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May 31 MLB DFS: Strikeouts a Brewing
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Welcome to May 31 MLB DFS action here at DailyRoto. Below you’ll find our Daily Fantasy Baseball Premium podcast for May 31 MLB DFS along with our LIVE Premium Chat and cliff notes. Make sure you’re using our customizable projections tool, you’re actively participating in the live chat, and you’re reviewing the cliff notes to supplement your research and roster construction process. Very best of luck in tonight’s action!

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May 31 MLB DFS Position Timestamps
00:41 Starting Pitcher
08:45 Catcher
10:58 First Base
14:26 Second Base
16:21 Third Base
18:09 Shortstop
20:31 Outfield
24:11 Stacks

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CUSTOMIZABLE PROJECTIONS WITH VALUE RATINGS CLICK HERE

  • In cash games, we recommend focusing on value plays to build your rosters (far right hand column of Projections page linked above). Value plays are those we feel have the highest probability of out-earning their current price tag. By packing value plays into your roster, you’re creating a team with a higher floor.
  • In tournaments, we recommend building a core of the best value plays and then complementing them with players who have a high ceiling. This combination is essentially turning up the variance on a strong foundation and we believe often is the best recipe for tournament success.

May 31 MLB DFS CLIFF NOTES

Starting Pitcher

For full SP rankings, see our projections: https://dailyroto.com/mlb-customizable-projections

Max Scherzer (WAS) and Jacob deGrom (NYM) headline the SP rankings on Wednesday’s evening slate. Both have favorable aspects to their respective matchups but deGrom’s are a bit more fantasy relevant against the strikeout prone Brewers (24.1 percent K Rate against RHP). Scherzer gets the Giants who have ranked dead last in wRC+ against RHP this season (74) but are above average at preventing strikeouts (19.5 K Rate) and are a bit healthier with their contact bats than they have been throughout the season. Additionally, deGrom’s baselines may have additional room for strikeouts as he’s taken a huge step forward this season (32.2 K Rate, 15.2 swinging strike rate) on the heels of a slider-heavy approach in his repertoire. Scherzer has the better run prevention environment and matchup, but deGrom out-projects him for strikeouts. With a slightly cheaper price tag, our lean is building around deGrom on this slate on both sites.

With Scherzer and deGrom pushing $25,000 combined, it’s pretty difficult to envision pairing the two together. As a result, we’re dipping down the salary spectrum to create a bit of salary relief to dedicate to our offense. In the mid-tier, Ian Kennedy (KC), Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD), and Jesse Chavez (LAA) stand out as solid price tags in mildly favorable matchups. Statistically, these pitchers are all quite similar. They can generate a slightly above average K Rate, but it comes at the expense of hard contact and home runs. Kennedy has been the worst of the bunch. He’s generated fewer chases outside the strike zone (22.3 percent, career 29.2 percent) than ever before and it’s resulted in a career worst hard hit rate allowed (36.8) and a weaker K Rate. Ryu hasn’t had a very long leash this season (over 5 ⅓ innings in just two of seven starts, and three starts below five innings) but his peripherals have been the best of the bunch. He’s still generating swings and misses (10.9 swinging strike rate) and ground balls (48.7 GB Rate) but a ridiculous 24.2 HR/FB Rate has inflated the ERA. The Cardinals rank 24th in wRC+ against LHP and have the 27th best ISO. Chavez is the last of the bunch getting the watered down Braves’ offense without Freddie Freeman. It is an offense that is contact-friendly which keeps Chavez in line with this tier despite the lowest implied run total against of the bunch at 3.8. Chavez and Ryu are cheap on FanDuel ($6,900) which makes them solid GPP targets for those looking to load up on offense.

In tournaments, the high strikeout capability of Chris Archer (TB) is intriguing but the price tag is full and the matchup in Texas is a challenge. We’ve noted the last few times out, Masahiro Tanaka‘s (NYY) peripherals were all largely in line but the results were wildly different. He finally responded with a big outing last game and his price tag remains in the $8,000s. The matchup with the Orioles brings plenty of run prevention risk but strikeout upside remains. James Paxton (SEA) only threw 55 pitches in his rehab start which has us concerned about how deep he can work into the game, but the price tag is appealing and the Rockies have the lowest implied total against on the slate.  

Catcher

Gary Sanchez (NYY) faces Kevin Gausman, who simply hasn’t been right this year seeing large increases in ERA/FIP/xFIP. His control has been better recently, but he’s allowed four homers over his last three starts. On DK Sanchez is viable because pricing is looser. On FD he’s tougher to fit but a much better value in a vacuum.

