MLB DFS Daily Fantasy Rundown – June 26th, 2015
Welcome to Friday’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: Pretty quiet weather day. PIT has minor concerns late while STL has flooding rain today that pushes away this evening. 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.
Derek Norris (SD) – Norris is playing in a bad hitting venue (Petco Park) but his skill set against LHP (.374 wOBA, .192 ISO) makes him an elite DFS option at a scarce position. Opposing pitcher Robbie Ray has been awful against RHBs (.360 wOBA and 1.20 HR/9 allowed to 194 RHBs) and Norris has a favorable price tag around the industry. Norris ranks inside our top 40 hitters and he’s only $3,400 on DraftKings.
Dioner Navarro (TOR) – While Navarro isn’t a great hitter (.320 wOBA, .129 ISO against RHP since 2012), we love his matchup (Nick Martinez has allowed a .336 wOBA and 46 percent FB rate to LHBs in the last couple of seasons) and contextual factors (Blue Jays have a team total of five runs and they’ll be playing in the best hitting venue on this slate, Rogers Centre). If you’d like to have some exposure to this Blue Jays offense at a scarce position, Navarro will likely have a top five spot in this offense and he’s affordable on most sites I’ve checked. He’s a fine value alternative to Derek Norris in all formats but the hitting skills separate the two in our model (Navarro is ranked among our top 80 hitters, Norris is ranked inside our top 40).Additional catcher notes: Victor Martinez (DET) is the top catcher play on sites where he has that eligibility (FanDuel). Opposing pitcher Jose Quintana isn’t terrible but Martinez is a great hitter against LHP and this Tigers offense sets up well against southpaws (tons of RHBs that hit LHP really well). Martinez is our 20th ranked hitter this evening. Stephen Vogt (OAK) doesn’t have a great matchup against Edison Volquez and the Royals (great outfield defense and elite bullpen) but he’s worth a shot in tournaments due to his skill set alone (161 wRC+, .398 wOBA and .250 ISO this season).
Miguel Cabrera (DET) – (He’s fully priced around the industry but his skill set against LHP is absurd; he’s my favorite tournament option at the position and someone that I’m not shying away from in cash games if I can fit him)
Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) – Encarnacion (.382 wOBA, .266 ISO) is an elite hitter against RHP and his matchup today plays in his favor. Opposing pitcher Nick Martinez hasn’t handled RHBs well (.343 wOBA, 38 percent FB rate and has only struck out 14 percent of RHBs in the last couple of seasons) and that spells trouble in this type of hitting environment (Rogers Centre) against this type of offense that features hitters like Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista hitting around Encarnacion. While there are different ways of constructing rosters today (paying up for Scherzer and fitting in punt hitters or building a more balanced approach with Liriano or Kluber), Encarnacion rates as a top play (third ranked hitter in our model) and he’s worth your investment.
David Ortiz (BOS) – This is a very simple recommendation; Ortiz has a discounted price tag around the industry ($3,000 on FanDuel) and he ranks inside our top 10 hitters. Ortiz is an elite hitter against RHP (.408 wOBA, .279 ISO) and opposing pitcher Alex Colome struggles with LHBs (puny 2.5 K-BB% and allowing a 27 percent LD rate to LHBs). Ortiz is our top value play on this slate and he allows you to fit a high priced pitcher like Max Scherzer in cash games, which is a sound roster construction process today.
Victor Martinez (DET) – Martinez is a great hitter against LHP (.384 wOBA, .204 ISO) and this Tigers offense sets up very well against southpaws (third best wRC+ against LHP). Opposing pitcher Jose Quintana is certainly not bad against RHBs (.313 wOBA, 12 percent K-BB% against RHBs since 2012) but this Tigers offense features hitters like Martinez and Miguel Cabrera. Most importantly, Martinez is underpriced on DraftKings ($3,600) relative to his awesome skills and the type of offense he plays for (enhances his run producing/scoring opportunities). On a site like DraftKings where he’s priced cheaper than David Ortiz, he rates as a slightly better value.
