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June 4 MLB DFS: Harp On It
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June 4 MLB DFS: Harp On It

02:04 Starting Pitchers
06:45 Catchers
07:57 First Base
11:32 Second Base
13:14 Shortstop
14:21 Third Base
17:24 Outfield
20:48 Cash Game Roster Construction & Stacks




June 4 MLB DFS Pro Tip

SLATE NOTE: FanDuel has one main slate starting that excludes the early games and the late games, counting the 10 games starting between 4:05 PM ET and 7:15 ET. On DraftKings, you get an early slate (the nine games that start before 7:15 PM ET), and a night slate (the six games that start at 7:15 PM ET or later). As a result, we’ll have one pro tip and podcast covering the full day and point out some site specific values/strategies. The cheat sheets will be broken up according to slate (one FanDuel and two DraftKings).

Starting Pitcher Rankings

Tier One

1) Clayton Kershaw (LAD)

Tier Two

2) Stephen Strasburg (WAS)

Tier Three

3) Chris Sale (CHW)

Tier Four

4) Junior Guerra (MIL)

5) Jeremy Hellickson (PHI)

6) Jason Hammel (CHC)

7) Jeff Samardzija (SF)

Tier Five

8) Ian Kennedy (KC)

9) Andrew Cashner (SD)

10) Nate Karns (SEA)

11) Chad Bettis (COL)

12) Collin McHugh (HOU)

Tier Six

13) Ervin Santana (MIN)

14) Bartolo Colon (NYM)

15) Matt Andriese (TB)

16) Mike Foltynewicz (ATL)

17) Michael Wacha (STL)

18) Josh Tomlin (CLE)

19) Dan Straily (CIN)

20) Nick Tropeano (LAA)

21) Steven Wright (BOS)

Due to the nature of the slate breakdowns, we extended our starting pitcher rankings a bit deeper than usual. Our top ranked pitcher on the slate is Clayton Kershaw (LAD). Unless playing all day contests, Kershaw is only available on the DraftKings late slate where he is an absolutely no brainer in both cash and tournament formats due to the lack of opportunity cost at the position and ease in which you can complement him with a cheap second pitcher. It’s the best pitcher in the game against a historically bad offense, leading to a laughable team total of 2 for Atlanta and a ridiculous -400 money line on Kershaw.

Following Kershaw is Stephen Strasburg (WAS), and there’s a sizable gap between Kershaw and him and he and Chris Sale. As a result, he’s our priority in cash games for the FanDuel slate and the early DK slate. There really aren’t many strong mid-tier SP values and enough hitter values are present that our focus is on paying up for the top starting pitcher on each slate. Strasburg has been phenomenal this season, adding a slider to his arsenal that has been more effective than his curve ball. Overall, the results are a 2.96 xFIP, which he’s actually beating thanks to a 1.7 hard minus soft hit rate. He’s in a hitter’s park but the skills he possesses against a Reds team ranked 27th in wRC+ against RHP more than make up for that.

Since we’re so gung ho about paying up for a top pitcher, the mid-tier value discussion is mostly centered around who to pair your studs with (rather than alternatives on one SP sites). On the early slate for DraftKings, Junior Guerra (MIL) seems to be the most obvious choice. His combination of price and spot in our rankings makes him the clear value. There are some issues with Guerra (wild, allows hard hit contact), but ultimately we’ll lean on the K upside here. He’s striking out nearly a batter an inning, and the matchup against the Phillies is great. They rank 28th in wRC+ against RHP with the 11th highest K rate.

On the evening slate, the choice isn’t quite as obvious. However, the strain locking in Kershaw places on the cap relief and the lack of conviction we have with any of the available starters simply has us operating with price in mind. That puts Andrew Cashner (SD) at the top of the value play list (great home park, severe negative park shift for the Rockies). However, Cashner is not risk free (major issues versus LHBs this year and now all the plate discipline metrics are a mess). As a result, a couple of viable alternatives are Chad Bettis (COL) (huge park shift in his favor and matchup against the Padres is one of the most friendly in DFS) and possibly Michael Wacha (STL) (huge disappointment but $5,700 is really cheap for a home start for him).

