Daily Fantasy Rundown – June 7th MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Sunday’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: Only game with major concerns today is in Chicago. Hopefully, they are able to cancel this one rather early if they do so because the weather is going to be very nasty there late this morning and early this afternoon. Denver has a slight chance of a thunderstorm around 5 or 6 PM but something I am not overly concerned about.
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.
Slate specific note: With the total on the COL-MIA game sitting at 11 (next highest game at 8.5), today may be a better day for tournaments, particularly on non-late swap sites as we may not have the lineups for that game by roster lock. The best cash game strategy is to squeeze in as much Coors Field exposure as you possibly can at each position. As a result of this macro strategy, today’s analysis column may be a bit shorter as I’ll try as hard as possible to not be repetitive and write long winded blurbs for players whose commentary can likely be chalked up in two words: Coors Field. I’ll do my best to note the viable non-Coors Field alternatives where relevant but at most positions the values from that game are the top values.
Rockies catchers – The Rockies have an implied run total approaching 6 runs today (-125 favorites in a game with a total of 11), which is one of the highest marks I’ve seen all season. They’re at home facing rookie RHP Jose Urena. He’s a decent prospect but may not be ready yet, and his biggest weakness (inability to miss bats) is going to get him in trouble in this environment. The entire lineup, almost regardless of lineup spot, is cash game viable today. Nick Hundley (COL) should draw the start at catcher with McKenry starting yesterday. Hundley is a great option on all sites because he gets you exposure to this game while simultaneously providing some cap relief. Teammate Wilin Rosario (COL) is the better option, where catcher eligible. He’s a boom or bust player (especially against RHP) but the power upside is immense at home (double dong day yesterday).
Additional catcher notes: Buster Posey (SF) has a pretty reasonable price tag across the industry. He’s the best offensive catcher in the game, gets a park shift in his favor and faces a really bad overall pitcher in Sean O’Sullivan (career 5.79 ERA, both ZiPS and Steamer project a 5-plus ROS ERA). Jonathan Lucroy (MIL) is pretty reasonably priced, making him an alternative option to Nick Hundley in the same salary range. The Brewers get a negative park shift and Mike Pelfrey‘s ground ball ways could dampen their power numbers, but ultimately this is a favorable matchup. Pelfrey has a 4.61 xFIP and doesn’t miss any bats. JT Realmuto (MIA) should start at catcher today after being given the day off yesterday and due to environment he can be considered in all formats, but we prefer the Rockies catchers if pricing is similar. A couple of nice tournament options are Evan Gattis (HOU) and Yan Gomes (CLE).
Top Play: Miguel Cabrera (DET) (uptick in park factor, Samardzija’s GB rate has tanked, and if you buy into the day/night splits that works in his favor as well)
Justin Bour (MIA) – Bour hits cleanup for the Marlins against RHP. There’s some slight pinch hit risk due to the lefties in the Rockies pen, but aside from that, Bour is a superb option today. Bour has great individual value due to his prime lineup spot, huge park factor and elite matchup against Kyle Kendrick. Kendrick has struggled mightily this season (6.55 ERA, 6.33 FIP) as his 3.4 K-BB% is horrific and a ton of hard hit contact allowed (35.6 percent) is leading to an elevated HR/FB rate of 17.4. Not only is Bour a great value in a vacuum, but he makes a ton of sense today in terms of roster construction. Bour, all at once, gives you an elite value play, Coors Field exposure and salary cap relief to allow you more Coors Field exposure with the more expensive options. He’s particularly valuable on a site like DraftKings, where pricing is a bit stricter and Bour comes in at a price that’s almost impossible to pass up on in cash games ($3,400).
