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June 25 MLB DFS Early Slate: No Pinata, Just Pineda
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June 25 MLB DFS Early Slate: No Pinata, Just Pineda

00:46 Starting Pitchers
06:23 Catchers
08:17 First Base
10:16 Second Base
11:59 Shortstop
13:31 Third Base
14:37 Outfield
19:22 Cash Game Roster Construction & Stacks

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June 25 MLB DFS Early Slate Pro Tip

Starting Pitcher Rankings

Tier One

1) John Lackey (CHC)

2) Drew Pomeranz (SD)

3) Carlos Carrasco (CLE)

Tier Two

4) Michael Pineda (NYY)

5) Gio Gonzalez (WAS)

Tier Three

6) Kevin Gausman (BAL)

7) Brandon Finnegan (CIN)

There’s not a huge separation between our top five starting pitchers although we’ve separate them into two tiers, with the main difference being a higher floor for the tier one starting pitchers. As a result, especially on a short slate where Coors Field will be a priority, price becomes very important. That leads us to building around Michael Pineda (NYY) the most. It’s a bit of a scary thought as his high 12.8 hard minus soft hit rate has gotten him in trouble at home. Mostly though, even if you’re sick of hearing it, his 5.82 ERA has to do with a lot of bad luck. That hard minus soft hit rate isn’t that terrible and certainly doesn’t predicate a .372 BABIP (career mark is .298). More importantly, Pineda has a high K rate on the year and is pitching very well. In three of his past four starts he has a K percentage north of 30 with FIPs of 2.18 or better. Perhaps most importantly in those three good starts out of the past four, he’s held a hard minus soft hit rate of 6.2 percent or better. In a plus matchup against the Twins, we’re taking our chance despite having been burned by Pineda before.

With the rest of the top two tiers of starting pitchers, you can play price points or personal preferences. John Lackey (CHC) is the safest option given opponent, ballpark, and Ks (26.6 K percentage). Drew Pomeranz (SD) is a bit riskier (small park, high FB rate), but carries the highest projected K rate on the slate. Carlos Carrasco (CLE) possesses the most raw talent of the group. He’s a phenomenal tournament play, but the Tigers offense (fifth in wRC+ against RHP) is the worst split matchup of the top five starting pitchers. Gio Gonzalez (WAS) stopped getting away with his reduced velocity, leading to a string of six straight starts allowing at least three earned runs. We considered moving him into tier three as the Brewers have some good hitters against LHP, and it’s a negative park shift. Still, the season numbers present this as a good matchup as the Brewers are 25th in wRC+ against LHP with the eighth highest K rate.

Kevin Gausman (BAL) is our favorite cheap tournament play. The Rays have been a below average team against RHP and possess a very high 25.3 percent K rate. Gausman has been average this season, but there’s some untapped potential here.

Catcher Rankings

1) Welington Castillo (ARI)

2) Willson Contreras (CHC)

3) Brian McCann (NYY)

4) Victor Martinez (DET) (where eligible)

5) Derek Norris (SD)

It’s once again a pretty binary position in cash games with Welington Castillo (ARI) representing the luxury spend (likely hitting cleanup against a LHP in Coors Field), and Willson Contreras (CHC) the best per dollar value as he remains well underpriced based on his skill set and batting order (cleanup recently). However, the position is pretty deep for a short slate with Brian McCann (NYY) (home versus a fly ball oriented RHP) and Derek Norris (SD) (overpriced so doesn’t pop in our model but still nice upside against another subpar Reds LHP in Cincinnati).

First Base Rankings

1) Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)

2) Edwin Encarnacion

3) Chris Davis (BAL)

4) Wil Myers (SD)

5) Miguel Cabrera (SET)

There are a lot of similarities to last night’s slate and another one of them is trying to force in Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) given his elite splits against LHP, the huge ARI team total in Coors Field (nearly 5.5), and Jorge de la Rosa’s issues this season (7.17 ERA, 6.07 FIP, 4.40 xFIP). Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) has mammoth homer upside given his huge positive delta in our well hit rating and a matchup against Miguel Gonzalez, who has always allowed a lot of power to same handed hitters. However, the cash game alternative to Goldschmidt, due to price, is Chris Davis (BAL) (.267 ISO against RHP, 6.2 HR rate since 2014).

