Welcome to September 15 MLB DFS action. You’ll find Daily Fantasy Baseball Premium Cliff Notes for September 15 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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01:37 Starting Pitcher
- 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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September 15 MLB DFS CLIFF NOTES
German Marquez (COL) is on an incredible run, striking out 44 batters over his last four starts (sub-2.00 FIP in all of those), three of which came at home. Marquez has flashed a ton of upside between his ability to miss bats and still pitch deep into games, routinely pitching 7 innings over the second half of the season. Now, he gets the largest park shift possible in his favor, pitching in San Francisco. The Giants are 25th in wRC+ against RHP and strike out at an above average rate in that split. And while recent splits can be noisy, it’s worth noting that the Giants have a 49 wRC+ over the last 30 days. The gap between them and second last, is the same as the gap between second last and 17th. Marquez is our top overall pitcher and the guy our optimals likes in cash games. However, if you think we’ve gotten too aggressive on the baselines or simply want to spend more on bats, there are reasonable pivots on both sites.
The pivot on DK is Madison Bumgarner (SF). While the Rockies are certainly better against LHP than RHP, the negative park shift they face is helpful for Bumgarner. He has a 3.7 IRTA, the third lowest on the slate and also has the highest batters faced and outs baseline. Bumgarner hasn’t been able to recover his peripherals from when he was last healthy in 2016, but his ability to work deep and mediocre talent elsewhere keeps him valuable when at home.
On FD, the pivot is Charlie Morton (HOU). We’ve docked his baselines pretty harshly, as his xwOBA has risen steadily, mostly due to a steep decline in K rate recently (22.2% in August, 12.5% in September, around 30% all prior months). Combining that recent performance with an unfavorable umpire is a bit scary, but the price has simply come down way too much for Morton, especially when you consider Vegas’ favorable view (-185, 3.4 IRTA). The Diamondbacks are 28th in wRC+ against RHP with an above average K rate. Morton is also viable on DK over Bumgarner if you set his baselines closer to his seasonal averages.
The cheap SP2 to target on this slate is Reynaldo Lopez (CHW). It’s certainly not a risk free play, as Lopez has a 4.4 IRTA in a pitcher’s park and carries a .361 xwOBA into this start. The good news for Lopez is the matchup and recent performance. Lopez faces an Orioles team that is 24th in wRC+ and projects to be strikeout heavy. A favorable home plate umpire will help with that. Lopez has pitched much better since August. In August he had a 4.50 xFIP (3.78 in September) and 21% K rate (32.7%). Prior to that, Lopez had an xFIP in the high 5’s and never cracked the 20 percent marker in terms of K rate.
Vince Velasquez (PHI) is tournament viable on both sites given his K rate upside and a favorable matchup against the Marlins. The difficult part with using Velasquez is accepting a low ceiling on outing duration. He hasn’t faced more than 21 batters in a single start since the end of July.
A lot of times, there is not a single positive value at the catcher value, but this slate is especially brutal. Brian McCann (HOU) represents our top value at the position on DK and he rates as a -0.85 in our model. The reason to like him is because he is especially cheap ($3,200). Our baselines give McCann credit for a .317 wOBA and .181 ISO in the split against RHP even though he is amidst an especially poor season in the split (.271 wOBA, 73 wRC+ but he was playing hurt earlier in the year). Zack Godley is not especially susceptible to power and/or fly balls so McCann is nothing more than a price play.
The direct alternative is Mike Zunino (SEA) against Andrew Heaney in a matchup where there may actually be some power potential. In 127.1 innings versus right-handed hitters (RHHs) this year, Heaney has yielded a .315 wOBA, 1.48 HR/9 rate, 40.1-percent hard hit rate and a 39.8-percent fly ball rate. Unfortunately for Zunino’s sake, Heaney can miss bats at a respectable rate, so there is a wide range of potential outcomes for Zunino; either he is going to swing-and-miss or he will have a shot to put the barrel on the ball and produce some power.
