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May 4 MLB DFS Early Slate: Meet The Matz
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May 4 MLB DFS Early Slate: Meet The Matz

02:54 Starting Pitchers
10:31 Catchers
12:20 First Base
15:29 Second Base
17:59 Shortstop
19:24 Third Base
20:55 Outfield
24:31 Cash Game Roster Construction
25:16 Stacks

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May 4 MLB DFS Early Slate Pro-Tip

Starting Pitcher Rankings

Tier One

1) Steven Matz (NYM)

2) Stephen Strasburg (WAS)

3) Jon Lester (CHC)

Tier Two

4) Felix Hernandez (SEA)

Tier Three

5) Tyler Chatwood (COL)

6) Hector Santiago (LAA)

7) Cesar Vargas (SD)

8) Sean Manaea (OAK)

9) Juan Nicasio (PIT)

Steven Matz (NYM) is a core cash game target for us. The Braves are anemic against LHP (second last in wRC+), and they are swinging and missing a lot more than expected (second highest K percentage). Factor in how good Matz has been following a disaster season debut (3.07 xFIP, 23.9 K percentage, 0.00 hard minus soft hit rate) and a cheaper price tag than the tier one options that rank below him, and he’s clearly our primary focus.

It’s difficult to tell what to do at the second pitcher spot as everyone else seems priced appropriately on DraftKings. We have a slight inclination to just pay up for Stephen Strasburg (WAS) as he looks to be in mid-season form already with 10 K/9 and a 2.62 xFIP. Obviously, though, a road matchup against the Royals is not ideal. Likewise Jon Lester (CHC) has sound peripherals but has a road matchup against a lefty mashing Pirates team. If you’re paying up here, it’s for skills, not the matchups. As a result, it’s possible to go cheap focusing on the matchup and not the skills. The option to do that with is Tyler Chatwood (COL), who can be successful outside of Coors where he’s able to induce soft contact. The K rate is just mediocre, but this Padres team is awesome to pick on given their big home park and bad lineup (second last in wRC+ and third highest K rate against RHP).

Since we’re so ho-hum about the secondary options to Matz, it’s viable to take some chances in tournaments. Our favorite options to do this with are Hector Santiago (LAA) (Brewers will swing and miss and Santiago’s velocity is way up this season), Juan Nicasio (PIT) (at home, velocity up tick last start, -8.7 hard minus soft hit rate), and Cesar Vargas (SD) (gets Colorado in Petco; solid Minor League numbers indicate K per inning upside). All three have elements of risk we want to avoid in cash games but are willing to ignore in tournaments.

Catcher Rankings

1) Buster Posey (SF)

2) Jonathan Lucroy (MIL)

3) Stephen Vogt (OAK)

4) Chris Iannetta (SEA)

5) Geovony Soto (LAA)

The catcher position is particularly scarce this season and this early slate reveals the atrocious state of the position. Buster Posey (SF) is the clear cut top option due to the awesome park shift and high team total (at nearly five runs, tied for the highest on the slate). However, Jonathan Lucroy (MIL) is a solid alternative as the only other catcher with a prime lineup spot. He has the platoon edge at home against the fly ball oriented Hector Santiago. Aside from him, you’re basically taking stabs at a homer with either Chris Iannetta (SEA) or Geovony Soto (LAA), and we’d prefer to do that in tournaments as you should be able to afford one of Posey or Lucroy in cash games.

First Base Rankings

1) Joey Votto (CIN)

2) Chris Carter (MIL)

3) Anthony Rizzo (CHC)

4) Brandon Belt (SF)

5) Albert Pujols (LAA)

There’s a gap between Joey Votto (CIN) and our second ranked first basemen, with the rest of the top five clustered closely together in our model. Not only is he at home in a great hitter’s park, but he’s got the platoon edge on Jake Peavy who we’re confident in picking on. Peavy has an astronomical 8.61 ERA through five starts. While it undoubtedly will drop, the 32.2 hard hit rate and career worst velocity (88.9 mph, down 1.3 from last season) are reasons to pick on him in addition to his recent splits against LHBs (.226 ISO allowed to the last 250 LHBs faced). Chris Carter (MIL) has mammoth power upside (double donged last night). He’s our next target in cash games given price with the rest of the top five rating as secondary values/tournaments.

Second Base Rankings

1) Ben Zobrist (CHC)

2) Brandon Phillips (CIN)

3) Daniel Murphy (WAS)

4) Neil Walker (NYM)

5) Robinson Cano (SEA)

There’s really nothing appealing about the second base position, even up top. This is definitely a spot you should be filling out last when making rosters. Ben Zobrist (CHC) hits fifth for the best lineup skill wise of the viable second base options, but the park and matchup aren’t particularly appealing. If teammate Tommy La Stella (CHC) is in the second spot, he’d be one of the best options on FanDuel. Brandon Phillips (CIN) allows you to pick on Peavy via a good lineup spot in a good park. On FanDuel, you likely don’t need to punt the position since Phillips is so cheap, but on DraftKings, it’s reasonable to simply choose to pay up elsewhere, leaving either Ivan De Jesus (CIN) or Colin Walsh (MIL) as options depending on lineup spots.

