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6/25 MLB DFS: Let Rajai do the running for you

6/25 MLB DFS: Let Rajai do the running for you
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Daily Fantasy Rundown – June 25th MLB DFS Picks and Analysis

Welcome to Thursday’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.

Glossary: See a term you’re unfamiliar with? Check out our glossary page. If there’s something you’d like to see added there, please email us at

Weather: We’ll be sending out a morning alert with the game by game forecasts.

Today’s analysis authored by Mike Leone and Chris Pacheco.


Top Play:

Stephen Vogt (OAK) – Vogt ranks inside our top 25 hitters this afternoon and despite being priced adequately around the industry, the upside he provides in this particular matchup is great. Opposing pitcher Colby Lewis has struggled against LHBs (.352 wOBA, 1.18 HR/9 allowed to LHBs since 2012) and his home park (Globe Life Park in Arlington) won’t help his fly ball tendencies (45 percent FB rate allowed to LHBs). Vogt has improved his plate discipline (0.75 EYE, highest of his career), power (.251 ISO, highest mark of his career) and he has become a better overall hitter (.394 wOBA, a career high). If you can afford paying up for a catcher tonight, Vogt’s prime opportunities at Globe Life Park in Arlington against Colby Lewis are worth your investment.

Value Play:

Welington Castillo (ARI) – Castillo got a day off yesterday so he will more than likely start today. Castillo is in a prime position to take advantage of his great hitting skills (.373 wOBA, .174 ISO against LHP since 2012). Opposing pitcher Jorge De La Rosa is susceptible to RH power (1.08 HR/9 allowed to RHBs in the last few seasons) and righties make a good amount of contact (16 percent K rate against RHBs since the start of 2012). This type of pitching profile doesn’t bode well at Coors Field (best hitting environment in all of baseball). Castillo is cheap around the industry, particularly on DraftKings ($3,300). He won’t benefit from a good lineup spot (usually hits seventh) but the salary relief he provides really helps roster construction on tight pricing sites.

Additional catcher notes: Victor Martinez (DET) makes a bid for the top play honors (next in line option to Stephen Vogt) on sites where he’s catcher eligible (FanDuel). He ranks inside our top 15 hitters and despite the bad hitting environment, he seems fully recovered from his knee issues that plagued him at the beginning of the season and he has a nice matchup against a wild pitcher (Carlos Rodon). Michael McKenry (COL) will likely draw a start today for the Rockeis (day game after night game). Opposing pitcher Rubby De La Rosa has made great strides against RHP this season but he’s still highly susceptible vs. LHBs and McKenry should hit right behind Ben Paulsen. He’s a fine cash game target but we prefer the written options above. If you’d like to take a shot at the friendly dimensions for RHBs at Fenway Park, Matt Wieters (BAL) is a decent tournament option. Opposing pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez has been very good and we don’t want to pick on him excessively but we don’t mind taking a shot in a tournament with Wieters (good offensive catcher and always has the platoon edge since he’s a switch hitter). James McCann (DET) can be thrown in Tigers stacks for tournaments (will have the platoon edge against Carlos Rodon in a lineup that features a bunch of RHBs).

First Base

Top Plays:

Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) – Goldschmidt has been our top ranked hitter in the last two days as he has faced below average RHPs at Coors Field. Don’t expect that to change today when Goldschmidt faces Jorge De La Rosa, a LHP that struggles with the long ball (1.08 HR/9 allowed to RHBs since 2012) and isn’t very good in general against RHBs (.341 wOBA allowed to righties). Goldschmidt has accumulated a massive .443 wOBA and .287 ISO against LHP in the last few seasons and despite being the most expensive hitter on this slate, he also rates as our top value. He’s making more contact this season (cut his K rate by five percent) and his plate discipline has taken a step forward (1.00 EYE) so the probabilities of a “bust” performance from him are minuscule.

