Daily Fantasy Rundown – June 1st 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: Boston and Washington are problem spots tonight. UPDATE: BOS-MIN has already been postponed. This news broke as we were editing. We’ve left the analysis to help explain our thought process to attacking that game in preparation for tomorrow.
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 probably won’t catch tonight, but if he does make the starting lineup; he represents your top option at the position. Throughout today’s content you’ll see an emphasis on the Dodgers. It’s not unusual to emphasize an offense in Coors Field but Monday’s slate really exaggerates it. The Dodgers have an implied run total close to 5.5 which is a full run higher than every other offense. They’re the top ranked offense in the league in wRC+ against RHP (124) and the gap between the Dodgers and second place Giants is equivalent to the gap between the Giants and the 13th place Rays. They’re also facing one of the weakest starters on the slate in Kyle Kendrick. Despite spending most of his career outside of Coors Field, Kendrick has posted a career 4.50 ERA with a 12.6 percent K Rate. Grandal is an above average hitter against RHP (.354 wOBA, .180 ISO) and he’s getting a huge park shift in his favor. He ranks within our Top 10 hitters overall in our model, which makes him a relatively nice bargain as well. Unfortunately, Grandal doesn’t often catch Clayton Kershaw. Typically that falls on A.J. Ellis, who is not the hitter Grandal is (.302 wOBA, .111 ISO) against RHP. If Grandal is in, he’s a terrific play.
Miguel Montero (CHC) – Montero gets a favorable lineup spot (typically fourth or fifth) in a decent offense against a RHP making his second big league start. Jose Urena (MIA) was knocked around in his first outing against the Pirates and there isn’t a ton in his profile that scares you away from hitters. He hasn’t missed bats at the minor league level (15-18 percent K Rate) and ZiPS projection system calls for a 4.64 ERA rest of the season as a starter. Montero is probably overrated as a hitter against RHP (.339 wOBA, .139 ISO) since most of his career has been in favorable hitting environments, but he gets a great lineup spot and is an above average hitter against RHP. With a reasonable price tag around the industry, he’s a fine investment.
A.J. Pierzynski (ATL) – Pierzynski’s playing time hasn’t been as consistent of late with Christian Bethancourt back. If he’s in the lineup, he’s a nice punt option on a slate with most of the above average hitting catchers in tough matchups. Pierzynski has posted a .330 wOBA and .179 ISO against RHP since 2012 and he’s facing Archie Bradley who has struggled at the big league level (5.28 ERA, 4.81 xFIP). Interestingly enough Bradley’s been better against LHBs (.259 wOBA, 59.1 GB Rate, 23.4 K Rate, and 18.2 BB Rate) than RHBs (.401 wOBA, 56.3 GB Rate, 6.8 K Rate, and 8.5 BB Rate). Still, Pierzynski gets a great park to hit in against a pitcher with below average command and he comes with a minimum price tag on most sites.
Additional catcher notes: If A.J. Ellis (LAD) starts for the Dodgers, he’s a fine punt play and actually ranks higher than Montero and Pierzynski in our model. The challenge with Ellis is the opportunity cost. He’s hitting eighth and not a very good hitter so when you’re limited to a specific number of Dodgers in your lineup, do you want to waste a slot on him? I say no. Yadier Molina (STL) is a similar option to A.J. Pierzynski where priced as a minimum option (FanDuel). Jordan Pacheco (ARZ) could get the start at catcher and is almost the true minimum ($2,300) on DraftKings which makes him an acceptable play. In general, we want to prioritize price at the catcher position and then optimize skill if Grandal isn’t an option.
Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) – Gonzalez gets the big boost in value as he heads to Coors Field to take on Kyle Kendrick. Gonzalez has posted a .367 wOBA and .199 ISO against RHP since 2012. He’s been even better this season (.432 wOBA, .275 ISO) as part of the best Dodgers offense we’ve seen in a few years. Kyle Kendrick isn’t a very good starter (.328 wOBA, 1.04 HR/9 allowed to LHBs since 2012) and he’s also getting a park downgrade as he’s spent much of his career outside Coors Field. Gonzalez is flanked by a couple other top options at first base in our model, but he’s the one I’m most excited to spend on in cash games. He’s a Top Five overall hitter in our model.
Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) – Goldschmidt ranks right next to Gonzalez in our model and once again within our Top Five hitters overall. His history against LHP is immense (.441 wOBA, .286 ISO since 2012) and he’s back at home in an elite hitting environment. Alex Wood has been solid against RHBs in his career (.304 wOBA, 0.73 HR/9) but he’s been more vulnerable this season (.350 wOBA). On most sites Goldschmidt is priced more aggressively than Gonzalez, which makes the choice a bit easier for cash games. On sites they’re priced similarly, I think Goldschmidt is a reasonable alternative to Gonzalez in cash games. Basically you want to use non-Dodgers at positions with the last fall-off in projection from the Dodger options and Goldschmidt makes first base one of the viable options.
David Ortiz (BOS) – Ortiz ranks right alongside Goldschmidt and Gonzalez in our projection model, but admittedly there are some reasons to push him below. The weather is a concern in the northeast and Ortiz has more risk in his projection baselines due to his age. On sites with wide pricing gaps, if the weather concerns dry up, I think he’s a viable alternative. On sites with rather small gaps, I’d rather invest in the “security” of Gonzalez and Goldschmidt in elite hitting environments. Ortiz will face Mike Pelfrey who has allowed a .317 wOBA to LHBs since 2012. We’ve reference this often of late, but Ortiz has been incredible against RHP in his career (.408 wOBA, .277 ISO since 2012) and even in this “down year” he’s hit .278/.397/.500 (.377 wOBA, .222 ISO) against RHP. He’s a very good play and he’s generally underpriced around the industry.
Additional first base notes: Freddie Freeman (ATL) has also seen his price come down as the Braves have been on an extended road trip through some tough hitting environments. They get a boost going into Arizona and Archie Bradley‘s struggles push Freeman into our Top 15 hitters overall. He’s also underpriced for his skill set, but the opportunity cost is pretty significant given how well Gonzalez, Goldschmidt, and Ortiz rank in our model. Anthony Rizzo (CHC) has a plus matchup against Jose Urena (MIA) but I’d only invest in him as a part of Cubs stacks in a contrarian tournament lineup.
Justin Turner/Howie Kendrick (LAD) – Second base is really weak on Monday and the Dodgers have two potential options (depending on site eligibility) that both hit in the middle of their order. Justin Turner (.378 wOBA, .151 ISO against RHP since 2012) is my preferred option as he’s generally a bit cheaper and has hit better against RHP in recent years. Kendrick is a fine option as well (.318 wOBA, .109 ISO) given his premier lineup spot but some of the price tags ($5,000 on DraftKings) will force price sensitivity. Both options rank inside our Top 25 overall hitters which is well ahead of our next highest ranked options.
Additional second base notes: Jose Altuve (HOU) ranks just behind Kendrick and Turner in our model but comes with a consistently elevated price point. Dustin Pedroia (BOS) has a nice matchup with Mike Pelfrey (.369 wOBA allowed to RHBs since 2012) but the price point is inflated after a two home run game earlier last week. He’s the next highest rated 2B in our model, ranking within the Top 60 overall hitters. Kolten Wong (STL) ranks slightly behind Pedroia but is also priced aggressively. If looking for salary relief at the position, Jace Peterson (ATL) is a good fit. Archie Bradley has struggled with walks and the Diamondbacks catcher options (Saltalamacchia and Pacheco) are both below average at controlling the running game.
Additional shortstop notes: As has been the case of late, shortstop is a bit of a mess. Jimmy Rollins (LAD) and Troy Tulowitzki (COL) both rank inside our Top 30 hitters overall, but aren’t particularly great investments. Rollins has been shifted down to the eighth spot in the lineup the last few times out. I imagine he’d hit seventh if Ellis draws the start. I’d only consider him if he hits second and the price is down. Tulowitzki is a great hitter against LHP, especially in Coors Field, but I’m not inclined to pay full price against Kershaw. In general, I’d rather just punt the position. So, like catcher, we’ll emphasize price first and then optimize off of skill. On DraftKings, Ruben Tejada (NYM) comes with a near minimum price point and has been hitting second of late. On FanDuel, you can get exposure to J.J. Hardy‘s (BAL) power against LHP for the minimum. Erick Aybar (LAA) is another option I’ll consider leading off against Alex Colome (.324 wOBA allowed) where priced down.
Kris Bryant (CHC) – Bryant is our highest rated third basemen in our model. He draws a favorable matchup against Jose Urena but gets a park downgrade and is priced aggressively compared to alternatives that rank closely to him in our model. He’s a great tournament play, but we see better ways to spend your cap in cash games.
Pablo Sandoval (BOS) – Sandoval ranks just behind Bryant in our model and is priced much differently. He has posted a .352 wOBA and .164 ISO against RHP since 2012 and most of that production came in a very difficult hitting environment in San Francisco. He now gets to hit in Fenway Park against a below average RHP in Mike Pelfrey. He generally hits fifth in a deep Red Sox lineup that has an implied run total over four.
