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6/13 MLB DFS: Hunting Treasure with Gerrit Cole

6/13 MLB DFS: Hunting Treasure with Gerrit Cole
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MLB DFS Daily Fantasy Rundown June 13th, 2015

Welcome to Saturday’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: Big concern today is in PIT. With Gerritt Cole pitching, there is the chance of delay(s). Lesser concerns in DET, BLT and CHC as well as STL.

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.

Content Schedule Note: All of Saturday’s content is geared towards the afternoon slate. We’ll have an evening guide dedicated to the evening slate covered in our lineup alerts.


Top Play:

Jonathan Lucroy (MIL) – Without Carlos Gomez in the starting lineup, Lucroy has been leading off for the Brewers (great for his DFS value). We’re not sure when Gomez will be back in the starting lineup but either way, Lucroy commands a good lineup spot and he has solid skills against RHP (.349 wOBA, .159 ISO against RHP since 2012). Opposing pitcher Joe Ross is making his second start at the major league level and doesn’t project particularly well (5.56 Ks per nine and a projected ZiPS ERA above 4.50). Catcher isn’t particularly appealing on Saturday. Lucroy is the only catcher ranked inside the top 50 in our model and he comes with a friendly price point around the industry. He’s your best option.

Additional catcher notes: Salvador Perez (KC) is facing southpaw Tyler Lyons (.346 wOBA and 1.17 HR/9 allowed to the 336 RHBs he has faced at the major league level) and he has nice skills against LHP (.347 wOBA, .191 ISO against LHP in the last few seasons). The difficulty with Perez is his lineup spot, but last night he hit fifth. If he stays in that fifth slot, he’s a fine alternative to Lucroy. If the lineup spot shifts back down, he’s a less realistic alternative in cash games. As usual, we’ll also be on the lookout for potential punt options. Carlos Corporan (TEX) and Wilson Ramos (WSH) are decent tournament selections. They should be utilized as part of a Rangers or Nationals stacks (I wouldn’t use them outside of a stack).

First Base

Top Play:

Prince Fielder (TEX) – (Our emphasis is on high-end starting pitchers today but if you can afford Fielder on a site that has priced him down, he’s a great cash game selection; projection systems hate Mike Pelfrey and his lack of strikeout abilities should hurt him in an environment like Globe Life Park in Arlington)

Value Play:

Kennys Vargas (MIN) – Vargas usually hits fifth for the Twins when a RHP is on the mound and this matchup in particular is one we’d like to attack today. Opposing pitcher Colby Lewis has surrendered a .357 wOBA and 1.24 HR/9 to LHBs since the beginning of 2012 and he allows too much aerial contact (45 percent FB rate). That trend continues this season, as Lewis has allowed a .358 wOBA, 1.02 HR/9 and 48 percent FB rate to LHBs. Vargas is a switch hitter but he’s a much better hitter from the left side (.329 wOBA, .201 ISO against RHP, .300 wOBA, .083 ISO against LHP). The Twins offense is facing a huge upgrade in hitting environment (Globe Life Park in Arlington inflates LH power by approximately 10 percent above the league average) but most of their hitters are better against LHP (Vargas is the exception). Vargas gives you exposure to an offense that has an implied total approaching 4.5 runs and he’s cheap around the industry. He’s my favorite value target for cash games.

Additional first base notes: The rest of the first base selections are site specific. For example, Adam Lind (MIL) is a cash game target on FanDuel ($2,700). He will have the platoon edge against Joe Ross (making his second start at the major league level and doesn’t project to be very good) and the Brewers have a team total that’s approaching 4.5 runs. Justin Bour (MIA) and Shane Peterson (MIL) are decent values on DraftKings. They’re not very good hitters but they will have the platoon edge in their respective matchups against below average pitchers and they’re top six hitters. Evan Gattis and Chris Carter (HOU) have a good matchup against Mike Montgomery (5.19 ZiPS projected ERA and he doesn’t miss bats) but their boom or bust nature (ISOs over .200 but strike out over 25 percent of the time) makes them better targets for tournaments. Miguel Cabrera (DET) is arguably the best hitter in baseball but his matchup against Carlos Carrasco is a bit difficult. He’s a good tournament target on DraftKings (price is a bit low and that site rewards power more than other sites) but keep in mind that we’re not attacking that matchup much today (hitters around him are better against LHP). Pedro Alvarez (PIT) doesn’t benefit from a good lineup spot or favorable hitting environment but he has a great matchup (opposing pitcher Sean O’Sullivan struggles a ton against LHBs) and his power (.243 ISO against RHP since 2012) plays well in DFS.