Miguel Cabrera (DET) – It’s weird to not have Cabrera as the top overall play on a day where he’s facing a wild LHP but I could argue that if Paul Goldschmidt didn’t have the contextual factors he has today (facing a below average LHP at Coors Field), Cabrera would be the top overall play. Cabrera has posted a .425 wOBA and .247 ISO against LHP since 2012 and opposing pitcher Carlos Rodon has struggled at the major league level with RHBs. Rodon has faced 149 RHBs and he has been tagged for a .355 wOBA and has posted a weak 2.7 percent K-BB%. He’s falling behind hitters at a worrisome rate (51 percent F-Strike rate) and fastball counts against arguably the best hitter in baseball won’t help him. Cabrera is my favorite tournament option on this slate and on a site like DraftKings where he has third base eligibility, he’s the top third baseman and a viable cash game value (third base doesn’t have much depth today and Cabrera is our second ranked hitter).

Value Plays:

David Ortiz (BOS) – Ortiz delivered for us last night, hitting a two run home run. He continues to be a great hitter against RHP (.389 wOBA, .241 ISO this season) and opposing pitcher Miguel Gonzalez is allowing around one home run per nine innings to LHBs. The hitting environment isn’t any good for LHBs (Fenway Park is tough on LHBs but the Green Monster makes it a friendly environment for RHBs) but Ortiz’s awesome power stroke quells any concerns about the environment. We will continue to deem him our top value play, especially with his $2,900 FanDuel price tag (below the average price of a hitter). Ortiz ranks inside our top 10 hitters today (great value for the price you’re paying around the industry).

Victor Martinez (DET) – Martinez has first base eligibility on DraftKings, where he rates as a nice value play. He’s only $4,000 on that site and he gives you exposure to a Tigers offense that should cause havoc against Carlos Rodon (gets behind hitters at an alarming rate and has struggled mightily vs. RHBs). Martinez (.384 wOBA, .204 ISO against LHP since 2012) will hit right behind Miguel Cabrera and in front of Yoenis Cespedes and J.D. Martinez. It’s safe to say that run producing/scoring opportunities will be available today for Martinez and the rest of the Tigers righty-heavy offense.

Additional first base notes: Anthony Rizzo (CHC) is an awesome tournament play today, facing Carlos Frias (12 percent K rate against LHBs, 20 percent hard minus soft hit rate) at Wrigley Field (we’re hoping that the wind is blowing out today). He’s fully priced on most sites and with Miguel Cabrera and Paul Goldschmidt in awesome matchups, I’d rather have my exposure to Rizzo come via tournaments (potential low ownership) Lucas Duda (NYM) continues to rate as a good value (top 15 hitter in our model but not priced as such around the industry) but my main concern with the rostering Duda in cash games is the hitters surrounding him (Mets offense is terrible). Miller Park is a good hitting venue and Duda has a good matchup (Taylor Jungmann has a ZiPS projected ERA close to five) but I would feel more comfortable rostering Duda in tournaments today (opportunity cost at first base is pretty high).   Ben Paulsen (COL) has first base eligibility on FanDuel and DraftKings, where he rates as an awesome value (will hold the platoon edge against Rubby De La Rosa at Coors Field for an offense with a team total of 5.5 runs). Ike Davis (OAK) is a skilled hitter against RHP and he will have premium ABs against Colby Lewis at Globe Life Park in Arlington. He’s a better target for tournaments since he’s a pinch hit risk later in games and I don’t view that risk as a smart undertaking in cash games today with Paul Goldschmidt and Miguel Cabrera in great situations.

Second Base

Top Play:

Ben Zobrist (OAK) – Zobrist continues to be priced nicely on FanDuel, where he rates as our top second baseman. He’s a switch hitter (always holds the platoon edge) and he will have awesome opportunities against the fly ball oriented Colby Lewis in an awesome hitting environment. Zobrist has been a good hitter vs. RHP (.346 wOBA, .165 ISO against RHP since 2012) and the Athletics have a healthy team total of 4.5 runs this afternoon. We’ll continue to take a shot at Zobrist in cash games on sites where he’s priced adequately.

Value Play:

Aaron Hill (ARI) – The last time that the Diamondbacks faced a LHP, Hill was in the lineup and hit second. That’s a great lineup spot (helps to maximize PAs) for a hitter like Hill (.338 wOBA, .170 ISO against LHP since 2012) and the contextual factors are awesome (Coors Field, facing a below average southpaw). Hill is the top value play on this slate and on sites where the gap between him and Zobrist is significant (DraftKings), he represents the better value for cash games.

