SportGrid Radio SportsGrid
MLB Daily Analysis

5/14 MLB DFS: Cue Johnny on Thursday

5/14 MLB DFS: Cue Johnny on Thursday
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Daily Fantasy Rundown – May 14th MLB DFS PICKS

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.

Glossary: See a term you’re unfamiliar with? Check out our glossary page. If there’s something you’d like to see added there, please email us at

Weather: We’re keeping an eye on Los Angeles and San Diego. 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.


Additional catcher notes: The catcher position has been difficult to decipher from a value perspective in the last few days but that’s even more prominent on a six game slate. Here are our catcher rankings with some added commentary: Yasmani Grandal (LAD) (20th), Evan Gattis (HOU) (28th), Jason Castro (HOU) (43rd), Russell Martin (TOR) (46th), Brian McCann (NYY) (52nd) and Wilin Rosario (COL) (89th). Grandal and Gattis are top 30 hitters according to our model but their lineup spots aren’t great (usually sixth). Ultimately, I’ll let the price tags guide me (Gattis is cheaper than Grandal on DraftKings and Grandal is cheaper than Gattis on FanDuel). McCann serves as a good value alternative to Grandal and Gattis despite being ranked a bit poorly in our model. The only reason McCann isn’t ranked higher is because of Tropicana Field (terrible hitting environment). However, some of that concern is eschewed by the matchup. Erasmo Ramirez is awful (8.38 ERA through nine appearances this season) and the Yankees offense will have a team total pushing 4.5 runs. Unlike some of our other top catcher options, McCann is blessed with a good lineup spot (fifth) and that aids his value a bit. If you want to get exposure to a Yankees offense that should get to Ramirez despite the poor hitting environment, it makes sense to do it with McCann (higher opportunity costs at other positions like first base and third base, which makes Rodriguez, Teixeira and the rest of the Yankees LHBs better value alternatives than primary values). Rosario is always in play against a LHP (incredible skills against southpaws) but Brett Anderson yields a high amount of ground balls and he’s a solid pitcher for the most part. The Rockies offense has a team total around 3-3.5 runs tonight and they face a huge negative park shift, which means Rosario only garners secondary value consideration. Jason Castro hits towards the bottom of the Astros lineup (seventh) but he has a strong matchup against Drew Hutchison and Vegas likes this Astros offense tonight (4.5 run total). He’s an acceptable tournament option.First Base

Top Play:

Joey Votto (CIN) – Votto is our number one ranked hitter and for some reason his price tag is depressed around the industry. Despite posting a nice 2.00 ERA, there are some concerns for Tim Lincecum. He has seen his fastball velocity come down to 87 MPH (was at 90 MPH in 2013 and 2014) and he’s benefited from an elevated strand rate and an unsustainable low HR/FB rate. He also faces an extreme negative park shift (from AT&T Park to Great American Ball Park). Joey Votto should take advantage of this matchup and he has fully recovered from the knee ailment that cost him basically the 2014 season. His wOBA (.407), ISO (.231) and wRC+ (154) are all in line with his career marks, which is a great sign of his renewed health. The only reason I don’t consider him a must play on a six game slate is because Adrian Gonzalez has an awesome matchup, the Dodgers have a team total of 4.5 runs and he has a nice price point on DraftKings. However, Votto is the clear-cut top option on FanDuel (much cheaper than Gonzalez) and I wouldn’t fade him in cash games on that site. Votto is a phenomenal option in all formats this evening.

Next in line:

Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) – Joey Votto and Gonzalez will be the only written options at first base due to their accessible price points and their respective ranks in our model (Votto is our top ranked hitter, Gonzalez is ranked among our top eight hitters). Gonzalez draws a matchup against Chad Bettis, a pitcher that has limited experience at the Major League level. In 69 IP at the Major League level, Bettis posted a 13 percent K rate, nine percent BB rate and a 6.88 ERA. Gonzalez has been very good against RHP, posting a .360 wOBA and .191 ISO since 2012 (.480 wOBA, .340 ISO and 30 percent LD rate this season). The Dodgers offense has a team total of 4.5 runs and Gonzalez figures to hit cleanup (awesome for his DFS value). He’s a great alternative to Joey Votto in all formats.

