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September 1 MLB DFS: Touch Of Gray

Jake Roth - USA TODAY Sports
September 1 MLB DFS: Touch Of Gray
TheNumbersGuy
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Welcome to September 1 MLB DFS action. You’ll find Daily Fantasy Baseball Premium Cliff Notes for August 31 MLB DFS along with LIVE Premium Chat. Make sure you’re using the customizable projections tool, you’re actively participating in the live chat, and you’re reviewing the cliff notes to supplement your research and roster construction process. Very best of luck in tonight’s action!

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Time Stamps
00:42 
Starting Pitcher
13:33 Catcher
17:00 First Base
21:50 Second Base
25:15 Third Base
29:03 Shortstop
33:53 Outfield
40:58 Stacks

1x

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  • In cash games, we recommend focusing on value plays to build your rosters (far right hand column of Projections page linked above). Value plays are those we feel have the highest probability of out-earning their current price tag. By packing value plays into your roster, you’re creating a team with a higher floor.
  • In tournaments, we recommend building a core of the best value plays and then complementing them with players who have a high ceiling. This combination is essentially turning up the variance on a strong foundation and we believe often is the best recipe for tournament success.

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Range of Outcome Projections

September 1 MLB DFS CLIFF NOTES

Starting Pitcher

What if we told you that Clayton Kershaw (LAD), Patrick Corbin (ARI), Stephen Strasburg (WSH) and Blake Snell (TB) were in a slate but you’re not considering any of them in cash games? As insane as that sounds, this is the exact scenario that’s playing out tonight. In fact, they’re not even the highest projected scorer at the starting pitcher position. That moniker goes to Jon Gray (COL). Gray has a 3.4 IRTA and a K projection of 7.2. He’s in Petco Park, a huge park shift in his favor, and gets to throw baseballs to a Padres offense that can’t hit them. Well, they can hit them sometimes, but they’re not well hit. They’re ranked 28th in wRC+ and are striking out 26% of the time, which is a league worst mark vs. RHP. It’s a matchup that’s littered with Ks and Gray has posted a 26% K rate this season. That K rate is backed up by a 13.2% SwStr rate. Gray has a 3.42 SIERA this season. He’s a very good pitcher and he’s priced very differently than any of the pitchers above. He’s your cash game anchor on both sites.

Unless Gray’s ownership gets out of control in GPPs, he should also be heavily relied upon in tournaments. Because we have so much pitching in this slate, there’s a chance the ownership doesn’t get crazy. The counterpoint to this is that Gray is facing the Padres in Petco and he’s a very strong value. The aforementioned Kershaw is still the most talented SP in this tier but he’s also priced like it on both sites. There’s a place for him in this slate, but it’s probably just MME. The same could be said about Snell and Corbin. They’re priced fairly and have very difficult matchups (Corbin @ Dodgers, Snell @ Indians).

Strasburg could be used in cash games next to Gray on DK. However, there are some concerns with him. His contact data has taken a step back this season (16.5% hard minus soft hit rate, 44% GB rate). Additionally, his average fastball velocity has topped out at 94 in each of his last two starts after coming off the DL. The Brewers do provide Ks, as they’re striking out 25% of the time vs. RHP, but they’ve been swinging the bats well of late too. All in all, this context doesn’t look like an elite one for Strasburg. We do like the price tag ($9,000).

The most logical pairing next to Gray in cash games seems to be James Paxton (SEA). Yes, yet another ace in a slate that’s full of them. It’s not a great matchup against Oakland – they’re ranked sixth in wRC+ vs. LHP. It’s also not a great park for Ks given the large foul territory in O.co. Yet, these are all factors that are baked into our projections and Paxton still leads the slate in projected Ks (7.6). The one thing to note with Paxton is that he hasn’t pitched in a live game in two weeks. He last pitched on August 14th and had a shortened start because a line drive hit him. Because this has nothing to do with a shoulder issue, we haven’t reduced any of his outs or BF baselines. All indications are that he’s at full health, and Seattle will need him down the stretch to lock up a wild card berth. It’s so easy to forget how good of a pitcher Paxton is since he’s injured often, but this is without a doubt one of the premiere pitchers in the game. In 139 IP this season, Paxton has posted a 31.4% K rate and a 3.10 SIERA.

Eduardo Rodriguez (BOS), Shane Bieber (CLE) and Dylan Bundy (BAL) are other options that are viable at a deep position in this slate. We’ve docked Rodriguez’s outs and BF baselines to a more reasonable level (~5 IP). He hasn’t pitched in over a month and he only threw 4 IP in both of his rehab starts. Even with that said, Rodriguez is still popping in the mid tier. You’d have to dock him even further for him to not rate well against a White Sox offense that’s striking out a ridiculous 26.4% of the time vs. LHP, which is by far the worst mark in the league.

