Daily Fantasy Rundown – June 4th 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.
Weather: We’re keeping an eye on Washington and Kansas City. 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.
UPDATE (2:02 PM EST): Jeremy Hellickson will not pitch for Arizona today; it will be LHP Robbie Ray. An alert is being processed now.
Brayan Pena (CIN) – The catcher position is a great position to obtain salary relief tonight. Out of the available options (all below average hitters), Pena brings the best value. Pena usually hits fifth against RHP and he’s a switch hitter (good for his DFS value since he will always have the platoon edge). Aaron Harang has solid surface statistics but he’s allowing too much aerial contact (career high 47 percent FB rate this season). Pena is priced close to the bare minimum around the industry (minimum priced on FanDuel). He’s my favorite punt option at the catcher position but that’s mostly due to his price tag and spot in the lineup, not because of his skills.
Additional catcher notes: Tyler Flowers (CWS) and Kevin Plawecki (NYM) are two catcher options with bad lineup spots (usually eight) but they’re part of teams we’re targeting tonight. The White Sox and Mets will likely have implied team totals of 4.5 runs as they’re facing mediocre starting pitchers in good hitting environments. I still view Pena as the better option due to his lineup spot but none of these catchers are league average hitters. If Flowers or Plawecki obtain a better lineup spot today, they become even better values. Make sure to check our alerts system to see if any other punt options become available once lineups are out.
Lucas Duda (NYM) – Duda, Jose Abreu and Joey Votto are very tight in our model (these three represent our top three ranked hitters on this slate) but I’m giving the edge to Duda due to a friendlier matchup. Let’s take a look at his wOBA progression since 2012: 2012 – .318 wOBA, 2013 – .340 wOBA, 2014 – .361 wOBA, 2015: .398 wOBA. As you can see, his wOBA has seen a dramatic increase this season and the underlying peripherals tell the story. Duda is hitting the ball hard (32 percent LD rate), he’s no longer trying to pull the ball all the time (career best 36 percent pull rate) and he’s barely hitting ground balls (25 percent GB rate this season). His matchup against Jeremy Hellickson is perfect (.420 wOBA, 1.37 HR/9 and he’s walking more LHBs than he’s striking out this season) and Chase Field is a friendlier hitting environment than his home park (good for his value). Duda is priced fairly around the industry but he has a ton of upside in this matchup/ballpark.
Next in line:
Jose Abreu (CWS) and Joey Votto (CIN) – In cash games, I see no reason to deviate away from these top options at first base (unless you’re looking for salary relief, in which case Adam LaRoche is a fine pivot). Abreu (.389 wOBA, .243 ISO against RHP since the start of last season) and Votto (.413 wOBA, .195 ISO against RHP since 2012) have decent matchups (Harang and Gallardo are solid pitchers but they allow a healthy amount of contact), which is the reason why I’ve upgraded Duda in our model (friendlier matchup). All three are ranked neck and neck in our model and are priced similarly around the industry.
Adam LaRoche (CWS) – As mentioned above, LaRoche is in play as a salary relief option but he’s not as good of a hitter as Abreu, Votto or Duda. LaRoche has accumulated a .365 wOBA and .212 ISO against RHP since 2012 and opposing pitcher Yovani Gallardo is more prone to damage from LHBs (.319 wOBA allowed to LHBs, .289 wOBA allowed to RHBs this season). The White Sox have an implied run total approaching 4.5 runs and LaRoche is their cleanup hitter. LaRoche is ranked inside our top 10 hitters this evening,
Additional first base notes: Ryan Howard (PHI) is ranked among our top 30 hitters tonight. He has a good matchup against Anthony DeSclafani (.357 wOBA, 1.17 HR/9 allowed to 207 LHBs) and his power seems to be back (.244 ISO this season after posting ISOs below .200 in consecutive seasons). Howard is more of a boom or bust option due to his high K rate but he’s a good alternative to LaRoche in tournaments. Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) has a terrible matchup against Matt Harvey but he’s been absurd this season (.349/.470/.667 triple slash line along with a career high .470 wOBA and .317 ISO). I’ll take a shot at him in a multi-entry tournament where I can take advantage of his low ownership. Eric Hosmer (KC) is another favorable option for tournaments. He’s shown some signs of growth this season (career high .318 wOBA, .200 ISO) and opposing pitcher Trevor Bauer has been susceptible to LHBs (.320 wOBA, 1.03 HR/9 allowed to LHBs in the last few seasons). The hitting environment is awful (Kauffman Stadium) but that should only lower his ownership in tournaments.