Additional first base notes: Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) rates well in our model (third) but his price doesn’t offer much value (priced fairly around the industry). He has a favorable matchup against Roberto Hernandez and the Blue Jays have a team total approaching 4.5 runs. Encarnacion is a nice tournament option tonight but his high price tag keeps him away from cash game consideration. Mark Teixeira (NYY) is playing away from the short porch at Yankee Stadium but he has a great matchup against the struggling Erasmo Ramirez. On a site like DraftKings where you can capitalize on power (14 Fantasy points for a homerun), Teixeira is a nice option in tournaments. Mike Napoli (BOS) is almost minimum priced on FanDuel and a matchup against a southpaw should give him a favorable lineup spot (fifth). The hitting environment isn’t favorable (Safeco Field) and the Red Sox offense has a team total of 3.5 runs. Napoli is a secondary cash game option on FanDuel (tournament option on DraftKings).

Second Base

Top Play:

Jose Altuve (HOU) – Robinson Cano and Altuve are ranked next to each other in our model but I’m giving the nod to Altuve due to his awesome speed upside and a good lineup spot (second) on an offense that Vegas likes (Astros have a team total of 4.5 runs). I’m not sure why Altuve is only $4,200 on DraftKings but at a scarce position, Altuve makes a lot of sense on a condensed slate. He’s a much better hitter against LHP but there are enough contextual factors to keep him locked in as the top option at second base this evening.

Additional second base notes: Robinson Cano (SEA) is a next in line option to Jose Altuve and he’s much cheaper than the latter on FanDuel ($1,000 cheaper). Cano doesn’t have the benefit of a good hitting environment but the Mariners have a team total of four runs and his overall hitting skills are better than what his $3,400 FanDuel tag suggests. He’s a good value play on that specific site. Devon Travis (TOR) is only $3,300 on DraftKings and he’s a nice value alternative to Jose Altuve on that particular site. That cheap price tag for a leadoff hitter is a favorable entry point to an offense that Vegas likes (Blue Jays have a team total approaching 4.5 runs) and Travis has flashed both power and speed upside, unlike most other cheap players at this position. Justin Turner (LAD) is second base eligible on FanDuel and he’s an elite value on that site as long as he garners a good lineup spot. Turner and the Dodgers offense will have a favorable matchup against a pitcher with limited Major League experience and Vegas agrees with this analysis (Dodgers have a team total pushing 4.5 runs). Teammate Howie Kendrick is priced fairly around the industry but he can be a part of Dodgers stacks in tournaments. Luis Valbuena (HOU) and Alex Guerrero (LAD) have second base eligibility on DraftKings and they’re elite values regardless of the position. Valbuena will hit third (great for his DFS value) in a favorable matchup against Drew Hutchison. Guerrero should hit fifth and he has a very low price tag on DraftKings (they’ve priced him as a bench player but his production has been great). Like Devon Travis, Guerrero’s price tag provides a favorable entry point for an offense that Vegas likes tonight.


Additional shortstop notes: Troy Tulowitzki (COL) is the top play at the shortstop position as he gets to face a LHP. His skill set at the shortstop position is unparalleled and the gap becomes even bigger when he faces a southpaw. However, the Rockies offense is playing away from Coors Field and Brett Anderson induces a ton of groundballs. Tulowitzki can be utilized in cash games due to his skill set alone but I would rather have my exposure to him come via tournaments (Rockies have a team total of just three runs). Jimmy Rollins (LAD) is a nice punt play on FanDuel. The Dodgers have a healthy team total (pushing 4.5 runs) and Rollins will hit second. Those contextual factors are enough to push Rollins among our top 25 hitters in our model tonight. If Brad Miller (SEA) hits second (has been hitting second in the last few days), he’s my favorite punt play on DraftKings. He’s cheaper than the other shortstop values, has solid power skills for a shortstop (.165 ISO against RHP in the last couple of seasons) and he gives you access to a healthy four run team total. Like Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez (BOS) has awesome skills against LHP but he’s playing in a bad hitting environment and the Red Sox have a team total of 3.5 runs. He’s a viable cash game option on sites where he’s shortstop eligible but I’d rather have my exposure to him come via tournaments.

