.7 hard hit rate, which has resulted in a 27.8 HR/FB rate. Overall he has a .378 wOBA and .270 ISO. Pederson will have the platoon edge on O’Sullivan, who has allowed a whopping .455 wOBA and 2.45 HR/9 to the 206 LHBs he has faced since 2012. Teammate Yasiel Puig doesn’t have the platoon edge on Peterson, so he ranks a touch behind but is still a core cash game play. The best part of the Pederson/Puig combination is how affordable it is as both outfielders carry mid-tier price points (we view them as top plays). Teammate Andre Ethier (LAD) would be an excellent source of salary cap relief with a top five lineup spot.
Bryce Harper (WAS) – I’m not telling you something you don’t already know by proclaiming Harper the top power hitter in the league. Of qualified hitters, his .375 ISO leads the league, and it’s not particularly close. Giancarlo Stanton is second with a .317 mark. The underlying peripherals and traditional scouting reports on Harper all support the 22 year old’s breakout season. He’s doubled his BB rate from last season while reducing his K rate by six points, giving him an elite .95 EYE. Harper’s hard hit rate has improved from 30.2 percent to 41.3 (ninth in all of baseball). That has combined with more aerial contact (GB/FB ratio has dropped from 1.26 to 0.75) to give Harper elite power numbers that we view as mostly sustainable. Harper has a favorable matchup today against Anthony DeSeclafani (.329 wOBA allowed to LHBs, current 5.9 HR/FB rate is unsustainable). The issue with Harper is of course price, but if spending big on a non-Dodger outfielder, he’s the guy to do it with. It’s possible in cash games on FanDuel if you punt the MI spots.
Gerardo Parra (MIL) – Parra has been absolutely scorching this past week and continues to be a strong value play. While he’ll certainly cool down, he’s always been a solid hitter against RHP (career .330 wOBA, .141 ISO), which puts him in position to deliver value out of the leadoff spot. The Brewers have a favorable home park for hitters and face rookie Matthew Wisler. Wisler isn’t a bad pitcher overall, but both ZiPS and Steamer anticipate him having a high 3s or low 4s ERA. It also helps that Atlanta has a bottom 10 bullpen in terms of xFIP.
Tommy Pham (STL) – If this game gets played, Pham is an amazing source of salary cap relief on DraftKings, where it’s difficult to find productive minimum priced players. To a certain extent, as co-analyst Drew Dinkmeyer said to me, we are trusting the Cardinals organization here. They’ve got a long track record of success so we’re putting stock into the fact that they quickly moved Pham into the leadoff spot despite Kolten Wong being relatively productive. Pham will have the platoon edge in Wrigley with the wind blowing out, and his Minor League track record suggests he has decent stolen base upside, something that should be amplified in a matchup against Lester (horrific at holding on runners).
Additional outfield notes: Some other high end outfielders who can be viewed as cash game options if you can’t quite afford Harper are Carlos Gomez (MIL) (top 10 overall hitter) and Nelson Cruz (SEA) (top 10 HR score). There aren’t a ton of mid-tier values that stick out as cash game options outside of the Dodgers guy and Parra. On the lower end of the middle tier is Melky Cabrera (CHW). He’s finally starting to see his production tick upwards and has a solid matchup in a good hitter’s park. We also like Dexter Fowler (CHC) as a secondary value where he’s priced a bit lower than the average outfielder. On stricter pricing sites, Kelly Johnson (ATL) (if hitting clean up), Clint Robinson (WAS) and Chris Parmelee (BAL) are viable cap relief plays. High end outfielders to consider for tournaments are Ryan Braun (MIL) and Jose Bautista (TOR).
