Daily Fantasy Rundown – October 4 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Sunday’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 ATL, CHW and surprisingly enough, LAD, may see some light rain at times.
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) – Montero was out last night, which gives him a strong probability to be in the lineup today. He should hit no worse than sixth, and he’s facing Jorge Lopez (rookie that skipped Triple A). We don’t know much about Lopez, but we can tell that he wasn’t a bad pitcher at the minor league level (8.60 Ks per 9/2.26 ERA at Double A). Still, he’s probably not going to be used more than five innings and this looks like a bullpen game from the Brewers. Montero is the only catcher that stands out in our model (ranked inside the top 60), and he’s just an average hitter vs. RHP (.335 wOBA/.141 ISO vs. RHP since 2012). The catcher position is tough to decipher (it’s the last Sunday of the season, and most teams don’t have anything to play for), but at least we know that Montero will play and have the platoon edge in a top six role. He’s our favorite cash game option at a barren catcher position.
Additional catcher notes: We’re likely going to have to cover the catcher position to a higher extent in our alerts system. On sites where Kyle Schwarber (CHC) has catcher eligibility, he represents the top choice at the catcher position. He’s a better hitter (.366 wOBA/.243 ISO) than teammate Miguel Montero, and he hits second for the Cubs (a better lineup spot than sixth). Use him across all formats. If Russell Martin (TOR) gets the start behind the plate for the Blue Jays and the regulars are playing, give him a look in tournaments. He’s a skilled hitter vs. LHP, and Matt Moore has struggled more than usual vs. righties this season (.378 wOBA surrendered to RHBs).
Jose Abreu (CWS) and Anthony Rizzo (CHC) represent the top plays at first base this afternoon. Abreu (.374 wOBA/.212 ISO vs. LHP) gets to face Daniel Norris (.305 wOBA/1.00 HR per 9 allowed to RHBs) during the day at U.S. Cellular Field (weather won’t be that cold and winds are neutral). Rizzo draws Jorge Lopez (solid pitcher at the minor league level, but this is a bullpen game for the Brewers) in a dome environment (Miller Park), so weather won’t be an issue. Rizzo is a great hitter vs. RHP (.376 wOBA/.230 ISO vs. RHP), and he rates just a bit higher in our model (second ranked hitter) than Abreu (fifth ranked hitter). Give them both a look across all formats.
Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) – We’re hoping that the Dodgers’ regulars are in the lineup today, particularly Gonzalez. This is going to be a bullpen game for the Padres, and their bullpen isn’t very strong (eight highest bullpen ERA). Gonzalez will first get a crack at LHP Frank Garces, who’s making his first major league start. He will likely last no longer than a couple of innings. Gonzalez’s production this season (129 wRC+/.207 ISO) is almost identical to the type of production we’ve come to expect (131 wRC+/.207 ISO over the course of his career), and if he plays, he should hit cleanup for this Dodgers offense. On a site like DraftKings ($3,300) where he’s significantly discounted, Gonzalez represents a very strong cash game play.
Additional first base notes: We realize that Prince Fielder (TEX) doesn’t have an attractive matchup vs. Garrett Richards, but he’s hitting in the best venue for hitters in baseball right now (Globe Life Park in Arlington). He’s a fine secondary choice in cash games. Our favorite tournament plays at the position are Chris Davis (BAL) (very powerful hitter and faces Michael Pineda, who has been more prone to the long ball over the second half of the season), Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) (use him where he’s discounted), Chris Carter (HOU) (has been hitting the ball very hard as of late and he should benefit from facing southpaw Robbie Ray at Chase Field; Ray has allowed a 20 percent hard minus soft hit rate this season) and Justin Bour (MIA) (David Buchanan isn’t any good and Bour will hit cleanup for a Marlins offense that has an implied total of 4.5 runs).
