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September 16 MLB DFS: Rarefied Arenado
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September 16 MLB DFS Show Outline: 

00:40 Starting Pitchers
09:06 Catchers
11:04 First Base
14:17 Second Base
16:57 Shortstops
20:18  Third Base
22:40 Outfield
27:34 Cash Game Roster Construction and Stacks

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September 16 MLB DFS PRO TIP

Starting Pitcher Rankings

Tier One

1) Max Scherzer (WAS)

Tier Two

2) Chris Sale (CHW)

3) Corey Kluber (CLE)

4) Felix Hernandez (SEA)

5) Kenta Maeda (LAD)

6) Chris Archer (TB)

Tier Three

7) Ian Kennedy (KC)

8) Cole Hamels (TEX)

Max Scherzer (WAS) sits atop the SP Rankings with that annoying matchup with the Atlanta Braves that has given elite starting pitchers fits down the stretch. Scherzer has the lowest implied total against (2.9 runs), is the biggest favorite on the slate (-260), and has the highest projected K Rate on the slate at 33 percent. The price tag on Scherzer is a bit restrictive, especially on a slate with Coors Field but the alternatives at the position make it difficult to get away from Scherzer in cash games. On FanDuel, where all the other starting pitchers are similarly inflated in price tag, Scherzer is clearly your top target at $11,000. There are enough value bats to make him work and still get some exposure to the top offenses. On DraftKings, the decision is far more difficult with Scherzer priced at $13,700 and most other starters priced efficiently.

Felix Hernandez (SEA) looks like the only underpriced option and that is largely dependent on the absence of Jose Altuve who is battling an oblique issue. Altuve is not only the Astros best hitter but projects for a K Rate below 10 percent which wreaks havoc on opposing starter K Rates in the middle of the order. Hernandez has a 3.6 implied run total against and has the benefit of pitching at home, but he’s also struggled mightily of late (5.22 xFIP, 6.87 xFIP, and 6.32 xFIP last three starts) while the velocity has also been down in two of those three starts. Pairing Hernandez and Scherzer may cost a bit too much for a Coors slate, which brings us to Luke Weaver (STL). Weaver has a dreadful matchup for strikeouts against the contact prone Giants’ offense that ranks 13th in wRC+ against RHP with the second lowest K Rate in the league. Weaver’s baseline K Rate has been solid but with the Giants hefty contact, our projected K Rate is just 19 percent. The run prevention should benefit from the big park and the $5,200 price tag allows you to pair with Scherzer for just under $19,000 total. The alternative would be to pair Hernandez with one of the mid-priced strikeout upside starters in terrible pitching environments like Chris Archer (TB), Kenta Maeda (LAD), or take some performance risk with Ian Kennedy (KC) who is at least in a good park for pitching and faces a White Sox offense that is getting a big park downgrade for power. In tournaments, fading Scherzer’s hefty price tag on both sites looks like a good approach as the upside against the Braves’ offense is typically limited. In four starts against Atlanta this season, Scherzer has allowed 12 earned runs and generated a K Rate above 25 percent just once. The best high priced pivot from Scherzer is Chris Sale (CHW) whose K Rate has bumped back up in the second half (27.2 percent) and gets a big park shift in his favor in Kansas City.

Catcher Rankings

1) Gary Sanchez (NYY)

2) Nick Hundley/Tom Murphy (COL)

3) Jacob Realmuto (MIA)

4) Buster Posey (SF)

5) Victor Martinez (DET) – where eligible

Gary Sanchez (NYY) is our top ranked catcher as his skill set coupled with a strong offensive environment in Fenway vaults him to the top. Sanchez is priced appropriately on both sites and in general we’d prefer to save resources for Coors Field bats with the Rockies implied team total approaching seven runs. Ideally, we’d get relatively affordable exposure to the catcher position via Tom Murphy (COL) who has earned good lineup spots for the Rockies when he’s playing and has hit LHP well (1.091 OPS in AAA against LHP this season). Murphy’s affordable price tag on both sites would make him a great value if he lands in the lineup. If he’s not in the lineup things get a bit messier. J.T. Realmuto (MIA) is likely your best pivot but his lineup spot is highly variable.

First Base Rankings

1) David Ortiz (BOS)

2) Joey Votto (CIN)

3) Wil Myers (SD)

4) Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)

5) Paul Goldschmidt (ARZ)

David Ortiz (BOS), Joey Votto (CIN), and Wil Myers (SD) represent the top options at first base and they rank inside our Top Seven hitters overall. They’re largely priced appropriately on both sites which has us looking for a bit more value. On both sites, Josh Bell (PIT) remains cheap and first base eligible. It’s a big park shift for the Pirates and Robert Stephenson posted a 4.65 FIP in AAA this season and has allowed a 38.1 hard hit rate and 46 fly ball rate at the big league level. Stephenson brings out some power upside for the Pirates and the Reds largely RH bullpen should help keep Bell in favorable situations deep into the game. On DraftKings, Paul Goldschmidt (ARZ) is oddly just $4,100 and while Kenta Maeda has been very tough on RHBs (.254 wOBA, .108 ISO, 30 K Rate), it’s a big park downgrade and Goldschmidt’s too cheap for his skill set.

