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May 19 MLB DFS: Cleveland Rocks!
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May 19 MLB DFS: Cleveland Rocks!

02:11 Starting Pitchers
11:09 Catchers
13:17 First Base
15:39 Second Base
17:19 Shortstop
20:01 Third Base
22:14 Outfield
25:26 Cash Game Roster Construction and Stacks



May 19 MLB DFS Pro Tip

Starting Pitcher Rankings

Tier One

1) Stephen Strasburg (WAS)

2) Chris Sale (CWS)

3) Jeff Samardzija (SF)

Tier Two

4) Matt Harvey (NYM)

Tier Three

5) Jon Gray (OAK)

6) Michael Wacha (STL)

Tier Four

7) Marco Estrada (TOR)

8) James Shields (SD)

9) Jeff Locke (PIT)

We’ve got a crowded top tier of starting pitchers with two studs throwing and mediocre pitcher in an elite matchup. Stephen Strasburg (WAS) edges out Chris Sale (CWS) for the top spot. Strasburg’s peripherals are as strong as they’ve been with the best hard minus soft hit rate of his career (has added a slider/cutter type pitch that’s been awesome) and near top marks in both chase rate and swinging strike rate. The Mets do have plenty of power but are only a slightly below average matchup overall and the park is favorable for pitching.

Sale is a better option for tournaments given the highest price on the slate and a bit of a riskier environment (at home in US Cellular Field). The matchup is of the high risk, high reward variety as well. The Astros are a high upside offense ranking seventh in wRC+ against LHP, but they will also strike out a ton (25.8 K percentage).

The best value, however, may be the least talented pitcher of tier one as Jeff Samardzija (SF) has an elite matchup against a Padres team that is one of the most favorable matchups from both a wRC+ and K percentage perspective. The opposing team total is in the low three’s and a touch lower than the Mets implied run total (Strasburg). While Samardzija isn’t as dominant as Strasburg or Sale, he’s having a nice bounce back season. He’s regained the GB ability he lost last year (GB rate risen from 39.0 to 50.6) and the move to the NL has his K rate back in line with his career average. Due to the discount Samardzija offers, he’s the pitcher we’ll likely own the most in cash games.

Despite a crowded first tier, there are a lot of different ways to go on the slate. Matt Harvey (NYM) would be well underpriced if he was able to regain his form of old. As it stands now (3.79 xFIP, 20.4 K rate). That puts him as a secondary value across the industry. On DraftKings, though, Michael Wacha (STL) is the standout value if not paying up for two tier one starters (possible but leaves you with questionable hitting upside). When the Rockies get out of Coors, they are a below average offense as evidenced by their 24th ranking in wRC+, which is park adjusted. Wacha isn’t that dominant (3.96 xFIP, 19.7 K rate), but he does just enough across the board (slightly above average GB rate, hovering around the league average in K/BB ratio) to be considered safe. The defense behind him and favorable home park help as well.

Actually ranking just ahead of Michael Wacha is Jon Gray (COL). The issue with Gray is that he seems like an unnecessary cash game risk on FanDuel where you can pay up, but on the two pitcher site, Wacha is meaningfully cheaper. That leaves Gray in limbo a bit as a secondary cash game value but elite tournament option. We’re on watch with Gray whenever he gets outside of Coors Field as the risk-reward dynamic between his run prevention and awesome strikeout ability (currently 30.5 K percentage and a 12.2 SwStr rate) shifts favorably. The matchup isn’t great (Cardinals are second in wRC+ against RHP), but the massive park shift, K rate, and the Cardinals lineup possibly getting right handed heavy combine to give Gray very meaningful upside.

Catcher Rankings

1) Brian McCann (NYY)

2) Buster Posey (SF)

3) Stephen Vogt (OAK)

4) Yan Gomes (CLE)

5) Evan Gattis (HOU) (where eligible)

The catcher position is rather atrocious as no catcher ranks inside our top 50 overall hitters, which is pretty remarkable on a short slate. Brian McCann (NYY) (faces a contact oriented RHP but in a bad hitter’s park) and Buster Posey (SF) (best offensive catcher but no platoon edge and poor park) are fine to use if you have room, but it’s a position will fill out last. If you don’t have room for those two, simply look to punt the position with Stephen Vogt (OAK) (FanDuel) and Tucker Barnhart (CIN) (DraftKings) looking like the two best options in that scenario.

First Base Rankings

1) Joey Votto (CIN)

2) Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)

3) Carlos Santana (CLE)

4) Jose Abreu (CHW)

5) Mike Napoli (CLE)

It’s a difficult small slate as the lack of really bad pitchers and strong offensive environments leaves us with a lot of meh options. As a result, we find ourselves focusing on CLE/CIN where possible as the game features two below average RHPs in the best hitter’s park on the slate (Great American Ballpark), and it’s really only one of two good hitting parks in play (HOU-CHW in Chicago being the other). As a result, the best values at first base are Joey Votto (CIN) and Carlos Santana (CLE) (if back in lineup hitting leadoff). Votto isn’t the hitter he once was (striking out more than he used too and too much contact on the ground), but we’re fine attacking him at his current price points against weak RHP at home, especially in light of Votto’s 44.4 hard hit rate (phenomenal). Santana is going a bit in the other direction as he’s cut his K rate from 18.3 last season to 12.9 thus far this year and is elevating the ball a lot more (48.2 FB rate), which has led to more power (.185 ISO). Byung Ho Park (MIN) is someone we like a lot for tournaments. With a lack of upside for hitters in general on the slate, he’s got good power upside (.310 ISO, 9 HR; supported by FB, hard hit rate combination), which he’s flashed against same handed pitching. Meanwhile Marco Estrada has allowed a .175 ISO and 3.4 HR rate to RHBs since 2014, and Target Field is surprisingly a slightly favorable park for right handed power.

