Daily Fantasy Rundown – October 2 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Friday’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 in BLT and PHI will see rain, a ppd possible and delays likely. They may cancel these games early. Rain in NYM as well, but not as heavy nor as steady. ATL has a delay risk with some showers and thunderstorms around. Many locations have chilly conditions with the wind blowing in (PIT, CLE, CHW, MIL, MIN)
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.
Buster Posey (SF) – Posey is an above average hitter against RHP (.359 wOBA, .151 ISO since 2012) and he’s facing a below average RHP in Kyle Kendrick who has yielded a .348 wOBA and 1.33 HR/9 to RHBs since 2013. The catcher position isn’t particularly deep and Posey’s price point is reasonable. We think taking value at the position is a better approach for lineup construction as we’re placing an emphasis on higher end pitching and we’d rather spend on bats in better offensive environments. On sites Kyle Schwarber (CHC) has catcher eligibility, he’s also a top play alongside Posey. Both are secondary targets when constructing cash game lineups.
Yan Gomes (CLE) – Gomes owns a .337 wOBA and impressive .176 ISO against LHP since 2012. He’ll face Henry Owens who has been very fly ball prone against RHBs (48.6 percent) in his brief major league career. Owens has held down righties largely (.283 wOBA) in his brief major league career but the high fly ball rate makes him vulnerable to power. Gomes typically hits fifth but sometimes is pushed down to sixth against LHP. The key here is price point. He’s hovering just above the minimum on most sites and is one of the more skilled options in that price range.
Catcher notes: Miguel Montero (CHC) is a slightly lesser version of Gomes. He’s not quite the hitter Gomes is with the platoon advantage (.336 wOBA, 141 ISO since 2012) but he’s facing a similarly inexperienced pitcher in a favorable hitting environment. Montero and Gomes both rank inside our Top 50 hitters and after that it’s a significant drop off in talent at catcher. John Ryan Murphy (NYY) looked like a really strong punt play on DraftKings, but severe weather concerns make it unlikely we can use him tonight.
Lots of top plays at first base have favorable matchups on Friday. Our favorites for cash games are Anthony Rizzo (CHC) and Jose Abreu (CHW). They both face weak opposing starters in favorable hitting environments (though cooler weather makes the Cell play bigger). Rizzo has the platoon advantage while Abreu has the bullpen advantage. I think price point can help dictate decisions there. David Ortiz (BOS) and Paul Goldschmidt (ARZ) rank similarly in our model but both are better tournament plays. Ortiz’s production is built off power against RHP and with winds blowing in heavily from RF, his value is diminished some. Goldschmidt is dominant against LHP but facing one of the toughest lefties in all of baseball. All four rank inside our Top 10 overall hitters.
Albert Pujols (LAA) – Pujols gets another lefty in the strongest hitting environment on the slate. Arlington’s advantage over other hitting environments gets stronger as we get into the fall. Temperatures in the northern part of the country are starting to fall into the 40s and 50s while the forecast for Texas is in the 70s. Pujols has been solid against lefties in recent seasons (.329 wOBA) but the real driver in his value is the power (.226 ISO against LHP since 2012). Martin Perez does a good job limiting power (51.8 GB Rate) but he’s yielded a .330 wOBA to RHBs as a big leaguer. Pujols ranks just outside our Top 10 hitters as is our most consistently affordable first base target around the industry. Teammate C.J. Cron is a lesser skilled but viable alternative as well (.311 wOBA, .161 ISO against LHP).
Additional first base notes: Prince Fielder‘s (TEX) price tag varies around the industry and it’s unclear if the Rangers will choose to rest starters after clinching their playoff berth last night. His matchup with Jered Weaver (.335 wOBA, 30 percent hard hit rate, 1.23 HR/9 allowed to lefties this season) is a strong one, especially in a favorable scoring environment, and the Rangers have the second highest implied run total this evening (4.7 runs). On sites he’s priced similarly to Pujols, he’s a fine alternative. Pedro Alvarez (PIT) rates really well in our model given Keyvius Sampson‘s struggles against lefties (.427 wOBA, 34.7 percent hard hit rate), but Alvarez rarely garners an elite lineup spot and at first base the opportunity cost is large. He’s a cash game option if he hits fifth but more likely a tournament play.
