Daily Fantasy Rundown – October 3 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
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.
Weather: Many games being played with damp, chilly and windy conditions, miserable for baseball. We do not see high risks of ppd but the miserable weather may cause some issues. The biggest threat for a ppd is likely in CLE.
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.
Miguel Montero (CHC)/Yan Gomes (CLE) – The catcher position isn’t deep tonight. Montero and Gomes are the only catchers that are ranked inside our top 40 hitters, and they’re both cheap around the industry. Gomes has historically hit for more power when he has the platoon edge (.176 ISO) than Montero (.141 ISO), but both are average hitters (Gomes: .337 wOBA vs. LHP/Montero: .336 wOBA vs. RHP). Montero ranks a bit ahead of Gomes in our model because it believes that Tyler Wagner is a worse pitcher than Craig Breslow. Our model just might be right, too. In two starts at the major league level, Wagner has surrendered 10 earned runs (in 7.2 IP) and he’s not striking anyone out (five percent K rate). Craig Breslow isn’t any good either (.339 wOBA/1.16 HR per 9 allowed to RHBs in the last few seasons), but Wagner has been even more terrible in a smaller sample. If they both hit in the same spot, we’ll side with our model here and say that Montero is our primary target in cash games, but we realize that Gomes is comparable if hitting fifth.
Additional catcher notes: On sites where Kyle Schwarber (CHC) has catcher eligibility, he represents the top play at the position. He’s in the same matchup as teammate Miguel Montero (Tyler Wagner has been awful in two starts at the major league level and doesn’t project to be any better), but he’s a much better hitter than Montero (.365 wOBA/.247 ISO in 266 PAs). He’s affordable enough around the industry to consider for cash and tournament games. The only other catcher we have some interest in is Francisco Cervelli (PIT), and we’re only interested where he’s minimum priced (FanDuel). He’s historically been an above average hitter vs. LHP (.358 wOBA/.159 ISO), and opposing pitcher Brandon Finnegan has struggled to keep the ball inside the park (1.71 HR per 9). With the weather not being very friendly for hitters in Pittsburgh, any power upside that Cervelli has will likely be hampered. Use him in tournaments.
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) – Rizzo is the number one ranked hitter in our model this evening. Rizzo is a great hitter vs. RHP (.375 wOBA/.229 ISO vs. righties since 2012), but his context is what makes him stand out tonight. He’s not going to be affected by bad weather since he’s playing in a dome (Miller Park), and opposing pitcher Tyler Wagner hasn’t been any good so far at this level (10 earned runs in 7.2 IP and a five percent K rate). We realize that it’s a small sample (two starts at the major league level), but our model and ZiPS projections think that Wagner will continue to struggle. Despite being the highest priced first baseman on most sites, it’s too easy to fit Rizzo in cash games. We highly recommend that you invest in Rizzo in those formats as well as tournaments.
Carlos Santana (CLE) – Santana had somewhat of a disappointing 2015 season. His plate discipline continues to be well above average, but his power (.157 ISO) and overall hitting (.325 wOBA) skills have taken a step backwards. He’s not hitting the ball as hard (29.5 percent hard hit rate) and he’s hitting more groundballs (45 percent GB rate this season/42 percent for his career), which has obviously affected his power. It also doesn’t help that Santana hasn’t been as lucky with home runs this season (11.5 percent HR/FB in 2015/16 percent HR/FB last season). Fortunately for him, he gets a bullpen game by the Red Sox, and Craig Breslow (.339 wOBA/1.16 HR per 9 allowed to RHBs) will be starting. Not only is Breslow a below average pitcher, but the Red Sox bullpen is one of the worst in baseball (fifth highest ERA/fourth lowest K per 9). If you can’t quite afford Rizzo, Santana is the best alternative at the position in cash games.