Additional first base notes: Prince Fielder (TEX) has a L/L matchup against Mark Buehrle, which might draw some DFSers away. However, this is an opportunity to invest in a hitter that’s solid against LHP (.349 wOBA, .165 ISO) in a matchup against a pitcher that struggles with LHBs (striking out 11 percent of LHBs and allowing a hard hit rate of 40 percent). Fielder is worth a shot in tournaments. Albert Pujols (LAA) is having a renaissance season (.383 wOBA, .298 ISO). Opposing pitcher Taijuan Walker has been much better as of late but he has struggled against RHBs this season (.350 wOBA, 1.95 HR/9 against 127 RHBs faced this season). I don’t mind paying a full price tag for Pujols in a tournament setting. Adam Lind (MIL) and Carlos Santana (CLE) aren’t better hitters than the written options above but they both have the platoon advantage in favorable park environments. They’re viable secondary value plays compared to the recommendations above.
Jose Altuve (HOU) – (Altuve is ranked inside our top 30 hitters but he’s priced fairly on most sites; he’s a better option for tournaments tonight)
Ian Kinsler (DET) – Kinsler has a good skill set against LHP (.360 wOBA, .154 ISO against LHP since 2012) and he’s hitting behind Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. We’ve already touched on his matchup (Jose Quintana isn’t a bad pitcher by any means) but Martinez and Kinsler ($2,800 on FanDuel) are too cheap relative to their skills and offense (Tigers are an elite hitting group against LHP). Kinsler is our 45th ranked hitter and he’s not priced like this on any site.
Neil Walker (PIT) – The Pirates LHBs have a good matchup against Williams Perez (.348 wOBA, 1.37 HR/9 and a 32 percent hard hit rate allowed 85 LHBs). Walker is the cleanup hitter for this offense, and he’s rather skilled against RHP (.352 wOBA, .192 ISO despite playing most of his games in an awful hitting environment). Walker is ranked inside our top 55 hitters this evening and he’s close to the bare minimum on FanDuel ($2,500).
Additional second base notes: Brian Dozier (MIN) is a tournament play due to the environment (Miller Park) but opposing pitcher Kyle Lohse is probably a better pitcher than he’s shown this season (ERA over six but ERA predictors and underlying K peripherals are solid). Dozier is priced a bit aggressively around the industry so I would only utilize him in tournaments. Howie Kendrick (LAD) will have the platoon edge against Justin Nicolino (doesn’t miss bats and has a rest of season ZiPS projected ERA close to 4.50) and he’s a good hitter vs. LHP (.353 wOBA, .152 ISO against LHP since 2012). Kendrick will hit in an awful environment (Marlins Park) in an offense that has struggled against LHP this season so he doesn’t rate as favorable as the written options above (ranked outside of our top 90 hitters). He’s worth a shot in tournaments due to his skill set and favorable matchup (fine secondary target on FanDuel due to his cheap price point).
Jose Reyes (TOR) – Reyes is a decent hitter against RHP (.335 wOBA, 110 wRC+). The reason he rates as our top play isn’t necessarily due to his hitting abilities but rather the contextual factors surrounding him. Reyes plays for an elite offense and hits in front of hitters like Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. When he gets on base, his run scoring chances are very good, especially against below average fly ball pitchers. Opposing pitcher Nick Martinez struggles with LHBs (.336 wOBA, puny 1.9 percent K-BB% and 46 percent FB rate allowed to LHBs) and Rogers Centre won’t help him (elite hitting venue). Reyes also has a speed component to his game (not the speedster he once was but still has 30-35 SB upside over a full season) and his price tag on FanDuel ($3,600) is too cheap relative to the upside he brings at a scarce position this evening.
