Daily Fantasy Rundown – June 8th MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Monday’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: Games with moderate weather issues are in PIT. Lesser concerns in ATL, CIN and much lesser concerns CHW.
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.
Russell Martin (TOR) – Martin has hit LHP well in recent years (.345 wOBA, .170 ISO) and hasn’t had the pleasure of hitting in an elite environment like the Rogers Centre for most of those seasons. He’ll face Brad Hand who has allowed a .333 wOBA to RHBs and is backed up by one of the weaker bullpens in the league. The Blue Jays offense ranks first in wRC+ against LHP and they have a healthy team total approaching five. Martin’s lineup spot has fluctuated of late. Ideally, we’d like to see him hit fifth, but even sixth would hold his spot as our top target at catcher.
Yadier Molina (STL) – The Cardinals have the highest team total on the day and they’re experiencing the biggest park shift. It’s not a surprise to see a bunch of Cardinals flood the content today. We’d prefer to target LHBs as Hale has shown some decent GB skills against RHBs (55.9 percent), but catcher is scarce and Molina ranks well in our model. He’s posted a .338 wOBA and .126 ISO against RHP since 2012. The lineup spot is typically below average (seventh), but the scoring environment mitigates some of the lineup risk. Molina ranks inside our Top 20 hitters overall.
Additional catcher notes: Nick Hundley (COL) and Wilin Rosario (COL) are viable alternatives where priced down from the options above. The great hitting environment at Coors Field boosts their profile in a slightly below average matchup with John Lackey. Kurt Suzuki (MIN) and A.J. Pierzynski (ATL) have some punt appeal on DraftKings where pricing is a bit tighter. Yasmani Grandal (LAD) has strong skills against RHP and Rubby de la Rosa has really struggled with LHBs. He’s a viable tournament play. Evan Gattis (HOU), where catcher eligible, is a part of an ultra-contrarian tournament stack in the Astros. We expect Sale’s ownership to cross the 50 percent threshold, which brings contrarian value in stacking against him. It’s a low probability outcome, but one that can really separate from the field. Gattis would represent a fine option in that strategy as a power RHB with skills against LHP. Dioner Navarro (TOR) is a nice minimum priced option on FanDuel if he makes his way into the Blue Jays lineup.
Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) – Encarnacion is a bit banged up (shoulder issue) but it’s considered a day-to-day thing. I’m less likely to pay up for him given the questions over the health, but the matchup is one we’re attacking. I’d rather get exposure to Encarnacion in tournaments as part of a Blue Jays stack or mini-stack.
Mark Reynolds (STL) – Reynolds isn’t a great hitter (.319 wOBA against RHP since 2012) but he’s posted a .198 ISO and is one of the cheaper ways to get exposure to a Cardinals team total that is approaching 5.5. Typically, the opportunity cost at first base is really high, but Monday’s slate lacks depth and elite options. Reynolds cracks our Top 20 overall hitters and actually ranks as our third highest first basemen in our model.
Justin Bour (MIA) – Bour and the Marlins move from one elite hitting environment (Coors Field) to another (Rogers Centre). He’s facing a homer prone RHP (Estrada has allowed 1.41 HR/9 to LHBs since 2012) in a park that inflates LH home runs 10 percent above the league average. Bour remains cheap on DraftKings and Fantasy Aces. He cracks our Top 50 hitters overall. This isn’t a great ranking for a first baseman but he ranks within our Top 10 at the position and isn’t priced that way.
Ben Paulsen (COL) – Paulsen is similar to Bour in a lot of ways. Projection systems aren’t high on either player’s long term outlook but they’ve performed well against RHP early on at the big league level. Paulsen has posted a .386 wOBA and .216 ISO in his first 110 plate appearances against RHP. We’d prefer to see him hit fifth, but he’ll most likely hit sixth which is acceptable in Coors Field. John Lackey isn’t an elite matchup but the Rockies have a team total approaching five runs.
Additional first base notes: Eric Hosmer (KC) is a touch underpriced and has a favorable matchup with Phil Hughes. Minnesota is a park upgrade for Hosmer and he’s arguably the best combination of all around skills and price. The scoring environment drags him down a bit and I think roster construction lends itself to dipping down further for salary relief. As a result, I view him more as a secondary value. Ryan Howard (PHI) still strikes out too much and never walks, but his power peripherals are compelling this season. His GB Rate has fallen to just 36 percent and his hard hit rate is back up a solid 38.8 percent. He’s posted a .365 wOBA against RHP and faces Mike Leake who is vulnerable to power (1.20 HR/9 to LHBs since 2012) and doesn’t miss many bats (14.4 percent to LHBs). The lineup support isn’t great but Howard has a decent shot at a long ball. Adam LaRoche (CHW) has a nice park environment for power and has historically hit RHP well. If McCullers command regresses, we could see favorable counts (particularly to the LHBs). Like Howard, I think the projection carries a bit more volatility so he’s more likely a tournament than cash game option. Jose Abreu (CHW) is uniquely cheap on FanDuel. He’s a viable cash game over there. Freddie Freeman (ATL) and Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) are your top tournament options. They’re expensive and in neutral hitting environments but they face pitchers who have struggled mightily with power LHBs.
