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May 23 MLB DFS Slate: Turner and Kersh
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May 23 MLB DFS Slate: Turner and Kersh

00:38 Starting Pitchers
11:37 Catchers
13:30 First Base
16:28 Second Base
19:07 Shortstop
20:42 Third Base
22:39 Outfield
30:15 Cash Game Roster Construction & Stacks



May 23 MLB DFS Slate Pro Tip

Starting Pitcher Rankings

Tier One

1) Clayton Kershaw (LAD)

Tier Two

2) Johnny Cueto (SF)

Tier Three

3) Drew Pomeranz (SD)

4) Rich Hill (OAK)

Tier Four

5) Vincent Velasquez (PHI)

6) Taijuan Walker (SEA)

7) Gio Gonzalez (WAS)

8) Matt Moore (TB)

9) Wei-Yin Chen (MIA)

10) John Lackey (CHC)

11) Ian Kennedy (KC)

The top of the starting pitcher rankings are easy to decipher. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) (team total against of just above 2; sub-2.00 ERA skilled pitcher; averaging around 7.2 IP; 34.8 K percentage) is the easy top play. Even with Cueto having a dream matchup, the gap is significant, and we’re building around Kershaw in all formats.

On a shortened slate, there are enough punt options to make Kershaw work on FanDuel (and still get some upside) bats. However, Johnny Cueto (SF) is a fine alternative. He’s faces the Padres twice combining for 18 innings (both complete games), 19 strikeouts, and two wins with just one earned run total. On DraftKings, if lineups cooperate, enough punt options should emerge to make it viable to use both in cash games. We’re honestly torn on whether to do that or to complement Kershaw with a cheaper second pitcher, allowing you to fit in some high upside bats (Mike Trout for example).

It might not be a bad night to split cash game lineups as a result. If doing so, on non-Cueto DK lineups, you can drop down to Drew Pomeranz (SD) (huge park mitigates fly ball tilt, 30.3 K percentage is mostly supported by peripherals). However, our tier three and tier four starting pitchers don’t have a huge gap between them. As a result, we think it probably makes most sense at that point to simply drop down all the way to Matt Moore (TB) at just $6,300. Moore has a riskier skill set because the K rate is lower and a high hard hit rate makes his fly ball riskiness more dangerous (1.57 HR/9). The good news for Moore is he faces an NL team in an NL park. That should help his K rate and his fly ball riskiness. The Marlins will throw a lot of RHBs out, but Moore shows virtually no split. Plus many of those RHBs aren’t good hitters, and the main lefty masher (Giancarlo Stanton) is mired in a slump. His well hit rating over the last two weeks is 18 percent lower than over the past year (and outside the range of a good hitter). Additionally, he’s struck out 15 times in 25 plate appearances over his last five games.

Rich Hill (OAK) ranks very closely to Pomeranz. He has a slightly higher win probability, also has flashed a gaudy K rate early on (28.4 K percentage). Even more like Pomeranz, he has a below average matchup (Mariners and Giants rank 7th and 8th respectively in wRC+ against LHP) in a big park (Seattle). The NL park (no DH) and a higher SwStr rate (giving us more confidence in the K rate) are the reasons Pomeranz ranks higher. Hill is also more expensive, so he’s a secondary value/a little better for tournaments.

It’s tough to narrow down specific, additional tournament options as all the tier four pitchers have positives/negatives, carrying enough upside to be considered in tournaments. We do, however, have a large gap following our fourth tier of starting pitchers so don’t recommend venturing to an unranked pitcher on this slate, regardless of price.

Catcher Rankings

1) Buster Posey (SF)

2) Victor Martinez (DET) (where eligible)

3) JT Realmuto (MIA)

4) Yasmani Grandal (LAD)

5) Salvador Perez (KC)

Buster Posey (SF) has elite skills versus LHP (.379 wOBA, .202 ISO since 2014), landing him in the top spot. He’s pretty affordable on DraftKings, but with an emphasis on top tier pitching and the scoring environment in San Francisco expected to be low, we’re fine simply punting the position. Stephen Vogt (OAK) should have a good lineup spot due to the injury to Josh Reddick (hit third yesterday). Cameron Rupp (PHI) is another pure punt option as the Phillies offense gets a boost adding the DH and facing Mike Pelfrey (5.80 FIP).

First Base Rankings

1) Jose Abreu (CHW)

2) Albert Pujols (LAA)

3) Anthony Rizzo (CHC)

4) Carlos Santana (CLE)

5) Miguel Cabrera (DET)

We’ll try and go the value route here. If paying up, though, we like Albert Pujols (LAA) (Angels are our top stack, see stack section) at a slightly lower price than Jose Abreu. The value options on FanDuel are straightforward and attractive as Prince Fielder (TEX) is home with the platoon edge against Nick Tropeano (4.92 xFIP) and a bad Angels bullpen (fifth highest xFIP). Ryan Howard (PHI) has a complete punt price. While he’s a bad all-around offensive player, he still has pop, hitting for a .191 ISO and 4.2 HR rate against RHP since 2014. Over that same span, opposing Pitcher Mike Pelfrey has allowed a .374 wOBA to LHBs. On DraftKings, pricing forces you into different options. Miguel Cabrera (DET) is just too cheap if healthy and in the lineup, and Matt Adams (STL) comes in as a sub-$3,000 who is likely to hit cleanup and holds the platoon edge.