Kike Hernandez (LAD) – Hernandez isn’t a great hitter (.327 wOBA since the start of last season) but he was the leadoff hitter for the Dodgers yesterday and at $2,600 on DraftKings, he’s more than a reasonable punt. Despite the Dodgers offense struggling with LHP this season, health might have played a factor. Yasiel Puig and Scott Van Slyke have been sidelined and they’ve returned to the lineup (both are great hitters against LHP, particularly Van Slyke). Now that the Dodgers offense will get more right-handed against southpaws, they should be able to have more platoon advantages throughout their lineup. If Hernandez continues to leadoff and hit in front of Puig and Van Slyke, he will have awesome run scoring opportunities and that alone is worth the cheap price on tight pricing sites.
Additional shortstop notes: Francisco Lindor (CLE) has been hitting second for the Indians. He doesn’t project to be much of a hitter (.286 ZiPS projected wOBA this season) but that lineup spot at Camden Yards (great hitting environment) in a matchup against Wei-Yin Chen (.327 wOBA, 42 FB rate allowed to RHBs since 2012) makes him a cash game worthy option at a scarce position. Xander Bogaerts (BOS) could emerge as a fair value if he hits third. He’s playing away from Fenway Park (friendly environment for RHBs) so make sure that his price tag is somewhat depressed before you invest.
Josh Donaldson (TOR) – (he has posted a .364 wOBA and .220 ISO against RHP this season and he has a matchup against Nick Martinez at Rogers Centre; he’s fully priced on most sites but he’s well worth the price of admission in tournaments)
Adrian Beltre (TEX) – Beltre isn’t priced correctly on FanDuel ($3,000) relative to his skill set against LHP (.372 wOBA, .190 ISO against LHP since 2012). Opposing pitcher Mark Buehrle pitches to contact (12 percent K rate this season) and his fastball velocity is peaking at around 83-84 MPH, which has led to a hard hit rate of 34 percent this season (career high). Beltre has been a bit underwhelming this season but most of his peripherals look the same. Either way, he’s priced too low on most sites and he’s the most dangerous RHB that the Rangers have in their lineup.
Luis Valbuena (HOU) – Valbuena isn’t a great overall hitter even when he has the platoon advantage (.335 wOBA against RHP since 2012) but he does have a nice power stroke (.191 ISO against RHP in the last few seasons). Opposing pitcher Nathan Eovaldi has allowed a .350 wOBA and 33 percent hard hit rate to LHBs since 2012. Valbuena is a fine value alternative to Adrian Beltre on sites where they’re priced similarly as long as his spot in the Astros lineup isn’t an issue.
Additional third base notes: Brock Holt (BOS) is around an average hitter against RHP and opposing pitcher Alex Colome struggles with LHBs. If you can find a friendly price tag for Holt, I view him as a secondary alternative to the written options above. Alex Rodriguez (NYY) has a good matchup against Vincent Velasquez (despite some healthy underlying peripherals, he has a 17 percent BB rate). Rodriguez is still a great hitter despite being close to 40 years old but the Yankees are playing away from Yankee Stadium, which means that the LHBs are at a disadvantage. Rodriguez is still a tournament worthy investment due to his skill set alone. Jake Lamb (ARI) should only be considered on DraftKings due to his cheap price ($3,000). He won’t hit in a favorable environment and he’s facing a tough pitcher but Lamb has been a good hitter when he has the platoon advantage and if you’re paying up for two high priced pitchers on multiple SP sites, you’ll need some punt options.
Jose Bautista (TOR) – Bautista is one of the best hitters in all of baseball and even when he doesn’t have the platoon edge (.383 wOBA, .251 ISO and 0.94 EYE against RHP since 2012) his skills remain elite. He has a great matchup against a pitcher that doesn’t miss many bats at Rogers Centre but his price tag is a bit restrictive in cash games. The Blue Jays are our number one ranked offense this evening so I don’t mind paying a full price for Bautista’s services in a tournament setting.
