MLB DFS Daily Fantasy Rundown – May 15th, 2015
Welcome to Friday’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 have some minor concerns in Cincinnati, Kansas City, Texas, and Los Angeles. 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.
Buster Posey (SF) – Like Wednesday, Posey is once again a clear top option at the catcher position. He gets a huge park shift in his favor going from San Francisco (deflates scoring by 24 percent) to Cincinnati (inflates scoring by 21 percent) and he’s facing one of the weakest starters in all of baseball. Jason Marquis has allowed a .342 wOBA and 1.34 HR/9 to RHBs since 2012. ZiPS projection system is calling for a 5.20 ERA over the rest of the season while allowing 1.79 HR/9. Marquis’ below average skills coupled with one of the best offensive environments in baseball, makes him one of the top pitchers to target. Posey’s price is up a bit around the industry after his monster performance on Wednesday, but the gap between Posey and the next best catching options is wide. He ranks inside our Top Five hitters overall and the next best catching options generally rank outside our Top 50 and few rank inside the Top 100.
Robinson Chirinos (TEX) – Chirinos has been a strong hitter against LHP in his career, posting a .345 wOBA and .230 ISO since 2012. The Rangers offense gets a great matchup against Bruce Chen who has allowed a .336 wOBA and 1.40 HR/9 since 2012. Chirinos typically hits sixth which falls just outside our lineup targets (typically 1-5) but most catchers hit outside the Top Five, making it a less of an emphasis at this specific position. With Chirinos’ modest price point around the industry, we think he’s the value play alternative to paying up for Buster Posey.
Additional catcher notes: On sites where Carlos Santana (CLE) holds catcher eligibility, he earns strong consideration as our top play. He ranks within our Top 10 overall hitters thanks to a strong skill set against LHP (.365 wOBA, .166 ISO) and a nice park boost. Santana and Posey are near equivalents. Yasmani Grandal (LAD) ranks inside the Top 45 hitters in our model. He typically doesn’t catch for Clayton Kershaw, so we’re not expecting him in the lineup. If he does end up in the lineup and is in a favorable spot, he’ll earn consideration. Roberto Perez (CLE) is another punt option in a favorable offensive environment in Texas. Perez has shown good pop (.161 ISO this season, .213 ISO in AAA in 2014) and gets the platoon advantage against Wandy Rodriguez. Rodriguez has allowed 1.20 HR/9 to RHBs since 2012. Cheap power in a good hitting environment is a fine way to approach a scarce position. Evan Gattis (HOU) and Jason Castro (HOU) profile as strong tournament plays. R.A. Dickey is far more susceptible to LH power (1.17 HR/9 allowed since 2012) making a Castro the preferred option if the lineup spots are similar. Both players have a nice power upside in a favorable hitting environment
Friday is a bit unusual for first base in that some of the best overall plays are actually strong values as well. We’ll cover those in the section below. As usual, the position is very deep. While we’ll focus our cash game exposure on the options below: Paul Goldschmidt (ARZ), Miguel Cabrera (DET), and Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) are fine options in tournaments.
Brandon Belt (SF) – Our model despises Jason Marquis which coupled with a huge park shift in the Giants favor is pushing a lot of Giants hitters towards the top of our model. Marquis has allowed a .374 wOBA and 1.76 HR/9 to LHBs since 2012. Belt has compiled a .357 wOBA and .173 ISO against RHP while playing the majority of his games in a park that deflates LHBs nine percent below the league average overall and 16 percent below the league average in home runs. Great American Ballpark inflates LH production six percent above the league average and home runs by 12 percent. When you combine Marquis’ shaky history against LHBs with Belt’s huge park shift, you get Belt inside our Top Five overall hitters. He isn’t even priced as a Top 10 first baseman on most sites, which makes him one of the better value plays around the industry.