Neil Walker (PIT) – Walker has largely hit fifth against RHP since Jung Ho Kang‘s injury. We’ve touched on Keyvius Sampson‘s struggles above and Walker owns a .353 wOBA and .196 ISO against RHP since 2012. He’s one of the most skilled hitters at the second base position against RHP though those skills often don’t translate as well to Fantasy points because he doesn’t run, plays in a tough home park, and typically garners a weaker lineup spot. All of these are the case again on Friday but it’s also the primary reason Walker’s price tag stays so low. The Pirates have a healthy 4.4 implied run total (fourth highest on the slate) and Walker’s affordable price point makes him our primary target around the industry.
Additional second base notes: Jose Altuve (HOU) is cheap enough on FanDuel to earn consideration I cash games. He’s likely leading off for the offense with the highest implied run total on the slate (4.9 runs). I’m a little skeptical of that total given how well Rubby de la Rosa has handled RHBs this season (.263 wOBA, 57.6 GB Rate, and 22.4 K Rate) but Altuve as a road leadoff hitter on a team fighting for their playoff lives, is a fine play where priced appropriately. Tommy La Stella (CHC) is the one potential option that could get me to pivot off of Neil Walker and it’s largely due to cap relief. La Stella is hovering around the minimum and has gotten some shots at hitting fifth of late in a Cubs offense we like quite a bit. Dee Gordon (MIA) and Robinson Cano (SEA) are additional alternatives at second base. Gordon’s consistently priced aggressively so he’s a tournament only option and with weather concerns it’s probably not worth the risk. Cano’s price point varies, but is consistently above Walker, our preferred target which makes him more of a tournament play as well.
Additional shortstop notes: Shortstop is once again easier to cover in a notes format. Carlos Correa (HOU) is clearly the most skilled shortstop hitter in the player pool and he’s in one of the best environments. The price point on Correa is a challenge on most sites, but on FanDuel he remains priced affordably ($3,400) and in play. As noted, we’re a little concerned about the Astros prominent RHBs given de la Rosa’s extreme splits but at a thin position with no clear alternative, I’m more willing to embrace that risk. The three value shortstops all rank closely. Brandon Crawford (SF), Erick Aybar (LAA), and Starlin Castro (CHC) each have favorable matchups, cheap price points, and likely strong lineup spots. Crawford faces Kyle Kendrick who has allowed a .353 wOBA and 1.19 HR/9 to LHBs since 2013. With Crawford getting some cracks at the cleanup spot of late, he’s a fine target. Aybar is the cheapest of the three and likely the option you’ll land on in cash games simply because of price point. He’s been leading off which in front of Calhoun, Trout, and Pujols gives him a high run expectation any time he gets on base. He’s not a particularly adept hitter but as a switch hitter on the road he’ll hold the platoon advantage throughout the game and has a decent chance at five plate appearances. Castro has been hitting the best of the group (.403/.429/.708 in September, .303/.325/.472 in the second half) and has been bumped to fifth in the order of late. If he’s in the spot, he’ll earn strong consideration as well.
Kris Bryant (CHC) – Bryant ranks as the top play in our model and a Top 15 hitter overall. He’s in a great park for power and the projection systems aren’t high on Ariel Pena’s command issues (double digit BB rate consistently in the minors) playing well at the big league level. The challenge with Bryant is price point. He’s priced aggressively on most sites and we have a hard time fitting him in cash game lineups. He’s a very strong tournament target.
