There’s Nola Business Like Show Business: Evaluations Part XXII
Welcome to my MLB article! Here I will take a data-driven approach to Baseball as it pertains to both Pitchers and Hitters alike.
I’ll be using an evaluating system that I developed over the last couple months with the goal of producing the most actionable advice possible with the help of macro and micro analytics! There’s a whole bunch of math going on, but it is all for a good cause, I promise.
As you read through this beautiful piece of work, keep in mind that MLB is a sport that thrives on variance. My article is based mostly around GPP thoughts and pivots looking to avoid the Chalk and succeed when others fail. Here are my MLB DFS Picks for tonight’s slate. Enjoy!
First off, I’ll need to give a little information about my evaluator, the data points on which it reads, and how the eventual grades are derived! The entire thing is based in Microsoft Excel, using data found on FanGraphs (FanGraphs.com), so literally, anyone could build it (if you have more free time than you know what to do with it, that is). It uses a complex set of formulas and equations to build into master sheets, which are populated with daily information and sent to another page for Daily use.
Each stack will have its own grade depending on how the variables shake out in the specific matchup. Speaking of Variables, for Pitchers, we are dealing with 14 separate weighted variables, while Hitters run 15 separate weighted variables. The overlapping variables are as follows:
- Stadium (Where the game is played)
- Avg (The pitcher’s allowed hitting average)
- WHIP (Walks, Hits per Inning Pitched)
- GB% (The pitcher’s groundball percentage)
- HH% (The pitchers allowed Hard Hit percentage)
- HR/9 (How many HR’s the pitcher allows per 9 innings)
- K/9 (How many strikeouts the pitcher gets per 9 innings)
- wRC+ vs L (Offensive value against Lefties)
- wRC+ vs R (Offensive value against Righties)
- Team LD% (The average of a stack’s Line Drive percentage)
- Team HH% (The average of a stack’s Hard Hit percentage)
- SO% vs L (The average of a stack’s Strikeout percentage to Lefties)
- SO% vs R (The average of a stack’s Strikeout percentage to Righties)
- Total (The implied runs total for a stack)
For Hitters, we have an extra variable in Home/Away, since Away teams are guaranteed a chance at bat in the 9th inning and Home teams are not. These Variables have been chosen because I believe they are actionable and show true value when deciding on where to attack in DFS. Each one is weighted with values of 3, 5, 10, and 15 points (depending on importance and percentile) which adds up to 100. The grade that each Pitcher, Hitter, or Hitting Stack gets is then displayed using a formula that adds all those variables up!
Now that we have all the verbiage out of the way, let’s get down to business!
Monday slates are generally filled with some of the secondary starters and less fantasy upside guys, which makes it difficult to feel good about cash lineups. Today is no exception, with only one truly “safe” option in Yu Darvish playing against the Padres, with a bunch of guys that are good in bad matchups to follow. With a 9 game main slate, it makes sense to build with some middle of the road guys that have good skillsets and hope that the bad pitchers get blown up like they should.
Top plays at the position:
Pick of the Slate: Zack Godley
I believe that Yu Darvish will be very chalky, and I’m fine with him as a play, but his downside has been just as proven as his upside in recent weeks and the Padres have actually been hitting the ball well. I want to pivot to my top-rated pitcher, Zack Godley, in a matchup at home against the Giants. The ballpark leaves a lot to be desired, but Godley has been lights out in the second half of the season and sports a very good 3.65 ERA (4.1 SIERA) as well as a 9.6 K/9 and sparkling 1.07 WHIP. The Giants are a team with very little power (31% to RHP in their split) as well as a growing strikeout rate (20% up from 17% earlier in the year and bring the weakest wRC+ on the slate to this game. I think Godley makes for a nicely priced upside option.
Aaron Nola faces the Washington Nationals at home in Philly, and although I don’t love the matchup with a surging Nationals squad, I can’t ignore his skillset as being one of the best on the slate. That’s important when we have other options like Drew Pomeranz and Collin McHugh who have a lot of strikeout potential but not necessarily the stuff to secure a good floor. The Nationals have been better since Trea Turner returned, but this is still a team with a lower wRC+ and less power to RHP (110 wRC+/32% hard-hit rate), and Nola has been fantastic at keeping the ball on the ground (50% groundball rate). We should also note that Nola is much more susceptible to LHH, which the Nationals are short on. This is a safe matchup, and I like Nola in Cash.
Luke Weaver is, by most metrics, the best pitcher on this slate (sample size be damned). He has the lowest SIERA (2.8), the highest K/9 (10.73) and allows the least hard contact to opposing hitters (24%). All that is fine and dandy, but he has to face a Cubs team that is getting it together late in the season before the playoffs. I think that Weaver is a fine option, and the Cubs are notably worse on the road, but I worry about his upside in a matchup with a very good group of hitters. Like Aaron Nola, his skill gives him a great floor, but I don’t like the matchup and prefer Nola in most formats, leaving Weaver to GPPs.
