Daily Fantasy Rundown – September 14 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Monday’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: Strangely, the game with the most potential to see a weather delay tonight is in SF but the chances of problems are not that high.
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.
Buster Posey (SF) – Posey is the top catcher play of the night but on most sites it will be difficult to fit him in. Keyvius Sampson has allowed a .326 wOBA and 34.3 percent hard hit rate to RHBs as a big leaguer. Sampson is getting a nice park shift in his favor and he’s got some strikeout ability, but he’s very wild and our model overall doesn’t think much of him. Posey’s value against LHP is neutralized in this series by a heavily RH pen, but he still ranks clearly ahead of our other options. He’s relatively affordable but today is a challenging day to look for anything but value with Kershaw as the emphasis.
Matt Wieters (BAL) – Catcher is exceptionally thin on Monday night and despite Wieters’ struggles this season, the power against LHP has remained (.337 wOBA, .175 ISO). He’ll face Eduardo Rodriguez who has handled RHBs well (.282 wOBA) at the big league level. The matchup isn’t elite but the Orioles have an implied run total of 4.5 runs (second highest on the night) and Wieters should command a solid lineup spot.
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. He gets a good lineup spot and Tyler Duffey has allowed a .353 wOBA to LHBs early in his career. Welington Castillo (ARZ) is cheap on DraftKings. He always gets a good lineup spot and his power dependent ways aren’t a bad match for James Shields (1.43 HR/9). Shields has mostly been victimized by LHBs but Castillo’s power is a viable cheap route on a site that doesn’t penalize for outs made. If Josh Phegley (OAK) landed in a good lineup spot, he’d also enter the conversation. He’s getting a big park boost and is facing John Danks who has historically struggled against RHBs (.351 wOBA, 1.39 HR/9 since 2013). Travis d’Arnaud (NYM) is one of the top tournament options at the position. He usually gets a solid lineup spot against LHP and Justin Nicolino projects very poorly. The price point on d’Arnaud makes him a poor cash game play.
Spending isn’t an emphasis with bats today, but if you are spending the two highest ranked first basemen in our model are David Ortiz (BOS) and Miguel Cabrera (DET). Ortiz will get the platoon advantage which he has feasted on consistently throughout his career. Miguel Cabrera gets a young pitcher who has outperformed expectations early on and is backed up by a very weak bullpen.
Brandon Belt (SF) – Keyvius Sampson has allowed a .428 wOBA and 36.5 percent hard hit rate to LHBs in his very brief major league experience. Projection systems aren’t high on the young RHP who struggled at AAA (5.08 ERA, 12.4 BB Rate) before his promotion to the majors where he’s also struggled (6.94 ERA, 4.74 FIP). Belt has always hit RHP well (.359 wOBA, .184 ISO) but his home park limits the scoring upside and Bruce Bochy likes to hit him lower than we’d like in the order. Of late, he’s been hitting fifth and in this matchup (which is buoyed by a nearly all RH pen), Belt stands out as a nice value. He ranks inside our Top 15 hitters overall this evening.
Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) – Gonzalez has a slightly favorable price point all over the industry. Jonathan Gray isn’t an elite matchup. He has good stuff and outside of Coors Field, he’s pitched well this season (2.35 ERA, 2.95 FIP). He does have an elevated BB Rate against LHBs (11.3 percent) and has allowed a hard hit rate close to 35 percent. Gonzalez is a solid hitter against RHP (.361 wOBA, .201 ISO since 2012) and the consistent discount around the industry makes him a primary target.
Additional first base notes: Mike Napoli (TEX) and Victor Martinez (DET) are secondary value plays at the position. I prefer Napoli over Martinez despite the tougher matchup. I have concerns over skill erosion for Martinez and I’m willing to take chances at a thin position like catcher, but the opportunity cost at first base is substantially higher.
Brian Dozier (MIN) – Dozier has always hit LHP well (.360 wOBA, .223 ISO) and the Twins as a team are far better against lefties. Kyle Lobstein has allowed a .349 wOBA and 1.10 HR/9 to RHBs as a big leaguer and the bullpen behind him is very weak. Dozier’s price point varies considerably around the industry but he’s clearly the top play at the position. The Twins have the highest implied run total on the slate (4.7 runs) and Dozier cracks our Top 25 hitters overall. He’s a core cash game play on FanDuel where he has the average cost of a hitter ($3,000).