Second Base Rankings

1) Jason Kipnis (CLE)

2) Jose Altuve (HOU)

3) Joe Panik (SF)

4) Brandon Phillips (CIN)

5) Howie Kendrick (LAD)

Another ugly position on the slate where our attention immediately turns to an option in CLE/CIN in Jason Kipnis (CLE), who will face RHP Tim Adleman. Adleman has a Steamer projected 4.38 ERA and 1.23 HR/9. While it’s a small sample, his three starts have pretty much been in line with that expectation (4.57 xFIP, 1.13 HR/9). We’re hopeful, though, especially on DraftKings where Kipnis is priced more aggressively, that a pure punt play emerges. After Kipnis no one rates as a good per dollar value in our model. Currently, Gordon Beckham (ATL) looks to be the best available punt option on DraftKings. There’s not much upside here but this is about price, and you at least get a top six lineup spot with the platoon edge against a bad pitcher in Jeff Locke (5.45 ERA, 4.99xFIP).

Shortstop Rankings

1) Carlos Correa (HOU)

2) Francisco Lindor (CLE)

3) Corey Seager (LAD)

4) Jimmy Rollins (CHW)

5) Trevor Story (COL)

Francisco Lindor (CLE) is a strong industry wide value given matchup/park/lineup spot, but we did touch on the disappointing power numbers yesterday. As a result, we don’t mind going cheaper where good options exist, and you’ve got a lot more flexibility on DraftKings. Our preference there is for our top play – Carlos Correa (HOU). Despite the terrible matchup against Chris Sale, it’s tough to avoid using a strong event player in one of only two good hitting environments at such an accessible price tag. The lack of upside among hitters in general makes this is a risk worth taking. However, if you want to save money on DraftKings without picking on Chris Sale, you can stick with the CLE-CIN game and grab Zack Cozart (CIN).

Third Base Rankings

1) Josh Donaldson (TOR)

2) Nolan Arenado (COL)

3) Matt Carpenter (STL)

4) Todd Frazier (CHW)

5) Justin Turner (LAD)

With Donaldson and Arenado both receiving park downgrades and lacking the platoon edge, this is yet another position where we’re simply going the value route. Justin Turner (LAD) has been our go to cheap option due to his lineup spot and pretty even splits. He gets another bad Angels starter, and their bullpen is below average and overworked. The issue with Turner is the power simply hasn’t been there. The peripherals look in line, but he was probably a bit lucky last year. We’re assuming an ISO somewhere between this year’s mark (.087) and last year’s (.197). Given that, it’s fine to simply pivot to Jose Ramirez (CLE), even if he’s a touch more expensive and ranked lower than Turner. The two are close enough, and Ramirez hit second for Cleveland last night in Cincinnati.

Outfield Rankings

1) Mike Trout (LAA)

2) Bryce Harper (WAS)

3) Gregory Polanco (PIT)

4) Jose Bautista (TOR)

5) Andrew McCutchen (PIT)

6) Billy Hamilton (CIN)

7) Miguel Sano (MIN)

8) George Springer (HOU)

9) Michael Saunders (TOR)

10) Denard Span (SF)

11) Adam Eaton (CHW)

12) Matt Holliday (STL)

13) Michael Conforto (NYM)

14) Josh Reddick (OAK)

15) Carlos Gonzalez (COL)

It’s no surprise that Mike Trout (LAA) and Bryce Harper (WAS) top our outfield rankings on a short slate where there aren’t a lot of hitters with multiple favorable factors in their corner. Trout is still pretty expensive, but Bryce Harper‘s (WAS) tag has come down making him a strong value across the industry. When you consider his elite skills versus RHP since the start of last year (.466 wOBA, .348 ISO, 7.4 HR rate) and Harvey’s issues (reduced K and GB rates are good for opposition power), Harper is on the short list of strong cash game values. His power upside could single handedly move you over the cash game on a slate like this. Sticking with the theme of looking at upside since we don’t have a lot of context lining up as we hoped, Billy Hamilton‘s (CIN) speed, accessible price, and participating in the best offensive environment of the night make him our favorite value in the outfield. These are the two options we prefer across the industry. After that it’s quite frankly mushed together a bit. Michael Saunders (TOR) gives you access to a Blue Jays offense that has a 4.5 team total, tied for the highest on the slate. Matt Holliday (STL) is underpriced but the park and matchup aren’t good. In general, we don’t mind taking more chances than usual on guys with specific power or stolen base upside, even if the matchups aren’t great. That’s especially true in tournament formats.


Tier One

1) Cleveland Indians

Tier Two

2) Toronto Blue Jays

3) Pittsburgh Pirates

Tier Three

4) New York Yankees

5) Los Angeles Dodgers

Cleveland is clearly the top stack. They share the highest implied run total on the slate (4.5), are in the best hitter’s park on the slate, and face a below average pitcher in Tim Adleman backed up by the worst bullpen in the league (dead last in xFIP, ERA, HR/9).

The Blue Jays are fun in tournaments. It’s difficult to find individual values to use in cash, but they’re the other team with a 4.5 implied run total and possess lots of power hitters, which deserve extra emphasis since it’s difficult to find power out of most of the value plays on the slate.

Tournament Stacks

-Minnesota Twins (simply target the HR upside against the even splits, fly ball oriented Marco Estrada)

-San Francisco Giants (just an underrated offense against a deteriorating pitcher with a bad bullpen behind him)

-Houston Astros (high risk/reward team night in and night out and one of only four teams in a positive hitting environment, yet you’ll get them at virtually no ownership because they are facing Chris Sale)

MLB Daily Analysis

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