Daily Fantasy Rundown – June 22nd 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: Only game with a weather concern is in CLE. Great hitting environment in MIN and especially in CHC (Wind blows STRONGLY out to center).
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.
Brian McCann (NYY) – The Yankees are the highest expected scoring offense on the day, and it’s not really a surprise given that they’re at home, where their plethora of LHBs can take advantage of the awful RHP Kevin Correia. Correia has yielded a .347 wOBA and 1.16 HR/9 to LHBs since 2012 and both ZiPS and Steamer project the 34 year old to have a 4.50-plus ERA with around 1.25 HR/9 allowed. He’s simply not a good pitcher as he doesn’t miss bats, is GB neutral and allows hard contact. It’s just two starts, but his hard hit rate this season is 41.7 percent. So, you definitely want to prioritize getting some Yankees in you lineup. One of the best ways to do so on a shortened slate is via a scarce catcher position. McCann will be in a top five lineup spot and is having a decent season power wise (ISO up to .201 from .174 last season). Some reasons for the power increase are likely a combination of harder hit contact, pulling the ball more (career high pull rate is great for him when he’s at home) and eliminating pop ups (career low 1.5 IFFB rate).
Yan Gomes (CLE) – Gomes has been a solid hitter against LHP throughout his career, posting a .358 wOBA and .197 ISO. Those splits skills are actually better than McCann’s, but Gomes is in a worse environment and lineup spot. Still, he can be utilized as a cheap catcher if it’s the difference between being able to pay up for Clayton Kershaw or not. Opposing pitcher Kyle Ryan won’t miss any bats, and the rookie has very pessimistic projections according to both ZiPS (6.22 ROS ERA, 1.70 HR/9) and Steamer (4.71 ERA, 1.13 HR/9).
Additional catcher notes: Victor Martinez (DET) homered off a RHP yesterday, which is great to see as he was useless from the left side of the plate prior to going on the DL. He’s underpriced on FanDuel if healthy but still a bit of a better tournament option than cash game play. Two other tournaments options worth keeping an eye on are AJ Ellis (LAD) (platoon edge on Wada in Wrigley with the wind blowing out) and Tyler Flowers (CHW) (downgrade in park factor but decent HR upside against the fly ball oriented Tommy Milone).
Top Plays: Our model has Jose Abreu (CHW) as the clear top play at the position, and it’s easy to see why as he has a career .244 ISO and holds the platoon edge on Tommy Milone (.325 wOBA, 1.28 HR/9 allowed to RHBs since 2012). However, his power numbers have suffered a bit from last season as his HR/FB rate has regressed while he continues to hit more ground balls than we’d like to see (47 GB rate). Between that and the negative park shift, two players with glowing current peripherals are in the same tier as Abreu for me: Mark Teixeira (NYY) and Albert Pujols (LAA). Teixeira’s combination of EYE (.97) and ISO (.305) is rather jaw dropping. He’s a heavy pull hitter, which helps him when facing RHP at home and compensates for the fact that his raw skills are better from the right side. He’s got the best combination of weak opposing pitcher and good park of the three top first basemen. Albert Pujols has absolutely on fire. While we try not to look too far into hot streaks, Pujols’ is backed up by tremendous batted ball speed recently and having an overall batted ball profile more in line with his career marks (GB rate has dropped from 45.7 percent last season to 40.2 this year). Ultimately, if I had to pick one at the same price it would be Teixeira. However, Abreu is playable for a cheap tag on FanDuel and Pujols is playable on DraftKings, where they aren’t fluctuating their prices based on recent performance as much as in the past.
Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) – Gonzalez may seem like an odd cash game option at first glance in a L/L matchup. However, there are two reasons he should be considered today. First, the great hitting environment in Chicago mitigates some of the L/L risk. Secondly, opposing pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada does not pitch deep into ball games. He’s failed to complete the fifth inning in half of his starts and has completed the sixth inning or more in just one of his six starts (the most recent one). There’s a good chance Gonzalez faces Wada only twice giving him upside against RH RPs for a Dodgers team that will likely land with a high team total. He’s a fin alternative to the top options if you need to save some cash.
Carlos Santana (CLE) – Santana rates as one of the better values in our model. I’m less optimistic on him because I find myself in spots where I’d rather pay up for one of the top plays or save some money with Adrian Gonzalez. However, the matchup is really good. I talked about Kyle Ryan‘s pessimistic overall outlook and inability to miss bats, and Santana is in prime position to take advantage of that. He’ll likely hit cleanup for Cleveland and has posted a .358 wOBA with a great 1.08 EYE against LHP since 2012.
Additional first base notes: Victor Martinez (DET) is usable in cash games on DraftKings for a very cheap price and Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) is a nice tournament option on FanDuel.