Bieber has very wide splits so far at the major league level. He’s allowed a massive .388 wOBA to LHBs thus far, and he’ll have to face 5 LHBs tonight. He’s a fine option, especially for an $8k price tag on DK, but we’d like to get to Strasburg-Paxton in cash games instead.

Bundy is a tournament only option at this point. He has a 4.9 IRTA but a 6.3 K projection keeps him afloat. The Ks are typically not an issue for Bundy, but he’s been horrific since the All-Star break, allowing a scary 3.38 HR/9 mark.

Daniel Poncedeleon (STL), Zach Eflin (PHI) and Robbie Erlin (SD) are other plays with reasonable price tags that earn tournament consideration. They’re better plays in MME than smaller field tournaments, but Erlin is priced so cheap ($4,900) that he allows you to stack an expensive offense of your preference in just about any format. That makes him somewhat intriguing in single entry/three max type tournaments, but ultimately the strength of the position makes him feel like a very thin play.

Catcher

Salvador Perez (KC) is one of the lucky hitters who will get his shot at Dylan Bundy and his ridiculous 3.38 HR/9 rate since the All-Star Break. Although Perez has only managed a .296 wOBA against RHP this year, his .206 ISO leads all qualified players on the team. The Royals’ 4.9 implied run total is a rather high number for them and it is easy to see why; Bundy owns a 19.8-percent K rate, 7.17 FIP and 5.00 xFIP in the second half of the season so far. He has completely fallen apart and fantasy owners should be looking to target power bats against him every time out.

While Perez is the only player that projects as a positive value on FD, J.T. Realmuto (MIA) is an intriguing alternative. Amongst starting pitchers on this slate, Marco Estrada‘s 5.91 FIP against RHP ranks second worst behind only Heath Fillmyer. The pitch data is not really in his favor as he has only posted a .261 xwOBA against right-handed changeups but Estrada rarely misses right-handed bats (16.9-percent K rate) and he relies heavily on fly balls (57.6-percent). The power potential is clear in this spot.

On DK, Russell Martin (TOR), Mike Zunino (SEA) and Yadier Molina (STL) look like the reasonable alternatives to Perez in cash games. First off, Martin and Zunino are significantly cheaper, but both are playing on teams with run totals below 4.5. If salary relief is necessary, Martin will face a pitcher, Wei-Yin Chen, who has yielded a .347 wOBA and 1.45 HR/9 rate to righties this year, although this game will be played in pitcher-friendly Marlins park. Zunino’s matchup is more power-friendly as Daniel Mengden has been burned for a .335 wOBA, 37.3-percent hard hit rate and 1.40 HR/9 rate by right-handed hitters (RHHs) and the wind is expected to be blowing straight out in the Oakland Coliseum. Molina is more of a tournament-only play against Castillo. Sure, Castillo misses a ton of bats, but Molina has struck out at a team-low 13.1-percent rate against RHP and he owns a respectable .351 xwOBA against the handedness.

First Base

Since our optimal lineups prefer spending up on two pitchers on DK, Joe Mauer (MIN) is finding his way into our defaults, and he is featured in the FD default line as well. Yet again, the game in Texas’ total is a full run higher than any other game and Yovani Gallardo‘s 5.46 SIERA is the third worst of any pitcher who has thrown at least 60 innings this year. Mauer is not exciting but he is nearly walking lefties at as high of a rate as he is striking them out (16.1-percent K rate, 12.8-percent BB rate) and his 4.88 FIP is atrocious as well.

Freddie Freeman (ATL) is popping in our models because he is both incredibly talented (.396 ISO and .243 ISO versus RHP in our projections) and facing a pitcher who has taken a step back in 2018: Chris Archer. Lefties have slashed .293/.358/.495 against Archer this year with a .364 wOBA, 1.46 HR/9 rate, 25.2-percent line drive rate, 39.7-percent hard hit rate and 4.56 FIP. In the month of August, hitting have managed a .386 wOBA against Archer and he has yielded a 25-plus percent line drive rate in back-to-back months. Freeman is a viable play in all formats.

Anthony Rizzo (CHC) and Chris Davis (BAL) represent the next tier at the position in matchups against Zach Eflin and Chris Davis respectively. Davis is in play whenever he has a shot to put the barrel on the ball and Fillmyer has struck out lefties at a minuscule 13.0-percent rate this year. Only Mengden has struck out lefties at a lower rate and Fillmyer’s 4.59 FIP compared to just a 1.57 ERA in the split suggests he is due for regression. Rizzo will enjoy the platoon advantage against Eflin and the Phillies’ righty has struggled with power lefties his entire career: .376 wOBA, 2.37 HR/9 rate and 41.2-percent fly ball rate for his career.

