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May 2 MLB DFS: Pockets full of Posey
DAILY FANTASY RUNDOWN
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May 2 MLB DFS: Pockets full of Posey

01:30 Starting Pitchers
12:16 Catchers
14:19 First Base
17:12 Second Base
22:00 Shortstop
23:52 Third Base
25:52 Outfield
30:48 Stacks and Cash Game Roster Construction

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May 2 MLB DFS Pro-Tip

Starting Pitcher Rankings

Tier One

1) Gerrit Cole (PIT)

2) Johnny Cueto (SF)

Tier Two

3) James Shields (SD)

4) Jon Gray (COL)

5) Dallas Keuchel (HOU)

6) Adam Wainwright (STL)

7) Jason Hammel (CHC)

Tier Three

8) Nathan Karns (SEA)

9) Gio Gonzalez (WAS)

10) Bartolo Colon (NYM)

This is certainly a different slate than yesterday. After we were swimming in aces on Sunday, we’re dealing with a mix of wild cards and jokers on Monday. Gerrit Cole (PIT) and Johnny Cueto (SF) are atop our list but both come with challenges in their respective matchups. Cole faces a deep and talented Cubs lineup that ranks in the Top Five in wRC+ overall and against RHP. They own the league’s highest BB Rate (13.5 percent against RHP) and they’re sixth in pitches per plate appearance. Cole will need to pound the strike zone in order to work deep into the game. To his advantage, he’s pitching at home in one of the better pitcher’s parks in the league. Cueto will pitch in his old home park in Cincinnati against a Reds offense that ranks 30th in wRC+ against RHP. It’s not a very good offense, but it is a very good offensive park. Cueto relies heavily on run prevention as his strikeout rate is only slightly above average so the shift to a terrific offensive environment is a challenge.

Once you get out of the top tier, you have a mix of scuffling former aces and impressive early season peripherals. Dallas Keuchel (HOU) has seen his velocity drop early in the season as he’s throwing more cutters than the previous year. He’s still generating a ton of swinging strikes thanks to a great change-up and slider but he’s not inducing as many chases outside the strike zone. This is imperative for Keuchel as he threw just 37.6 percent of pitches inside the strike zone last year. Fewer chases is resulting in more walks, fewer strikeouts, and more hard contact. The Twins are middle of the pack in walk rate but fifth in pitches per plate appearance. They’re a sneaky patient offense and they’re pretty good against LHP (Top 10 in wRC+ so far this season). Keuchel has arguably the biggest upside and recent pedigree of this tier, but his matchup comes with risks. Adam Wainwright (STL) saw his strikeout rate rebound a bit last start but his swinging strike rate was a paltry 5.4 percent. The good news was his swinging strike rate on the curveball was up slightly (13.8 percent) from the 5-11 percent range it’s held all season. He gets a really favorable matchup against the Phillies’ below average offense but we’re still trying to figure out where the baseline lies. Vegas has Wainwright with the lowest implied run total against (3.2 runs) but the K Rate is what drives value in DFS and it’s difficult to get excited given the low swinging strike rates this season. Jon Gray (COL) is the pitcher we’re most excited about in this tier as far as upside. Gray’s peripherals have been outstanding in his two starts at the major league level this season. He’s posted a 10.5 swinging strike rate and struck out 27.3 percent of the batters faced. In his two AAA starts, he struck out 30.6 percent of the batters faced. On the flip side, he’s allowed a ton of hard contact (34.5 percent) and only thrown 8 2/3 innings in two starts. Pitching in San Diego is one of the biggest park shifts in all of baseball and facing a very poor Padres’ offense gives Gray a chance at turning the potential into profit on Monday. James Shields (SD) is the favorite opposite Gray in their matchup and thus comes with the lower implied run total against, but has had some of the same contact issues we’ve seen from Adam Wainwright early this season. Shields velocity is down one mph and his swinging strike rate is at a career low (8.4 percent). The schedule hasn’t been great for Shields K potential as he’s faced teams that rank second, third, 12th, 14th, and 15th in K Rate, so perhaps the early season K Rate struggles are matchup driven. The Rockies are healthier with Charlie Blackmon back and they post a more formidable, but they’re also a far different offense on the road. Jason Hammel (CHC) is the last starter in this second tier. He’s getting a nice park shift and facing a primarily right-handed Pirates offense which is good for Hammel’s splits (.301 wOBA allowed 22.5 K Rate against RHBs since 2013). The Pirates are a Top Five offense against RHP with a below league average K Rate so despite the bump in park shift and the favorable platoon split, Hammel’s matchup is still difficult. This tier is very closely ranked and ultimately choices will come down to preference. We’ll likely try to separate some ties with line movement and umpire notes in the alerts.

