SportGrid Radio SportsGrid
May 7 MLB DFS Early Slate: JD is the Key
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

May 7 MLB DFS Early Slate: JD is the Key

00:41 DailyRoto Premium Tools
 Starting Pitchers
11:20 Catchers
13:41 First Base
15:38 Second Base
17:14 Shortstop
19:02 Third Base
20:45 Outfield
26:11 Cash Game Roster Construction
27:33 Stacks


May 7 MLB DFS Early Slate Pro-Tip

Starting Pitcher Rankings

Tier One

1) Clayton Kershaw (LAD)

Tier Two

2) Johnny Cueto (SF)

Tier Three

3) David Price (BOS)

Tier Four

4) Jason Hammel (CHC)

5) Ian Kennedy (KC)

6) Gio Gonzalez (WAS)

Tier Five

7) Jon Gray (COL)

8) Nathan Eovaldi (NYY)

9) Adam Wainwright (STL)

It’s a bit odd to have three separate tiers for three separate pitchers, but it’s the most accurate portrayal of how we view the top three starters. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) has about as bad of a context as he’ll get all season, save for maybe a Coors start, as he goes to the East Coast to face an AL team, in a tough park, against a lineup that generally mashes LHP, despite their cold start. He’s still in a tier of his own because of his absolutely silly skill set (2.10 xFIP, 32.0 K percentage). That keeps him a secondary value, but with Kershaw fully priced he’s not someone we’re looking to build around given the situation he finds himself in this afternoon.

It’s also easy to fade Clayton Kershaw because we have another ace who we’re confident in. Johnny Cueto (SF) has managed to defy lord xFIP much of his career, despite pitching in homer friendly Great American Ballpark. He’s now in the most favorable park for pitchers, so we expect him to beat his ERA estimators moving forward, and his current xFIP is very good at 2.95. When you account for park, the Rockies lineup is actually a touch below average, and they’ve got a low implied team total of under 3.5 runs (similar to the Jays versus Kershaw). Cueto is priced particularly favorably on DraftKings.

With a lack of strong mid-tier value plays, we wouldn’t get cute in cash games. By eschewing Kershaw, you can afford to David Price (BOS) as a second starting pitcher. As outlined in a strategy article we posted yesterday, we expect Price’s run prevention to improve moving forward. While he’s not in a good pitching environment, Yankee Stadium may actually be a bit better for him (tougher for RHBs than Fenway). Injuries to Alex Rodriguez and Jacoby Ellsbury also make the matchup a tough easier as well. We should note that depending on if good punt hitters emerge when lineups are released it may be possible to use both Kershaw and Cueto together.

As mentioned above, we’re not very confident in mid-tier values for cash games, but we don’t mind playing price points in tournaments with Ian Kennedy (KC) (decent K rate, great OF defense suits his skills), Jon Gray (COL) (tough lineup to face but excellent park shift and has strong K skills), and Nathan Eovaldi (NYY) (matchup/park not in his favor, but he’s very cheap on DK and we expect improvement moving forward).

Catcher Rankings

1) Victor Martinez (DET) (where eligible)

2) Buster Posey (SF)

3) Yasmani Grandal (LAD)

4) Francisco Cervelli (PIT)

5) Yadier Molina (STL)

We’d try to pay up for Victor Martinez (DET) on FanDuel as he’s cheaper than Buster Posey and a rather massive gap exists in our model between Martinez and our 3-5 ranked catchers. On DraftKings, Martinez is not C eligible and our focus shifts to those 3-5 ranked catchers. Each is in an okay matchup with a top six projected lineup spot. Our preference lays with Yasmani Grandal (LAD) due to the sizable park shift and the most power of the group (.194 ISO against RHP since 2015). On DraftKings it’s always viable to full punt the C position given their wider salary spreads, especially on a day where you may want to pay up for two starting pitchers.

First Base Rankings

1) David Ortiz (BOS)

2) Miguel Cabrera (DET)

3) Prince Fielder (TEX)

4) Eric Hosmer (KC)

5) Carlos Santana (CLE)

6) Anthony Rizzo (CHC)

7) Adrian Gonzalez (LAD)

David Ortiz (BOS) is an elite tournament option given his skills and the great park for LHBs. Since 2013 only Mike Trout and Bryce Harper have better wOBAs against RHP, and as crazy as it seems, the numbers for the aging Ortiz are only better over his last 200 PAs (.456 wOBA). Price prevents him from being a tournament option. On DraftKings, you can drop down to Miguel Cabrera (DET) (great batter against same handed pitchers facing a fly ball, contact oriented guy in AJ Griffin, backed up by a bad bullpen). If you can’t afford him, you can play prices with our 3-7 ranked first basement, who are all grouped tightly together in our model. Our preferences after taking into account price are Prince Fielder (TEX) (Rangers have highest implied team total on slate against Mike Pelfrey) and Adrian Gonzalez (LAD).

Second Base Rankings

1) Rougned Odor (TEX)

2) Jason Kipnis (CLE)

3) Ian Kinsler (DET)

4) Chase Utley (LAD)

5) Ben Zobrist (CHC)

Rougned Odor (TEX) is the clear top second baseman and best value. Leading off on the road with such a high team total, he’s likely to grab five plate appearances. Additionally, Odor (.196 ISO against RHP since 2015) has seen a bump in his well-hit rate over the last two weeks, and that’s prior to accounting for last night’s homer. Following him, the 2-4 ranked second basemen are all alternatives in cash, hitting in top of the order lineup spots for offenses with average to above average implied run totals (relative to the slate). Starlin Castro (NYY) is a cheaper tournament option. With the Yankees’ injuries, he’s likely to hit second. Ben Zobrist (CHC) isn’t cheap, but we do like him for tournaments. Like Odor he has a bump in recent well-hit rating (not taking into account yet yesterday’s two homers), and Gio Gonzalez is a pitcher we have pegged for some serious regression.