Additional first base notes: On FanDuel, Bour is priced more like an average player. He’s still a great cash game option there but it’s more reasonable to diversify off of him on that site. For example, David Ortiz (BOS), despite his struggles, is an elite cash game option there (just $2,500). He’ll have the platoon edge at home on Kendall Graveman (ERA/FIP/xFIP all over 5 and K/9 below 5). It should also be noted that the Athletics bullpen is not very good (fourth highest ERA, seventh highest xFIP). Brandon Belt (SF) has an awesome matchup against Sean O’Sullivan. I pointed out his poor overall stats when talking about Posey, but LHBs in particular have a lot of upside against him (.458 wOBA, 2.63 HR/9 against 140 LHBs). Over the past three seasons Lucas Duda (NYM) is a .350-plus wOBA, .200-plus ISO guy who seems to be improving and does the vast majority of his damage against RHP. He gets a pretty sub-par RHP in Josh Collmenter today, and the park factor increases his likelihood of success. Ben Paulsen (COL), like Bour but to a lesser extent, is a good value who gives you both cap relief and Coors Field exposure. Target him on sites where he’s cheap and you can play him and Bour (DraftKings). Additional players I like for tournaments are Joey Votto (CIN), Jose Abreu (CHW) and Chris Carter (HOU).
Dee Gordon (MIA) – It’ll be difficult to pay up for Coors Field players at both middle infield spots. I’ll use site pricing to help me decide between Gordon and Tulowitzki if forced to choose between the two. On FanDuel, it makes sense to go the route of Gordon as he’s $900 cheaper than Tulowitzki. On DraftKings, it makes more sense to prioritize Tulowitzki as he’s slightly cheaper and the opportunity cost at shortstop is a lot lower.
Next in line: Jason Kipnis (CLE) (viable on sites like DraftKings where he’s a healthy discount to Gordon; EYE and ISO give credence to the hot streak being more than just a blip and he’s got a great matchup against Bud Norris)
DJ LeMahieu (COL) – You or I would be value plays hitting second in Coors Field. He’s a fine alternative to Dee Gordon if you need to save a little bit of money but don’t want to sacrifice exposure to this game.
Jake Elmore (TB) – On DraftKings, a minimum priced punt is very valuable today. Enter Jake Elmore. He’s pretty bad (ZiPS and Steamer each project around a .280 wOBA and .075 ISO) but will hold the platoon edge on rookie Michael Montgomery. Elmore will likely hit sixth and is the bare minimum on DK, where his positional eligibility (both 2B and OF) makes it easy to use him as a punt around Coors Field players.
Additional second base notes: Jose Altuve (HOU) has a pretty friendly DraftKings price tag and his stolen base upside is boosted by a matchup against a knuckleballer. On looser pricing sites you can probably stick to the Coors Field options, but alternative cheap plays to Elmore are teammate Logan Forsythe (TB) and Gordon Beckham (CHW) (if top six in the order).
Troy Tulowitzki (COL) – It was the right move to back off of Tulowitzki when his peripherals were an absolute mess, but he seems to be back on track. There’s definitely a risk I’m being results oriented here, but Tulowitzki has four home runs in six games and three walks over his past seven (remarkably had just four walks all season prior to that). I’m going back to treating him based on the baseline we set for him entering the season, which makes him the top shortstop value by a huge gap, even after taking into account the hefty price tag he carries. As mentioned in Gordon’s blurb above, it makes sense to get at least some shares of each middle infielder today depending on site pricing. If you aren’t playing Tulowitzki, it makes most sense to simply punt the spot.
–Jean Segura (MIL) (viable on FanDuel if he leads off; Brewers have an implied run total over four against Pelfrey)
–Alcides Escobar (KC) (his skills don’t matchup great against Colby Lewis‘ weakness, but if punting grab some speed upside from a leadoff hitter on a team with a run total of four)
–Alexei Ramirez (CHW) (has moved up to the two hole; home against the over-achieving Alfredo Simon; near min salary on FanDuel).