Kolten Wong (STL) – The Cardinals are a focal point of our content. They’re a solid offense against RHP (14th in wRC+) and they’re receiving a huge park shift in their favor with a trip to Coors Field. David Hale has been particularly vulnerable to LHBs in the big leagues (.337 wOBA fueled by an 11.4 percent K Rate and 10 percent BB Rate) and nearly all of that performance has been built outside of Coors Field. When projecting Hale inside Coors Field, we expect an ERA in the 5-5.50 range and an issue with home runs. Wong has shown nice growth in his component skills against RHP this season. He’s posted a .176 ISO and 0.74 EYE while posting a .366 wOBA overall. He gets the benefit of a big expected plate appearance bump in Coors Field and ranks clearly as our top second base option. He’s a Top 10 hitter overall and your best bet at second base when building lineups.
Next in line: Brian Dozier (MIN) – He’s crushed LHP (.376 wOBA, .239 ISO since 2012) and he faces a fly ball prone/below average LHP in Jason Vargas (43 percent FB Rate, 1.33 HR/9 allowed to RHBs since 2012). He’s priced similarly to Wong around the industry which makes him a better tournament than cash game play.
Additional second base notes: The rest of the second base options are a bit more site specific as the position is thin overall. D.J. LeMahieu (COL) is a fine play as long as he’s hitting second but ideally you want a meaningful discount from Wong to play him. Neil Walker (PIT) cracks our Top 70 hitters overall. Jimmy Nelson‘s struggles against LHBs along with a bad bullpen behind him make Walker an acceptable value play. Chase Utley (PHI) is a more consistently priced value play. He benefits from a strong hitting environment and a good matchup with Mike Leake. In a very small sample, Utley has also started hitting the ball harder in June (33.3 percent hard hit rate) which is more in line with his career average.
Troy Tulowitzki (COL) – Tulowitzki once again cracks the Top 10 overall hitters in our model. John Lackey has been a bit more homer prone to RHBs (1.20 HR/9 to RHBs since 2012) and Tulowitzki owns a career .396 wOBA and .235 ISO against RHP in Coors Field. Over the last week we’ve detailed a few reasons we’re more confident in Tulowitzki’s performance of late, including some mechanical adjustments at the plate. As a result, we’re a bit more confident in paying full price on Tulowitzki.
Jhonny Peralta (STL) – If you’re not paying for Tulowitzki, Peralta is a rather easy alternative. He’s not as good of a hitter against RHP (.332 wOBA, .153 ISO since 2012) but he’s facing a weaker starter and has a similarly strong lineup spot. Peralta also ranks within our Top 20 overall hitters.
Next in line: Jose Reyes (TOR) – He ranks as a Top 30 hitter in our model, but comes up third in our shortstop rankings.
Additional shortstop notes: If you’re not spending up at the shortstop position you want to emphasize salary relief and then optimize for talent. Andrelton Simmons (ATL) has earned a strong lineup spot of late and faces Ian Kennedy who has allowed an unusual amount of hard contact early in the season. Alcides Escobar (KC) is cheap on FanDuel and hits leadoff for an above average offense. The Twins have really struggled with the running game which enhances Escobar’s value considerably. Eduardo Escobar (MIN) often gets a decent lineup spot (sixth) and has hit LHP well (.334 wOBA, .158 ISO) in a brief major league sample. More importantly, the Twins top of the lineup is really strong against LHP which should provide some decent opportunities. He’s priced as a punt play on DraftKings which earns him consideration at shortstop.
Josh Donaldson (TOR) – Donaldson is one of the best hitters in all of baseball against LHP. He’s posted an incredible .304 ISO and .421 wOBA against lefties since 2012. He hits second in a great offense and is surrounded by elite hitters against LHP. He’s a Top 10 overall hitter in our model.
