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June 17 MLB DFS: The Astros are Worth It
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June 17 MLB DFS: The Astros are Worth It

00:39 Starting Pitchers
09:06 Catchers
10:42 First Base
13:18 Second Base
15:15 Shortstop
18:21 Third Base
19:54 Outfield
23:28 Cash Game Roster Construction & Stacks

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June 17 MLB DFS Pro Tip

Starting Pitcher Rankings

Tier One

1) Joe Ross (WAS)

2) Matt Harvey (NYM)

3) Lance McCullers (HOU)

4) Jon Gray (COL)

5) Matt Shoemaker (LAA)

6) Masahiro Tanaka (NYY)

Tier Two

7) Julio Urias (LAD)

8) Robbie Ray (ARZ)

9) Jeff Samardzija (SF)

10) Chris Archer (TB)

11) Jose Quintana (CHW)

12) Michael Fulmer (DET)

This is a fascinating slate for both starting pitching and offense. The slate lacks a consistent ace but has a number of very good starters in strong matchups and a few flamethrowers who can rack up strikeouts but come with some run prevention and innings limit risk. The result is a mixed bag of appealing options that all rank fairly closely. Let’s sort through them briefly.

In the safe, but perhaps unspectacular upside bucket, we have Joe Ross (WAS), Matt Harvey (NYM), and Masahiro Tanaka (NYY). The Padres (30th), Braves (28th), and Twins (23rd) are all bottom third offenses against RHP in wRC+ and the Braves (19th) are the only ones with a below average K Rate (Twins – 10th highest against RHP, Padres 4th highest against RHP). Ross and Tanaka have implied team totals below 3.5 while Harvey has the lowest implied team total against on the slate at 2.9 runs. Ross has the highest upside due to the Padres’ contact woes and their propensity to throw out very RH heavy lineups which Ross has dominated (.228 wOBA, .108 ISO, 24.7 K Rate) in his career. Harvey has flashed increased velocity and as important and ability to generate chases outside the strike zone and thus swinging strikes over his last few starts. The Braves contact and LH heavy lineup lower the ceiling a bit, but win probability, innings, and run prevention earn him our second rank.

After the safer options, we have a large group of high upside strikeout monsters that occasionally come with messy floors because they don’t work as deep into games. Lance McCullers (HOU) epitomizes the risk-reward as his K Rate (28.6%) is matched by an incredibly high 14.9% BB Rate. McCullers is a wilder version of Gray with a slightly lower floor, but the matchup could bring a more significant upside. The Reds rank 27th in wrC+ against RHP and have the seventh highest K Rate against RHP. Throw in the Reds depleted lineups they’ve been throwing out of late and McCullers matchup propels him slightly ahead of Jon Gray (COL). Gray is a personal favorite of ours and he gets outside of Colorado for a huge park shift both in run prevention and K Rate. Outside of Coors Gray owns a 30.6 K Rate this season, compared to 25.2 K Rate at home. The Marlins are a contact heavy offense against RHP (18.7 K Rate) and they have an implied run total over four runs. Gray’s viable in cash but a hefty price tag probably makes him a better tournament target against a stingy Marlins’ offense for strikeouts. Matt Shoemaker (LAA) has been incredible over the last six starts when he’s just started throwing his splitter more than 40 percent of the time (2.28 ERA, 53 K, 3 BB in 43 1/3 IP). The Athletics are stingy with strikeouts (18.7 K Rate against RHP) but rank 25th in wRC+. His floor is a little lower than Tanaka but the upside is higher and he could just as easily slide in over Tanaka as a “safer” option with a bit of upside. The price is down making him a cash viable option.

In our second tier you’ll find Julio Urias (LAD) and Robbie Ray (ARZ) who possess the same elevated K Rates but lower floors as neither pitcher works deep into games. They get soft matchups against the Brewers and Phillies’ respectively which could induce unusual efficiency and provides enough upside at cheap price tags to consider in tournaments. Michael Fulmer (DET) has also been fantastic of late and gets that matchup with the Royals we’ve been picking on of late, but an elevated price tag makes him more of a secondary target.

