Daily Fantasy Rundown – May 28th 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. Please see Meteorologist Mark Paquette’s game by game weather forecasts below the Analysis.
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Additional catcher notes: On a six game slate, the catcher position (along with some middle infield positions) is usually covered in the additional notes section due to the lack of separation for each individual play. I view Brian McCann (NYY) as the top play at the catcher position but he only ranks among the top 55 options. He has a favorable matchup (Kendall Graveman doesn’t miss many bats and he has struggled to get LHBs out) and his best skill is hitting for power (.187 ISO against RHP since 2012). On sites where McCann is priced as an average hitter, he’s a good target in cash games despite the bad hitting environment (Oakland Coliseum is what’s dragging his value in our model). The Yankees offense will settle with a team total of four runs so it makes sense to have some sort of exposure on a short slate, especially at a scarce position. On sites where Carlos Santana (CLE) has catcher eligibility, he’s the top play. He has good skills against LHP and he’s a switch hitter (good for his value) but the matchup isn’t strong (James Paxton keeps the ball in the ground and has allowed a .262 wOBA to RHBs in the last couple of seasons). Santana is ranked among our top 25 hitters this evening. Teammate Yan Gomes (CLE) will emerge as a fine value if he’s able to lock up a top six spot in the Cleveland lineup. Gomes has accumulated a .369 wOBA and .205 ISO against southpaws in his last 330 PAs. As I mentioned in the Santana blurb, the matchup isn’t compelling but his skills keep him in the cash game conversation. James McCann (DET) is a fine salary relief option. He won’t have a strong lineup spot (will hit seventh) but most of this Tigers lineup will have the platoon edge tonight against C.J. Wilson (hitters in front of him are Miguel Cabrera, J.D. Martinez and Yoenis Cespedes). I’m willing to take the weak lineup spot to get exposure to an offense that should settle in with a team total of four implied runs. The catcher position doesn’t carry much opportunity cost tonight so punting the position with a salary relief option like McCann makes sense on tighter pricing sites.
Miguel Cabrera (DET) – Cabrera is not fully priced on DraftKings, where he’s an awesome cash game play (has third base eligibility on that site). C.J. Wilson isn’t a bad pitcher but he’s allowed a .326 wOBA to RHBs since 2012 and Miguel Cabrera is arguably the best hitter in baseball. In the last few seasons, Cabrera has accumulated a .423 wOBA and .247 ISO against LHP. Due to a short slate and sort of a discounted price tag on DraftKings, Cabrera should be high owned in cash games on that site. Cabrera is ranked among our top three hitters in our model this evening.
David Ortiz (BOS) – Ortiz is $2,700 on FanDuel, which makes him the top target at first base on that particular site. Ortiz has destroyed RHP in the last few seasons (.408 wOBA and .276 ISO) and despite not being the same hitter this season (he’s 39 years old), he’s still above average (.379 wOBA and .219 ISO against RHP this season). Opposing pitcher Nick Martinez has made some improvements as a pitcher (he’s getting ahead of hitters more, which has allowed him to use his slider at a higher rate) but he’s still not missing bats (13 percent K rate). Martinez has a 1.96 ERA this season but his 3.99 FIP/4.88 xFIP point towards regression. His HR/FB rate currently sits at five percent (league average is usually around 10 percent) but his home park, Globe Life Park in Arlington, inflates left-handed power by nine percent above the league average and won’t help him keep the ball in the park. Ortiz is ranked among our top three hitters in our model and he’s just not priced correctly on FanDuel.
Additional first base notes: Prince Fielder (TEX) is a preferred tournament value tonight. He’s priced fully around the industry and he has a L/L matchup but that won’t stop me from investing in his stock. Fielder has been sensational against LHP this season, posting a .401 wOBA and .246 ISO (albeit in a small sample, 74 PAs). Opposing pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez was good at the Triple A level this season but he’s making his season debut and Vegas has taken notice (Rangers have a team total pushing five runs). Fielder is a top 10 hitter in our model so you won’t find much value in his price point (which is why he’s not a strong cash game option and rates better as a tournament play). I view Mark Teixeira (NYY) as a strong tournament play as well. He doesn’t rank well in our model (top 50 hitter) and he will be playing away from the short porch at Yankee Stadium, which should lead to lower ownership in tournaments. Teixeira benefits from a strong matchup (Kendall Graveman doesn’t miss many bats and struggles against LHBs) and we should probably evaluate his baseline moving forward (has cut his K rate by eight percent this season, he’s walking more than he’s striking out and his OPS sits at .941). Teixeira is a nice target for tournaments.
