MLB DFS Daily Fantasy Rundown – May 18th, 2015
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: Colorado is once again a modest concern. We’ll monitor it up until game time.
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.
Evan Gattis (HOU) – Gattis has posted a .340 wOBA and .238 ISO against LHP in his big league career and he’ll face Drew Pomeranz who has allowed a .346 wOBA and 1.38 HR/9 to RHBs since 2012. Pomeranz is allowing a lot of aerial contact this season (puny 36.7 percent GB Rate) and Gattis’ Fantasy contributions are built on power. Gattis is always blessed with a good lineup spot (fourth of late) which makes his value a bit more stable than our other catcher recommendation. He ranks within our Top 25 hitters overall and is one of two premier options at the catcher position.
Wilin Rosario (COL) – Rosario’s history against LHP in Coors Field is simply stunning. For his career he’s hit .348/.390/.731 against LHP in Coors Field. This is good for a .470 wOBA which doesn’t even truly capture the Fantasy greatness of a .731 slugging percentage. Cole Hamels is not your ordinary LHP going into Coors Field, but I’m also not afraid to pick on him. Like most pitchers, Hamels has been a different entity at Coors Field in his career (4.74 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and 1.09 HR/9 allowed in 24 2/3 innings). Rosario ranks just behind Gattis in our model, but I view them as near equivalents and players I want exposure to on Monday night. On sites where Rosario has first base eligibility, I’d even consider using him in that spot to get both in my lineups.
Additional catcher notes: Stephen Vogt (OAK) is a compelling tournament option. The price tag is annoying but Vogt has dominated RHP this season (.467 wOBA) and Lance McCullers‘ command issues could force some pretty favorable counts. Throw in a nice park shift in Vogt’s favor and I think he’s worth a shot at a very likely low ownership rate in tournaments. Carlos Ruiz (PHI) gets the Coors park bump and faces the weakest pitcher on the slate in Jordan Lyles, but I’d only consider him as a part of Phillies stacks in tournaments and his likely low spot in the lineup makes him an easier piece to omit.
Miguel Cabrera (DET) – Fiers generates a lot of strikeouts but his stuff is very average. His average fastball velocity is just 89.5 mph and his changeup is 83.7 mph, offering little differentiation. He relies heavily on deception in his throwing motion to generate swings and misses. As a result, he’s a highly volatile asset. When he’s on, he’s amazing. When he’s off, it’s home run derby. Cabrera is always in consideration as a top overall hitter and particularly against a fly ball prone pitcher. His price tag is fair around the industry but the lack of depth at first base earns him more consideration than a typical day.
Ryan Howard (PHI) – For all his faults Howard has still been able to hit RHP as he’s declined. He’s posted a .325 wOBA and .184 ISO against RHP since 2012. His biggest problem remains strikeouts (26.5 percent K Rate against RHP) but opposing starter Jordan Lyles has only struck out 13 percent of LHBs faced since 2012. With a big boost in park environment and a favorable matchup overall (Lyles has allowed a .358 wOBA and 1.09 HR/9 to LHBs), Howard cracks our Top 20 hitters overall.
Additional first base notes: The rest of first base is pretty shallow on Monday. Chris Carter (HOU) grades out exceptionally well in our model, but he’s been hitting seventh of late which is harder to justify in cash games. He’s also not particularly cheap anywhere. Victor Martinez (DET) ranks similarly to Ryan Howard in our model, but an injury is really limiting his ability against RHP (.148/.253/.160) so much so that the Tigers have considered asking Martinez to bat RH the rest of the season. I’d rather not invest in that situation. Lucas Duda (NYM) is probably the next best option after Howard. It’s a low scoring environment and the Cardinals use of specialist relievers makes it likely he’s only getting 2-3 good plate appearances against RHP. As a result, he ranks outside our Top 30.