Otherwise, Wilson Ramos (PHI) and Mitch Garver (MIN) are more expensive options on a slate where they do not really fit nor do they pop in the projections. Opposing starter Elieser Hernandez relies heavily on fly ball outs (slate-high 52.8-percent fly ball rate against RHHs) and he has not exceeded three innings in any outing since June 26. Once it gets to the bullpen, the Marlins’ active pitchers in the bullpen are tied for the worst team xFIP so the matchup will remain favorable throughout. Garver will square off against a starting pitcher who has been burned for a 2.03 HR/9 rate by righties and a 24.6-percent line drive rate.
On DK, first base is nearly as much of a wasteland as catcher, which is evident by the fact Joe Mauer (MIN) is being featured in a majority of the optimal lineups. Although he is not oozing with upside, the matchup against a pitcher allowing a ton of substantial hard contact is difficult to overlook. Kennedy is one of just two pitchers on the slate who has allowed a 28-plus percent line drive rate and 40-plus percent hard hit rate to left-handed hitters (LHHs). Meanwhile, Mauer has quietly posted a 24.5-percent line drive rate and 44.7-percent hard hit rate against RHP, so the correlation is unmistakable.
On FD, the value is more plentiful, as a plethora of players are mispriced as per usual, beginning with Carlos Santana (PHI). As noted in the Ramos tidbit, the Marlins bullpen is awful: 4.37 SIERA, 5.19 ERA (worst in the league), 10.5-percent BB rate and 1.07 HR/9 rate cumulatively amongst their active arms. Santana will likely hit fifth at home in a park that enhances power from both sides of the plate so it will not matter which handedness the relievers are for his potential upside.
Chris Davis (BAL), Jose Abreu (CHW) and Eric Hosmer (SD) are the other positive values but for very different reasons. Davis is dirt cheap versus a pitcher who ranks bottom three in SIERA amongst qualified starters so our model believes he is worth a shot. For what it is worth, Lopez has only struck out 19.4-percent of the lefties he has faced in 2018. Abreu draws a date with Yefry Ramirez and his 1.80 HR/9 rate allowed to RHHs. Surprisingly, the White Sox are being implied to score 4.6 runs against a RHP, which has a lot to do with the park (Camden Yards) and Ramirez’s poor skill set (4.91 SIERA). Hosmer may be the most interesting of the bunch in tournaments because Ariel Jurado does not belong on a MLB roster. Dating back to 2016, Jurado has not struck out batters at higher than a 21.5-percent rate at any level and his K rate has depreciated from last year to this year (14.1-percent K rate in Triple-A in 2017 compared to a 13.9-percent K rate in Triple-A in 2018 and a 7.9-percent K rate in the MLB). No pitcher on the slate owns a worse SIERA than Jurado’s 5.59 and his 6.76 FIP against LHHs is comically awful.
Travis Shaw (MIL) owns the highest raw projection at second base but Yoan Moncada (CHW) is not far behind. Naturally, when a power hitter like Shaw likely will not swing-and-miss in their respective matchup, then a ceiling game is possible. Thus far, Nova has been burned to the tune of a .347 wOBA, 1.57 HR/9 rate and 38.8-percent fly ball rate against LHHs while only striking them out at a 11.7-percent rate. Furthermore, Miller Park enhances left-handed power, so embrace this matchup for him in the friendly confines of home. Moncada is a solid fallback option as Ramirez basically plays to his strengths. Not only has Ramirez walked lefties at an identical rate to the rate he has struck them out (21.2-percent) but he has allowed a .369 wOBA and 29.7-percent line drive rate in the split also. Moncada is a speed threat and has struck out the second most of any hitter in the league against RHP (behind only Giancarlo Stanton) so facing a pitcher allowing free passes and failing to induce swinging strikes is an ideal setup. Either of these guys are viable plays in all formats.
Cesar Hernandez (PHI) will only cost $2,400 on FD and he will likely lead off for the Phillies. J.T. Realmuto has the quickest pop time of any qualified catcher so the speed matchup is subpar but he is a solid source of salary relief on a team being implied to score 4.6 runs.