Additional shortstop notes: Erick Aybar (LAA) is another one of the cheap options. He’s so devoid of talent that I’d rather not go there, but he’ll lead off in Yankee Stadium for an Angels offense that should find some success against Sabathia. Aybar is cheaper than all the aforementioned shortstops on DraftKings. Jose Reyes (TOR) makes for a nice tournament option. His price tag is still fair and he’ll be real low owned due to a meh matchup and most people going the route that I suggest in cash games (paying up for Tulowitzki or punting).
Top Play: Nolan Arenado (COL) (squeeze him in where you can; on top of the great environment that makes everyone a play in this game, Arenado is breaking out power wise, which isn’t surprising given his loft and age)
Alex Rodriguez (NYY) – Third base may be a good spot to diversify off of Coors Field a little bit. Rodriguez is under-priced across the industry (significantly discounted to Arenado) and there are a couple of viable cheap options at the position as well (covered in the notes section). Rodriguez’s EYE is in line with his career mark (.60) and his power surprisingly is for the most part (.245 ISO, .259 career mark). A lot of times with aging players we see them keep the same EYE but due to a more aggressive approach the EYE isn’t compiled in the same way (decreased K and BB rates) and the aggressiveness leads to weak contact and reduced power. Well, with Rodriguez we are seeing the exact opposite approach. He’s being patient (K, BB rates both higher than career marks) and swinging hard (career high 12.9 SwStr rate). It’s paying off power wise as he’s making great contact (40.7 hard hit rate and a minuscule 9.3 soft hit rate) and actually has a GB rate a tad lower than his career mark (41.4, career mark is 42.7). He’ll have the platoon edge at home today against CJ Wilson, whose 3.55 ERA is a bit of a mirage as the BABIP (.268) and HR/FB rate (6.9) have both been pretty lucky thus far.
Martin Prado (MIA) – Value is derived from hitting second in elite offensive environment/matchup.
Additional third base notes: The two viable cheap plays are Chase Headley (NYY) and Mike Moustakas (KC). Headley hopefully will hit fifth. He’s got the same favorable matchup as Rodriguez and his switch hitting ability leaves him with the platoon edge all game long and the ability to take advantage of the short porch in right if a right-handed reliever enters. Moustakas is using all fields like never before and the results are a reduced K rate and big increase in wOBA (from .281 to .363). I’m a bit skeptical as the power is still low, but for very low prices and in a good lineup spot (second) he should be considered in a matchup against Colby Lewis (.358 wOBA, 1.26 HR/9 allowed to LHBs since 2012).
Coors Field – The clear top play here is Giancarlo Stanton (MIA) followed by Charlie Blackmon (COL) (solid peripherals and nice HR/SB upside) then Carlos Gonzalez (COL) (poor season is worrisome but still think production improves and he holds the platoon edge) then Marcell Ozuna (MIA) (ISO should be much better moving forward) and finally Christian Yelich (MIA) (hard hit rate indicates production should uptick moving forward but goodness a 71 percent GB rate is ugly). The only other option is Brandon Barnes (COL) who isn’t very good, particularly in a same handed matchup, and won’t have the platoon edge. However, on strict pricing sites he’s a viable punt in cash games.
Mike Trout (LAA) – Trout is an interesting option on DraftKings where he’s priced at a pretty nice discount to Stanton and not that much more than the other viable Coors Field outfielders. While it’s tough to pay up for an expensive option outside of Coors Field, the DK pricing structure makes it a pretty compelling decision. Trout actually narrowly edges Stanton as the top play in our model (although I’d go with Stanton at the same price). Trout has a .403 career wOBA and his power is increasing (ISOs of .274 and .269 last year and this year). He’ll face CC Sabathia who has yielded a .339 wOBA and 1.29 HR/9 to RHBs since 2012. Trout will also benefit from a significant park shift in his favor, playing in Yankee Stadium.