Brian Dozier (MIN) – Dozier’s high price tag may make him difficult to fit in cash games when prioritizing pitching and Yankees bats, but he’s definitely someone who needs to be on your radar in tournaments or if playing it a little bit riskier with cheaper pitching. Despite being in a large park, Dozier has by far the highest HR upside of any second baseman in action today. Since 2012, he has posted an incredible .372 wOBA and .234 ISO against southpaws despite playing half his games in Target Field. The matchup today is perfect for him as he’ll face southpaw John Danks, one of the worst regular starters in all of MLB. Danks has given up a .355 wOBA and 1.51 HR/9 to RHBs since 2012.
Howie Kendrick (LAD) – Kendrick is the most logical cash game option at the position. He’s affordable across the industry and in a great spot. He’ll hit fifth for a Dodgers team that looks like it has a healthy team total exceeding five expected runs due to the favorable temperatures and wind for hitters in Wrigley Field. He’ll start this game off with the platoon edge against Tsuyoshi Wada (.333 wOBA, 1.14 HR/9 allowed to RHBs). If Justin Turner (LAD) hits third and Kendrick fifth, I’d prefer Turner over Kendrick on DraftKings where he’s also second base eligible and a touch cheaper.
Additional second base notes: Robinson Cano (SEA) is a good cheap option on FanDuel. Yes, he is just not very good right now but minimum cost against Joe Blanton keeps you in the conversation. On DraftKings Cano isn’t nearly as favorably priced (more than Kendrick), which means if digging for a punt you should look the way of Johnny Giavotella (LAA), who could possibly lead off for the Angels against a subpar LHP. Jose Altuve (HOU) is a tournament option only. He’s got good skills against LHP but a poor run scoring environment and hamstring issues are a big concern for the speedster. Stephen Drew (NYY) is a tournament option, preferably as part of a Yankees stack.
Additional shortstop notes: The shortstop position is a bit of a disaster tonight. If you aren’t punting, Jose Reyes (TOR) and Carlos Correa (HOU) (playable on DraftKings for cash) are the main targets, but with offenses such as the Yankees and expensive pitching in play tonight, I suggest simply punting the position. The best punt right now appears to be Francisco Lindor (CLE) who is minimum priced on FanDuel and cheap on DraftKings. He’ll hit second against a bad pitcher for a Cleveland team with the third highest team total on the day. After that, I’d mostly monitor lineups and look to utilize one of the cheap options from our other favored offenses tonight if they move towards the top of the order. We’ll point anyone who meets this criteria out via our lineup alerts.
Alex Rodriguez (NYY) – Rodriguez is an even splits hitter for his career who is having a bit of a resurgence thanks to making quality contact (29.7 hard minus soft hit rate, just a 1.6 IFFB rate). His ISO as a result sits at .242, much closer to his career mark of .258 than the sub-200 ISOs he posted the previous three seasons. He’ll face Kevin Correia who doesn’t gain much of an edge when he holds the platoon edge, having allowed a .335 wOBA and 1.13 HR/9 to RHBs the last several seasons.
Trevor Plouffe (MIN) – In Dozier’s blurb, I talked about Danks’ horrific splits against RHBs. On top of the poor historic splits, Danks is simply a bad overall pitcher. His GB rate has dropped from 42.3 percent to 36.7, which is not a good sign for a pitcher who already allows too many long balls and has a below average K rate. He’s posted a 4.75-plus ERA for four consecutive seasons. Plouffe doesn’t have the same skills as Dozier but is a more cost effective way to get some Twins exposure. He’ll likely be in a great lineup spot for the Twins (clean up) and has a very solid .358 wOBA and .205 ISO against southpaws since 2012.
Chase Headley (NYY) – If you want Yankees exposure at third base but can’t quite afford Rodriguez, Headley is a fine alternative. He should hit second for the Yankees and is a switch hitter with decent skills from both sides of the plate. Starting from the left side, Headley will have a chance to utilize the short porch in right. The current peripherals aren’t pretty (reduced EYE and increased GB rate are affecting power numbers), but ultimately the opportunity today is more important.
Additional third base notes: Justin Turner (LAD) is a secondary value across the industry and a fine alternative to the written up options if you feel you’re light on Dodger exposure. Kris Bryant (CHC) is a nice tournament play. The matchup against Kershaw is obviously not ideal, but he carries immense power upside and the wind is blowing out, making him an excellent contrarian option.
Top Plays: The three top outfielders to target are Mike Trout (LAA), Yasiel Puig (LAD) and Brett Gardner (NYY). Due to cost, Puig is the guy I’d prioritize most from this group. Puig is a career .306/.386/.501 hitter who consistently has an above average hard hit rate and is making strides at the plate, cutting down his K rate for the second consecutive season. Trout is our top ranked hitter in our model and it’s a definitely a mismatch between the game’s best hitter and Brett Oberholtzer (projections systems on average have him pegged around a 4.50 ERA pitcher who should allow 1.15 HR/9). The only issue here is a combination of actual cost (Trout is one of the most expensive hitters in action) and opportunity cost (using him takes away from an outfield bat that could belong to one of the four core offenses we suggest targeting today). Gardner’s price on DraftKings pushes him towards more of a tournament play, but he can definitely be used in cash games on FanDuel. The Yankees are the top offense on the day, and Gardner is a good power/speed threat (on pace to go 18-38 in HR-SB over 162 games).
