Daily Fantasy Rundown – September 11 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: Weather concerns in both Ohio cities of CLE and CIN
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: I think this is a really good slate for tournaments and a really murky slate for cash games. The lack of clarity and depth at starting pitcher makes cash games a challenge. We will likely see heavy overlap on starting pitchers and the starting pitchers in question come with elevated risks. It’s a slate that I’m going to lighten the load in cash games and focus on multi-entry tournaments a bit more.
Miguel Montero (CHC) – There aren’t many catcher options with favorable matchups that typically hit in good lineup spots, so we’re willing to stretch down the order for a plus matchup. I’m guessing Montero will catch game two against Alec Asher with David Ross getting the start against LHP Adam Morgan. Montero owns a solid .336 wOBA and .146 ISO against RHP since 2012. The bulk of his value comes in how poor Alex Asher is against LHBs (.854 OPS allowed in AAA this year) and a poor Phillies’ bullpen behind him. Teammate Kyle Schwarber (CHC) represents our top play at the position, where eligible, but Montero is a solid play with a bit of salary relief.
Matt Wieters (BAL) – We’ve touched on Wieters repeatedly over the last few weeks. The skill erosion is accounted for in his current price tag and even with the excess strikeouts he’s still hit for power against LHP this season (.175 ISO). Danny Duffy has consistently outperformed his peripherals and in a far tougher park we think there is an opportunity for regression. Duffy has yielded just a .319 wOBA to RHBs but a 30.2 percent hard hit rate doesn’t add up with his .275 BABIP allowed. If Wieters earns a strong lineup spot, he’d represent a fine punt play at the position.
Additional Catcher Notes: Welington Castillo (ARZ) has missed a few games with a wrist issue. We’re always concerned about hand/wrist injuries and their impacts on power, which is primarily Castillo’s game. The matchup with Alex Wood isn’t as bad as past years, especially while at home. Wood has allowed a .339 wOBA to RHBs this season. Castillo is an acceptable secondary target, particularly on sites where the price is below the cost of an average hitter. The catcher position is pretty thin in general, so we’ll be on the lookout for lineup changes or injury returns to highlight additional options.
The top plays section is very crowded with a bunch of studs in favorable matchups. The two we like most are Anthony Rizzo (CHC) and Paul Goldschmidt (ARZ). Rizzo gets a weak Phillies RHP who is backup by an awful pen. We expect the Cubs will have the highest implied run total of the evening and on the road Rizzo is guaranteed a ninth inning for a potential chance at an extra plate appearance. Goldschmidt has always dominated LHP (.440 wOBA, .277 ISO since 2012) and faces Alex Wood. The Dodgers bullpen is also vulnerable, though nothing like the Phillies, providing some upside throughout the game. Miguel Cabrera (DET) ranks as the next best option after Rizzo and Goldschmidt. He’ll face RHP Cody Anderson who has remarkably posted a 3.72 ERA despite striking out just 11.3 percent of batters. All three rank inside our Top 10 overall hitters with Rizzo and Goldschmidt in contention for the top overall spot.
Prince Fielder (TEX) – Fielder returns to the friendly hitting environment in Arlington and gets a matchup with fly ball prone Jesse Chavez. Chavez has spent most of his career as a swing man. His slight frame makes it difficult for him to hold up as a starter and this is reflected in his career ERAs and FIPs in the first and second halves of the season. For his career Chavez has posted a 3.72 ERA and 3.65 FIP in the first half compared to a 6.02/5.30 in the second half. We’re seeing this pattern take place again this season as he’s posted a 5.72 ERA in the second half. When Chavez goes wrong it’s usually with the long ball (1.79 HR/9 in the second half) and typically to LHBs (.355 wOBA, 1.57 HR/9 to LHBs this year). In a great park for power, Fielder represents one of the better values at the first base position.
Eric Hosmer (KC) – Hosmer isn’t quite the hitter Fielder is against RHP (.339 wOBA, .157 ISO since 2012) but he’s also getting a big park boost that should enhance his power profile and facing a weak RHP that allows lots of fly balls. Mike Wright has served up a .407 wOBA and 1.72 HR/9 to LHBs in a very small big league sample. He hasn’t been able to miss bats (10.7 K Rate against LHBs) at the big league level and as a result has been battered by lefties. Hosmer’s pretty cheap on most sites and ranks within our Top 25 hitters.
