Daily Fantasy Rundown – MLB DFS Picks | July 1
Welcome to Wednesday’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: Games with issues include WSH at ATL and perhaps CHW at STL.
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.
Matt Wieters (BAL) – Wieters turned in an extremely frustrating performance last night but is in a similarly good spot tonight. Nick Martinez is not good despite his 3.39 ERA as he doesn’t miss bats, walks people and is GB neutral at best. That’s why he has a 4.96 xFIP and 5.13 for his career. Regression has already hit Martinez and will continue to do so. That’s why you see the Orioles pegged with a team total of 5 from Vegas, the highest of the night. Wieters is a switch hitter who is better against LHP but has good all-around power and a great lineup spot. The plate discipline numbers are a bit worrisome but it’s a pretty small sample size and opportunity cost at the position is low anyways. I’m not completely enamored with Wieters but the matchup, park, expected team success at a scarce position make him the logical choice given that he’s pretty affordable.
Jonathan Lucroy (MIL) – Lucroy is another catcher I’m not exactly thrilled about (plate discipline numbers and GB rate are worse than last season). However, he really picked things up in June as he made more contact (12.9 K percentage) and higher quality contact (33 percent hard hit rate). With Lucroy trending in the right direction but the price still favorable, he’s a nice alternative to Wieters at a cheaper price tag. The Brewers have a team total over four and Lucroy should see four to five plate appearances hitting second for a road team. I should note that Lucroy has caught six straight games so it’s possible he gets some rest tonight.
Additional catcher notes: Buster Posey (SF) doesn’t rank very well in our model but I still think he’s worth considering in tournaments as the Giants as a team have been good against RHP, Posey is one of the best offensive catchers and opposing pitcher Dan Haren is in decline. A couple of guys who hold catcher eligibility on FanDuel and are value play alternatives to the written up options are Victor Martinez (DET) (recent hard hit data hopefully suggests he’s over the knee injury that crushed his production against RHP) and Evan Gattis (HOU) (simply a fair price for his power at home against a volatile pitcher). If punting on DraftKings, AJ Ellis (LAD) is an option. He’ll likely get the start against a LHP and with Grandal having caught three in a row. Preferred tournament options are Wilson Ramos (WAS) (good lineup spot for a catcher and facing a rookie pitcher) and Jason Castro (HOU) (platoon edge at home against Edinson Volquez; very cheap).
Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) – Salary aside, Goldschmidt is the top first baseman on the slate and probably the top overall hitter as well. He leads all hitters in FPPG on both FanDuel and DraftKings as he has a remarkably well-rounded skill set. Power: .285 ISO, 20 HR, increased loft and elite 43.1 hard hit rate. Average: Increase in BB rate and decrease in K rate gives him a .98 EYE, which correlates well to a .300 BA and is boosted by a high hard hit rate and LD rate. Speed: 15 for 19 in stolen base attempts. Over a 162 game season, Goldschmidt is on pace to have a BA-HR-SB line of .354-42-31. That’s silly in today’s game. Tonight he’s at home in his favorable park and facing a LHP, against which he has a .444 wOBA and .285 ISO since 2012. Brett Anderson is a solid pitcher but not a high K guy and I’ll make sure to get Goldschmidt in a tournament lineup if his price tag ends up being prohibitive in cash games.
Chris Davis (BAL) – Our model has Chris Davis as the best value play at first base, and it’s not really all that close as he carries a middle of the pack price across the industry yet is our fifth ranked overall hitter. Our model actually prefers him to Paul Goldschmidt by a hair, but I’ve manually boosted Goldschmidt higher (salary aside) given his other worldly component skills. Davis crushed two homers last night and has another high upside matchup at home against a bad Texas RHP. Tonight he’ll be going up against Nick Martinez who has allowed a .335 wOBA and 1.03 HR/9 to LHBs with a miniscule 12.5 K percentage, which helps to mitigate Davis’ biggest weakness (swinging and missing). Meanwhile, Davis has compiled a .378 wOBA and .280 ISO against RHP since 2012, amassing 97 HRs in 1,470 PAs. When he makes contact, he absolutely hammers the ball as evidenced by his elite 31.5 hard minus soft hit rate and a HR/FB rate exceeding 22 percent for the fourth consecutive season.
