Daily Fantasy Rundown – May 27th MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Wednesday’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: Thunderstorms likely in CLE and CIN. Lesser chance of a thunderstorm in PIT, BLT and NYC .
Please see Meteorologist Mark Paquette’s game by game weather forecasts below the Analysis.
Content Schedule Note: All of our content is geared towards the “early” slate on Wednesday. We’ll have an “evening guide” available via our lineup alerts mid-afternoon.
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.
Buster Posey (SF) – Posey gets a huge park shift in his favor and is facing a fly ball oriented RHP in a park that inflates home runs. In addition with Fiers pitching on short rest, the likelihood of bullpen innings increases substantially. The Brewers have one of the weaker bullpens in all of baseball. Posey is generally a bit too expensive around the industry for cash game consideration but he’s a very strong tournament option. He ranks within our Top 35 hitters overall.
Brian McCann (NYY) – McCann faces Chris Young who is an extreme fly ball pitcher (64.2 percent this season) that allows a heavy pull percentage (44.9 percent). McCann is a rather pull heavy hitter himself (49.6 percent) and fly ball heavy as well (45.1 percent). In Yankee Stadium, this is a good recipe for home run potential. Any hitter facing Young has a bit of a boom-or-bust profile because he’s so fly ball prone but this matchup in this park, McCann’s upside overwhelms the downside.
Brayan Pena (CIN) – There is a good chance Pena doesn’t start a day game after a night game so you’ll have to monitor via our alerts, but he’s our best bet for a value catcher in the early slate. He’ll face Kyle Kendrick who has allowed a .329 wOBA and 1.02 HR/9 to LHBs since 2012. Pena isn’t a very good hitter (.306 wOBA, .103 ISO against RHP since 2012) but he’s been hitting fifth of late in an elite offensive environment against a bad pitcher. With a punt price point, Pena is a nice salary relief option.
Additional catcher notes: Carlos Santana (CLE) is the top play, ahead of Buster Posey, on sites he carries catcher eligibility. Colby Lewis is vulnerable to LHBs and the Indians lineup is dangerous against below average RHP. Yan Gomes (CLE) rates well in our model, but the poor lineup spot pushes him down in personal preferences. The catcher position as a whole is very thin for tomorrow’s slate and with so many day games it’s likely we’ll see starting catchers rested. We’ll monitor some additional potential punt plays in our alerts.
Joey Votto (CIN) – Votto ranks as the top overall hitter in our model. He’s playing in arguably the best hitting environment of the afternoon and facing arguably the weakest starter. We touched on Kyle Kendrick‘s struggles against LHBs in the Pena recommendation and Votto has posted a .413 wOBA and .193 ISO against RHP since 2012. As usual, the first base position is deep. Votto is one of the top plays that also comes with a reasonable price tag around the industry.
Jose Abreu (CHW) – Votto is the safer option. He’s very likely for positive production in a favorable matchup against a below average RHP. Abreu is the similarly priced option with the big power upside. He’ll face Marco Estrada who has allowed just a .315 wOBA to RHBs but 1.44 HR/9 since 2012. Abreu lives off of power. He’s posted a .387 wOBA and a .238 ISO against RHP since 2012. Abreu has the higher home run score in our model but ranks a few spots below Votto in our overall ranks. Priced similarly, I think the decision between the two players is a very close one. On sites that emphasize on base (like FanDuel deducting points for outs), I’m more likely to use Votto while Abreu will earn my investment on sites that more strongly reward power (like DraftKings).
David Ortiz (BOS) – Ortiz ranks a bit below Abreu and Votto in our model. He gets a far less favorable hitting environment and Phil Hughes is a better pitcher than either Kendrick or Estrada. Hughes is vulnerable to the long ball but he’s better against LHBs (.302 wOBA, 1.0 HR/9 since 2012). Ortiz is a monster against RHP (.409 wOBA, .277 ISO since 2012) which is why he rates so highly in our model. I’m still likely to pursue Votto or Abreu ahead of Ortiz, but he’s a very solid option if you need additional cap relief.
Adam LaRoche (CHW) – Estrada is equally homer prone to LHBs (1.44 HR/9 since 2012) and LaRoche has posted a .362 wOBA and .209 ISO against RHP during that span. He cracks our Top 15 overall hitters and like Ortiz comes with a discounted price point.
