Daily Fantasy Rundown – May 21st MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
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.
Weather: No concerns tonight. 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: On sites where Carlos Santana (CLE) has catcher eligibility he’s your top option at the catcher position and by a wide margin (he’s ranked among our top four hitters this evening and the next catcher option is ranked outside the top 50). Santana and the Indians will experience a favorable park shift (U.S. Cellular Field is a great hitting environment, especially when the wind is blowing out) and a matchup against John Danks (has allowed a .351 wOBA and 1.51 HR/9 to RHBs since 2012) bodes well for his value. Santana is a switch hitter so he will have the platoon edge throughout this game. The low cost starting pitching options gives you a ton of flexibility this evening so plugging in Santana at the catcher position isn’t difficult. Stephen Vogt (OAK) and Russell Martin (TOR) are the next in line options to Santana this evening. Vogt has a favorable matchup against Alex Colome (has allowed a.324 wOBA and 28 percent LD rate to LHBs in a small sample) and he gets the benefit of a nice lineup spot (fifth). Vogt has “cooled off” due to an unsustainable HR/FB rate but he’s still a very good hitter (1.00 EYE, .429 wOBA and .298 ISO in 138 PAs this season). Martin has pretty even splits against LHP and RHP and he’s displayed some nice power this season (.258 ISO). He benefits from a favorable lineup spot (cleanup) in an elite hitting environment (Rogers Centre). The Blue Jays will settle with a team total around 4.5 runs so it makes sense to have exposure to this offense at a scarce position. Our model prefers Martin (ranked among our top 50 hitters) over Vogt (ranked outside the top 90) so where they’re priced similarly (FanDuel), Martin is the better value.
Jose Abreu (CHW) – We’re not going to pick on Salazar much (he’s a good pitcher and misses bats an elite level) but Abreu is discounted around the industry (especially on FanDuel). Salazar does struggle against RHBs (allowed a.336 wOBA and 1.57 HR/9 to RHBs in the last few seasons) and Abreu has been an elite hitter against RHP (.392 wOBA and .240 ISO dating back to last season). The hitting environment is elite (U.S. Cellular Field inflates right-handed power by approximately 14 percent) and that’s a main concern for Salazar tonight. Abreu is ranked among our top six hitters and he’s priced as a top 20 option on FanDuel. Additionally, we like to target Abreu’s upside against SPs that don’t carry a high GB rate.
Mike Napoli (BOS) – Napoli has been awful this season but his peripherals are somewhat promising moving forward. He’s still putting the ball in the air (40 percent FB rate) and he’s cut down his strikeout rate (22 percent K rate this season, 27 percent K rate last season). He’s had terrible luck (.211 BABIP, league average is .295), which certainly hasn’t helped him. His price tag is close to the minimum on FanDuel and if you’re not paying for Abreu on that site, Napoli serves as a nice value play. He has a nice matchup against Wandy Rodriguez (1.18 HR/9, 17 percent K rate against RHBs since 2012). Rodriguez has been better against RHBs this season (.249 wOBA) but he’s allowing a 44 percent FB rate and he’s been a bit lucky (four percent HR/FB rate allowed). Napoli rates as a top five hitter in our model and he’s priced outside the top 30 hitters on most sites. There’s value in his price point across the industry.
Additional first base notes: David Ortiz (BOS) has a L/L matchup but Wandy Rodriguez has actually been worse against LHBs (allowed a .329 wOBA and 1.27 HR/9 to LHBs since 2012). Ortiz has been a good hitter against southpaws, posting a .346 wOBA and .216 ISO in the last few seasons. Ortiz is priced as an average hitter on FanDuel and we know this isn’t the case (ranked among our top 15 hitters). Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) is priced appropriately around the industry but he’s a good hitter against RHP (.382 wOBA, .266 ISO since 2012) and Matt Shoemaker has some ugly underlying peripherals. If you want exposure to a 4.5 run total, Encarnacion makes sense as a high upside option. He’s a next in line option to the written values above. Anthony Rizzo (CHC) and the Cubs offense are experiencing an extreme negative park shift but Odrisamer Despaigne doesn’t miss any bats. There’s a chance for some low ownership in tournaments here and on a six game slate, it makes sense to utilize Rizzo in those types of formats. Rizzo is an elite hitter against RHP and he has taken his skills to another level this season (walking more than he’s striking out and he’s hitting more line drives). Nick Swisher (CLE) is minimum priced on FanDuel and he will likely hit fifth against John Danks at U.S. Cellular Field. I still view Abreu and Napoli as better raw values but Swisher can be utilized in all formats (great contextual factors at a minimum price point and he’s a top 25 hitter in our model).