Tigers outfield – Rajai Davis (.377 wOBA, .179 ISO), Yoenis Cespedes (.337 wOBA, .211 ISO) and J.D. Martinez (.332 wOBA, .184 ISO) are good hitters against LHP and despite not having a great matchup (Jose Quintana is a solid pitcher), the offense they play for is elite (Tigers are the third best offense against LHP). Their price points are a bit consistent around the industry. While Martinez and Cespedes are the higher cost values, Davis is a bargain on DraftKings ($3,700) and FanDuel ($2,700). He’s the leadoff hitter for an offense that has a team total approaching five runs and he has speed upside (45 SB upside over a full season).
Preston Tucker (HOU) – It’s important to note that Tucker hasn’t been playing much lately but that’s a result of facing an unusual amount of LHPs (four LHPs in the past five games). Tucker should be back in a top five lineup spot and he will have the platoon edge against Nathan Eovaldi (struggles against LHBs). Tucker has been a good hitter against RHP this season (.366 wOBA, .266 ISO in 88 PAs) so he’s currently underpriced around the industry relative to his skill set.
Yasiel Puig/Scott Van Slyke (LAD) – Puig (.383 wOBA, .171 ISO) and Van Sluke (.385 wOBA, .251 ISO) are excellent hitters against LHP and they face a southpaw that doesn’t miss any bats (Justin Nicolino has a 4.28 Ks per 9 at AA and 5.17 Ks per 9 at AAA). Marlins Park is a tough hitting environment but I’m willing to pay fair prices for these hitters. Van Slyke is only $3,000 on FanDuel and that’s cheap relative to his skills and matchup.
Additional outfield notes: Giancarlo Stanton (MIA), Bryce Harper (WSH) and Mike Trout (LAA) are priced fully around the industry but they are worth the investment in tournaments. Stanton has the platoon edge against Brett Anderson, who doesn’t miss many bats. He’s my favorite tournament option after Jose Bautista then I would rank Harper and Trout right after them. Brett Gardner (NYY) is playing away from Yankee Stadium and he’s priced fully on most sites. This could lead to a lower ownership situation in tournaments, where I would feel more comfortable deploying Gardner (has performed very well as of late). Vincent Velasquez has been very wild against LHBs so there will be opportunities for Gardner to get on base. Gregory Polanco (PIT) is cheap around the industry and even though he hasn’t become the hitter we’ve expected, he does have speed upside. The Pirates have a team total of four runs and their matchup against Williams Perez is a good one. If Polanco is able to garner a solid lineup spot, he’s worth cash game consideration. Clint Robinson (WAS) is a punt option on DraftKings, where he’s $2,700. Robison hit cleanup last night (Bryce Harper was out) and if that continues this evening, I would consider him for cash games (his salary relief allows you to start Max Scherzer on a tight pricing site like DraftKings). Chris Colabello (TOR) becomes cash game eligible as long as he receives a top five lineup spot. We love the Blue Jays offense today (team total of five runs) and Colabello has a nice price tag on DraftKings ($3,600). Nelson Cruz (SEA) is priced way too low on FanDuel (relative to his skills), where his price has dropped to that of a below average hitter.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Max Scherzer (WAS)
2) Francisco Liriano (PIT)
3) Corey Kluber (CLE)
4) Jake Arrieta (CHC)
5) Johnny Cueto (CIN)
6) Tyson Ross (CIN)
7) Noah Syndergaard (NYM)
8) Anibal Sanchez (DET)
9) John Lackey (STL)
10) Taijuan Walker (SEA)
11) Matt Shoemaker (LAA)
12) Brett Anderson (LAD)
13) Robbie Ray (ARI)
Max Scherzer (WAS) – Despite Scherzer being the highest priced pitcher on this slate ($14,000 on DraftKings), there’s still a gap between him and the rest of the field. He’s been pitching out of his mind (has allowed one hit in his last two games while striking out 26 hitters and walking only one) and from a macro perspective, he has been beyond elite this season (absurd 28 percent K-BB%, five percent hard minus soft hit rate and a 1.76 ERA/1.97 FIP). He draws a harmless matchup against a Phillies offense that’s ranked last in wRC+ against RHP. There are enough punt options to roster Scherzer in cash games this evening, which makes it a feasible roster construction process (this is my preferred route on FanDuel, since it’s easier to build cash game rosters around Scherzer).