Additional first base notes: Edwin Encarnacion (TOR), Lucas Duda (NYM) and Miguel Cabrera (DET) rank inside our Top 15 overall hitters but come with expensive price tags. Prince Fielder (TEX) has a difficult matchup and doesn’t rate well in our matchup but has been destroying everything in sight the last few weeks. All three of those options are viable tournament plays. Fielder is the one I’m least likely to deploy. Carlos Santana (CLE) and Brandon Moss (CLE) are Top 10 options in our model, but I prefer them at their alternative positions (Santana – C and Moss – OF) given the relative depth at first base. Mark Teixeira (NYY), Brandon Belt (SF) and Adam Lind (MIL) each get the platoon advantage in a favorable hitting environment for power, but they’re caught a bit in pricing limbo. I’m most likely to utilize Teixeira because the Yankees are one of my preferred tournament stacks.
Jason Kipnis (CLE) – The Indians LHBs will represent a big theme for this afternoon slate. We project the Indians current offense as one of the top units in the league against RHP and they’ll face Colby Lewis who has allowed a .352 wOBA and 1.16 HR/9 to LHBs since 2012. Lewis allows a ton of aerial contact to LHBs (34.4 percent GB Rate) and at times those fly balls fall harmlessly into gloves instead of leaving the yard. Early on this season, Lewis has posted a career best 5.1 percent HR/FB Rate. For his career, he’s been around the league average (10.9 percent) so we expect that performance to regress over time. His results (3.49 ERA) haven’t matched the indicators (4.35 xFIP) and all of his peripherals suggest he hasn’t improved as a pitcher. He’s generating fewer chases on pitches outside the strike zone, allowing similarly high levels of contact in the strike zone, and surrendering his usual amount of hard contact. Kipnis is the straw that stirs the Indians offense against RHP. He’s a good hitter against RHP (.350 wOBA, .150 ISO since 2012) and contributes with his legs as well (59 SBs since 2012 against RHP). He’s overpriced around the industry but 2B is thin and paying up for Kipnis is a viable strategy, especially on softer pricing sites. Kipnis ranks inside our Top 20 hitters overall.
Daniel Murphy (NYM) – If you’re not paying for Kipnis, I believe Murphy is your best alternative in cash games. He faces Sean O’Sullivan who has allowed a .413 wOBA and 1.96 HR/9 to the 112 LHBs he’s faced at the big league level since 2012. Murphy is a solid hitter against RHP (.332 wOBA, .139 ISO) but lacks a big power or speed component to give him big upside. He has been hitting fourth or fifth in the Mets lineup of late. We’d prefer fourth for his value, but either are acceptable at current price points.
Additional second base notes: Neil Walker (PIT) and Dustin Pedroia (BOS) are secondary values at the position and generally priced in the same range as Murphy. Walker is a better hitter left handed but the Pirates lineup as a whole is better against LHP. He gets a lineup support boost against Brad Hand who has allowed a .341 wOBA in his career against RHBs. Hand is making an emergency start which also could stretch and already thin and weak bullpen. Pedroia has the power upside against Phil Hughes (.355 wOBA, 1.59 HR/9 allowed since 2012 to RHBs) and a similar tag. I think he’s better in tournaments while Walker and Murphy are a bit more suited to cash games.
Troy Tulowitzki (COL) – We’ve covered Tulowitzki in detail in recent weeks. In short, he’s in decline and a change in approach is making him a different hitter than we’re accustomed to. He ranks as our highest rated shortstop, but much of that ranking is built on his historical performance. With a new impatient approach and deteriorating distance on fly balls, I’m only paying full price in matchups with all the right contextual factors. He won’t have the platoon advantage and Leake is decent against RHBs, so I’m passing on paying up for him on Wednesday.
Jose Reyes (TOR) – Reyes leads off for the team with the highest implied run total and faces Jeff Samardzija who has been vulnerable to LHBs (.321 wOBA, 1.08 HR/9 since 2012). Reyes is a solid hitter against RHP (.334 wOBA, .129 ISO since 2012) and what is left of his stolen base upside is available against RHP. Reyes’ price point is fair around the industry and he’s one of the easier ways to get exposure to an elite offensive environment.