Third Base

Top Play:

Josh Donaldson (TOR) and Todd Frazier (CIN) – Donaldson (21st) and Frazier (24th) are ranked very closely in our model so I’ll let price points dictate my decision. Frazier is slightly discounted around the industry and even though he has a R/R matchup, the hitting environment is favorable (Great American Ball Park is an elite hitter’s park). Frazier is the better value around the industry but the gap isn’t clear. Donaldson also has a R/R matchup but the Blue Jays have a team total of 4.5 runs and he’s blessed with a good lineup spot (second). Frazier and Donaldson are in play across all formats tonight.

Value Play:

Luis Valbuena (HOU) – Valbuena isn’t a great hitter but he does have solid power skills against RHP (.174 ISO against RHP since 2012) and he has the best lineup position that a hitter can have for DFS purposes (third). His matchup against Drew Hutchison is good as Hutchison has allowed a .342 wOBA and 1.38 HR/9 to LHBs in the last few seasons. The Astros offense is one of the few we’re targeting today as they’ve settled in with a healthy 4.5 run total. Valbuena is ranked inside our top 40 hitters this evening and he’s a nice value alternative to the top plays at third base.

Additional third base notes: Kyle Seager (SEA) serves as the next in line option to Donaldson and Frazier. Seager will carry the platoon advantage in his matchup against Joe Kelly (good for his DFS value) but the hitting environment isn’t favorable. I prefer Valbuena in cash games (even where priced similarly) but Seager serves as a fine value alternative. Alex Rodriguez (NYY) has a R/R matchup and he’s in a bad hitting environment but the matchup (Erasmo Ramirez is sporting a 8.83 ERA this season) quells some of these concerns. Rodriguez is priced fairly around the industry but he’s still a fine secondary option in this matchup. Alex Guerrero (LAD) has third base eligibility on DraftKings and he’s an elite value play (at both second and third base) on that site ($3,000). A middle of the lineup spot in an offense with a 4.5 run total are enough contextual factors to consider him in all formats.


Top Plays:

Jose Bautista (TOR), Joc Pederson (LAD) and George Springer (HOU) – Bautista (second), Pederson (sixth) and Springer (seventh) are ranked within our top 10 hitters this evening. Pederson has the best matchup (Chad Bettis) and he will be the leadoff hitter for the Dodgers (4.5 team total). Pederson is cheaper than Bautista and Springer on DraftKings. Springer has a R/R matchup against Drew Hutchison (yielding a ton of hard contact) and he’s priced adequately on DraftKings (nice price tag on FanDuel). Springer has an elite lineup spot (cleanup) in an offense that Vegas likes tonight. Bautista is priced fairly around the industry and even though he has a R/R/ matchup, he’s an elite hitter. Bautista is also generating more loft this season (53 percent FB rate, 46 percent FB rate for his career), which is good for his power potential. I prefer Pederson and Springer in cash games but Bautista is a good tournament option.

Value Plays:

Jay Bruce (CIN) – Assuming Bruce will garner a good lineup spot (at least fifth but even sixth on a short slate is okay), he’s the top value play on this slate when you consider his ranking in our model (eight) and his price tag on FanDuel ($2,500). Bruce will have the platoon advantage against Tim Linceum (has allowed a 26 percent LD rate to LHBs since 2012) at Great American Ball Park (increases left handed power by approximately 12 percent above the league average). Since 2012, Bruce has accumulated a .342 wOBA and .219 ISO. This matchup and ballpark should help him realize his power potential and he’s underpriced around the industry, making him a great cost-effective value in all formats.

