Daily Fantasy Rundown – September 10 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: PPD threats in NYY and PHI as a soaking rain invades the Northeast.
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 content today is focused on the evening slate. We’ll have alerts covering the two afternoon games
Catcher notes: Yadier Molina (STL) is our highest ranked catcher. The catcher position is the toughest one from a defensive standpoint and Molina has been the best defensive catcher in the past decade or so. This has clearly affected his hitting, as his wOBA (.296) and ISO (.085) are well below the league average. The catcher position usually lacks values but on a shorter slate, options are extremely limited. Because of this, I’d still consider Molina cash game viable relative to his fair price and context (will have the platoon edge against a power prone pitcher in a great environment for hitters). Yan Gomes (CLE) should have a top six spot in the Indians offense and he’s facing Alfredo Simon (doesn’t miss any bats and his ERA is near five this season). Gomes is a fine option for cash games if you don’t want to use Yadier Molina. James McCann (DET) has a matchup against Danny Salazar (misses bats at a very high rate but he’s home run prone). McCann has been hitting sixth as of late, which is a decent lineup spot for a catcher. We’re willing to consider McCann on sites where he’s cheaper than Molina and Gomes.
Miguel Cabrera (DET) (Danny Salazar misses bats but he allows power; Cabrera is still one if not the best hitter in baseball and he’s not priced like this on most sites; he’s cash game viable on sites that have priced him too closely to the average price of a hitter)
Carlos Santana (CLE) – Santana is priced as an average hitter around the industry and if we’re being honest, that’s exactly what Santana has been this season; an average hitter. Santana isn’t hitting the ball as hard (30 percent hard hit rate; 35 percent last season) and his power (.155 ISO) and overall hitting skills (.327 wOBA) aren’t going in the right direction. Fortunately for Santana, a matchup against Alfredo Simon (.336 wOBA/1.22 HR per 9 surrendered to LHBs since 2013) could help him get on track. The Indians have the second highest implied team total on this slate (4.7 runs) and Santana hits in the middle of their lineup. He’s our top value option at the position and a primary target for cash games.
Justin Smoak (TOR) – If you’re in need of a punt option at the position, Justin Smoak represents a fine option. Opposing pitcher Luis Severino has been very good at the major league level. We’re not going to pick on him much in cash games but Yankee Stadium offers unique upside to LHBs due to their short porch. This could help Smoak, who’s not a very good hitter in general (.314 wOBA) but can hit for power (.181 ISO vs. RHP in the last few seasons). Smoak is close to the minimum price point on DraftKings ($2,500). He’s worthy of cash game consideration on that particular site and any site that has priced him like this.
Additional first base notes: Anthony Rizzo (CHC) has a L/L matchup and he’s fully priced around the industry. I’m still willing to pay for him in tournaments since 1) Cubs have the highest implied team total on this slate and 2) Rizzo has improved quite a bit vs. LHP (.398 wOBA and .411 wOBA vs. LHP in the last two seasons/.282 wOBA vs. LHP in 2013). Pedro Alvarez (PIT) has been out of the Pirates lineup in the last two days. The Pirates could be giving him some rest down the stretch but if he plays and garners a top six spot, we’re willing to use him in cash games on sites where he’s minimum priced. Opposing pitcher Wily Peralta struggles with LHBs (.352 wOBA/1.32 HR per 9 allowed to LHBs since 2013) and Alvarez is a powerful hitter when he has the platoon edge (.238 ISO vs. RHP in the last three seasons).
Jason Kipnis (CLE) – Kipnis is our highest ranked second baseman (ranked inside our top 25 hitters). We love his matchup (Alfredo Simon has surrendered a .336 wOBA/1.22 HR per 9 to LHBs since 2013). Kipnis isn’t much of a home run hitter (seven home runs this season) but he’s a line drive hitter (28 percent LD rate) and he can pile up the doubles (37 doubles this season). He’s the leadoff hitter for an offense that has an implied team total of 4.7 runs (second highest on this slate). Kipnis is a very strong value on sites that have priced him as a below average hitter ($3,000 on FanDuel).
