Daily Fantasy Rundown – June 10th MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Wednesday’s edition of the Daily Fantasy Rundown with “leonem”, “dinkpiece” and “thenumbersguy”. Each day throughout the MLB season our daily MLB scouting reports will highlight the best top, value and cheap plays of the day based on the Daily Fantasy Industry’s pricing for salary cap games. The goal of our analysis is to help you improve consistency and become a better player long-term.
Weather: Minor concerns in Detroit and Chicago.
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Miguel Montero (CHC) – While Montero rates a bit behind Yasmani Grandal in our model (a top 75 option, Grandal is top 50), I view them as similar options today and will probably let price dictate who I use on what site. Montero will almost assuredly bat cleanup for the Cubs with a RHP on the hill and the team able to utilize the DH in an American League park. Opposing pitcher Shane Greene has really struggled this season. While we expect him to be better moving forward than his 5.40 ERA, it needs to be noted that his velocity has dropped off by 1.3 mph from last season and that, along with a reduced SwStr rate, supports the big drop in K rate from 23.5 percent to 15. Green is also posting an elevated HR/FB rate for the second consecutive season and has allowed a .362 wOBA to the 320 LHBs he has faced. Montero is currently displaying the best EYE of his career and is making very good contact (yet to hit a pop up, career best 23.2 LD rate). His Fantasy points should pick up as his .258 BABIP normalizes (career mark of .304).
Yasmani Grandal (LAD) – Grandal will likely hit fifth or sixth if in the lineup (chance he sits after catching three straight). He’s cut down on his K rate with the Dodgers, which has helped to boost his BA and should be able to take advantage of a very friendly matchup against Jeremy Hellickson (.324 wOBA, 1.21 HR/9 allowed to LHBs since 2012). Grandal is a switch hitter but for his career he has been much more productive from the left side (.352 wOBA compared to .310 from the right side; .175 ISO compared to .138 from the right side).
Additional catcher notes: Matt Wieters (BAL) is underpriced in general on FanDuel and a good value/great tournament option over there. He’s better from the right side but still a very solid all-around offensive catcher who is hitting in a good hitter’s park (Camden Yards) against a pitcher with poor platoon splits. Rick Porcello has allowed a .348 wOBA to LHBs since 2012. Stephen Vogt (OAK) is a secondary value across the industry. Yovani Gallardo is a mediocre RHP and the park isn’t conducive to hitting, but Vogt holds the platoon edge and as we mentioned yesterday, is showcasing some very strong peripherals. Some options that are useful in tournaments but not in cash are Evan Gattis (HOU) (most power of C eligible players hitting in a park that is very conducive to right-handed power, Yan Gomes (CLE) (underpriced for power upside but doesn’t hold platoon edge and doesn’t have a good lineup spot) and Tyler Flowers (CHW) (HR or bust candidate at home against a pitcher making his first MLB start).
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) – I mentioned above Greene’s struggles both overall this season and specifically against LHBs. It’s no surprise then that Anthony Rizzo is our top overall play at first base. Only Mike Trout ranks higher in our hitter model. What makes Rizzo so special, outside of simply matching his splits against Greene’s, is how strong of an overall season he is having. A 10.8 K percentage for a hitter of his nature is patently absurd, and when you view the elite EYE (1.19) in line with the strength of contact (26.9 LD rate, 36.2 hard hit rate) you have a hitter with .300-plus BA skills. That’s something you see out of hitters with less power, but Rizzo generates plenty of loft (36.6 FB rate) leading to one of the games best ISO marks (.272). I’m almost done gushing about Rizzo but first have to point out that he’s also on pace to go 30-25 in HR-SB over a full season. I don’t have him as a primary target in cash games since I preferred a more balanced roster construction today and opportunity cost at the position, but if you go real cheap somewhere else he’s on the short list of guys worth breaking the bank for.
Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) – Our model has Gonzalez as a top 30 overall option, but I view him as a top 15 hitter on the night, perhaps even top 10. I think our model shortchanges him since his age and 2012-2013 power numbers pointed towards a declining player. However, Gonzalez’s walk rate and ISO improved last season and are up yet again this year (10.8 BB rate, .257 ISO). This is the best EYE he’s posted since his brilliant 2011 season with the Red Sox. With that in mind and a favorable matchup (talked about Hellickson’s woes with LHBs above), Gonzalez is a prime cash game target, particularly on DraftKings. He’s simply underpriced there and will be hitting third (best spot for DFS production) for the team with the second highest implied run total on the evening.
Adam LaRoche (CHW) – Vincent Velasquez is a RHP for the Astros who will get the start and make his MLB debut today. He’s not a chump (1.37 AA ERA, 12.65 K/9). He is however pretty inexperienced (first year above single A) and Steamer projects him to struggle with control and allow just over a HR/9 but to hold his own (4.11 ERA). Even with that moderate projection, it’s a good idea to pick on Velasquez a little bit in such a tough park to make his debut (US Cellular Field). The best way to do that is through LaRoche who is very cheap on both FanDuel and DraftKings. We’ve talked recently how LaRoche has rebounded from a slow start (which is the norm for him). After posting a .28 EYE and .287 wOBA in April, LaRoche had a .81 EYE and .380 wOBA in May. Since 2012 he has a solid .365 wOBA and .213 ISO against RHP. Teammate Jose Abreu (CHW) makes for a secondary cash game play but is better used in tournaments as I’d rather use Rizzo if paying up or save some money with Gonzalez or LaRoche if not paying up.
Additional first base notes: Chris Davis (BAL) is a great value on DraftKings (nice price, third base eligible) and tournament playable everywhere. He has elite power upside at home and Rick Porcello struggles with LHBs. Another cheaper value play alternative to LaRoche is Mike Napoli (BOS) who has the platoon edge against the fly ball oriented Wei-Yin Chen. Paul Goldschmidt (ARI), like Anthony Rizzo, is sporting some absurd peripherals and has the platoon edge. On that basis he’s tournament playable but keep in mind Arizona has a very low team total. A couple of other guys I’d consider in tournaments but not cash games are Chris Carter (HOU) (always an out of nowhere double dong threat, especially in this park) and Logan Morrison (SEA) (really cheap for holding the platoon edge and a prime lineup spot).
Jose Altuve (HOU) – Altuve has cooled down considerably and let us down yesterday, but I still view this as a buy low opportunity. His K rate isn’t quite at last year’s elite marks (7.5 percentage) but at 10.3 percent is still the second lowest K rate of his career. So, contact isn’t really the issue and the batted ball data is pretty similar as well. It’s mostly just random variance and some unfortunate BABIP (.311, .329 for his career). As we mentioned yesterday, Altuve has great splits against LHP that have moved into the elite category between this season and last year. Jose Quintana is a solid overall pitcher, but Altuve’s prime DFS lineup spot, stolen base upside and platoon splits make him a top play worth paying up for in cash games. He ranks as a top 15 overall hitter in our model. Jason Kipnis is more expensive and a top 30 option and everyone else at the position hovering around 50 or worse.
Additional second base notes: Jason Kipnis (CLE) is the next in line option at second base. Due to price he’s a great tournament option. I’m a bit hesitant to pay that tag in cash games with Taijuan Walker improving, but if you’re solely looking at this year’s splits (Kipnis’ are amazing, Walker’s are awful) then it’d be easy to convince yourself to use him over Altuve. Neil Walker (PIT) and Ben Zobrist (OAK) are both boring options but cash game viable due to lineup spots and holding the platoon edge. Dustin Pedroia (BOS) and Addison Russell (CHC) are options I’m looking at in tournaments. Pedroia is cash game playable where he’s priced in like with Walker and Zobrist. If looking for a tournament play, Jace Peterson (ATL) has a tough matchup against Tyson Ross, but if he’s able to get on base the stolen base upside is high as both Ross and catcher Derek Norris are below average at getting base runners caught stealing.