Second Base Rankings

1) Jean Segura (ARI)

2) Daniel Murphy (WAS)

3) DJ LeMahieu (COL)

4) Jason Kipnis (CLE)

5) Ben Zobrist (CHC)

With all the ranked second basemen projecting mostly as neutral values across the industry, our preferred choice at the position would be Phil Gosselin (ARI), if he lands a top five lineup spot, solely due to positive contextual factors. Gosselin hit cleanup last night. If that doesn’t happen, you’re either force paying for one of the two Coors options or likely targeting the options in Great American Ballpark, who just miss our rankings but will have good lineup spots and the platoon edge: Brandon Phillips (CIN) and Yangervis Solarte (SD).

Shortstop Rankings

1) Manny Machado (BAL)

2) Trevor Story (COL)

3) Francisco Lindor (CLE)

4) Brad Miller (TB)

5) Eduardo Nunez (MIN)

We’re making an active effort to pay up for Manny Machado (BAL) on FanDuel where he’s underpriced. This is less about the matchup (pretty neutral) and more about the park and Machado’s awesome skills (not running this year but .288 ISO and .409 wOBA). The alternative options vary by site as Trevor Story (COL) actually has a fairly nice tag on FanDuel for a Coors Field player with significant power upside, and Javier Baez (CHC) (FanDuel) and Alexei Ramirez (SD) (DraftKings) representing the cap relief options.

Third Base Rankings

1) Nolan Arenado (COL)

2) Kris Bryant (COL)

3) Manny Machado (BAL) (where eligible)

4) Josh Donaldson (TOR)

5) Alex Rodriguez (NYY)

The clear top option at third base is Nolan Arenado (COL) given the Rockies high 6.3 team total (a full run higher than any other team) and his skills. The obvious issue here is price and on both FanDuel and DraftKings Alex Rodriguez (NYY) (even splits hitter, Ervin Santana has a 4.45 xFIP and 31.4 hard hit rate) and Yangervis Solarte (SD) (okay overall hitter in a great context given Brandon Finnegan‘s issues, the epically bad Reds bullpen, and the massive park shift) represent viable, cheaper alternatives.

Outfield Rankings

1) Bryce Harper (WAS)

2) Carlos Gonzalez (COL)

3) Charlie Blackmon (COL)

4) Brett Gardner (NYY)

5) Jacoby Ellsbury (NYY)

6) Matt Kemp (SD)

7) Jason Heyward (CHC)

8) Carlos Beltran (NYY)

9) Michael Saunders (TOR)

10) Adam Jones (BAL)

While Bryce Harper (WAS) rates highest in our model, we do prefer him in tournaments due to his high negative delta in our well-hit tool, and Carlos Gonzalez/Charlie Blackmon (COL) having such a dream home matchup. Opposing pitcher Shelby Miller was good in his first start back from the DL, but it was against the Phillies. He’s been a disaster all season long due to a combination of horrid control (5.16 BB/9) and lots of hard hit contact (18.9 hard minus soft hit rate). Both Jacoby Ellsbury/Brett Gardner (NYY) are at home against Ervin Santana (.334 wOBA, .164 ISO allowed to LHBs since 2014) and strong mid-tier options. The low end options vary from site to site with some top of the lineup average hitters popping on DraftKings (Ezequiel Carrera (TOR), Hyun Soo Kim (BAL)) and some higher skilled options looking underpriced on FanDuel (Jason Heyward (CHC), Corey Dickerson (TB)). Of course, Coors will play a role outside of the obvious top Colorado outfielders. This will be mostly covered in alerts as the Rockies and Diamondbacks have had difficult lineups to predict in advance the past two days.

Stack Rankings

Tier One

1) Coors Field

Tier Two

2) Chicago Cubs

3) Toronto Blue Jays

Tier Three

4) New York Yankees

5) Washington Nationals

Balancing raw total and pricing, Coors Field and the Yankees are the two stacks we’re most pursuing in cash games, but the Cubs/Blue Jays/Nationals can all be full or mini-stacked in tournaments. The Jays have significant power upside. The Cubs possess, even with injuries, a deep lineup with power/speed while facing an inexperienced pitcher in Paul Clemens who has a ZiPS projected 5.34 ERA and 1.44 HR/9. The Nationals get a large park shift and a guaranteed nine innings playing on the road in Milwaukee, and opposing pitcher Matt Garza has a pretty uncertain baseline.

Additional Tournament Stacks

-Baltimore Orioles (always a high risk, high reward stack due to lots of Ks but also lots of power; Andriese’s 2.88 ERA is the result of a low 4.0 HR/FB rate that is unsustainable)

-San Diego Padres (huge upside hitters in Myers/Kemp/Norris against LHP and a really cheap MI mini stack in Rosales/Ramirez; Finnegan has a 5.03 xFIP while the bullpen has a 5.16 xFIP)

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