Neil Walker (PIT) – It might be difficult to pay for Jason Kipnis in cash games on tighter pricing sites. Walker (ranked inside our top 30 hitters) isn’t very far off from Kipnis in our model and he’s cheaper around the industry. ZiPS believes that some more power is likely coming Walker’s way. Walker is actually hitting the ball a bit harder than last season (32 percent hard hit rate this season/29 percent last season) but his home run luck isn’t the same (8.9 HR/FB this season/13.9 percent last season). While it’s probably a bit of an aggressive stance to expect the same home run totals from last season (23 home runs was his career high; his career HR/FB rate is 9.9 percent), ZiPS is projecting a .164 ISO for the remainder of this season. Walker has generated a .154 ISO so far this season. PNC Park isn’t very helpful for power purposes but the matchup against Wily Peralta (.352 wOBA/1.32 HR per 9 allowed to LHBs) could help Walker generate some power. At $2,300 on FanDuel (close to the bare minimum), Walker is a very attractive value and a good pivot if you can’t quite pay up for Kipnis’ services in cash games.
Additional second base notes: Scooter Gennett (MIL) is minimum priced on most sites and opposing pitcher A.J. Burnett has surrendered a .333 wOBA to LHBs since 2013. I’m willing to consider Gennett in cash games on sites that have priced him significantly lower than the recommendations above.
Jhonny Peralta (STL) – Peralta has been a very similar hitter in the second half of the season. He’s hitting the ball a tad softer (30 percent hard hit rate in second half/32 percent in first half) but he’s making just as much contact (17 percent K rate in both halves). It looks like the main reason he hasn’t performed in the second half like he did in the first half has to do with luck. In the first half, he posted a .355 wOBA/.176 ISO to go along with a .331 BABIP/14.9 HR/FB. In the second half, he has posted a .274 wOBA/.087 ISO to go along with a .273 BABIP/6.5 HR/FB. These stretches of lack of production can be frustrating while you’re on the wrong side but skills tend to normalize. While Peralta was a bit lucky in the first half of the season (and his production was enhanced as a result), he’s not as bad as this second half might show. In the end, we believe that taking a look at his historical production vs. LHP (.355 wOBA/.203 ISO vs. LHP since 2012) sheds a bit more light. In a much better hitting venue than his home park (Great American Ball Park) facing a southpaw that struggles with power, this could be the matchup that turns Peralta’s luck around. He’s minimum priced on FanDuel, where they have severely under-priced his skills/context
Additional shortstop notes: Starlin Castro (CHC) has some appeal on sites where he’s cheaper than Peralta. We would only consider Castro as a viable option if he’s in a top six role for the Cubs offense. Castro is having the worst offensive season of his professional career (not hitting the ball hard and hitting for more ground balls) but he has been a bit better as of late (seven hits in his last four games; three of those hits were extra base hits). The Cubs have the highest implied team total on this slate (4.8 runs) and Castro gives you exposure at a very low price point on DraftKings and Yahoo. Troy Tulowitzki (TOR) is our highest ranked shortstop in our model but we don’t like the matchup against Luis Severino. Since shortstop is thin (not a surprise on a short slate), we’re considering Tulowitzki in tournaments.
Kris Bryant (CHC) – If I’m paying for a hitter this evening, it’s going to be Bryant. The third base position isn’t deep and Bryant will hit in the middle of the lineup for the offense that has the highest implied total on this slate. While Rizzo and Scwharber can still be considered for tournaments despite the L/L matchup, Bryant is a right-handed hitter. He’s going to have the platoon edge against Adam Morgan, who has been atrocious vs. righties at the major league level. Morgan has surrendered a .360 wOBA/1.93 HR per 9 to 238 RHBs. Bryant has been a slightly above average hitter vs. LHP in his first major league stint (115 wRC+) but he has been powerful (.212 ISO) and more power is likely on the way. Bryant has generated a 47 percent FB rate this season and ZiPS believes that more power is coming (.215 ISO this season; ZiPS projected .232 ISO for the rest of the season). Bryant deserves to be considered across all formats (top ranked hitter in our model).