Second Base

Top Plays:

Jose Altuve (HOU) – It’s going to be difficult to pay up for a second baseman on DraftKings since we’re prioritizing Chris Archer and Gerrit Cole in cash games but Altuve is very affordable on FanDuel ($3,400). He ranks inside our top 10 hitters and his matchup against Mike Montgomery (doesn’t miss bats and projects to have an ERA above 5.00 at the major league level) is worth attacking in cash games (Altuve has accumulated a .381 wOBA against LHP since 2012 and he has 55 SB upside over a full season). I’m more than likely deploying Altuve in cash games on FanDuel but if you’re shopping for a second baseman on DraftKings, he’s the obvious top selection at a scarce position.

Dee Gordon (MIA) – Like Altuve, Gordon makes more sense for cash games on FanDuel ($3,200). Gordon isn’t a very good hitter (98 wRC+ against RHP in the last few seasons) but his speed upside (60 SB upside over a full season) makes him an awesome DFS play in good matchups. Nick Hundley is the every day catcher for the Rockies and he played last night, which means backup Michael McKenry will likely start today. If that’s the case, Gordon becomes an even better option today. McKenry hasn’t figured out how to throw out runners (-11 rSB over his career) and Gordon’s value is attached to his speed. Gordon cracks our top 20 hitters and he’s the best alternative to Jose Altuve this afternoon.

Additional second base notes: Altuve and Gordon have depressed price points on FanDuel but they’re difficult to fit on DraftKings if you’re investing in tier one starting pitchers. Jace Peterson (ATL) doesn’t have the upside that Altuve and Gordon carry and his matchup is bad (Jacob deGrom) but his salary relief can be useful on a site like DraftKings where the pricing structure is tighter. I’m keeping my eye out on additional punt possibilities but those won’t become available until lineups are out. Neil Walker (PIT) (Great matchup against a RHP that hasn’t figured out how to get LHBs out) and Robinson Cano (SEA) (too cheap on FanDuel and despite having a bad offensive season, he has hit the ball hard) are value alternatives to the recommended options above.


Top Play:

Troy Tulowitzki (COL) – We’re not targeting Tulowtizki in cash games today but he’s an intriguing option in tournaments; he will likely come with low ownership since he’s playing away from Coors Field but Mat Latos has been awful this season (has allowed a 37 percent Hard Hit rate). Despite having a big price tag and not hitting in a favorable hitting environment, Tulowitzki deserves tournament consideration.

Value Play:

Jung Ho Kang (PIT) – Kang has shown extreme splits in his first major league season (.436 wOBA vs. LHP and .312 wOBA vs. RHP) and Sean O’Sullivan is much better against RHBs (has allowed a .452 wOBA to LHBs and .290 to RHBs) but the Pirates have a team total approaching 4.5 runs and Kang has been hitting fifth lately, These represent good contextual factors for Kang and he’s the one shortstop value that pops up as a decent option in our model.

Additional shortstop notes: We will monitor any punt possibilities at the shortstop position in our lineup alerts. This is a position to punt and save some salary in order to fit in our top tier starting pitchers. Other value alternatives at the position are Alcides Escobar (KC) (will leadoff and has the platoon edge against a southpaw that struggles against RHBs), Eduardo Escobar (MIN) (we’re hoping that he draws a top six spot in the Twins lineup today; he will have the platoon advantage against the subpar Colby Lewis at Globe Life Park in Arlington) and Elvis Andrus (TEX) (not a good hitter but we’re hoping he has a top six spot; if he does, he’s a cost-effective way of getting exposure to a Rangers team total of five runs). If Carlos Correa (HOU) is hitting fifth today, he deserves cash game consideration on FanDuel.