Catcher Rankings

1) Brian McCann (NYY) (dealing with an elbow injury)

2) Buster Posey (SF)

3) Yasmani Grandal (LAD)

4) Victor Martinez (DET)

5) Evan Gattis (HOU)

6) Jonathan Lucroy (MIL)

7) Chris Iannetta (SEA)

Ideally Brian McCann (NYY) (elbow injury) is healthy enough to play. He’s away from friendly Yankee Stadium but still in a favorable offensive environment in Camden Yards. More importantly, he’ll hold the platoon edge against Tyler Wilson who has a 4.63 xFIP and ZiPS projected 5.41 ERA (with 1.52 HR/9). Alternatives on DraftKings where McCann isn’t as favorably priced include Yasmani Grandal (LAD) and Chris Iannetta (SEA), assuming top six lineup spots. The catcher position on the DK early slate is really bad. We don’t mind full punting this position simply going as cheap as you can with someone who is starting. We’ll address this situation a bit more in alerts.

First Base Rankings

1) Chris Davis (BAL)

2) David Ortiz (BOS)

3) Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)

4) Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)

5) Adrian Gonzalez (LAD)

6) Jose Abreu (CHW)

7) Miguel Cabrera (DET)

8) Anthony Rizzo (CHC)

9) Joey Votto (CIN)

10) Mark Teixeira (NYY)

While Ivan Nova has pitched well for the Yankees (3.62 xFIP), both Steamer and ZiPS project an ERA north of 4.25 rest of season. Nova doesn’t miss bats and consistently allows hard hit contact, a combination that is great for opponent power and plays right into the hands of Chris Davis (BAL) (.264 ISO, 6.1 HR rate against RHP since 2014). On the DraftKings early slate, the main options are Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) (high risk/reward matchup against Steven Wright in BOS, which is great for RH power) and Jose Abreu (CHW) (high team total for the White Sox against the horrific Mike Pelfrey – 5.64 FIP). Both are underpriced. Chris Carter (MIL) is a great tournament play given his ever-present homer upside and Hellickson’s HR riskiness. Eric Hosmer (KC) has a really low price tag on DraftKings, making him an alternative to Chris Davis. Opposing pitcher Josh Tomlin has a solid K/BB ratio but allows hard hit aerial contact. On FanDuel, Jose Abreu (above) is the best alternative to Chris Davis.

Second Base Rankings

1) Daniel Murphy (WAS)

2) Jose Altuve (HOU)

3) Chase Utley (LAD)

4) Jason Kipnis (CLE)

5) Jurickson Profar (TEX)

6) Ben Zobrist (CHC)

Daniel Murphy (WAS) (great matchup, .242 ISO) is the top second base option but a high salary pushes him to tournament status only. Industry wide options include Jason Kipnis (CLE) (Ian Kennedy always allows power but control has been an issue for him too this season), Starlin Castro (NYY) (with a top six lineup spot), and Scooter Gennett (MIL) (Hellickson has allowed a .324 wOBA and .166 ISO to LHBs since 2014). On DraftKings there are some additional options to look at, including Trea Turner (WAS) (depending on lineup spot) and the Rangers options depending who leads off (or even plays) between Rougned Odor and Jurickson Profar (TEX).

Shortstop Rankings

1) Manny Machado (BAL)

2) Carlos Correa (HOU)

3) Corey Seager (LAD)

4) Brad Miller (TB)

5) Francisco Lindor (CLE)

6) Asdrubal Cabrera (NYM)

7) Trea Turner (WAS)

8) Javier Baez (CHC)

Carlos Correa (HOU) continues to have an absolutely silly price tag on DraftKings, making him a core value play on that particular site. He’s second in our rankings to Manny Machado (BAL) (ridiculous .299 ISO is somewhat backed up by more hard hit contact and more aerial contact, including a nearly 10 percent drop in GB rate). Machado is more expensive, but on the night slate for DraftKings he may be worth paying up for. Where eligible Corey Seager (LAD) is a fine alternative to the top shortstops given the issues that Mike Foltynewicz has had with LHBs over his short career (.415 wOBA, .287 ISO).