Other pitchers in consideration for one reason or another:
- Yu Darvish (Yu know you want to, Cash game staple, high upside)
- Felix Hernandez (Athletics boom or bust, high strikeout matchup, super cheap)
- Drew Pomeranz (decent K/9, price is reasonable)
Top 25 Hitter Evaluations
This slate is loaded with hitting options, including 4 teams that have totals over 5 runs and Coors all in effect. We absolutely have some splits to take advantage of as well, with the Dodgers RHH against Travis Wood who is much worse to that side of the plate. With Coors on the slate, we have pricing issues on guys like Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Bour, but if you build with 2 mid priced pitchers you do end up with some room to fit the big spots.
Top plays for Hitters on this slate:
Pick of the Slate: Justin Turner
Justin Turner is my top play on the slate by a fair margin, and as the Dodgers warm up all the hitters become that much more valuable. Justin Turner has pretty significant splits, with a 187 wRC+ to LHP (130 to RHP) over the last year of play, and gets to face a very weak lefty in Travis Wood and the Padres. Travis Wood only has a 37% groundball rate to RHP, and with Turner’s 41% hard-hit rate in this split we can expect the ball up and away when he makes contact. Turner is a great one off, or part of a stack.
Josh Reddick has a 132 wRC+ and a 34% hard-hit rate to RHP (20% out of split) and travels to a great hitter’s environment in Texas to face off with Andrew Cashner. His .208 ISO in split is also a nice mark for the price ($4300), and the park upgrade is a huge boon over the other players in his price range. He is hitting great right now with Positive Deltas in hard-hit rate and Andrew Cashner is very bad and due for a lot of normalization (SIERA over 2 runs higher than his ERA). Reddick is a cash game lock with plenty of HR upside in this spot.
Charlie Blackmon is ultra expensive, but he is putting together a legitimate MVP worthy campaign and has to be in the zone as the Rockies fight to secure a wildcard spot. His matchup with Odrisamer Despaigne is fantastic, as OD has a tiny 33% groundball rate and a 3.9 K/9 to LHH. Those numbers matched with one of the best hitters in the league in the most offensive park in the league make for a great upside recipe. Due to bullpen, I think Blackmon is a top 3 play on the slate, regardless of price.
Other hitters in consideration:
- Chris Taylor (Dodgers stacks on stacks on stacks, been on fire at leadoff this year)
- Mookie Betts (on a heater right now, friendly park for RHH, opposing pitcher awful)
- Mike Trout (James Shields)
Top Stacking Evaluations
We have 5 options in the top of my ratings that are all worthy of consideration in GPPs, and 3 that are in consideration for a cash game stack. This is a very offensively minded slate, with a lot of upside and a lot of routes to secure it with. Whenever we have Coors field, both teams playing there need to be in your pool, but with the addition of James Shields and a bad Padres starter, it really makes things interesting.
Let’s break a couple of these spots down:
Stack of the Slate: Dodgers against Travis Wood
With Coors field and James Shields on the slate, I have a feeling the Dodgers are going to be most people’s 4th or 5th option today, and might go glossed over in GPPs. The Dodgers are a team that is mostly built to destroy LHP (145 wRC+ as a team) but they definitely have some lefty mashers and the draw a super favorable spot against Travis Wood. This matchup offers a 2.29 K/9 (mostly bullpen) and a 1.83 HR/9 (Wood with a 37% groundball rate), with ERA and FIP indicators pointing to fireworks. This stack has the highest team stacking grade and the second highest SP/BP matchup (behind Coors), and some of the highest hard-hit rates in split (average of 40%). I am hoping they will be lower owned with some cheap RHH to utilize.
Rockies against Odrisamer Despaigne:
The Rockies come home after getting a couple wins against the Padres to keep their playoff hopes alive, and now get to carry the momentum into one of the softest matchups on the board. Odrisamer Despaigne has no strikeout stuff (K/9 below 5) and has given up very few bombs with a 35% groundball rate, which means he is either a wizard or on the right side of variance at the moment. Coors is a pretty good cure for both being a wizard as well as variance, and the Rockies are surging to keep the postseason alive. This matchup also features the lowest K/BB rate (1.46) and second worst LOB% (68%), so the combination of OD and that Miami bullpen make a Coors fade very hard to stomach.
Angels against James Shields:
Much like the Rockies, the Angles are fighting to keep postseason hopes alive and giving it everything they have. Also like the Rockies, they get to play against a great offensive environment in pitcher James Shields, who is more or less a walking Coors. This matchup has the highest HR/9 on the slate at 1.905 (both Shields and the CWS bullpen give up a lot of longballs) as well as a surprisingly low BABIP (.275) giving some more room to be even worse of a pitching staff. This stack would rate considerably higher if the Angels individual grades were better (team avg 56.63) but the SP/BP matchup is incredible and will be very popular in GPPs.
Other stacking spots that make sense:
- The Astros (Andrew Cashner is begging for regression, great park upgrade)
- Marlins (Giancarlo Smash, Ozuna Smash, Bournado SMASH)
- Red Sox (Brett Anderson gave up 8 runs in 1 inning to the Royals, Red sox hot right now)
With only a couple more weeks of MLB left, I wanna thank everyone for reading my articles! Y’all are the reason I write and as long as I can help, I’ll have the drive to do so. This community is fantastic and I can’t wait to see what the future holds!
May Variance be with you, and I’ll see you at the cash line.
As always, you can follow me at @PayDirt_DFS on twitter! Thanks for reading!