Angel Pagan (SF) – You likely will need to dip outside of Coors Field to get cap relief in one of your outfield spots. Pagan is minimum price on FanDuel and very cheap on DraftKings. While his skills leave a lot to be desired, Pagan has a multitude of contextual factors in his favor: switch hitting leaves him with the platoon edge all game long; Sean O’Sullivan is terrible, especially against LHBs; the park shift is in Pagan’s favor and finally he possesses the best DFS lineup spot (third). Teammate Gregor Blanco can also be utilized as a source of salary cap relief if he leads off.
Curtis Granderson (NYM) – Granderson is under-priced across the industry. I feel his .129 ISO will definitely rise moving forward based on his history, projections systems and peripherals. The drop in power isn’t supported by the batted ball data. In fact, Granderson’s 37.9 hard hit rate and very low 30.6 GB rate should be leading to an increase in power, especially given the second best EYE (.63) of his career. Today’s matchup is the perfect spot to invest in Granderson. Opposing RHP Josh Collmenter continues to throw with reduced velocity, which has led to less swing and misses and more hard contact. Additionally, Chase Field is the sixth best park for LHBs, a big increase from Granderson’s home park (21st). He’s a top 50 overall hitting option on the day.
Michael Brantley/Brandon Moss (CLE) – It’s tough to work Brantley and Moss into cash game lineups due to the opportunity cost at the position. However, both have significant upside against Bud Norris in his first start back from the DL. Not only does Norris have poor splits since 2012 (.364 wOBA, 1.31 HR/9 allowed to LHBs), but he’s been dreadful in six starts this season (9.88 ERA, 5.35 FIP, 5.29 xFIP). Meanwhile, Brantley has a pretty absurd 1.73 EYE, giving credence to last year’s strong season and Moss trails only Stanton in our model HR score today.
Additional outfield notes: George Springer (HOU), Hanley Ramirez (BOS) (especially where he holds SS eligibility) and Carlos Gomez (MIL) are all borderline value plays that carry significant tournament upside. Alternative cap relief options to Pagan/Granderson that still possess upside are Jay Bruce (CIN) (hitting cleanup at home against a sub-par RHP), Alex Gordon (KC) (sixth spot in lineup is annoying but very good splits play against Colby Lewis) and Chris Young (NYY) (hits LHP very well and should hit second at home in Yankee Stadium). In tournaments, the Andrew McCutchen/Starling Marte (PIT) tandem hit LHP well and Alex Wood has struggled a bit this season despite the low ERA (5.9 SwStr rate has led to a reduced K rate). Nori Aoki (SF) is playable if leading off, although the price isn’t as friendly as his Giant teammates mentioned above. Yoenis Cespedes (DET) is playing in a park that should really aid his power (US Cellular is second best park for right-handed HRs). He’s an okay value, but probably better to use him in tournaments.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Chris Archer (TB)
2) Johnny Cueto (CIN)
3) Carlos Carrasco (CLE)
4) Gerrit Cole (PIT)
5) Jacob DeGrom (NYM)
6) Zack Greinke (LAD)
7) Lance Lynn (STL)
8) Clay Buchholz (BOS)
9) Jordan Zimmermann (WAS)
10) Mike FIers (MIL)
11) Alex Wood (ATL)
12) Collin McHugh (HOU)
Chris Archer (TB) – Archer is coming off a brilliant 15 strikeout performance in which he allowed just one run over eight innings and didn’t issue any free passes. That outing is even more impressive when you consider he had one of the toughest umps for pitchers. Today he has one of the more favorable umpires for pitchers in a matchup against Seattle in pitcher friendly Safeco. The Mariners are 26th in wRC+ against RHP and also carry the third highest K rate against RHP. Basically we’ve got the friendliest matchup on the day and it belongs to the pitcher with the best skills. Archer has taken a huge step forward this year, as he’s striking out 32.7 percent of batters, which is supported by his SwStr rate jumping from 9.3 last season to 12.7 this year. What’s most remarkable is that Archer hasn’t sacrificed his other skills in order to strike out more batters. In fact, just the opposite is happening. His 6.7 BB percentage and 50.3 GB rate are career bests, leading to a phenomenal 2.29 FIP and 2.34 xFIP. Even with a growing price tag, Archer is worth locking in your cash game lineups on all sites.
