Welcome to September 17 MLB DFS action. You’ll find Daily Fantasy Baseball Premium Cliff Notes for September 17 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!
00:46 Starting Pitcher
05:51 Stacks/Tournament Thoughts
- 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.
MLB DFS Optimizer Tutorial
Our MLB DFS Optimizer is live. Arturo put together an overview with MLB DFS Optimizer Cliffnotes that walk through the various features and frequently asked questions (FAQs) from customers during testing. We have also produced a basic optimizer tutorial video on YouTube (linked below) as well as a power user optimizer tutorial for the most advanced tournament players on how to get the most out of the optimizer. You can join the #MLB channel in slack if you have additional questions.
September 17 MLB DFS CLIFF NOTES
Justin Verlander (HOU) easily tops the projections at starting pitcher as he nearly out-projects the next player by 10 FanDuel fantasy points. His duration baselines blow everyone else’s out of the water and he opened as a massive -350 favorite. The 2.8 implied run total against is by far the lowest on the slate and his 8.3 K projection is over 1.5 strikeouts above the next guy. On a slate with Coors Field on the docket, Verlander is popping into any of of our top 20 vanilla optimals on FanDuel due to prioritizing the bats. However, on DraftKings, there are more than one ways to skin a cat, and Verlander is popping into about half of our top 20 optimals.
Yu Darvish (CHC) and Patrick Corbin (WSH) are the next in line projected starting pitchers on what otherwise is a difficult slate for pitching. Neither player projects as a positive value on either site and each pitcher will be dealing with a negative umpire boost. Darvish’s 6.6 K projection is second highest on the slate and Corbin is not far behind at 6.4. Corbin especially rates as a strong per-dollar value in 90th percentile optimals but both these pitchers are well outside the cash game conversation.
Our FanDuel model is choosing to build around Mitch Keller (PIT) in 45-percent of optimals as his price point has dropped all the way down to $5,800. Over the course of Keller’s last three starts, he has only lasted 5.0-plus innings in one of them, but he has struck out seven-plus hitters three of his last four times out. That sort of strikeout upside makes him intriguing in almost any matchup at this price tag but especially one versus the strikeout-prone Mariners in the friendly confines of home. Keller is one of the top pitching prospects in the league and the Mariners have struck out at a massive 25.2-percent rate against RHP. They rank in the bottom 10 of both hard hit rate and line drive percentage while also posting just a .309 wOBA against RHP. Our K rate projections on Keller may be low, so if boosting those to anywhere near his season average, he would pop as the clear-cut second best pitching value on the slate.
On DraftKings, Martin Perez (MIN) is our model’s cheap pitcher of choice because the price tag is cheap ($5,900) and the matchup is favorable. Perez faces a White Sox team that has struck out at a 24.5-percent rate against LHP but has held their own in the split as well: 107 wRC+ and .330 wOBA. After limiting opponents to just a .296 wOBA in the first half of the season, he has reverted back to his old self in the second half (.376 wOBA and .301/.365/.538 slash line allowed). While the starting pitcher used alongside him is dependent on bats, 95-percent of DraftKings optimals include Perez.
Brett Anderson (OAK) is the other cheap pitcher popping into optimals even though he barely projecting over 3.0 strikeouts. The thing is he is listed as a sizeable favorite versus the Royals and he is even $600 cheaper than Perez. In order for him to have a productive fantasy outing, he will need to pitch deep into the game, because he rarely misses bats (12.8-percent K rate versus RHHs) and the Royals have only struck out at a 22.2-percent rate versus LHP.
Miles Mikolas (STL) has been historically dominant at home but he is another pitcher lacking strikeout potential and he is much more expensive than Perez or Anderson. The Nationals rank as a top 10 offense in terms of wOBA against RHP and yet Mikolas opened as a -112 favorite with a 3.9-run implied total against. An unfavorable umpire draw will not help his cause but he is at least priced similarly to Perez and a decent option if going even more contrarian while fading Verlander.
In tournaments, Caleb Smith (MIA) and Sonny Gray (CIN) are two talented pitchers not getting much love from our model even though they will both enjoy substantial positive umpire boosts. They each feature a 4.8-run implied total against with Smith pitching in Arizona versus the Diamondbacks and Gray in Wrigley Field. At least in Gray’s case, the Cubs are destined to be without Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez, so this is a watered-down version of the lineup at least. We view these pitchers as viable additions to the MME mix and nothing more.
1) New York Mets
The Mets will remain in Coors Field on Tuesday and this time Tim Melville will toe the mound against them. Projection systems view Melville anywhere from a 5.92 FIP pitcher all the way up to a 6.74 FIP pitcher which is absurdly high. Most bad pitchers project around a 5.00 FIP which personifies just how brutal these models believe he will be moving forward. To this point, Melville has posted a 6.48 FIP, 5.59 xFIP, 2.38 HR/9 rate, 35.8-percent GB rate and 5.34 SIERA. Being so heavily-reliant on fly ball outs is a dangerous proposition in Coors Field and part of the reason the Mets are being implied to score 7.3-runs. Behind Melville, the Rockies bullpen ranks in the bottom four of both FIP and xFIP so the matchups should remain favorable throughout. It will be interesting to see how the masses approach the Verlander vs. Mets debate, but regardless, we do not expect this stack to be low-owned.