Additional second base notes: Once again pricing and eligibility are all over the place. Steve Pearce (BAL), where eligible, ranks as a really nice value play. As long as he hits in the top five spots in the order, we’d consider him a fine target on sites with 2B eligibility. Chase Utley (LAD) is probably the most consistently affordable option in a favorable matchup and good lineup spot, but the upside is pretty limited. Logan Forsythe (TB) has a good matchup for his power against CC Sabathia, but the scoring environment isn’t great and the Yankees bullpen behind Sabathia is exceptional. As a result, we really want to emphasize price on Forsythe when considering investment. I’d want him meaningfully cheaper than Dozier. Jose Altuve (HOU) and Anthony Rendon (WAS) are viable parts of team stacks or mini-stacks. The Astros get a nice positive park shift and face a LHP, albeit a very good one. Altuve is priced up but as part of an Astros mini-stack, he’s viable. Rendon’s matchup with Nola isn’t great but a very bad bullpen lurks behind Nola. If the Nationals can get him out early, the floodgates could open.
Carlos Correa (HOU) – Correa is certainly the most skilled shortstop in action today and he gets a nice park shift in his favor but the matchup with Cole Hamels is pretty difficult. He’s better used in tournaments as part of an Astros stack or mini-stack.
Marcus Semien (OAK) – Semien has hit leadoff the last few days against LHP and tonight he faces John Danks in a very favorable offensive environment. Semien is a pretty skilled hitter against LHP (.338 wOBA, .147 ISO) and his price on most sites hasn’t adjusted to the premier lineup spot. As long as he’s leading off, he’ll represent a core cash game play around the industry. He’s a Top 45 hitter in our model and the second ranked shortstop in our model.
Additional shortstop notes: Corey Seager (LAD) is a very talented young hitter and he’ll hold the platoon advantage against Jonathan Gray. Seager has been hitting sixth of late and at home the expected plate appearances difference between he and Semien is almost a full plate appearance. As a result, we prefer Semien strongly but Seager isn’t a bad alternative.
Miguel Sano (MIN) – Kyle Lobstein is arguably the weakest pitcher on the board and he’s backed up by the weakest bullpen in baseball. Sano has ridiculous power against LHP (.254 ISO, .396 wOBA) and he’s one of our Top 10 hitters overall on Monday’s slate. It’s difficult to pay up for him, especially given the depth at third base, but he represents our top play at the position.
Next in line: David Wright (NYM) – The Mets have the third highest implied run total on the slate and Wright has historically mashed LHP (.413 wOBA, .193 ISO since 2012). He’s also a Top 15 hitter in our model.
Trevour Plouffe (MIN) – Plouffe is the more affordable way to get exposure to the Twins offense which has the highest implied run total of the evening. He’s hit LHP well (.356 wOBA, .205 ISO since 2012) and typically hits fifth for the Twins. He is surrounded by strong hitters against LHP (Hunter behind him, Sano/Dozier/Hicks in front of him) so the lineup support is very strong and the struggles of the Tigers pen aid his value deep into the game. Plouffe cracks our Top 25 overall hitters.
Danny Valencia (OAK) – Valencia has primarily been utilized as a lefty masher throughout his career (.365 wOBA, .181 ISO since 2012) but he’s settled into the everyday cleanup hitter role in Oakland. He gets a big park shift and a favorable matchup against lefty John Danks who has allowed a .351 wOBA and 1.39 HR/9 to RHBs since 2013. Plouffe and Valencia rank very closely in our model but Plouffe generally comes with a better price point around the industry. Ultimately, I’d let price help dictate my decision.
Additional third base notes: Evan Longoria (TB) is a tremendous secondary value. CC Sabathia has really struggled with RH power (1.60 HR/9 to RHBs since 2013) the last few seasons and Longoria has always crushed LHP (.391 wOBA, .237 ISO). In addition, the two have a long history against one another and Longoria has always hit Sabathia well. It makes sense given Longoria’s elite history against lefties and Sabathia’s recent struggles against righties, but it’s a nice bow on top of an already strong matchup. Third base is also ripe with additional depth that can make fine tournament plays. Adrian Beltre (TEX), Travis Shaw (BOS), and Pablo Sandoval (BOS) are all solid tournament options.
As noted throughout the content, expensive bats aren’t a primary target in cash games. Mike Trout (LAA) and Bryce Harper (WAS) rank at the top of our model while Yoenis Cespedes (NYM) has very a favorable matchup. All three are better options in tournaments, either as solo stack fillers or as parts of stacks.
Aaron Hicks (MIN) – Hicks is the leadoff hitter on the offense with the highest implied run total. He also has a strong history against LHP (.365 wOBA, .192 ISO as a big leaguer) but as a switch hitter holds his value deep into games. He’s reasonably priced around the industry and our top value target at the position.
