Daily Fantasy Rundown – October 1 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
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: Several locations will see some occasional light rain and/or drizzle, but as far as PPD risk goes we’re currently only concerned with the game in ATL. Games in NYY, PHL, CLE and BLT have environments that strongly favor the pitcher.
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.
Slate Note: The NYM-PHI and TOR-BAL games were moved to noon today due to weather. They are not included in the main night slate.
Catcher notes: On a short slate, the catcher position is extremely thin. Our main target is Welington Castillo (ARI) who has power, is in a strong hitter’s park, and should hit fifth or sixth for a Diamondbacks team with the highest implied total on the slate (5). The issue here is how horrible Castillo was in the month of September (16.0 hard hit rate, at least 35.7 the previous four months). As a result, we’d also consider Salvador Perez (KC) (platoon edge against John Danks (CHW), great park; issue here is lineup spot but consider him a better value than Castillo if top five or six in the order) and Yan Gomes (CLE) (down season but decent pop and a top five lineup spot). Additional options for tournaments are Chris Iannetta (LAA) and John Ryan Murphy (NYY) (cash game punt on sites with wide salary spreads or if he gets a decent lineup spot).
Top Play: Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) (same as the past couple of days, Goldschmidt is the top first baseman as a result of a favorable home matchup against an awful Rockies pitching staff; consider that of hitters in action tonight (assuming the WAS game gets rained out), Goldschmidt has the highest Fantasy Points Per Game (FPPG) average and is hitting clean up for the highest expected scoring team at home)
Albert Pujols (LAA) – Pujols turned in a disappointing performance last night despite an elite matchup where his team scored seven runs. Despite that, we’re going back to the well here. Pujols faces another subpar LHP in Derek Holland (TEX), who has a 4.99 ERA and 5.32 FIP. At first glance those numbers may seem inflated on the basis of an unlucky 17.9 HR/FB rate, but when you factor in a 20.9 hard minus soft hit rate and a strong hitter’s park, the HR/FB is probably only slightly higher than it should be. Pujols gets a massive park shift in this one, and the Angels have an implied run total approaching 4.5. Aside from yesterday, recent performances have soothed our concerns over the foot injury he’s been playing with, yet his price tag on most sites is still deflated. If you want to attack this situation but are unwilling or unable to pay up for Pujols, teammate CJ Cron is a nice source of salary cap relief with power upside.
Carlos Santana (CLE) – Santana hits for more average from the right side of the plate but more power from the left side (main reason why is more fly balls from the left side). He’ll be starting from the left side of the plate tonight where he holds a career .198 ISO. Opposing pitcher Tyler Duffey (RHP) has had success in his first nine MLB starts (3.14 ERA), but we’re expecting regression both in terms of skill (K rate seems high given Minor League numbers and projection systems) and luck (6.5 HR/FB rate is unsustainable). We definitely prefer Pujols at this price point, but Santana is the best pivot.
Additional first base notes: Mike Napoli (TEX) is in a great matchup and at a very friendly price point. He makes for an excellent tournament option, but we’re hesitant to use him in cash games since the team has been quick to pinch hit him/replace him defensively recently. Viable tournament options include David Ortiz (BOS) and Jose Abreu (CHW).
With limited options at second base, there are three clear-cut cash viable players: Dustin Pedroia (BOS), Jason Kipnis (CLE) and Brian Dozier (MIN). We have them ranked in that order but suggest letting price be your deciding factor.
Pedroia has had a nice bounce back season, seeing his ISO jump from .098 to .152, although it’s admittedly hard to trust the power bump given that the power peripherals are all actually wose (increased GB rate, reduced hard minus soft hit rate). On another night, the sharp move may be to fade Pedroia, but options are so limited that splits and environment win out over Pedroia’s overall skill level. Even during last year’s awful season Pedroia was usable against LHP (.322 wOBA, .151 ISO), and his career marks in that split are impressive (.371, .154). Opposing pitcher CC Sabathia (NYY) has allowed a .363 wOBA and 1.57 HR/9 to RHBs since 2013, both of which are the worst split against RHBs of any of tonight’s starting pitchers. The line is yet to be released, but we’re expecting a fairly high total in Yankee Stadium.
Kipnis, like Pedroia, is having a nice bounce back season and his is a bit more legitimate (increased LD and hard hit rates, reduction in K rate). He’ll have the platoon edge on Tyler Duffey, who we noted should experience some regression. It also needs to be pointed out that the Twins atrocious bullpen (third worst xFIP in MLB) creates extra upside for the Cleveland offense.
Dozier has nice power upside for a second baseman, but he lacks the platoon edge and has had a terrible second half. We prefer Pedroia and Kipnis, but if you get a big discount on Dozier or want to diversify in tournaments, he’s a reasonable choice.