Pedro Alvarez (PIT) – Alvarez is having a solid season as his K rate has dropped yet again (down to 23.3 percent) and when you look at that in light of a double digit walk rate for the second straight year, he’s no longer wretched in the plate discipline department. This allows the reward (his power) to outweigh the risk (his plate discipline) in the right matchups. Alvarez has a career .200 ISO, and that number and that number rises to .239 when looking at his numbers versus RHP since 2012. Opposing pitcher Alfredo Simon has gotten away with fringe stuff the past couple of seasons but xFIPs consistently over 4.00 point to him being a subpar pitcher.
Additional first base notes: Two other options I view as strong cash game alternatives are Anthony Rizzo (CHC) (elite peripherals and faces an average RHP in Alfredo Simon; more usable on DK since you can use Davis at 3B) and Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) (L/L but Ray is fly ball oriented against all batters, won’t pitch deep and Dodgers have a high team total in a good hitter’s park). Adam Lind (MIL) is also in a good spot in a decent hitter’s park with the platoon edge on the underwhelming Aaron Harang, but his price has risen so much (in line with Rizzo/Gonzalez/Davis) that he’s only a secondary option and probably best used in tournaments due to opportunity cost. Two additional tournament options that stick out on a multitude of sites are Albert Pujols (LAA) (seventh highest hard hit rate over last 30 days combined with a 48.4 FB rate) and Chris Carter (HOU) (perpetually one of our HR score leaders).
Howie Kendrick (LAD) – Opposing pitcher Robbie Ray is a little bit difficult to figure as he’s flashed some great strikeout numbers in the Minors but it hasn’t translated to the MLB level in either of his two brief stints. As a result, we get varying projections on him, ranging from optimistic (Steamer calls for a 3.84 ERA and 1.02 HR/9) to pessimistic (ZiPS calls for a 4.81 ERA and 1.17 HR/9). I lean towards the pessimistic projection until shown otherwise, especially given the poor numbers against LHBs against the 212 he’s faced. Against those batters, Ray has allowed a .339 wOBA and 1.07 HR/9. Most notably he’s allowed a hard minus soft hit rate of 32.2, which is extremely high (league average among qualified starters is about a third of that). As a result of that and the Dodgers favorable park shift and large team total (around 4.5 runs), Howie Kendrick is the second base value I’ll have the most exposure to, particularly on FanDuel. On DraftKings Kendrick is priced a bit more aggressively, which makes a handful of options close in projected value. Teammate Justin Turner (LAD) is second base eligible there and a viable alternative (actually prefer him to Kendrick since Turner has more power upside).
Additional second base notes: On DraftKings Jose Altuve (HOU) is priced in line with the Dodgers and is a similar value, but he’s expensive on FanDuel and should only be used in tournaments there. Other mid-tier values include Jimmy Paredes (BAL) (similar concept to using Kendrick/Turner where you’re taking a guy from one of our top two offenses who has a good lineup spot) and Neil Walker (PIT) (less team upside but solid career power against RHP). If punting the position, Johnny Giavotella (LAA) makes the most sense. He’s a good way to get exposure to an Angels team with an implied run total over 4 but doesn’t have any individual values that stick out.
Additional shortstop notes: I’m incredibly indifferent to the shortstop position this evening and it’ll be the last one I fill out when using my rosters. I’ll probably take one of two approaches depending on remaining cap room. 1-Take a decent hitter in a good lineup spot even if the matchup isn’t ideal (Jhonny Peralta (STL), Jung-Ho Kang (PIT)). 2-Punt the position with a top of the lineup bat that is really cheap (Cesar Hernandez (PHI)). Other options I’d consider if they move into a top six lineup spot are Jimmy Rollins (LAD) (old and not good anymore but hey all the other contextual factors are good), Jean Segura (MIL) and JJ Hardy (BAL).
Manny Machado (BAL) – This may seem repetitive but Machado is once again at home in a favorable matchup (Nick Martinez is a well below average pitcher). As we’ve mentioned several times recently, Machado has made huge gains from last year – most notably an improvement in EYE from .29 to .53 and an increase in loft/hard hit rate. This has led to increased power and BA. For his career, Machado actually has a slightly higher wOBA and ISO against RHP so we’re unconcerned by the fact that this is a R/R matchup. From a roster construction standpoint he makes a lot of sense. He’s the leadoff hitter for the team with the highest total and pretty easy to fit in on all sites since pitching isn’t crazy expensive and you can go cheap at the middle infield spots.