Manny Machado (BAL) – Machado is priced a bit more aggressively, but I believe has more upside than Sandoval thanks to a matchup with fly ball prone starter Brett Oberholtzer. Oberholtzer has allowed a 45.6 percent FB Rate to RHBs in his career and Houston’s home park has the short left field box for Machado to target. Machado’s growth as a hitter this season has been a bit overlooked. He’s improved his BB Rate (9.1 percent, career 5.2 percent) thanks to a career low chase rate (23.2 percent) and improved contact rates (83.2 percent vs. career 80.4 percent). As he’s been more selective, he’s also improved his power (.200 ISO). Machado’s improving as a player and most of those improvements aren’t yet built into his price tag. With a favorable matchup on Monday, he’s worthy of consideration at third base.
Additional third base notes: On sites where Justin Turner (LAD) has third base eligibility, he ranks as our top option at the position. Alex Guerrero (LAD) ranks as a value play in the same range as Sandoval and Machado. On sites, he’s priced below them (like DraftKings), I think he’s a great play. On sites where you’re more limited to the number of Dodgers you can use, I’d rather focus on Dodgers in the top half of the lineup. Nolan Arenado (COL) is a nice tournament play given his success against LHP and Coors Field, but I’m not excited to pick on Kershaw in cash games. Yasmany Tomas (ARZ) is another viable option in cash games that ranks a bit behind Machado and Sandoval in our model. We like the Diamondbacks as a secondary offense to target.
Joc Pederson (LAD) – Pederson is the top overall hitter in our model. He has the platoon advantage against a below average RHP in the best hitting environment in all of baseball. Most importantly, he hits leadoff on the road in Coors Field, which gives him a plate appearance expectation close to six. Pederson has been remarkably effective against RHP in his rookie year (.409 wOBA, .328 ISO) and projects for more plate appearances than all of the other hitters in our model. He’s the player I’m targeting most heavily as a part of a Dodgers lineup we’re attacking in cash games.
Next in line: Bryce Harper (WAS), Mike Trout (LAA) – arguably the two best players in the game. Harper has the platoon advantage against a homer prone RHP but comes with weather risk. Both are a bit too expensive for cash games, but fine tournament plays.
Andre Ethier (LAD) – Ethier is incredibly cheap for his skill set against RHP (.369 wOBA, .181 ISO against RHP since 2012) and gets all the contextual factors we’ve covered with the other Dodgers. He’s one of the cheapest entry points to the Dodgers offense and ranks within our Top 10 overall hitters.
Steve Pearce (BAL) – Pearce hasn’t been receiving premium lineup spots for the majority of the season, but we think he’ll hit within the first five on Monday. Pearce has hit LHP extremely well the last few seasons (.379 wOBA, .246 ISO since 2012) and he’ll face a LHP who gives up a lot of fly balls (45.2 percent to RHBs) in a park that inflates RH power 4-5 percent above the league average. The lineup spot will ultimately determine Pearce’s value, but he ranks inside our Top 20 overall hitters and is consistently priced below the average cost of a roster spot.
A.J. Pollock/Mark Trumbo (ARZ) – On DraftKings, both Pollock and Trumbo are underpriced. They both hit LHP well (Pollock – .372 wOBA, .225 ISO and Trumbo – .372 wOBA, .283 ISO since 2012) and garner premier lineup spots in a great hitting environment. We prefer Pollock over Trumbo where priced similarly because of the plate appearance expectation and speed value against a pitcher that is difficult to homer against. Pollock ranks inside our Top 20 hitters and Trumbo inside our Top 30.
Hanley Ramirez (BOS) – On FanDuel, Ramirez is simply mis-priced. He has a great matchup against Mike Pelfrey who has been tormented by RHBs in recent years (.369 wOBA allowed since 2012). Ramirez has posted a .352 wOBA and .182 ISO against RHP since 2012. He hits in the middle of the lineup in a park that is great for RH power. He ranks within our Top 20 hitters and isn’t valued that way on FanDuel.