Jose Altuve (HOU) – Altuve cracks our Top 10 hitters overall. He has excellent splits against LHP (.387 wOBA, .139 ISO since 2012) and Drew Pomeranz has struggled with RHBs. The Astros have a team total of 4.5 which is in line with both sides of the Coors Field game. Altuve is exceptionally expensive but is the clear cut top option at second base.
Chase Utley (PHI) – Utley is in decline but it’s not as steep as his in-season performance indicates. Utley has been the worst position player in the major leagues so far this season, hitting .138/.214/.241 while playing below average defense at second base. On the hitting side, we can see the indicators for decline. His GB Rate is up substantially (45.9 percent) and it’s coming at the expense of both fly balls and line drives. He’s generating the least amount of hard contact in his career (17.2 percent vs. career average of 35.1 percent). All the signs are there. Still, Utley has just a .135 BABIP which is really exaggerating the results and on Monday night he gets a big boost in park shift and matchup against Jordan Lyles in Coors Field. On sites that are pricing up Utley due to Coors Field, I’m less excited about investing in him; but the options at second base are exceptionally thin.
Additional second base notes: Dee Gordon (MIA) and Ian Kinsler (DET) are viable tournament options. They come with elevated price points that will force ownership down as most go up to Altuve or settle for the cheaper Utley. The rest of the second base options aren’t blessed with investable lineup spots. If one pops up among D.J. LeMaheiu (COL), Odubel Herrera (PHI), or Aaron Hill (ARZ), we’ll be sure to tackle it in alerts.
Troy Tulowitzki (COL) – The skill gap between Tulowitzki and the other shortstop options is large. Tulowitzki owns a .421 wOBA and .256 ISO against LHP since 2012. Hamels is a good pitcher but as we’ve outlined before, we’re not afraid of attacking him in Coors. Tulowitzki’s health is in question as a quad injury has kept him out of the lineup the last two days. I would not recommend using him unless we have a confirmed lineup. If he’s in the lineup, I’ll take my chances given the lack of depth at the position and an investable price tag despite playing in Coors Field.
Additional shortstop notes: The rest of the position is muddled if Tulowitzki isn’t in the lineup. Freddy Galvis (PHI) has a great matchup and has outperformed all expectations early in the season. The matchup with Lyles makes him a viable shortstop option just given the lack of depth, but he’s only an emergency option if Tulowitzki is out. If you’re not using a SS in Coors Field, it’s best just to punt. Elian Herrera (MIL) is a viable option on DraftKings, while Jonathan Villar (HOU) is your best bet on FanDuel. Both will have the platoon advantage in offenses that we’re optimistic on overall. Marcus Semien (OAK) is a viable part of Oakland stacks given his great lineup spot, but his price is too elevated to attack in cash games. Wilmer Flores (NYM) is a cheap shot at power with an improving lineup spot. I don’t mind him if you have excess funds and don’t need a pure punt, but would prefer in tournaments.
Nolan Arenado (COL) – Our model isn’t as high on Arenado (Top 30 overall hitter) as I am (I believe he’s closer to Top 15). He’s shown elite skills against LHP in his brief career (0.77 EYE, .224 ISO, and 23.6 percent LD Rate/41.6 percent FB Rate) on his way to a .388 wOBA against LHP. He gets a premier lineup spot in the premier hitting environment. He’s expensive and there are viable alternatives at third base, so I don’t view him as necessary; but I do view him as the top option.
Maikel Franco (PHI) – Franco is one of the Phillies top prospects and was promoted last week. He crushed in AAA earlier this season (.355/.384/.539) and is considered a Top 50 prospect in all of baseball. ZiPS projects him for a .313 wOBA against RHP but a solid .178 ISO. In a favorable hitting environment and likely a good lineup spot (fifth of late), he’s worthy of consideration at cheap price points. The $2,200 price tag on FanDuel is particularly compelling. Franco cracks the Top 30 hitters in our model.