Adrian Beltre (TEX) – Beltre sticks out as underpriced, particularly on FanDuel, as he’ll hit cleanup for the Rangers in a favorable park with the platoon edge on a pitcher who is fly ball oriented and below average against RHBs since 2012 (.327 wOBA, 1.30 HR/9). That pitcher of course is Wei-Yin Chen. Despite those bad splits, Chen is having a solid season and there’s a good chance he’s better than the baseline we held for him coming into the season. Likewise, the baseline we set for Beltre is probably too high based on his declining power. This is all a confusing way for me to say that Beltre is a fine value if looking in the mid-tier range, but the matchup isn’t so great that you have to lock him in. On both FanDuel and DraftKings it’s not all that difficult to simply pay up for Machado.
Additional third base notes: On DraftKings specifically, Alex Guerrero (LAD) rates as the best value play at the position. He’s just $3,100 and has hit sixth the last two times that the Dodgers have faced LHP. Chris Davis (BAL) also has third base eligibility there today and is an elite value. Secondary alternatives Justin Turner (LAD) (prefer him to Beltre if similarly priced), Josh Harrison (PIT) (should be leading off against Alfredo Simon) and Kris Bryant (CHC). I particularly love Bryant for tournaments. While Bartolo Colon is pretty tough on RHBs, I view this as a mismatch in general and a chance to get Bryant’s power upside in at a low ownership and fair price.
Bryce Harper (WAS) – One of the reasons I suggest using Chris Heston (below) on multi-starting pitcher sites is the cap flexibility allows you to fit in a luxury bat or two. Harper is the top rated hitter today as he’ll face a young rookie RHP in Matt Wisler. Projection systems on Wisler are fairly optimistic, but I’m personally a bit more pessimistic. Last season at AAA he had a 5.01 ERA and 5.14 FIP. That improved this season to 4.29 and 3.31 respectively, but this isn’t someone who sticks out as a pitcher who will have immediate success. He’s played with fire his first two starts, amassing just two strikeouts in 12 IP while allowing a lot of aerial contact (37.8 GB rate). I’m not overly picking on Wisler, but on DraftKings I may be able to stretch up to Bryce Harper who is currently the game’s best power hitter (18.2 BB rate, .373 ISO, 40.0 hard hit rate, 0.70 GB/FB ratio). Teammate Denard Span (WAS) is a viable mid-tier option.
Yasiel Puig (LAD) – Puig is our second rated hitter overall today and the top rated value when incorporating price. He was in a mini-slump (in part due to a callous on his hand) that has resulted in a price reduction around the industry. I’m hoping the issue is behind him (2-5 with a double last night, strong hard hit rate recently) and the matchup/price are so good that it’s worth the risk he’s not 100 percent. As mentioned before, Ray has yielded a lot of hard hit contact to RHBs and is very fly ball oriented (34.0 GB rate), which gives Puig a ton of upside at Chase Field. He’s so easy to fit in across the industry that I’m considering him a core part of my roster construction process. The run scoring environment here is so good and Joc Pederson (LAD) has shown enough against same handed pitching that he’s also a value play despite being expensive in a L/L matchup. However, you want to prioritize Puig first.
Alex Guerrero (LAD) – I mentioned Guerrero in the third base notes, but he deserves a full write up here as he’s cheap and has OF eligibility on both DraftKings ($3,100) and FanDuel ($2,200). While it’s a small sample size, it’s kind of astounding that Guerrero hasn’t been given more playing time given the success he’s had when he has played. Sure, the plate discipline isn’t great but man he’s put up some power: 10 HRs in 151 PAs and a .273 ISO. With a solid 1.00 GB/FB ratio and a superb 27.8 hard minus soft hit rate, there’s good reason to believe that Guerrero’s power is at least somewhat legitimate. We don’t expect him to keep this crazy pace up but in this matchup and at these prices, he really doesn’t have to to still be considered the best cheap option on the board tonight. Obviously with Guerrero you need to double check the lineup card, but he’s started and hit sixth in the Dodgers last two games against LHP.