Carlos Correa (HOU) – Assuming Hanley Ramirez (BOS) is healthy and in the lineup, I’d try to pay up for him on DraftKings (great numbers against LHP, good ballpark and Wei-Yin Chen is mediocre). However, if Ramirez ends up out or is unaffordable to you, the next best thing is to drop down to Houston rookie Carlos Correa. On FanDuel, punting with Correa right off the bat is the move at a dreary shortstop position today. With opportunity cost so low, it makes sense to target the upside the youngster Correa carries. He’ll hold the platoon edge and hit sixth for a dangerous Astros lineup in a great hitter’s park. The projections systems on Correa are pretty conservative (calling for around a .300 wOBA), but he has 10-10 upside over the rest of the season (homered and stole a base yesterday). It’s also encouraging that his contact rate took a step forward this year despite playing at AAA for the first time.
Additional shortstop notes: Alcides Escobar (KC) and Marcus Semien (OAK) are cash game punt options, pretty much primarily due to at least having a good lineup spot. Jimmy Rollins (LAD) and Alexei Ramirez (CHW) would likely both top Escobar and Semien in our shortstop rankings if receiving a top five lineup spot. Starlin Castro (CHC) and Xander Bogaerts (BOS) are mediocre options for tournaments.
Kris Bryant (CHC) – On sites like FanDuel where position eligibility is pretty strict, there really aren’t many attractive third base options. I’d do my best to simply pay up for Bryant’s power (one of the reasons, as you’ll see below, that I’m okay not using Harvey on single-SP sites). Bryant is just outside of our top 10 HR scores in our model for the day, and Greene is more susceptible to the long ball this season as both his K and GB rates have reduced.
Alex Guerrero (LAD) – It’s tough to get a feel for Guerrero’s true baseline as he’s a 28 year old rookie, with just one season of Minor League data. What we do know is when he has played, he’s absolutely mashed, posting a .394 wOBA and .342 ISO in 122 PAs. He has a same handed matchup today against Hellickson, but RHP are who Guerrero has done all his damage against this season anyways. While he’s not going to continue this level of production, there’s no reason not to take a shot on him on DraftKings where he’s both 3B and OF eligibility and just $3,100. He’s the best source of salary cap relief on that site today, assuming a top five or six lineup spot.
Joey Gallo (TEX) – The lines projection systems have for Gallo are pretty hilarious. The consensus is an insanely high K rate (he did after all strike out 35-plus percent of the time in two years at AA) that leads to an atrocious BA (sub-.230). However, the power projections are gaudy (.240-plus ISO, ZiPS projects 17 HRs in 282 PAs) balancing out to an above average wOBA (.330s). He’s the type of high risk, high reward option that’s worth utilizing at a low salary if you are unable to pay up for Bryant. The matchup against Hahn in Oakland is not great, but Gallo will have the platoon edge and Hahn’s below average K rate gives Gallo some hope of putting the ball in play and letting his power take over.
Additional third base notes: Manny Machado (BAL) is leading off for a Baltimore offense that has a favorable team total of four. That and the park are enough to make him an option at a position that’s rather scarce today. Kyle Seager (SEA) and Josh Harrison (PIT) are secondary values that are far from sexy. If sacrificing that type of upside, it might make sense to just dip down to Mike Moustakas (KC) and get yourself a bit more cap relief.