Lonnie Chisenhall (CLE) – Chisenhall certainly doesn’t rank as favorably in our model as Bryant (40th ranked hitter) but we’re willing to consider him on sites where he offers meaningful salary relief. Chisenhall isn’t a very good hitter, even when he has the platoon edge (.323 wOBA) but he has some pop (.167 ISO vs. RHP). Chisenhall has been hitting fifth for the Indians and a matchup against Alfredo Simon (struggles quite a bit with LHBs) is enough to consider him at cheap price points.
Additional third base notes: Alex Rodriguez (NYY) continues to destroy LHP, even at age 40. We realize that David Price isn’t a good matchup but Rodriguez is priced close to the average price of a hitter on most sites. The third base position isn’t very deep tonight, which gives Rodriguez some appeal in tournaments. Todd Frazier (CIN) hasn’t been the same hitter in the second half (striking out more, not generating as much loft and his hard hit rate is down). He’s also not been very lucky but at the bare minimum on FanDuel, we’re willing to use him in cash games (has historically been a powerful hitter vs. LHP). We like Kris Bryant more (friendlier matchup and has performed better than Frazier as of late) but if you’re in need of salary relief, he represents a better pivot than Lonnie Chisenhall in cash games.
Jose Bautista (TOR)/Andrew McCutchen (PIT) (both are ranked inside our top 10 hitters; they’re pricey around the industry, which makes them better tournament targets relative to their individual contexts)
Dexter Fowler/Austin Jackson (CHC) – It’s not surprising to see two Cubs as our top values plays in the outfield. We already touched on their matchup (Adam Morgan is awful vs. RHBs in particular) and have mentioned throughout our analysis that this offense has the highest implied total (4.8 runs). Fowler (.380 wOBA/.140 ISO) is a bit better of a hitter than Jackson (.336 wOBA/.139 ISO) vs. LHP) but Jackson’s price point is friendlier around the industry. Both will hit atop the Cubs lineup, which solidifies them as the strongest value plays at the outfield position relative to their solid skills and overall context.
Chris Young (NYY)/Ben Revere (TOR) – Young (.339 wOBA/.201 ISO vs. LHP) is a much better hitter than Revere (.302 wOBA vs. RHP) but Revere gets to lead off for the most potent offense in baseball. Both are in bad matchups (Young faces Price while Revere draws Severino) but they’re ranked very closely in our model (ranked inside our top 40 hitters). I’d let prices dictate decisions here. Young is much cheaper than Revere on DraftDay and DraftKings, where I view him as a better value. On sites where Revere is cheaper (FanDuel), I consider him the superior option. Keep in mind that Revere has speed upside (40 SB upside over a full season) and FanDuel has no negative repercussions for caught stealing.
Additional outfield notes: Yoenis Cespedes (NYM) has been on a tear lately. He has accumulated six home runs and three doubles in his last eight games. The matchup against Shelby Miller isn’t particularly attractive but I don’t mind taking a shot at Cespedes’ power upside in tournaments, especially with the way that he has performed as of late. Teammate Michael Conforto is another option that I would consider in tournaments (44 percent hard hit rate in 124 PAs at the major league level). J.D. Martinez (DET) is priced close to the average price of a hitter on most sites and he’s more than just an average hitter. The matchup could lead to some Ks (Danny Salazar misses bats) but we also like the power potential (Salazar is home run prone and Martinez is a powerful hitter). We’ll take a shot at his power in tournaments. Michael Brantley (CLE) isn’t all that powerful relative to the outfield position (.171 ISO) but he’s a very good hitter (.375 wOBA vs. RHP). Alfredo Simon is one of the few pitchers that we feel confident in picking on (terrible run prevention and doesn’t miss bats) on this slate. Brantley is a bit overpriced relative to his power on some sites but he’s still worthy of tournament consideration given the plus matchup. Gregory Polanco (PIT) is a fine secondary target for cash games around the industry. He’s not a great hitter, even when he has the platoon edge (.323 wOBA vs. RHP) but he has some speed (25-30 SB upside over a full season) and Wily Peralta represents a nice matchup.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Jake Arrieta (CHC) – weather risk
2) David Price (TOR) – weather risk
3) Danny Salazar (CLE)
4) Jaime Garcia (STL)
5) Bartolo Colon (NYM)
6) A.J. Burnett (PIT)
7) Shelby Miller (ATL)
8) John Lamb (CIN)
9) Wily Peralta (MIL)