Additional outfield notes: While it’s feasible to pair Harper with Puig on DraftKings, it’s much more difficult to do so on FanDuel. There I’d still look to pair him with another high upside outfielder, and the two that stick out as underpriced are Andrew McCutchen (PIT) and Carlos Gomez (MIL). Just below that tier of outfielders comes AJ Pollock (ARI) and Adam Jones (BAL). If Guerrero is out of the lineup and you need a replacement cheap outfielder, look the way of Gerardo Parra (MIL) or Chris Parmelee/Travis Snider (BAL) (depending on lineup spots). For tournaments, names that pop on multiple sites are Starling Marte (PIT), George Springer (HOU), Alex Gordon (KC) and Kole Calhoun (LAA).
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Carlos Carrasco (CLE)
2) Jon Lester (CHC)
3) Chris Heston (SF)
4) Jose Quintana (CHW)
5) John Lackey (STL)
6) AJ Burnett (PIT)
7) Wei-Yin Chen (BAL)
8) Matt Shoemaker (LAA)
9) Bartolo Colon (NYM)
10) Edinson Volquez (KC)
Carlos Carrasco (CLE) – It’s a difficult decision between Carrasco and Lester this evening, but I give Carrasco the slight edge. Carrasco has been a bit frustrating to own as an increased hard minus soft hit rate from last season (up to 15.4 from 5.0) combined with a reduced GB rate has led to him underachieving on the basis of expected ERAs (4.16 ERA, 2.93 FIP, 2.85 xFIP). Still, there’s been some bad luck here. The hard minus soft hit rate isn’t good but the elevated HR rate it has caused is factored into his FIP (just 2.93) and the .336 BABIP is likely to drop some even if it’s on the higher end of the league average (somewhere between .290 and .310 usually). The component skills by themselves look great. Carrasco has a 26.6 K percentage and very small 5.2 BB rate, and while the GB rate is reduced from last year, it’s still above league average at 47.3. Ultimately, we care more about the high K probability for Carrasco tonight than about concerns over run prevention, which is less predictable from start to start anyways. Our model has Carrasco with the highest projected K percentage by a decent margin as this Rays team strikes out 21.2 percent of the time against RHP, sixth most in the league.
Jon Lester (CHC) – Lester, like Carrasco, has underachieved based on expected ERAs but his hard minus soft hit rate is actually better than league average. As a result, we’ll almost assuredly see a drop in his BABIP (.329, career mark is .302) and HR/FB rate (13.2, career mark is 9.6) moving forward. While we’re more confident in that regard with Lester, he’s not quite as dominant overall as Carrasco, posting a 15.4 K-BB percentage (very good but Carrasco is at 21.4). That’s the main reason Carrasco gets a slight edge, but Lester has a more favorable umpire and also has a matchup that creates nice K upside (Mets strike out 23.6 percent of the time against LHP this season). Note that our model projects the Mets K rate moving forward to be a touch lower and Rays a touch higher. There is a clear gap between Carrasco/Lester and the remaining starting pitchers today, and I’d anchor all cash game lineups with one of the two. While my preference is for Carrasco, it’s close enough that I’ll entertain diversifying among the two.
Chris Heston (SF) – Heston doesn’t have the same K upside as Carrasco/Lester (which is why I want to anchor teams with one of those two), but he still rates as a rather remarkable value on multi-SP sites such as DraftKings (just $6,500). While you may be able to afford Carrasco and Lester together, I have a tough time passing up on that much value and will probably use Heston as a second starting pitcher in order to get in more hitting upside. So what makes Heston such a good value? It’s a multitude of things. For starters, he’s been above average in all three skill categories, and especially so when it comes to GB rate (20.6 K rate, 6.0 BB rate, 54.2 GB rate), leading to a 3.19 FIP and 3.26 xFIP. Secondly, Heston pitches AT&T park, which is the best pitcher’s park in all of baseball. Finally, Heston has a favorable matchup against a Marlins team that has the eighth highest K percentage against RHP and ranks 29th in wRC+ against RHP. Oh, and now they are playing without Giancarlo Stanton. CORRECTION: Heston is not at home. He’s in Miami, which is still an extreme pitcher’s park and does not change our valuation of him.