Third Base

Top Play:

Josh Harrison (PIT) – Harrison isn’t a great hitter against RHP (.323 wOBA, .146 ISO) but he benefits from a premier lineup spot (usually top five) and the Pirates have a team total that’s approaching 4.5 runs today. Third base isn’t very deep today and Harrison cracks our top 30 hitters, making him a nice cash game option.

Value Play:

Joey Gallo (TEX) – Let’s get this out of the way now; Gallo is probably the most extreme boom or bust option I’ve seen at any level. He had a 26 percent K rate at single A, 40 percent K rate at double A and he projects to strike out 42 percent of the time at the major league level. At the same time, Gallo had an isolated power higher than .300 at the minor league level and he projects to have a .240 ISO this season (first season at the major league level). The Rangers offense is one we’d like to target in cash games today (Mike Pelfrey doesn’t miss bats, has a projected ERA over 5.00 and the Rangers have a team total of five runs) and Gallo usually hits fifth or sixth. His boom or bust nature will likely make him an inconsistent DFS option but a matchup against a pitcher that doesn’t miss bats at Globe Life Park in Arlington makes it less likely that he busts today.

Additional third base notes: Trevor Plouffe (MIN) is a better hitter against LHP but he does have decent pop against RHP (.161 ISO) and Globe Life Park in Arlington (awesome hitting environment) is an upgrade over his home park (Target Field is a pitcher’s park). He gives you exposure to a Twins offense that has a team total of 4.6 implied runs in a premier lineup spot (cleanup). Nolan Arenado (COL) is hitting away from Coors Field but has a great matchup against Mat Latos (getting hit hard this season and his fastball velocity isn’t what it once was). Arenado has made great strides against RHP this season (.373 wOBA, .318 ISO) and his ownership will likely be low in tournaments due to the unfavorable hitting environment (Marlins Park). He’s a good target for tournaments today. Matt Carpenter (STL) is a fine selection for tournaments. Jeremy Guthrie struggles against LHBs and Carpenter has been a good hitter against RHP. Carpenter’s price tag is a bit restrictive for cash games but I’d give him a shot in a tournament.


Top Plays:

Four of our top five hitters this afternoon are outfielders. They rank as follows: Bryce Harper (WSH), Giancarlo Stanton (MIA), Andrew McCutchen (PIT) and George Springer (HOU). I’m more likely to invest in Harper since he’s in a superior hitting environment and is facing a pitcher that struggles with the long ball. Stanton and McCutchen are playing in tough environments but they’re elite hitters and are facing pitchers that don’t miss bats. Springer is the lesser skilled of these outfielders but he’s a high event player that’s facing a pitcher who doesn’t miss bats and has a projected ERA over 5.00. Springer is very affordable on FanDuel and he’s one of the better overall plays on that site. I’d let pricing dictate my decisions if spending on one of these outfielder, or let stacks/mini-stacks lead my decisions in tournaments.

Value Plays:

Shin-Soo Choo (TEX) – Choo ranks inside our top 10 hitters today and his matchup against Mike Pelfrey is a good one. While Pelfrey has pitched pretty well this season, he doesn’t miss many bats (12 percent K rate) and this environment (Globe Life Park in Arlington) isn’t ideal for a contact pitcher. Choo has been a great hitter against RHP (.391 wOBA, .191 ISO against RHP since 2012) and he’s part of an offense we love today (Rangers have a team total of five runs). He’s a great value around the industry, particularly FanDuel (priced as an average hitter on that site).

Gregory Polanco (PIT) – While Polanco hasn’t crushed RHP at the major league level (.321 wOBA, .124 ISO), he has speed (35 SB upside over a full season) and he gets a premier lineup spot (leadoff). Opposing pitcher Sean O’Sullivan has been atrocious against LHBs (.452 wOBA, 2.35 HR/9 allowed to 158 LHBs at the major league level) so we’re pretty confident that the Pirates LHBs will have some level of success today (4.4 implied run total).