Additional first base notes: David Ortiz (BOS) should be used in tournaments on DraftKings. He’s priced as an average hitter on that site ($4,000), and he’s obviously a better hitter than that, even at 39 years old (.376 wOBA/.275 ISO this season). We’re also not afraid to pick on Corey Kluber right now (has been power prone this month and hasn’t been the same since coming back from the disabled list). Coming into a matchup against Alec Asher, we hoped that Justin Bour (MIA) was priced favorably around the industry. Unfortunately, he’s priced too aggressively everywhere. We’re still willing to use him in tournaments in this matchup (Alec Asher has allowed 2.67 HR per 9 in 27 IP at the major league level).
Jose Altuve (HOU) – Altuve is a much better hitter vs. LHP (.389 wOBA) than RHP (.311 wOBA), but we love his context tonight. Jeremy Hellickson isn’t any good vs. righties (.342 wOBA/1.30 HR per 9 surrendered to RHBs since 2013), and even though catcher Welington Castillo has controlled the run game at an above average rate in the past, he’s struggling mightily this season (-2 rSB). That’s good for Altuve, who’s a main threat to steal multiple bases at any time (50 SB upside over a full season). The Astros continue to fight for a playoff spot (the division/second wild card spot is still up for grabs) and Altuve is their leadoff hitter. We recommend using Altuve in cash games on sites like FanDuel and DraftDay where it’s easy to fit him.
Luis Valbuena (HOU) – It’s not a coincidence that Valbuena, Jose Altuve‘s teammate, is our top value play at the position. It’s completely plausible that this matchup could help Valbuena more than Altuve. Valbuena carries risk because he strikes out at an above normal rate (22 percent K rate) and because he’s not a very good hitter (.319 wOBA this season). However, he generates a healthy amount of loft (45 percent FB rate), which has made him quite powerful (.207 ISO). This is the perfect matchup for Valbuena’s power to shine, as he faces the power prone Jeremy Hellickson (1.28 HR per 9 in 2015) at Chase Field (good hitting venue). We realize that Valbuena doesn’t have second base eligibility on every site, but on sites where he does carry it, he represents a viable alternative to Altuve in cash games. For example, on DraftKings, Altuve is priced appropriately but Valbuena is priced below the average cost of a hitter and he carries second base eligibility. Use him in cash games on that site.
Additional second base notes: Dee Gordon (MIA) is a nice tournament option tonight. Gordon isn’t a very good hitter, but his value is tied to his speed (60 SB upside over a full season). We’ll use that sort of speed upside in tournaments, particularly if Carlos Ruiz draws the start at catcher (below average at controlling the running game). We’re not sure if Tommy La Stella (CHC) will draw the start at second base, as Cubs manager Joe Maddon has used that position to spread playing time around to a few players. If he does start, he could hit fifth, and he’s cheap everywhere. We like this Cubs offense as a whole tonight (facing Tyler Wagner, arguably one if not the worst starting pitcher on this slate, at Miller Park).
Shortstop notes: The shortstop position (a defensive position) is worth covering in a notes format tonight. Our main target at the position is Carlos Correa (HOU), but he’s priced appropriately on most sites. On sites where it’s relatively easy to fit him (FanDuel, DraftDay), we recommend that you use him in cash games. Correa is hitting the ball hard (34 percent hard hit rate), which has led to a .362 wOBA/.227 ISO through 417 PAs at the major league level. He has a matchup that we have referenced enough throughout our analysis (Jeremy Hellickson is power prone). If you cant’ pay up for Correa, there’s a few shortstop options that we have some interest in if they start. Among those are Starlin Castro (CHC), Jimmy Rollins (LAD), Greg Garcia (STL– minimum priced everywhere) and Ketel Marte (SEA– viable on FanDuel). Out of those options, Castro is the one that we like the most. He’s been a much better hitter since losing his starting job (.263 wOBA/.074 ISO in the first half/.337 wOBA/.169 ISO in the second half) and when he starts, he usually hits fifth.