Chris Davis (BAL) – We love taking Davis against fly ball prone RHP that struggle missing bats. These matchups emphasize his greatest skill (.283 ISO against RHP since 2012) and minimize his biggest weakness (31.9 percent K Rate). Weaver seems like the ideal fit. He’s only struck out 11.5 percent of batters faced this season and he’s allowing a 40.6 percent fly ball rate. The fly ball rate has actually come down from his career average (47.5 percent) but remains high. This has made Weaver exceptionally homer-prone early in the season (2.28 HR/9 to LHBs) as velocity losses (83.6 mph average fastball) are exaggerating the problem. Weaver typically plays in a home park that deflates LH home runs nine percent below the league average but tonight he’ll pitch in Baltimore which inflates LH home runs 14 percent above the league average. Davis ranks inside our Top 10 hitters overall but carries the highest home run score of any hitter in our model.
Carlos Santana (CLE) – As noted in our catcher notes, Santana has hit LHP well throughout his career (.365 wOBA, .166 ISO) and is getting a nice park shift. Cleveland deflates RH power by about seven percent while Arlington inflates it by about three percent. Wandy Rodriguez has limited RHBs to a .312 wOBA since 2012 but has surrendered 1.20 HR/9. Much of Rodriguez’s success against RHBs of late is attributed to a low BABIP (.274). ZiPS projection system calls for a .341 wOBA and .210 ISO allowed from Rodriguez against RHBs this season. Santana also gets the benefit of holding the platoon advantage into the bullpen as a switch hitter.
Additional first base notes: Albert Pujols (LAA) and Lucas Duda (NYM) also rate as strong values (Top 15 hitters) in our model, but a bit behind the group above. Pujols gets a nice park shift and a matchup against fly ball prone Wei-Yin Chen who has allowed 1.27 HR/9 to RHBs since 2012. Duda gets a neutral park environment but faces Kyle Lohse who has allowed a 24 percent LD Rate and 1.18 HR/9 to LHBs since 2012. The individual matchups profile well but the lack of elite lineup support around them pushes them down in our model rankings slightly. Prince Fielder (TEX) is a fun contrarian tournament play as part of a Rangers stack. Bruce Chen has struggled against LHBs (.351 wOBA, 1.15 HR/9 allowed since 2012) and Fielder hasn’t been bad against lefties in recent years (.348 wOBA, .167 ISO). The Rangers are a nice offense to target and including Fielder in stacks or mini-stacks makes a ton of sense.
Jose Altuve (HOU) – Altuve’s matchup isn’t ideal but he ranks as the top second base hitter in our model and a Top 25 hitter overall. R.A. Dickey has been good against RHBs in recent years (.295 wOBA) but he’s a bit homer prone (1.13 HR/9) and the Astros have a healthy team total (4 pushing 4.5). On sites like FanDuel where Altuve is fully priced, I’ll opt for salary relief. On sites like DraftKings, where he’s priced fairly, I think he earns cash game consideration.
Robinson Cano (SEA) – Cano ranks just behind Altuve in our model (Top 35) but comes at a cheaper entry point. The matchup with Clay Buchholz is an interesting one. Buchholz has posted incredible peripherals this season but the performance has been horrendous. Historically he’s been above average against LHBs (.318 wOBA, 0.84 HR/9 since 2012) and the park environment isn’t great. Still, our model values Cano’s skills against RHP (.371 wOBA, .151 ISO against RHP since joining the Mariners) and thinks he’s an acceptable option as a step down from Altuve.
Justin Turner (LAD) – The Dodgers lineup is fluid but I’m hoping we see Turner in the lineup and in a good spot on Friday night. Turner has been remarkably effective against RHP since 2012, posting a .371 wOBA and .153 ISO. Eddie Butler has really struggled at the major league level and it’s not just a product of Coors Field. He’s allowed a .366 wOBA and posted a 4.38 ERA and 1.74 WHIP on the road in his career. The Dodgers offense ranks first in MLB in wRC+ (134) and it’s by a huge margin. If Turner is in the lineup, he’ll likely earn a strong lineup spot making him a nice value play around the industry. He ranks as a Top 70 hitter in our model.