On DK we have comparable per dollar values, particularly in the KC-DET game where we have a 9 game total and two hitters having good seasons with good lineup spots for catchers: Alex Avila (DET) and Salvador Perez (KC). While KC is a pitcher’s park, both the pitchers in this one – Kennedy and Boyd – are homer prone.

Yasmani Grandal (LAD) is a good splits play, boasting a .355 wOBA and .227 ISO against RHP since 2015, while Carlos Martinez has a wide platoon gap, allowing a pedestrian .323 wOBA to LHBs.

Pricing is tight on FD if you pay up for one of Scherzer or deGrom, so a punt option ike Sandy Leon (BOS) or Derek Norris (TB) is viable. Both of these catchers help to make up for poor lineup spots by playing on the two highest projected scoring teams on the road in strong hitting environments.

First Base

Our top two ranked first basemen are Logan Morrison (TB) and Chris Davis (BAL), in that order. If playing both sites, it’s easy to diversify here by using Morrison on FD ($100 cheaper than Davis) and Davis on DK ($1,200 cheaper than Morrison). Our baseline split for Texas SP Austin Bibens-Dirkx (a real name btw) is a .378 wOBA and .255 ISO allowed to LHBs. That might be aggressive. Even if you tone it down, the context for Morrison is great. The Rays get a big park shift facing a bad Rangers bullpen. Morrison will hold the platoon edge hitting cleanup. He’s making good on long running potential by joining the fly ball revolution and hitting the ball much harder than ever before.

Davis faces a good SP in Masahiro Tanaka, but one that is susceptible to power. He’s simply too cheap on DK considering his .369 wOBA, .288 ISO, and 6.9 HR% against RHP since 2015.

Alternatives get site specific after Davis and Morrison. On FD, both Yankee 1B options are in play against Gausman, who has allowed a .368 wOBA and .202 ISO to RHBs since 2015. Matt Holliday (NYY) is the cash option while Chris Carter (NYY) has tournament appeal at virtually no ownership.

On DK it’s possible to go double value catchers by using Alex Avila (DET) at first base. Mitch Moreland (BOS) (highest team IRT, big positive park shift, positive Hard% delta) and Miguel Cabrera (DET) (cheap for his overall skill set against a homer prone pitcher, one of the highest 15-day Hard%’s).

Second Base

Josh Rutledge (BOS) filled in directly for an injured Dustin Pedroia last night, hitting second against a LHP. If he’s in that spot against a RHP, he’s a smart cash game play on DK (3B eligible on FD). That would simultaneously allow you to get access to the Red Sox slate high IRT from a good lineup spot while saving money at a bad position. Even if Rutledge doesn’t hit second, it’s tempting to take his cap relief.

In the mid-low tier options include Rougned Odor (TEX) (good pop, home with the platoon edge but a good opposing pitcher in Chris Archer), Andrew Romine (DET) (leading off on the road but has a horrible Hard% this season), and Brandon Phillips (ATL) (good lineup spot on the road, positive Hard% delta, poor run scoring environment).

On FD expensive pivots are actually the sit’s best per dollar values but tough to fit in cash games and not a priority. That includes Robinson Cano (SEA), as we await Antonio Senzatela regression, and Neil Walker (NYM) (good pop against RHP).

Punt pivots off of Rutledge are Joe Panik (SF) (good lineup spot and Scherzer is at least somewhat human against LHBs) and Daniel Robertson (TB) (cheap access to a good overall environment).

With a lack of depth at the position, Daniel Murphy (WAS) (platoon edge, positive Hard% delta, power upside) is tournament viable and potential cash play on DK where you have more roster construction flexibility.

Third Base

Similar to first base, we have a Ray followed by an Oriole to lead off our top hitters at the position: Evan Longoria (TB) and Manny Machado (BAL). Also similar to first base, it’s easy to diversify across sites here, using Longoria on FD ($300 cheaper than Machado) and Machado on DK ($1,100 cheaper than Longoria). Longoria has that sexy matchup against Austin Bibens-Dirkx, who possesses a ZiPS projected 5.76 ERA and 1.84 HR/9.

Machado is a neutral splits hitter who is simply underpriced for his skillset. He’s been unlucky in the BABIP department this season, posting a .225 mark (never lower than .293 in a single season).