If looking for tournament options, Jake Bauers (TB) will face Shane Bieber who pounds the zone and habitually gives up the long ball and Matt Carpenter is facing a RHP with a 1.71 HR/9 rate to left-handed hitters (LHHs).

Second Base

Daniel Murphy (CHC) is the cream of the crop at the second base position in a park that enhances power and hitting atop a potent Cubs lineup. Both Kris Bryant and Addison Russell are expected to be back and FD specifically places added incentive on hitters both scoring and driving in runs. The Cubs are listed as -133 road favorites mostly because their lineup is loaded with left-handers against a pitcher who has had his issues with the left side of his plate for his entire career. In cash games, feel free to lock Murphy in.

Otherwise, Ozzie Albies (ATL), Jonathan Villar (BAL) and Whit Merrifield (KC) rate as the next best values on FD. Albies is another lefty against Archer although he is not as talented as Freeman and he has only produced a 10.5-percent hard hit rate over the course of the last 15 days. Villar’s running upside is limited by the presence of Perez the catcher but Fillmyer does not miss bats and Villar has struggled with Ks, especially against RHP (27.5-percent K rate) throughout the course of his career. Merrifield is the most interesting proposition of the bunch as he leads the Royals in steals versus RHP and his .338 xwOBA ranks fourth best on the team.

Asdrubal Cabrera (PHI) is reasonably-priced throughout the industry and Kyle Hendricks is a bit of a Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde starting pitcher. When his 87mph sinker is not working, he can be prone to a blowup (and his HR/9 rate is higher versus LHHs).

Third Base

Miguel Sano (MIN) is above and beyond the top value on FD as he is literally the only player projecting as a positive value at the position. Although Sano has fared better against LHP throughout the course of his career, he heads into Saturday sporting a career .345 wOBA, .229 ISO and 115 wRC+ against RHP. All righties have done against Gallardo this year is roast him to the tune of a .393 wOBA, 1.41 HR/9 rate, 25.4-percent line drive rate and 37.7-percent hard hit rate. Factor in the hitter-friendly weather expected in Texas (90 degrees and sunny) and it is easy to see why Sano is rated so highly.

Nolan Arenado (COL) rates as a neutral value on FD plus Anthony Rendon (WSH), Kris Bryant (CHC) and Eduardo Nunez (BOS) rate as similar values to Arenado on DK. Arenado will be dealing with the negative park shift but he is one of the best few hitters on the planet against southpaws. In fact, in 2018, he is the best: .519 wOBA, .411 ISO and a whopping 51.2-percent hard hit rate. Opposing starter Robbie Erlin has not pitched deeper than fifth inning in four of his last five outings so Arenado may only face him 2-3 times. Rendon faces a pitcher relying on his fastball/sinker duo a combined 59-percent of the time to RHHs and Rendon has produced a combined .398 xwOBA against those pitches from right-handers since the beginning of 2017. Bryant is on the wrong side of the platoon split for both him and Eflin but our model has faith in the Cubs offense. Nunez squares off against Carlos Rodon and his 4.41 FIP and 5.04 xFIP overall despite a 2.70 ERA. Eventually, Rodon is going to regress, and Nunez is only $3,400 on DK.

Shortstop

Facing a righty, there is always speed potential for Trea Turner (WSH), especially if Erik Kratz is behind the plate. Manny Pina has one of the quickest pop times in the game whereas Kratz’s is slightly below average (2.01 seconds). However, speed may be the secondary reason to love this matchup for Turner because Anderson’s 2.24 HR/9 rate to righties is third highest amongst pitchers on this slate, behind only Bundy and Fillmyer. If Turner gets on, he will be stealing, and he is on red-alert to go deep. Any more questions?

Jorge Polanco (MIN) returned from a multi-game absence last night and Polanco, a switch-hitter, strongly prefers hitting from the left-side (against RHP). In his career, he has struck out at a rate nearly 3.5-percentage points lower against RHP and he has produced a wOBA 36-percentage points higher. Add in the fact Gallardo is a subpar talent and the matchup is tough to overlook.

Carlos Correa (HOU) and Alex Bregman (HOU) are the next men up in our DK algorithm but Felix Pena has been tough on RHHs: .261 wOBA, 29.6-percent K rate and just a 3.35 FIP. If there is one saving grace, it is the fact righties have produced a 46.0-percent hard hit rate against him. If looking past them, Xander Bogaerts (BOS) stands out as a player with potential tournament upside against a pitcher who has been quite lucky and Tim Beckham (BAL) is in play because Fillmyer’s 6.29 FIP against RHHs is worst on the slate.