Colby Rasmus/Jake Marisnick (HOU) – As I’ve mentioned plenty of times in today’s Daily Fantasy Rundown, we’re high on the Astros offense tonight (team total of 4.5 runs). Rasmus (fifth) and Marisnick (leadoff) have nice lineup spots in this offense and they’re both priced nicely on DraftKings. Drew Hutchison has allowed a 24 percent LD rate and 1.24 HR/9 this season and his run prevention has been awful (6.69 ERA). Rasmus and Marisnick give you exposure to a top offense and at the same time the salary relief they provide helps you fit the top two pitchers this evening.

Additional outfield notes: Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner (NYY) (good matchup but the hitting environment isn’t favorable and they’re priced fairly around the industry) are fine options to attack in tournaments (Ellsbury is a good cash game option on DraftKings due to his depressed price tag). Scott Van Slyke and Andre Ethier (LAD) will quicky emerge as elite cash game options if they can secure good lineup spots. They have a matchup against Chad Bettis and the Dodgers are a team we’re targeting tonight (4.5 run total). Nelson Cruz (SEA) has a favorable matchup against Joe Kelly (coming off four disaster starts) but his price tag is fair around the industry and the hitting environment isn’t favorable. Cruz is a good target for tournaments on a condensed slate (awesome power skills). Chris Carter (HOU) should be a part of Astros stacks. They have a great matchup against a pitcher that’s home run prone. Carter is sort of the ultimate tournament play (can hit two home runs or strike out four times) but this matchup should help him realize his power potential. Kevin Kiermaier (TB) will be the leadoff hitter for the Rays and he has the platoon advantage against Chase Whitley. The hitting environment isn’t good and the Rays have a team total of 3.5 runs. Kiermaier has some appeal as a tournament stack filler this evening.

Starting Pitcher

Tier 1

1) Johnny Cueto (CIN)

Tier 2

2) Tyson Ross

Tier 3

3) Doug Fister (WSH)

4) Brett Anderson (LAD)

Tier 4

5) Drew Hutchison (TOR)

6) Joe Kelly (BOS)

7) Tim Lincecum (SF)

The Play:

Johnny Cueto (CIN) – If you’re playing cash games tonight, the first thing to do is click on the starting pitcher option and select Johnny Cueto. Let’s look at what Vegas is telling us first. The Giants will have a team total of three runs. Additionally, Cueto and the Reds are -168 favorites to win this game (second largest favorites on this slate). When looking at the skill set, no other starting pitcher on this slate compares. Cueto has an elite 24 percent K rate and a minuscule four percent BB rate. His awesome strikeout rate is fueled by awesome underlying peripherals (excellent chase rate, F-Strike rate and SwStr rate). The Giants offense will receive a favorable park shift and they don’t strike out much but they’re not potent (middle of the pack wOBA against RHP). Going further than this is just unnecessary. Cueto is the clear-cut top option at the starting pitcher position across the industry.

Value Play:

Tyson Ross (SD) – If weather cooperates, Ross is the next in line option to Johnny Cueto this evening. This game between the Nationals and Padres has the lowest total on this slate (6.5) and the Nationals offense will settle with a team total of three runs. Ross has been an elite pitcher when looking at strikeouts (26 percent K rate, fueled by an incredible 12.3 SwStr rate) and ground balls (60 percent GB rate) and even though the walks are unacceptable (13 percent BB rate), there’s reason to believe they will regress (around 9 percent career BB rate). If you’re playing on multiple starting pitcher sites, Ross serves as the best complement to Cueto in cash games.