Additional second base notes: Ian Kinsler (DET) is underpriced on FanDuel ($2,900) relative to his skills (.360 wOBA, .154 ISO against LHP in the last few seasons) and his contextual factors today (a matchup against a LHP that falls behind hitters and he’s hitting in front of Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez). Kinsler will have premier run producing/scoring opportunities in a righty-heavy Tigers offense. DJ LeMahieu (COL) has a tough matchup against Rubby De La Rosa (has improved dramatically vs. RHBs) but he gives you exposure to an offense with a team total of 5.5 runs at a decent price. Due to the trio of second base options in play today (Zobrist, Hill and Kinsler are in great situations), LeMahieu ranks as a secondary option.


Top Play:

Troy Tulowitzki (COL) – Despite plate discipline erosion (career low EYE), Tulowtzki continues to make hard contact (44 percent hard hit rate) so it seems like it’s only a matter of time before his power (.167 ISO this season) normalizes to his career level (.215 ISO). The shortstop position is difficult to evaluate today. While Tulowitzki is the obvious top play, he has a difficult matchup (Rubby De La Rosa has allowed a .242 wOBA and has a 23 percent K-BB% against RHBs this season). He should hit behind Charlie Blackmon and in front of Carlos Gonzalez (if he’s back in the lineup). Run producing opportunities should be there for Tulowitzki (De La Rosa struggles mightily against LHBs) but I’m not shying away from potential punt opportunities that could emerge once lineups are out.

Value Plays:

Nick Ahmed (ARI)/Daniel Descalso (COL) – Both Ahmed and Descalso aren’t good hitters but they’re cheaper alternatives to Tulowitzki in cash games today. They give you Coors Field exposure for reasonable costs and the rest of the shortstop options on this slate don’t rate as good values. They won’t obtain good lineup spots (should hit seventh or eight) but this is factored into their price points for the most part. Keep an eye out for our alerts system to see if Descalso is in the lineup (Tulowitzki might sit after a night game, which would open up an opportunity for Descalso to start).

Additional shortstop notes: Hanley Ramirez (BOS) has shortstop eligibility on DraftKings, where he rates as a next in line option to Troy Tulowitzki. Ramirez exited the game last night due to a hand contusion so check you’ll need to check back with us later to see if he’s available to play today. , Ruben Tejada (NYM) is a decent punt option on tight pricing sites. He has been hitting second, which elevates his DFS value but he’s not a good hitter and the Mets offense isn’t any good. I’ve kept my hope alive that Marcus Semien (OAK) would find his way to the top of the A’s lineup at some point during this series vs. the Rangers. If he can lock in a top six spot in this offense, he would represent a nice punt option on a site like FanDuel ($2,400). The contextual factors (playing in a great hitting venue against a pitcher that struggles with the long ball) are excellent for Semien and this Athletics offense.

Third Base

Top Play:

Yasmany Tomas (ARI) – We’re cheating here, since Tomas isn’t third base eligible on most sites (he has third base eligibility on DraftKings). The third base position doesn’t have much depth today and Tomas ranks inside our top 15 hitters. We love his matchup against Jorge De La Rosa (struggles with the long ball against RHBs) and Coors Field is the best hitting environment in all of baseball. Tomas has been a very good hitter against LHP in a small sample (.366 wOBA, .200 ISO in 47 PAs against LHPs) so his price is fair on DraftKings ($4,700). I’ve already mentioned that Miguel Cabrera is the top play at third base on DraftKings but Tomas is cheaper and he has excellent contextual factors today.

Next in line:

Nolan Arenado (COL) – (Difficult matchup against Rubby De La Rosa but the Rockies have a team total of 5.5 runs and Arenado has improved drastically vs. RHP; he’s a better target for tournaments today)

Value Play:

Conor Gillaspie (CWS) – Gillaspie isn’t much of a hitter (.327 wOBA, .148 ISO vs. RHP in the last few seasons) but he’s minimum priced on FanDuel and he hit second yesterday. If he can continue to hit second, that’s a nice boost to his opportunities (price hasn’t captured the extra PAs he would receive by hitting second). The White Sox offense isn’t very good and they’re playing away from U.S. Cellular Field but I don’t mind punting the position with Gillaspie if it helps the roster construction process.

