Daily Fantasy Rundown – September 12 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: PPD risks in BLT and PHL. The 2nd game in NYY looks like a ppd risk while the 1st game has a delay/stoppage risk late. CLE and PIT have minor delay risk but no ppd risk.
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) – Saturday’s catcher recommendation is largely the same as Friday. 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. Montero remains a solid hitter against RHP (.338 wOBA, .145 ISO since 2012) and rookie Jerad Eickhoff has been susceptible in a very small sample to LHBs (.484 wOBA allowed at the big league level). The Cubs have an implied run total approaching five and Montero is a cheaper way to get exposure to them at a thin position. Teammate Kyle Schwarber (CHC) represents our top play at the position, where eligible, and he is worth spending on.
Additional Catcher Notes: Victor Martinez (DET) has been miserable in the second half and from the left side all season but at minimum price points, he’s an acceptable punt play against contact prone Cody Anderson. Evan Gattis (HOU), also where eligible, is a fine option as well with his price down some. Hector Santiago is vulnerable to RH power which is Gattis’ specialty.
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) – We touched on Eickhoff’s struggles with LHBs in the Montero/Schwarber recommendation and this extends to our confidence in Rizzo as well. Rizzo is the Cubs most complete hitter (.374 wOBA, .241 ISO against RHP since 2013 and .357 wOBA, .180 ISO against LHP since 2013) and he gets a boost with a porous Phillies bullpen behind Eickhoff. The high price tag on Rizzo makes it difficult to spend on him in cash games while emphasizing Bumgarner, but he represents our favorite play at the position.
Jose Abreu (CHW) – Abreu has always crushed LHP (.393 wOBA, .226 ISO) and he’ll face Tommy Milone who has allowed 1.22 HR/9 to RHBs as a big leaguer. Milone has spent most of his career pitching in big ballparks and US Cellular is one of the friendliest parks for power. It’s a tough place for someone like Milone (career fly ball rate over 40 percent) to make a living. Abreu is our second ranked first base option.
Miguel Cabrera (DET) – The Tigers get a big boost in matchup with Cody Anderson getting pushed back a day. Anderson simply doesn’t miss bats (11.3 K Rate) and he’s relied heavily on generating soft contact (22.9 percent vs. RHBs). Typically, the two don’t go together. If you can’t miss bats, usually you have a hard time generating soft contact. As the sample increases at the big league level, we expect this to regress. Cabrera is arguably the most skilled hitter in the game and his price point comes slightly discounted relative to Rizzo. He’s our third ranked first base option and inside our Top Five hitters overall.
Prince Fielder/Mike Napoli (TEX) – We typically don’t recommend first baseman in left on left matchups as the depth at the position is so strong you don’t need to attack the worst platoon split. In this case though, we’ll make an exception. Prince Fielder is a pretty good hitter against LHP (.343 wOBA, .164 ISO since 2013) and the Rangers have an implied run total over five runs (5.2). Sean Nolin likely won’t work deep into the game (averaged less than five innings per start in AAA) which should allow Fielder half his plate appearances against the bullpen. On sites where the price is way down (FanDuel comes to mind), Fielder is an adequate option to get exposure to the highest implied run total and get enough salary relief to afford Madison Bumgarner. Napoli is the more consistent value around the industry. His price is down from a poor season on the whole but he generally hits fifth against LHP and historically has hit LHP well (.392 wOBA, .230 ISO since 2012). Napoli represents the best pure value industry wide at the position.
Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) – Rubby de la Rosa has not been able to get lefties out all season. He’s allowed a .396 wOBA, 2.02 HR/9, and a 30.3 percent hard hit rate. Gonzalez is getting a nice park shift and has compiled a .361 wOBA and .200 ISO against RHP since 2012. The Dodgers have a healthy implied run total (4.5 runs) and on a few sites Gonzalez is priced at the average cost of a hitter.
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 Williams Perez inability to work deep into games. Mike Bolsinger has been tough on RHBs all season but we saw the weak Dodgers bullpen exposed last night. Paul Goldschmidt (ARZ) is a fine tournament target again on Saturday. Ryan Howard (PHI) and Mark Trumbo (SEA) are potentially cheaper options with home run upside against Dan Haren (very homer prone) and Yohan Flande (lefty that struggles with RHBs).
