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5/9 MLB DFS: All you need is Ryan’s Braun on Saturday

5/9 MLB DFS: All you need is Ryan’s Braun on Saturday
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Daily Fantasy Rundown – May 9th MLB DFS Picks

Welcome to Saturday’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.

Glossary: See a term you’re unfamiliar with? Check out our glossary page. If there’s something you’d like to see added there, please email us at

Weather: Major weather problems in Denver, lesser problems in Pittsburgh. The forecast for the LAD-COL game is so bad that I’m not even going to bother covering it in today’s content. Should the forecast shift dramatically, we will provide an extensive alert on how that would change the day’s landscape.

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.

SCHEDULING NOTE: It looks like DraftKings accidentally included the first game of the CIN-CHW double header in their night slate. As a result, you won’t get credit for any of those players so don’t use them. On most other sites, including FanDuel, it appears that the second game of the CIN-CHW double header is included.


Top Play:

Devin Mesoraco (CIN) – With Mesoraco sitting the first game of today’s double header, there’s a strong probability he starts the nightcap as the team’s DH against a LHP. Last night he was originally slated to DH and hit clean up. If that’s the case tonight, he’s not only the top catcher on FanDuel but an incredible value at just $2,400. Mesoraco has a career .97 EYE, .171 ISO and .374 wOBA against LHP and is hitting in one of the few parks that really isn’t a downgrade offensively from his home park. Opposing pitcher Carlos Rodon brings in a ton of upside but it’s his first ever MLB start and he struggles with control.

Value Play:

Miguel Montero (CHC) – Montero isn’t an amazing play individually but when you look at his price and matchup on DraftKings relative to other catchers, it quickly becomes apparent that he’s the best cash game option. Montero is just $3,300 on DraftKings. He’s been hitting cleanup against RHP for the Cubs and will have the platoon edge in a favorable hitting environment against Kyle Lohse today. Lohse has allowed 1.19 HRs/9 to LHBs since 2012 and perhaps more importantly has really struggled this season. He has an ERA of over 5 in five of six starts as he’s allowing a high LD rate to opposing hitters, all at the expense of ground balls. The Cubs, Reds and White Sox all look like they’ll settle in with the highest team totals on the day at somewhere between 4 and 4.5.

Additional first base notes: If you have the cap space, Buster Posey (SF) is a fine play. He’s the best overall offensive catcher and opposing pitcher David Phelps has been a mess early on from a peripheral standpoint. The price, ballpark and lack of platoon edge don’t make him the best per dollar value though. For tournament play, two guys I’m additionally considering are Derek Norris (SD) and Tyler Flowers (CHW).

First Base

Top Play:

Jose Abreu (CHW) – While Jason Marquis is off to a better start than we anticipated from a strikeout standpoint, both projections systems as well as common sense when viewing his career marks suggest worse K and BB rates moving forward. That will cause even more trouble than he’s already gotten into (5.22 ERA) as he doesn’t throw very hard, which leads to good power numbers for the opposition despite a decent GB rate. This is simply a mismatch of a bad pitcher against a great hitter in Jose Abreu and Abreu’s home park, which heavily aids right handed power, just adds to the expected value. He’s way too cheap on FanDuel at $3,600. Teammate Adam LaRoche is off to a bit of a rocky start for the team but is an elite value play as well and an option over Abreu in cash games on sites with stricter pricing than FanDuel.

Next in line:

Anthony Rizzo (CHC) – If you’re paying up for first base on a site that doesn’t include the CIN-CHW game or want to diversify off of Abreu in tournaments, Rizzo is the clear next in line option. I talked about Lohse’s struggles and the Cubs high expected team total in Montero’s blurb, and Rizzo should benefit the most as the team’s best hitter. He was great in 2013 and improved his power and skills versus same handed pitching in 2014. In 2015, the 25 year old Rizzo seems to be taking yet another step forward. His EYE is unbelievable, exceeding 1 as he’s striking out just 12 percent of the time – an absurdly low mark for a power hitter of his ilk. The crazy low 4.6 SwStr rate and 21.0 chase rate support the reduction in Ks for Rizzo. An improved lineup around him improves his expected RS and RBI percentages and as an added bonus to all of this, Rizzo is benefiting from the team’s aggressiveness on the base paths. He’s already stolen a career high seven bases.