Joe Panik (SF) – Panik has a limited upside but is part of a Giants lineup we’re optimistic on and he typically garners a strong lineup spot (second). He’s posted just a .310 wOBA and .083 ISO against RHP as a big leaguer but Jason Marquis has surrendered a .374 wOBA to LHBs since 2012. On most sites, Panik is a salary relief option and at those price points he’s a fine option. He cracks our Top 85 hitters overall.
Additional second base notes: Luis Valbuena (HOU) comes with a great price point ($3,400) and second base eligibility on DraftKings. He’s my favorite option on that specific site as his power against RHP (.183 ISO since 2012) matches up well with Dickey’s home run tendencies. If Alex Guerrero (LAD) lands a favorable lineup spot, he’ll remain a fine option on DraftKings where the price is down. Johnny Giavotella (LAA) has not hit LHP well at all in his limited big league sample (.263 wOBA) but his skills looks solid (20 percent LD Rate, 0.68 EYE) and he gets a nice park shift against a fly ball prone lefty. With a minimum price tag around the industry, I think he’s an interesting punt play if he hits sixth again. Cory Spangenberg (SD) is starting to see his price elevate around the industry. Jordan Zimmermann isn’t an ideal matchup but his velocity is down and Spangenberg is still cheap enough to earn consideration in cash games. With a good lineup spot, I don’t mind him as a salary relief option. Chase Utley (PHI) ranks as a Top 75 hitter in our model but at 36 I wonder if our projections aren’t capturing a precipitous decline. His GB Rate is way up early in the season and he’s generating very little hard contact. According to FanGraphs he’s hit the ball hard just 16 percent of the time compared to a career average of 35 percent.
Elvis Andrus (TEX) – Often the key at shortstop isn’t so much evaluating good hitters as it is evaluating good matchups and lineup spots. The position has few hitters in good lineup spots and even fewer skilled hitters overall, so we’re forced to pick at complementary pieces in offenses we’re attacking. Andrus fits this mold perfectly on Friday night. He is not a great hitter (.324 wOBA, .091 ISO against LHP since 2012) but he hits second in an offense with one of the higher team totals of the evening (4.5 pushing 5). Bruce Chen has allowed a .336 OBA and 1.40 HR/9 to RHBs since 2012. He projects as one of the weakest starters going on Friday. We want to stress price sensitivity with Andrus since he’s not a premier hitter, but this matchup pushes him inside our Top 40 overall.
Jimmy Rollins (LAD) – As long as Rollins continues to hit second in a stacked Dodgers lineup, he’s going to have a home in our value plays section. Rollins isn’t an elite hitter by any means (.318 wOBA, .154 ISO against RHP since 2012) but Eddie Butler is among the weakest SP going (.450 wOBA allowed to LHBs as a big leaguer) and the Dodgers offense is incredible against RHP. With a modest price tag, Rollins gives you exposure to a good lineup spot in a high powered offense against a bad opposing pitcher.
Additional shortstop notes: On DraftKings (or any site), where Hanley Ramirez (BOS) has shortstop eligibility, he is the top play at the position by a wide margin. Ramirez ranks inside our Top 25 hitters overall and is priced affordably. He’s a strong target in cash games. Brandon Crawford (SF) rates well in our model (Top 45) before lineups but typically hits lower in the order. The matchup with Marquis is great but the price point is similar to Andrus/Rollins who have a better lineup spot and more opportunities for success. I think Crawford is a good fit in tournaments as part of a Giants stack or mini-stack. Brad Miller (SEA) has nice skills against RHP (.325 wOBA, .171 ISO) and that nice lineup spot we covet (hitting second of late), but Clay Buchholz isn’t as bad as the other starters we’re attacking and Seattle is a tough hitting environment. He’s an adequate alternative to Rollins or Andrus if priced considerably lower.