2) Minnesota Twins
3) Colorado Rockies
The Twins and Rockiess constitute the second stack tier and the Twins got a break when probable starter Lucas Giolito was scratched (as he will be shutdown for the season with a lat strain). With the White Sox having nothing to play for, they will start Ross Detwiler and his .423 wOBA allowed to RHHs this year. The Twins have not yet clinched the division nor a playoff spot so they should be plenty motivated heading into this one. Beyond Detwiler, the active bullpen members for the White Sox rank in the bottom seven of FIP/xFIP so it is no wonder the Twins are one of just two non-Coors Field teams being implied to score over 6.0-runs.
The Rockies are home underdogs tonight which also means they will be the lower-owned team of the two playing in Coors. Ground-baller Marcus Stroman will see if his skill set can translate to success in the high altitude but it should be noted the Rockies rank third to last in wRC+ against RHP despite playing half their games in the most hitter-friendly environment in the league. This team is built on power against right-handers and Stroman’s 0.64 HR/9 rate allowed to RHHs ranks lowest amongst starting pitchers on the slate. Something has got to give in this spot and it is not like we are expecting no ownership at all for the Rockies. If expecting them to still remain chalky, they are a viable fade in single-entry and three-max, although we would still include them in MME runs.
4) Atlanta Braves
5) Boston Red Sox
The Braves and Red Sox round out the third tier as both are heavy home favorites. The Braves will take on Vince Velasquez who has allowed a .349-plus wOBA to both sides of the plate this year. Meanwhile, three of the top four hitters in the Braves’ lineup own an ISO baseline over .225, and all but one projected hitter features an ISO baseline of at least .165. Sure, the Braves strike out at a high rate versus RHP (23.5-percent) but they also rank in the top 10 of wOBA and BB rate.
The Red Sox match up against the 22-year old Logan Webb who has out-performed projection system expectations to this point. Only two of his five starts have come at home to this point but he has posted a respectable 4.06 FIP and 3.66 xFIP in those contests (with a 6.75 ERA). Projection systems expect him to be around 4.50-4.70 FIP when all said and done so what better time to start the regression than in Boston versus a top three wOBA offense versus RHP? Webb has done a solid job keeping the ball on the ground to this point which is consistent with his Minor League tendencies. However, we are expecting this to be the lowest-owned team in the tier, so there is merit to rostering this team as a game theory play alone.
6) Oakland Athletics
7) Cleveland Indians
The Athletics and Indians will presumably (no starter announced for Detroit yet) find themselves in favorable matchups with muted ownership due to all the other offenses projecting so well on this slate. The issue for the Athletics versus Jorge Lopez is his significant splits this year and the Athletics are a mostly right-handed team. For his career, Lopez has held RHHs to a .325 wOBA and 1.03 HR/9 rate whereas those numbers balloon to .372 and 1.75 respectively versus LHHs. Matt Olson is especially intriguing but the full stack is unlikely to end up chalky at all. Every single player from the lineup is projecting for six-percent ownership or less.
The Indians feature an implied total of 5.3-runs against an unnamed Tigers starter. None of the pitchers on their rosters should strike fear in anyone’s heart and their bullpen also ranks in the bottom 10 of both FIP and xFIP. In hitter-friendly Progressive Field, this team should fare well regardless of opposing starter, and is being implied to score about 1.0-run less than most of the tier three teams (which should lead to muted ownership).
Wilson Ramos (NYM) and Mitch Garver (MIN) come with enormous projections on Tuesday and lap the field at the catcher spot. Garver is substantially more expensive on DraftKings and he projects a bit behind Ramos. They’re the top two targets at the position but Ramos is the clear preference. The Mets have a 7.3 implied total in Coors Field against Tim Melville who has allowed 2.38 HR/9 so far in 22 ⅔ innings and 2.24 HR/9 in 96 AAA innings as well. Garver has a better offensive baseline (.335 wOBA, .204 ISO against LHP) but a weaker park environment. On FanDuel, the limitation of four Mets may make it that Garver is a preferred target at 1B/C as the two are priced similarly.
Brian McCann (ATL), Yasmani Grandal (MIL), Tucker Barnhart (CIN), Tony Wolters (COL), Buster Posey (SF), and Chris Herrmann (OAK) are the secondary targets to consider in tournaments based on value.
James McCann (CHW) should offer some leverage on the field on DraftKings with Martin Perez likely commanding ownership.
Christian Vazquez (BOS) is fine as a part of Red Sox stacks but is generally a bit overpriced.
Pete Alonso (NYM) laps the field at first base with a 2.5-3.5 projection advantage over the next highest projected first basemen. Alonso’s rookie campaign has been nothing short of spectacular with a .385 wOBA and .306 ISO against RHP. Alonso is one of the more expensive hitters on the slate but deservingly so. On DraftKings, it’s not difficult to fit Alonso into lineups which makes him a building block play but on FanDuel it’s difficult to get up to him.