Todd Frazier (CHW) and Jedd Gyorko (STL) are mid-tier pivots with power upside and the platoon edge against LHP. Cheap options on FD, where Frazier and Gyorko aren’t as strong of values, include punts Josh Rutledge (BOS) and Jefry Marte (LAA), who should hit cleanup against a LHP with Mike Trout out.

Shortstop

In an ideal world you’d pay up for Xander Bogaerts (BOS) or Trea Turner (WAS) here. Bogaerts has a large positive Hard% delta over his last 15 days. Turner faces Matt Cain, who has allowed a .347 wOBA and .200 ISO to RHBs since 2015. It’s much easier to pay up on DK than on FD.

Over on FD you may need to punt this position in cash games. Alcides Escobar (KC), who is playable on both sites, lacks skill and upside but at some point a punt priced leadoff hitter with the platoon edge for a team with a 4.8 IRT (third highest) needs to be considered when you need to pay up for pricing.

Like with Panik at 2B, Brandon Crawford (SF) is a punt pivot if willing to take someone against Scherzer. Crawford has pop (.190 ISO against RHP since 2015), and Scherzer has allowed a .172 ISO to LHBs since 2015.

There are several mid-tier alternatives better suited for tournaments, such as Corey Seager (LAD), Jean Segura (SEA), Jose Reyes (NYM), and Elvis Andrus (TEX).

Outfield

Our top outfielders/best values coincide nicely with getting access to the highest projected scoring teams on the slate.

On the Tampa Bay side, LHBs Corey Dickerson (TB) and Kevin Kiermaier (TB) find themselves in one of the juiciest spots they’ll see all season. We’ve hit on Bibens-Dirkx’s baseline versus LHBs. Dickerson has a .361 wOBA and huge .270 ISO against RHP since 2015, while Kiermaier, as we noted yesterday, has a surprising amount of upside. Steven Souza/Colby Rasmus (TB) should be lower owned options in tournaments.

On the Boston side, we’d like to get up to Mookie Betts (BOS), one of the few Boston players with big time event upside. FanGraphs Depth Charts projects him to go 15-15 rest of season. His teammate Andrew Benintendi (BOS) holds the platoon edge on Mike Pelfrey (.371 wOBA allowed to LHBs since 2015) and possesses a cheaper price tag.

The Royals have less firepower but with a surprising 4.8 IRT that is third highest, this is a good spot to look for some savings without sacrificing value. Lorenzo Cain‘s (KC) lack of power has been disappointing, but he’s running a lot and we’d expect a normalization of his HR/FB% moving forward. A less consistent and skilled hitter overall, Jorge Bonifacio (KC) may actually possess more upside. Historically he hasn’t shown a lot of power in the minors, but had a .294 ISO in 13 AAA games prior to getting called up and now has a .233 ISO in 32 MLB games. Jorge Soler (KC) is a tournament option but will likely hit too low in the order to be considered in cash games.

Seth Smith (BAL) is a cash viable mid-low priced pivot if you need additional savings on either site. With the pricing so tight on FD, he meshes well with roster construction there.

Additional tournament plays include Dexter Fowler/Tommy Pham (STL), Michael Conforto/Jay Bruce (NYM), and JD Martinez (DET).

Stacks

Tier One

1) Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays are priced appropriately on DraftKings but are pretty cheap on FanDuel and make for a primary stack target to pair with elite starting pitching. This should be a popular approach given the pricing so you may want to get more contrarian by working down the order with Colby Rasmus or aiming for low-owned stack fillers. On DraftKings, the appropriate pricing should keep the ownership a bit more muted but the high implied total should still draw plenty of interest.

Tier Two

2) Boston Red Sox

3) New York Yankees

The Red Sox facing the weaker starter and have the higher implied total but the Yankees’ offense likely has better upside with all the power options. The Yankees are also more expensive, making them a slightly preferred target in this tier.  

Tier Three

4) Baltimore Orioles

5) New York Mets

6) Washington Nationals

When Tanaka has been wrong it’s been the long-ball that has done him in. With the Orioles prices slightly depressed on DraftKings, they represent an intriguing contrarian stack. The Nationals may go overlooked as well with a tough park downgrade but Matt Cain is a nice matchup.

Contrarian Cheap Stack:

Kansas City Royals/Detroit Tigers – These two teams may go overlooked because of the perceived pitchers’ park in Kansas City but expected temperatures in the high 70s and two bad bullpens backing up fly ball oriented starters could yield a homer-prone environment.