Jose Altuve (HOU) – Altuve is the only second baseman that’s ranked inside our top 15 hitters today. Robbie Ray has been a bit better this season (missing more bats, better run prevention), but he hasn’t improved enough to stop picking against him. He has surrendered a 20 percent hard minus soft hit rate and he’s been a bit lucky with keeping baseballs in the park (7.4 HR/9; league average is around 10-11 percent). Going back to Altuve, he’s a great hitter vs. LHP (.389 wOBA) and he’s always a threat to steal multiple bases (50 SB upside over a full season). The Astros are still fighting for a chance to win their division, and Altuve is their leadoff hitter. As far as Vegas expectations go, the Astros have a healthy team total of 4.5 runs. For some reason, Altuve is priced as an average hitter on FanDuel ($3,300). He’s a core cash game play on that site and any site that has priced him like an average hitter.
Neil Walker (PIT) – Walker rates a bit below Jose Altuve in our model (45th ranked hitter), but he’s a good cash game alternative on sites where he’s significantly discounted. We realize that PNC Park isn’t a good hitting venue, but opposing pitcher Josh Smith hasn’t been any good (7.22 ERA/1.26 HR per 9 through six starts at the major league level). Walker is a good hitter from the left side of the plate (.352 wOBA/.196 ISO), and lefties have destroyed Josh Smith (has surrendered a .472 wOBA to 68 LHBs). We’re more interested in the type of upside that Altuve has vs. lefties, but if you can’t pay up for him, use Walker in cash games.
Additional second base notes: Robinson Cano (SEA) and Jason Kipnis (CLE) have some cash game appeal on sites where they’re cheap. If you’re looking for another high upside play at second base, Dee Gordon (MIA) fits the bill. He’s not as good of a hitter as any of the recommendations at the position, but he has tons of speed upside (60 SB upside over a full season). He’s a fine alternative to Jose Altuve in tournaments.
Carlos Correa (HOU) – Here’s what Correa has done at the major league level vs. LHP (137 PAs): .381 wOBA/.287 ISO. Those sort of skills are only rivaled by Troy Tulowitzki at the shortstop position, and Correa is just 21 years old. Opposing pitcher Robbie Ray has been a solid pitcher this season, but this is a terrible spot for him (facing one of the most powerful offenses in baseball at Chase Field). Correa hits third for the Astros (best lineup spot for DFS production), and he’s by far the best shortstop play on this slate (ranked inside our top 10 hitters; next ranked shortstop is ranked outside our top 60). He’s expensive around the industry, but we’re making every effort to have him in our cash game lineups.
Marwin Gonzalez (HOU) – Gonzalez is nowhere near the type of hitter that teammate Carlos Correa is, but he’s been a good hitter vs. lefties this season (.356 wOBA/.204 ISO). Gonzalez posted a career best 31 percent hard hit rate and 33 percent FB rate, which has made him a bit more powerful (.164 ISO this season/.126 ISO over the course of his career). Gonzalez should have a top six spot in the Astros offense this afternoon, and he’s minimum priced on most sites. If you’re not able to pay high prices for Carlos Correa, Gonzalez is a fine pivot in cash games.
Additional shortstop notes: Brandon Crawford (SFG) is a good tournament option today. He’s in a difficult environment for power (AT&T Park), but he’s facing a pretty bad pitcher in Christian Bergman. In 13 career starts, Bergman has generated a measly 14 percent K rate, and his run prevention has been awful (5.25 ERA). We’re hoping that the matchup/Crawford’s solid skills vs. RHP are enough to overcome the bad hitting environment. Use him in multi-entry tournaments, particularly on sites where he’s close to the minimum. If Corey Seager (LAD) is in the Dodgers lineup, he can be used as part of a Dodgers stack in tournaments. Teammate Kike Hernandez (LAD) would emerge as an elite cash game punt if he’s leading off.