Dustin Pedroia (BOS) – I won’t over-complicate this. The second base position doesn’t carry much opportunity cost at all and Pedroia is the “obvious” play. The Red Sox have a team total of 4.5 runs and Pedroia has a favorable lineup spot (second). He’s hit LHP well (.365 wOBA and .158 ISO since 2012) and despite Wandy Rodriguez’s success against RHBs this season, he’s been a bit lucky (allowing a 44 percent FB rate to RHBs and he’s posted an unsustainable 4 percent HR/FB rate). Pedroia belongs in lineups in all formats tonight.
Additional second base notes: Jason Kipnis (CLE) is a top 30 hitter in our model and he’s priced fully around the industry (not much value in his price tag). He has a L/L matchup against John Danks and he’s a much better hitter against RHP but Danks is a below average pitcher against both RHBs and LHBs (allowed a .333 wOBA, 1.12 HR/9 to LHBs since 2012). Kipnis belongs in your tournament lineups. Jace Peterson (ATL) is a viable value alternative to Dustin Pedroia in cash games. Peterson is the leadoff hitter for the Braves and he has a solid matchup against Matt Garza (has allowed a .357 wOBA to LHBs this season and he’s sporting a 5.72 ERA/5.38 FIP). Peterson showed a willingness to run at the Minor League level (stole 93 bases in two seasons at the single A level) and he probably has 20 SB upside over a full season. He’s a fine low cost option on a short slate.
Additional shortstop notes: It’s not surprising that most middle infield positions are addressed in the additional notes section for a condensed slate. Add the shortstop position to that list, especially when Troy Tulowitzki (playing in the afternoon) isn’t available. On sites where Hanley Ramirez (BOS) has shortstop eligibility (DraftKings), he’s the best option and it’s not close. Ramirez is our third ranked hitter and our next in line option is ranked outside the top 60 hitters. Ramirez has accumulated a .394 wOBA and .250 ISO against southpaws since 2012 and he has a favorable matchup against Wandy Rodriguez (has been successful against RHBs this season but his FB rate is a concern). Ramirez belongs in all formats around the industry but he’s especially valuable on sites where he’s shortstop eligible. Erick Aybar (LAA) is the next in line option to Ramirez. He will be the leadoff hitter for an Angels offense that will have a team total anywhere from 4 to 4.5 runs. Aybar isn’t a great hitter but a great lineup spot that should give him at the very least four plate appearances (good opportunity for five plate appearances) is enough to consider him in cash games. Mike Aviles and Jose Ramirez (CLE) could emerge as viable punts if they obtain solid lineup spots. They will have the platoon advantage against the below average John Danks.
Additional third base notes: It’s frustrating to cover a whole position in the additional notes section but unfortunately this is also the case at third base tonight. Top options like Josh Donaldson (TOR) and Kris Bryant (CHC) are closed to fully priced around the industry relative to their R/R matchups. I’ll give the edge to Donaldson who’s playing in a superior hitting environment and the Blue Jays have a team total pushing 4.5 runs. According to our model, both are similar values (both are ranked among our top 30 hitters). Adrian Beltre (TEX) also ranks among our top 30 hitters and his best price point can be found on FanDuel (viable value on that site). The Rangers offense will have a team total anywhere from 3 to 3.5 runs so be price sensitive here (fine value on FanDuel but tournament option on DraftKings). If you’re looking for a cheaper value alternative to Donaldson and Bryant, David Freese (LAA) won’t have the platoon edge (better hitter against LHP) but he will likely hit fifth for an Angels offense that figures to have one of the highest team totals (4 pushing 4.5 runs).
Mike Trout (LAA) – On a night where high-end starting pitchers aren’t available, it makes sense to fit in the top ranked hitter, Mike Trout. Trout is actually a better hitter against RHP (.416 wOBA and .259 ISO against RHP since 2012) and opposing pitcher R.A. Dickey has allowed a 38 percent FB rate and 1.18 HR/9 to RHBs in the last few seasons. Trout and the Angels offense get a massive park shift in their favor (Rogers Centre inflates right-handed power by approximately 10 percent above the league average; Angel Stadium of Anaheim decreases right-handed power by approximately seven percent below the league average). Trout should be utilized in all formats this evening.
Jose Bautista (TOR) – Like Trout, Bautista is viable in all formats on a condensed slate, especially when low-cost starting pitching options are in play (salary relief can be used to spend on top plays). Bautista is putting the ball in the air a ton this season (52 percent FB rate) and the last time he did this, he went on to have his best statistical season from a power perspective (54 home runs, 35 doubles in 2010). I’m not clamoring a repeat performance but the fact that he’s generating so much loft will do wonders for his power profile. This is especially the case in a hitting environment like Rogers Centre, which inflates RH power by ~10 percent above the league average. Matt Shoemaker has been pitching with reduced fast ball velocity and his FB rate is close to 50 percent this season. Bautista has a discounted price tag on DraftKings (which doesn’t make much sense considering how much aerial contact he’s putting in play) and this matchup serves as a great opportunity to take advantage of this pricing error.