Additional third base notes: Kris Bryant (CHC) and Manny Machado (BAL) are fine targets for tournaments. I prefer Machado since he’s playing in a park that’s friendly to RHBs (Fenway Park) but if the wind is blowing out at Wrigley Field, Bryant would represent a great option as well. I wouldn’t pay full price points for these hitters in cash games but they’re worth a shot in tournaments.


Top Plays:

A.J. Pollock (ARI)/Charlie Blackmon (COL) – Pollock (.364 wOBA, .214 ISO against LHP in 368 PAs) and Blackmon (.358 wOBA, .164 ISO against RHP in the last few seasons) rank inside our top 10 hitters and have matchups against below average pitchers at Coors Field. We’ve only mentioned that Rubby De La Rosa struggles against LHBs but he haven’t shown why. De La Rosa has allowed a .380 wOBA, 1.29 HR/9 and a hard minus soft hard hit rate of 20 percent to 447 LHBs at the major league level. We feel confident in rostering any Rockies LHBs today. It’s difficult to fit both of these outfielders in cash games but I’ll likely hedge and roster one on each of the major sites.

Tigers outfield- Rajai Davis (.378 wOBA, .180 ISO), Yoenis Cespedes (.338 wOBA, .213 ISO) and J.D. Martinez (.329 wOBA, .178 ISO) all rank inside our top 20 hitters and their matchup against Carlos Rodon is exceptional. Their prices are pretty consistent around the industry, with Rajai Davis priced consistently as the cheaper value. Davis is the best access into this Tigers offense today, since he will leadoff (ensures that he will get a maximum amount of PAs) and has great speed upside (45 SB upside over a full season). His price point on FanDuel ($2,800) makes him a core play of cash game rosters. The Tigers have a team total pushing five runs so make sure to have some exposure to this offense today.

Value Plays:

Josh Reddick (OAK) – Reddick remains underpriced on FanDuel ($3,000) relative to his matchup (Colby Lewis is awful against LHBs), hitting environment (Globe Life Park in Arlington) and skills (.347 wOBA, .205 ISO against RHP since 2012). Reddick has improved his contact rate drastically (has cut his K rate in half) and his plate discipline has taken a major step forward (0.92 EYE) this season. This makes Reddick less of a boom or bust option moving forward and premium PAs against Colby Lewis in this type of environment makes his FanDuel price tag look silly.

Ben Paulsen (COL) – Paulsen (.382 wOBA, .227 ISO in 152 PAs against RHP) has been a very good hitter against RHP and we’ve already noted how bad opposing pitcher Rubby De La Rosa is against LHBs. Paulsen has outfield eligibility on DraftKings, where he gives you exposure to a Rockies offense that has a team total of 5.5 runs at a relatively cheap cost.

Additional outfield notes: Darrell Ceciliani (NYM) is a DraftKings punt only today. He’s $2,100 on that site and he will have the platoon edge against Taylor Jungmann (not a good pitcher) at Miller Park. Ceciliani hit fifth yesterday and if he’s able to crack that same lineup spot today (at least top six), the salary relief he offers opens up a ton of possibilities in cash games.  Mookie Betts (BOS) and Hanley Ramirez (BOS) are tournament worthy options (Fenway Park is friendly to RHBs and opposing pitcher Miguel Gonzalez has allowed 1.63 HR/9 to RHBs in the last few seasons). Bryce Harper (WSH) has a great matchup against a contact pitcher and he has been the best hitter in baseball this season. Paying full prices for Harper isn’t a bad idea in tournaments. Billy Burns (OAK) is a high upside option due to the speed that he possesses (50 SB upside over a full season) and he will have great run scoring opportunities today (hitting in front of Stephen Vogt and Josh Reddick at Globe Life Park in Arlington against a below average pitcher with fly ball tendencies). He’s fully priced on most sites, which makes him a tournament only option.