Top Play: Mike Trout (LAA) (number one rated player in our model but as I construct rosters he seems to be an unnecessary spend)
Dodgers Outfield – The Dodgers are tied for the second highest team total on the day (4.5) against Jeremy Hellickson who is posting an ERA and expected ERAs above 4 and HR/9 above 1 for the second straight season. Hellickson succeeded in Tampa Bay in his first three years by forcing soft contact, but that has completely turned around the past three season. He currently forces soft contact 15.9 percent of the time (lower than league average) and allows hard contact 34.3 percent of the time (well above league average). If you’re going to allow that much hard contact, you may want to think about missing bats. However, Hellickson’s 16.4 K percentage is the second lowest of his career (and lowest since he started allowing such a high hard hit rate the last three years). Yasiel Puig (LAD) is underpriced coming back from injury and rates as a top five option in our model. Joc Pederson (LAD) is chalk full of upside and has the platoon edge on Hellickson. He’s a top 15 option in our model and probably deserving of top 10 status when you consider how impressive his overall profile has been in his rookie season. Andre Ethier (LAD) has the worst skills and batting order of the bunch and ranks outside our top 50 overall options. Still, he can be used as a cheap way to get access to this offense.
George Springer (HOU) – While it may seem odd that I have so many Astros hitters listed throughout the content against one of our value play pitchers, keep in mind that many of the Astros hitters (particularly Springer) have either HR or SB upside or both. They aren’t completely reliant on the team as a whole having success to earn their DFS value, and it’s not unreasonable to use one hitter against your pitcher in cash games on multi-SP sites. With Springer making some nice strides in his plate discipline (both BB and K rates have improved leading EYE to jump from .34 last season to .56), I’ll continue to utilize him in almost all matchups at his current price points (priced like a mid-tier OF option). Springer makes hard contact (37.9 percent for his career) leading to great raw power numbers (25.2 HR/FB rate for his career). On top of that, he’s on pace to exceed 30 stolen bases this season.
Cleveland Outfield – As I note in the stacks section below, I’m definitely lower on the Cleveland offense than I expect the market to be tonight. Perhaps I’m buying too much into Walker’s prospect status and a small sample size of two really good starts in a row. One way to hedge yourself is in the outfield. Michael Brantley (CLE) is very fairly priced. He’s not smoking the ball quite as much as last year, but an insane 1.73 EYE means he’ll continue to be a .300-plus BA guy even if he can’t fully match last year’s power. David Murphy (CLE) could hit third or fourth, which would make him an excellent source of cap relief across the industry. Keep in mind that Walker’s 27.3 LD rate allowed to LHBs is the second highest split among pitchers in action tonight since 2012.
Additional outfield notes: Some solid mid-tier outfield values include Dexter Fowler (CHC), Josh Reddick (OAK) and Adam Eaton (CHW) (possible Melky Cabrera as well depending on lineup spot). In tournaments, I like the upside of Starling Marte (PIT) (really the whole Pirates outfield), Brandon Moss (CLE), Padres outfield and Kole Calhoun (LAA).
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Matt Harvey (NYM)
2) Trevor Bauer (CLE)
3) Jake Arrieta (CHC)
4) Tyson Ross (SD)
5) Jose Quintana (CHW)
6) Brett Anderson (LAD)
7) Jesse Hahn (OAK)
8) Jered Weaver (LAA)
9) Edinson Volquez (KC)
10) Taiuan Walker (SEA)
11) Charlie Morton (PIT)
12) Shane Greene (DET)
Matt Harvey (NYM) – The Giants are middle of the pack in MLB in runs scored, but when you account for park factors they are actually well above average. In fact, they rank second in wRC+ against RHP and strike out just 17.2 percent of the time (fourth lowest). So this definitely doesn’t qualify as a plus matchup for Harvey. However, there’s really no competition from a skills perspective, which still leaves a significant gap in our model between Harvey and the tier two options. It’s pretty eerie how in line his numbers are currently with his pre-TJS numbers – everything from K rate, BB to hard hit contact is basically the same. The one concern is a bit more fly balls allowed, which has moved his xFIP back about a quarter of a run but still leaves him as a sub-3.00 ERA pitcher from a skills perspective. With Harvey as the day’s second largest favorite (-160) in a game with a low total (7, pushing 6.5) he makes sense to target in cash games on all sites, despite the less than stellar matchup. I will say he’s not as much of a must play as a top pitcher often is one starting pitcher sites; I could envision using Trevor Bauer if you’re not comfortable with the hitters surrounding Harvey.