Josh Donaldson (TOR) – Matt Moore isn’t that susceptible to RHBs (.323 wOBA allowed to righties since 2013), but Donaldson’s hitting skills vs. LHP are otherworldly. Since 2013, Donaldson has generated a .417 wOBA and an absurd .306 ISO vs. lefties. For some reason, he’s not fully priced on DraftKings ($4,700). On that particular site, Donaldson is a very strong play in cash game formats. Consider him for tournaments on sites where he’s priced more appropriately.
Derek Dietrich (MIA) – The Marlins have been so underwhelming offensively this season that it’s difficult to have a lot of confidence in these hitters in cash games. Vegas believes that the Marlins (4.5 implied runs) will get to David Buchanan (11 percent K rate/7.54 ERA in 14 starts this season), and Dietrich is a cheap way of having some exposure to this offense. He’s at or close to the minimum price on every site and he’s a better hitter than what his price point is telling us (.339 wOBA/.200 ISO). On sites where it’s difficult to accommodate Donaldson in cash games, we recommend using the cheaper Dietrich.
Additional third base notes: Matt Carpenter (STL) has one of the best individual matchups on this slate. Opposing pitcher Matt Wisler has surrendered a .434 wOBA/2.00 HR per 9 to 226 LHBs at the major league level. Carpenter is fully priced around the industry, so we’re only considering him for tournaments today. Other third basemen that could be used in tournament games are Adrian Beltre (TEX) (bad matchup vs. Garrett Richards but Globe Life Park in Arlington is the friendliest hitting environment in baseball right now and Beltre has been performed very well as of late) and Manny Machado (BAL) (Michael Pineda continues to miss bats but he has been more power prone over the second half of the season).
Mike Trout (LAA) – We realize that Trout has a difficult matchup (Cole Hamels), but our model doesn’t care. Trout is our number one ranked hitter on this slate and he’s hitting in an environment that turns very friendly in the fall months. While most of the country is starting to see cold weather, Texas is warm and friendly for hitters. That’s good for Trout, who probably doesn’t need any help from the weather anyways (.402 wOBA/.240 ISO vs. LHP since 2013). Trout is in play across all formats. As far as high priced hitters go, it makes sense to invest in the Astros’ middle infield (Altuve/Correa) first (due to positional scarcity), then Trout.
George Springer (HOU) – Springer has dominated LHP (.373 wOBA/.215 ISO) and he’s facing an average at best pitcher in Robbie Ray. Springer has that dual threat upside we like in a hitter (30 HR/20 SB upside over a full season), and he’s priced affordably on FanDuel ($3,400) and Yahoo ($15). Springer is the strongest cash game option at the position on sites that have priced him close to the average price of a hitter.
Jason Heyward (STL) – We love Heyward’s matchup vs. Matt Wisler. As we mentioned earlier, Wisler hasn’t figured out how to get LHBs out at the major league level (.434 wOBA) and he allows too much power to those batters (2.00 HR per 9). Heyward has historically been a good hitter vs. RHP (.366 wOBA/.180 ISO) and he has some speed upside (25 SB upside over a full season). Pursue his minor power/speed upside in cash games.
Yasiel Puig/Justin Ruggiano (LAD) – It’s a bullpen game for the Padres, who have skipped James Shields final start of the season. Frank Garces (LHP) will throw the first few innings (ERA of 5.00 in 39 appearances this season). Puig just returned from the disabled list, but we don’t mind using him in cash games right away (.379 wOBA/.189 ISO vs. LHP in the last couple of seasons). Ruggiano is an elite hiter vs. lefties (.397 wOBA/.282 ISO) and he’s priced like a punt on most sites. Consider both of these hitters for cash and tournament games.