Starting Pitcher

Rankings (price not considered):

Tier One

1)    Jacob deGrom (NYM)

Tier Two

2)    Sonny Gray (OAK)

3)    Chris Heston (SFG)

4)    Jon Lester (CHC)

Tier Three

5)    James Shields (SD)

6)    Doug Fister (WSH)

Tier Four

7) Eduardo Rodriguez (BOS)

Top Play:

Jacob DeGrom (NYM) – For the second straight day it’s fairly easy to fit in the day’s top pitcher and still spread your exposure among the top offensive targets (Coors, Tigers, A’s). As a result, DeGrom should be anchoring your cash game lineups. He gets a negative park shift pitching in Milwaukee but his skills and the matchup trump that negative. On the skills side, DeGrom has picked up right where he left off last season, actually improving a bit. His K rate is nearly identical as he sports the exact same elite SwStr rate as last season (11.8). The BB rate has improved and that’s supported by an increase in F-Strike rate. Finally, DeGrom is allowing less hard hit contact. On the matchup side of things, he faces as Brewers team that is second last in MLB in wRC+ against RHP and strikes out at the sixth highest clip.

Value Play:

Chris Heston (SF) – With Sonny Gray in a less than ideal matchup and enough high upside, expensive bats on our radar, it makes sense to save money on a second pitcher and Heston is the best guy to do that with. He’s been extremely up and down this season but the overall picture that is painted shows a solid MLB starting pitcher. He’s narrowly above average in K rate (20.4 percent), above average in BB rate (6.2) and has an elite GB rate (54.5). His hard minus soft hit rate of 3.1 is also very stellar. The combination of skills makes Heston a well-rounded pitcher who should make a run at a sub-3.50 ROS ERA. He’s certainly helped by his home park, which is the best pitcher’s park in all of baseball and where he’ll be pitching today. The well-rounded skills and park give Heston a nice floor in theory (-130 favorite in a game with a total of 7, heavily pushing 6.5), although his game log may suggest otherwise. The matchup gives Heston tangible upside on top of having a solidified floor as this Padres team is 23rd in wRC+ against RHP and has the fifth highest K rate.

Additional starting pitcher notes: Sonny Gray (OAK) is the next in line option as he’s been pitching phenomenally (improved K rate, elite hard minus soft hit rate). However, he’ll be pitching in a tough park against a Rangers team that can throw out a lot of above average LHBs right now. The gap between him and DeGrom is large. James Shields (SD) is low in our rankings due to the Giants high wRC+ against RHP and low K rate. However, Shields’ gaudy K rate and a gigantic park that will help cover up his HR issues gives him top pitcher upside and makes him someone to consider heavily if going contrarian I tournaments. Doug Fister (WAS) cracks our rankings on a shortened slate. Like Jordan Zimmermann yesterday, the floor is decent against a meek Atlanta team that is without their best hitter (Freddie Freeman). However, also like Zimmermann and probably to an even greater extent, the upside is really low due to Atlanta’s contact oriented ways and Fister’s inability to miss bats. Even though Eduardo Rodriguez (BOS) is ranked lower (due to risk), he’s the guy I’d rather diversify onto in tournaments at a similar price point. It’s a high risk/high reward matchup for the young but talented Rodriguez as he faces an Orioles team with horrendous plate discipline against RHP but also plenty of power 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 ( if you have suggestions.

Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:

1) Coors Field (pretty obvious but once again an outlier game; total here is 10 and pushing 10.5 while the next highest total game is at 8.5)

2) Detroit Tigers (heavily right-handed, deep and good lineup that has a ton of upside given Carlos Rodon‘s wildness; he’s walking 5.01 batters per 9 currently)

3) Oakland Athletics (massive park shift playing in Toronto and facing a subpar, HR prone RHP in Colby Lewis; Athletics are third in wRC+ against RHP and are guaranteed a full nine innings in this one as the road team)

Contrarian/Secondary Stacks:

1) Boston Red Sox (as mentioned yesterday, this Red Sox lineup makes a ton of contact against RHP and are much more formidable with David Ortiz turning things around; today’s matchup yields plenty of power upside as opposing pitcher Miguel Gonzalez has a career 1.26 HR/9, with that number sitting at 1.42 and 1.36 the past two seasons)

2) Baltimore Orioles (easier to take advantage of Fenway Park’s park effects when facing a LHP as the park plays well above average for offense for RHBs; high risk/high reward offense that has horrible plate discipline against LHP but is 10th in ISO)

3) New York Mets (I know this is getting old but for the third consecutive day the Mets play in Milwaukee, which is a big park shift, against a subpar RHP we wouldn’t be surprised to suffer a disaster start; rookie RHP Taylor Jungmann projects to have a high BB rate and had a high 6.37 ERA at AAA prior to getting called up)

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