Jake Arrieta (CHC) – There are other pitchers on this slate that miss bats but no pitcher carries the security of Arrieta. He misses bats at a high rate (27 percent K rate/11 percent SwStr rate) and his run prevention is elite (2.03 ERA/2.46 FIP/2.73 xFIP). When hitters make contact against Arrieta, it’s usually a soft (one percent hard minus soft hit rate) ground ball (54 percent GB rate). A matchup against the hapless Phillies (ranked 28th in wRC+ against RHP) gives him a nice shot at keeping the earned runs below three. Vegas believes this as well, pegging the Phillies for the lowest implied total on this slate (below three runs). Arrieta is the highest favorite on this slate and it’s not particularly close (-280). This high probability for a W is huge on sites like DraftDay (a win is worth 10 points) and FanDuel (a win is worth four points). We realize that Arrieta is the highest priced pitcher on the board but he comes with the safest floor/highest upside thanks to his skill set and context. Arrieta is a core play of cash game rosters this evening.
Next in line:
David Price (TOR) (the Yankees are a top five offense vs. LHP according to wRC+ and Yankee Stadium is a good hitter’s park; this isn’t a great matchup/environment for Price but he goes deep into games and misses bats; target him in tournaments)
Bartolo Colon (NYM) – Bartolo Colon is the best complement to Jake Arrieta on multiple starting pitcher sites. He doesn’t miss bats (18 percent K rate/seven percent SwStr rate) and his run prevention isn’t great (4.18 ERA) but his expected ERAs offer some hope (3.77 FIP/3.86 xFIP) from a run prevention standpoint.
The Braves receive some much needed help offensively with Freddie Freeman back from the DL and Hector Olivera being called up. However, they still project as a below average offense and they’ve been really poor from a hitting standpoint this season (ranked 29th in wRC+ against RHP). We don’t like to give too much credit to small samples but this one deserves some level of consideration; in the last three starts against the Braves, Colon has averaged 17.2 DraftKings points (all three were quality starts). Those three starts ended up with a W for Colon and 23 percent of his wins have come against the Braves this season. He’s a solid favorite against the Braves once again (-160) and most importantly; his friendly price tag gives you financial flexibility on the hitting side. Colon is a better cash game target on sites that require you to roster multiple pitchers.
Additional starting pitcher notes: We love Danny Salazar‘s (CLE) ability to miss bats (27 percent K rate/12 percent SwStr rate) but his matchup isn’t any good (Tigers are ranked seventh in wRC+ against RHP). We prefer to pay for Salazar’s K upside on sites where he’s significantly discounted to the other top options at the position. He’s a healthy favorite (-200), which also gives him appeal on sites that weigh a win heavily. Target Salazar in tournaments. Jaime Garcia (STL) ranks a bit below out top tier pitchers. He’s pitching in a difficult environment (Great American Ball Park) and he doesn’t miss as many bats (19 percent K rate/8.5 SwStr rate), which is the reason why he lags a bit in our model. His run prevention is terrific (1.89 ERA) and that’s fueled by his ability to generate an elite GB rate (64 percent) as well as yielding soft contact (five percent soft minus hard hit rate). We wish that the price point was friendlier but since that’s not the case, Garcia is better suited for tournaments. A.J. Burnett (PIT) is making his first start since landing on the DL back in July. We’re not sure if any restrictions have been placed but this matchup against the Brewers (ranked 25th in wRC+ and are striking out over 21 percent of the time vs. RHP) provides upside. Target Burnett in tournaments. Wily Peralta (MIL) has a very low price point on DraftKings ($4,900). He’s in a much friendlier environment for pitchers than Milwaukee (PNC Park) and the Pirates offense is just average vs. RHP. It seems like he’s over an injury that was bothering him lately, which gives us more confidence here. Peralta is a fine target in multi-entry tournaments tonight. John Lamb (CIN) is minimum priced on DraftDay, Fantasy Aces and Yahoo. The Cardinals offense is starting to get healthier (Randal Grichuk is back from the DL) but they have been pretty awful vs. LHP this season (ranked 26th in wRC+ and are striking out over 22 percent of the time vs. LHP). This is a bad environment for Lamb and he’s power prone but he also misses bats (27 percent K rate/10 percent SwStr rate through five starts at the major league level; he missed plenty of bats at he minor league level, too). We’re willing to throw Lamb in multi-entry tournaments on sites that have priced him at or near the minimum.