Aramis Ramirez (PIT) – Ramirez has experienced skill decline in his final season (.313 wOBA, .172 ISO against RHP) but he’s still hitting cleanup and the power production is still above average. With an affordable price point around the industry and a favorable matchup against Keyvius Sampson, he’s our primary target at the position. The gap between Ramirez and other third base options, isn’t nearly as wide as Neil Walker and second base, so he’s not a necessity; but is our favored value.
Third base notes: Alex Rodriguez (NYY) has a great matchup against LHP Wei-Yin Chen but we expect significant postponement risk with that game. In addition, the Yankees could rest regulars after clinching a playoff berth last night. David Wright (NYM) also comes with some weather risk and he’s facing an above average lefty. He’s a touch overpriced for the matchup but a reasonable alternative to Ramirez if the weather clears given his history of performance against LHP (.413 wOBA, .195 ISO since 2012). Adrian Beltre (TEX) is a secondary top option to Kris Bryant. David Freese (LAA) is a solid tournament option at a reasonable price point. He’s getting a nice park shift and has strong skills against LHP (.363 wOBA, .241 ISO since 2012) but hitting sixth makes it a little tougher to justify in cash games. If something were to happen with Aramis (lineup spot, weather), Freese is a justifiable alternative in cash games due to price tag.
Mike Trout (LAA) – Trout is our top overall hitter, which isn’t unusual. He gets a nice park shift and the platoon advantage against an average or slightly below average LHP. The price point is a challenge but if we’re spending on one big bat today, we’d like it to be Trout. While there is some level of playing time risk with a lot of players at the end of the year, Trout and the Angels are fighting for a playoff spot. All the tangibles are what put Trout as the top ranked hitter in our model, but he also has the benefit of having intangibles in his favor as well on Friday.
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) – McCutchen is the second ranked hitter in our model. He doesn’t have the benefit of a great hitting environment or the platoon advantage but he is facing a weaker pitcher with a weaker bullpen behind him. McCutchen owns a .387 wOBA and .202 ISO against RHP since 2012 and Keyvius Sampson has yielded a .344 wOBA and 34.7 percent hard hit rate to RHBs as a big leaguer. The Pirates have a similar implied run total to Trout’s Angels and McCutchen generally comes at a more affordable price point. If you can’t afford going all the way up to Trout, McCutchen is our next target.
Gregory Polanco (PIT) – We like Polanco for all the same reasons we like all the other Pirates bats in cash games today. Keyvius Sampson is likely the weakest pitcher in action and the Pirates offense is pretty skilled. Polanco’s price point varies (cheap on DraftKings, expensive on FanDuel) so make sure to pay close attention to his cost relative to other options.
Colby Rasmus (HOU) – While we’re a bit nervous about paying full price on the Astros RHBs, we have no qualms about investing in LH power bats against de la Rosa. Rubby has allowed lefties to post a .400 wOBA and 2.08 HR/9 this season. Rasmus should get bumped in the order (likely to fourth) without the benefit of a DH and his price tag around the industry is very attractive. He’s our preferred method of getting exposure to the Astros implied run total that leads the way.
Additional outfield notes: If Will Venable (TEX) lands a strong lineup spot, we’re very interested in his near minimum price points around the industry. Venable has been coming into games early as a pinch hit/defensive replacement for Mike Napoli but against a RHP and with the Rangers clinching last night, we think there is a chance he draws the start. The rest of the value plays are a bit site specific so it’s easier to reference which players rank well in our model and then let price points sort it out. Shin Soo Choo (TEX), Dexter Fowler (CHC), and Alex Gordon (KC) are all Top 30 hitters in our model and viable cash game targets with favorable lineup spots and the platoon advantage against weaker pitchers. Starling Marte (PIT) and George Springer (HOU) are a bit more expensive options that also rank inside our Top 30 hitters. Marte is priced too closely to McCutchen for our liking in cash games and while the Astros profile well in Arizona we’re a bit shy of the RHBs at higher price points. Melky Cabrera (CHW) is the other Top 35 ranked hitter in our model with OF eligibility, but his price point falls a bit more in limbo.