Additional second base notes: There’s a big drop off in raw expected Fantasy output following those three batters. Chris Owings/Aaron Hill (ARI) make for nice tournament options, and both would be viable in cash games if given a top five lineup spot.
Xander Bogaerts (BOS) – Bogaerts has the most offensive upside of any shortstop on the slate and it’s not even close. He’s in a great offensive park (dreary weather aside) and we’ve already covered CC Sabathia‘s issues with RHBs the last several seasons. Bogaerts’ power has been disappointing (.101 ISO), but he’s made up for it in other aspects of his game, from greatly reducing his K rate (down to 15.3 from 23.2 a year ago) and running a bit more (10 of his 13 career steals have come this season). It makes sense to try and squeeze Bogaerts in. It’s difficult to find another shortstop that will have a cash viable lineup spot let alone skills and a plus matchup to go with it.
Additional shortstop notes: The punt options at the shortstop position are familiar faces: Trea Turner (WAS) (weather permitting, minimum price and some semblance of upside) and Erick Aybar (LAA) (Angels continue to have favorable matchups and price/lineup spot alone make him cash viable on this slate). Alternative options for tournaments, in order of preference, are Alcides Escobar (KC), Elvis Andrus (TEX) and Jose Reyes (COL).
Third base notes: The best value play options at third base are Adrian Beltre (TEX) and Alex Rodriguez (NYY). Both have mid-tier price points despite plus skills as hitters and holding the platoon edge in favorable home environments. If price is the same we prefer Beltre over Rodriguez as we’re more confident in picking on his opposing pitcher (Derek Holland) than we are Rodriguez’s (Rich Hill). At a similar price point, Miguel Sano (MIN) makes for a viable alternative option in tournament formats. If looking to go cheap in cash games, the best option is Chase Headley (NYY) if he remains hitting second against LHP. For tournaments, Jake Lamb (ARI) is a cheap source of upside and will likely be low owned.
Mike Trout (LAA) – If there’s one hitter to force yourself to pay up for tonight, it should be Mike Trout (emphasize squeezing him in before someone like Paul Goldschmidt at first base). Trout has an awesome matchup in Texas against Derek Holland and a subpar Rangers bullpen. He’s expensive, but he’s also arguably the best hitter in all of baseball, eclipsing the 40-HR mark for the first time in his career. With a lack of high end options on today’s slate, it makes a lot of sense to squeeze in such a high upside hitter in such a strong matchup and make it work (punt at SS, third OF spot if you have to).
David Peralta (ARI) – Peralta is a core value across the industry – the best combination of roster construction fit, individual matchup and getting access to a targeted team. He’ll square off against David Hale (COL), who owns a 6.01 ERA in 73.1 IP this season. He’s been a bit unlucky (3.99 xFIP), but ZiPS puts him as a 5.41 ERA pitcher. Since 2013, Hale has allowed a .350 wOBA to LHBs. Peralta (career .385 wOBA, .215 ISO against RHP) will likely hit fifth for the highest projected scoring offense of the night. Ender Inciarte is also viable in cash games, but note he was scratched from last night’s lineup. If Inciarte is out again, last night’s fill in Salvatore Brito) makes for an awesome source of salary cap relief if given a top five lineup spot (led off last night). Brito isn’t purely a punt, showing some power/speed upside in the Minors.
Mookie Betts (BOS) – Betts is an excellent DFS option because he’s an “event” player (two homers shy of a 20-20 season) and he racks up plenty of plate appearances hitting leadoff. What’s most impressive about Betts is his immediate ability to hit for power (.192 ISO) yet not strike out often at all (12.4 K percentage). Betts is coming off his best month of the season and steps into a very favorable matchup in Yankee Stadium against CC Sabathia. The price tag is rising on Betts, but he’s worth it given the upside he’s displayed.
Kansas City Outfield – Opposing pitcher John Danks has burned us at times over the season’s second half (3.67 ERA compared to 5.30 in the first half), and we’ve backed off picking on him so regularly as a result. Still, he’s far from someone to avoid. As strong as the second half improvement looks via ERA, the xFIP is nearly identical to the first half (4.65 to 4.63). Plus, his splits (.350 wOBA, 1.40 HR allowed to RHBs since 2013) indicate plenty of upside for RHBs in hitter friendly US Cellular Field. Lorenzo Cain may not be in the lineup (dealing with an injury), but he has the most upside of the group if he is (power has taken a big step forward). Ben Zobrist and Alex Gordon (doesn’t hold platoon edge but lineup spot and price make up for it) are also cash viable. If Cain is out, look to Alex Rios or Jonny Gomes in tournament formats.
Additional outfield notes: With the Rangers having another favorable home matchup against a LHP, Delino DeShields is once again a strong cash game alternative to the written up recommendations. Additional cash game options are Kole Calhoun (LAA) and Chris Young (NYY). In tournament formats, don’t be afraid to pay the hefty price tag for AJ Pollock (ARI) or accept a L/L matchup for Carlos Gonzalez (COL).