Jung-ho Kang (PIT) – Kang has destroyed LHP in his brief major league experience (.488 wOBA, .286 ISO in 21 plate appearances) and he’s been hitting fifth of late. It’s a premier lineup spot behind two elite hitters against LHP (McCutchen, Marte) and he’ll face Brad Hand who has allowed a .341 wOBA and 1.05 HR/9 to RHBS since 2012. A total isn’t available as of this writing, but I’m expecting an implied run total of 4-4.5 for the Pirates. This puts the expected scoring environment in line with Reyes. Jose gets the slight advantage in lineup positioning which puts him ahead of Kang, but both are solid values.
Additional shortstop notes: Zack Cozart (CIN) has been hitting leadoff and gets a favorable matchup against Kyle Kendrick who has allowed a .337 wOBA and 1.21 HR/9 to RHBs since 2012. Cozart is not a good hitter against RHP. In fact, he’s been terrible for much of his career (.278 wOBA, .117 ISO) but he’s been competent this season (.312 wOBA, .162 ISO) and comes at a discounted price point. I prefer Reyes and Kang strongly, but don’t mind Cozart given the elite lineup spot, good park, and favorable matchup. On DraftKings, Hanley Ramirez (BOS) has shortstop eligibility and qualifies as a top play option.
Todd Frazier (CIN) – Frazier has posted a .342 wOBA but impressive .193 ISO against RHP since 2012. Kyle Kendrick is vulnerable to RH power (1.21 HR/9 allowed) and early forecasts have wind blowing towards left with temperatures in the 80s in Cincinnati. This should represent a strong hitting environment for power, which is Frazier’s primary skill. He’s a Top 30 hitter in our model.
Chase Headley (NYY) – This recommendation depends on Headley hitting second which he has the last two times the Yankees have faced RHP. Headley has posted a .346 wOBA and .159 ISO against RHP since 2012 and gets that tempting matchup with Chris Young in Yankee Stadium. Headley’s biggest weakness as a hitter is a heavy GB Rate (45.6 percent) but against Chris Young he’s more likely to hit the ball in the air. Headley’s price tag is slightly discounted from hitting sixth all season. He’s a nice value and Top 35 hitter in our model.
Josh Harrison (PIT) – Harrison ranks right alongside Headley in our model. Harrison has posted a .332 wOBA and .162 ISO against LHP since 2012 and has regained his leadoff spot of late. Brad Hand is a below average LHP and the Pirates as a whole are a strong offense against LHP. Harrison is a bit more expensive than Headley around the industry which is why he ranks behind him as a “value”. I do think he’s a bit better bet for positive points just given how boom-or-bust Chris Young is as a starter.
Additional third base notes: Lonnie Chisenhall (CLE) ranks competitively with Headley and Harrison but will drop precipitously once lineups are announced and he’s hitting seventh or eighth. If he does get a premier lineup spot, he becomes one of the better value plays at the position. Aramis Ramirez (MIL) is a good tournament play. Ryan Vogelsong is competent against RHBs but getting a big park downgrade and Ramirez gets a premier lineup spot. Pablo Sandoval (BOS) and Alex Rodriguez (NYY) are also tournament options against fly ball pitchers.
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) – McCutchen is a monster against LHP (.444 wOBA, .256 ISO) and he’s posted those numbers in a terrible park for RHBs. He’ll still play in that park on Wednesday but he faces a below average LHP in Brad Hand. He’s our #2 overall hitter and a fine option in cash games or tournaments.
Next in line: Jose Bautista (TOR), Michael Brantley (CLE) – Bautista ranks higher in our model, but I’m more likely to deploy Brantley as I think he’s a bit safer in production. Jeff Samardzija has flashed elite skills in the past, especially against RHP. Bautista has more raw power and thus the higher upside, but I’d rather play Brantley in cash if paying up for either of these two. They both rank inside our Top 10 hitters overall.
Jay Bruce (CIN) – Bruce is slightly above average (.339 wOBA) against RHP but he has big power (.213 ISO since 2012). He plays in a park that inflates LH power 14 percent above the league average. Kyle Kendrick is a below average RHP and Bruce has been hitting fourth of late. He ranks inside our Top 10 hitters overall and is a particularly nice value play on FanDuel at $2,700.