Jason Kipnis (CLE) (.332/.402/.514 triple slash line this season and his contact rate has improved; he has an annoying matchup against Chris Young and the Royals defense/bullpen are elite, which makes Kipnis a better target for tournaments at full price points)
Robinson Cano (SEA) – Despite his plate discipline becoming worse (career low 0.32 EYE), Cano’s peripherals remain the same as last season. Cano is actually hitting the ball harder (35 percent Hard hit rate, 33 percent for his career) and despite not putting much loft on the ball (ground ball rate is admittedly sapping his power), he’s hitting a healthy amount of line drives (24 percent LD rate). These are the reasons why we believe his .244/.286/.330 triple slash line will improve throughout the season. In fact, we should take advantage of Cano’s depressed price point ($2,600 on FanDuel). Erasmo Ramirez isn’t a good pitcher but he has improved his ground ball rate and there are reasons to believe his run prevention could improve (5.53 ERA/4.20 FIP/.410 xFIP). I view Cano as a better cash game value on sites where his price point is depressed. That’s a long way of basically saying this: We’re definitely concerned with Cano’s performance but there are some signs it will get better and based on price, matchup and slate he’s a good value tonight.
Additional second base notes: Daniel Murphy (NYM) is overpriced around the industry but he has a good lineup spot (either fourth or fifth) and he’s part of an offense we love today. He’s a good alternative to Cano on sites where his price point is at least fair (FanDuel). Chase Utley (PHI) isn’t the hitter he once was but he has a premier lineup spot (third; best lineup spot for DFS production) and he has a favorable matchup (Anthony DeSclafani hasn’t figured out how to get LHBs out). Utley is a fine alternative to the written options above. If you need extra salary relief on DraftKings, Logan Forsythe and Jake Elmore (TB) have top six lineup spots against southpaws. Forsythe is the better hitter but Elmore is minimum priced.
Ruben Tejada/Wilmer Flores (NYM) – Tejada and Flores are site dependent value plays. Tejada is the best shortstop value on DraftKings, where he’s only $2,800. He won’t have the platoon edge against Jeremy Hellickson but he will hit second for an offense we love today. He should get nice run scoring opportunities due to the hitters surrounding him (Curtis Granderson and Lucas Duda). Flores is shortstop eligible on FanDuel where he’s priced below the average cost of a hitter. Flores usually hits sixth and he has solid power (.165 ISO this season, posted an ISO around .230 in more than 680 PAs at the triple-A level). I view the shortstop position as a great way to obtain salary relief in order to fit in the top ranked pitchers and have exposure to the top offensive environments. Tejada and Flores allows you to do this and they give you exposure to an offense we’re targeting in all formats.
Additional shortstop notes: I’m open to other punt possibilities at the position, like Alexei Ramirez (CWS) and Elvis Andrus (TEX). They’re not priced as punts on DraftKings but on FanDuel, they’re priced below the average cost of a hitter. They’re usable in cash games on FanDuel. Freddy Galvis (PHI) isn’t a great hitter but he’s making more contact and he’s a switch hitter. Opposing pitcher Anthony DeSclafani has major struggles against LHBs and Galvis will hit second for the Phillies. He’s a fine value alternative to the written options above.
