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5/7 MLB DFS: Crush going up, on a Thursday

5/7 MLB DFS: Crush going up, on a Thursday
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Daily Fantasy Rundown – May 7th MLB DFS Picks

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:  Keep an eye on Los Angeles. Please see Meteorologist Mark Paquette’s game by game weather forecasts below the Analysis.

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.


The Play:

Brian McCann (NYY) – Through most of the Daily Fantasy Rundown you’ll see a different format for tonight’s short slate. Instead of writing up top plays and value plays, I’m going to write up my preferred play at a position and then cover the rest of the secondary “values” in the additional notes section (unless there’s depth at a certain position). McCann is my preferred option at the catcher position. He will get the short porch at Yankee Stadium (Yankee Stadium increases left-handed power by ~17 percent above the league average) and even though Chris Tillman isn’t a terrible pitcher against LHBs (.304 wOBA allowed to LHBs since 2012) he’s allowed 1.05 homeruns per 9 to southpaws and his fly ball tendencies won’t play well in this hitting environment. The Yankees should settle in with a team total around 4 to 4.5 runs and McCann is part of the middle of this lineup (will hit fifth).

Additional catcher notes: Evan Gattis (HOU) is a preferred option for tournaments tonight. The Astros offense will get a LHP (Hector Santiago) that struggles against RHBs, specifically against power bats. This meshes well with Gattis’ skill set (boom or bust option due to awesome power skills but high K rate). McCann is cheaper around the industry and the better value in a vacuum but Gattis is a strong tournament option. Buster Posey (SF) has solid skills against RHP (much better against LHP however) and he’s priced favorably around the industry. Dan Haren’s fastball velocity is down to 85 MPH and he doesn’t miss many bats. Posey makes sense as a secondary value tonight.

First Base

Top Play:

Chris Davis (BAL) – Mike Trout is the top hitter in our model (because of his elite skill set but the matchup isn’t good) but Chris Davis is our second ranked hitter and he has the best homerun score in our model. Davis gets a matchup against Nathan Eovaldi (.343 wOBA and 24 percent LD rate allowed to LHBs since 2012) and Yankee Stadium is awesome for LHBs (short porch increases left-handed power by ~17 percent above the league average). Davis has elite skills against RHP (.384 wOBA, .284 ISO against RHP since 2012) and a matchup against a below average pitcher at Yankee Stadium gives him added value. Davis has third base eligibility on DraftKings and he’s a top play at that position as well.

Value Play:

Yonder Alonso (SD) – Alonso is a phenomenal value on DraftKings, where Chris Davis has third base eligibility. Alonso is priced as if he was playing at Petco Park and that’s not the case tonight (Padres offense get a huge favorable park shift going from Petco Park to Chase Field). Alonso isn’t a great hitter (even when he has the platoon edge) but he gets a good lineup spot (fifth) and faces a weak starting pitcher (Rubby De La Rosa has allowed a .371 wOBA, 24 percent LD rate and 14 percent K rate to his last 326 LHBs faced). First base is pretty defined for cash games; if you’re not playing Chris Davis, punting with Alonso is the best alternative (playing both on DraftKings is the preferred course of action).

Additional first base notes: Mark Teixeira (NYY) is a good tournament option now that he gets the short porch at Yankee Stadium. He makes sense as part of a Yankees stack for tournaments. Teixeira is ranked among our top 30 hitters tonight and he’s priced fairly around the industry. James Loney (TB) is a better tournament option than a cash game value tonight. His matchup against Nick Martinez (awful pitcher, especially against LHBs) is favorable and he gets a nice lineup spot (third). He’s not a great hitter and Tropicana Field isn’t a good hitting environment but he can be included as part of a Rays stack in tournaments.