Catcher Rankings

1) Buster Posey (SF)

2) Jonathan Lucroy (MIL)

3) Evan Gattis (HOU) – where eligible

4) Stephen Vogt (OAK)

Buster Posey (SF) is a Top Five overall hitter in our model and our focal point at the catcher position. Jonathan Lucroy (MIL) is our second ranked catcher but falls outside the Top 50 hitters overall. The gap is wide between the two and the reason we’re emphasizing Posey who gets a huge park shift in his favor and owns a .372 wOBA and .190 ISO against LHP since 2013. Brandon Finnegan has had solid results at the big league level against RHBs (.287 wOBA) but most of that is due to a .217 BABIP. He’s yielded a 32.8 hard hit rate and 1.44 HR/9. The Reds bullpen behind him is a mess, making Posey one of the strongest options overall on the slate.

First Base Rankings

1) Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)

2) Joey Votto (CIN)

3) Freddie Freeman (ATL)

4) Albert Pujols (LAA)

5) Lucas Duda (NYM)

6) Chris Carter (MIL)

7) Anthony Rizzo (CHC)

8) Brandon Moss (STL)

Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) is our top ranked first basemen in the model and ranks just behind Buster Posey as our sixth ranked hitter overall. A.J. Griffin is an extreme fly ball pitcher (51.2 percent against RHBs) and that’s a really bad combination for the Rogers Centre and the Blue Jays power-laden offense. Encarnacion is pretty cheap on both sites ($3,400 on FanDuel, $3,800 on DraftKings) which makes him easily our top target. If you’re straying from Encarnacion, Chris Carter‘s (MIL) power upside is really intriguing in tournaments. He’s facing a pitcher struggling to miss bats (7.4 swinging strike rate, 82 mph average fastball) that owns a fly ball rate over 50 percent. It’s a perfect recipe for Carter’s power to flash.

Second Base Rankings

1) Jose Altuve (HOU)

2) Rougned Odor (TEX)

3) Brian Dozier (MIN)

4) Robinson Cano (SEA)

Jose Altuve (HOU) is just outside our Top 10 hitters overall but priced accordingly and a better tournament option on this slate. Rougned Odor (TEX) is our second ranked second base option and ranks inside our Top 35 overall hitters. The park shift is minimal for Odor but a strong hitting environment and a road leadoff spot generates a decent chance at five plate appearances. If you can’t afford Odor (pricier on FanDuel), Brian Dozier (MIN) is an acceptable alternative. Dozier checks in a handful of spots behind Odor in our model thanks to an impressive .365 wOBA and .219 ISO since 2013 against LHP. Dallas Keuchel is someone who is difficult to pick on because of the heavy ground ball rate but he has allowed a 33.3 percent hard hit rate to RHBs so far this season.

Shortstop Rankings

1) Carlos Correa (HOU)

2) Jonathan Villar (MIL)

3) Troy Tulowitzki (TOR)

4) Trevor Story (COL)

5) Alcides Escobar (KC)

Carlos Correa (HOU) is our top ranked shortstop and a Top 10 hitter in our model. Jose Berrios was pretty good against RHBs in his debut but he doesn’t project to work deep into the game which helps Correa’s projection with more opportunity against the Twins atrocious bullpen. The decision on Correa is a bit site-dependent. It’s not particularly difficult to fit him in on DraftKings where the hitter pricing is incredibly soft, but it’s a bit tighter on FanDuel. Jonathan Villar (MIL) is a fine alternative that cracks our Top 25 hitters overall and is more consistently priced as a value. Where the gap is wide between the two, Villar is a fine alternative. There is a relatively big drop-off after Correa and Villar but the power of Troy Tulowitzki (TOR) plays nicely in tournament stacks with the Jays.