Starting pitcher rankings (salary not taken into account)
1) Jake Arrieta (CHC)
2) Francisco Liriano (PIT)
3) Noah Syndergaard (NYM) – weather risk
4) Chris Sale (CHW)
5) Dallas Keuchel (HOU)
6) Gio Gonzalez (WAS) – weather risk
7) Jaime Garcia (STL) – weather risk
8) Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA)
9) Alex Wood (LAD)
Jake Arrieta (CHC) – Late in the season one of the challenges with selecting starters is the unknown around how their innings will be handled. Arrieta is preparing for the postseason and there is some concern that Arrieta will be limited in his last start against the Brewers. While we don’t know for sure, I’m less concerned for a few reasons: 1) Chris Bosio, the Cubs pitching coach, indicated in previous interviews that the Cubs intent was to keep their aces on normal pitching schedules heading into the postseason 2) Jon Lester just threw eight innings on 101 pitches and 3) The Cubs still have an outside chance of earning home field advantage in the wild card. Arrieta’s matchup is unquestionably strong. He dominated this same watered down Brewers lineup two starts ago (9 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 11 K). He’s allowed zero or one earned run in over 60 percent of his outings this season, eight in a row, and 10 of his last 11 starts. He’s clearly the top option, doesn’t have any weather concerns, and we don’t foresee any pitch count concerns given the way the Cubs have approached the final week of the season.
Next in line:
Francisco Liriano (PIT) – Remarkably our early forecasts for Pittsburgh suggest playable conditions this evening and weather that may even favor Liriano (wind blowing in from left and temperatures in the 40s and 50s). The Pirates dreams of a division title are gone but they still need one or two wins to secure home field advantage in the wild card game against the Cubs. The Reds rank 20th in wRC+ against LHP with a league average K Rate (20.8 percent). Liriano has dominated them in two starts this season (13 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 17 K) and the Reds have the lowest implied run total of any team in action today (2.7 runs). Liriano’s price tag is very affordable around the industry and the salary relief makes him a better expected value than Arrieta, our top play.
Alex Wood (LAD) – The list of value starters on Friday’s slate is pretty limited. At this point in the season we have a lot of late season “tryouts” from younger starters whose innings are being managed. They don’t work deep into the game and thus a huge portion of the pool is limited. Wood shouldn’t have those concerns as the Dodgers are evaluating the back end of their rotation for the playoff matchup with the Mets. He faces a Padres offense that is better against LHP but still ranks 23rd in wRC+ against lefties with one of the highest K Rates in baseball (23.2 percent). Wood has struggled in September but he’s actually allowing the least hard contact of the season (23.9 percent) this month. One concern for Wood is the velocity fell off a bit last start, but Vegas has a rather normal run expectation for the Padres (3.2 implied runs) and the price tag is very cheap on multiple SP sites. Wood isn’t a player we’re super excited about, he’s simply the best option of a limited group.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Chris Heston (SF) is a heavy favorite (-175) in a game with a total of just seven. He’ll likely pop up for a lot of people as a popular value target but we have some concerns on how his wide splits (.351 wOBA, 15.3 K Rate and 1.23 HR/9 to LHBs compared to .278 wOBA, 22.5 K Rate, 0.29 HR/9 to RHBs) play against a Rockies offense that has most of its best hitters from the left side. If the Rockies line up with Blackmon, Reyes, Gonzalez, Arenado, Dickerson, and Morneau in their top six that would be a really tough matchup for Heston’s severe platoon splits. If the Rockies run out a heavily right handed lineup our tune would change dramatically. Noah Syndergaard (NYM) has a nice price point and a friendly matchup against a Nationals’ offense that looks like they’ve packed it in for the season (scoring four runs against Wisler, Perez, and Weber in Atlanta). The weather concerns plus uncertainty around Syndergaard’s workload (will Mets limit him in anticipation of holding innings for the playoffs?) makes him a tournament only consideration for us. Chris Sale (CHW) gets the benefit of cooler fall conditions making US Cellular a friendlier home environment for pitching but the largely RH Tigers’ offense isn’t a plus matchup. Throw in Sale’s recent struggles and he’s more of a secondary target in our eyes. Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA) isn’t particularly priced well around the industry but he’s one of the few starters that doesn’t come with a level of innings risk. No weather concerns and Iwakuma’s missed time during the season should give the Mariners no reason to try and manage him. He’s a fine secondary target.