Mookie Betts (BOS) – Betts is ranked among our top 10 hitters this evening and he will be the leadoff hitter for a Red Sox offense that should settle in with a team total of 4.5 runs (great for his DFS value). Betts has been a league average hitter against LHP but he’s actually hitting more fly balls than ground balls (47 percent FB rate) and that fares well for his value, especially at Fenway Park (above league average park for right-handed power). A matchup against the below average Wandy Rodriguez (has made some nice progress against RHBs but he continues to allow too much aerial contact) at Fenway Park in the leadoff spot for an offense that projects to do well tonight are enough contextual factors to drive Betts towards the top of the value list.
Kole Calhoun (LAA) – Calhoun has been a solid hitter against RHP (.341 wOBA and .179 ISO against RHP in the last few seasons) and opposing pitcher R.A. Dickey has allowed a 24 percent LD rate and 1.16 HR/9 to LHBs since 2012. Calhoun is ranked among our top 30 hitters and despite being priced fairly on DraftKings, FanDuel has priced him as an average hitter. That price tag offers great value.
Additional outfield notes: Ryan Raburn (CLE) and Chris Colabello (TOR) are good salary relief options. I dislike Colabello’s skill set but at close to minimum price points around the industry, you could do a lot worse than rostering a middle of the lineup hitter for a Blue Jays offense that has a healthy team total of 4 runs (pushing 4.5). Ryan Raburn has a 26 percent LD rate and 43 percent FB rate, which bodes well for his power profile. He has a matchup against John Danks (below average pitcher) at U.S. Cellular Field (elite hitting environment). If choosing between the two, I prefer Raburn due to a better skill set but keep in mind that he’s a pinch-hit risk later in the game and that closes the gap when choosing between him and Colabello. Ryan Braun and Carlos Gomez (MIL) are preferred tournament values tonight. I mentioned earlier that Julio Teheran isn’t right (allowing too much hard hit contact and his control is all over the place) and despite having a R/R matchup and being priced appropriately around the industry, it makes sense to have some exposure to the Brewers (opportunity for some low ownership in tournaments, which is hard to achieve on a short slate). If you want more exposure to Cleveland, Michael Brantley and Brandon Moss (CLE) are good options despite the L/L matchup. John Danks also struggles against LHBs and Brantley and Moss are ranked among our top 15 hitters this evening. I view them as better tournament values since they’re priced appropriately around the industry (like Jason Kipnis). Shane Victorino (BOS) is a fine secondary target for tournaments if you want more exposure to the Red Sox offense. He’s hit LHP very well since 2012 but he doesn’t get the benefit of a strong lineup spot (usually sixth or seventh). Josh Reddick (OAK) is priced fairly around the industry but he’s a fine secondary value tonight. He benefits from an awesome lineup spot (third, best spot for DFS production) and his baseline likely needs to be reevaluated (he’s cut his K rate significantly, he’s close to drawing as many walks as strikeouts and he’s posted a .305/.381/.527 triple slash line through 147 PAs). His matchup against Alex Colome (allows a healthy amount of line drives to LHBs) is favorable.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Clay Buchholz (BOS)
2) Danny Salazar (CLE)
3) Jesse Chavez (OAK)
4) Julio Teheran (ATL)
5) Matt Shoemaker (LAA)
6) Kyle Hendricks (CHC)
Clay Buchholz (BOS) – Buchholz is perhaps the biggest enigma at the starting pitcher position. If you look at his ERA (4.93), he’s a poor pitcher. When you take into account everything else, he’s been a remarkable pitcher this season. Buchholz has accumulated a 27 percent K rate, 6.5 BB rate and 49 percent GB rate. Those rate statistics have made his ERA predictors stand out. Buchholz has posted a 2.88 FIP and 2.96 xFIP (two full runs less than his ERA). He’s also been unlucky, posting a .362 BABIP (league average is .293) and 64 percent strand rate (league average is 73 percent). He takes on a Rangers offense that ranks among the bottom five offenses in wOBA and are facing a negative park shift. I’ll take the things that he’s been able to control (strikeouts, walks, home runs) and bet on positive regression the rest of the way (ERA predictors are two runs less than his ERA). Buchholz is the top play at the starting pitcher position and he’s in play in all formats around the industry.