Additional starting pitcher notes: In cash games, I really wouldn’t dip outside of the top two tiers. Also in tier two are Jose Quintana (CHW) and John Lackey (STL). Quintana faces a watered down Cardinals lineup (due to injury) and gets a massive park shift in his favor playing in St. Louis. Lackey is a large home favorite against Quintana. He faces a White Sox team that is really hurt by playing in an NL Park (lose either Abreu or LaRoche from the lineup) and has just been dreadful offensively overall this season. Quintana has a phenomenal tag on DraftKings (pairing him with Heston in tournaments lets you do whatever you want with hitting). Lackey doesn’t have a friendly tag anywhere but someone I still like a lot as an alternative to one of the top two options in tournaments. Outside of them, I’d use the rankings to help you determine other options for tournaments but you really shouldn’t be dipping into tier three for cash game plays. Edinson Volquez (KC) is tournament playable on DK (two SP site, Astros whiff a lot, good price) and perhaps a cheap contrarian option is Robbie Ray (ARI), who is extremely high risk but flashed great K stuff in the Minors that has yet to translate to the MLB level.
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 (email@example.com) if you have suggestions.
Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:
1) Baltimore Orioles
2) Los Angeles Dodgers
3) Milwaukee Brewers
The top two stacks were covered pretty extensively throughout the position by position analysis. The Brewers were mostly covered in the additional notes section, but they carry two underpriced players (Lucroy, Gomez), two strong options despite being fairly priced (Lind, Braun) and viable guys at the very scarce middle infield spots if less concerned about lineup order (Segura, Gennett). This puts them in a nice place value wise against Aaron Harang (4.48 xFIP)
1) Arizona Diamondbacks (There’s probably more cash game validity here as well than I indicated throughout the content as it’s a high total game, strong hitter’s park and one of the few games on the night where the umpire is more favorable for hitters than pitchers. Brett Anderson is a solid pitcher but doesn’t miss a lot of bats and the Diamondbacks are set up extremely well against LHP)
2) Kansas City Royals (The Royals get a big uptick in park factor and will face Vincent Velasquez who has shown an extremely high BB and LD+FB rate through four starts. He also won’t last long, giving the Royals some at bats against worse relievers)
3) Houston Astros (Almost always a contrarian stack due to HR/SB upside throughout the lineup and that’s especially the case today against a volatile pitcher in Edinson Volquez)
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.
NYY at LAA 7:05: Dry. Temps near 80 falling into the mid 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind west-southwest 7-14 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
TEX at BLT 7:05: A 10% chance of a random shower or thunderstorm causing a delay. Not worried. Temps near 80 falling into the mid 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind west at 3-6 mph becoming nearly calm. The wind first blows out to right. The wind is a 6 becoming a 5.
MIL at PHL 7:05: Like BLT, just an outside chance of a shower or maybe a thunderstorm. Not a big deal. Temps near 80 falling into the mid 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind west 7-14 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
PIT at DET 7:08: Dry. Temps in the upper 60s falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 5. Wind northwest 5-10 mph becoming nearly calm. The wind first blows out to center. The wind is a 6 becoming a 5.
WSH at ATL 7:10: This looks like the trouble game. A steady shield of rain and thunder is expected to move in near game time. This band of rain certainly has the chance to not be handled well by the guidance I use so right now I would put the chance of a cancellation at 20% and the chance of a delay at some point at 60%. Temps in the upper 70s falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind west 5-10 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
CHC at NYM 7:10: Much like BLT and PHL, just a random shower or maybe a rumble of thunder around. I am not too concerned about a cancellation but the shower coverage looks to be more widespread than PHL or BLT, so let’s put the chances of a delay at 20-30%. Temps in the upper 70s falling into the low to mid 70s. Air density is a 7 or perhaps an 8 at the beginning of the game. Wind west-southwest 4-8 mph becoming nearly calm. The wind first blows out to right. The wind is a 6 becoming a 5.
SF at MIA 7:10: The retractable roof will likely be closed.
CLE at TB 7:10: Dome.
KC at HOU 8:10: Retractable roof. A 20-30% chance of thunderstorms around so the roof will likely be closed.
CHW at STL 8:15: Some disagreement here in the guidance I use so let’s go a 10-20% chance of a cancellation with a 30-40% chance of a delay due to thunderstorms. Will try and nail down the details of this game as we get closer. Temps in the upper 70s falling into the low 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind south 5-10 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6.
LAD at AZ 9:40: Retractable roof. A 10-20% chance of a thunderstorm. Roof will likely be open. Temps in the low 100s falling into the mid 90s. Air density is a 9. Wind west 8-16 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.