Next in line:
Trevor Bauer (CLE) – Bauer power! Sorry for that – it’s out of my system now. Bauer is beginning to make good on the hype that surrounded him as a prospect as his SwStr rate has moved from 9.0 to 10.1 resulting in a career best 24.2 K percentage. Just as importantly, a slight uptick in command (zone percentage at 45.3, was 43.4 last season) may be part of the reason Bauer is giving up less hard contact. Last year he had a LD rate of 23.4 with a hard minus soft hit rate of 8.5. This season those numbers are respectively down to 18.5 and 3.7. Bauer has twirled five consecutive quality starts and that streak should continue tonight against a Mariners team ranking 23rd in wRC+ against RHP with the third highest K rate. Even if you lean on the better skills of Arrieta and Ross and move Bauer to fourth in your rankings, he’s still the logical target of the tier two options due to price. Fooling around with roster construction, it’s oddly easier to use Harvey on multi-SP sites (with a cheaper value) and Bauer on single-SP sites. I may diversify among the top options that way, even though it’s a bit backwards from how we normally construct rosters.
Jose Quintana (CHW) – Quintana is definitely a bit high risk, high reward pitching at home in a hitter’s park against a dangerous Astros offense. However, the matchup provides K upside (Astros 24.7 K percentage against LHP leads MLB) and he’s actually a very solid pitcher despite flying under the radar. For his career, Quintana has a 3.59 ERA as he’s pretty much slightly above average in all three skill categories: K, BB and GB rates. This year the ERA has been disappointing (4.28), but that’s primarily due to bad luck as a .345 BABIP (.305 career mark) and 68.9 LOB% (72.7 career mark) are not the norm for Quintana, and there is nothing wrong with any underlying indicators, such as hard hit rate. That creates a price point for Quintana ($6,800 on DraftKings) where he’s worth the risk given that he should fall into four or five strikeouts.
Edinson Volquez (KC) – It’s pretty odd that Volquez is outperforming his expected ERAs given that his biggest issue is hard hit contact allowed. That makes me worried we see some serious BABIP (.247) regression moving forward. However, he’s made strides in SwStr rate and maintained the gains in F-Strike rate from last season, which gives him reasonable upside for a tournament. He’s got a favorable umpire tonight and a nice home matchup (favorable pitcher’s park) against a Twins team that is 27th in wRC+ against RHP with the seventh highest K rate.
Taijuan Walker (SEA) – Walker doesn’t rate very well in our model, but he seems to have ironed out some of the issues that plagued him at the beginning of the season. He still gives up hard contact here and there but it’s not as consistent every time out. He’s also only walked one batted over his last two starts (16 innings) and struck out 15. Given his prospect status and recent hot streak, I’ve got no issues using Walker in a tournament. The price doesn’t really lend itself to taking the risk in a cash game, but I’d rather roll with Walker’s upside in a tournament even if he costs more and is lower in our rankings than guys like Jesse Hahn or Jered Weaver.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Jake Arrieta (CHC) faces a strong Tigers offense on the road in a game with a neutral line and high game total (8.5, pushing 9). While his skills are great and show last year’s breakout was legitimate, you can see that there’s not a lot of value to be had in this matchup. Tyson Ross (SD) has a more favorable price and faces a weaker overall offense but a contact oriented Atlanta team and an unfavorable umpire leaves us leaning towards simply saving some money with Trevor Bauer. Brett Anderson (LAD) faces a Diamondbacks team setup well against LHP and doesn’t have big K upside. He does however have an insane GB rate, a really good hard minus soft hit rate and the day’s highest win probability (-195 favorite). He’s a poor man’s Dallas Keuchel, which is much more of a compliment than I ever expected that phrase to be. Jered Weaver (LAA) faces a really bad Rays lineup in a favorable pitcher’s park but his decline in velocity and K rate doesn’t inspire much confidence for me to use him in either cash games or tournaments. Charlie Morton (PIT) is a decent sized favorite (-150) in a low total game. He could have success against a heavily right-handed Brewers team (.297 wOBA allowed to RHBs since 2012), but there’s just not enough K upside to make it worth it in my opinion. Shane Greene (DET) should improve moving forward (good hard minus soft hit rate, and he’s a high risk high reward option as a second SP on DraftKings for an incredibly cheap price tag. The low K rate and reduced velocity are worrisome but the Cubs whiff enough on their own to help him out a little bit. This one could go either way making Greene better for tournaments. Another very cheap tournament option on DraftKings is Astros rookie RHP Vincent Velasquez (HOU) who is making his MLB debut. He won’t pitch deep and is a definite risk but there’s enough K upside (12.65 K/9 at AA prior to call up) for him to reach value in just five innings at a $4,300 price tag.