Additional first base notes: The rest of the first base options are better suited in tournaments as a part of stacks. Lucas Duda (NYM) stands out as a strong tournament play given the Braves atrocious bullpen and Matt Wisler‘s challenges with LHBs. Mitch Moreland (TEX), where first base only, is a contrarian alternative to Prince Fielder with all the same things in the matchup working in his favor. The Dodgers are an intriguing stack and Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) will go under-owned in a left on left matchup. Robbie Ray hasn’t dominated lefties (.334 wOBA allowed since 2013) and Gonzalez gets a nice park shift. He’s a fine option as part of a Dodgers stack or mini-stack.
Additional second base notes: The pricing and eligibility around the industry is so nuanced at second base that it’s difficult to make industry wide recommendations at the position. Instead, we’ll tackle it broadly in the notes. Chris Coghlan (CHC) is our favorite target at the position on sites he holds second base eligibility. He typically comes with an average price point and is an easy way to get exposure to a Cubs offense that we’re very high on. Steve Pearce (BAL) doesn’t always come with second base eligibility and he doesn’t always hit in a good lineup spot, but we love his power and production against LHP (.366 wOBA, .228 ISO). If both those things line up, he’s a strong value at a very cheap price point. On FanDuel, neither Coghlan nor Pearce have second base eligibility but Jason Kipnis (CLE) and Brian Dozier (MIN) are both priced down. These two are overpriced on most sites, but represent solid values at prices in line with an average hitter. We like Dozier a little bit more as the weaker opposing starter and plus hitting environment makes up for the lack of platoon advantage. Robinson Cano (SEA) is the closest thing we have to an industry wide play and it’s more due to a fair price point than anything that stands out as a value. He has a slightly above average matchup with Chad Bettis. On sites where none of these options stand out, a punt play may end up as your best bet. Tommy La Stella (CHC) could serve as that option depending on lineup spot. On a double-header day, it’s possible he earns the fifth spot (if the Cubs choose to rest Bryant) which would make him a strong play. The problem is we likely won’t have a lineup to evaluate before lock, so it’s a bit of a leap of faith. This is a position we’ll monitor heavily during alerts.
Jhonny Peralta (STL) – Neither the matchup for Carlos Correa (HOU) nor Troy Tulowitzki (TOR) really stand out on Friday. Correa gets a negative park shift and Jered Weaver, despite his declining velocity, retains his magical powers over BABIP (.256 allowed to RHBs). Tulowitzki faces a talented RHP in Luis Severino. Enter Jhonny Peralta, who on most sites serves as an extreme value play. Peralta has struggled in the second half but his peripherals have largely been in line. He’ll face Michael Lorenzen who has allowed a .329 wOBA and 1.18 HR/9 to RHBs as a big leaguer. Peralta is getting a nice park shift and generally gets a good lineup spot. He’s also one of the more accomplished hitters (.322 wOBA, .140 ISO) against same handed pitching (for a shortstop). On sites he’s priced around the minimum, like FanDuel, he’s a terrific value.
Ketel Marte (SEA) – Marte hasn’t shown any power (.049 ISO) against RHP but a solid 9.9 BB Rate, 0.78 EYE, and .324 wOBA allows him to get on base and a premium lineup spot (leading off) allows him to produce Fantasy points. Chad Bettis has allowed a .342 wOBA to LHBs in the big leagues and a lot of is fueled by a 10.3 percent BB Rate. Marte is particularly cheap on Yahoo ($9) where he makes for an excellent value.
Shortstop notes: Andres Blanco (PHI) is a potential pure punt play on DraftKings, but pricing is soft enough that it doesn’t seem like you need that type of salary relief. Javier Baez (CHC) is a phenomenal tournament play around the industry. The price is elevated enough and the lineup spot is typically unfavorable. Throw in a lack of clarity on the lineup and he’ll likely hold an ownership rate below 2-3 percent. He’s one of the few shortstops that has multiple home run upside and he’s started five of the last six games.