Kris Bryant (CHC) – If you’re paying up at third base, Kris Bryant is the option you want in cash games. Opposing pitcher Gio Gonzalez is a solid pitcher but he’s struggled against RHBs this season (.363 wOBA, 26 percent LD rate allowed to RHBs). Bryant has posted a .370 wOBA and .189 IS0 in 191 PAs at the major league level and more power is on the way (49 percent FB rate and ZiPS projects a .233 ISO for the rest of the season). I could argue that Bryant’s price tag on DraftKings is discounted ($4,300). I view him as a phenomenal value on that site. Bryant is ranked inside our top 10 hitters.
Evan Longoria (TB) – Longoria’s price point around the industry is depressed and I’m not sure why this is the case. He obliterates southpaws (.386 wOBA and .236 ISO against LHP since 2012, .390 wOBA against LHP this season) and opposing pitcher Roenis Elias is susceptible to RHBs (.328 wOBA and 1.06 HR/9 allowed to 684 RHBs at the major league level). Based on his price point on most sites, Longoria is a great value alternative to Kris Bryant, especially on sites where the gap in price is significant (FanDuel). Longoria is ranked among our top 15 hitters in our model this evening.
Additional third base notes: Todd Frazier (CIN) ranks closely to Longoria and Bryant in our model but he’s priced fully around the industry. Frazier is a good target for tournaments. Kyle Seager (SEA) is consistently more expensive than Longoria around the industry. Seager is a good hitter against RHP but Longoria is the superior hitter. Seager is a fine alternative to Longoria on tournaments. If you need salary relief, Conor Gillaspie (CWS) is a good target on sites that have priced him at the minimum (FanDuel). He gives you exposure to an offense we like tonight and he usually hits fifth or sixth. He will have the platoon edge against Yovani Gallardo at Globe Like Park in Arlington (good contextual factors).
Bryce Harper (WSH) (In a difficult matchup against Jake Arrieta, Harper is a better target for tournaments; he’s fully priced around the industry but he’s made huge improvements to his plate discipline and he’s putting more loft on the ball, which has led to a .385 ISO).
Mets Outfield: Michael Cuddyer (.365 wOBA, .193 ISO) and Curtis Granderson (.330 wOBA, .196 ISO) are good hitters against RHP and they’re top targets in cash games. They have contextual factors we love (great matchup/favorable park shift) and they’re ranked inside our top 15 hitters in our model. Matt Harvey and Jake Arrieta don’t carry restrictive price points and there are punt options at catcher and shortstop, which allows you to get exposure to the top offenses (Mets are one of the offenses we’re targeting freely in cash games tonight).
Jay Bruce (CIN) – Bruce is a boom or bust DFS option, mostly because he’s power dependent (.212 ISO but only a .338 wOBA against RHP since 2012). Opposing pitcher Aaron Harang is an okay pitcher but he’s allowing more aerial contact this season (47 percent FB rate) and his xFIP points towards regression in the coming starts. Bruce is priced as an average hitter on FanDuel and that’s an investable price point for the power-driven slugger. Bruce is ranked inside our top 10 hitters in our model.
White Sox Outfield: Adam Eaton (.324 wOBA, .126 ISO), Melky Cabrera (.338 wOBA, .117 ISO) and Avisail Garcia (.316 wOBA, .120 ISO) aren’t great hitters against RHP but they have good price points around the industry and they’re part of an offense that has an implied total approaching 4.5 runs. Eaton (24th) and Cabrera (23rd) are ranked ahead of Garcia (60th) so I’m letting price points dictate my decisions (Garcia is a better value on FanDuel). If choosing one outfielder from this team, Eaton is probably the best option (has performed better as of late and has 25-30 SB upside over a full season).