Aramis Ramirez (MIL) – Ramirez ranks competitively with Franco in our model. He gets a favorable matchup against Kyle Lobstein who has allowed a .331 wOBA to RHBs as a big leaguer but projects substantially worse (.358 from ZiPS). Ramirez has crushed LHP in recent years (.415 wOBA, .291 ISO since 2012) and occupies a premium spot in the Brewers lineup. He’s a viable alternative to Franco, but I’d prefer a similar price point when investing.
Ryan Braun/Carlos Gomez (MIL) – From the infield portion of our content it probably seems like a straight forward Coors Field Day, but it’s really not. The Rockies and Phillies have team totals of 4.5 which is competitive with Houston and Detroit. Milwaukee and Oakland aren’t far behind. The combination of some weak starters going coupled with watered down offenses in Coors pushes pricing into focus. Braun and Gomez are the top outfield options and rank as our top two hitters overall. Braun is the better hitter against LHP (.421 wOBA, .294 ISO vs. .361 wOBA, .236 ISO since 2012) and thus my preferred choice when deciding between the two options.
George Springer (HOU) – Springer ranks fifth in our model. He projects well against LHP (.364 wOBA, .237 ISO according to ZiPS) and he’s performed similarly early in his career (.351 wOBA, .231 ISO against LHP as a big leaguer). We’ve touched on Drew Pomeranz‘s struggles with RHBs and his elevated fly ball rates make him especially vulnerable to RH power. In Houston, where RH power is inflated 3-4 percent above the league average, the RH Astros power hitters make sense. He’s generally a bit cheaper than Braun and Gomez and is fine as an alternative if you’re stretched for funds.
Khris Davis (MIL) – Davis is another Brewer outfielder with a strong history of success against LHP. Davis has compiled a .345 wOBA and .264 ISO against lefties since 2012. He’s a less consistent hitter overall (.294 OBP against LHP) but the power plays well in DFS. He’ll hit second which likely guarantees three plate appearances against Lobstein and he’s surrounded by strong hitters against LHP. He’s a more affordable way to get exposure to the Brewers offense and rates as a Top 10 hitter in our model.
Coco Crisp (OAK) – Crisp has hit RHP well in recent years (.338 wOBA, .161 ISO) and his speed plays significantly better against RHP than LHP. Lance McCullers hasn’t shown much in the way of significant splits this season at AAA and last season his splits were fairly neutral as well. Crisp has a great EYE (1.09) against RHP with a healthy 11.6 percent BB Rate. He cracks the Top 15 hitters in our model and isn’t priced like that anywhere around the industry. On FanDuel, he’s priced at the minimum ($2,200).
Ben Revere (PHI) – Revere is not a good hitter. He’s compiled just a .293 wOBA and .053 ISO against RHP since 2012. He gets a big boost in park shift and a favorable matchup against Jordan Lyles (.358 wOBA allowed to LHBs since 2012). He also gets to hit leadoff. The price tag is fair on most sites, perhaps ever so slightly discounted, but the lineup spot and park (Colorado inflates doubles and triples by six and 30 percent respectively to LHBs) make him a Top 20 hitter in our model.
Additional outfield notes: Josh Reddick (OAK) ranks right alongside Coco Crisp as a Top 15 hitter, but is generally priced more aggressively around the industry. If you can get a discount there is some nice value in his elite start against RHP. The Phillies and Rockies lineups could present some additional values depending on lineup spots. Grady Sizemore (PHI) and Drew Stubbs (COL) are the options we’re most focused on. Stubbs is more likely to garner a good spot with Dickerson banged up. Stubbs cracks our Top 30 while Sizemore is in our Top 45. The Tigers outfielders are all elite tournament options against Fiers. The challenge with picking on Fiers is he’s generally “all-or-nothing”. Yoenis Cespedes (DET) and J.D. Martinez (DET) have the power to capitalize, but I’d prefer that exposure in tournaments unless weather acts up in Coors Field. I’m less likely to pick on Fiers with Anthony Gose (DET) even at depressed price points because his skill set isn’t as likely to take advantage of Fiers.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Matt Harvey (NYM)
2a) Chris Sale (CHW)
2b) Corey Kluber (CLE)
4) Rubby de la Rosa (ARZ)
5a) Drew Pomeranz (OAK)
5b) John Lackey (STL)
7a) Lance McCullers (HOU)
7b) Mike Fiers (MIL)
9) Dan Haren (MIA)
Matt Harvey (NYM) – Harvey ranks as our top starter on Monday’s slate. The Cardinals aren’t a great matchup (eighth in wRC+ against RHP with just a 18.4 percent K Rate) but Harvey gets them in a friendly pitching environment (best combination of air density and wind plus good park) and Vegas has listed the Mets as a -140 favorite in a game with a total of 6.5. Harvey has the benefit of pitching in the National League (gets to face the pitcher) and of the three top options, he has the best skills (career 2.89 xFIP). There isn’t a ton separating the top group, but the pitching environment coupled with Vegas run scoring expectations earns Harvey the top spot.