Jesse Chavez (OAK) – If you’re looking for a second starting pitcher to complement Buchholz on multiple starting pitcher sites, Chavez is probably the best option. Chavez has posted an above average K rate (23 percent K rate), which is fueled by a healthy 11 percent SwStr rate and he’s accumulated a league average BB rate. He’s been able to limit hard contact (0.24 HR/9) and his 2.63 ERA/2.65 FIP rate are outstanding. His 3.77 xFIP is telling us that some regression can be expected due to an unsustainable HR/FB rate but playing in Tropicana Field (elite pitching environment) should help him tonight. He has a remarkable matchup against the Rays (ranked 22nd in wOBA against RHP and striking out 21 percent of the time) and he’s cheap around the industry. On a night where the starting pitcher position has low opportunity cost (no high-end options to spend on), it makes sense to start a cost-effective value option like Chavez.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Danny Salazar (CLE) has a neutral matchup against the White Sox (ranked 17th in wOBA against RHP this season) but we saw what a bad pitching environment can do to his home run proneness (allowed two home runs in an elite hitting environment in his last outing). He will pitch at U.S. Cellular Field (elite hitting environment) and the wind is blowing out anywhere from 8-16 MPH. Salazar is an elite strike out pitcher and that’s enough to make him a cash game option tonight but his inability to keep the ball in the park is an issue when he’s playing in unfavorable environments for pitchers. He’s a better option for tournaments tonight but don’t ignore his strikeout upside (34 percent K rate, 15 percent SwStr rate). Julio Teheran (ATL) and Matt Shoemaker (LAA) are two pitchers that deserve some tournament consideration due to their above average K rates but their underlying peripherals are very concerning. Shoemaker has lost some fastball velocity and he’s allowing close to a 50 percent FB rate. This won’t help him at Rogers Centre (one of the best hitting environments in MLB). Teheran hasn’t been the same pitcher this season (4.33 ERA/5.33 FIP/4.13 xFIP) and that’s mostly due to the hard contact he’s allowing (29 percent LD rate). I wouldn’t touch these two pitchers in cash games even on a condensed slate.
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 (email@example.com) if you have suggestions.
Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:
1) Boston Red Sox
2) Toronto Blue Jays
3) Los Angeles Angels
The Red Sox, Blue Jays and Angels were core offenses of the Daily Fantasy Rundown today. Vegas backs up our recommendations, as these teams have the highest run totals on this slate (anywhere from 4 to 4.5 runs). These teams belong in cash games (as part of mini-stacks) and tournaments.
1) Chicago Cubs
2) Milwaukee Brewers
3) Oakland Athletics
These three offenses won’t have the same backing from Vegas as our primary offenses but that’s not necessary for contrarian purposes. The Cubs have a matchup against Odrisamer Despaigne and despite most of his contact coming through the ground, he doesn’t miss any bats and he’s primarily a contact pitcher. He’s not a terrible pitcher but I would feel comfortable mini-stacking parts of this Cubs offense in tournaments (specifically Fowler-Rizzo-Fowler).
I mentioned earlier that Julio Teheran isn’t quite “right” (allowing a ton of hard hit contact and his control has been an issue). The hitting environment is neutral for the most part but I view elite hitters like Ryan Braun and Carlos Gomez as good tournament values. I see an opportunity here for some low ownership in tournaments (DFSers won’t want to pick on Teheran much since he’s been a good pitcher for the better part of the last three seasons) and it’s difficult to find these type of opportunities on a condensed slate. Other hitters I would stack with Braun and Gomez are Adam Lind and Khris Davis.
The Athletics aren’t quite the same offense as the Cubs and the Brewers but they do have a good matchup against Alex Colome. They’re playing in an unappealing hitting environment (Tropicana Field), which might create chances for lower ownership for hitters like Josh Reddick and Stephen Vogt. Both Reddick and Vogt are cash game values but they could also be utilized in tournaments as part of a mini-stack. These contrarian stacks could all be mini-stacked in multi-entry tournaments together or separately.
MLB Game Weather Forecasts
LAA at TOR 7:07: Retractable roof. Dry but chilly. Temps in the low 60s to begin falling into the low 50s. So, not sure on whether the roof will be open or not. If open, the air density will be a 5 becoming a 4 while the wind is west 7-14 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
TEX at BOS 7:10: Dry. Temps near 60 to start falling into the mid 50s. Air density is a 5 becoming a 4. Wind southwest 9-18 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 7.
MIL at ATL 7:10: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 70s falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind northwest 8-16 mph lessening to 6-12 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
OAK at TB 7:10: Dome.
CLE at CHW 8:10: Dry. Temps in the mid 60s falling into the upper 50s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind northwest 8-16 mph becoming southwest 5-10 mph which blows out to center and then out to left. The wind is a 7 becoming a 6.
CHC at SD 9:10: Dry. Temps in the mid 60s falling into the low 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west 7-14 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.