Second Base Rankings

1) Jason Kipnis (CLE)

2) Rougned Odor (TEX)

3) Howie Kendrick (LAD)

4) Daniel Murphy (WAS)

5) Cesar Hernandez (PHI)

Lineup spots will play a role in determining how to attack the second base position. Bother Rougned Odor (TEX) and Brian Dozier (MIN) could hit leadoff (would make them the two best values on the slate), or they could hit fifth or sixth. In the latter scenario, we’d probably pivot to Howie Kendrick (LAD) (top four lineup spot and Brandon Finnegan has been a mess this season, not posting the K numbers we expected and that’s led to a 5.45 FIP, 4.70 xFIP) or Cesar Hernandez (PHI) (gives you cheap access against Mike Pelfrey via a good lineup spot). On DraftKings, Steve Pearce (TB) is second base eligible. We’ll hit our preferences here in alerts but more than likely that cluster of players is where we’ll be plucking our option.

Shortstop Rankings

1) Francisco Lindor (CLE)

2) Jimmy Rollins (CHW)

3) Taylor Motter (TB)

4) Alcides Escobar (KC)

5) Eduardo Nunez (MIN)

We’re hopeful that Taylor Motter (TB) hits second, as he did the last time the Rays faced a LHP. Motter projects to be a below average all-around offensive player, but he’s useful in DFS due to a power/speed combo that has ZiPS projecting him for a 15-20 season if given 600-plus PAs. At punt prices we’d be more than happy to take that upside given the platoon edge, lineup spot, and position. More than anything, Motter meshes perfectly with a studs and duds approach that makes sense on this slate. If Motter isn’t where we want him, we’ll re-evaluate the position in alerts.

Third Base Rankings

1) Kris Bryant (CHC)

2) Todd Frazier (CHW)

3) Evan Longoria (TB)

4) Justin Turner (LAD)

5) Maikel Franco (PHI)

Our preferred option at the position is Justin Turner (LAD). Turner won’t repeat last year but the power should certainly rise (both ZiPS and Steamer project a .140-plus ISO ROS). With a top four lineup spot against a subpar LHP and the league’s worst bullpen (not even close), it makes all the sense in the world to buy low on Turner on a night where the cap relief is valuable and the opportunity cost is light. Maikel Franco (PHI) is a solid alternative (like his power at this price, plus matchup against Pelfrey and a below average Tigers bullpen). The issue is he ranks lower than Turner in our model, has been scuffling in May, and is more expensive.

Outfield Rankings

1) Mike Trout (LAA)

2) Bryce Harper (WAS)

3) Giancarlo Stanton (MIA)

4) Nelson Cruz (SEA)

5) Adam Eaton (CHW)

6) JD Martinez (DET)

7) Miguel Sano (MIN)

8) Shin-Soo Choo (TEX) (if healthy)

9) Odubel Herrera (PHI)

10) Lorenzo Cain (KC)

11) Nomar Mazara (TEX)

12) Enrique Hernandez (LAD)

13) Dexter Fowler (CHC)

14) Yasiel Puig (LAD)

15) Ian Desmond (TEX)

Mike Trout (LAA) left yesterday’s game early with a rolled ankle. It sounds like it’s not a big deal. If he’s in the lineup tonight, he’s the hitter we’re placing the most emphasis on. He rates as our top hitter on both FanDuel and DraftKings and the second and first best value on those sites respectively. Derek Holland is abysmal this season (5.51 xFIP, 12.0 K percentage, 33.6 GB rate, 12.8 hard minus soft hit rate), and he’s allowed a .340 wOBA and .189 ISO to RHBs since 2014. With a massive park shift and bad Rangers bullpen to boot, the game’s best hitter is someone you should strive to get into your lineups. On FanDuel it’s surprisingly easy to fit Trout in alongside Kershaw, and on DraftKings it can be done unless you’re paying up for both Kershaw and Cueto. Giancarlo Stanton (MIA) is a site specific value on FanDuel. The price tag of $3,400 is so ridiculous that we’re overlooking the semi-red flag cold streak given the absurd splits (.451 wOBA, .360 ISO, 8.1 HR rate against southpaws since 2014). Aside from that we’re being very price conscious. The most obvious cap relief option is Enrique Hernandez (LAD) who should hit leadoff against a southpaw. It’s not a ton of plate appearances (166), but it’s tough to ignore the splits (.419 wOBA, .248 ISO) given that the price tag on both sites almost completely mitigates the risk. Outside of that, we’ll be paying pretty close attention to lineups as they are released to see if any other real good cheapies emerge. Shane Robinson (LAA) is a potential pure punt option on DraftKings (gives you access to Angels offense while allowing you Kershaw-Cueto). If you want to take a mid-tier approach at the position, some options we’re looking at include Miguel Sano (MIN) (good price/power combination, and Kennedy’s combination of high fly ball and hard hit rates allows for opposing power) and Odubel Herrera (PHI) (huge peripheral improvements from a year ago make him a pretty safe investment in such a strong matchup).

Stack Rankings

Tier One

1) Los Angeles Angels

2) Texas Rangers

3) Cleveland Indians

4) Chicago White Sox

5) Los Angeles Dodgers

Turn6) Kansas City Royals

The Angels are definitely our top stack, but the tier one grouping of stacks is pretty tight in general. The Angels, Rangers, and Dodgers seem to be our emphasis in cash games due to where individual values from their offenses rate in our models. However, outside of the Rangers (team total of around 5), the other five teams in this tier all have team totals around 4.5, making the Indians, White Sox, and Royals good tournament stacks as we’re expecting reduced ownership since the values aren’t as clear from these teams.

Tournament Stacks

-Philadelphia Phillies (Mike Pelfrey allows a ton of contact and hard hit contact, and the bullpen is pretty contact oriented as well. Phillies get a bump playing in an AL park.)

-Chicago Cubs (Wainwright has been better recently, but the overall peripherals – 4.54 xFIP, 15.3 hard minus soft hit rate – indicate he could be in for a rough outing against a very deep Cubs lineup.)

MLB Daily Analysis

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