Additional outfield notes: Other outfield options that have some cash game worth are Ben Revere (PHI) and Delino DeShields (TEX). They’re leadoff hitters in their respective offenses and they will have the platoon edge in favorable matchups. Revere and DeShields have 50 SB upside over a full season. Michael Brantley and Brandon Moss (CLE) are fine tournament targets. Chris Young has a 1.55 ERA/3.41 FIP/4.91 xFIP and he’s able to outpitch his ERA predictors because he’s an extreme fly ball pitcher in an elite pitcher’s park (Kauffman Stadium) with the best defense in baseball. If choosing between Brantley and Moss, I prefer Brantley (much higher contact rate and he has posted an insane 1.85 EYE this season). The Rays outfield (Brandon Guyer, Joey Butler and Steven Souza Jr.) are fine tournament targets. They don’t rank very well in our model and Guyer is a pinch-hit risk late in games but they will have the platoon edge against Roenis Elias (susceptible to RHBs).
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Matt Harvey (NYM)
2) Jake Arrieta (CHC)
3) Michael Wacha (STL)
4) Carlos Rodon (CWS)
5) Gio Gonzalez (WSH)
6) Trevor Bauer (CLE)
7) Aaron Harang (PHI)
8) Roenis Elias (SEA)
Matt Harvey (NYM) – Harvey is a staple of cash game lineups tonight. Despite being on the road, he’s the largest favorite on this slate (-150) and his matchup against the Diamondbacks is somewhere around neutral (Diamondbacks are ranked 12th in wRC+ and strikeout 20 percent of the time against RHP). Harvey has an awesome mix of core statistics (27 percent K rate, four percent BB rate), which are fueled by elite underlying peripherals (37 percent chase rate, 73 percent F-Strike rate and 13 percent SwStr rate). His skill set puts him in a category of its own. The pitching environment is a downgrade (Chase Field is a good hitting environment) but strikeouts are king in DFS and Harvey is an elite strikeout pitcher.
Next in line:
Jake Arrieta (CHC) – Arrieta is the only starting pitcher that’s close to Harvey in our model and that’s because his skill set is pretty close to Harvey’s. This season, Arrieta has accumulated a 26 percent K rate, five percent BB rate and he’s now getting ahead of batters (64 percent F-Strike rate this season, career 58 percent F-Strike rate). That’s important for his evaluation, because his command has improved and that is reflected in his walk rate (career nine percent BB rate). His run prevention is very good (3.18 ERA/2.90 FIP/2.72 xFIP) and like Harvey, his matchup is around neutral (Nationals are ranked 11th in wRC and strikeout 21 percent of the time against RHP). He’s a great complement to Harvey on multiple starting pitcher sites.
Carlos Rodon (CWS) – Let’s face it, Rodon is a much riskier option than Harvey and Arrieta in cash games (awful 48 percent F-Strike rate has led to a 15 percent BB rate). However, I actually see some cash game value here on multiple starting pitcher sites. Last night, Chris Sale feasted on the Rangers (0 earned runs, 13 Ks). Rodon isn’t Chris Sale but if he faces that same Rangers lineup (Elvis Andrus was third in the lineup, Mitch Moreland was the cleanup hitter), he could obtain positive results. Rodon projects to have an above average K rate (currently average) so we have to be careful in evaluating such a small sample (has only made four starts at the major league level). If you want to load up on hitters, Rodon makes for a good risk/reward play on multiple starting pitcher sites.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Michael Wacha (STL) has been sensational from a run prevention standpoint this season and his low K rate will experience some growth (healthy underlying peripherals). His matchup against the Dodgers (ranked first in wRC+ against RHP) keeps him away from cash game consideration. Wacha is a fine tournament option. Gio Gonzalez (WSH) has below average underlying peripherals (29 percent chase rate, 58 percent F-Strike rate and 8.5 percent SwStr rate, all below league average) but he’s keeping the ball in the ground (career high 56 percent GB rate) while sporting a league average K/BB. Like Wacha, his matchup isn’t very friendly (Cubs are ranked sixth in wRC+ against LHP this season). Despite his depressed price tag, Gonzalez is a better target for tournaments. Like Wacha and Gonzalez, Trevor Bauer (CLE) doesn’t have a good matchup, especially since the Royals hate to strike out (17 percent K rate against RHP). Bauer is a decent target for tournaments. Aaron Harang (PHI) has close to a league average K rate and his command has been awesome (five percent BB rate). He has a good matchup (Reds are ranked 23rd in wRC+ against RHP this season) and as a result, he has some tournament worth tonight. I view Harang as a safer option than Carlos Rodon (higher floor) but Rodon has a higher ceiling and he’s the cheaper asset around the industry.