Adrian Beltre (TEX) – Beltre is a Top Five hitter overall in our model and on most sites he’s barely even priced as a Top Five third base option. Beltre gets an elite matchup against Bruce Chen in a favorable hitting environment in Texas. Beltre has posted a .375 wOBA and .190 ISO against LHP since 2012 and he holds his value when the game gets into the bullpen because of his neutral splits (.376 wOBA, .200 ISO against RHP since 2012). With the price discounted due to some early season struggles, Beltre is clearly the top target at third base around the industry.
Additional third base notes: Third base has some healthy alternatives to Beltre if you find unusually difficult pricing on him. On DraftKings, Beltre is priced appropriately but Chris Davis (BAL) comes with third base eligibility and an unusually cheap price tag. As a result, Beltre is a better tournament option and Davis takes priority. David Freese (LAA) is my favorite value alternative to Beltre. Freese has crushed LHP since 2012 (.377 wOBA, .192 ISO) and he gets a nice park shift in his favor against a homer prone LHP. With Trout and Pujols in front of him, he also earns premium at bats. Luis Valbuena (HOU) has nice power upside and a good lineup spot against R.A. Dickey. He’s not a good all-around hitter against RHP (.330 wOBA) but the power (.183 ISO) comes at an affordable price point. On the more expensive end of the spectrum, Matt Carpenter (STL) and Josh Donaldson (TOR) hold the platoon advantage against ground ball specialists. Carpenter is the higher probability play while Donaldson has the power upside, both are tournament-only options in my mind.
Mike Trout (LAA) – Trout is once again the top overall hitter in our model. He’s getting a significant park shift in his favor and facing a fly ball prone LHP. This is a great matchup for Trout’s power to shine. He’s posted an impressive .395 wOBA and .229 ISO against LHP in his career. Most importantly for Trout, the Angels offense as a whole is far more competent against LHP. They rank 29th in wRC+ against RHP and 15th against LHP. The extra lineup support along with a big positive park shift places Trout well ahead of the other hitters in our model. There is a lot of value in the OF tonight. In general I’m taking a Trout or value approach to OF.
Angel Pagan/Nori Aoki (SF) – No surprise here as the Giants get an absolutely massive park shift playing in Great American Ballpark (fifth best park for LHBs) rather than their spacious home park (worst park for LHBs). Aside from that Pagan and Aoki will have the platoon edge on Jason Marquis (5.66 ERA). We’ve picked on Marquis quite a bit this season and don’t see any reason to stop. The 36 YO has a FIP of 5.08 and the elevated HR/FB rate (18.4 percent) is difficult to call unlucky in light of his marks in that category the previous four seasons (2010-13): 15.3/9.9/20.7/18.2. Even though Pagan and Aoki aren’t your typical power threats this still illustrates the strength of the overall matchup, and Aoki (first) and Pagan (third) should be involved multiple run scoring plays. Since 2012, Marquis has allowed a .374 wOBA to LHBs. As a final bonus, Reds catcher Brayan Pena ranks 101st out of 118 catchers in FanGraphs rSB metric since 2012. The Giants hitters are top 25 overall hitters in our model this evening and that’s not reflected in their current price point around the industry. UPDATE: Aoki is out and Gregor Blanco (SF) is getting the start. Blanco is very similar to Aoki as a hitter (.309 wOBA vs. 324 wOBA, .102 ISO vs. .107 ISO) and comes at a more discounted price point. Blanco assumes Aoki’s role as a solid value play
Kyle Blanks (TEX) – Believe it or not Blanks (20th in our model) was actually quite the hot Fantasy name for season long drafters heading into 2010. That certainly failed miserably for those who invested in him, but the power upside that drew so many people in back then still exists. Blanks has hit six homers in 117 PAs between AAA (.308 ISO) and MLB (.235) so far this year. He’s very strikeout prone but has good raw power that will play well in Texas. Blanks has also improved dramatically against RHP in recent years. He’s posted a solid 122 wRC+ and good .193 ISO for his career despite calling Petco Park home for the majority of it. He’ll hit fifth (should come with RBI opportunities given a team total somewhere between 4.5 and 5) and have the platoon edge today against a very bad LHP in Bruce Chen who will feed into Blanks’ power upside. Chen has allowed a .336 wOBA to RHBs since 2012, but most importantly he allows RHBs to elevate the baseball (48.4 FB rate) leading to 1.40 HR/9 over that span. The one risk here is that with Mitch Moreland back for the Rangers, Blanks is a candidate to get pinch hit for when the game reaches the bullpen. This places an emphasis on price point. If you can get Blanks below the average cost of a roster spot, I think he’s a great option.