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Carlos Carrasco (CLE)
2) Chris Sale (CWS)
3) Dallas Keuchel (HOU)
4) James Shields (SD)
5) AJ Burnett (PIT)
6) Jon Lester (CHC)
7) Chris Heston (SF)
8) Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA)
9) Edinson Volquez (KC)
10) John Lackey (STL)
11) Wei-Yin Chen (BAL)
Carlos Carrasco (CLE) – With Chris Sale in a horrible matchup and some minor weather concerns in other games we’re targeting pitchers, Carrasco is the guy to anchor your cash game teams with on all sites. While the ERA doesn’t show it (3.88), Carrasco is having a spectacular follow up season (2.72 xFIP) to his 2014 breakout campaign (2.72 xFIP). Some of the reason for the ERA-xFIP gap is he’s allowing more hard hit contact, but it’s not that far from the league average and we’d expect the ERA to drop moving forward. More importantly, Carrasco has immense K potential tonight. On the heels of an elite 13.5 SwStr rate, Carrasco is striking out 27.9 percent of batters. He’ll face an Astros team striking out 25.9 percent of the time against RHP (most in MLB), and that gives Carrasco our highest expected K rate on the night. Generally we like pitchers against the Astros due to high K upside but are a little wary of the risk side of things. That’s not so much the case tonight as Carrasco’s skill set, a low run total for the Astros (3.5, pushing downwards) and George Springer‘s absence make this a very high reward scenario with only medium risk.
Next in line:
Chris Sale (CHW) – Sale is a phenomenal tournament option this evening for two reasons. First, his ownership will probably never be lower. Secondly, his 16.0 SwStr rate and consequent 34.6 K percentage put him in a class of his own. That type of strikeout potential can you win a tournament at almost any price. However, he seems like a completely unnecessary risk in cash games for a couple of reasons. First off, opportunity cost is high. Sale is way more expensive than any other pitcher on the docket, but our first, third and fourth ranked pitchers are all in very good situations and viable cash game plays. Secondly, the matchup couldn’t be worse. Sale is at home (a great hitter’s park for right-handed batters) facing a righty heavy Jays lineup that is the best in all of baseball, posting an incredible 142 wRC+ against LHP and .190 ISO. Both are tops in MLB by a large margin. As if the first two reasons weren’t enough to stay off Sale in cash games, he’ll also be battling weather concerns (see full game forecast below).
Dallas Keuchel (HOU) – The league average hard minus soft hit rate for qualified starters is somewhere around 10 percent. Dallas Keuchel‘s is at -5.1. That’s utterly absurd, but this is the second season in a row he’s posted a negative mark (a very good thing) in this metric. That’s the reason (not luck) that Keuchel has easily overachieved his FIP and xFIP the past two seasons. On top of being able to beat the expected ERAs due to the weak contact he induces, Keuchel has pretty darn good expected ERAs in the first place (2.92 FIP, 2.77 xFIP). Keuchel has an insanely high 64.5 GB rate, but the reason he’s taken a big step forward this year is the ability to miss bats (K percentage up to 21.3 from 18.1 last season). That makes him more friendly to use in DFS games, and despite ranking third among starting pitchers today, he’s probably the safest option of the bunch.
James Shields (SD) – Shields is a great value as a second starting pitcher on DraftKings for just $8,600. The move to the NL has helped result in a large rise in K rate (27.8 percent, career mark is 20.9), and that’s backed up by a 14.2 SwStr rate. On the negative side, Shields is giving up too much hard contact, which has resulted in an elevated BABIP and HR/FB rate. However, the HR/FB rate is so high (18.3 percent) that there is definitely some bad luck mixed in there as well. As that HR/FB rate comes down, we’ll see a lower ERA from Shields, which will have a compounding positive effect on his DFS value (less runs allowed, will work deeper into games which allows him to rack up more Ks, higher win probability). Shields is pitching in the very pitcher friendly PNC Park this evening, and he’ll face a Pirates offense that rates as a neutral matchup overall.
Additional starting pitcher notes: AJ Burnett (PIT) is yet another pitcher in a great situation tonight. He’s been pitching phenomenally (3.14 xFIP), is at home and faces a very bad Padres lineup. However, his K upside lags behind that of Carrasco and Shields, which is why he finds himself leading tier three rather than being ranked in the top two tiers. He’s a secondary cash game play but better option for tournaments. Chris Heston (SF) may be the best per dollar starting pitcher on DraftKings, yet I still think he’s better for tournaments and only a secondary cash game play. You simply don’t need the cap relief he offers, so you’re better off using two pitchers with a higher probability of overall success, regardless of price. However, Heston is a great tournament option. He’s in the best pitcher’s park in all of baseball. His skills are solid (very nice K-GB combination). The Mets are horrific offensively right now. Finally, Heston has displayed the type of volatility that makes the most sense in tournaments. In his last 10 outings, his top four performances resulted in an average DK score of 37.95 points while his lowest four performances resulted in an average of 0.925 points. Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA) lines up alright in our model due to park and a Tigers lineup that is missing Miguel Cabrera, but he seems like an unnecessary risk given the uncertainty around a guy making his first start off of a long DL stint. Edinson Volquez (KC) is a viable option for tournaments but we strongly prefer Heston (Volquez will come with much lower ownership though).