Matt Carpenter (STL) – Carpenter is a very good hitter against RHP (.374 wOBA, .147 ISO since 2012) and he hits in a very good lineup spot (second). We’ve touched on David Hale’s struggles against LHBs and the bump all the Cardinals receive playing in Coors Field, so let’s focus on utilization. Carpenter is one of the Cardinals I’m least likely to deploy in cash games. If I’m paying up at third base, I’d prefer Donaldson’s power upside. Additionally, there are a few cheap third base options that offer salary relief at the position. Carpenter is a very good play in his own right, but he’s caught a bit in pricing limbo. I’m more likely to utilize him in tournaments.
Trevor Plouffe (MIN) – Plouffe is a good hitter against LHP (.364 wOBA, .211 ISO since 2012) and he faces a below average LHP in Jason Vargas. Vargas is fly ball oriented (43 percent FB Rate, 1.33 HR/9 to RHBs since 2012) which plays nicely into Plouffe’s dominant skill: power. Vargas has seen a dramatic rise in hard hit rate allowed this season (37 percent vs. career 28 percent rate) which has resulted in more home runs allowed.
Mike Moustakas (KC) – Moustakas is another cheap alternative at third base. The park shift is a slight positive and he’s facing a fly ball prone RHP in Phil Hughes. Moustakas has fared much better against RHP this season (.383 wOBA, .150 ISO) than compared to recent years (.307 wOBA, .157 ISO since 2012) but the majority of the improvement has come via BABIP (.381 vs. .265). Moustakas is using the whole field which has helped limit the impacts of shifting on his batting average, but his 2015 production is likely a bit inflated. I prefer Plouffe over Moustakas but Moustakas is a bit cheaper and a fine alternative if the extra salary is needed.
Additional third base notes: Danny Valencia (TOR) is cheap and a good hitter against LHP (.373 wOBA, .179 ISO) but often gets pushed down the lineup and is at risk for late game substitutions. He falls a little bit behind Plouffe and Moustakas because of expected plate appearances, but is an acceptable secondary value and a good option for tournaments as a part of a Jays stack or mini-stack. Maikel Franco (PHI) is in a nice park for power and is still priced favorably. He’s a strong tournament play.
Matt Holliday/Jason Heyward (STL) – The two Cardinals outfielders rank among our Top Five overall hitters and our top outfield options. It’s not a big gap between them and some of the other outfielders listed in this section, but they’re generally priced at a more favorable entry point. Holliday’s value is more consistent. We know where he’s going to hit and he doesn’t lose value if the game gets into a very left handed Rockies bullpen. Heyward’s value is a bit more volatile. His lineup position fluctuates and he can’t hit LHP very well. If he’s inside the Top Five spots, I’m investing on sites the price is reasonable. Holliday is more consistently priced and the easier asset to value. I’m more likely to own Holliday across the industry.
Jose Bautista (TOR) – Bautista ranks almost identically to Holliday and Heyward. He’s at home against a below average LHP with a bad bullpen behind him. Bautista has crushed LHP since 2012 (.399 wOBA, .271 ISO) and holds his value into the bullpen because he’s similarly great against RHP. The price tag is a bit more elevated than the Cardinals options which makes him a bit more difficult to squeeze in. I’m more likely to get my exposure to Bautista via tournaments.
Giancarlo Stanton (MIA) – Stanton disappointed owners the last two days in Colorado and that will likely push his ownership down a bit. He faces a homer prone RHP in a park that inflates all kinds of power. He has the highest home run score in our model by a wide margin and also ranks within our Top 10 hitters overall.
Chris Colabello (TOR) – Colabello is an interesting case. Projection systems aren’t optimistic on him holding his current production (ZiPS has him for .250/.305/.424 rest of season) and a .453 BABIP is certainly inflating the current production; however, his price tag isn’t ascending with the production. He’s hitting fifth in a very good Blue Jays lineup that produces premium plate appearances and has a team total approaching five. He ranks within our Top 65 hitters and the price point remains investable.