Value Play:

Lucas Duda (NYM) – Duda is a nice alternative value play on most sites and sticks out as a great cash game option on DraftKings where the CIN-CWS game isn’t offered. The reasoning behind using Duda is pretty simple. He’s great against RHP (ZiPS 2015 split projection is a very optimistic .381 wOBA and .231 ISO) and opposing pitcher Aaron Harang is subpar, having allowed a .332 wOBA to LHBs since 2012. With Duda also seeing an uptick in park environment for hitters, he’s a strong per dollar value at just $3,200 on DraftKings.

Additional first base notes: Tournament options I’m looking at include Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) (home, high team total, ownership will be too low for someone of his upside due to pitcher-batter matchup), Joey Votto (CIN) (people like to avoid L/L but Rodon is wild and may not pitch very long anyways), Brandon Belt (SF) (pretty cheap and has platoon edge on David Phelps who has some rather ugly peripherals) and Billy Butler (OAK) (not a great park but very affordable in a great lineup spot with the platoon edge against JA Happ).

Second Base

Additional second base notes: There’s really not strong value play at second base that sticks out above the rest. I’d rather not use heavy GB hitter Robinson Cano (SEA) but with a great lineup spot and affordable price he has to be a cash game consideration across the industry against Jesse Hahn (not missing any bats). Brandon Phillips (CIN) will have the platoon edge on Carlos Rodon in a favorable park and with a favorable lineup spot. Daniel Murphy (NYM) is off to a slow start but the peripherals don’t suggest too much is wrong. He’s cut down on his K rate but also not hitting as many line drives. He has a .336 career wOBA against RHP and Aaron Harang represents a good matchup. On sites where Cory Spangenberg (SD) is real cheap, it might make sense just to drop down to him and spend up elsewhere. Using Spangenberg saves you money and gets exposure to a Padres offense with a good team total pushing the plus side of 4. He’ll likely hit second and hold the platoon edge on Chase Anderson. Micah Johnson (CHW) and Addison Russell (CHC) are tournament options (nice upside but poor lineup spots).


Value Plays:

Jean Segura (MIL) – We’re not seeing the bounce back season out of Segura that we hoped for as his numbers and peripherals are pretty much in line with last season. Some BABIP regression has helped the BA become more tolerable, but that’s it. Despite the frustration in Segura’s offensive numbers, he offers speed upside and has been hitting lead off for the Brewers. Those two things are more than enough to make him one of the better value plays at a scarce position when you layer in the context of the matchup as well: home versus LHP Travis Wood (.330 wOBA, 22.8 LD rate allowed to RHBs since 2012).

Starlin Castro (CHC) – There are admittedly some ugly signs in Castro’s profile early on (tons of ground balls, EYE is at a career low), but like with Segura we’re forced to overlook them to an extent at a scarce position. More importantly for Castro is a top five or six lineup spot in a good park against a struggling pitcher. Plus, despite his struggles at the plate, he’s still actually one of the best offensive shortstops in action tonight. Over a full season he has 15-15 upside and is a career .285 hitter.

Additional shortstop notes: Marcus Semien (OAK) is a nice alternative value to Segura and Castro and the last shortstop I’d consider for cash games. If you’re more focused on current peripherals, he’s probably the best choice of the bunch. However, he’s hit towards the bottom of the order since Coco Crisp returned and the contextual factors (park, run total) aren’t in his favor. Alexei Ramirez (CHW) and Wilmer Flores (NYM) are options to consider in tournaments.

Third Base

Top Play:

Todd Frazier (CIN) – I’m actually a big fan of rookie southpaw Carlos Rodon‘s immediate prospects, but his wildness, home park and expected low IP total still provide the Reds offense with plenty of upside that is reasonable to target on a short slate. Frazier, not surprisingly, isn’t running as much as last year but he appears to be much more real than I expected coming into the season. Small improvements to both his BB and K rates have helped to stabilize things, and he’s generating a ton of loft (49.4 FB rate), which is great for consistent power. The HR pace won’t continue but he should still hit 20-plus the rest of the way. US Cellular Field is a good park for a right handed hitter who consistently puts the ball in the air.