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) Chicago Cubs
2) Cleveland Indians
The Cubs and Indians have the highest implied team totals on this slate (4.8 and 4.7 runs respectively). They’re both in similar matchups (Adam Morgan and Alfredo Simon both struggle with power and their run prevention is awful) with bad bullpens behind the starters. If you’re looking to stack the Cubs, I don’t mind targeting some of their LHBs (like Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber) even in a L/L matchup. If you’re playing Cubs in any format, you probably shouldn’t leave out Kris Bryant (our top ranked hitter). For the Indians, stacking their first five or six hitters will work in tournaments. My favorite Indians stack is Jason Kipnis/Francisco Lindor/Michael Brantley/Carlos Santana.
1) New York Mets
The Mets price points around the industry are a challenge for cash games but they have immense upside against the Braves terrible bullpen behind Shelby Miller. The matchup with Miller isn’t great to start but the amplification of the Braves horrid bullpen makes them a high upside tournament stack. Curtis Granderson/Daniel Murphy/Yoenis Cespedes/David Wright/Lucas Duda are the core five and you can add in d’Arnaud or Conforto for a full stack.
2) St. Louis Cardinals
Opposing pitcher John Lamb misses bats but he’s power prone. The Cardinals haven’t been a very productive offense vs. LHP but they’re starting to get healthy (Randal Grichuk is back in the lineup as well as Matt Adams). They’re also in a much better hitting venue (Great American Ball Park) than their home park (Busch Stadium). I don’t mind throwing Matt Carpenter with Johnny Peralta and Randal Grichuk in tournaments. Stephen Piscotty can be included in Cardinals stacks as well.
3) Pittsburgh Pirates
Wily Peralta struggles mightily with LHBs. We’re hoping that Pedro Alvarez is re-inserted back into the Pirates offense. My favorite Pirates stack for tournaments is Gregory Polanco/Andrew McCutchen/Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez. For cash games, Polanco and Walker are good values while Alvarez could emerge as a nice minimum priced play on FanDuel.
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.
TEX at SEA 3:40: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind north 8-16 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 3.
COL at SD 3:40: Hot and dry. Temps near 90. Air density is an 8. Wind west 7-14 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
TOR at NYY 7:05: An all-day soaking rain tapers off to showers at or just before scheduled 1st pitch. Another batch of rain will move in around 8-9 PM. I would think 60/40 chance that this one is ppd and delays are likely if they try and play. Temps in the mid to upper 60s. Air density is a 6 or a 7. Wind northeast 7-14 mph which blows in from left-center. The wind is a 4.
CHC at PHL 7:05: Same situation as NYY, maybe a little worse. I would say 70/30 chance that the game is ppd with delay threat high if they try and play. Just looks like rain all day and evening. Temps near 70. Air density is a 6 or a 7. Wind northeast 6-12 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.
MIL at PIT 7:05: Morning rain gives way to dry weather this afternoon and evening. Temps in the mid to upper 60s . Air density is a 6. Wind northeast 4-8 mph becoming nearly calm. The wind blows from left to right early in the game. The wind is a 5.
DET at CLE 7:10: Dry. Temps near 70 falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind northeast 5-10 mph lessening to 3-6 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.
NYM at ATL 7:10: A line of thunderstorms will push through the city this evening and should be gone by 7:30 to 8. Then they are good to play. Looks like the perfect situation for a delayed start to the game. Temps in the mid 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 7. Wind west-northwest 6-12 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
STL at CIN 7:10: Dry. Temps in the mid 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.