Mitch Moreland (TEX) – It’s hard to find good price points for these Rangers LHBs today but Moreland is the second best way to get exposure to this offense on FanDuel (Choo is the best way). He has a favorable price tag on that site ($3,000) and we love the contextual factors for this offense today. While Mike Pelfrey is used to pitching in a favorable pitching environment, his lack of strikeout ability should hurt him at Globe Life Park in Arlington (great hitter’s park). Moreland has accumulated a .337 wOBA against RHP in the last few seasons but his best skill as a hitter has been his power (.196 ISO against RHP since 2012). Moreland hits cleanup against RHP, which only adds to his DFS value today. He fits the type of hitter we’re looking for (solid hitter in an offense with a great run total that’s affordable and allows you to fit in Gerrit Cole and/or Chris Archer).

Additional outfielder notes: Denard Span (WSH) doesn’t rank particularly great in our model (top 60 hitter) but I’ve upgraded him a bit. He’s facing Jimmy Nelson (struggles against LHBs) at Miller Park (great hitting environment). He makes sense in cash games today but keep in mind that I view the written values above as better overall plays. Some cost-effective, DraftKings specific value plays are: Eddie Rosario (MIN) (has the platoon edge against Colby Lewis in a great hitting environment so we’re hoping that he gets a top six lineup spot), Eduardo Escobar (MIN) (he has outfield eligibility on that site and he has the same contextual factors as teammate Eddie Rosario) and Clint Robinson (WSH) (has been hitting sixth for the Nationals and he will have the platoon advantage against Jimmy Nelson at Miller Park). Nelson Cruz and Mark Trumbo (SEA) are good tournament selections. Opposing pitcher Collin McHugh has shown reverse splits and he struggles with the long ball. I would target Cruz and Trumbo on FanDuel (price points are depressed on that site). Ryan Braun (MIL) has had a good comeback season, especially against RHP (.383 wOBA, .275 ISO). He has a nice matchup against a pitcher that’s making his second start at the major league level and doesn’t project to be very good. I’m targeting Braun in tournaments today. Other tournament selections I like today are Jason Heyward (STL) (Jeremy Guthrie struggles against LHBs) and Leonys Martin (TEX) (nice speed upside and he’s part of an offense we love today).

Starting Pitcher

Rankings (price not considered):

Tier 1

1) Gerrit Cole (PIT)

2) Chris Archer (TB)

Tier 2

3) Jacob deGrom (NYM)

Tier 3

4) Collin McHugh (HOU)

5) Shelby Miller (ATL)

6) Jeff Samardzija (CSW)

Tier 4

7) Carlos Carrasco (CLE)

8) Jimmy Nelson (MIL)

Top Plays:

Gerrit Cole (PIT) – We’re emphasizing the top tier of starting pitchers in cash games today and atop that list is Gerrit Cole. Cole is our top play for multiple reasons. First, Vegas has pegged him and the Pirates as huge favorites this afternoon (-260). Secondly, Cole’s skill set is incredible (27 percent K rate, six percent BB rate and 54 percent GB rate) and his strikeout skills are fueled by a 31 percent chase rate (league average), 64 percent F-Strike rate and 10 percent SwStr rate. To conclude, his matchup is one we love to attack (Phillies are ranked dead last in wRC+ and are striking out 20 percent of the tine against RHP and are facing a downgrade in hitting environment). All signs point towards success for Cole today and he’s clearly the best option on single starting pitcher sites.