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. He’s your primary target on DraftKings. Brian Dozier (MIN) faces an above average LHP but given Dozier’s history against LHP (.363 wOBA, .222 ISO) and the positive park shift, he shouldn’t be priced as an average hitter. This is the case on FanDuel, where we view him as a strong option in cash games. The Cubs alternative second base option (La Stella or Baez) will represent a fine punt play (whichever one is in the lineup) where priced as such. Daniel Murphy (NYM) and Jose Altuve (HOU) are a little pricey for lineup construction purposes but we love their matchups and view them as strong secondary plays or elite tournament options.
Carlos Correa (HOU) – Stud rookie Carlos Correa has exceeded even optimistic projections, in large part due to how quickly his power has developed. He’s hit 17 homers in 78 games, en route to a .224 ISO. Some of this is certainly luck related (22.4 HR/FB rate likely isn’t sustainable), but Correa’s ability to walk (9.2 percent) while making enough contact (18.7 K rate) at such a young age (almost 21) is very encouraging. Correa is our top play at the shortstop position in a plus matchup (Hector Santiago is a bit wild, leading to BB and HR problems overall) where he holds the platoon edge. Correa is a secondary play on DraftKings, but he’s pretty affordable on FanDuel making him our primary target there.
Corey Seager (LAD) – Seager has remarkably walked 18.8 percent of the time while striking out just 12.5 percent of the time (1.50 EYE) through 32 plate appearances. Obviously the sample size is small and that profile isn’t sustainable, at least on the walk side (single digit walk rates in the Minors), but it’s always encouraging to see young players command the strike zone immediately upon getting to the big leagues. This has helped lead to a phenomenal 40.9 hard hit rate for Seager, which is buoying his production. He’ll have the platoon edge tonight in hitter friendly Chase Field against Rubby de la Rosa (career .371 wOBA and 1.38 HR/9 allowed to LHBs). On sites where Correa is too expensive, Seager is the best value play option at the position.
Ketel Marte (SEA) – The Seattle speedster is a secondary value across the industry. He’s the third straight youngster in today’s shortstop option who has an encouraging walk rate (10.2 percent of the time). That’s extremely important for Marte since the majority of his DFS value hinges upon runs scored and stolen bases, and he doesn’t project to hit for a higher average. Marte and the entire Mariners offense has a lot of upside tonight, despite playing at home in their big park, as they face Yohan Flande (4.65 ERA in 2015, 4.92 for his career is right around the expectation set by most projection systems moving forward) and a wretched Rockies bullpen (highest ERA in MLB).
Additional shortstop notes: Additional tournament options across the industry include Alexei Ramirez (CHW) (cash viable on stricter pricing sites where the price is cheap), Francisco Lindor (CLE) and Javier Baez (CHC).
Adrian Beltre (TEX) – Beltre ranks as our top option at the position and he’s simply not priced this way on any site. The Rangers have the highest implied run total of any team and Beltre is the most direct way to get exposure. He’s mis-priced, in the middle of the lineup, and has the platoon advantage. Since 2013, Beltre owns a .386 wOBA and .196 ISO against LHP. He has relatively neutral splits so he holds his value deep into games. Without taking price into consideration, he’s a top 10 hitter overall on this slate. The price tag makes no sense. Attack it.
Additional third base notes: Kris Bryant (CHC) and David Wright (NYM) represent strong tournament options as part of respective team stacks. Bryant rates very highly in our model (similar to Beltre) but comes at a much more severe price tag.
Nelson Cruz (SEA) – Cruz amazingly has posted his second straight 40 home-run season, despite playing in a big home park and still having a few weeks left on the season. His awesome power particular shines against LHP. Cruz has a career 143 wRC+ against LHP (.169 and .207 last season and this season) and a .247 ISO (.255 and .331). Opposing pitcher Yohand Flande gets a positive park shift but still projects for a subpar outing. Note his .363 wOBA and 1.62 HR/9 allowed to RHBs over his two year MLB career.
JD Martinez (DET) – Martinez is underpriced around the industry. He’s showing last year’s power breakout (.238 ISO) was not a fluke as he’s actually hit for more power this year (.265 ISO). It’s pretty evident what has keyed Martinez’s increase in power. Here are his hard hit rates by season for each year of his career, including this year: 28.8/26.2/34.1/43.3/43.7. Not surprisingly his HR/FB rates have risen in line with those increases. Martinez doesn’t hold the platoon edge today but should have plenty of opportunities to put the ball in play and showcase his power against the extremely contact oriented Cody Anderson (11.3 K percentage).