Next in line:
Chris Sale (CHW)/Corey Kluber (CLE) – There isn’t much that separates Kluber and Sale on Monday. Sale gets home field advantage and his baseline is accustomed to the difficult pitching environment in U.S. Cellular Field, while Kluber has been the slightly better pitcher since the start of 2014. Sale is using his slider a bit less this season (10 percent usage vs. career 25.6 percent) and as a result his K Rate has dropped modestly. Kluber hasn’t shown much change in his repertoire and has actually grown his swinging strike rate (14.2 percent vs. 12 percent last season) while also raising his K Rate (29.2 percent vs. 28.3 percent). In terms of matchups, the White Sox rank 13th in wRC+ against RHP with an 18.5 percent K Rate while the Indians 11th against LHP with a 16.1 percent K Rate. Kluber gets a slight edge I skills and matchup but that is largely negated by Sale’s home field advantage. For all intents and purposes, these two are essentially equals. If choosing between the two, I’m letting price ultimately help me break the tie.
Rubby de la Rosa (ARZ) – Much like the first tier of starting pitching, the second tier is congested with similar options. I give de la Rosa the slight edge in this group. The Marlins rank 24th in wRC+ against RHP with a healthy 21.3 percent K Rate. Rubby is getting a big park boost in his favor (Arizona inflates scoring approximately 12 percent while Miami deflates scoring approximately 14 percent) and he’s likely facing a lineup that is very right handed. Rubby has dominated RHBs early this season (32.2 percent K Rate, 4.3 percent BB Rate, 60.3 percent GB Rate) and the Marlins have just two threatening LHBs (Gordon and Yelich). The only negative for de la Rosa is the initial line posted from Vegas. The Marlins opened as -140 favorites with a total of just eight. This places a run total for the Marlins somewhere between 4-4.3 which is an elevated expectation. The line has been moving towards the Diamondbacks (now Marlins -118) which is a good sign, but I was hoping for a better open when evaluating de la Rosa.
Additional starting pitcher notes: I like de la Rosa more than the rest of the tier two starters, but our model evaluates them very closely. Drew Pomeranz (OAK) and John Lackey (STL) are essentially equals with de la Rosa with Lance McCullers (HOU) and Mike Fiers (MIL) a touch behind. Pomeranz gets the Astros bump in expected K Rate (23.4 percent vs. LHBs) but he gets a park downgrade and the Astros as a whole are more dangerous against LHP. They rank just 22nd in wRC+ but our projections for their lineup against RHP suggest it’s an above average offense. I think Pomeranz has similar upside to de la Rosa but a far lower downside. John Lackey (STL) is one the opposite end of the spectrum. His K Rate is below average and the Mets project as an average team in terms of strikeouts allowed. He should do well at run prevention given the Mets rank just 26th in wRC+ against RHP, but the upside is limited and the price isn’t as compelling as the other values. He’s “safe” but priced in a way that I’d rather pay up for the first tier starters or down for the upside in the second tier. McCullers and Fiers both have immense strikeout potential but difficult matchups. Fiers faces an elite Tigers offense and moves to an AL park which gives him Victor Martinez instead of an opposing SP. With his price tag elevated, I think he’s only tournament worthy. McCullers strikeout rate in AAA (37 percent) pops, but the risk in his profile is immense. He’s struggled at all levels with walks and the Athletics rank second in wRC+ against RHP this season. I’m only considering him in tournaments.