Chris Archer (TB) – Archer is the highest priced pitcher on DraftKings but that won’t stop me from utilizing him. Earlier this season we noticed that Archer had turned some sort of corner as a starting pitcher. This is even more evident to us now, as Archer has ironed out any control issues he once had when he was younger (six percent BB rate supported by a 63 percent F-Strike rate). The fact that he’s getting ahead of batters at an above league average rate is crucial, since Archer has been able to deploy his slider more (has thrown his slider 39 percent of the time this season, highest of his career) and his K rate has seen a sizable boost (33 percent K rate this season, highest of his career). Not only has Archer been remarkable from a strikeouts perspective but his run prevention has also been magnificent. Archer’s ERA sits at 1.84 while his 2.08 FIP/2.19 xFIP are in agreement and he leads MLB in SIERA. His matchup today is favorable (White Sox are ranked 23rd in wRC+ and are striking out at a league average rate against RHP) and the White Sox offense is facing a significant downgrade in hitting environment (from the friendly confines of U.S. Cellular Field to the pitcher’s friendly Tropicana Field). A matchup against the Phillies keeps Cole as our number one ranked starter but Archer is option 1B this afternoon and he’s in play across all formats.

Value Play:

Collin McHugh (HOU) – The third tier of starting pitchers is interesting. When you evaluate McHugh and Samardzija, their run prevention and K rate “should” be better but that hasn’t been the case this season. McHugh has a league average K rate (19 percent), a very low BB rate (4.4 percent) and a solid GB rate (46 percent). More importantly, his underlying peripherals are healthy (32 percent chase rate, 63 percent F-Strike rate and 11 percent SwStr rate). He draws a favorable matchup against a Mariners offense that ranks towards the bottom six in wRC+ and are striking out the third most against RHP (23 percent K rate). If you can’t quite afford two high-end starting pitchers on multiple starting pitcher sites, McHugh is consistently priced as the cheaper tier three SP and has the best matchup for K potential.

Additional starting pitcher notes: Jacob deGrom (NYM) is in a weird spot today. While the Braves are a neutral matchup (ranked 13th in wRC+ against RHP), this offense refuses to strike out (third best K rate against RHP). deGrom has awesome strikeout skills but he’s priced adequately in a matchup that could hurt his K potential. Despite how good he has been this season, this particular matchup makes him a better selection for tournaments. If you’re looking for another value alternative to Gerrit Cole or Chris Archer in cash games, Shelby Miller (ATL) and Jeff Samardzija (CWS) are fine options to target. While their K rates aren’t particularly strong, their underlying peripherals indicate that a boost in Ks is possible. Both are fairly priced around the industry but they’re better options on multiple starting pitcher sites (their respective offenses will have to deal with Chris Archer and Jacob deGrom, which should hurt their ability to record a win). Jimmy Nelson (MIL) is my favorite tournament selection today. While his run prevention isn’t all that good (4.05 ERA/4.05 FIP), he’s striking out around a batter per inning and his underlying peripherals are awesome (35 percent chase rate, 65 percent F-Strike rate and 12 percent SwStr rate). The matchup is average (Nationals are ranked 15th in wRC+) and his ownership in tournaments should be low. If you want a riskier option for tournaments, Mike Montgomery (SEA) is only $4,300 on DraftKings and has a matchup against the K prone Astros. I would only utilize him in multi-entry tournaments.

Macro Thinking, Stacks, and Tournament Notes:

This is a new section we’ve created to try and offer more dedicated macro thinking to our analysis and hopefully add more value to those playing tournaments. The format is a bit of a work in progress and we welcome feedback ( if you have suggestions.

Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:

1) Texas Rangers

2) Minnesota Twins

3) Pittsburgh Pirates

The Rangers, Twins and Pirates were the main focus of our analysis today. These offenses have high team totals and the Rangers and Twins are playing in an elite hitting environment. These are the offenses we’re targeting as part of mini stacks in cash games and they also make sense as tournament stacks.

Contrarian/Secondary Stacks:

1) Houston Astros

2) Washington Nationals

3) St. Louis Cardinals

4) Miami Marlins

5) Colorado Rockies

The Astros have been around league average against LHP but they’re facing a sub par pitcher that doesn’t miss bats (good for this offense since their major weakness is striking out). I’d target Jose Altuve, George Springer, Evan Gattis, Chris Carter and Carlos Correa in tournaments. Their ability to hit for power elevates their DFS upside so they’re locked in as our top contrarian offense.