Delino Deshields (TEX) – Deshields is a great way to access a Rangers offense with the highest total on the night. Not only are the Rangers in the most favorable hitting environment for this slate, but they face LHP Sean Nolin, who had a high 4.83 FIP in AAA and has a ZiPS and Steamer projected ERAs right around 4.50. With elite stolen base upside, the platoon edge and the aforementioned contextual factors in his favor, Deshields makes a lot of sense in cash games.
Carlos Gomez (HOU) – Gomez clearly isn’t the DFS player he was the past two seasons. Luckily for us, that’s more than accounted in his current price tag around the industry. He’s still a mini-event type player with 26 combined homers and steals. Gomez’s numbers against LHP have been very poor this season. Some of that is his own fault (hitting too many ground balls), but some of it is just plain old bad luck over a small sample size. He has a lowly .243 BABIP in that split despite plate discipline numbers far better than his career marks and a hard hit rate that is right in line with his career mark. There’s upside here at this price point against the wild, fly ball oriented Hector Santiago.
Additional outfield notes: Dexter Fowler/Kyle Schwarber/Chris Coghlan (CHC) are the best secondary values across the industry. We’ve hit on the Cubs LHBs a few times throughout the content already, and Fowler, Schwarber and Coghlan should hit first through third respectively. Additional cash game alternatives include Gregory Polanco (PIT), Curtis Granderson (NYM) and Andre Ethier (LAD). Some high upside options that are better geared for tournaments unless they come at a big discount are Mark Trumbo (SEA), George Springer (HOU), Yoenis Cespedes (NYM), Ryan Braun (MIL), Andrew McCutchen (PIT) and AJ Pollock (ARI).
Starting pitcher rankings (salary not taken into account)
1) Madison Bumgarner (SF)
2) Noah Syndergaard (NYM)
3) Jose Fernandez (MIA)
4) Ian Kennedy (SD)
5) Lance McCullers (HOU)
6) Jose Quintana (CHW)
7) Hector Santiago (LAA)
8) Roenis Elias (SEA)
9) Mike Bolsinger (LAD)
10) Tanner Roark (WAS)
11) Dan Haren (CHC)
12) Jeff Locke (PIT)
Madison Bumgarner (SF) – Bumgarner should form the core of your cash game lineups on both multi and single SP sites. Aside from being tremendously hot (quality start in six of seven starts, K percentage of 25 or more in six of eight starts), Bumgarner is simply having a dominant season (career high 26.8 K percentage; career best 2.94 xFIP). He’ll face a Padres offense that is not only not intimidating against southpaws (20th in wRC+), but swings and misses plenty against them (23.0 percent of the time, fourth highest mark in MLB). Pitching in the friendliest environment in all of baseball, Bumgarner is a heavy -185 favorite in the game with the lowest total (just 6.5).
Roenis Elias (SEA) – While Elias is our eighth ranked starting pitcher, the truth is none of the options ranked ahead of him are particularly appealing given their price points. As a result, it makes sense to save some cash on your second starting pitcher on multi-SP sites and dip down to Elias’ low salary on both DraftKings and DraftDay. Elias faces a Rockies team that has not only been putrid on the road (29th in wRC+, second highest K percentage at 23.9 percent), but hasn’t been able to hit southpaws if their lives depended on it. Even counting their home games in Coors Field, the Rockies rank dead last in MLB in wRC+ against LHP with a 66 mark; the next worst team isn’t even all that close, resting at 75 (White Sox). On top of the low wRC+, this team will whiff, striking out 23 percent of the time against LHP, the third highest rate in MLB in that split. Elias may not be much better than the average pitcher (career 4.11 xFIP), but he’ll strike out close to a league average amount of batters (18.9 K percentage) and is pitching as a -185 favorite at home in pitcher friendly Safeco Field. With the lack of reliability among second-tier starting pitchers, you’re best off saving some money and using Elias in an extremely favorable situation.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Noah Syndergaard (NYM) is a great tournament pivot off of Madison Bumgarner. He’s striking out nearly 26 percent of hitters and is the heaviest favorite on the slate (-210) facing an extremely weak Atlanta lineup (dead last in ISO against RHP). Jose Fernandez (MIA) is an elite talent, but expect the Marlins to be extremely careful with him in his first game back since going on the DL. He’s a tournament option only. Lance McCullers (HOU) (high K rate, favorable park shift but a volatile skill set) and Ian Kennedy (SD) (good K rate but super high hard hit rate has prevented him from matching expected peripherals; pitching in a great park but no certainty here) are two other excellent tournament options. If forced to pivot off of Bumgarner and/or Elias in c ash games, Syndergaard and Kennedy make for the best alternative options.