Shortstop Rankings

1) Jonathan Villar (MIL)

2) Brandon Crawford (SF)

3) Trevor Story (COL)

4) Ivan De Jesus (CIN) (if hitting second again)

5) Javier Baez (CHC) (if top six)

While shortstop is pretty scarce, we at least like the options up top. Jonathan Villar (MIL) added another steal, giving him eight in just 24 games. That massive speed upside out of the second spot in the lineup makes him really appealing and his skills as a hitter are a bit more tolerable versus LHP. Brandon Crawford (SF) doesn’t have an ideal lineup spot, but that’s a bit less of an issue on this short slate. Instead, we’re concentrating more on his power (.175 ISO against RHP since 2014) meeting Great American Ballpark (one of the best parks for home runs), Dan Straily (fly ball risky), and the Reds bullpen (2.08 HR/9 are the most in MLB). Outside of that we’re basically just looking for cheapies in decent situations with a good lineup spot, like Ivan De Jesus (CIN) if he hits second again.

Third Base Rankings

1) Kris Bryant (CHC)

2) Matt Duffy (SF)

3) Anthony Rendon (WAS)

4) Nolan Arenado (COL)

5) David Wright (NYM)

On a slate where it’s possible you end up going very cheap at the middle infield and catcher positions depending on how lineups break, it’s possible to pay up for Kris Bryant‘s (CHC) power. It’s not an ideal matchup that we’d chase (Juan Nicasio‘s hard minus soft hit rate is very impressive, his velocity was way up last game, PNC Park is a pitcher’s park) so this is more of a luxury than a need. More than likely we’ll save a little bit of money and go with Matt Duffy (SF) who has consistently been hitting towards the top of the Giants lineup with Joe Panik injured. Anthony Rendon (WAS) is a fine cash game option as well. The Nationals take on Kris Medlen who has been extremely wild (7.08 BB/9 supported by 42.2 first strike percentage and a nearly non-existent chase rate). Possible punts include Yunel Escobar (LAA) (leading off for an Angels team with a very high team total) and Aaron Hill (MIL) (could hit top five or six with the platoon edge in a favorable park).

Outfield Rankings

1) Mike Trout (LAA)

2) Bryce Harper (WAS)

3) Ryan Braun (MIL)

4) Nelson Cruz (SEA)

5) Hunter Pence (SF)

6) Michael Conforto (NYM)

7) Billy Hamilton (CIN) (left game early last night)

8) Domingo Santana (MIL)

9) Carlos Gonzalez (COL)

10) Andrew McCutchen (PIT)

11) Curtis Granderson (NYM)

12) Yoenis Cespedes (NYM)

13) Dexter Fowler (CHC)

14) Jay Bruce (CIN)

15) Kole Calhoun (LAA)

With Steven Matz as our favorite pitching option and not a lot to pay up for in the infield, we’re actively trying to squeeze Mike Trout (LAA) into our cash game lineups. He’s our top ranked hitter and second only to Joey Votto in terms of per dollar value as the Angels get a big park shift in their favor while facing a below average pitcher in Zach Davies (has struggled with control and homers). Not surprisingly they are tied for the highest team total on the slate. Bryce Harper (WAS) is a fine tournament option; we just prefer using Trout in a better park against a worse bullpen. On DraftKings, Michael Conforto (NYM) continues to be a core cash game option. Better site wide values include Billy Hamilton (CIN) (we’ll take his speed upside when leading off at this price all day; however, he did leave last night’s game early so keep an eye on that), Domingo Santana (MIL) (our model probably isn’t giving Hector Santiago enough credit, but this is still value given the cheap power upside out of the leadoff spot), and Rafael Ortega (LAA) (excellent punt option given price and context).

Stacks

Tier One

1) San Francisco Giants

Tier Two

2) Los Angeles Angels

Tier Three

3) Milwaukee Brewers

4) Cincinnati Reds

The Giants once again represent our top stack given the massive park shift in their favor and another plus matchup against a below average starter backed up by a terrible bullpen.

The Angels offense has showed sign of life recently. They are definitely stackable against Zach Davies (won’t pitch deep, control and homer problems through three starts; bad bullpen behind him).

Tournament Stacks

-Chicago Cubs

-New York Mets

Two offenses that are becoming tournament worthy stacks almost nightly. Given the lack of strong individual values from either of these offenses, you should be able to grab a stack of each at low ownership levels.

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