Additional outfield notes: Jose Bautista (TOR) has a discounted price tag around the industry. Bautista will be in play for tournaments as long as he’s in the lineup. Dexter Fowler (CHC) is playable in cash games on sites where his price is discounted (FanDuel). Consider teammate Chris Coghlan for cash games if he’s hitting in a decent lineup spot. Josh Hamilton (TEX) is one of the cheapest ways to get access to the Rangers offense today. We’re not high on the Rangers for cash games (due to a bad matchup vs. Garrett Richards), but Hamilton is the one exception. He’s priced as a punt on most sites and he offers some power upside in this environment. Throw Christian Yelich (MIA) in Marlins stacks for tournaments. He hits too many ground balls for my liking (63 percent GB rate), but his matchup is enough to consider him for tournaments. Yelich offers average skills (115 wRC+) and some minor speed upside (20-25 SB upside over a full season) in tournaments.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Jacob deGrom (NYM)
2) Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
3) Lance McCullers (HOU)
4) A.J. Happ (PIT)
5) Danny Salazar (CLE)
6) Lance Lynn (STL)
7) Adam Conley (MIA)
8) Rick Porcello (BOS)
Jacob deGrom (NYM) – deGrom has already been confirmed the starter for the NLDS game one, but that game will be played Friday, October 9th. Therefore, deGrom should see regular rest and we don’t expect him to have a short leash as a result. He’s averaging around 6.5 IP this season, which is what we’re projecting for him today. His regular workload should be just enough to carve up this underwhelming Nationals offense. In the last seven days, the Nationals have been able to generate 16 runs. They failed to do anything against Matt Wisler and Williams Perez, and those pitchers aren’t very good. I’m not a big fan of “narrative street” stuff, but the Nationals have clearly called it a season. This is great for deGrom, who has been remarkable this season (27 percent K rate/12.5 percent SwStr rate/2.60 ERA). Start deGrom in cash and tournament games today.
Lance McCullers (HOU) – McCullers is facing a below average offense (Diamondbacks are ranked 20th in wRC+ and are striking out 21 percent of the time vs. RHP), and he’s been better than advertised. McCullers skipped the Triple-A level, and ZiPS didn’t think very highly of him. His run prevention was awful at Double-A in 2014 (5.47 ERA), but he was able to miss bats at a very high level (10.67 Ks per 9). The Swings and misses (25 percent K rate/9.9 SwStr rate) have translated to success at the major league level (3.21 ERA/solid eight percent hard minus soft hit rate). The Astros are still fighting for their playoff lives, so we don’t expect McCullers to get yanked out early (he’s averaging around six IP per start). McCullers is our favorite complement to Jacob deGrom in cash games.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Can’t believe we’re saying this, but Clayton Kershaw (LAD) is not our top ranked pitcher today. Obviously this has nothing to do with his skills (best pitcher in baseball), or matchup (Padres offense is terrible). Unfortunately, it looks like Kershaw will be limited today (Dodgers have nothing to play for any longer) and he’s fully priced around the industry. We were hoping that he was discounted (that would have made things a bit more interesting), but that’s not the case on any site. We have some minor interest in Kershaw in tournaments, but his high price tag looks like one you should avoid altogether due to the pitch limit. It looks like J.A. Happ (PIT) was simply a victim of a situation in a tight game. He pitched great vs. the Cardinals in his last start, yet he was pinch hit for in the sixth inning. He only threw 56 pitches in that start, which was a very low total given how well he was pitching. The Pirates are still fighting for something (home field advantage in the wild card game), and we don’t expect Happ to see such a short leash today. He dominated this Reds offense in his last start (31 DraftKings points), and he should benefit from pitching in a great environment today (PNC Park). Happ is a strong cash game alternative to Lance McCullers on multiple starting pitcher sites. Lance Lynn (STL) is facing a pedestrian offense (Atlanta Braves), but he hasn’t been a bit difficult to project over the second half of the season (8.19 ERA in his last 10 starts). He’s been better in his last two starts and this matchup should help his run prevention, but McCullers and Happ are safer commodities. Lynn is a fine secondary target in cash games. If Matt Moore (TB) gets a watered down Blue Jays lineup, we like him as a cash game option on multiple starting pitcher sites. After some very difficult starts to begin his season, Moore has settled down (has gone over six innings in his last three starts while allowing just three earned runs; he’s missing more bats now as well). If the Blue Jays trot out their regular hitters, we’re not going to have interest in Moore in cash games. He becomes a long shot multi-entry tournament option if that’s the case. If Moore doesn’t get the benefit of a watered down lineup, Adam Conley (MIA) is a fine cash game pivot. Conley has been a nice surprise for the Marlins, generating a 22 percent K rate and a one percent hard minus soft hit rate. He’s yielding very soft contact, which has likely helped his run prevention (3.84 ERA). Facing the Phillies (ranked 23rd in wRC+ and are striking out over 22 percent of the time vs. LHP), Conley should continue to find success today. We prefer him in tournaments, but we’re not afraid to use him in cash games on multiple starting pitcher sites in order to load up on hitting.