Catcher Rankings

1) Welington Castillo (ARZ)

2) Evan Gattis (HOU)

3) Victor Martinez (DET) – where eligible

4) Stephen Vogt (OAK)

5) Buster Posey (SF)

The catcher position is really top heavy with two options drawing our primary attention in cash games: Welington Castillo (ARZ) and Evan Gattis (HOU). Castillo will face Adam Morgan who has allowed a .348 wOBA and .195 ISO to RHBs since 2015. It’s a park downgrade for the Diamondbacks but Castillo’s a strong hitter against LHP (.398 wOBA, .281 ISO in his last 171 PA against LHP). Evan Gattis is also a lefty masher (.308 wOBA, .205 ISO since 2015) and has a similarly favorable matchup with John Lamb (.362 wOBA, .187 ISO since start of 2015). The Astros have the highest implied run total on the slate, but Castillo’s skills still slightly trump Gattis in our model. On FanDuel, you could go in either direction but on DraftKings we’ll take the extra $500 in salary relief with Gattis. These two catchers rank inside our Top 40 overall hitters and are the only targets we’re considering for cash games.

First Base Rankings

1) Paul Goldschmidt (ARZ)

2) Chris Davis (BAL)

3) David Ortiz (BOS)

4) Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)

5) Eric Hosmer (KC)

6) Joey Votto (CIN)

7) Miguel Cabrera (DET)

8) Brandon Belt (SF)

9) Mike Napoli (CLE)

10) Albert Pujols (LAA)

Paul Goldschmidt (ARZ) is the top overall hitter in our model. His dominance against LHP (.450 wOBA, .231 ISO over last 220 PA) and a soft matchup with Adam Morgan makes him a primary target in cash games. The first base position is unusually thin in terms of alternatives in strong matchups, so we’d really like to emphasize Goldschmidt if we can. Chris Davis (BAL) is your best industry wide alternative with a matchup against a RHP which always brings out his power upside, but the gap between Aaron Sanchez and Adam Morgan in skill is far wider than the price gap difference between the two. Outside of Davis, the alternatives are just picking apart site specific values like Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) on DraftKings and that largely seems unnecessary on this slate.

Second Base Rankings

1) Jose Altuve (HOU)

2) Jean Segura (ARZ)

3) Neil Walker (NYM)

4) Starlin Castro (NYY))

5) Dustin Pedroia (BOS)

6) Rougned Odor (TEX)

7) Daniel Murphy (WAS)

8) Robinson Cano (SEA)

Similar to the first base position, we have a very clear cut top overall option with Jose Altuve (HOU). On FanDuel, the gap between Altuve and other values is pretty substantial making Altuve our primary target. On DraftKings, the price gap is widened and Altuve’s teammate Danny Worth (HOU) is minimum priced ($2,000) and has been hitting second lately. John Lamb is very vulnerable to RHBs and the Reds’ bullpen behind him is the worst in the league. The rest of the position lacks great alternatives. Jean Segura (ARZ) is a part of the RH heavy Diamondbacks’ offense that we like, but he’s priced appropriately everywhere. As a result, we’re almost entirely focused on the Astros options.

Shortstop Rankings

1) Carlos Correa (HOU)

2) Ketel Marte (SEA)

3) Manny Machado (BAL)

4) Xander Bogaerts (BOS)

5) Francisco Lindor (CLE)

6) Corey Seager (LAD)

7) Brad Miller (SEA)

8) Aledmys Diaz (STL)

9) Jonathan Villar (MIL)

10) Alcides Escobar (KC)

Another position and another Astro up top. Carlos Correa (HOU) owns an impressive .352 wOBA and .214 ISO against LHP as a big leaguer and gets that matchup with John Lamb and the Reds bullpen that has the Astros’ implied team total over 5.5. Shorstop is sort of the opposite of second base on FanDuel and DraftKings. Ketel Marte (SEA) is our second ranked shortstop (assuming he leads off in Fenway against Roenis Elias) and he’s just $2,400 on FanDuel but priced way up on DraftKings ($4,000). While you’re paying up for Altuve on FanDuel, you can easily pay down for Marte and save some salary room for the outfield. On DraftKings, Correa is priced at just $4,200 which is an egregious price tag for a Top Five overall hitter on this slate. While teammate Danny Worth is also SS eligible it makes sense to get the far cheaper tag on Correa over Altuve and using Worth at second base.