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) Texas Rangers
2) Chicago Cubs
We hit on the positive contextual factors for these two teams throughout the positional analysis and have a large drop off in team offensive rankings following the Cubs. These are the best full stacks for tournaments and teams you should force some exposure to in cash games.
1) Chicago White Sox (Tommy Milone is an extremely homer prone pitcher pitching in US Cellular Field; plus, he’s backed up by a Twins bullpen that ranks dead last in MLB in xFIP)
2) New York Mets (This is another stack where the opposing team’s bullpen amplifies the offensive upside as the Atlanta relief pitchers have the second highest ERA in the league. It’s not as if the starting matchup is devoid of upside either. Williams Perez has a 4.98 xFIP through 16 starts and 19 total appearances. He’s very wild and induces very little soft hit contact.)
3) Pittsburgh Pirates (The park may keep people away but opposing pitcher Kyle Davies has such a horrible ZiPS projection (6.09 ERA, 1.78 HR/9), that it’s worth taking a shot stacking against him even if the Steamer projections are much more modest.)
4) Detroit Tigers (We see lots of variance in the game logs in contact oriented starting pitchers such as Cody Anderson. When the BABIP gods are on his side, he can get away without missing bats (seven quality starts in 11 attempts), but when they aren’t things get ugly – 19 earned runs in just 13.1 innings in his four non-quality starts.)
5) Los Angeles Dodgers (Dodgers drop down this list as they aren’t exactly contrarian but rank well behind the primary stacks. Still, it makes sense to have some exposure to a mini-stack if multi-entering given the positive park shift and cheap middle infield start.)
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.
CHC at PHL 7:05: Rain moves into the area around noon and will last through 10-11 PM. There will be some breaks in the rain at times but in general, it is a damp, chilly, miserable night for baseball. Temps only in the low to mid 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind southeast becoming southwest 6-12 mph which blows from right to left and then out to right. The wind is a 5 becoming a 6.
MIL at PIT 7:05: A 20% coverage of showers early in the game, lessening to 10% late. We could see a delay but the ppd risk is next to nothing. Temps near 60 falling into the mid 50s. Air density is a 4 becoming a 3. Wind northwest 10-20 mph early lessening to 7-14 mph which blows out to center. The wind is an 8 or a 9 becoming a 6.
MIN at CHW 7:10: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 60s falling into the mid 50s. Air density is a 5 becoming a 4. Wind north 8-16 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 7 becoming a 6.
DET at CLE 7:10: A 20% coverage of showers early in the game, lessening to 10% late. We could see a delay but the ppd risk is next to nothing. Temps near 60 falling into the mid 50s. Air density is a 4 becoming a 3. Wind north 9-18 mph lessening to 7-14 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 3 becoming a 4.
NYM at ATL 7:10: Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind northwest 9-18 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
WSH at MIA 7:10: The retractable roof will likely be closed.
OAK at TEX 8:05: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 80s falling to near 70. Air density is an 8 becoming a 6. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.
LAD at AZ 8:10: Retractable roof. With temperatures in the low 100s to start the game, the roof will likely be closed.
HOU at LAA 9:05: Dry. Temps near 80 falling into the mid 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind west-southwest 9-18 mph lessening to 7-14 mph which blows out to right. The wind is an 8 becoming a 6.
SD at SF 9:05: Dry. Temps near 70 falling into the low to mid 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind west-northwest 15-25 mph with gusts past 30 mph lessening to 8-16 mph which blows out to right-center. The wind is a 10 becoming a 6.
COL at SEA 9:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps near 80 falling to near 70. Air density is a 7. Wind northwest 5-10 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.