Next in line:

Kris Bryant (CHC) – Yes, Bryant is struggling a bit at the plate but, as we’ve been saying for a couple of weeks now, we still feel he’s at least a little bit underpriced for his skill set. The high K rate is to be expected (actually right in line with what ZiPS projected despite an overall optimistic projection) and the high BB and fly ball rates suggest it’s only a matter of time before the power comes. There are some guys that aren’t worth playing through cold streaks, but I think it’s fine to continue to utilize Bryant, especially in a favorable matchup against a pitcher who doesn’t miss many bats.

Additional third base notes: Aramis Ramirez (MIL), if healthy (not in lineup last night), has the platoon edge at home against Travis Wood and carries a reasonable price tag. Josh Harrison (PIT) doesn’t have a great matchup but he’s a nice tournament target due to a low price for a Pirates offense that may surprise people tonight against Carlos Martinez (coming off a disaster start). Conor Gillaspie (CHW) is a cheap third base option. Kyle Seager (SEA) has a very favorable price for holding the platoon edge against an average RHP; that makes him an option despite an expected low scoring game.


Value Plays:

Ryan Braun/Khris Davis (MIL) – Braun is just behind Mike Trout as the top outfield play but comes at a discount to him on all sites. Over his career Braun has been one of the best MLB hitters against LHP. With his splits history in mind, an expected bounce back 2015 season and five home runs in the past 10 games, Braun is one of my top targets today. Teammate Khris Davis is a high risk (27.3 K percentage, 22.9 for his career), high reward (career .222 ISO, .254 against LHP) play. I think the upside is high enough that he’s worth using in all formats today, especially on sites that don’t include the CIN-CHW game, which wipes out a lot of potential outfield plays. Carlos Gomez of course has the same great matchup. Since he’s the most expensive of the trio and dealing with a hip injury, I’m more prone to use him in tournaments than in cash games.

Adam Eaton/Melky Cabrera (CHW) – Since 2012 Jason Marquis has faced 584 LHBs and has allowed a .376 wOBA and 1.80 HR/9. That gives Adam Eaton and Melky Cabrera an incredible amount of upside given their home park and lineup spots. Since both are off to slow starts, they are very affordable on most sites. Teammate Avisail Garcia won’t have the platoon edge but can be considered in tournaments.

Cubs outfield – Dexter Fowler will set the table. Jorge Soler has significant power upside. Chris Coghlan may emerge as a value play if he sneaks into the top five in the order. This entire trio, depending on lineup spots, can be considered for cash games. Fowler is the best option as we know he’ll lead off and hold the platoon edge throughout the game. Like most of this team, Fowler has been running aggressively, already amassing eight stolen bases and on pace to set a career high in that regard. Soler is in a same handed matchup but has a career .211 ISO (.244 against same handed pitching, albeit in a very small sample size). We’d like to see him hit more fly balls but are impressed with the amount of hard contact he’s making early on (31.4 LD rate). Coghlan has the least upside of the bunch but the lowest price point. He’s provided surprising power since joining the Cubs (.169 ISO last season, .195 this season) and is a solid offensive player even if he does leave something to be desired from a Fantasy perspective.

Additional outfield notes: The entire Reds outfield can be considered for cash games as well. Billy Hamilton (CIN) always has incredible speed upside and we particularly like him against wild pitchers, which makes it easier for him to both get on base and steal when on base. Marlon Byrd (CIN) has rebounded from a horrific start and has been hitting second. Jay Bruce (CIN), like teammate Joey Votto, is a nice tournament option. He’ll be too low owned due to the L/L matchup but Rodon may not pitch very long, enabling Bruce to get a couple of at bats with the platoon edge on the bullpen in a favorable park. Mike Trout (LAA) is always a top option (salary aside) with the platoon edge given his incredible all-around skill set, but he won’t be a core target of mine in cash games due to his cost and lowered expectations for the Angels offense in general. Other viable options include Curtis Granderson (NYM), Coco Crisp (OAK) (FanDuel), Billy Burns (OAK) (DraftKings), Jeff Francoeur (PHI) (DraftKings punt) and the Padres outfield (won’t have the platoon edge but all three carry significant upside, especially considering the big park boost).