Andre Ethier (LAD) – Ethier is a strong option as a source of pure salary relief industry wide. We’ve emphasized throughout the content the focus on Kershaw and how that drives lineup construction. We need cheap bats to fill out the roster and Ethier is solid against RHP (.369 wOBA, .183 ISO since 2012) and generally hits fifth. The Rockies have some lefties that can neutralize him late in the pen, which is always a concern with expanded September rosters (more likely to get pinch hit for), but the near minimum tag gives him upside before the game gets there.
Additional outfield notes: The rest of the outfield values are really tightly bunched together and lineup spots or site specific pricing will really help shake them out. Torii Hunter (MIN) would represent one of our top values if promoted into the first five spots in the lineup. He still hits lefties very well and the Twins are our top offense tonight to target. He’s also very cheap. Nolan Reimold (BAL) has earned some time as the leadoff hitter of late, if that continues he’s a fine source of salary relief for an Orioles offense with the second highest implied run total. Teammate, Steve Pearce (BAL), is another solid target if he gets the lineup spot we desire. Jacoby Ellsbury (NYY) and Brett Gardner (NYY) are underpriced a bit around the industry. We like them more as secondary targets even in a favorable matchup with Erasmo Ramirez. Erasmo is more vulnerable to power than on base guys and the shift out of Yankee Stadium hurts their power profile. David Peralta (ARZ) is a fun target given James Shields struggles with the long ball this season. Ender Inciarte (ARZ) is more of a secondary target since he’s not a pure power guy and Shields controls the running game so well. Mark Canha (OAK) is a hitter we like a lot in the matchup against Danks, but price points are generally elevated. The Astros outfielders are all event play specialists and in a favorable offensive environment. George Springer (HOU) and Carlos Gomez (HOU) are strong tournament plays either in stacks or as solo stack fillers.
Starting pitcher rankings (salary not taken into account)
1) Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
2) Jordan Zimmermann (WAS)
3) Carlos Carrasco (CLE)
4) Cole Hamels (TEX)
5) Garrett Richards (LAA)
6) Sonny Gray (OAK)
7) Taijuan Walker (SEA)
8) Logan Verrett (NYM)
9) CC Sabathia (NYY)
10) Scott Kazmir (HOU)
11) James Shields (SD)
12) Aaron Nola (PHI)
13) Tim Hudson (SF)
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) – Over the second half of the season our focus has shifted away from Kershaw’s talent level and onto the price point relative to the rest of the slate. The price point remains elevated on Monday but we simply see no reason to consider fading Kershaw in cash games. There is a huge gap between Kershaw and all the other top pitching options and he has far and away the best matchup against a heavily left handed Rockies lineup in Dodger Stadium. The Rockies have an implied team run total of just 2.1 runs and Kershaw’s projected K Rate in our model is approaching 33 percent. Play him.
Next in line:
Jordan Zimmermann (WAS) – Zimmermann gets a friendly matchup with the Phillies. His peripherals have improved as the season has worn on, but there isn’t much discount in his price point. His upside is a bit limited, which makes utilizing him unappealing. Ultimately if you’re fading Kershaw, you want someone with enough upside to at least replicate 85 percent of Kershaw’s price point at a fraction of the cost. Zimmermann isn’t really that guy. He’s best suited as a second starter on multiple SP sites but his price point will often make that difficult to pair with Kershaw. He’s caught a bit in limbo tonight. The matchup is good and he does project for our second highest K Rate of the night (a mild surprise) which paired with the third lowest implied run total for the Phillies makes him our second ranked SP overall.