Adrian Beltre (TEX) – Jesse Chavez is typically tough on RHBs but we touched on the historical second half struggles. The Rangers have one of the healthier implied team totals on the slate (5.1 runs) and Beltre’s price around the industry is quite affordable. Beltre spent much of the season dealing with injuries and of late his performance has picked up. In August, he posted a .371 wOBA and .215 ISO which is more in line with his historical production. Beltre is a Top 30 hitter in our model and consistently priced below the average cost of a hitter around the industry. He’s one of our top targets and the best ways to get exposure to the Rangers hefty team total.
Justin Turner (LAD) – Turner is priced a bit below Beltre in a few places and represents a viable alternative if you need additional salary relief. He’s really improved against LHP in recent years (.346 wOBA, .183 ISO since 2014) and he always garners an elite lineup spot in the Dodgers’ offense. Robbie Ray has allowed a .353 wOBA and incredible 39.5 percent hard hit rate to RHBs. With the positive park shift and an above average implied total (4.6 runs), Turner is a fine value alternative.
Additional third base notes: The position has plenty of strong tournament plays either due to their individual skill set or as part of a team stack. Kris Bryant (CHC), Matt Carpenter (STL), David Wright (NYM), and Mike Moustakas (KC) are all parts of offenses we’re targeting in tournaments. Todd Frazier (CIN) is showing some signs of life of late and the price is way down on FanDuel. He has multiple home run upside at a near minimum price, making him a fine solo target in tournaments.
It’s a bit of an unusual day at the top of the outfield rankings because most of the best options aren’t in favorable matchups. We’re unlikely to spend all the way up in the outfield outside of tournament lineups where we’re forming stacks or mini-stacks.
Justin Ruggiano/Scott Van Slyke (LAD) – We touched on Robbie Ray‘s struggles with hard contact in the Turner recommendation and both Ruggiano and Van Slyke generate lots of hard contact against LHP. Since 2012, Ruggiano has posted a .388 wOBA, .254 ISO and 38.3 percent hard hit rate against lefties while Van Slyke has compiled a .417 wOBA, .257 ISO, and 36.5 percent hard hit rate. Last time out against a LHP, Ruggiano led off while Van Slyke hit fifth. If those lineup spots hold up, Ruggiano would represent the stronger value as he’d likely get three plate appearances against Robbie Ray and is less vulnerable to pinch hit risk. Both rank inside our Top 20 hitters overall and on most sites they don’t carry that kind of price tag.
Jason Heyward/Brandon Moss (STL) – Michael Lorenzen has been one of our favorite starters to target since his promotion. His fastball is very straight which leads to home runs, especially in Great American Ballpark. At the big league level, Lorenzen has allowed a .430 wOBA, 33.1 percent hard hit rate, and 1.82 HR/9 to LHBs. Heyward and Moss are both strong hitters against RHP (.364 wOBA/.181 ISO for Heyward, .356 wOBA/.253 ISO for Moss since 2012) and come with affordable price tags around the industry. Moss, in particular, is very cheap and his power-laden skill set is such a good matchup with Lorenzen.
Josh Reddick (OAK) – Reddick gets a huge park shift in his favor and a compelling matchup with Colby Lewis, who has allowed a .349 wOBA and 35.5 percent hard hit rate to LHBs since 2013. Reddick has big power against RHP (.198 ISO since 2012) but the overall production is hurt by playing in Oakland (.339 wOBA). In Arlington where LH power is inflated approximately 10 percent above the league average, Reddick’s skills should shine.
Shin Soo Choo/Will Venable (TEX) – Choo’s skills are stronger (.392 wOBA, .199 ISO since 2012) but Venable’s price tag offers more salary relief around the industry. Venable has been leading off of late and he’s a decent hitter against RHP (.319 wOBA, .154 ISO – mostly compiled in San Diego). The big park shift in his favor coupled with a favorable matchup with Jesse Chavez makes him a fine target for pure salary relief as long as he holds the leadoff spot. Choo is the better pure hitter and gets a strong lineup spot as well. His price tag isn’t as compelling as some of the options above but it’s a way to get exposure to the Rangers high team total. I’m more likely to deploy Choo than Venable, given Venable’s price point usually has some better alternatives from a skill perspective.