Starting Pitcher

Rankings (price not considered):

Tier 1

1) Madison Bumgarner (SF)

Tier 2

2) Matt Shoemaker (LAA)

3) Tyson Ross (SD)

4) Dallas Keuchel (HOU)

Tier 3

5) Chase Anderson (ARI)

6) Carlos Martinez (STL)

7) Carlos Rodon (CHW)

8) Jon Niese (NYM)

9) Jesse Hahn (OAK)

10) JA Happ (SEA)

Top Play:

Madison Bumgarner (SF) – With the Coors game likely getting washed away yet again, my focus in cash games on a smaller slate turns towards pitching and, specifically, Madison Bumgarner. While he’ll face a Marlins team that is better suited against LHP since they can get so right handed, Bumgarner is still clearly the top pitcher on the slate. He’s certainly more dominant against LHBs (as expected), but Bumgarner is mighty effective against RHBs too. He’s allowed just a .289 wOBA to them since 2012. Only Tyson Ross, Carlos Martinez, Matt Shoemaker and Jesse Hahn have a better such split on today’s slate, with the sample size being much smaller for the latter three. The other thing to consider is that, while the Marlins do get right handed, they aren’t exactly fearsome RHBs outside of Giancarlo Stanton. Bumgarner will be pitching at home in the friendliest pitcher’s park in MLB and is currently listed as the largest favorite (excluding Kershaw who expect to get rained out) on the night slate (-153) in the game with the lowest total (6.5, pushing 7). I don’t have lofty expectations for Bumgarner tonight, but he’s easy enough to fit into cash games that I don’t see much of an edge in fading him in that game format.

Value Play:

Matt Shoemaker (LAA) – Shoemaker is next in line and you could make a case for him over Bumgarner on one starting pitcher sites due to the gap in salary (I personally wouldn’t). This game is basically a pick’em right now and carries the second lowest total on the night. Shoemaker has an ugly ERA (5.40) and FIP (5.31) to start the year. On the negative side, he’s allowing more line drives and fly balls than last year and is pitching with reduced velocity early on (averaging 88.7 mph on fastball versus 90.5 last year). So we really can’t say he’s been unlucky. However, there are some positives. Despite the reduced velocity, Shoemaker is demonstrating the same solid K rate and K/BB ratio he had last season and that’s supported by repeating F-Strike and SwStr rates. The hope here is that the potential reward that Shoemaker’s K rate offers when lined up against a strikeout prone Astros team (23.7 K percentage is second highest in MLB against RHP) outweighs the risk of his fly ball oriented ways and reduced velocity. Pitching at home in a big park helps to mitigate that risk as well.

Additional starting pitcher notes: If you don’t want to mess with Shoemaker’s reduced velocity, two alternative options are Tyson Ross (SD) and Dallas Keuchel (HOU), although they don’t offer as much value due to pricing. Ross is a higher risk/reward option than Keuchel as he can be wild and is in a dangerous pitching environment. However, he’s around a K/IP guy and facing an average Diamondbacks offense against RHP. Keuchel has a bit less K upside both due to opponent and his own skills. However, his massive GB rate (64.5 percent) and ability to pitch deep into games makes him one of the safest choices for tonight’s slate, especially with a park shift heavily in his favor. Carlos Rodon (CHW) (where available) is an excellent tournament option, although admittedly a bit of a long shot given control issues and likely pitch count since he’s been pitching out of the pen. It’s a difficult home matchup against a Reds team that will be able to use Devin Mesoraco at DH, but Rodon has big time strike out upside, even if we only project around five innings. Our top pitchers all have tough umpires for starting pitchers, which furthers the appeal of Rodon in tournaments. Chase Anderson (ARI) is another high risk, high reward option. The Padres have been middle of the pack against RHP (both in terms of wRC+ and K%). It’s a tough park for pitchers, but Anderson has been extremely sharp. Early on he’s been able to make improvements to his BB and GB rates while holding last year’s positive K rate steady, although F-Strike and SwStr indicators reveal some regression is expected moving forward. Carlos Martinez (STL) is pitching in a really nice environment against a Pirates team that has been pretty dreadful against RHP this year. He certainly has tournament appeal as a result, but I’d be wary throwing him in cash games as he’s coming off a disaster start and experiencing reduced velocity (lower SwStr rate). Jon Niese (NYM) doesn’t have big K upside but his ability to keep the ball on the ground and induce weak contact makes him a very safe play against a bad Phillies lineup. Jesse Hahn (OAK) and JA Happ (SEA) are tournament options due to umpire and a favorable ballpark, but neither of their skill sets are particularly appealing.