Logan Verrett (NYM) – The recommendation for Verrett is more about price point and Kershaw than it is about him. No offense to Logan or his family members. Verrett struggled in AAA rotating between the pen and a starting spot, allowing a 4.59 ERA, but Las Vegas is a very difficult pitching environment and the peripherals weren’t bad (4.09 FIP). He’s been similarly effective in the bullpen at the major league level (4.07 FIP) but earned superior results (3.06 ERA) thanks to some good fortune (.207 BABIP, 75.8 LOB percentage). Vegas has pegged the Marlins with an implied run total of just 3.2 runs (lowest among the non-Kershaw division) and listed Verrett as a strong -180 favorite. The upside in Verrett is largely the low price tag which allows you to comfortably fit Kershaw in without impacting your ability to spend on bats. He’s only a viable target on multiple SP sites as a way to unlock Kershaw.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Tim Hudson (SF) is a more established version of Verrett with a weaker K Rate. Vegas has posted a similar implied run total line on the Reds and he’s a similar favorite but the gap in expected K Rate pushes him down in our model. He’s priced similarly as a punt and you might feel safer deploying him, but the high contact approach doesn’t play as well in DFS. Carlos Carrasco (CLE), Garrett Richards (LAA), and Cole Hamels (TEX) are all overpriced for their matchups. Carrasco faces a contact heavy Royals offense that ranks fourth in wRC+ against RHP. Hamels has to pitch in Arlington which is the best hitting environment in play. The matchup with the Athletics is largely neutral but his K Rate has predictably stumbled with the move to the AL. He’s a bit overpriced. Richards is probably our favorite tournament target of the group. His price is a bit discounted from the other two and the Mariners are a fairly neutral matchup. In that same game, Taijuan Walker (SEA) is a viable tournament alternative, largely due to price and strikeout ability. The matchup is terrible for strikeouts but his ability outpaces his price tag. On some sites with softer pricing you might be able to reach up to him as a second starter alongside Kersahw, but I’m most commonly finding the salary relief from punting with Verrett as the best direction.
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) Minnesota Twins
2) Baltimore Orioles
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) New York Mets
2) Arizona Diamondbacks
3) San Francisco Giants
4) Washington Nationals
5) Houston Astros
The Mets are priced out of cash game consideration on most sites, but they remain a strong tournament target for stacks. Nicolino doesn’t miss many bats, the bullpen behind him isn’t very deep, and the Mets lineup has a lot of depth to it with Wright and Cespedes added in the second half.
James Shields is very homer prone and in a difficult park to hide those tendencies. His velocity has also been down the last two outings and he’s got enough name value that I think stacking against him will be contrarian. Inciarte-Peralta-Pollock-Goldschmidt is a fine start with Castillo an option to get exposure to a thin position.
The Giants face the second weakest pitcher on this slate according to our model and the Reds nearly all righty bullpen behind Sampson reduces the risk of late inning substitutions for pinch hitters. The Giants offense is more suited to their home park (lots of gap power guys instead of pure power guys) and they tend to get forgotten about because of how difficult the park is as a whole.
The Nationals stack is purely a play on the Phillies atrocious bullpen. Aaron Nola is a pretty good starter and he’s dominated RHBs (which the Nationals are loaded with), so the matchup with Nola isn’t great, but the bullpen behind him is so bad. If the Nationals were to get to Nola early, it’s likely they’d hang up some crooked numbers on the pen.
The Astros face a good enough starter that you might be able to get them at very low ownership in a plus park against a left handed pitcher. Sure, that lefty is Cole Hamels, but the Astros are very boom-or-bust and especially skilled against LHP. Altuve-Gomez-Gattis-Springer all hit lefties very well and specifically with power.
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.
BOS at BLT 7:05: Dry. Temps near 70 falling into the low 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind west-northwest 3-6 mph becoming nearly calm. The wind blows out to right. The wind is a 6 becoming a 5.
WSH at PHL 7:05: Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the mid-60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind west-northwest 7-14 mph lessening to 4-8 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
KC at CLE 7:10: Dry. Temps in the upper 60s falling into the low 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind southwest 5-10 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
MIA at NYM 7:10: Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the mid-60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind west-northwest 4-8 mph lessening to nearly calm. The wind blows out to right. The wind is a 6 becoming a 5.
NYY at TB 7:10: Dome.
HOU at TEX 8:05: Dry. Temps in the upper 80s falling into the mid-70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 6. Wind southeast 10-20 mph lessening to 6-12 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 2 becoming a 4.
OAK at CHW 8:10: Dry. Temps in the mid-70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind southwest 10-20 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.
DET at MIN 8:10: <10% coverage of showers/thunderstorms across the region. Worst case scenario is a brief delay. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind south-southeast 9-18 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.
SD at AZ 9:40: Retractable roof. A 10-20% chance of thunderstorms. Temps in the mid to upper 90s falling to near 90. Air density is a 9 (if roof is open). Wind southwest 10-20 mph which blows out to right-center. The wind is a 9 (if the roof is open of course).
LAA at SEA 10:10: Retractable roof. A 20 to perhaps 30% coverage of showers across the region. Temps in the low 60s falling into the upper 50s. Air density is a 4. Wind southwest 5-10 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
COL at LAD 10:10: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling into the low 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind west-southwest 8-16 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 7.
CIN at SF 10:15: A 20% coverage of showers across the Bay area. Temps in the upper 60s falling into the low 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind southwest 9-18 mph which blows out to right-center. The wind is an 8.