Third Base Rankings

1) Josh Donaldson (TOR)

2) Matt Duffy (SF)

3) Adrian Beltre (TEX)

4) David Wright (NYM)

5) Anthony Rendon (WAS)

Josh Donaldson (TOR) is back at home and back atop our rankings. He’s a Top 10 hitter in our model despite the right-on-right matchup. Donaldson’s price tag is easy to fit on DraftKings but much tougher on FanDuel. Fortunately, we have a really nice value option on FanDuel with Matt Duffy (SF) who ranks inside our Top 20 hitters overall. Duffy gets the big positive park shift and the platoon advantage while hitting third for an underrated Giants offense. Adrian Beltre (TEX) is also deserving of cash game consideration. He cracks our Top 30 overall hitters and the price is reasonable on both sites.

Outfield Rankings

1) Mike Trout (LAA)

2) Bryce Harper (WAS)

3) Jose Bautista (TOR)

4) Ryan Braun (MIL)

5) Michael Conforto (NYM)

6) Curtis Granderson (NYM)

7) Kole Calhoun (LAA) – if hitting second

8) George Springer (HOU)

9) Yoenis Cespedes (NYM)

10) Carlos Gonzalez (COL)

11) Charlie Blackmon (COL)

12) Miguel Sano (MIN)

13) Domingo Santana (MIL)

14) Andrew McCutchen (PIT)

15) Colby Rasmus (HOU)

16) Matt Holliday (STL)

17) Nelson Cruz (SEA)

18) Michael Saunders (TOR)

19) Starling Marte (PIT)

20) Brandon Moss (STL)

Once again Mike Trout (LAA) and Bryce Harper (WAS) are atop our outfield rankings. Trout’s getting big park shifts on the road and playing another opponent with a weak bullpen that helps boost his ranking. Harper has the platoon advantage against an average right hander but in a difficult park for power. The price discount on our third ranked outfielder, Jose Bautista (TOR), makes him a preferred target if spending all the way up. Bautista is just $4,100 on DraftKings, auto play, and $4,300 on FanDuel. Bautista isn’t quite the same hitter as Trout or Harper but his context is a little stronger and the price point is way more appetizing. The outfield pricing on DraftKings is ridiculous in general. Michael Conforto (NYM) and Colby Rasmus (HOU) seem perpetually underpriced and stuck below $4,000. Domingo Santana (MIL) remains cheap on both sites but is more valuable as a salary relief play on FanDuel because their outfield pricing is more reasonable.

Stacks

Tier One

1) Toronto Blue Jays

Tier Two

2) Houston Astros

3) San Francisco Giants

4) New York Mets

5) St. Louis Cardinals

6) Los Angeles Angels

Tier Three

7) Milwaukee Brewers

8) Texas Rangers

The Blue Jays are the clear cut top stack in our model. They’re particularly underpriced on DraftKings which makes building around them very easy in cash games and very chalky in tournaments. If you want to differentiate in tournament you’ll need to combine them with a lower owned stack or fade them altogether.

The Astros, Giants, Mets, and Cardinals all rank closely in our model. The Giants are the only road team in the mix and facing one of the weakest bullpens in all of baseball behind a starter that doesn’t historically work deep into games. They are an elite tournament stack as the offense is generally under-appreciated. The Astros may go under-owned due to the prospect status of Jose Berrios but their combination of power and speed with a bad Twins bullpen brings big upside. The Mets get a below average righty who really struggles with lefties (.408 wOBA, 1.96 HR/9 allowed to 289 LHBs faced) and the Braves pen isn’t particularly strong either. Any time the Mets get a RHP they’re in play as a stack because of all their left handed power in a very deep lineup. The Cardinals will likely go under-owned as well given Jeremy Hellickson‘s strong start this season but he’s once again backed up by a very bad bullpen.

The Brewers power upside is intriguing against Jered Weaver‘s fly ball tendencies but their explosion on Sunday may encourage ownership on Monday.

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