Ender Inciarte (ARZ) – Inciarte will likely set the table for the Diamondbacks against RHP Chad Billingsley. Since 2012, Billingsley has tossed just 22 MLB innings (four starts). Half of those starts came over the past two weeks, and he was hit hard, allowing 10 ER in 10 IP. It’s only two starts but Billingsley yielded a lot of hard hit contact and showed very little ability to miss bats. It’s tough to develop any sort of baseline for Billingsley given the amount of time off but ZiPS has him pegged for a 4.55 ERA, which may actually be optimistic. You’ll likely want some exposure against a pitcher like Billingsley who is coming off back to back disaster starts and Inciarte allows you to do that very cheaply on DraftKings ($3,700), although the $3,500 tag on FanDuel is aggressive. Inciarte doesn’t come with much pop but his ability to make contact (8.3 K percentage in 2014, 11.1 for his career) and his stolen base upside give him value, especially given his projected lineup spot (first).
Nick Swisher/Ryan Raburn (CLE) – This game unsurprisingly has the highest total on the night (9) as it features two subpar LHP in a great hitting environment in Texas. For the Cleveland RHBs the park shift has them moving from fourth worst park for RHBs to the ninth best. They’ll face 36 year old Wandy Rodriguez who ZiPS has projected to allow a .341 wOBA and .210 ISO to RHBs. Raburn is blessed with the better lineup spot (hit clean up the last couple of games versus LHP) and is well underpriced across the industry given his role and all the positive contextual factors in his favor. Swisher likely hits sixth, giving him a worse lineup spot, but his switch hitting ability gives him more value throughout the ball game. Swisher starts from the right side, which is where he’s displayed more offensive skill since 2012 (wRC+ 10 points higher). Everything lines up well for these Cleveland hitters from a value perspective, but keep in mind their lack of overall offensive talent keeps them just outside our top 50 ranked hitters.
Alejandro de Aza (BAL) – Alejandro de Aza was moved up to second in the order last game, and if he remains there today he’s a fine value play. Opposing pitcher Jered Weaver gets a negative park shift moving from Anaheim to Baltimore and has struggled this season. Weaver isn’t missing many bats and is allowing hard hit contact 30.8 percent of the time according to FanGraphs. That’s not a horrible number but is well above his career mark of 26.2 percent. He hasn’t been above 26.5 since 2008. The lowered K rate and raised hard hit rate aren’t exactly surprises given the aging Weaver’s meaningful drop in velocity. He’s currently averaging just 83.6 mph on his fastball, 2.7 mph below last year’s mark and 4.9 mph below his career mark. Look for him to struggle against an Orioles team with a team total around 4.5. Alejandro de Aza has average skills against RHP (.328 wOBA since 2012) but he consistently makes hard contact (24.9 career LD rate, 25 this season), which we’re emphasizing a bit more in a matchup where the strikeout risk is reduced.