Additional second base notes: No individual play at second base stands out above the rest but there are a few options that rate very closely in our model. Ben Zobrist (OAK) (29th), Dustin Pedroia (BOS) (31st) and Ian Kinsler (DET) (45th) are your top values on this slate. Zobrist benefits from the best lineup spot for DFS production (third) and he’s a switch hitter. He’s a solid hitter against LHP (.348 wOBA in the last few seasons) so on sites where he’s cheaper than Pedroia and Kinsler (DraftKings), he’s the better cash game target. Pedroia has been hitting leadoff for the Red Sox offense in the last few days and despite opposing pitcher Nick Martinez making solid improvements, he still allows plenty of contact. The Red Sox offense has a team total of 4.5 runs (pushing five) so they’re an offense we’re targeting on a short slate. On a site like FanDuel where Pedroia is cheaper than Zobrist and Kinsler, he’s a good cash game target. Kinsler will have the platoon edge against C.J. Wilson but he ranks a bit lower than Zobrist and Pedroia in our model. He’s a fine secondary option in cash games but keep in mind that C.J. Wilson isn’t a terrible pitcher so don’t go overboard in investing in this Tigers offense tonight.
Additional shortstop notes: Elvis Andrus (TEX) (37th) and Erick Aybar (LAA) (41st) rate closely in our model. I’m giving the edge to Aybar since he has an appealing lineup spot (he’s a leadoff hitter and Andrus usually hits towards the bottom of the lineup). Andrus benefits from the strongest team total (Rangers have a team total of 5 runs) so I’d invest on a site like FanDuel where he’s priced as an average hitter. Marcus Semien (OAK) is ranked among our top 50 hitters in our model. Semien will have the platoon edge but opposing pitcher CC Sabathia masks some issues when he pitches in strong pitching environment and Semien usually hits towards the bottom of the lineup. All things being equal, I would rather play Andrus (higher team expected success) in cash games but Semien makes for a decent secondary value. On a site like DraftKings where Hanley Ramirez (BOS) has shortstop eligibility, he’s the top shortstop option and it’s not close. Ramirez is our fifth ranked hitter so there’s a pretty substantial gap between him and the next available option. At a scarce position, it makes sense to lock up Ramirez in cash games.
Adrian Beltre (TEX) – Beltre will carry the platoon edge in his matchup against Eduardo Rodriguez (will be making his MLB debut). Beltre has posted a .376 wOBA and .193 ISO against southpaws since 2012 and he maintains an elite skill set when games reach the bullpen (very good hitter against RHP). Beltre is our seventh ranked hitter tonight and is pretty affordable around the industry (particularly on FanDuel, where Miguel Cabrera doesn’t have third base eligibility and Beltre is priced as an average hitter). He’s a good cash game option but keep in mind that Pablo Sandoval isn’t far behind.
Pablo Sandoval (BOS) – Sandoval has been hitting third lately (best spot for DFS production) and he has a good set of contextual factors tonight. The Red Sox offense has a team total approaching five runs and even though opposing pitcher Nick Martinez has made nice improvements, he still allows too much contact. Sandoval has accumulated a .354 wOBA and .165 ISO against RHP since 2012. He’s our ninth ranked hitter tonight but on sites where he’s priced closely to Beltre, I’ll give the edge to Beltre since he’s the superior hitter.
Additional third base notes: On sites where Miguel Cabrera (DET) has third base eligibility, I prefer him to Beltre and Sandoval. Cabrera is slightly more expensive than the latter options but he’s a superior hitter. Alex Rodriguez and Chase Headley (NYY) are fine options to target for tournaments. They’ll be hitting in a bad environment (Oakland Coliseum) but Kendall Graveman doesn’t miss many bats and there’s a chance for low ownership in tournaments. That’s fine to pursue on a condensed slate in a multi-entry tournament.
Mike Trout (LAA) (Excellent skills against RHP and opposing pitcher Buck Farmer doesn’t miss many bats; better target for tournaments due to a high price tag around the industry).
Hanley Ramirez (BOS) – Ramirez has outfield eligibility on FanDuel and he’s priced as an average hitter on that site. I see value in that price tag, particularly for a hitter with his contextual factors. Ramirez will be the cleanup hitter for a Red Sox offense that has a team total approaching five runs. He’s a better hitter against LHP but the lineup spot in an offense with so much expected success is enough to consider him the top value (fifth ranked hitter in our model).