Second Base

Top Play:

Jose Altuve (HOU) – It’s too easy to fit Altuve on FanDuel and he will face a LHP. Altuve is an elite hitter against southpaws (.382 wOBA, 144 wRC+) and he’s always a threat to steal multiple bases. Hector Santiago is awful against RHBs (.331 wOBA, 1.41 homeruns per 9 in the last few seasons). Let’s not overcomplicate this recommendation. Any time Altuve is facing a below average LHP and you’re not forgoing any opportunity cost elsewhere, you’re making a +EV decision by rostering him at a scarce position (he’s usually the top play at second base).

Additional second base notes: Yangervis Solarte and Cory Spangenberg (SD) have second base eligibility on DraftKings and they’re good values on that site. They’re not great hitters but facing Rubby De La Rosa (mediocre pitcher) at Chase Field with a good lineup spot is about all I need to consider these two in cash games. Solarte is the better value of the two since he’s a switch hitter (will have the platoon edge even when the game goes to the bullpen).


Additional shortstop notes: Marwin Gonzalez (HOU) has been hitting second lately and he’s a switch hitter. Gonzalez is my preferred punting option for cash games tonight. Stephen Drew (NYY) doesn’t get the benefit of a good lineup spot (hits towards the bottom of the Yankees lineup) but he has nice power for a shortstop (.176 ISO against RHP since 2012) and he gets the short porch at Yankee Stadium. He’s a solid value and he has to be considered in cash games despite not having a good lineup spot. Erick Aybar (LAA) is a switch hitter (good for his value) but the matchup isn’t enticing. I would only consider him as a secondary value but I view Stephen Drew as the better option (better hitting environment and solid power skills).

Third Base

Top Play

Alex Rodriguez (NYY) – Rodriguez is a better value on FanDuel (Chris Davis has first base eligibility only on that site). He’s not the hitter he once was (expected decline at 39 years old) but the power skills are still there. In a small sample size (60 ABs), Rodriguez has accumulated a .267 ISO against RHP this season and Chris Tillman has some reverse splits. He’s allowed a 1.39 homeruns per 9 to RHBs in the last few seasons and his fly ball tendencies (career 41 percent FB rate) gives this Yankees offense added upside tonight. Rodriguez also gets the benefit of a good lineup spot (third). He’s the top third baseman option on FanDuel but Chris Davis is the top third baseman on DraftKings (has multi-positional eligibility on that site).

Additional third base notes: Manny Machado (BAL) is only 22 years old and he’s still maturing as a hitter but he’s seen a rapid growth against RHP in a small sample this season (.391 wOBA, .264 ISO in 72 ABs). He’s priced appropriately on DraftKings but on FanDuel he’s a nice value alternative to Alex Rodriguez. Evan Longoria (TB) is a better hitter against LHP but Nick Martinez doesn’t miss any bats. He’s a good tournament option on a six game slate (chance for low ownership) but he ranks behind Alex Rodriguez and Manny Machado in our model.


Top Plays:

San Diego Padres-

Justin Upton and Matt Kemp are ranked among our top 10 hitters tonight while teammate Wil Myers is ranked 20th in our model. The Padres offense is experiencing a major favorable park shift (from Petco Park to Chase Field) and even though these outfielders won’t have the platoon advantage, they have good skills against RHP. Upton (.339 wOBA, .171 ISO) and Kemp (.353 wOBA, .194 ISO) have been above average hitters against RHP in the last few seasons while Myers has been about a league average hitter. Their matchup against Rubby De La Rosa (.336 wOBA, 1.49 homeruns per 9 allowed to his last 299 RHBs) in this hitting environment (Chase Field increases right-handed power by ~5 percent above the league average) boosts their value. The Padres are the number one offense to target this evening (in all formats) and these outfielders are blessed with great lineup spots. Kemp is a near must play on FanDuel where he’s only $3,500.

Adam Jones (BAL) – Jones is a better hitter against LHP but the Orioles offense will have a team total around 4.5 runs and Jones benefits from a great lineup position (third). Jones has a .207 ISO against RHP since 2012 and in a small sample size this season (81 PAs), he has been sensational against RHP (.397 wOBA, fueled by a 32 percent LD rate). Nathan Eovaldi is a below average pitcher so the matchup bodes well for Jones. He lags behind the Padres outfielders in our model but he’s still a top 10 hitter tonight. Also keep in mind Jones’ overall profile is really solid thus far this season as he’s boasting a career best .43 EYE to go along with a crazy high 30.5 percent LD rate (coming at the expense of ground balls and not fly balls which is good news for his power).