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 (email@example.com) if you have suggestions.
Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:
1) Los Angeles Dodgers (by far the top stack of the day and should be mini-stacked in cash games)
1) Baltimore Orioles (As I talked about throughout the content, Hughes’ drop in K rate combined with his ever-present HR upside gives this team a lot of upside as does a weak Twins bullpen; if it was in Camden this would be a top stack/cash game mini stack but a big park introduces risk)
2) Minnesota Twins (The Twins aren’t a great full stack but their are 3-4 very good hitters against LHP at the top of the lineup in Dozier/Hunter/Plouffe/Sano, which makes them a nice complementary mini-stack; of the contrarian stack section, the Orioles and Twins are the two groups of hitters that we like most to be mixed in with Dodgers in cash games)
3) Milwaukee Brewers (With this lineup fully healthy, the offense has been on fire recently and now face a rookie RHP, which introduces a bit of uncertainty)
4) Chicago White Sox (Underachieving lineup against an overachieving pitcher keeps us from making this a cash game stack but there’s value to be had here given the great hitter’s park and Buehrle’s inability to miss bats/limit hard contact)
5) Toronto Blue Jays (Absurd team numbers against LHP and great hitter’s park; will be very low owned since they are going up against Chris Sale)
6) Seattle Mariners (I can’t put this any better than Drew Did in our forums: https://dailyroto.com/forum/showthread.php?35823-7-6-MLB-DFS)
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.
CIN at WSH 7:05: Scattered thunderstorms. They will be able to play this game but there is a 20% chance of a delay and a 10% chance of multiple delays. Temps in the low 80s falling into the upper 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind southeast 5-10 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6.
SD at PIT 7:05: Same forecast as WSH, there will be scattered thunderstorms around. Very little chance of a cancellation, 20% chance of a delay, 10% chance of multiple delays. Temps in the mid 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 7. Wind south-southeast 4-8 mph becoming nearly calm. The wind blows in from right to start. The wind is a 4 becoming a 5.
HOU at CLE 7:10: A 10% chance of a delay due to a thunderstorm. Not a big worry at all. Temps in the mid 70s falling into the lower 70s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.
STL at CHC 8:00: The 2 Chicago games look to be trouble. A line of thunderstorm is going to move in during the evening and stick around for awhile. Best case scenario: Thunderstorms do not move into the city until 10-11 PM eastern (slower than what I expect to happen) and they play much of the game (20% chance of this scenario). Worst case scenario, thunderstorms move in a bit earlier than they look to right now and the game is cancelled (20%). Most likely scenario is they move in right near 8 PM. There is certainly the risk of cancellations or delays in my opinion. If they do play, temps will be near 80 falling into the mid 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind southwest 12-25 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 9.
TOR at CHW 8:10: Same forecast as above except the wind blows from right to left and is a 5.
TB at KC 8:10: Another trouble game. Thunderstorms look like they will be pushing southeast of the city right at or shortly after the scheduled start time. Worst case scenario: Thunderstorms last a bit longer and the threat for a delayed start is high (20% chance of this scenario). If this happens, there would be a 10% chance of a cancellation. Most likely and best scenario: Thunderstorms are just southeast of the city at game time. A potential short delay to make sure all the rough weather is possible but they play the game with no further delays. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling into the low to mid 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind west-northwest 10-20 mph which blows out to right. The wind is an 8.
ATL at MIL 8:10: Showers and thunderstorms around so the retractable roof will be closed.
BLT at MIN 8:10: A 10% chance of a delayed start as thunderstorms should be well southeast of the city. No further issues during the game. Temps in the mid to upper 60s falling into the low to mid 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind northwest 8-16 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 7.
DET at SEA 10:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the low to mid 80s falling into the mid 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind west-southwest 7-14 mph which blows out to right-center. The wind is a 6.
PHL at LAD 10:10: Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind west-southwest 10-20 mph which blows out to right. The wind is an 8.
NYM at SF 10:15: Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the low to mid 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west 15-25 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 9.