Second Base Rankings

1) DJ LeMahieu (COL)

2) Daniel Murphy (WAS)

3) Jason Kipnis (CLE)

4) Dee Gordon (MIA)

5) Robinson Cano (SEA)

Second base is a great place to get some salary relief in your lineups. While DJ LeMahieu (COL) is a fine spend against a below average lefty (Friedrich has allowed a .349 wOBA and .144 ISO to RHBs since 2015), Dee Gordon (MIA) remains exceptionally cheap on FanDuel ($2,500) and Adam Frazier (PIT) remains pretty cheap on DraftKings ($3,300). Both are road leadoff hitters against below average starters who are backed up by weak bullpens. Trea Turner‘s (WAS) speed upside is a bit underrated in our model against the Braves, he’s priced appropriately but represents a really strong tournament target. If paying up at the position, LeMahieu would be our choice.

Shortstop Rankings

1) Manny Machado (BAL) – where eligible

2) Francisco Lindor (CLE)

3) Brad Miller (TB)

4) Corey Seager (LAD)

5) Xander Bogaerts (BOS)

Manny Machado (BAL) has a difficult matchup with Chris Archer but he’s priced down on DraftKings ($4,100) which makes him a viable target in cash games. Brad Miller (TB) has the cleaner path against Ubaldo Jimenez but that path should get murkier in the late innings with a superior Orioles’ pen compared to the Rays. Priced slightly below Machado, he’s also in play on DraftKings. Xander Bogaerts (BOS) always rates poorly against RHP in our model (.332 wOBA, .122 ISO since 2015 is very mediocre for his price tag) but Cessa has struggled against RHBs (.202 ISO allowed, 15.2 K Rate) and Bogaerts is priced right in that group. If you simply want exposure to the Red Sox over Machado and Miller in cash games, we wouldn’t fault you. Adam Frazier (PIT) is really the play to focus in on FanDuel where he’s just $2,300 and brings tons of salary relief along with a favorable matchup and leadoff spot in Cincinnati.

Third Base Rankings

1) Nolan Arenado (COL)

2) Josh Donaldson (TOR) – health risk

3) Manny Machado (BAL)

4) Jake Lamb (ARZ)

5) Evan Longoria (TB)

Nolan Arenado (COL) is our top overall hitter on this slate and a priority for us in cash games. The price tag is favorable on FanDuel ($3,800) but will cost you on DraftKings ($5,500). We’ll happily pay either tag as Arenado has crushed LHP at home in his career (.447 wOBA, .328 ISO). With a lack of really compelling alternatives on either site, Arenado is a foundation in cash games.

Outfield Rankings

1) Bryce Harper (WAS)

2) Mike Trout (LAA)

3) Gregory Polanco (PIT)

4) Starling Marte (PIT)

5) Andrew McCutchen (PIT)

6) Giancarlo Stanton (MIA)

7) Charlie Blackmon (COL)

8) Carlos Gonzalez (COL)

9) Mookie Betts (BOS)

10) Kevin Kiermaier (TB)

11) Jose Bautista (TOR)

12) Marcell Ozuna (MIA)

13) Yoenis Cespedes (NYM)

14) Ian Desmond (TEX)

15) Trea Turner (WAS) – where eligible

The Pirates outfield trio always ranks well for us when they get these big park shifts out of Pittsburgh and against weak opposing starters. With the price tags pretty affordable on both sites, Andrew McCutchen (PIT) and Gregory Polanco (PIT) are viable cash game targets. The Rockies outfielders are priced through the roof on both sites which makes them a bit more difficult to squeeze in. We don’t mind forcing Coors Field given the Rockies implied run total is over one full run higher than the next highest (Red Sox at 5.6) but it’s difficult to manage on this slate. This is another reason Arenado is such a priority for us. Ryan Raburn (COL) is perhaps the lone exception on DraftKings ($3,400) but that selection comes with immense pinch hit risk with expanded rosters. We’d rather invest in other cheap tags around him. Marcell Ozuna (MIA) is a solid play given the depressed tag on both sites and Ozuna’s success against LHP (.398 wOBA, .248 ISO since 2015). In general, this is a position we’re likely attacking with higher echelon mid-priced options (like the Pirates) and then some site-specific salary cap relief options.

Stacks

Tier One

1) Colorado Rockies

Tier Two

2) Boston Red Sox

Tier Three

3) San Diego Padres

4) Texas Rangers

5) Pittsburgh Pirates

The Rockies should be chalky with their hefty implied team total but they are always difficult to manage for stacks against LHP. The bottom of their roster gets turned over for pinch hitters often. In cash games, the price tags on Carlos Gonzalez and Charlie Blackmon are difficult to squeeze in so our only exposure to the Rockies hefty total may come through Arenado. In tournaments, the lower cash game ownership carryover from Gonzalez/Blackmon could help keep the overall ownership in check. In general in cash games, we’re focused a bit more on value than forcing any mini-stacks. The Red Sox are a strong pivot whenever the Rockies are in Coors Field and the third tier options are all viable stacks as well.

Contrarian Targets:

Toronto Blue Jays – The Blue Jays get a severe park downgrade but face Jered Weaver and his homer prone tendencies. The Jays offense largely feasts off power so the matchup with Weaver is favorable even if in a poor park environment. Backed up by one of the worst pens remaining in baseball, there is some nice upside for the Jays who should go under owned due to the park downgrade.

Los Angeles Dodgers – After letting everyone down in a much softer spot they get Zack Greinke who has been vulnerable to LHBs in his career and that horrid bullpen behind him. Low ownership in Chase Field strikes us as a very strong tournament target.

MLB Daily Analysis

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