Starting pitcher rankings (salary not taken into account)
1) Stephen Strasburg (WAS) (severe weather risk)
2) Jose Fernandez (MIA)
3) Jake Odorizzi (TB)
4) Patrick Corbin (ARI)
5) Rich Hill (BOS)
6) Trevor Bauer (CLE)
7) Tyler Duffey (MIN)
Top Play: Stephen Strasburg (WAS) (if weather clears, he should anchor cash game teams but current forecast is pretty bleak)
Next in line:
Jose Fernandez (MIA) – We’re more prone to use Fernandez today in cash games than we were the last time he pitched for a couple of reasons. First of all, the price tag has dropped a bit after a disappointing last outing. For example, his salary on DraftKings last time out was $12,700; today it is $11,200. That’s a meaningful drop. Secondly, opportunity cost is much lower. With Strasburg likely unusable due to weather, there are not other elite starting pitcher alternatives to Fernandez, which mitigates our big concern last time out (paying up for a pitcher who likely maxes out at six innings pitched). One thing that wasn’t in question last time out, and still isn’t, is Fernandez’s skill level. While he may not pitch deep, there’s a good chance he’s dominant in the five to six innings he does pitch. Fernandez has struck out 29.5 percent of batters on the heels of a 13.0 SwStr rate. That along with above average control has led to a 2.24 FIP and 2.71 xFIP. Fernandez will face a pretty meek Rays team in pitcher friendly Tropicana Field.
Jake Odorizzi (TB) – Odorizzi is the safest mid-tier value on the slate by far. He has a favorable home matchup against a Marlins team that ranks 29th in wRC+ against RHP. Odorizzi is a bit fly ball oriented (something his home park helps with) and displays plus skills in both K and BB rates. On single starting pitcher sites, we suggest paying up for Fernandez on a short slate, but if you really want to load up on bats from the prime offensive environments, we’d understand shifting down to Odorizzi. On multi-SP sites, it makes sense to use both pitchers. Don’t overthink this one and force yourself to choose between Fernandez and Odorizzi simply because they are facing each other.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Patrick Corbin (ARI) has put together some very solid peripherals (17.2 K-BB%, 47.2 GB rate) and will face a Rockies team ranked dead last in MLB in wRC+ against LHP with a very high 22.4 K percentage. The Rockies are also dead last in wRC+ on the road with a very high 24.3 K percentage. He’s usable in all formats and comes with a higher win probability than Odorizzi. The most difficult pitcher to get a read on tonight is Rich Hill (BOS). We’d really like to ride out his insane hot streak, but he’s unfortunately in a pretty tough spot (facing a good Yankees team in Yankee Stadium). Hill has made three dominant starts, striking out 10 batters in each start, leading to three straight wins (the latest a complete game shutout) and a 2.15 xFIP. Given Hill’s history and age, it’s unlikely he’s all of a sudden an elite or even very good pitcher. As a result, we’re hesitant to chase the hot streak in a poor matchup in cash games but have no qualms about doing it in tournament formats. On sites where he’s still priced near the bare minimum (DraftKings), it’s more plausible to take on the risk in cash games use Hill as a second starting pitcher that allows you to load up on bats. With Trevor Bauer (CLE) recently going to the bullpen prior to making this last start, we’re a bit concerned over how long of a leash he will have today.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have suggestions.
Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:
1) Los Angeles Angels
2) Arizona Diamondbacks
3) Boston Red Sox
4) Texas Rangers
1) Kansas City Royals
2) Cleveland Indians
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.
BOS at NYY 7:00: Light rain at times. Temps in the mid to upper 50s. Air density is a 4 or a 5. Wind northeast 8-16 mph which blows in from left-center. The wind is a 3.
MIN at CLE 7:10: Dry. Temps in the mid 50s falling into the low 50s. Air density is a 4. Wind northeast 12-25 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 1.
WSH at ATL 7:10: Occasional rain and thunderstorms. It’s possible this develops into an all evening steady rain, which would introduce both ppd and delay risk. Temps in the upper 60s falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 6 or a 7. Wind northeast 8-16 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 3.
MIA at TB 7:10: Dome.
LAA at TEX 8:05: Dry. Temps in the low 80s falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind north-northeast 7-14 mph which blows out to right-center. The wind is a 6.
KC at CHW 8:10: Dry. Temps in the mid 50s falling to near 50. Air density is a 4. Wind northeast 12-25 mph which blows from left to right or out at times to right. The wind is a 5 or a 6.
COL at AZ 9:40: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the mid 100s falling into the mid 90s. Air density is a 9. Wind west-southwest 8-16 mph which blows from left to right or out to right at times. The wind is a 5 or a 6.