Kris Bryant (CHC) (second ranked hitter in our model; it’s tough to use him in cash games since he’s priced fully, but we’re willing to invest in tournaments since he’s so powerful and he has one of the best matchups on this slate vs. Tyler Wagner)
Chris Johnson (CLE) – Johnson isn’t anywhere near the caliber of hitter that Kris Bryant is, but he’s historically been an above average hitter vs. lefties. Since 2012, Johnson has compiled a .361 wOBA vs. LHP. The southpaw he’s facing today is Craig Breslow, who’s a below average bullpen arm (17 percent K rate/1.51 HR per 9). The Red Sox will likely turn this game into a bullpen game, which favors the Indians hitters (their bullpen is one of the worst in baseball). Johnson is minimum priced everywhere, and the third base position lacks depth. It’s going to be difficult to pay up for Kris Bryant in cash games, so we’re opting for the cheaper Johnson. On DraftDay, it’s easier to fit Bryant in cash games, which makes Johnson’s salary relief a bit unnecessary.
Additional third base notes: Aramis Ramirez and Josh Harrison (PIT) are fine secondary values. They will have the platoon edge against Brandon Finnegan, who has struggled with home runs at the major league level (1.71 HR per 9). We’re not too excited about the weather in Pittsburgh (cold and wind is blowing in), which is a big reason why Ramirez and Harrison don’t rate higher for us tonight. Derek Dietrich (MIA) is a cheap way of attacking opposing pitcher Alec Asher. Dietrich has been an above average hitter vs. RHP (.339 wOBA/.200 ISO), and Asher has been an underwhelming pitcher (9.00 ERA/2.67 HR per 9). Dietrich is a good alternative to Chris Johnson on sites where he’s minimum priced.
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) (weather in Pittsburgh isn’t very friendly for hitters, but McCutchen is one of the best hitters in baseball vs. LHP and he’s affordable around the industry; we don’t mind using him in cash games, but the weather is forcing us to use him in tournaments instead)
George Springer/Colby Rasmus (HOU) – The Astros have the highest implied team total on this slate (4.8 runs), so it makes sense why we’ve mentioned them throughout our analysis. Springer (.344 wOBA/.202 ISO) and Rasmus (.336 wOBA/.227 ISO) are hitting in top four spots for the Astros offense tonight, in a matchup that should accentuate their power (Jeremy Hellickson has allowed a 1.28 HR per 9 this season). The Astros are still fighting for a playoff spot, so we expect their regulars to play. Rasmus is consistently priced as the better value around the industry, but on sites where Springer is affordable, he makes for an awesome cash game play. We’re willing to use both Springer and Rasmus across all formats.
Dexter Fowler (CHC) – Fowler leads off for a Cubs offense we love tonight. We’ve talked about their context throughout our analysis, but it bears repeating that this offense won’t have to deal with any of the bad weather around the east part of the country. They will play in a dome (Miller Park), and they get to face a below average pitcher (Tyler Wagner). Fowler has been an average hitter vs. RHP (.338 wOBA), but he has some pop (.157 ISO) and speed (25 SB upside over a full season). Like Springer and Rasmus, Fowler is ranked inside our top 20 hitters in our model. Use him in cash games.
Scott Van Slyke/Justin Ruggiano (LAD) – Van Slyke and Ruggiano are priced as punts on most sites, and like our value outfielders, they don’t have to deal with any of the nasty weather. Van Slyke (.373 wOBA/.223 ISO) and Ruggiano (.397 wOBA/.282 ISO) are great hitters vs. LHP, and opposing pitcher Robbie Erlin has been unimpressive in his first couple of major league starts (15 percent K rate/42 percent hard hit rate/6.30 ERA). It’s not surprising to see Erlin struggle; he wasn’t very good at the minor league level either (better K rate but posted an ERA and FIP over five in 24 starts at Triple-A this season). We’re using Zack Greinke and locking in our number one ranked hitter (Anthony Rizzo) in cash games, so you’ll need salary relief options like Van Slyke and Ruggiano in order to fit those players.