Additional outfield notes: Kole Calhoun (LAA) is a fine secondary value play in a matchup with Alex Colome. Colome has been a bit vulnerable to LHBs (.324 wOBA and 26.3 percent LD Rate allowed) and Calhoun’s price point is investable around the industry. He falls well below the Dodgers outfielders but is viable as secondary value. Nick Markakis (ATL) is a viable salary relief option. He has a very limited upside but is willing to take a walk and hits clean-up against Archie Bradley‘s command issues.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Felix Hernandez (SEA)
2) Jacob deGrom (NYM)
3) Michael Pineda (SEA)
4) Gerrit Cole (PIT)
5) Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
6) Jason Hammel (CHC)
7) Garrett Richards (LAA)
8) Andrew Cashner (SD)
9) Ubaldo Jimenez (BAL)
10) Clay Buchholz (BOS) – weather risk
11) Jaime Garcia (STL)
12) Ryan Vogelsong (SF)
13) Jordan Zimmermann (WAS) – weather risk
Felix Hernandez (SEA) – After the Yankees scored just seven runs in their last three games against the law firm of Chavez, Gray, and Hahn, they get to take their chances with the King on Monday. Felix Hernandez is working on his seventh consecutive season with a K Rate above 22 percent, BB Rate below 7.5 percent, and GB Rate above 48 percent. In recent seasons, he’s been even better. He’s up to a 62 percent GB Rate with a 26.6 percent K Rate, and just a 5.6 percent BB Rate this season; good for a 2.65 xFIP. The Yankees are a threat against RHP but without Ellsbury, they’re less of a threat. They rank 11th on the season in wRC+ against RHP and our projections suggest they’re slightly below average without Ellsbury against RHP. They’re also getting a huge park shift against their LH power. Yankee Stadium increases home runs 17 percent above the average for LHBs while SAFECO plays one percent below the league average for LH home runs. Vegas has listed Felix as a solid -145 favorite in a game with a total of just six. This gives the Yankees an implied run total of just 2.8 runs which is the lowest of any team in action on Monday. The King once again sits atop our starting pitcher rankings.
Next in line:
Jacob deGrom (NYM) – 10 starts into the 2015 season and Jacob deGrom‘s performance looks incredibly similar to his breakout 2014 campaign. He’s maintained his K Rate (24.8 percent vs. 25.5 percent) while showing improved control (5.1 percent vs. 7.6 percent) and a very similar batted ball profile. He’ll face a very right handed Padres offense that ranks 22nd in wRC+ against RHP with an above average 21.5 percent K Rate. The RH nature of the lineup is important for deGrom as he’s dominated RHBs throughout his career (26.3 K Rate, 6.1 BB Rate, 50 GB Rate and .248 wOBA). The top end pitching is very deep on Monday and we’ve got deGrom ranked at the top of the second tier.
Michael Pineda (NYY) – Of all the great pitchers in action tonight, Pineda has arguably been the best this season. He’s paired an elite GB Rate (51.9 percent) and K Rate (25.4 percent) with an unfathomable 1.9 percent BB Rate to post a 2.49 xFIP. Pineda gets a nice park shift in his favor and he’ll face a Mariners offense that ranks 19th in wRC+ against RHP with the third highest K Rate against RHP (22.8 percent). The only negative for Pineda is his opponent on the mound. Felix Hernandez makes win probabilities low for Pineda which unfortunately impacts his Fantasy projection. We believe he’s in the second tier with deGrom but are more likely to utilize him on sites that weight the win down in their scoring.
Jason Hammel (CHC) – Hammel gets a Marlins offense that ranks 28th in wRC+ against RHP and strikes out in 20.6 percent of their plate appearances against RHP. Hammel gets a big park shift in his favor and will have the benefit of facing a heavily RH Marlins offense. Like deGrom, Hammel has been far more successful against RHBs (.295 wOBA, 22.3 percent K Rate since 2012) than LHBs (.319 wOBA, 19.1 percent K Rate since 2012). Hammel has been dealing with a fingernail issue but he’s pitched through it rather effectively (17 K, 1 BB over last two starts). He’s the one starter in our first three tiers that isn’t priced like the others.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Gerrit Cole (PIT) and Clayton Kershaw (LAD) are elite pitchers with difficult matchups. Kershaw is in Coors Field while Cole takes on a Giants offense that ranks second in wRC+ against RHP and strikes out in just 17.3 percent of their plate appearances against RHP. It’s a great stadium and environment to pitch in for Cole, but it’s not a particularly big upgrade from Pittsburgh. The matchup tones down his strikeout projection which impacts his DFS value. He’s a fine option but fully priced and the overall pitching environment is competitive. Kershaw has been successful at Coors Field before but it’s a lower probability outcome which makes him a more viable tournament play. Garrett Richards (LAA) and Andrew Cashner (SD) are like Cole in that they’re priced fully. Richards hasn’t pitched as well as he did last year, bringing some downside to his current price tag. Cashner gets a favorable at home against a Mets offense that ranks 27th in wRC+ against RHP. His K Rate hasn’t been as consistently dominant throughout his career, which pushes him down towards the bottom of that third tier. Ubaldo Jimenez (BAL) is a great tournament option. He gets the strikeout friendly Astros offense and Jimenez has flashed elite skills this year (51.7 GB Rate, 22.1 K Rate, 6.6 BB Rate, and 3.18 xFIP). Jimenez is very inconsistent and the depth of pitching options on Monday makes him a tournament only option, but he’s a strong one given the Astros K upside.