Carlos Carrasco (CLE) – Carrasco is allowing more hard hit contact than he did last season, which is partially to blame for the gap between his ERA (3.92) and his FIP (2.57)/xFIP (2.70). However, the gap shouldn’t be quite that wide. Carrasco is displaying mostly the same skills he did during last year’s breakout season. His K-BB% has actually grown slightly from 21 to 22.5. The GB rate has fallen off a bit (479, 52.8 last season) but is still above average. Carrasco will face a cold Orioles offense that is dropping in wRC+ against RHP (now 14th in MLB) and will strike out quite a bit (fourth highest K rate against RHP). Like Archer, Carrasco will benefit from a very favorable umpire.
Clay Buchholz (BOS) – Buchholz has been boom or bust all season long, but over his past four starts he’s been a bit steadier (15-plus DK points in all four) while still displaying a healthy ceiling (two starts of 35-plus DK points). Buchholz’s 3.82 ERA really doesn’t tell the story of how well he’s pitched. He has a career best 18.2 K-BB%, which is supported by career bests in SwStr rate (11.5) and F-Strike rate (62.1). As a result. His xFIP is at 3.12 and FIP at 2.94. There’s no reason why Buchholz’s ERA won’t reflect this going forward, assuming the same skills. His batted ball data (great 50.8 GB rate, lowest hard hit rate of his career) shouldn’t result in a higher BABIP (.317) than his career mark (.288). That’s simply bad luck that should normalize. The biggest issue with Buchholz today is the matchup isn’t all that good (Athletics are third in wRC+ against RHP and don’t strike out a lot, Fenway Park is a hitter’s park). I’d try to pay up for the Archer-Carrasco duo where possible, but with a game in Coors Field, you may need the cap relief Buchholz offers and will have to swallow the less than stellar matchup to get it.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Johnny Cueto (CIN) has a very friendly DraftKings price tag. I’m just a bit worried about his health. Following a brief DL stint, Cueto’s velocity came back somewhat but the 91.9 mph he averaged was still the second lowest mark of the season (lowest was the 90.7 he averaged in the previous start, which prompted the DL trip). He’s cash game viable on DK due to the tag, but I prefer him in tournaments due to the health concerns. Gerrit Cole (PIT) is a very safe pitcher to target due to the elite skills he’s displaying and a weak hitting Atlanta offense. He does drop to fourth in our rankings though because the K upside isn’t great (poor umpire, Atlanta has the second lowest K rate against RHP). Jacob DeGrom (NYM) makes for a nice tournament option as he’s showing last year’s breakout was not a fluke. The concern today is the Diamondbacks offense represents simply a neutral matchup and the park is a difficult one for pitchers. If you’re a bit more risk tolerant, Mike Fiers (MIL) is a nice alternative to Clay Buchholz. He has significant K upside (10.77 K/9) and is pitching in a park (Target Field), which should mitigate some of his weaknesses (very fly ball oriented). The Twins offense of course boosts his value as well (27th in wRC+ against RHP, seventh highest K rate). Utilize him on multi-SP sites in all formats, especially on ones where he provides a bit more cap relief than he does on DK.
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) Colorado Rockies
2) Miami Marlins
Even for a Coors Field game an implied run total approaching 6 is really high, and that’s what the Rockies currently have. Force yourself to get in at least two players from the Rockies in all of your cash game lineups, and I’d suggest you do the same with Marlins players. The run scoring environment is too high to pass up, especially given no other game has a total higher than 8.5.
1) Cleveland Indians
2) Houston Astros
3) Los Angeles Angels
4) San Francisco Giants
5) New York Mets
The Cleveland stack is basically an extension of the Brantley/Moss tournament write up as this heavily left handed team will face Bud Norris, who struggles with LHBs (.364 wOBA, 1.31 HR/9 since 2012) and is making his first start since being activated off of the DL. He struggled mightily prior to the DL stint (9.88 ERA, 5.35 FIP, 5.29 xFIP).