Additional starting pitcher notes: After Cueto and Ross, there are some low end options with strikeout upside but they’re not worth cash game consideration. Drew Hutchison (TOR) has a matchup against the strikeout-prone Astros but Vegas doesn’t really like him tonight (Astros have a team total around 4.5 runs). Hutchison is sporting a 6.69 ERA through seven starts and he’s allowing plenty of hard contact (24 percent LD rate and 1.24 HR/9) so it’s easy to see why Vegas likes the Astros offense tonight. There’s upside in his strikeout abilities (career 22 percent K rate) against an Astros team that strikes out plenty (25 percent K rate against RHP) but he’s a better option for tournaments. Joe Kelly (BOS) has increased his fastball velocity by two MPH (from 94 to 96 MPH) and he’s striking out a batter per inning but he’s also coming off four disaster starts. He has a cheap price tag on most sites but he can’t be trusted in cash games. Take a shot at his K upside in multi-entry tournaments. Brett Anderson (LAD) earns some consideration due to the fact that he’s the largest favorite on this short slate (-190) but he doesn’t have much strikeout upside (13 percent K rate this season). He’s a serviceable cash game option due to floor but he’s clearly not in the same tier as Johnny Cueto and Tyson Ross.

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 ( if you have suggestions.

Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:

1) Houston Astros

2) Los Angeles Dodgers

3) Toronto Blue Jays

4) Cincinnati Reds

There’s no new commentary to add here. These four teams are our top targets in both cash games and tournaments. The Astros, Dodgers and Blue Jays will have 4.5 team totals while the Reds settle in with a total of four runs (pushing 4.5). My main thoughts for cash games are to mini-stack these teams and have exposure to the top two pitchers.

Contrarian/Secondary Stacks:

1) New York Yankees

2) Seattle Mariners

3) Boston Red Sox

I’m not sure how “contrarian” the Yankees and Mariners are tonight (favorable matchups) but the hitting environment drags their value in our model and their Vegas totals are a reflection of this (both have a team total of four runs, the top offenses have team totals of 4.5 runs). The Yankees LHBs (and Alex Rodriguez) are in a good spot against Erasmo Ramirez (terrible run prevention this season and he’s allowed a 1.20 HR/9 to LHBs in the last few seasons). The Mariners (especially Cano, Cruz and Seager) are a fine team to mini-stack tonight. Joe Kelly has been awful in his last five starts and this might be an offense DFSers ignore because of the unfavorable hitting environment. The Mariners have a solid team total so there’s some value here for tournaments. The Red Sox offense has been scuffling as of late and they hit in yet another unfavorable environment for hitters and that will likely drive down their tournament ownership. They’ll matchup against an average to below average southpaw and their price tags are depressed around the industry. Betts, Pedroia, Ortiz (should get at least one AB against a RHP late in the game) and Napoli should all be considered as contrarian stack fillers.

MLB Game Weather Forecasts

SF at CIN 7:10: Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind southeast 5-10 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
NYY at TB 7:10: Dome.
TOR at HOU 8:10: Retractable roof. A 10-20% chance of a random shower, namely it should be dry. If the roof is open, temps in the low to mid 80s falling into the mid 70s. Air density is a 7 or 8. Wind southeast 7-14 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.
BOS at SEA 10:10: Retractable roof. Showers around so I will assume the roof will be closed.
COL at LAD 10:10: As strange as this sounds, there will be some showers and maybe even some thunderstorms around. This is not a steady rain but there can be some downpours. If the heavy rain is right over the stadium, I could see a delay (20-30% chance of a delay at anytime). Temps near 60 falling into the mid 50s. Air density is a 5 or 6. Wind west-southwest 7-14 mph becoming south at 5-10 mph. The wind first blows out to right and then out to left. The wind is a 6.
WSH at SD 10:10: Much like the game in LA, it is strange to think about rain in southern California but that is the case for this game. Showers and maybe even a rumble of thunder around. Should not be a steady rain but there can be some heavy downpours. If the stadium is right under a downpour, there could be a delay (20-30% at anytime). Temps in the mid 60s falling to near 60. Air density is a 6. Wind southwest 8-16 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.

MLB Daily Analysis