Macro Thinking, Stacks, and Tournament Notes:
This is a new section we’ve created to try and offer more dedicated macro thinking to our analysis and hopefully add more value to those playing tournaments. The format is a bit of a work in progress and we welcome feedback (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have suggestions.
Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:
1) Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have a team total approaching 5.5 and most other teams are approaching 4.5. They’re the chalk option, but with good reason. They’re an elite offense against RHP (lead the league in wRC+) and getting a big park shift in their favor. They’re also facing arguably the weakest SP on the entire slate. Target aggressively in cash games and while they’ll be heavily owned in tournaments, I think they give you the highest probability of cashing in tournaments tonight as well.
1) Arizona Diamondbacks
2) Chicago Cubs
3) Houston Astros
4) Colorado Rockies
The Diamondbacks are really good against LHP and their lineup almost entirely has the platoon advantage. The Braves bullpen has the second highest ERA in the league and Arizona is the second best hitting environment in play.
The Cubs have had just one double digit run scoring performance all season, but they’re an offense built on power and they’re fourth in the league in stolen bases. They bring a lot of upside and are facing a pitcher that projects poorly as a big leaguer. The Marlins bullpen has been bad (bottom 10 in ERA) but they project a bit better. The good news is they only have one LHP so the starting lineup has less pinch hit risk.
The Astros are a boom-or-bust offense built on power. After burning everyone in an elite matchup on Sunday, they’ll go under-owned in tournaments against Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimemenz is good but very inconsistent and when he’s off his game, he’s prone to blow up starts.
The Rockies will go under-owned relative to a typical home game because they’re facing Kershaw. They have a few elite hitters against LHP (Tulowitzki, Arenado, and Rosario) and every pitcher is more vulnerable in Coors Field. In addition, the likelihood of the Dodgers offense performing well, increases the likelihood of a full nine innings of offense.
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 will likely cancel, possible cancellation and almost certain delays and possible cancellation in WSH
TOR at WSH 7:05: Numerous showers and thunderstorms; heavy downpours, possibly a steady rain. A 60-80% chance of delays, a 20-30% chance of cancellations. Temps in the upper 70s falling into the low to mid 70s. Air density is a 7 or 8. Wind south-southwest 7-14 mph which blows out to left-center. The wind is a 6.
MIN at BOS 7:10: A steady, moderately heavy rain. Seems like a game they will cancel. A 60-80% chance of a cancellation, near 100% chance of a delay if they do start. Temps in the mid to upper 40s. Air density is a 2. Wind northeast 10-20 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 3.
CHC at MIA 7:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the low to mid 80s. Roof will likely be open. Air density is an 8. Wind southeast 7-14 mph lessening to 5-10 mph
MIL at STL 8:00: Dry. Temps in the upper 60s falling into the lower 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind northeast 5-10 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
BLT at HOU 8:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the low 80s falling into the low to mid 70s. The roof will likely be open. Air density is a 7. Wind north 5-10 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
LAD at COL 8:40: A 20-30% chance of a shower or thunderstorm popping up and affecting the game. So, there is a 20-30% chance of a delay but they will get this game in. Temps in the upper 70s to start falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 10. Wind south-southeast 9-18 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 7.
ATL at AZ 9:40: Retractable roof. Dry and hot. Temps in the low 100s to start falling to near 90. So, I am not sure how they handle hot weather with the retractable roof. If the roof is open, air density is a 9. The wind will be light and variable. The wind is a 5.
TB at LAA 10:05: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 60s. Air density is a 6 or 7. Wind southwest 7-14 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
NYY at SEA 10:10: Retractable roof. Showers around. The roof will likely be closed.
NYM at SD 10:10: Dry. Temps in the upper 60s falling into the mid-60s. Air density is a 6 or 7. Wind west-northwest 5-10 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
PIT at SF 10:15: Dry. Temps in the mid-60s falling into the low 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west 8-16 mph lessening to 6-12 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 7 becoming a 6.