Additional outfield notes: Giancarlo Stanton (MIA), Jose Bautista (TOR), Bryce Harper (WAS), Joc Pederson (LAD) and George Springer (HOU) are the other viable top end outfield options in our model. They all rank within the Top 20 overall hitters with Stanton and Bautista within the Top 10. Shin Soo Choo (TEX) is a fun tournament play given Bruce Chen’s struggles with LHBs. Even though Choo hasn’t hit LHP well in his career, he makes sense as part of a Rangers stack or mini-stack in tournaments. A.J. Pollock (ARZ) and Mark Trumbo (ARZ) are also solid tournament plays against Chad Billingsley. They each rank within our Top 40 hitters but come at full price or a slightly inflated tag after an extended home stand with a trip to Colorado around it.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
2) Michael Pineda (NYY)
3) Jake Odorizzi (TB)
4) Madison Bumgarner (SF)
5) Jordan Zimmermann (WAS)
6) Carlos Rodon (CHW)
7) Clay Buchholz (BOS)
8) Julio Teheran (ATL)
9) Bartolo Colon (NYM)
10) Phil Hughes (MIN)
11) Chase Anderson (PHI)
12) Carlos Martinez (STL)
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) – The gap between Kershaw and the second tier of starters is especially large on Friday. Kershaw is once again posting elite peripherals (30.3 percent K Rate, 6.0 percent BB Rate, and 53.5 percent GB Rate) but an elevated HR/FB (20 percent) and LD Rate (24.6 percent) have left his BABIP elevated (.357), his LOB% low (66 percent) and his ERA high (4.26). This looks like a case of Kershaw just missing some spots as his velocity is up and all the other peripherals are strong. He’ll face a Rockies offense that ranks 26th in wRC+ against LHP with a 23.6 percent K Rate. Vegas has Kershaw as an immense -330 favorite which puts him above the threshold where his win potential jumps substantially according to Mike Leone’s research. Kershaw’s relatively slow start has his price in an affordable range. With a plethora of value bats available, we believe he is a foundation of cash game lineups on Friday.
Next in line:
Michael Pineda (NYY) – Pineda’s actually been as good as Kershaw early in the season (29.5 percent K Rate, 1.6 percent BB Rate, and 53.2 percent GB Rate). His 2.18 xFIP slightly outpaces Kershaw’s 2.21 xFIP. Pineda also gets a huge park shift in his favor but draws a difficult matchup for DFS purposes. The Royals rank fourth in wRC+ against RHP and have struck out in just 16.2 percent of their plate appearances. Pineda’s stuff should translate to a solid performance but the strikeouts are harder to predict against the Royals. With a plethora of strong value plays in good matchups, Pineda falls down our list of cash game priorities.
Jake Odorizzi (TB) – Odorizzi has some really compelling peripherals and draws a friendly matchup against the Twins who rank 24th in wRC+ against RHP and have struck out in 23.6 percent of their plate appearances. Odorizzi’s K Rate is down early in the season (21.2 percent in 2015, 24.2 percent in 2014) but his swinging strike rate is up (10.1 percent vs. 9.7 percent), and he’s generating the same number of swings outside the strike zone (33.5 percent vs. 33.4 percent) and throwing the same number of first pitch strikes (60.9 percent vs. 61.6 percent). The drop off in strikeouts early in the season looks like a fluke given all the strong peripherals remain intact. Odorizzi ranks similarly to Pineda in our model because of a higher and more predictable strikeout rate. With a more modest price tag, we think he’s a solid value play on multiple starting pitcher sites.
Carlos Rodon (CHW) – Rodon was very impressive in his first major league start. He held a solid Reds offense to just two earned runs over six innings while striking out eight. The strikeouts have always been there for Rodon (34 percent K Rate in AA last year, 30.2 percent in AAA this year) and those strikeouts are gold in Daily Fantasy. He draws a favorable matchup against the Athletics who rank 29th in wRC+ against LHP with a putrid .060 ISO but have struck out in just 16.7 percent of their plate appearances. Vegas has posted a total of just seven and the game is basically going off as a pick-em or with the Athletics as slight favorites. Rodon’s priced for his inexperience and not his tremendous strikeout upside on most sites. As a result, he’s a moderate risk-high reward value play on multiple starting pitcher sites.