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) Pittsburgh Pirates
2) Los Angeles Angels
3) Chicago Cubs
These are the three offenses we feel most confident about in cash games and they come at the most cost effective price points around the industry.
1) Seattle Mariners
2) Houston Astros
3) Texas Rangers
I think the Mariners are the sneaky tournament stack. They have largely unappealing price points around the industry but their best hitters hold the platoon advantage on Aaron Brooks who has struggled mightily with lefties (.388 wOBA, 32 percent hard hit rate, just eight percent soft) in his big league experience.
We’ve mentioned the Astros a bunch. They’re playing for their playoff lives and in a favorable offensive environment plus the loss of the DH may shift some spots in the lineup around and open up some value. The challenge is they’re so right-handed and de la Rosa has been so dominant against RHBs. We like them more in tournaments but we’re admittedly a little concerned that their ownership may skew high due to the implied team total.
The Rangers stack really comes down to their lineup. If the regulars are in their we like them against Jered Weaver who is very fly ball prone and moving to a much more challenging pitching environment for fly balls.
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 BLT 7:05: Rain. This game will likely be cancelled and early in the day.
MIA at PHL 7:05: Rain (though not quite as heavy as it will be in BLT). This game will likely be cancelled and early in the day.
CIN at PIT 7:05: Dry. Temps only near 50 falling into the upper 40s. Air density is a 3. Wind northeast 10-20 mph which blows in from left or from left to right at times. The wind is a 5 or a 6.
BOS at CLE 7:10: Dry. Temps in the low 50s falling into the upper 40s. Air density is a 3. Wind northeast 15-25 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 1.
WSH at NYM 7:10: Rain, though not as steady not as heavy as it will be in BLT. Temps in the upper 40s. Air density is a 3. Wind northeast 12-25 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 1.
TOR at TB 7:10: Dome.
STL at ATL 7:35: A 20% coverage of showers of thunderstorms across the region with most of the rain off to the north and west. Temps near 60 falling into the mid to upper 50s. Air density is a 5. Wind northeast 8-16 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 3.
LAA at TEX 8:00: Dry. Temps in the mid-70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is is a 6. Wind north 7-14 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
DET at CHW 8:10: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 50s falling to near 50. Air density is a 3. Wind east-northeast 12-25 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 1.
CHC at MIL 8:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the low to mid 50s falling to near 50. Air density is a 3. Wind east-northeast 12-25 mph which blows in from left or from left to right at times. The wind is a 4 or a 5.
KC at MIN 8:10: Dry. Temps in the mid-50s falling to near 50. Air density is a 3. Wind east-northeast 9-18 mph lessening to 7-14 mph which blows in from left-center. The wind is a 2 or a 3.
HOU at AZ 9:40: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the mid-90s falling into the upper 80s. Air density is a 9 becoming an 8. Wind west-northwest 10-20 mph falling to 6-12 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
OAK at SEA 10:10: Retractable roof. A 20% coverage of showers. Temps in the mid to upper 50s. Air density is a 5. Wind southwest 7-14 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
SD at LAD 10:10: Dry. Temps in the mid-70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 7. Wind west-southwest 10-20 mph lessening to 7-14 mph which blows out to right. The wind is an 8 becoming a 6.
COL at SF 10:15: Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the low 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind west-northwest 15-25 mph lessening to 10-20 mph which blows out to right-center. The wind is a 9 becoming an 8.