Additional outfield notes: The Cardinals center fielder will represent a solid value play if they find a decent lineup spot. Randal Grichuk (STL) is the preferred option since he generally has garnered strong lineup spots. Shane Robinson (MIN) is a punt price tag on DraftKings and has been hitting second against LHP. He’s not a great hitter, but it’s a way to secure salary relief in a good playoff spot. Torii Hunter (MIN) rates well in our model given his history of success against LHP but he’s priced fairly around the industry. He’s a fine secondary value. Jeff Francoeur (PHI) is similarly priced and has a bit higher power upside, but his lineup spot has been more variable of late. Charlie Blackmon (COL) and Carlos Gonzalez (COL) are next in line options that fall behind the top plays and ahead of the value plays. There are some pockets around the industry where you can get exposure to one of the two (Gonzalez at $3,700 on FanDuel) at appropriate price points. Joc Pederson (LAD) has a favorable matchup given de la Rosa’s struggles with LHBs and Pederson’s power profile. He’s going to get overlooked with all the strong hitting environments for outfielders which makes him a nice tournament play. Andre Ethier (LAD) is also an acceptable secondary value play in this same matchup.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Chris Sale (CHW)
2) Cole Hamels (PHI)
3) A.J. Burnett (PIT)
4) Mike Bolsinger (LAD)
5) Shelby Miller (ATL)
6a) Jimmy Nelson (MIL)
6b) Lance McCullers (HOU)
7) Rubby de la Rosa (ARZ)
9) Ian Kennedy (SD)
10) Marco Estrada (TOR)
Chris Sale (CHW) – Sale ranks well above every other starter on Monday’s slate. He’s the most skilled pitcher (30 percent K Rate, 6.1 percent BB Rate, 2.81 xFIP) and he’s facing the most strikeout prone team on the slate. The Astros rank 14th in wRC+ against LHP but have struck out a league high 24 percent of the time against LHP. Sale is at home and a solid -155 favorite in a game with a total of just seven. He has the highest projected K Rate, lowest implied run total against, and is the most skilled overall starter on the slate. He’s your top target in cash games.
Mike Bolsinger (LAD) – There is a rather wide gap between Sale and the rest of the starters. Cole Hamels and A.J. Burnett are clearly the next in line options but are priced accordingly and the matchups aren’t particularly compelling. With a heavy emphasis on high priced hitters, we’re looking towards mid-priced starting pitching to complement Sale on multiple starting pitcher sites. Bolsinger is the best option of a deep tier for cash games. He’s facing a Diamondbacks offense that experiences a steep downgrade in scoring environment and is very right handed. Bolsinger has shown good skills against RHBs (22.5 percent K Rate, 6.6 percent BB Rate, and 50.7 percent GB Rate) and the Diamondbacks rank slightly below average against RHP in wRC+ (rank 16th). Bolsinger is the biggest favorite on the slate (-175) in a game with a total of 7.5. I believe he’s the safest of the third tier options and the best option for cash games on multiple starting pitcher sites.
Better in tournaments:
Jimmy Nelson (MIL) – Nelson gets a big park upgrade and faces a Pirates offense that is league average against RHP (17th in wRC+). After a strong start early in the season, Nelson has allowed four earned runs or more in four of his last six starts. Nelson’s biggest issue is the long ball (1.07 HR/9) and Pittsburgh helps suppress power substantially compared to Milwaukee. Nelson has demonstrated rather wide splits early in his career (.356 wOBA vs. LHBs, .285 wOBA vs. RHBs) and the Pirates typical lineup only has three LHBs. While Nelson has been explosive, this matchup and park environment are favorable for his skill set. He has the most upside in this volatile tier of starters.
Lance McCullers (HOU) – McCullers has been exceptional since his call-up. He’s posted a 29.6 percent K Rate, 6.1 percent BB Rate, and 47 percent GB Rate. His 2.80 xFIP is in line with Chris Sale. While McCullers has been phenomenal, he carries plenty of risk. Prior to his complete game last start, he was averaging just five innings per start and in the minor leagues his career BB Rate is over 10 percent. Projection models remain pessimistic on McCullers’ 2015 prospects, but admittedly the range of outcomes here is large and projection models can struggle in these situations. The good news for McCullers is his biggest weakness (control) is less of a concern against a White Sox offense that ranks 26th in wRC+ against RHP and 22nd in BB Rate against RHP (6.5 percent). He’s got a low win probability given his inability to pitch deep into games and a matchup with Chris Sale, but the strikeout upside is strong. The upside is what makes him a worthwhile tournament play on multiple starting pitcher sites (ideally paired with someone other than Sale).