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:
1) Philadelphia Phillies
2) Colorado Rockies
3) Houston Astros
It’s unusual that pricing is leading us to rather than away from Coors Field, but those are the early indications. If weather acts up, we’ll have to adjust. The Phillies face the weakest opposing SP and get the biggest park shift. Their offense isn’t good, but provides some of the better entry points in terms of price. After Coors Field, the Astros offense is the one I prefer to target in cash games. Drew Pomeranz is vulnerable to RH power and the A’s bullpen is a disaster behind him.
1) Milwaukee Brewers
2) Oakland Athletics
3) Detroit Tigers
On the whole, I think it’s a better day to combination mini-stack rather than full stack teams. With so few teams, many will attempt to just full stack a few options and hope one team drastically outscores the others. In theory, it’s more likely to hit because there are fewer teams for one lineup to outscore, but in practice I think it’s likely higher owned; making it less likely to win. I think combination mini-stacks are the way to go.
The Brewers have an expensive mini-stack at the top with their first four hitters (Gomez, Davis, Braun, and Ramirez) that is compelling against Lobstein. They all hit LHP well and the Tigers bullpen behind Lobstein is one of the softest in baseball.
The Athletics are a bit tougher to mini-stack with the platoon advantage but we’re betting on McCullers having a command blowup that gets into the bullpen early. I think Reddick, Vogt, and Crisp is a very strong mini-stack and if you need salary relief mixing in Billy Butler would make sense to get a cheaper first base option.
The Tigers are the toughest group to capitalize on (because of price) but the most likely to hit big since Fiers is vulnerable to home runs. I’d aim for power if exploiting the Tigers.
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.
STL at NYM 7:00: A 10% chance of a shower. No problems expected. Temps near 60. Air density is a 5. Wind east at 5-10 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.
MIL at DET 7:08: A 20-30% chance of a shower or thunderstorm around early in the game. Not a problem in my opinion in terms of a cancellation but there is a 10-20% chance of a brief delay. Temps near 80 falling into the lower 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind southwest 7-14 mph becoming northwest 5-10 mph which blows from right to left at first and then out to center. The wind is a 5 becoming a 6.
AZ at MIA 7:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the upper 70s and lower 80s. So, the roof should be open. Air density is an 8. Wind east 7-14 mph becoming 5-10 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 4.
CLE at CHW 8:10: Dry. Temps near 70 falling to near 60. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind northwest 8-16 mph becoming 6-12 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 7 becoming a 6.
OAK at HOU 8:10: Retractable roof. A 10% chance of a shower so I will assume the roof will be open. Temps in the upper 70s and lower 80s. Air density is an 8. Wind southeast 5-10 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6.
PHL at COL 8:40: This is the problem game. Always seems like the Colorado games are a problem. I will have to keep an eye out on this game as we go through the day. Right now, it looks like it will be dry to start the game but rain will overspread the city as we go through the game. Rain there this morning is forecast to move out and allow the afternoon and evening to be dry before more rain moves in. Temps in the lower 50s falling into the upper 40s. Air density is a 10. Wind southeast 10-20 mph with wind gusts to 25 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.
Chance of a cancellation: 30%
Chance of a delay or stoppage of play: 30-40% early, 60% late
Latest Colorado Update:
As we went through the morning and into the early afternoon, I was really hoping that there would be some more definitive answers to the weather in Denver. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Short term weather guidance continues to show rain developing DURING the game. This afternoon and evening looks dry. So, it still looks like a case that they start the game but may have trouble finishing it.