Clay Buchholz (BOS) – Buchholz’s start to the season has been an enigma. He’s posting the best strikeout rate (24.9 percent) of his career, has lowered his BB Rate (7.5 percent) and is posting an elite GB Rate (50.9 percent). Despite the elite peripherals, he’s managed 5.73 ERA and 1.59 WHIP. Buchholz has really struggled with runners on (.411 wOBA with men on base compared to .293 wOBA with the bases empty) which is really exaggerating the performance. For his career, the split has been very neutral (.312 wOBA with bases empty, .314 wOBA with men on) so we’d expect some regression in Buchholz’s favor with men on base as the season wears on. The matchup with Seattle is a good one for Buchholz. The park shift is significant and the Mariners rank 19th in wRC+ against RHP while striking out in 21.3 percent of their plate appearances. Buchholz is really volatile but the peripherals suggest he’s vastly underpriced. Vegas seems to think so as well, posting a total of just seven in the matchup with Seattle.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Jordan Zimmermann (WAS) and Madison Bumgarner (SF) are the other expensive options in our second tier. They each grade out as better tournament plays than cash game options given the relatively high return on investment potential with the depressed price points on Odorizzi, Rodon, and Buchholz. Zimmermann gets a nice park shift and faces a heavily RH Padres lineup but his velocity is down and his swinging strike rate has fallen substantially (6.3 percent vs. career 8.7 percent). We’re still in relatively small sample territory but I’d prefer to bet on positive regression at discounted price points. Bumgarner gets a huge downgrade in park shift and faces a decent Reds offense against LHP. With the other alternatives, I don’t see the need to pay full price for Bumgarner in a tougher environment. The third tier is also deep and has some viable tournament alternatives if you’re not satisfied with the second tier options. These are better suited for sites that require multiple SP slots. Chase Anderson (ARZ) gets a favorable matchup against a bad Phillies offense. The park shift is actually positive for him and he’s a modest favorite (-125). The Phillies don’t strike out a ton which is the lone negative in Anderson’s profile. Carlos Martinez (STL) gets an awfully right handed Tigers lineup without the benefit of the DH. Martinez has dominated RHBs early in his career (28.6 percent K Rate, 7.2 percent BB Rate, .287 wOBA allowed). The Tigers are filled with good RHBs but Martinez’s split dominance makes him an intriguing tournament option.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have suggestions.
Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:
- Texas Rangers
- San Francisco Giants
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Los Angeles Angels
- Baltimore Orioles
- Cleveland Indians
Texas, San Francisco, and the Dodgers face the three weakest starters on the slate. San Francisco and Texas get the benefit of elite offensive environments while the Dodgers are the most talented offense of the group by far. I’m targeting exposure to all three offenses in cash games where I can. I think each of these three teams are viable as full stacks.
The Angels, Orioles, and Indians are secondary tournament options. The Angels lack depth offensively which makes a mini-stack more effective than a full stack. The Orioles are more viable as a full stack but the price points on their lineup make it more difficult to implement. The Indians are a tough offense to fully stack against the Rangers because of Ryan Raburn. He’ll likely hit in the middle of the lineup but get subbed out late for a pinch hitter. With just one LH reliever in the Rangers bullpen, you’ll likely end up with a missing lineup spot late. I think it’s still worthy of consideration given the left handedness of the lineup will keep ownership percentages down, but the price points make it tough to implement.