The Astros have made a home in our tournament stack section as their ability to homer and steal bases gives them big time upside in all matchups. The matchup against RA Dickey today amplifies the HR/SB upside as the knuckleballer is allowing 1.54 HR/9 and is easy to run on (as all knuckleballers generally are).
The Angels get a massive park shift in their favor playing in Yankee Stadium and opposing pitcher CC Sabathia has had a lot of problems keeping the ball in the park since his velocity began to fall a few years ago. Here are his HR/FB rates since 2012: 12.5/13/23.3/14.5.
The Giants are in a decent hitter’s park in Philadelphia, which actually represents a rather large park shift given their home park. They’ll face off against Sean O’Sullivan who is the prototype of pitchers you like to stack against: doesn’t miss bats, walks people (although that aspect has improved this season) and gives up homers (1.63/9 for his career).
The Mets, like the Angels and the Giants, get a boost from playing in a friendly hitting environment (Chase Field), which gives the entire lineup value on sites where park factor isn’t a part of pricing formulas. They’ll take on Josh Collmenter whose decreased velocity (84.4 mph) is leading to less swing and misses (6.9 SwStr rate, 12.1 K percentage) and more hard contact (27.5 LD rate, 33.9 hard hit rate).
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.
BLT at CLE 1:05: Dry. Temps in the mid 80s. Air density is an 8. Wind south-southwest 10-20 mph with gusts past 25 mph which blows out to right-center. The wind is an 8.
LAA at NYY 1:05: Dry. Temps in the low 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind south 5-10 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6.
HOU at TOR 1:07: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the mid 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind east-northeast 8-16 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.
SD at CIN 1:10: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 80s. Air density is an 8 and approaching a 9. Wind south-southwest 8-16 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 3 or a 4.
OAK at BOS 1:35: Dry. Temps in the upper 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind south-southeast 7-14 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6.
PIT at ATL 1:35: Dry. Temps in the upper 80s. Air density is an 8. Wind southeast 4-8 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.
SF at PHL 1:35: Dry. Temps in the upper 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind south 5-10 mph which blows out to left-center. The wind is a 6.
DET at CHW 2:10: Tricky game weather-wise. A major complex of thunderstorms will pass through the region this morning but will leave behind a front. This front parked near the region will be the focal point for more showers and thunderstorms developing. If this 1st complex (which still is in the central part of the state) is particularly nasty and lasts for a long time then I can see them just cancelling the game (20% chance of that). Otherwise, I think we can expect a decent shot (~60%) of delay(s) at any time. Temps in the mid 80s. Air density is an 8. Wind west-southwest 12-25 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 2 or a 3.
TEX at KC 2:10: Dry until about 5 PM. Temps in the mid 80s. Air density is an 8. Wind south-southwest 7-14 mph which blows out to left-center. The wind is a 6.
MIL at MIN 2:10: A 20% chance of a shower. Not expecting a delay. Temps in the mid to upper 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind west-northwest 8-16 mph which blows out to left-center. The wind is a 6.
CHC at WSH 4:05: Dry. Temps near 80. Air density is a 7. Wind south 8-16 mph which blows out to left-center. The wind is a 6.
TB at SEA 4:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the upper 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind south 9-18 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 7.
MIA at COL 4:10: Finally, a game without major weather issues in Denver! Just a 20-30% chance of a thunderstorm that could cause a delay (20-30% chance of that) but no worries about a cancellation. The thunderstorms should not affect the region until 5 or 6 PM. Play all players in the game with no worries. Temps in the low to mid 70s. Air density is a 10. Wind north 5-10 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
NYM at AZ 4:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps near 100. Air density is a 9. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.
STL at LAD 8:00: Dry. Temps in the upper 60s falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west-southwest 8-16 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.