Jonathan Villar (BAL) is kind of a more expensive, higher ceiling version of Hernandez where he will hit towards the top of a lineup against a bad pitcher (Lopez). Lopez issues a fair amount of free passes and Omar Narvaez is one of the worst throwing catchers but Villar is $700 more expensive than Hernandez. If salary is available, feel free to make the upgrade.
Logan Forsythe (MIN) is the final positive value on DK and it is because he has been hitting in the middle of the Twins lineup lately and Kennedy is susceptible to power. However, Forsythe is not overly talented (.294 wOBA, 84 wRC+ against RHP) and on the wrong side of his platoon split. Unless stacking Twins, there are superior options than him, and he should be considered a last resort punt only.
Mike Moustakas (MIL) is another Brewers lefty blessed with Nova coming to town and he ranks fourth on the team in wOBA amongst the lefties. He also is the toughest lefty on the team to strike out, and Nova pitches to contact, so contact is a virtual lock. Our baselines give Moustakas credit for a .355 wOBA and .254 ISO so it is no wonder he pops as our top projected third baseman.
Wil Myers (SD) and Alex Bregman (HOU) represent the next tier even though Myers’ matchup is far more favorable. Petco Park depresses power, but mostly for LHHs, and Myers strangely has posted identical splits against lefties and righties for his career (.331 wOBA and 109 wRC+ exactly). Oh, by the way, Jurado’s 46.6-percent hard hit rate allowed to righties is tied for highest on the slate (with Rich Hill). Bregman will have to overcome the matchup against Godley and his 33.6-percent fly ball rate allowed to righties. Only six pitchers have managed a lower FIP against RHHs than Godley on this slate and his 27.1-percent K rate in the split is quite respectable. Bregman is highly projected because of his talent but the matchup leaves much to be desired.
Beyond those already mentioned, Renato Nunez (BAL) and Nolan Arenado (COL) are the only others who need to be discussed. Nunez is priced at $2,300 on FD and he will hit in the top six of the lineup in a power-friendly environment. Arenado is the best hitter in the league against LHP but both the environment and the opposing starter, Madison Bumgarner, are tough to overcome. Still, the skill set alone deems him worthy of consideration in tournaments at the very least. As icing on the cake, the wind is blowing out at nearly 20mph in AT&T Park, which is even faster wind speed than normal.
Asdrubal Cabrera (PHI) is the easy cash game play on FD and Carlos Correa (HOU) is the easy cash play on DK due to pricing. Expensive pitching is the preferred route and Cabrera, who owns a .355 wOBA and 126 wRC+ against RHP to this point, is about $500 underpriced on FD. Whereas Correa’ skill set demands a $4,000-plus price in just about any matchup, his price tag on Saturday is only $3,700. Vegas is reasonably high on the Astros for the matchup (4.6 implied runs) and Correa hits in a prime lineup spot where he should contribute to the damage if the team truly gets to Godley.
Jorge Polanco (MIN) and Adalberto Mondesi (KC) are sneaky good plays in the same game because neither starting pitcher is anywhere near an ace. Polanco favors the platoon split against RHP (career wOBA is 38 percentage points higher than against LHP) and Kennedy has allowed the 14th most homers of any pitcher (24) to lefties since the beginning of 2017. Meanwhile, Chase De Jong‘s career SIERA sits at 6.18 and this is a pitcher that is projected to be around a 5.50 FIP according to FanGraphs’ projection systems. Against any RHP, Mondesi is a threat to steal if he gets on, and De Jong does not project as a guy who should be able to limit baserunners.
Trevor Story (COL) is the potential X-factor at the position for all the same reasons as Arenado. His baselines have him at a .393 wOBA and .289 xwOBA against LHP and he has posted a career .390 xwOBA against Bumgarner in 22 career plate appearances. The ballpark is working against him but both he and Arenado possess the power to hit the ball out of any park on Earth.