Value Play:

Kevin Kiermaier (TB) is minimum priced on FanDuel and he’s a top 15 hitter in our model this evening (only Yonder Alonso is a better value). Kiermaier is now the Rays leadoff hitter and he gets a phenomenal matchup tonight. Opposing pitcher Nick Martinez is awful against LHBs (.348 wOBA, 23 percent LD rate, 12 percent K rate and 11 percent BB rate allowed to his last 392 LHBs). Kiermaier has shown good skills against RHP at the major league level (.362 wOBA, .218 ISO in 285 PAs). While we don’t expect that level off success to continue, take advantage of the minimum price tag on FanDuel while it lasts. Teammate David DeJesus (TB) is also in play in cash games. He doesn’t rank as high as Kiermaier in our model and he’s a pinch-hit risk later in the game but he has a favorable price tag on most sites and the matchup couldn’t be betrer.

Additional outfielder notes: Alejandro De Aza (BAL) gets the short porch treatment at Yankee Stadium (something that we’ve pointed out plenty today). He’s a below average hitter (even when he has the platoon advantage) but leading off for an offense that has a team total of 4.5 runs at Yankee Stadium is enough for us to give him value play status. De Aza is minimum priced on FanDuel. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner (NYY) are usually overpriced relative to their skill sets. The short porch at Yankee Stadium and their ability to steal bases in bunches keeps them locked in as top tournament values. Chris Carter (HOU) gets a matchup against a below average southpaw. The hitting environment isn’t favorable but Carter’s power upside can be exploited in tournament formats. He should be low owned in tournaments (downgrade in hitting environment and the Astros have been awful over the last few games) and he’s always a threat to hit multiple homeruns (or strikeout four times). Mike Trout (LAA) is our number one ranked hitter (mostly due to his incredible skills) but the matchup against Collin McHugh isn’t appealing. I’d still pursue Trout’s stock in tournament formats for a chance at low ownership (he gives you power and speed upside). The Diamondbacks outfielders (Mark Trumbo, A.J. Pollock, Ender Inciarte and David Peralta) are fine secondary values (can be used in cash games). Odrisamer Despaigne doesn’t allow much aerial contact but he doesn’t miss many bats either. I’ll have some exposure to this Diamondbacks outfield in tournaments (will likely mix in one of the outfielders in cash games depending on the site) but my focus is on the Padres, Orioles and Yankees in cash games.

Starting Pitchers

Tier 1

1) Chris Archer (TB)

Tier 2

2) Collin McHugh (HOU)

3) A.J. Burnett (PIT)

3) Anthony DeSclafani (CIN)

Tier 3

4) Odrisamer Despaigne (SD)

5) Hector Santiago (LAA)

6) Tim Hudson (SF)

The Play:

Chris Archer (TB) – Archer is a fundamental piece for cash games tonight. He has the best skill set of any starting pitcher in action coupled with a great matchup and a favorable pitching environment. Through six starts this season, Archer has accumulated a 28 percent K rate, seven percent BB rate and an elite 56 percent GB rate. He’s ranked within the top 10 pitchers in SIERA (2.70) this season. It’s small sample (only about a month into the season) but the Rangers already rank as a bottom five offense against RHP. The Rangers offense gets a huge negative park shift (from hitter friendly Globe Life Park in Arlington to pitcher friendly Tropicana Field), which only benefits Archer. The rest of the starting pitcher options aren’t as defined as Archer and if you’re playing cash games tonight, fading him is not an option.