Torii Hunter (MIN) – Following Puig, Hunter is probably my favorite per dollar value this evening. He’ll hold a top five lineup spot against John Danks, who we’ve targeted with two Twins RHBs already. Hunter is another good Twin platoon guy that can be overlooked since this offense isn’t very good overall. He has a .356 wOBA against LHP since 2012. Teammate Eddie Rosario (MIN) is a fun, cheap tournament option if he continues to hit second. Rosario will be in a L/L matchup, but the success of the Twins around him and Danks’ inability to get either handedness of batter out (.333 wOBA, 1.07 HR/9 allowed to LHBs since 2012) give him plenty of upside.
Mark Trumbo (SEA) – Trumbo has one of the highest HR scores in our model this evening. He doesn’t hold the platoon edge, but has still managed a .186 ISO against RHP since 2012, including 57 HRs in 1,374 plate appearances. Meanwhile, opposing starting pitcher Joe Blanton has given up 1.81 HR/9 to RHBs since 2012, by far the worst such split against either handedness of batter of any of the starting pitchers in action tonight. There’s some concern for the Mariners offense once this game gets into the bullpen, but Trumbo hit second against a RHP yesterday. Hopefully he’s in the same spot today, which would increase the probability of him getting three cracks to homer off of Blanton.
Additional outfield notes: Joc Pederson (LAD) doesn’t come with the same discount as teammate Adrian Gonzalez, but like Gonzalez is a viable value play as the weather and Wada’s short leash work in his favor. Carlos Beltran (NYY) is a bit overpriced given his skills deterioration and sixth lineup spot, but he’s a cheaper way to get some more Yankee exposure if unable to afford Gardner. Avisail Garcia (CHW) is one of an entire lineup of hitters that has been disappointing this season, but he can still be utilized in tournaments as all bats have increased HR probability relative to career averages when facing Tommy Milone. Anthony Gose (DET) (lead off hitter, platoon edge, good stolen base upside) and Ryan Raburn (CLE) (great platoon guy, Kyle Ryan is very bad) are two cheap hitters that can be used to round out either your cash game or tournament lineups. Raburn is on the offense we like a bit more but I’d side with Gose if having to choose as his pinch-hit risk is lower. George Springer (HOU) is a great tournament option. He’s a high event player (HRs, SBs) facing a pitcher who will walk guys and give up bombs, despite the favorable pitching environment.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
2) Felix Hernandez (SEA)
3) Michael Pineda (NYY)
4) Hector Santiago (LAA)
5) Drew Hutchison (TOR)
6) Trevor Bauer (CLE)
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) – Even with the wind blowing out strongly in Wrigley Field, Kershaw is our clear cut top starting pitching option and someone that should be anchoring your cash game lineups on all sites given the short slate night. There’s certainly a hint of danger here due to a combination of the wind and the Cubs 111 wRC+ against LHP (fourth best in MLB). Ultimately, Kershaw’s skills and absurd strikeout upside win out. The Cubs do strike out 22.1 percent of the time against LHP, which combined with Kershaw’s elite 32.8 K percentage gives him our model’s highest projected K percentage by quite a bit. I’d peg the over/under on Kershaw’s strikeout total tonight at nine, which is significant given that strikeouts are a large part of DFS scoring and the most predictable category start to start. It’s not as if Kershaw is only good for his K upside, though. His run prevention skills overall are in a class of his own (sub-2.15 xFIP for the second straight year) and Vegas has him as heavy -190 favorite. The gap between Kershaw and Felix Hernandez in our model is larger than the gap between Hernandez and the tier three starting pitching options. Update: Weather is worsening in Chicago from a precipitation standpoint. We’ll keep you up to date via our alerts, but if there’s any mid-gam delay or cancellation risk around roster lock, Kershaw probably isn’t worth the risk.
