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June 9 MLB DFS: Nathan’s Famous Strikeouts
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June 9 MLB DFS: Nathan’s Famous Strikeouts

01:07 Starting Pitchers
07:13 Catchers
09:26 First Base
11:47 Second Base
13:21 Shortstop
14:38 Third Base
16:50 Outfield
20:12 Cash Game Roster Construction & Stacks

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June 9 MLB DFS Pro Tip

Starting Pitcher Rankings

Tier One

1) Nate Karns (SEA)

Tier Two

2) Gio Gonzalez (WAS)

Tier Three

3) Adam Wainwright (STL)

4) Bartolo Colon (NYM)

5) Marcus Stroman (TOR)

6) Jimmy Nelson (MIL)

7) Ervin Santana (MIN)

It’s a really ugly short slate Thursday on the pitching side of things. Generally when most options are risky we embrace strikeouts even more than usual (which is a lot to begin with). As a result, the top option we’re building around is Nathan Karns (SEA). The matchup is neutral, maybe even slightly below average. However, Karns possesses a 23.4 K percentage for the second straight season in large part due to a devastating curve ball that has led to a 34.0 K percentage over his career (12.2 SwStr rate).

Secondary options include Gio Gonzalez (WAS) (-155 favorite but velocity decline, AL team, and negative park shift are a concern), Adam Wainwright (STL) (currently the largest favorite at -165 and a plus lineup for a DFS pitcher to face, but peripherals are a concern in an extreme hitter’s park), and Bartolo Colon (NYM) (Brewers strike out a ton against RHP – most in MLB at 26.5% – but there’s definitely a lot of risk from a run prevention standpoint). We generally build from pitching out, but it might make sense to round out your hitters before choosing a second starting pitcher.

We’ve got Marcus Stroman (TOR) as primarily a tournament option on our cheat sheets since he ranks behind the aforementioned starting pitchers in our model. However, this might be a situation where it makes sense to stray from the model rankings or at least make sure to get Stroman exposure in tournaments. On a night where all of the options are rather ugly, we don’t mind simply betting on talent, and Stroman’s high GB rate with a K rate that should improve moving forward probably possesses the most raw talent. Additionally, while the park/opposing lineup are scary from a run prevention standpoint, the Orioles will swing and miss.

Catcher Rankings

1) Brian McCann (NYY)

2) Jonathan Lucroy (MIL)

3) Yadier Molina (STL)

4) Russell Martin (TOR)

5) Wilson Ramos (WAS)

It’s a pretty ugly position at catcher today. As a result, we’re once again going to the default option, which is Brian McCann (NYY) at home versus a bad RHP (Jhoulys Chacin has allowed a .332 wOBA and .162 ISO to LHBs for his career) and a bad Angels bullpen (third highest xFIP). The best alternative is a cheaper Yadier Molina (STL) who will have the platoon edge against Brandon Finnegan (5.04 xFIP; backed up by league’s worst bullpen) in hitter friendly Cincinnati.

First Base Rankings

1) Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)

2) Joey Votto (CIN)

3) Jose Abreu (CHW)

4) Chris Davis (BAL)

5) Albert Pujols (LAA)

It’s pretty easy to pay up for one of the top three options, all of whom find themselves in plus matchups. Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) is at home versus one of the worst starting pitchers on the slate in Tyler Wilson (ZiPS projected 5.36 ERA and 1.49 HR/9). Joey Votto (CIN) has the platoon edge at home versus an Adam Wainwright who still has some rather ugly peripherals: 4.42 xFIP, 14.7 hard minus soft hit rate, career low GB rate. Jose Abreu (CHW) also has the platoon edge at home in a very friendly hitter’s park. Gio Gonzalez has survived early on, but his 3.71 xFIP (highest since 2011) and very low velocity (down 2.1 mph since last season) leaves us unafraid to pick on him.

Second Base Rankings

1) Neil Walker (NYM)

2) Daniel Murphy (WAS)

3) Matt Carpenter (STL) (where eligible)

4) Derek Dietrich (MIA) (if leading off)

5) Robinson Cano (SEA)

Neil Walker (NYM) has been hitting clean up for the Mets due to some injuries in the lineup. That elite lineup spot plus a really strong context (positive park shift, more power from left side, Nelson has horrible splits versus LHBs) puts him atop both our raw and value rankings at second base. Aside from him, the rest of the ranked second basemen are pretty interchangeable and cash/tournament designations are primarily related to price.