Next in line:
Francisco Liriano (PIT) – If you don’t want to spend so much salary on Scherzer on a tight pricing site like DraftKings, Liriano makes a lot of sense. He’s way more affordable ($10,000) and he has a matchup against the innocuous Braves (ranked 28th in wRC+ and are striking out 23 percent of the time against LHP). Liriano has improved his wild ways (eight percent BB rate) and that’s a result of getting ahead of batters at a league average rate (61 percent F-Strike rate). He’s a K dominant pitcher (30 percent K rate) and that’s supported by strong underlying peripherals (34 percent chase rate, 14 percent SwStr rate). I’m not forcing Scherzer into my lineups on DraftKings and that’s mostly because Liriano is a cheaper alternative with similar K upside and he allows you to have a well-rounded cash game roster.
Tyson Ross (SD) – Ross can be wild (11 percent BB rate) and that’s supported by a 58 percent F-Strike rate (not getting ahead of batters at a league average rate). However, his K abilities are awesome (25 percent K rate which is fueled by a 14 percent SwStr rate) and he draws a favorable matchup (Diamondbacks are around a league average offense against RHP but they’re coming off a trip from Coors Field, they usually play in a friendly home environment and they’re playing in a terrible hitting environment tonight). Ross isn’t Max Scherzer or Francisco Liriano but he’s a cheaper asset and he’s a good complement to those pitchers on multiple starting pitcher sites.
Noah Syndergaard (NYM) – Syndergaard has been victimized by some bad luck this season. He has posted a .349 BABIP and a 67 percent strand rate (.295 BABIP, 73 percent strand rate are the league average rates). His 4.03 ERA doesn’t match up with his 2.93 FIP, 3.11 xFIP and 3.11 SIERA, which means some positive progression is expected sooner than later. While he’s had some bad luck with batted ball data, his 20 percent K-BB ratio indicates that he has been a better pitcher than his luck stats indicate. Keep in mind that while batted ball data could fluctuate on a per start basis, K/BB ratios are more predictable and Syndergaard has been a very strong pitcher in that regard. The Reds offense is getting healthier (Marlon Byrd and Brandon Phillips are back) but they still project as a league average offense at best and they’re playing away from their home park (Great American Ball Park is a great hitting environment). Syndergaard is only $8,100 on DraftKings and he represents a strong complement to the top selections above.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Corey Kluber (CLE), Jake Arrieta (CHC), Johnny Cueto (CIN) are secondary top plays that fall a bit below Francisco Liriano. The strongest of those options is Kluber, as he could yield a high reward in his matchup against the Orioles. While the Orioles have been an above average offense against RHP, they strike out too much (23 percent K rate against RHP) and Kluber is a dominant K pitcher (28 percent K rate in the last two seasons). There’s a bit of risk here (Camden Yards is an elite hitting environment and the Orioles can hit for power) but I’m more likely to deploy him with a discounted price tag ($10,300 on DraftKings). Johnny Cueto has been battling through some elbow soreness but his matchup against the Mets is strong. I’m less likely to deploy him in cash games due to the injury concerns surrounding him but I don’t mind taking that risk in tournaments. Arrieta is a very good pitcher but he’s currently overpriced relative to his matchup (Cardinals are a good offense and they make a healthy amount of contact). He’s a secondary tournament target this evening. Taijuan Walker (SEA) has been pitching much better recently (five straight quality starts and recorded at least six strikeouts in each of those starts) but he’s only tournament worthy tonight (depth at the starting pitcher position is strong). Kluber is my favorite tournament play due to the high risk/high reward nature of his matchup but Walker makes for a fine alternative in that style of format and he will likely be lesser owned than any of the written options above.