Brandon Moss (CLE) – Moss has a great power profile against RHP. He’s posted a .367 wOBA and .267 ISO against RHP since 2012 and he’s generated an incredible 51.6 percent fly ball rate against RHP. Colby Lewis is fly ball prone (44.4 percent vs. LHBs) and vulnerable to power. With the wind blowing out to RF and elevated temperatures, the ball should fly in Cleveland. Moss is priced down around the industry and represents a really nice value in a plus matchup. He ranks inside our Top 10 hitters overall.
Adam Eaton/Melky Cabrera (CHW) – Eaton and Cabrera rank inside our Top 35 overall hitters. Marco Estrada isn’t the best matchup for two hitters that rely a bit less on power than on base skills, but the strong scoring environment and their great lineup spots make them acceptable plays. Melky has been the slightly better hitter (.342 wOBA, .119 ISO) compared to Eaton (.320 wOBA, .121 ISO) but Eaton makes up for it with a speed component. I prefer getting exposure to them on sites where their price point is hovering around the minimum.
David Murphy (CLE) – Murphy has been hitting fifth of late against RHP which is an exceptional spot for his value. He’s a solid, not great, hitter against RHP (.335 wOBA, .168 ISO) and the overall offense is far better against RHP. Murphy’s biggest weakness is he’s vulnerable to late game substitutions. The Rangers have two LHP in their pen and one of them threw 61 pitches on Monday (could remain unavailable on Tuesday). If that’s the case, Murphy’s pinch hit risk is lower making him a stronger play. He cracks our Top 40 hitters overall.
Curtis Granderson/Michael Cuddyer (NYM) – Sean O’Sullivan isn’t a great starter and both Granderson and Cuddyer are priced down around the industry. O’Sullivan has been more vulnerable to LHBs (.413 wOBA) than RHBs (.272 wOBA) so I’d much rather get my exposure via Granderson. Both Mets outfielders rank inside our Top 40 hitters.
Additional outfield notes: Gerardo Parra (MIL) should hit second against Ryan Vogelsong in a good hitting environment. He’s similar to David Murphy but a bit more vulnerable to late game pinch hit situations because the Giants have a few LH relief specialists that they use liberally. Carlos Gonzalez (COL) continues to rate well in our model against below average RHP in friendly offensive environments, but with a plethora of options in the outfield we don’t need to mess around with a player in a deep slump. Carlos Gomez (MIL), Ryan Braun (MIL), and Starling Marte (PIT) all rank as Top 20 overall hitters and viable tournament plays.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Felix Hernandez (SEA)
2) Gerrit Cole (PIT)
3) Chris Archer (TB)
4) Carlos Carrasco (CLE)
5) Noah Syndergaard (NYM)
6) Collin McHugh (HOU) – not available on all early slates
7) Michael Pineda (NYY)
8) Michael Fiers (MIL)
9) Ubaldo Jimenez (BAL)
Felix Hernandez (SEA) – Hernandez is the most skilled pitcher on Wednesday’s slate. He faces a Rays offense that ranks 15th in wRC+ against RHP but lost a key cog in James Loney. It makes it more difficult for the Rays to get LHBs in their lineup (Kiermaier, DeJesus, and Cabrera are the likely three) and Hernandez is favored (-130) in a game with a total of just 6.5. He’s priced fully around the industry and not a necessity given a very strong alternative, but he does rank as our top starting pitching option.
Next in line:
Gerrit Cole (PIT) – Cole isn’t quite in Hernandez’s realm just yet, but he’s on his way. Cole has an elite K Rate (27.6 percent), GB Rate (54.8 percent), and strong command (6.1 percent BB Rate). He faces a Marlins offense that ranks 26th in wRC+ with a 20.3 percent K Rate. The Marlins struggle to get LH and Cole has limited RHBs to a .290 wOBA with a 55.7 percent GB Rate and 23.8 percent K Rate. The line for the Pirates-Marlins game isn’t available but we’re expecting a total of seven, perhaps 7.5, with the Pirates as a rather heavy favorite (likely the heaviest on the slate). Given the two other top starting options are facing off against one another, I think Cole makes a lot of sense as a target on a site like FanDuel where the win is so heavily weighted. The lone negative for Cole is he’ll have one of the most challenging umpires for SP in all of baseball. According to our metrics, Rob Drake ranks as the third most difficult umpire for SP of umpires that have seen over 10,000 pitches since 2012. Given the Marlins don’t walk a lot or work the count much, I think Cole can overcome the difficult umpire.