Alex Gordon (KC) – Gordon’s bump in the lineup has earned our attention over the past week. Unfortunately, he hasn’t rewarded it yet with a big effort. We’re optimistic that performance comes tonight. Gordon gets a huge park shift in his favor and faces a weak RHP in Mike Wright. Since 2012, Gordon has posted a solid .349 wOBA and .161 ISO despite playing the majority of his game in spacious Kauffman Stadium. On the road, on a team with a 4.4 implied run total, Gordon has a plate appearance expectation well above four and approaching five. This is a huge boost in opportunity over where he’s hit much of the season and is a primary reason he’s such a good value play.
Additional outfield notes: The Cubs outfielders are in a strong position as well but with some lineup ambiguity for the second game of a double-header, it seems unnecessary to rely on them in cash games. Dexter Fowler (CHC) ranks alongside all these strong options in our model inside our Top 25-30 hitters overall. The Mets are an interesting tournament stack so Curtis Granderson (NYM), though a bit expensive, is a very strong tournament play. Nolan Reimold (BAL) and Steve Pearce (BAL) are viable punt plays in a great hitting environment with the platoon advantage, but there is little reason with all the value plays to use them in cash games.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Chris Archer (TB)
2) Dallas Keuchel (HOU)
3) Steven Matz (NYM)
4) David Price (TOR)
5) Kyle Hendricks (CHC)
6) Gio Gonzalez (WAS)
7) Justin Verlander (DET)
8) Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA)
9) Andrew Cashner (SD)
10) Wade Miley (BOS)
11) Charlie Morton (PIT)
12) Jimmy Nelson (MIL)
13) Jake Peavy (SF)
Chris Archer (TB) – Archer has far and away the highest K Rate of any starter available in the evening slate. He gets the benefit of pitching at home where he owns a 2.86 ERA and a 34.3 K Rate this season. The matchup with the Red Sox isn’t elite but it’s not a bad one either. The Red Sox rank 11th in wRC+ against RHP but outside of Ortiz most of their best hitters are right handed. Vegas has handed the Red Sox an implied run total of just 3.1 runs, which is lowest on the slate. Archer’s price tag may look prohibitive at first glance but when building rosters it’s not very difficult to squeeze in on either DraftKings or FanDuel. We recommend making him a building block in cash games.
Next in line:
Dallas Keuchel (HOU) – Keuchel gets a nice park shift in his favor and the Angels haven’t hit LHP particularly well this season despite having a roster that projects as above average against lefties. With a similar, or more expensive, price tag than Archer on most sites; we’d rather pay for the security of strikeouts. Keuchel is a fine tournament play.
Steven Matz (NYM) – Matz is an elite value play in our eyes. He ranks solidly as our third best starter and often isn’t priced inside the Top 10 on most sites. The Braves rank 28th in wRC+ against LHP with an above average K Rate (21 percent). Matz owns the second highest K Rate of any starter on the slate. He doesn’t work as deep into games as Price or Keuchel but the run prevention probabilities are strong in this matchup. The Braves have just a 3.4 implied run total and Matz is a strong favorite (-180). Strikeouts are always there for Matz and with good run prevention and win probabilities, we view him as an elite value play.
Additional starting pitcher notes: We feel pretty strongly that a combination of Archer and Matz are the best ways to attack single starting pitcher and multiple starting pitcher sites. There are lower upside options with compelling price tags around the industry, but we feel they’re better as low ownership targets in tournaments. Charlie Morton (PIT) is the one that comes to mind first. The Brewers are primarily right-hand dominant and Morton has held RHBs to a .280 wOBA since 2013 while inducing a 63.4 percent GB Rate and whiffing 17.6 percent of batters. The lack of strikeouts limits his upside a bit but the matchup should fuel efficiency in run prevention. Kyle Hendricks (CHC) is another potential tournament play. Our model views the Phillies lineup as very weak but Hendricks’ vulnerability to LHBs (.342 wOBA allowed) brings some volatility.