Michael Pineda (NYY) – Often times playing for the win in DFS is overdone and not nearly as helpful as it seems in theory. However, it begins to become more actionable when targeting pitchers who are -200 favorites or higher. In a strategy article I did earlier this season, I found that in 86 chances last year, pitchers who closed as a -200 favorite or better won 63 percent of the time. All other favorites won about 38 percent of the time. The sample size was small, bit if you looked at pitchers who were -240 favorites or better, they won 16 times in 21 chances (76 percent of the time). Well, with the Yankees facing a horrible Kevin Correia and bad lineup, Michael Pineda is a whopping -310 favorite. Given the information discerned in that strategy article and that it’s a short slate night, playing for that win makes a bit more sense. I’d still defer to Kershaw on one starting pitcher sites, but on multi-SP sites if you don’t want to risk a volatile second starting pitcher, it probably makes more sense to dip down to Pineda and save some money than to buck all the way up for Hernandez. It’s also not as if Pineda’s value is solely tied into getting the win. The Phillies are dead last in wRC+ against RHP by quite a decent margin, and Pineda has been phenomenal this season (25.8 K percentage, 3.3 BB percentage, 51.3 GB rate all lead to a 2.69 FIP and 2.58 xFIP).
Hector Santiago (LAA) – Santiago is definitely a high risk, high reward pitcher but he’s the cheap pitcher you want to utilize in cash games alongside Kershaw if unable to pay up for Pineda on multi-SP sites. Santiago’s high walk and FB rates are a bit scary against a high upside Astros offense. However, Santiago has managed to deal with these weaknesses throughout his career, posting a 3.39 ERA in 433.1 IP despite a 4.41 FIP and 4.55 xFIP. I’m tempted to think that’s an outlier but the sample size is growing and we don’t need Santiago’s true skill set to lay a full run below his expected ERAs for him to be useful today anyways. His home park will mitigate his fly ball riskiness, and his main asset (22.6 K percentage) lines up well against the Astros (23.7 K percentage against LHP is fifth highest in MLB).
Additional starting pitcher notes: If you’re very concerned about the wind in Wrigley in regards to using Kershaw (we’re not), Felix Hernandez (SEA) lines up as a safe option against a Royals team that has just a run total of three tonight (and pushing downwards). However, our model doesn’t love him as a value despite his strong skills since the Royals are top 10 in wRC+ against RHP with the lowest K percentage (15.9). Drew Hutchison (TOR) is the final pitcher on tonight’s short slate that I’d consider for cash games. He’s certainly been disappointing for the Jays, but he’s also been pretty unlucky in all three major “luck” stats (BABIP, LOB%, HR/FB rate). He should turn things around moving forward and facing a bad Rays lineup in Tropicana Field (good park shift for Hutchison) is a good place to start. Trevor Bauer (CLE) faces a Tigers lineup that is heavily right handed, which along with his strikeout ability makes him a tournament option. However, this Tigers lineup is good against RHP despite not having a lot of guys who hold the platoon edge, which along with Bauer’s wildness makes him an unnecessary risk in cash games.
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) New York Yankees
2) Los Angeles Dodgers
3) Cleveland Indians
4) Minnesota Twins
The top stacks for us today are extremely chalky and obvious as a result of the position by position analysis.
1) Toronto Blue Jays (deep, powerful lineup against a below average pitcher in what could end up being a bullpen game; rare opportunity to get this stack very low owned despite facing a below average pitcher on a short slate)
2) Seattle Mariners (concern here is ballpark and Royals bullpen, but if Joe Blanton goes bad, we could see a ton of early power numbers; the hope is if that happens and with Felix on the mound, the game could be a blowout and result in the Mariners missing the Royals best bullpen arms)
3) Detroit Tigers (similar to the Blue Jays, this is a deep lineup that can be stacked in tournaments on almost any given night’ I’m a Trevor Bauer fan but there’s no denying he’s susceptible to a disaster start given his high walk rate)
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.
PHL at NYY 7:05: Dry. Temps near 80 falling into the mid to upper 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.
DET at CLE 7:10: Thunderstorms pass by just to their north right around the start of the game. Will have to watch this but not overly concerned. Would say that there is a 30% chance of a delay to start the game or in the beginning of the game; 10% chance of a cancellation. Temps near 80 to start falling into the mid 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind south 10-20 mph which blows out to center. The wind is an 8.
TOR at TB 7:10: Dome.
CHW at MIN 8:00: Dry. Temps in the low 80s falling into the low to mid 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind northwest 10-20 mph with gusts past 25 mph early in the game lessening to 7-14 mph which blows out to right. The wind is an 8 or 9 becoming a 6.
LAD at CHC 8:05: Dry. Temps in the low 80s falling into the low to mid 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind southwest 15-25 mph with gusts past 30 mph to begin lessening a bit to 10-20 mph late which blows out to center. The wind is a 9 or 10 to begin becoming an 8. Update: 30% chance of a thunderstorm with a 30% chance of a delay and a 10% chance of a cancellation tonight. The weather there will be really nasty through mid to late afternoon with the threat for strong winds and tornadoes so there is the threat something disastrous could happen before the game so that could cancel the game.
HOU at LAA 10:05: Dry. Temps in the low 70s 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.
KC at SEA 10:10: Retractable roof will likely be open. Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the mid to upper 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west-southwest 6-12 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.