Shortstop Rankings

1) Aledmys Diaz (STL)

2) Manny Machado (BAL)

3) Eduardo Nunez (MIN)

4) Francisco Lindor (CLE)

5) Zack Cozart (CIN)

Similar to second base, we’re pushed towards a primary cash game option at shortstop with Aledmys Diaz (STL) representing both our top raw ranked shortstop as well as our top ranked value. Diaz has a low K rate and high ISO, supported by a solid 33.3 hard hit rate. It’s a really easy way to get exposure to the Cardinals offense. Opposing pitcher Brandon Finnegan has allowed a .185 ISO to RHBs in his short career, and in this year particularly is yielding plenty of hard hit aerial contact to them. Manny Machado (BAL) is a fine tournament pivot based on skills/ballpark, but the matchup against Marcus Stroman is a negative.

Third Base Rankings

1) Josh Donaldson (TOR)

2) Manny Machado (BAL) (where eligible)

3) Alex Rodriguez (NYY)

4) Todd Frazier (CHW)

5) Jhonny Peralta (STL)

The third base position finally gives us a bit more variety. We’re highest on Josh Donaldson (TOR) who isn’t particularly difficult to squeeze in on either DK or FD. While it’s a same handed matchup, Donaldson, who is best known for his splits against LHP, has improved against RHP, posting a .377 wOBA and .242 ISO since the start of last season. Behind Donaldson, we don’t mind once again going back to the mid-priced Alex Rodriguez (NYY) with the Yankees having a plus matchup at home, although Jhoulys Chacin is a bit tougher on RBs. On FanDuel specifically, Jhonny Peralta (STL) is an elite punt if he continues to hit fifth.

Outfield Rankings

1) Bryce Harper (WAS)

2) Mike Trout (LAA)

3) Jose Bautista (TOR)

4) Michael Conforto (NYM)

5) Matt Holliday (STL)

6) Curtis Granderson (NYM)

7) Stephen Piscotty (STL)

8) Giancarlo Stanton (MIA)

9) Brett Gardner (NYY)

10) Christian Yelich (MIA)

11) Michael Saunders (TOR)

12) Ryan Braun (MIL)

13) Yoenis Cespedes (NYM)

14) Carlos Beltran (NYY)

15) Billy Hamilton (CIN) (if hitting second)

We once again get Bryce Harper (WAS) in a great situation as the combination of park shift in US Cellular Field and individual matchup with the pitcher (Miguel Gonzalez has a career 1.32 HR/9) make him worth the risk (-0.4 delta on our well hit tool) at a depressed price point. However, Mike Trout (LAA) who obliterated three balls last night has a fine matchup as well in Yankee Stadium against the contact oriented Ivan Nova. The best value on the slate, though, may be Michael Conforto (NYM). He’s cooled down since a hot start but still possesses a career .226 ISO while generating plenty of loft and hard hit contact. He’ll get a park shift and the platoon edge against Jimmy Nelson (career .352 wOBA and .196 ISO allowed to LHBs). We suggest building around one of those three options before delving into some site specific values, such as Matt Holliday (STL) (FanDuel) and Brett Gardner (NYY) (DraftKings). Giancarlo Stanton (MIA) remains tough to deal with. With other outfielders in great spots, we don’t mind reserving exposure here to tournaments but our model projects him as a plus value play. If in need of cap relief, look the way of Ben Revere (WAS) and Domingo Santana (MIL) (specific to FanDuel).

Stacks

Tier One

1) St. Louis Cardinals

2) Toronto Blue Jays

Tier Two

3) Washington Nationals

Tier Three

4) New York Yankees

5) New York Mets

6) Minnesota Twins

The Cardinals and Jays our the top stack options as two above average offenses in great parks in really strong matchups. The Nationals follow it up as they get a large favorable park shift and also add a DH. There’s plenty of power upside against Miguel Gonzalez, and while we often refer to the Nationals as a deeper team against LHP, they rank fourth in wRC+ against RHP.

Once again, there’s not much need to label specific contrarian stacks. With every team having a team total greater than 4 and two obvious chalk stacks in play, any team outside of tier two should possess low ownership.

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