Additional starting pitcher notes: Collin McHugh (HOU) is the next in line option to Chris Archer. There’s some expected growth in his K rate (as of right now it’s right in line with the league average but the underlying peripherals suggest a boost his Ks), he’s not walking batters (five percent BB rate) and he’s keeping the ball on the ground (51 percent GB rate). The Angels have struggled against RHP (ranked 28th in wOBA, albeit in a small sample size) but I would only use McHugh in cash games on multiple starting pitcher sites (only a slight favorite). A.J. Burnett (PIT) is a secondary value this evening but I’m worried about some of the underlying peripherals. He’s accrued an above average K rate this season but he has below average marks in three main categories (chase rate, F-Strike rate and SwStr rate). There’s some expected regression on the way but the Reds represent a solid matchup (projected to be a below average offense against RHP) and PNC Park is a great pitching environment. If looking for some salary relief at the starting pitcher position, Anthony DeSclafani (CIN) is a fine option. He has fly ball tendencies but he’s limiting hard contact (15 percent LD rate). He has wide platoon splits (dominates RHBs but struggles against LHBs) but this Pirates offense only features three LHBs. He provides an above average K rate, which is fueled by above average marks in chase rate, F-Strike rate and SwStr rate. If you want to load up on bats in a six game slate, DeSclafani makes sense as a salary relief option. Odrisamer Despaigne (SD) is a preferred option for tournaments this evening. He doesn’t miss many bats but he has a great GB rate and on a six game slate, it’s going to be difficult to be contrarian and find low owned pitchers. I can see DFSers look at the downgrade in pitching environment (from Petco Park to Chase Field), the Diamondbacks strong team total (around 4 to 4.5 runs) and overlook Despaigne tonight. He will be a low owned option in tournaments and he’s one of the cheapest starting pitching options.

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 ( if you have suggestions.

Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:

1) San Diego Padres

2) Baltimore Orioles

3) New York Yankees

Contrarian/Secondary Stacks:

1) Arizona Diamondbacks

2) Tampa Bay Rays

The first three offenses were the core of the Daily Fantasy Rundown today. The Padres, Orioles and Yankees will have team totals anywhere from 4 to 4.5 runs and they have a great combination of nice matchups and favorable hitting environments. An interesting mini stack in tournaments could be the Padres outfield (particularly Matt Kemp and Justin Upton) mixed in with the Orioles main hitters (Chris Davis, Adam Jones) and Yankees infield (Alex Rodriguez and Brian McCann).

The “contrarian” stacks could be low owned in tournaments. The Rays have an awesome matchup against Nick Martinez (doesn’t miss bats) but the hitting environment is awful (Tropicana Field). The Diamondbacks have fair prices around the industry and their matchup against Odrisamer Despaigne (groundball pitcher) isn’t very exciting but Despaigne doesn’t miss many bats. Vegas believes in this Diamondbacks offense tonight as their team total is pushing 4.5 runs. Stacking both the Rays and Diamondbacks in tournaments is a nice contrarian strategy tonight (in hopes that their ownership rates are lower than the first three offenses).

MLB Game Weather Forecasts

BLT at NYY 7:05: Dry. Temps in the mid 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 7. Wind south-southeast 4-8 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 5 (so light that it really will not have an affect).

CIN at PIT 7:05: Dry. Temps in the upper 70s falling to near 70. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.

TEX at TB 7:10: Dome.

SD at AZ 9:40: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the mid 80s falling into the low 70s so I will assume the roof will be open. Air density is an  8 becoming a 7. Wind south-southwest at 10-20 mph which blows out to right-center. The wind is a 7.

HOU at LAA 10:05: A 30% chance of showers and even a thunderstorm becoming 40-60% chance after 1 AM Eastern time. The nature of this rain tells me they should play the game but there is a 30-40% chance of a delay, 20% chance of multiple delays. Temps near 60 falling into the mid to upper 50s. Air density is a 5. Wind southwest 10-20 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 7.

MIA at SF 10:15: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 60s falling into the mid 50s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind west-northwest 12-25 mph lessening to 8-16 mph which blows out to center. The wind is an 8 becoming a 7.

MLB Daily Analysis