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) Texas Rangers
2) Chicago Cubs
The Ranges and Cubs have the highest implied run totals on the slate. The Rangers will come with more certainty as the Cubs first game won’t be finished before lock. Both offenses are great to target in both cash games and tournaments, but I’d lean Rangers just due to lineup certainty in cash if choosing between the two.
1) New York Mets
2) Kansas City Royals
3) St. Louis Cardinals
4) Los Angeles Dodgers
5) Oakland Athletics
The Mets are an elite tournament stack. The offense is deep, the Braves bullpen is a disaster, and Matt Wisler is averaging around five innings per start. The individual price points don’t stand out for cash games, but this is a strong tournament stack that may get overlooked due to a perceived poor hitting environment.
The Royals, Cardinals, Dodgers, and Athletics are all similar stack options. They represent above average offenses getting huge park shifts in their favor and facing opposing starters that historically don’t work deep into games (Colby Lewis the lone exception). The Royals have the most skilled offense and thus top this group, but the Cardinals/Dodgers/Athletics group all has salary relief on their side. It’s possible to stack those three units and still have exposure to high end starting pitching.
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.
TOR at NYY 7:05: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.
KC at BLT 7:05: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind nearly calm. The wind is a 5.
MIL at PIT 7:05: Dry to start the game. A light, steady rain will move into the region after 11 PM. Thus, not expecting any problems with this game. However, we will keep an eye on the game in case the rain speeds up and causes a delay risk late in the game. Temps near 70 falling into the mid-60s. Air density is a 6. Wind northwest 5-10 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
DET at CLE 7:10: A light but steady rain moves in right about or just after the scheduled 1st pitch. We think the rain will likely be light enough to play through (especially if the game starts dry) but IF the forecast is off (ie. if the rain is heavier), we have a risk of PPD (20-30%). Delay risk is not too much more than the ppd risk (because of the light nature of the rain, 25-35%). Another factor to try and measure in is that the temperatures will be cool, only near 60 falling into the 50s, making for a miserable environment for a baseball game. Air density is a 5. Wind north-northeast 9-18 mph, making it feel even cooler. The wind blows in from left-center and is a 3 on our wind scale.
STL at CIN 7:10: Occasional light rain or drizzle, especially in the beginning of the game. The heaviest and steadiest rain should be over by scheduled first pitch. This is what we think will happen, but IF the heavier and steadier rain is slower to exit, we have a risk of PPD (10-20%). We think that the chance of a delayed start to the game (20-25%) is higher than a delay (~20%) simply because the heaviest and steadiest rain should be pushing away. Basically timing is key with this game. Temps in the mid-60s falling into the lower 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind north 5-10 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
WSH at MIA 7:10: The retractable roof will likely be closed.
BOS at TB 7:10: Dome.
NYM at ATL 7:35: Dry. Temps near 80 falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind west 5-10 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
OAK at TEX 8:05: Dry. Temps near 90 falling to near 80. Air density is an 8. Wind north-northeast 9-18 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 7.
MIN at CHW 8:10: Rain in the morning will taper off to scattered showers. No ppd threat, risk of a delay is very low as well (10%). Temps in the low to mid 60s falling into the upper 50s. Air density is a 5 becoming a 4. Wind north-northeast 9-18 mph lessening to 6-12 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 7 becoming a 6.
CHC at PHL 8:35: Dry. Temps in the mid-70s falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind west-northwest 4-8 mph becoming nearly calm. The wind blows in from left or from left to right at times. The wind is a 4 or a 5.
LAD at AZ 9:40: Retractable roof. With temperatures near 100 to begin the game, the roof will likely be closed.
HOU at LAA 10:05: Dry. Temps in the low 80s falling into the mid to upper 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind west-southwest 9-18 mph lessening to 7-14 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 7 becoming a 6.
COL at SEA 10:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the mid-80s falling into the low to mid 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind northwest 7-14 mph lessening to 4-8 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
SD at SF 10:15: Dry. Temps in the mid-70s falling into the mid-60s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind west-northwest 15-30 mph with gusts past 35 mph early in the game lessening to 12-25 mph which blows out to right-center. The wind is a 10 becoming a 9.