Christian Yelich (MIL) is the third most expensive player on the slate on DK but our highest projected overall hitter at any position. That is why he is scattered across optimals on all sites; he leads the Brewers in wOBA against RHP and he has posted a ridiculous .347/.411/.693 slash line in the second half to go along with a .347 ISO, .467 wOBA and 191 wRC+. Nova is overmatched here.
Mike Trout (LAA) is the obvious pivot but probable starter Erasmo Ramirez has held righties to a .277 wOBA over the course of his career. The team implied run total is lower as well but Trout is good enough to overcome any matchup and it gets far worse than Ramirez.
Nick Williams (PHI) and Kole Calhoun (LAA) both cost exactly $3,700 on DK and they are nearly projected identically. Williams features some implied level of pinch hit risk that Calhoun does not but both Hernandez and the Marlins’ bullpen are bad. To this point, Hernandez has yielded a .419 wOBA, 3.18 HR/9 rate, 43.3-percent hard hit rate and 51.5-percent fly ball rate to LHHs in a small 17.0 inning sample size. Calhoun will enjoy the platoon advantage against Ramirez who also will not likely pitch deep into the contest. The Mariners’ bullpen is much stronger than the Marlins so the latter end of the game will be no walk in the park for the Angels bats.
Cedric Mullins (BAL) and Eddie Rosario (MIN) are important pieces of their respective team stacks and Rosario is an essential piece of the Twins. His .217 ISO leads all lefties on the team (with Jake Cave (MIN) not far behind) and when Kennedy goes bad it usually involves the long ball. Mullins is a speed threat if Narvaez is catching and the Orioles are one of the contrarian stacks on the slate with some upside (especially relative to their prices)/
1) Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers are the clear cut top stack on a slate where we have pretty modest IRTs across the board. In fact, the Brewers are one of nine teams on the slate with an IRT between 4.4 – 4.6. Still, they separate themselves from the field for a few reasons. Most importantly, they are eighth in MLB in HRs (second among teams on this slate) and third in SBs (first). The event upside meets a matchup against Ivan Nova, who is very contact prone and outside of pitcher friendly PNC park. Nova has a .351 xwOBA and .225 xISO on the season.
2) Philadelphia Phillies
3) Houston Astros
After a clear drop off, we have the Phillies and Astros. We’re still waiting for the confirmed starter against PHI, so their early stack ranking is a result of a solid home hitting environment and the anticipation of a near slate high team total.
The Astros do have a confirmed starter they are facing. It’s Zack Godley, who has allowed 4-plus runs in four of his past five starts. We’ve seen the Hard% allowed grow from 36.6% in the first half to 41.4% in the second half.
4) Los Angeles Angels
5) Minnesota Twins
6) Chicago White Sox
7) San Diego Padres
8) Pittsburgh Pirates
9) Baltimore Orioles
The Angels top a large third tier of stacks, where things are rather muddled. They rate behind only the Brewers in season HR total among teams on this slate. Opposing pitcher Erasmo Ramirez likely won’t pitch deep, which is probably a bad thing for the Angels given his .403 xwOBA and .253 xISO in 171 PAs.
On both sites the Twins are one of the better per dollar stacks. They’re guaranteed nine innings on the road in Kansas City, which is doesn’t play pitcher friendly when we get hot temperatures (mid-80s). Ian Kennedy allows tons of power to both sites of the plate (over 1.5 HR/9 for the fourth consecutive season).
We don’t know how much Ariel Jurado we will see for the Rangers, but whatever we see of him won’t be enough for the Padres. Jurado is the worst SP on the slate. He is still yet to clear a double digit K rate, striking out just 7.9% of batters faced through 39.2 big league innings. That has resulted in more walks than strikeouts and a 34.2 Hard-Soft% doesn’t do Jurado any favors on balls in play.
The Pirates are a better stack than their team total indicates, given the positive park shift as the road team in hitter friendly Milwaukee. Opposing SP Zach Davies has struggled in his 10 MLB starts this season, posting a 4.91 FIP, but the good Milwaukee bullpen is behind him.