Outfield

Mookie Betts (BOS) is by no means cheap ($5,700 on DK) and yet he still rates as our top value at the outfield position. Somehow, someway, Rodon has managed to hold righties to a .268 wOBA while only striking them out at a 18.1-percent rate and allowing a 47.8-percent fly ball rate despite a 4.46 FIP and 5.27 xFIP. His day of reckoning is coming soon; it is just a matter of when. Clearly, our model is buying into Betts. Of course, if buying into Betts versus a lefty, J.D. Martinez is certainly in play as well and the fly ball correlation is unmistakable.

Max Kepler (MIN) once again finds himself in the FD optimal because his absurd price rose exactly $100 from yesterday (now $2,500). For a player with the platoon advantage in an elite hitting environment, there is no reason his price should be the low, even though he has been slumping as of late (82 wRC+ last 14 days). George Springer (HOU) is included in the DK optimal but he too has been cold and Pena has held his own against RHHs. These hitters are both fine but Kepler will come at an extremely high ownership and Springer is not overly interesting in GPPs.

If Rosell Herrera (KC) is in the lineup, he is only priced at $2,800 on FD with the team being implied to score 4.9 runs. He is an option as a punt play. There is not much more to discuss with him.

Bryce Harper (WSH) has finally gotten over an extended sickness and Kyle Schwarber (CHC) is another Cubs lefty worth adding to the stack. Although Anderson has held his own against lefties (.299 wOBA), Harper is an extremely talented hitter, and Anderson’s 4.95 FIP, .229 BABIP suggests he has pitched over his head. If anyone is going to help start the regression, Harper is the guy.

Cedric Mullins’ (BAL) favorable lineup spot makes him an attractive play across the industry especially after leading off Friday’s game with a bomb against another righty who does not miss bats. Mullins is more of a speed threat than a power threat but this game features the second highest total on the slate. By the same token, Alex Gordon (KC) is in play versus Bundy and Brian Goodwin (KC) is back in the lineup and possess both speed and power potential. Despite these offenses being terrible, the game stack is extremely reasonably-priced, and there is expensive pitching worth considering…

Stacks

Tier One

1) Boston Red Sox

2) Minnesota Twins

3) Chicago Cubs

This is going to feel like a very weird stack slate and that’s because it is. We have aces or at least competent pitchers in about half the games in this slate, and even the Red Sox are facing a pitcher (Carlos Rodon) that’s somewhat talented and has generated good results of late. However, those favorable results feel like fools gold. Rodon has posted xFIPs of 6.90, 5.42, 4.03, 4.93 and 6.20 in his last five starts. He’s also not missing many bats (19% K rate) this season. Rodon is actually one of the worst pitchers in this slate. The Red Sox are expensive but in a weird slate for stacking they stand out above the rest.

The Twins are also facing one if not the worst pitcher in this slate. Yovani Gallardo has posted a 14.2% K rate and at this point of his career he’s easily a 5+ ERA pitcher. The Twins won’t cost you an arm and a leg either. This combination will likely make them popular but it certainly makes sense why.

The Cubs are facing Zach Eflin, who continues to struggle with LHBs, allowing a .362 wOBA and a 1.83 HR/9 to them this season. The Cubs have the left handed bats to make some noise in this matchup and they’re a viable stack in all tournament formats.

Tier Two

4) Washington Nationals

5) Houston Astros

The Nationals and Astros are facing wide splits pitchers. You want to pick on Chase Anderson with Nationals’ RHBs (.207 ISO allowed to RHBs since 2017) and you want Astros’ LHBs against Felix Pena (.369 wOBA, .192 ISO allowed to LHBs since 2017). Unfortunately, most of the batters we like on the Astros’ side are RHBs, which makes it a weird dynamic for stacking purposes.

Tier Three

6) Texas Rangers

7) Baltimore Orioles

8) Atlanta Braves

9) Philadelphia Phillies

While Jose Berrios is a good pitcher, he’s had some wide splits, allowing a .315 wOBA and .162 ISO to LHBs since 2017. The Rangers have a lineup littered with LHBs, which can give him trouble. The Rangers make more sense as a stack than our tier two teams.

The Orioles are facing the worst pitching staff in all of baseball and are on the road in 80 degree weather. They’re coming off a strong series against the Blue Jays offensively and given the names that DFSers are clicking they’re usually a stack that comes with low ownership.

The Braves have the LHBs to give Chris Archer issues. Archer has allowed a .348 wOBA and .180 ISO to LHBs since 2017. Their LHBs are a strong leverage stack in MME.

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