Top Contrarian Tournament Stacks:
- Arizona Diamondbacks
- Houston Astros
- Toronto Blue Jays
The Diamondbacks face a weak opposing SP but they don’t have much in the way of LHBs. Without the platoon advantage and with high price tags on key hitters, I think they’ll go under-owned a bit. The Astros and Blue Jays are secondary stacks due to a combination of price point and an umpire that favors the pitchers. Dallas Keuchel is an elite ground ball pitcher but the Jays are an elite offense against LHP. With the short porch in left field, I think a mini-stack of their power bats (Encarnacion-Donaldson-Bautista) is a fine tournament strategy. I’m hesitant to fully stack. I’m more open to fully stacking the Astros. R.A. Dickey is prone to blowup starts due to the inconsistency of the knuckle-ball and the Astros have a ton of power throughout the lineup. The Jays bullpen behind Dickey is also very poor.
MLB Game Weather Forecasts
On the scales used below, a 10 strongly favors the batter, a 1 strongly favors the pitcher and a 5 should not impact the game at all.
LAA at BLT 7:05: Dry. Temps near 70 falling into the mid-60s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind south-southeast 8-16 mph becoming 5-10 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6.
AZ at PHL 7:05: Dry. Temps near 70 falling into the low to mid 60s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind south 7-14 mph becoming 5-10 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
SF at CIN 7:10: A 10-20% chance of a thunderstorm, and thus a delay, early in the game. I do not see this game being a worry for a cancellation. Temps in the upper 70s falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 8 becoming a 7. Wind southwest 7-14 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.
MIL at NYM 7:10: Dry. Temps near 70 falling into the mid-60s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind south 5-10 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6.
ATL at MIA 7:10: Retractable roof. Dry with temps in the low 80s so I will assume the roof will be open. Air density is an 8. Wind southeast at 10-20 mph becoming east at 6-12 mph. The wind first blows in from center and then in from left. The wind is a 3 becoming a 4.
CLE at TEX 8:05: A 20-30% chance of a thunderstorm early in the game. I can see a delay (again 20-30% chance) early in the game or even at the start of the game but later in the game looks dry so I am not overly concerned about a cancellation. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling into the low to mid 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind south-southeast 10-20 mph which blows in from right-center. The wind is a 3.
NYY at KC 8:10: A 20-30% chance of a thunderstorm in the beginning part of the game that gives the same chance of a delay either to start the game or early in the game. Like the 2 other weather problem game previously mentioned, I do not see a concern for a cancellation. Temps in the mid-70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 7. Wind south-southeast 8-16 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6 and, at times, a 7.
TB at MIN 8:10: Dry. Temps near 70 falling into the low 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.
TOR at HOU 8:10: Retractable roof. There will be some widely scattered showers around so I will assume with the threat of some rain, the roof will be closed.
DET at STL 8:15: I think this game is slightly more worrisome than the other 3 “problem” games mentioned above as showers/thunderstorms will be move widespread. As is the case with the other 3, activity will rapidly diminish as the sun sets so I do not see a worry about a cancellation. I think there is a 30% to maybe 40% chance of a delay sometime in the beginning of the game or at the start of the game. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling into the low 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind south 7-14 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.
CHW at OAK 10:05: Dry. Temps near 60 falling into the mid to upper 50s. Air density is a 5. Wind west-southwest at 15-25 mph lessening to 10-20 mph which blows out to center. The wind is an 8 becoming a 7.
BOS at SEA 10:10: Retractable roof. A 10% chance of a shower so this roof may be open? Temps in the mid-60s falling to near 60. Air density is a 6. Wind west-southwest at 5-10 mph which blows out to right-center. The wind is a 6.
COL at LAD 10:10: A 10-20% chance of a shower early in the game but do not see a huge problem here. Maybe a 10% chance of a delay. Temps in the low 60s falling into the upper 50s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind west-southwest 10-20 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 7.
WSH at SD 10:10: Basically it is going to rain in the city today and into this evening. The question is, when does it end? Most of the guidance I use suggests around or by 8 PM Eastern, i.e. near or before the start of the game. So, a) I think they will play the game and b) there is a chance (30-40%) that the start of the game could be delayed. I do not think once they start the game that there will be any more delays. Temps in the low 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind variable at 5-10 mph. The wind is a 5.