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) Toronto Blue Jays
2) Detroit Tigers
The Blue Jays and Tigers are the top offenses on this slate. They have the highest implied run totals and they’re contextual factors are great. They’re tougher to fit in cash games because most of their hitters are expensive but guys like Rajai Davis and Jose Reyes (leadoff hitters for their respective offenses) feel like core plays based on the opportunity cost at their positions. I’m looking to stack these offenses in tournaments and pair them with mid-tier pitching values like Noah Syndergaard and Taijuan Walker.
1) Houston Astros
2) Washington Nationals
3) Los Angeles Dodgers
The Astros have a good matchup against Nathan Eovaldi (doesn’t miss many bats and he’s getting hit hard). Not missing bats and allowing hard hit contact looks like a recipe for disaster against an offense like the Astros (strike out a bunch but they lead the league in home runs). The Astros are a fun tournament team to target this evening and I’ve ranked them as the number one contrarian offense on this slate.
The Nationals have a matchup against Aaron Harang, who has become the type of pitcher we expected him to be at age 37. He has become more of a fly ball pitcher and his hard hit rate is nearing 30 percent. I don’t mind stacking the Nationals in a multi-entry tournament but if you don’t want to stack them, at least have exposure to their best hitter (Bryce Harper).
The Dodgers haven’t been the same dominant offense against LHP but they have some core pieces back (Yasiel Puig and Scott Van Slyke). Marlins Park is a terrible hitting venue but a matchup against Justin Nicolino (doesn’t miss bats) is intriguing for the RHBs.
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.
CLE at BLT 7:05: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind east 5-10 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.
WSH at PHL 7:05: Dry. Temps in the mid 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind southeast 5-10 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.
ATL at PIT 7:05: The threat of rain will increase through the game. Looks like they start dry to me (70-80% chance of that) but the chance of a light to moderate rain with not much in the way of lightning increase to 70-80% by 10-11 PM. Right now the rain looks light enough that they should be able to play through it. Chance of a cancellation looks small (~10%), the threat of a delay rises to 20-40% by late in the game. Temps in the upper 60s to low 70s. Air density is a 6. Wind southeast 4-8 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
TEX at TOR 7:07: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the mid 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind east-northeast 5-10 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.
CHW at DET 7:08: Dry. Temps near 70 falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind northeast 6-12 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
CIN at NYM 7:10: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 6. Wind east-southeast at less than 5 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.
LAD at MIA 7:10: The retractable roof will likely be closed.
BOS at TB 7:10: Dome.
MIN at MIL 8:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the low to mid 60s. Air density is a 5. Wind northeast 8-16 mph lessening to 6-12 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
NYY at HOU 8:10: Retractable roof. A 20-30% chance of a thunderstorm around at anytime. So, the roof will likely be closed with the threat being there.
CHC at STL 8:15: Heavy, flooding rain and thunderstorms will slowly exit the region throughout the day. There is the chance of a few leftover showers and thunderstorms falling during the game but that does not seem like a big deal to me (20% chance of a short-lived delay). The issue to me is that they are going to see inches of rain today that may cause some flooding. As long as a state of emergency, public transportation failing, etc. does not occur, the should play. Temps near 70 falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 7. Wind north-northwest 6-12 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 4.
SEA at LAA 10:05: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 60s falling into the low to mid 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west-southwest 8-16 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 7.
KC at OAK 10:05: Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind northwest 10-20 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
AZ at SD 10:10: Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 7. Wind west-northwest 7-14 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
COL at SF 10:15: Dry. Temps near 70 falling into the low to mid 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west-northwest 10-20 mph lessening to 7-14 mph which blows out to right-center. The wind is an 8 becoming a 6.