Like the Astros, the Nationals have been sort of a league average offense but Jimmy Nelson has struggled mightily against LHBs. I’m not sure stacking the Nationals as a whole is the way to go in tournaments but Bryce Harper and Denard Span make a lot of sense as a mini-stack (Wilson Ramos, Ian Desmond and Clint Robinson are in consideration for tournaments as well).

The Cardinals have some injuries to key hitters (Matt Adams and Matt Holliday) but their matchup against Jeremy Guthrie is very good (particularly for their LHBs). They have a team total that’s on the rise (approaching 4.5 runs) so I would target Kolten Wong, Matt Carpenter and Jason Heyward in tournaments.

The Marlins and Rockies are the sneakiest offenses to target today. They’re hitting in an awful environment (Marlins Park) but both of these offenses will face below average pitchers. Mat Latos has been awful this season and he has allowed a 37 percent Hard Hit rate. The Rockies team total is 3.6 runs so I’m confident that we will see low ownership 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.

TOR at BOS 1:35: Dry. Temps near 80. Air density is a 7. Wind east becoming southwest at 6-12 mph which blows in from right and then out to center. The wind is a 4 becoming a 6.

MIN at TEX 4:05: A scattered thunderstorm around. <10% chance of a cancellation, 10-20% chance of a delay. Temps in the mid to upper 80s. Air density is an 8 or a 9. Wind south-southeast 10-20 mph which blows in from right-center. The wind is a 3.

PHL at PIT 4:05: Numerous showers with a few rumbles of thunder. Because this is not a steady rain, I see little threat for a cancellation (<10%). However, delay(s) are possible. Because of Cole pitching in this game, I know delay(s) are a big deal. As of 9 AM this morning, I just am not too worried about a) lengthy delays or b) multiple delays. I would put the chance of a delay at 30-40%, a chance of a delay lasting more than 90 minutes at 20% and multiple delays at 20% as well. The chance of rain is greatest at the beginning of the game by a little bit. Temps near 80 falling in the mid 70s. Air density is a 7 or an 8. Wind west-southwest 4-8 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6.

CLE at DET 4:08: A few thunderstorms around, some with very heavy rainfall. Chance of a cancellation is 10%, chance of a delay is 30-40%, chance of multiple delays is 20-30%. Temps in the low 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind east-southeast 4-8 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 4.

WSH at MIL 4:10: Retractable roof. Showers and thunderstorms around. The roof will likely be closed.

SEA at HOU 4:10: Retractable roof. Showers and thunderstorms around. The roof will likely be closed.

ATL at NYM 4:10: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 80s. Air density is an 8. Wind north-northeast 4-8 mph which blows in from right-center. The wind is a 4.

KC at STL 4:10: Showers and thunderstorms. However, the coverage does not look to be too widespread. <10% chance of a cancellation, 20-30% chance of a delay at anytime with a 10-20% chance of multiple delays. Temps in the mid 70s. Air density is an 8 (very humid). Wind south 8-16 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 7.

COL at MIA 4:10: The retractable roof will likely be closed.

CHW at TB 4:10: Dome.

NYY at BLT 7:15: A scattering of showers and thunderstorms around. Does not seem like a big deal to me. <10% chance of a cancellation, 20-30% chance of a delay. Temps in the low 80s falling into the mid 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.

CIN at CHC 7:15: A scattering of showers and thunderstorms. Maybe a little bit more concentrated than in STL and BLT but not as worrisome as PIT. Chance of a cancellation 10 to maybe 20%, chance of a delay 30% with a 10-20% chance of multiple delays. Temps in the mid 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind south becoming east at 7-14 mph which blows out to left-center and then in from right. The wind is a 6 becoming a 4.

AZ at SF 7:15: Dry. Temps near 70 falling into the low 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west-northwest 10-20 mph lessening to 7-14 mph which blows out to right-center. The wind is an 8 becoming a 7.

OAK at LAA 10:05: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west 8-16 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 7.

LAA at SD 10:10: Dry. Temps near 70 falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west-southwest 7-14 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.

MLB Daily Analysis