Rubby de la Rosa (ARZ) – Like McCullers, de la Rosa has flashed very strong peripherals early in the season. He’s posted a 23.3 percent K Rate, 6.3 percent BB Rate, and 48.2 percent GB Rate which results in a 3.32 xFIP. He’s getting a nice park shift in his favor as Dodger Stadium is a friendlier environment than Chase Field, but he’s also facing a very good Dodgers offense. The Dodgers lead the league in wRC+ against RHP and they’ve shown a willingness to get very left handed against starters with wide platoon splits. Rubby qualifies as he’s allowed a .423 wOBA to LHBs and a .244 wOBA to RHBs this season. He’s priced fairly around the industry and if the batted balls from LHBs find fielders, he has viable upside.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Cole Hamels (PHI), A.J. Burnett (PIT), and Shelby Miller (ATL) are the “safer” options for secondary starting pitchers but they come with fair or slightly overvalued price tags. Miller has the best matchup but the most questionable skills (4.07 xFIP and 1.89 ERA) and is overpriced based on his peripherals. If pairing options from this group, I’m most likely to choose Burnett in a great environment against a RH heavy offense. Ian Kennedy (SD) has a wide gap between his ERA (6.60) and his xFIP (3.84) in large part because he’s allowing a tremendous amount of hard contact (35.1 percent). The matchup is poor for strikeouts (Braves have the third lowest K Rate against RHP) and the price isn’t as discounted as I’d like based on this season’s performance. I think there will be future opportunities to deploy Kennedy in tournaments, but I think Monday is a weak matchup. Marco Estrada (TOR) faces a right hand heavy Marlins lineup that ranks 29th in wRC+ against RHP with a league worst .101 ISO. Estrada’s biggest issue is the long ball and the Marlins offense has one major threat (Stanton) and not much else. He’s an interesting tournament option where the price is well below the third and fourth tier of starters.
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) St. Louis Cardinals
2) Toronto Blue Jays
3) Colorado Rockies
These three teams have the highest team totals and play in the best hitting environments. The Cardinals and the Jays are featured heavily in our content today. They represent our primary targets in cash games via mini-stacks. I’m supplementing those two teams with occasional Rockies exposure where I can.
1) Kansas City Royals
2) Minnesota Twins
3) Miami Marlins
4) Los Angeles Dodgers
5) Houston Astros
All of these stacks fall well below the top three stacks in terms of expected runs and event play (HR/SB potential). The Royals and Twins are in the game with the third highest total. Both pitchers in the game are fly ball prone and each offense is better against this platoon split. I prefer the Royals over the Twins because the Twins bullpen is more vulnerable and their offense is deeper and holds its value deeper into the game. The Twins are a better mini-stack with their RHBs at the top of the order. They all lose value as the game gets into the pen but they can cash in on their price tags against Vargas before the game gets into the pen.
The Marlins are a below average offense against RHP and their price points are a bit inflated after Coors Field but they get another great hitting environment against a homer prone RHP with a bad bullpen behind them. I’m more likely to mini-stack than full stack here as well.
The Dodgers are a great offense against RHP and they face a RHP that has wide platoon splits. The one negative is the Diamondbacks bullpen is pretty good and the worst parts of their pen are taxed (Ramirez 33 pitches yesterday and Delgado 36 pitches over Friday/Saturday). Even if the game gets out of hand, the Dodgers are probably facing pretty good relief pitching.
The Astros are the super low probability potential tournament winner against Sale. They’re playing in a great park and almost all of their bats hit LHP better than RHP. In addition, Sale’s ownership should approach 50 percent in tournaments. An Astros stack or mini-stack creates a ton of leverage in a tournament field. It forces you off of Sale and eliminates half the field if it goes even reasonably well (6-7 runs).
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.
MIL at PIT 7:05: A solid, steady band of showers and thunderstorms should slowly push southeast of the city. This seems like a situation where a delay to start the game is likely (60-70%) but they wait it out and are able to play the game after the delay, possibly a lengthy one. The risk is the rain lasts longer than currently forecast (rain should be out of the city by 9-10PM) and thus they cancel (chance of that is 20-30%). Temps near 70 falling into the mid to upper 60s. Air density is a 7. Wind southwest 7-14 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6.
MIA at TOR 7:07: Retractable roof. Some showers will be around so I will assume they will close the roof.
SD at ATL 7:10: Scattered showers and thunderstorms. If for some reason the game goes very long, there will be a solid line of thunderstorms that affect the region after 11 PM. Chance of a delay is 20%, chance of a cancellation is ~10%. Temps in the low to mid 80s falling into the mid to upper 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind southwest 5-10 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
PHL at CIN 7:10: A scattered shower or thunderstorm around. Chance of a delay is ~20%, chance of a cancellation is <10%. Temps in the mid-70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 7. Wind southwest 7-14 mph lessening to 4-8 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.
HOU at CHW 8:10: A 10-20% chance of a shower that will not cause a delay. Temps near 80 falling to near 70. Air density is a 7. Wind west-northwest 7-14 mph lessening to 4-8 mph which blows out to left-center. The wind is a 6.
KC at MIN 8:10: Dry. Temps near 80 falling to near 70. Air density is a 7. Wind northwest 5-10 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
STL at COL 8:40: Dry. Temps in the low 80s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 10. Wind south 4-8 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
AZ at LAD 10:10: Dry. Temps near 70 falling into the mid-60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west-southwest 6-12 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.