Additional outfield notes: The Mariners outfield (Nelson Cruz, Mark Trumbo and Franklin Gutierrez) are awesome tournament plays tonight. Seattle isn’t a great environment for hitting but these hitters perform at a high level vs. LHP and Sean Nolin isn’t any good (12 percent K rate/5.25 ERA). Trumbo is cash game viable since he’s priced favorably on most sites, but Cruz and Gutierrez are priced appropriately. Use them in tournaments. J.D. Martinez (DET) has some appeal in tournaments on sites where he’s priced as an average hitter (FanDuel). U.S. Cellular Field turns into a good pitching environment in the fall (cold weather and wind blowing in), but Martinez is a powerful hitter and opposing pitcher Erik Johnson has been power prone (2.20 HR per 9 in five career starts). We’re only willing to use Martinez in tournaments where he’s discounted.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Zack Greinke (LAD)
2) Max Scherzer (WSH)
3) Kyle Hendricks (CHC)
4) Justin Verlander (DET)
5) Matt Harvey (NYM)
6) John Lackey (STL)
7) Corey Kluber (CLE)
8) A.J. Burnett (PIT)
9) Luis Severino (NYY)
Zack Greinke (LAD) – It doesn’t get any safer than Greinke at the starting pitcher position. He’s looking to put the finishing touches to a Cy Young worthy season. Greinke has posted a 1.68 ERA (best in baseball), fueled six percent hard minus soft hit rate. He misses bats an above normal rate (24 percent K rate/12 percent SwStr rate), and he goes deep into games. Here are his averages for the 2015 season: seven IP, 6.2 Ks and 1.2 ER (40 ER through 214.2 IP). While his awesome skills create a safe floor, his context tonight gives him upside.
Greinke draws the Padres, at home. This offense has been below average all season long (ranked 22nd in wRC+ vs. RHP) and they strike out at a high rate (22 percent K rate vs. righties). As of right now, Matt Kemp has been shut down for the last couple of games and Justin Upton has been out of the lineup with a neck injury. Kemp and Upton are the Padres’ best hitters, and they’ve been replaced in the lineup by Travis Jankowski (57 wRC+/24 percent K rate) and Melvin Upton Jr. (99 wRC+/26 percent K rate). Greinke is by far the highest favorite on this slate (-250), the Padres have the lowest implied team total (2.5 runs), and he’s pitching at home (no weather issues). Invest in Greinke across all formats tonight.
Next in line:
Max Scherzer (WSH) (If the Mets throw out a lineup without their starters, Scherzer would inch closer towards Greinke; nonetheless, he’s a good alternative to Greinke in cash games and we’re encouraged by the fact that winds are blowing in heavily at Citi Field today)
Kyle Hendricks (CHC) – Hendricks is another starting pitcher that won’t have to deal with any weather issues. He’s pitching in a dome (Miller Park), facing an offense that’s pedestrian. The Brewers are ranked 25th in wRC+ and are striking out 21.3 percent of the time vs. RHP. Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy (their best two hitters) are done for the season, and they’ve been replaced by below average hitters. This is a great matchup for Hendricks, whose ability to miss bats has taken a major step forward this season (22 percent K rate this season/15 percent K rate in 2014). His run prevention hasn’t been great (4.09 ERA), but we remain hopeful that it could turn around a bit (3.46 FIP/3.33 xFIP), particularly in a great matchup. We like Hendricks the most on multiple starting pitcher sites.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Justin Verlander (DET) is in a great situation, facing a below average offense in an environment that turns into a friendly pitching venue come October. Temperatures in Chicago are in the mid 50s and the wind is blowing in at around 20 mph inside the Cell. Those are friendly pitching conditions for Verlander, but the expectation from Vegas for the White Sox offense is hovering around four runs. Verlander is enjoying a nice bounce back season (22 percent K rate/3.39 ERA/four percent hard minus soft hit rate), and even though he’s not the same dominant pitcher he once was, we’re encouraged by the facts that he’s missing bats again (9.9 SwStr rate). He’s viable in all formats, but the expectation set by Vegas for the White Sox offense is making us a bit uncomfortable to use him in cash games. Matt Harvey (NYM) is more than likely going to have a pitch limit tonight (the Mets have already won their division). Give him a look in tournaments, but we’re not going to be using him in cash games at his current prices. You’re probably wondering why Corey Kluber (CLE) is our eight ranked pitcher. While he continues to miss bats, Kluber hasn’t quite been the same after coming back from the disabled list (6.59 ERA/39 percent hard hit rate/1.98 HR/9 in his last three starts) and the Indians are using him cautiously (13 combined IP in his last three starts). There’s weather risk for starting pitchers in Cleveland tonight (perhaps enough to cause a delay), and Kluber is facing an above average offense (Red Sox). We’re only willing to use him in tournaments. Give A.J. Burnett (PIT) a look in cash games. He doesn’t miss enough bats to be considered a primary value (20 percent K rate is just average), but he’s facing a below average Reds offense in favorable weather conditions (temperature in the low 50s and the wind is blowing in) at PNC Park (excellent pitcher’s park). His context and price tag around the industry make him a fine secondary option.