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 two offenses were covered extensively in our analysis. They’re going to be in dome environments, which shields them away from any weather concerns.
1) Los Angeles Dodgers
This is a bullpen game for the Padres (Frank Garces will pitch the first couple of innings). We like Justin Ruggiano, Kike Hernandez, Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig in cash games and tournaments.
2) Pittsburgh Pirates
PNC Park isn’t a great hitting environment, but Josh Smith hasn’t been good at the major league level. Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen are our main targets here.
3) Chicago White Sox/Detroit Tigers
The White Sox are facing Daniel Norris and the Tigers are facing a rookie pitcher. U.S. Cellular Field isn’t as cold or windy today, which makes these offenses more appealing. Jose Abreu, Melky Cabrera, Trayce Thomson, Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez are in play for tournaments (Abreu is cash game viable).
4) Globe Life Park in Arlington (Texas Rangers/Los Angeles Angels)
Garrett Richards and Cole Hamels are good pitchers, but Texas is a warm, friendly environment for hitters. Stack some Angels (Mike Trout and Albert Pujols) and Rangers (Adrian Beltre, Shin-Soo Choo, Prince Fielder and Josh Hamilton) in tournaments.
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.
STL at ATL 1:00: Occasional light rain or drizzle. Temps in the mid 60s. Air density is a 5. Wind northeast 10-20 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 2.
LAA at TEX 3:05: Dry. Temps near 80. Air density is a 7. Wind north 7-14 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
NYY at BLT 3:05: Dry. Temps in the low 60s. Air density is a 5. Wind northeast 10-20 mph which blows in from right-center. The wind is a 2.
MIA at PHL 3:05: Dry. Temps near 60. Air density is a 5. Wind northeast 7-14 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.
CIN at PIT 3:05: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 60s. Air density is a 5. Wind east-northeast 6-12 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 4.
COL at SF 3:05: Dry. Temps in the upper 60s. Air density is a 5. Wind west 7-14 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
DET at CHW 3:10: A few sprinkles around. Temps in the upper 50s. Air density is a 5. Wind northeast 8-16 mph which blows in from left or from left to right at times. The wind is a 3 or a 4.
BOS at CLE 3:10: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 60s. Air density is a 5. Wind northeast 7-14 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.
CHC at MIL 3:10: Retractable roof. A few showers around. Temps in the low to mid 50s. Air density is a 4. Wind northeast 8-16 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
KC at MIN 3:10: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 50s. Air density is a 5. Wind east 4-8 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
OAK at SEA 3:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind north 5-10 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 4.
SD at LAD 3:10: Occasional rain showers. Temps in the upper 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west-southwest 7-14 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
WSH at NYM 3:10: Dry. Temps in the mid 50s. Air density is a 5. Wind northeast 8-16 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 3.
HOU at AZ 3:10: Retractable roof. A 10-20% coverage of thunderstorms. Temps near 90. Air density is an 8 or a 9. Wind south-southwest 8-16 mph which blows out to right-center. The wind is a 7.
STL at ATL 4:00: Occasional light rain or drizzle. Temps in the mid 60s. Air density is a 5. Wind northeast 10-20 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 2.
TOR at TB 3:10: Dome.