Tigers Outfield – The outfield position doesn’t carry much opportunity cost but Rajai Davis (25th), J.D. Martinez (19th) and Yoenis Cespedes (18th) rank well in our model. I wouldn’t pick on C.J. Wilson too much (he’s a solid pitcher) but I see some value in starting two or three Tigers (I’m only willing to play one of these outfielders in cash games). Cespedes and Martinez carry more power potential but Rajai Davis will leadoff and not only is he a good hitter against LHP (.375 wOBA, .177 ISO in the last few seasons), he’s always a threat to steal multiple bases (has 45 SB upside over full season and he has 52 stolen bases in his last 489 PAs against LHP). Davis is cheaper around the industry and I view him as the superior value but the gap in our model says otherwise (Davis, Martinez and Cespedes rank closely in our model).
Additional outfield notes: Kole Calhoun (LAA) ranks well in our model (top 20 hitter) but his price tag fluctuates around the industry. He’s a better value on a site like FanDuel where he’s priced below the average cost of a hitter. Calhoun has a matchup against Buck Farmer (doesn’t miss many bats) and he’s a cleanup hitter (great for his DFS value). He’s a good target in cash games but I’d have a price sensitive approach when considering outfield options (a decent amount of outfield options rank closely in our model but are priced differently around the industry). Mookie Betts (BOS) will hit second for a Red Sox offense that has a team total approaching five runs. Like Calhoun, he’s a better value on a site like FanDuel (priced as an average hitter). Betts is ranked among our top 15 hitters in our model. Brett Gardner (NYY) is ranked a bit below Calhoun and Betts (top 30 hitter) and despite hitting in a bad environment (Oakland Coliseum), Kendall Graveman hasn’t figured out how to get LHBs out (albeit in a small sample). Gardner has a depressed price tag on DraftKings, where I consider him a fine target for cash games (leadoff hitter for an offense with a team total of four runs and he has 30 SB upside over a full season). If you want to get more exposure to the Rangers offense, Delino DeShields Jr. (TEX) is a fine target in all formats (better value on DraftKings). He will be the leadoff hitter for the Rangers and he has nice speed upside (50 SB upside over a full season). Billy Burns (OAK) doesn’t rank well in our model but he has a good price tag on DraftKings ($2,900) and his salary relief could be useful on that site. Like DeShields, Burns has anywhere from 40-45 SB upside over a full season.
Rankings (pricing not considered):
1) Corey Kluber (CLE)
2) A.J. Burnett (PIT)
3) CC Sabathia (NYY)
4) Ian Kennedy (SD)
5) Shelby Miller (ATL)
6) Chris Heston (SF)
7) James Paxton (SEA)
8) Eduardo Rodriguez (BOS)
Corey Kluber (CLE) – Kluber is the “constant” at the starting pitcher position on Thursday. There are a few pitchers that rate very close in our model but Kluber is far and away the top play. Kluber has incredible strikeout skills (38 percent chase rate, 14.4 percent SwStr rate this season) and his run prevention is headed for positive correction (3.49 ERA/2.19 FIP/2.45 xFIP). This is key for Kluber’s analysis today. While starting pitchers like A.J.k Burnett and Shelby Miller have been phenomenal this season, they’re headed towards correction (ERAs are inflated about two full runs). DFS sites have caught on to their phenomenal run prevention thus far and have priced them at levels where it’s uncomfortable for price sensitive investors to invest in cash game formats. This is not the case with Kluber. He’s priced fairly for the most part around the industry and on a six game slate, we feel confident in saying that there’s a decent gap between him and the other secondary options at his position. He also benefits from a favorable matchup (Mariners are ranked 23rd in wOBA and are striking out over 21 percent of the time against RHP this season) and Vegas has taken notice (Mariners have a team total of three runs). Kluber has the best strikeout skills of any pitcher on this slate, his run prevention is headed in the right direction and the contextual factors are favorable. Fading him in cash games is not an EV+ decision tonight.
Ian Kennedy (SD) – The second tier of starting pitchers is somewhat crowded with names like A.J. Burnett, Shelby Miller, CC Sabathia and Ian Kennedy. Burnett and Miller are overpriced around the industry for their skill sets and while Sabathia is a decent option for cash games, Kennedy is the guy who is a bit underpriced on most sites. He’s cheap on most sites because his run prevention has been abysmal (6.11 ERA). However, his 3.96 xFIP and 3.92 SIERA is telling us that positive correction is coming his way. He has an inflated 24.3 percent FB rate so it makes sense why his SIERA and xFIP are calling for some correction. What his price point isn’t telling us is that his strikeout rate is above average (21 percent K rate) and underlying peripherals (34 percent chase rate, 11.3 percent SwStr rate) are great. In a favorable matchup (Pirates rank towards the bottom half in wOBA) at a premier destination for pitchers (Petco Park), I view Kennedy as the best “value” pitcher on this slate and the best complement to Kluber on multiple starting pitcher sites. Despite my preference towards Kennedy, I must admit that the gap between him, Burnett, Miller and Sabathia is very slim, which is why I’m being price sensitive (Kennedy is consistently the cheaper asset around the industry).