Third Base Rankings

1) Alex Rodriguez (NYY)

2) Josh Donaldson (TOR)

3) Nolan Arenado (COL)

4) Maikel Franco (PHI)

5) Manny Machado (BAL) – where eligible

Third base is another position with a pretty clear cut value target. Alex Rodriguez (NYY) will face Pat Dean who has allowed a .362 wOBA, 1.53 HR/9, and a 34.8 hard hit rate to RHBs as a big leaguer. Rodriguez has remained dominant against LHP (.389 wOBA, .274 ISO since start of 2015) late into his career and comes with a pretty reasonable price tag around the industry. Josh Donaldson (TOR) is another top option with a strong matchup against Mike Wright but a very hefty price tag makes him a better target in tournaments. Maikel Franco (PHI) is the other potential value play with a favorable matchup against Robbie Ray (.345 wOBA, .161 ISO since start of 2015 against RHBs). We prefer Rodriguez, but Franco is a viable alternative with a slightly softer price tag. On FanDuel, Danny Worth (HOU) comes with that minimum price tag that we’re comfortable targeting for salary relief.

Outfield Rankings

1) Mike Trout (LAA)

2) George Springer (HOU)

3) Bryce Harper (WAS)

4) Nelson Cruz (SEA)

5) Jose Bautista (TOR) – health risk

6) Mookie Betts (BOS)

7) Rajai Davis (CLE)

8) Carlos Beltran (NYY)

9) Yoenis Cespedes (NYM)

10) Michael Conforto (NYM)

11) Michael Saunders (TOR)

12) Curtis Granderson (NYM)

13) Yoenis Cespedes (NYM)

14) Michael Saunders (TOR)

15) Franklin Gutierrez (SEA)

16) Carlos Gomez (HOU) – If sixth

17) Hyun Soo Kim (BAL)

18) Lorenzo Cain (KC)

19) Christian Yelich (MIA)

20) Adam Eaton (CHW)

The top of our outfield rankings come with the usual suspects in Mike Trout (LAA) and Bryce Harper (WAS) and then some elite platoon plays with George Springer (HOU) and Nelson Cruz (SEA) in elite matchups. The position has a lot of high-end talent with six outfielders in the Top 10 overall hitters and then some depth in the value range with options like Michael Conforto (NYM) and Franklin Gutierrez (SEA) as mid-priced options. Hyun-Soo Kim (BAL) is a viable salary relief alternative on both sites, while Lorenzo Cain (KC) remains underpriced on DraftKings. Ultimately, decisions for cash games on this slate will be decided with your pitching selection and the remaining salary you’ll have left to allocate at an outfield position deep with options at different price points.

Stack Rankings

Tier One

1) Houston Astros

Tier Two

2) Toronto Blue Jays

3) Seattle Mariners

4) Arizona Diamondbacks

5) New York Yankees

6) New York Mets

7) Boston Red Sox

We’ve repeatedly emphasized the Astros RH power in a favorable matchup with John Lamb and the Reds’ bullpen which has left them with the highest team total on the slate. They also have a huge advantage on positional scarcity over other stacks which will make them exceptionally chalky on a large slate. Perhaps as much as typical Coors Field slates. The alternatives for tournaments are in tier two which is a deep and loaded second tier. The Mariners are a particularly compelling option as they face a LHP and Cano/Marte give you naturally lower owned alternatives with the Astros soaking up ownership.

Contrarian Tournament Stacks

-Washington Nationals – Friedrich burned those who attacked him last game in Colorado and with all the good offensive environments on this slate, the Nationals will get overlooked. The Nationals rank third in wRC+ against LHP and most of their hitters are superior against LHP. Low ownership will come with those hefty price tags and if Friedrich turns back into the pumpkin most projection systems expect, there is some intriguing upside with very low ownership.

MLB Daily Analysis

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