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
2) Chicago Cubs
We’ve covered the Dodgers and Cubs pretty extensively throughout the Rundown and they are the best teams to mini-stack in cash games or full stack in tournaments. Note that the Dodgers rank first in MLB with a 124 wRC+ against RHP.
1) Chicago White Sox (Great home park is best hitting environment of the night, facing a pitcher who’s highest level of experience is AA, just reached this year.)
2) Baltimore Orioles (Porcello has seen a rise in K rate as he’s throwing more four-seamer and less two-seamers. The flip side of that is increased hard hit rate and a neutral GB rate, which was previously Porcello’s best asset.)
3) Boston Red Sox (I know this offense has been cold but I can’t help thinking this offense is way more talented than their current 25th ranking in wRC+ against LHP.)
4) Houston Astros (Always the Astros. Always.)
5) Cleveland Indians (Highest team total on the day as Vegas isn’t buying Walker’s past two starts. With their plethora of LHBs, the upside here is high and since I’m lower on Cleveland in cash games than most will be, it makes sense to hedge on that stance a bit in tournaments.)
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.
BOS at BLT 7:05: Dry. Temps in the low 80s falling into the mid 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind south-southwest 4-8 mph which blows out to left-center. The wind is a 6.
MIL at PIT 7:05: Dry. Temps near 80 falling into the mid 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind south-southwest 6-12 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.
CHC at DET 7:08: The threat of thunderstorms will increase throughout the game. 10-20% to begin, rising to 60-70% by the end of the game. Certainly will be able to start on time but there is a 60% chance of a delay(s). Even a chance (20%) they would have to stop the game early. Temps near 80 falling into the mid 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind west 7-14 mph becoming northwest 5-10 mph. The wind blows out to left to begin and then out to center. The wind is a 6.
SEA at CLE 7:10: A 10-20% chance of thunderstorms early rising to 30% late. I see a 20-30% chance of a delay but not overly concerned about playing this game. Temps near 80 falling into the mid 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind southwest 7-14 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
SD at ATL 7:10: A <10% chance of a thunderstorm around. Temps near 80 falling into the mod 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind south-southwest 4-8 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6.
SF at NYM 7:10: Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling into the lower 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind southwest 5-10 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.
LAA at TB 7:10: Dome.
HOU at CHW 8:10: A 40% chance of a thunderstorm to begin the game. Thunderstorms will sink south of the city as time goes on. Chance of a delay to begin the game is 40%. They will play this game. Temps in the mid 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind northeast 5-10 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
KC at MIN 8:10: Dry. Temps near 80 falling into the lower 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind north becoming northeast 5-10 mph which blows from left to right to begin and then in from left. The wind is a 5 becoming a 4.
TEX at OAK 10:05: Dry. Temps near 70 falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west-northwest 8-16 mph which blows out to left-center. The wind is a 7.
AZ at LAD 10:10: A 10% chance of a pop up shower or thunderstorm. Temps in the mid 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 7. Wind west-southwest 8-16 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 7.