Additional starting pitcher notes: A.J. Burnett (PIT) is the next in line option to Kluber (before taking into account pricing). He has a nice matchup (Padres are ranked 25th in wOBA and are striking out 22 percent of the time against RHP this season) in a great pitching environment (Petco Park), which might delay some of the correction that’s headed his way (1.37 ERA/3.25 xFIP/3.35 SIERA). My biggest concern with Burnett is his price tag. He’s priced as if he was an elite strikeout pitcher and even though he’s posted an above average K rate this season, the underlying peripherals are concerning (25 percent chase rate and 8.6 percent SwStr rate, both are below league average measures). At full price points, Burnett’s DFS stock belongs in tournaments. Shelby Miller (ATL) and CC Sabathia (NYY) have difficult matchups from a strikeout potential perspective (the A’s and Giants strike out less than 17 percent of the time) but they are decent options on multiple starting pitcher sites. Like Burnett, Miller has some correction headed his way from a run prevention standpoint but his strikeout skills are somewhere around the league average. Sabathia isn’t the same pitcher he used to be (high fastball velocity has come down to 89 MPH) but he can still be a solid pitcher away from Yankee Stadium (despite posting an above average K rate and BB rate, the short dimensions have really amplified his fly ball tendencies). He will be pitching in an elite pitcher’s park tonight (Oakland Coliseum) and his price point is fair on most sites. I prefer Sabathia since he’s the cheaper option around the industry but they’re both fine cash game options on multiple starting pitcher sites. As I mentioned earlier, the second tier of starting pitchers rate similarly in our model so let price points dictate your decisions. Chris Heston (SF) is a fine option for tournaments if you’re looking for salary relief at the position. Heston is coming off two disaster starts but he also pitched in brutal environments (Great American Ball Park and Coors Field). His strikeout skills are somewhere around league average and he keeps the ball in the ground (53 percent GB rate). The Braves don’t strike out much but Heston’s depressed price point and solid overall skill set keeps him in the radar for tournaments. Eduardo Rodriguez (BOS) is making his season debut tonight and there’s no guarantee that he will stick around after this start but there’s some tournament value here. Rodriguez struck out around a batter per inning in 48 IP at the triple A level this season while sporting a 2.98 ERA/2.39 FIP. Heston is a better tournament value but if you want to take a gamble on a multi entry tournament in a condensed slate, Rodriguez is very cheap and his tournament ownership should be low.
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) Texas Rangers
The Red Sox and Rangers have the highest expected success according to Vegas (game total of 9 runs). Our analysis was littered with options from both of these teams today. Nick Martinez has made some nice improvements but Vegas isn’t buying in tonight. Eduardo Rodriguez is making his MLB debut in a bad pithing environment. The Red Sox and Rangers are top targets in cash games and tournaments.
1) New York Yankees
2) Detroit Tigers
The Yankees are my number one contrarian offense on this slate. They’re playing away from Yankee Stadium, which will likely result in lower ownership in tournaments. However, opposing pitcher Kendall Graveman allows plenty of contact and his run prevention has been awful (6.04 ERA/5.72 FIP). On a short slate, it’s tough to be contrarian sometimes but I see this as a nice spot to exploit low ownership rates in multi-entry tournaments.
The Tigers are facing a solid pitcher (C.J. Wilson) but he’s a southpaw so most of this offense will have the platoon edge. That’s about all I need to consider this offense as a secondary stack in tournaments. I’d try to limit my exposure to three or four Tigers in tournaments (mini-stack of Cabrera-Kinsler and an outfielder is my preferred route in a multi-entry tournament).
MLB Game Weather Forecasts
BOS at TEX 8:05: A 20% chance of a shower or thunderstorm. I do not see a big problem with this game. Temps near 80 falling into the mid to upper 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind south-southeast 8-16 mph which blows in from right-center. The wind is a 3.
DET at LAA 10:05: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 60s falling into the lower 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind southwest 7-14 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
NYY at OAK 10:05: Dry. Temps in the low 60s falling into the upper 50s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind west 7-14 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
CLE at SEA 10:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the lower 70s falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind north-northeast 5-10 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 4.
PIT at SD 10:10: Dry. Temps in the upper 60s falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west-northwest 6-12 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
ATL at SF 10:15: Dry. Temps in the low 60s falling into the mid to upper 50s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind west 12-20 mph lessening to 8-16 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 8 becoming a 7.