Shortstop Rankings

1) Corey Seager (LAD)

2) Francisco Lindor (CLE)

3) Xander Bogaerts (BOS)

4) Trevor Story (COL)

5) Alcides Escobar (KC)

6) Javier Baez (CHC)

Both Corey Seager (LAD) and Francisco Lindor (CLE) rank similarly in our model. We’re choosing Seager as the opposing pitchers’ current peripherals give us more confidence in his matchup. Additionally, being on the road gives Seager a slightly higher PA expectation. He’s affordable around the industry and our primary target at the position. Javier Baez (CHC) is a nice tournament option. He’ll likely hit sixth with the platoon edge against Gio Gonzalez, who has a 4.15 xFIP and is throwing with less velocity than last year. Aledmys Diaz (STL) will likely continue to hit eighth, but if he leads off he’d be our top ranked shortstop.

Third Base Rankings

1) Kris Bryant (CHC)

2) Adrian Beltre (TEX)

3) Justin Turner (LAD)

4) Mike Moustakas (KC)

5) Josh Donaldson (TOR)

We’ve always gushed over Kris Bryant‘s (CHC) power (we still see upside here believing that a 13.3 HR/FB rate is too low), but he’s taken an important overall step as an offensive player, dropping his K rate from 30.6 percent last season to 20.3 this year. With less than ideal weather for hitting, though, he’s a better tournament option on this slate. Also, both Adrian Beltre (TEX) and Justin Turner (LAD) have really nice price tags across the industry and represent our primary targets.

Outfield Rankings

1) Bryce Harper (WAS)

2) JD Martinez (DET)

3) Andrew McCutchen (PIT)

4) Starling Marte (PIT)

5) Michael Brantley (CLE)

6) Gregory Polanco (PIT)

7) Randal Grichuk (STL) (if hitting cleanup)

8) Yasiel Puig (LAD)

9) Mookie Betts (BOS)

10) Matt Holliday (STL)

11) Nomar Mazara (TEX)

12) Justin Upton (DET)

13) Jose Bautista (TOR)

14) Stephen Piscotty (STL)

15) Lorenzo Cain (KC)

Bryce Harper (WAS) remains the top play due to his insane offensive skill set, particularly versus RHP, but the weather and low team total make him an unnecessary cash game spend. JD Martinez’s (DET) power has taken a little dip this year, but the 9.7 HR/FB should be on the rise. We’ll take the chance against AJ Griffin (combination of fly ball and hard hit rates make him homer prone) and the Rangers bullpen (fourth highest ERA in MLB). While we don’t normally pick on Adam Wainwright, especially at home, his peripherals this season are a series of red flags: career lows in GB and K rate, career highs in BB and hard hit rate. All of the Pittsburgh Outfield is viable in all formats, but we do want to particularly highlight Gregory Polanco‘s (PIT) move to third in the order coinciding with gaudy early season peripherals (1.12 EYE, .210 ISO, last 15 day well-hit rate well above last year’s mark). If Randal Grichuk (STL) hit cleanup, he’ll be a superb value around the industry as he faces a subpar LHP and has lots of power (.244 ISO and 5.0 HR rate since the start of last season). Teammate Matt Holliday (STL) is a really safe option in the same matchup against Jeff Locke (4.46 xFIP). Yasiel Puig (LAD) has a friendly price that we love for tournaments, but he could be extended to a cash game option as well. Hitting fifth in an AL park isn’t as much of a detriment due to a guaranteed ninth inning and more team lineup depth (get to use a DH). The rest of the top 10 represents options you can play price points with as secondary values. If you need to punt an outfield spot on FanDuel, Jorge Soler (CHC) is a solid option. He’s not normally a cash game play (pinch hit risk) but at a bare minimum price tag you can that chance in any format.


Tier One

1) Texas Rangers

Tier Two

2) Los Angeles Dodgers

3) Detroit Tigers

Tier Three

4) St. Louis Cardinals

5) Kansas City Royals

The Rangers are a fine mini-stack for all formats. We hit on a few guys as individual plays, and the reason they rate so well is Mike Pelfrey‘s lack of skill (5.37 xFIP, more BBs than Ks, 40.0 hard hit rate is key though).

The Dodgers get the nice park shift against RA Dickey who is a well below average SP and below average Blue Jays bullpen that may be without Roberto Osuna. We’ve hit on the Tigers power upside against Griffin and the Rangers bullpen.

The Cardinals can get a lot of RHBs in and are a very deep lineup. The Royals are another deep lineup and opposing pitcher Cody Anderson has had a severe case of gopheritis to begin the season.

Tournament Stacks

-Pittsburgh Pirates (we mentioned all of the red flags in regards to Wainwright in the positional analysis)

-Chicago Cubs (so deep and talented they are almost always worth taking a shot on in tournaments, and Gio Gonzalez has some red flags as well – ERA/xFIP gap, velocity concerns)

MLB Daily Analysis

We are currently experiencing issues with the optimizer. Please check back periodically; Our engineers are working on a solution. 


We are currently experiencing issues with the optimizer. Please check back periodically; Our engineers are working on a solution. 

We are currently experiencing issues with the optimizer. Please check back periodically; Our engineers are working on a solution. 


We are currently experiencing issues with the optimizer. Please check back periodically; Our engineers are working on a solution.