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 (email@example.com) if you have suggestions.
Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:
1) New York Mets
2) Chicago White Sox
The Mets and White Sox are our top ranked offenses. They will be facing average/below average pitchers in good offensive environments and they have implied totals approaching 4.5 runs (highest on this slate). I’m trying to mini-stack these offenses in cash games while sprinkling in some Reds, Cubs and Rays.
1) Tampa Bay Rays
2) Cincinnati Reds
3) Chicago Cubs
4) St. Louis Cardinals
The Rays are our number one contrarian offense on this slate. They get so right-handed when they face LHP and that’s great for their offensive value. They’re a much better hitting group against LHP (ranked second in wRC+ against LHP this season) and opposing pitcher Roenis Elias doesn’t pose a huge threat to this offense. I’m also targeting some Rays in cash games (Evan Longoria, where he’s priced as an average hitter and Jake Elmore, since he’s minimum priced on DraftKings and he will hit sixth).
Aaron Harang isn’t nearly as good as his current ERA indicates and is allowing too much aerial contact. The Reds are a fine mini-stack in tournaments, particularly their main hitters (Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier).
The Cubs have a matchup against a solid pitcher (Gio Gonzalez) and despite his increase in GB rate, he continues to post a below league average walk rate and he’s struggling against RHBs this season. Kris Bryant is my main target from the Cubs offense this evening and if you’d like to mini-stack this offense in tournaments, Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro can be considered.
The Cardinals LHBs are good targets in tournaments, particularly Kolten Wong, Matt Carpenter and Jason Heyward. Carlos Frias struggles a ton against LHBs and the Cardinals offense is ranked eight in wRC+ against RHP. I believe they’ll be low owned in tournaments due to the hitting environment (Busch Stadium is a pitcher’s park).
MLB Game Weather Forecasts
CHC at WSH 7:05: A light rain will fall. It should not be heavy enough to cause any issues related to the game, will give it a 10% chance of a cancellation, a 20% chance of a delay. Temps in the low to mid 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind northeast 5-10 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
CIN at PHL 7:05: A very similar weather setup as what is going on in WSH, light rain at times that should be light enough to play through. A 10% chance of a cancellation, a 20% chance of a delay. Temps around 60. Air density is a 5. Wind east-northeast 5-10 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
CHW at TEX 8:05: Dry. Temps in the upper 80s falling into the lower 80s. Air density is an 8. Wind south-southeast 5-10 mph which blows in from right-center. The wind is a 4.
CLE at KC 8:10: Just a small chance of a shower or thunderstorm before 11 PM or midnight. Should not cause a problem. If for some reason the game goes after this time, there can be a heavy thunderstorm that will cause problems. Will keep an eye on this game but more likely than not, it is good to go. Temps in the low to mid 80s falling into the upper 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind northeast 5-10 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
NYM at AZ 9:40: Retractable roof. An outside chance of a thunderstorm (10-20% chance of that). So more likely than not, the roof will be open. Temps in the mid 90s falling into the upper 80s. Air density is an 8. Wind southwest 10-20 mph with gusts to around 30 mph which blows out to right. The wind is an 8.
TB at SEA 10:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the mid to upper 60s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind northwest 5-10 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
STL at LAD 10:10: Dry. Temps in the mid 60s falling into the lower 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west-southwest 8-16 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6 or a 7.