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) Houston Astros
2) Chicago Cubs
These offenses were covered extensively in our analysis. They have the highest implied run totals on this slate (approaching five runs) and they’re playing in environments that won’t be harmful for hitting purposes. With the weather being so bad in the east coast, we’re emphasizing these two offenses in cash games.
1) Cleveland Indians
Going up against Craig Breslow and a Red Sox bullpen game, this Indians offense has decent appeal in cash games and tournaments. Some hitter we like from this offense for stacking purposes are: Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana and Yan Gomes. If you’re looking for some salary relief in cash games, Chris Johnson is a good punt play at third base. I don’t mind throwing Johnson in an Indians stack for tournaments, too.
2) Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers are ranked inside the top five in wRC+ vs. RHP. They draw a matchup against the underwhelming Robbie Erlin at Dodger Stadium, so they won’t be affected by any bad weather. Our main hitters here are: Justin Ruggiano, Howie Kendrick and Scott Van Slyke. You can also throw in Jimmy Rollins and Justin Turner if you’re looking to stack more Dodgers in tournaments.
3) Pittsburgh Pirates
PNC Park isn’t a good hitting environment as it is, but cold weather and winds blowing in makes it even worse. I don’t mind having a mini-stack of Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Aramis Ramirez in tournaments since they can hit LHP very well. For the most part though, we’re likely staying away from having cash game exposure here.
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.
CIN at PIT 7:05: Damp with some drizzle. Temps near 50. Air density is a 4. Wind east-northeast 9-18 mph which blows in from left. The wind blows in from left. The wind is a 3.
NYY at BLT 7:05: Damp. Occasional light rain or drizzle. Temps in the low to mid 50s. Air density is a 5. Wind east-northeast 10-20 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 2.
DET at CHW 7:10: Cloudy, damp, chilly, breezy and drizzly. Temps only near 50. Air density is a 4. Wind northeast 12-25 mph which blows in from left or from left to right at times. The wind is a 2.
BOS at CLE 7:10: A steady, light rain eventually becomes more showery as the night goes on. Temps only near 50. Air density is a 4. Wind east-northeast 10-20 mph which blows in from right or from right to left. The wind is a 3.
CHC at MIL 7:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps near 50. Air density is a 4 if the roof is open. Wind northeast 10-20 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
STL at ATL 7:10: Close call on some rain. Rain should be found just to the north and the east to the city. Temps near 60. Air density is a 5. Wind northwest 8-16 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
WSH at NYM 7:10: Damp. Occasional light rain or drizzle. Temps only near 50. Air density is a 4. Wind east-northeast 12-25 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 1.
MIA at PHL 7:35: Occasional very light rain or drizzle. Temps in the low to mid 50s. Air density is a 4. Wind northeast 12-25 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 1.
HOU at AZ 8:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the low 90s falling into the mid 80s. Air density is a 9. Wind southwest 6-12 mph which blows out to right-center. The wind is a 6.
OAK at SEA 9:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the low to mid 60s falling into the mid 50s. Air density is a 5 becoming a 4. Wind north 7-14 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 4.
SD at LAD 9:10: Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind west-southwest 8-16 mph lessening to 6-12 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 7 becoming a 6.