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) Chicago White Sox

2) Chicago Cubs

3) Cincinnati Reds

4) Milwaukee Brewers

These four teams were covered pretty extensively in the position by position analysis. They can be mini stacked in cash games and any of them can be full stacked in a tournament.

Contrarian/Secondary Stacks:

1) Chase Field

2) New York Mets

3) San Francisco Giants

We didn’t have too many Padres and Diamondbacks in today’s content as we like the respective pitchers in this game. With that said, each team has a team total slightly higher than 4 and it’s not like Tyson Ross and Chase Anderson are bullet proof. In a tournament, it’s not a bad idea to ignore the talents of the opposing pitchers and simply play the Vegas totals.

The Mets get a positive park shift playing in Philadelphia and will match up against Aaron Harang who will experience some regression in the very near future. His .255 BABIP and 2.0 HR/FB rate are not sustainable. His BB rate is currently well exceeding both his career mark and his recent past. When the luck stats don’t end up quite as favorable and the BBs increase, Harang could be in line for some disaster starts given the type of contact he is allowing (24.1 LD rate, 45.4 FB rate).

In cash games we’ll focus on better lineups and better parks than San Francisco. However, for those two reasons they’ll be under owned in tournaments where I can envision a stack working out against David Phelps. Despite a 3.24 ERA, Phelps carries a 4.72 xFIP. He’s been very fortunate (.266 BABIP, 0.0 HR/FB rate) but current career highs in LD and FB rates and a career worst SwStr rate point towards future trouble for Phelps.

MLB Game Weather Forecasts

In the scales below, a 10 strongly favors the batter, a 1 strongly favors the pitcher and a 5 has no impact on the game. On the scales used below, a 10 strongly favors the batter, a 1 strongly favors the pitcher and a 5 should not impact the game at all.

NYM at PHL 7:05: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling into the lower 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind south-southeast 5-10 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6.

STL at PIT 7:05: There will be showers/thunderstorms around after 9 PM. No worries about getting this game in, 20-30% chance of a stoppage of play late, <10% chance of multiple stoppages. Temps in the low 80s falling into the mid 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind south-southeast 4-8 mph which blows in from right. the wind is a 4.

CIN at CHW 7:10: Dry. Temps in the mid 50s falling to near 50. Air density is a 4. Wind north-northeast 6-12 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.

CHC at MIL 7:10: Retractable roof. Temps only around 50 and then falling into the 40s so I will assume the roof will be closed.

LAD at COL 8:10: Another miserable weather game. There will be rain at times during the game. Much of the day it just is a steady, soaking and, at times, heavy rain so I think there is a ~70-80% chance that they just cancel the game. Temperatures in the 40s during the day will fall into the 30s at night and the rain will change to snow, just another factor that leads me to think they will not even try to start the game. Will update this game as the day goes on but it does not look good.

SD at AZ 8:10: Retractable roof. Dry. I will assume the roof will be open. Temps in the mid 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 7. Wind west-southwest 5-10 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.

HOU at LAA 9:05: Dry. Temps in the mid 60s falling to near 60. Air density is a 6. Wind west-southwest 10-20 mph lessening to 8-16 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.

MIA at SF 9:05: dry. Temps in the low 60s falling into the mid 50s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind west 10-20 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 7.

OAK at SEA: Retractable roof. dry. Mild. Will assume the roof will be open. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 7. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.

MLB Daily Analysis