Noah Syndergaard (NYM) – The Phillies rank 30th in wOBA against RHP and have posted a league average K Rate of 19.5 percent. Syndergaard has been solid in his first three starts (21.6 percent K Rate, 6.8 percent BB Rate) and his biggest weakness (just a 37.3 percent GB Rate) is less of an issue against a Phillies offense that lacks power. The one concern with Syndergaard is he’s been vulnerable with his control against LHBs (16.7 percent BB Rate) and the Phillies will sport a lineup with 6-7 LHBs. This has been a persistent issue for Syndergaard’s career but fortunately he’ll get a Top 10 umpire to work with. I think he’s a better option on multiple SP sites with stricter pricing.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Carlos Carrasco (CLE) faces a Rangers offense that ranks 23rd in wRC+ against RHP but has been hitting very well of late. Carrasco doesn’t have much discount in his price tag and with the wind blowing out to RF, I think he’s a better tournament option. Chris Archer (TB) is still a bit discounted for his price tag and ranks as our third best overall starter. His win probabilities are decreased opposing Felix Hernandez but on sites that don’t heavily weight the win in their scoring, he’s a viable option. The one concern is a below average umpire which can give Archer some problems given his one weakness is command that can elevate his pitch counts. Michael Pineda (NYY) is pitching as well as Felix Hernandez or Gerrit Cole this season, but the matchup with Royals is brutal for DFS value. They rank fourth in wRC+ against RHP and have struck out a league low 15 percent against RHP. Strikeouts are king in DFS and Pineda’s strike out total projects low due to the matchup.
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) Cleveland Indians
2) Cincinnati Reds
3) New York Yankees
4) Chicago White Sox
5) Toronto Blue Jays
The Indians are my favorite cash game mini-stack and tournament stack. They are well equipped to hit RHP and with the wind blowing out to RF, the power should shine against Colby Lewis‘ fly ball tendencies.
The Reds are my next favorite cash game mini-stack but lose a bit of appeal on a full stack because their lineup lacks depth. Frazier, Bruce, Votto, and perhaps Cozart are a viable mini-stack combination to take advantage of Kyle Kendrick. Kendrick is equally vulnerable to LHBs and RHBs which also makes him easier to stack against.
The Yankees are a great tournament option. They face a fly ball oriented pitcher who gives up an above average amount of pulled batted balls. The Yankees are exceptionally LH as a lineup and have a home park with a short porch in RF. This gives the Yankees a ton of aerial opportunities against one of the shortest home run thresholds in the league. The Royals bullpen is elite but as we’ve seen earlier this week (Guthrie) the home runs can pile up quickly and make for an elite stack.
The Rogers Center is arguably the best hitting environment of the day so it’s hard to rank the White Sox and Blue Jays fourth and fifth, but Samardzija is a talented starter with the platoon advantage on all the key bats and the White Sox offense is below average against RHP (24th in wRC+). The environment pushes the total up and makes them viable options in tournaments. I prefer the White Sox to the Jays as they’re guaranteed a ninth inning for plate appearances and Samardzija is the more talented starter.
1) San Francisco Giants
2) Boston Red Sox
3) Minnesota Twins
The Giants are my favorite contrarian tournament stack. They get a big park shift in their favor and price points are inflated after a trip through Coors Field. This will help keep ownership down. In addition Mike Fiers is pitching on short rest and he’s homer prone. When looking for stacks you want chances at homers and a good chance to get into bad bullpens early. This matchup qualifies on all accounts.
Pricing and a lack of platoon advantage for most of the hitters makes it less appealing to mini-stack these teams in cash games, but the game has a total of nine and Minnesota is a good park for RH power. Both team rely heavily on RHBs so I don’t mind taking a shot in tournaments at either side. I like the skill level of the Red Sox offense more than the Twins, so I rank them slightly ahead.
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.
TEX at CLE 12:10: A line of thunderstorms looks to move through the region around 4 PM. Do not see a big problem trying to play the game but there could be a delay late in the game (20-30%). Temps in the upper 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind south-southwest 12-25 mph which blows out to right-center. The wind is an 8.