Third Base Rankings

1) Kris Bryant (CHC)

2) Alex Rodriguez (NYY) (if cleanup)

3) Josh Donaldson (TOR)

4) Matt Carpenter (STL)

5) Todd Frazier (CHW)

6) Maikel Franco (PHI)

7) Evan Longoria (TB)

8) Nolan Arenado (COL)

9) Anthony Rendon (WAS)

Kris Bryant (CHC) is the highest ranked third baseman by a wide margin as he’ll face an inexperienced LHP, making his second MLB start following a disaster start in his first appearance and a 4.68 ERA (4.78 FIP) in five AAA starts. If Alex Rodriguez (NYY) hits cleanup again, he’d be a prime value across the industry, particularly on FanDuel. He’s a neutral splits hitter with a plus matchup against Tyler Wilson. Pedro Alvarez (BAL) has been hitting sixth for the Orioles and is a really strong tournament option.

Outfield Rankings

1) Bryce Harper (WAS)

2) Mike Trout (LAA)

3) Nelson Cruz (SEA)

4) Jose Bautista (TOR)

5) Ryan Braun (MIL)

6) Gregory Polanco (PIT)

7) George Springer (HOU)

8) Giancarlo Stanton (MIA)

9) Carlos Gonzalez (COL)

10) Andrew McCutchen (PIT)

11) Dexter Fowler (CHC)

12) Brett Gardner (NYY)

13) Yoenis Cespedes (NYM)

14) Ben Revere (WAS)

15) Adam Eaton (CHW)

Bryce Harper (WAS) is the clear top play in the outfield and someone we’re prioritizing in cash games on all slates. Even with paying up for top tier pitching, you should make an effort to get Harper in your lineups. The price is way too low for his skills, the matchup phenomenal (Dan Straily allows power and the bullpen behind him is atrocious), and a huge positive park shift. His teammate Ben Revere (WAS) will leadoff and represents one of the better outfield values on the day while giving you more exposure to the second favorite stack on the FD slate. Other industry wide values include Hyun Soo Kim (BAL) (remains underpriced and has another favorable matchup against a RHP) and Colby Rasmus (HOU) (particularly on DraftKings it looks as if Rasmus was priced to face a LHP but Rich Hill has been scratched leaving Kendall Graveman with the start). On slates that are including the late set of games, Nomar Mazara (TEX) and Franklin Gutierrez (SEA) are two underpriced options that will hold the platoon edge in hitter friendly Texas. In that same game, Nelson Cruz (SEA) is second only to Chris Davis among late slate hitter rankings. He sports a phenomenal .432 wOBA and .292 ISO against LHP since 2014. Martin Perez has a 4.60 xFIP, and the Rangers bullpen has the fifth highest xFIP in MLB.


Tier One

1) Chicago Cubs

Tier Two

2) Seattle Mariners

3) Chicago White Sox

Tier Three

4) Washington Nationals

5) New York Yankees

We’ve hit on the matchups for most of these stacks

Tournament Stacks

-Texas Rangers (Karns has great strikeout stuff, but there’s plenty of downside to his game as well – high walk rate, consistently elevated HR/FB rates for a guy with a fly ball tilt.)

-Houston Astros (Always a healthy combination of power and speed, amplified by a home matchup against a contact oriented RHP.)

-Baltimore Orioles (High correlation play to whether or not they beat up on the starter with whether or not they see the good relievers.)

-Toronto Blue Jays (Knuckleballers can be hit or miss depending on the strength of their one pitch on any given day. If it’s an “off” day for Wright, that presents lots of upside for the Blue Jays RHBs, several of whom have elite power and can easily take advantage of the park dimensions.)

-Boston Red Sox (facing a good but not elite pitcher – pricing and matchup will keep people away as a result; however, the ridiculous quality and depth of this offense makes them a team that has tournament winning upside on any given night.)

-Los Angeles Dodgers (Foltynewicz has massive splits and the Dodgers can get very left handed.)