Freddie Freeman (ATL) is the next highest projected first base option. He faces Vincent Velasquez who has allowed a .382 wOBA and .230 ISO to LHBs since 2017. With all the emphasis on Coors Field bats and the Twins strong offense Freeman should go overlooked and makes for a nice tournament play.
The same can be said of Matt Olson (OAK) who faces Jorge Lopez at home.
Daniel Murphy (COL), Justin Smoak (TOR), and CJ Cron (MIN) are all cheap options to include on compelling stacks.
The Mets offense once again dominates the projections at second base. Jeff McNeil (NYM) and Robinson Cano (NYM) are the two highest projected options and they’re nearly two full points ahead of the rest of the field. McNeil is the better hitter of the two and has the key lineup spot as a road leadoff hitter in Coors Field. Cano has the better price tag and only comes with 2B eligibility while McNeil is available for use in the outfield on both sites. This makes Cano the primary target for cash games.
The Mets are such dominant values at most of these positions that cash games are pretty straight forward but it should result in really condensed chalk in tournaments.
Garrett Hampson (COL) and Ryan McMahon (COL) are viable parts of the Rockies stacks. Both are affordable on DraftKings and the Rockies make sense as a pivot. Jonathan Schoop (MIN) and Ozzie Albies (ATL) are primary pivots on FanDuel as McMahon is priced up and Hampson doesn’t have 2B eligibility.
Whit Merrifield (KC) is an interesting leverage play on DraftKings where Brett Anderson will likely command strong ownership as a SP2. Merrifield is priced reasonably and one of the bigger upside targets at 2B because of his power-speed combination.
Nolan Arenado (COL) finally breaks the streak of Mets players dominating the projections. Arenado won’t have the platoon edge against Marcus Stroman but he will have an implied total over six in Coors Field. He’s priced appropriately on both sites and more of a secondary target for cash games.
The primary cash game target is Miguel Sano (MIN) who has compiled a .374 wOBA and .279 ISO against LHP since 2017. Sano will face Ross Detwiler who has allowed a .423 wOBA and .279 ISO to RHBs this season. All the Twins are priced down slightly because they were supposed to face Lucas Giolito who was shut down. This makes Sano a clear cut value target and one with monstrous upside for tournaments as well.
Sano’s teammate, Marwin Gonzalez (MIN) is a nice source of salary relief on DraftKings with 3B/OF eligibility and that great matchup with Detwiler.
Josh Donaldson (ATL), Rafael Devers (BOS), and Matt Chapman (OAK) make the most sense as pivots. All three have similar price tags and are a part of similarly projected implied totals. Projections like Devers the most, but we’d expect Chapman to come with the lowest ownership of the group.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (TOR) is an interesting pivot as a part of a Jays stack that should come in low owned despite the trip to Baltimore.
Trevor Story (COL), Jorge Polanco (MIN), Francisco Lindor (CLE), and Xander Bogaerts (BOS) are the top options at shortstop. Polanco is priced down on both sites due to the assumed pitching matchup with Giolito and thus he represents the top target in cash games. The other three project similarly but are far more expensive and all make sense as pivots in tournaments.
Amed Rosario (NYM) is in the next tier of options despite hitting eighth in our projected lineup. The environment in Coors Field with a monstrous total and a matchup against Tim Melville inflates his projection. He’s a viable piece of Mets stacks but won’t often fall within your top four options the team so he’s one of the few Mets that might come with more modest ownership.
On DraftKings, Manny Machado (SD) is priced down and gets a big park boost for power against Gio Gonzalez and the Brewers. Gonzalez will be the long man so Machado should get a plate appearance or two with the platoon edge and the $4,300 price tag is affordable. He’s a strong one-off target for tournament lineups.
In general, shortstop isn’t a position to look for salary relief as most of the top options have compelling upside and there are enough you can differentiate and find lower ownership.
Michael Conforto (NYM) dominates the outfield projections with Jeff McNeil (NYM) not far behind and then a gap before the next top outfielders come into play. Conforto has always hit RHP extremely well (.379 wOBA and .246 ISO since 2017) and has done so in a park that suppresses power. Conforto is one of the strongest plays on the slate and is a building block in cash games.
Nelson Cruz (MIN) and Charlie Blackmon (COL) are the next tier of outfield options and with Cruz getting a huge adjustment in matchup he’s vastly underpriced. Cruz has destroyed LHP to the tune of .394 wOBA and .302 ISO since 2017 and is now priced as if he’s facing an above average RHP in Giolito. Target him aggressively in cash games.
With Cruz and Conforto often taking up one or two outfield spots,the search for value often dominates the remaining spots. On DraftKings, pure punt options like Lewis Brinson (MIA) or Brian O’Grady (CIN) are necessary if you’re trying to squeeze in Justin Verlander along with Coors FIeld bats. Neither of these options carry particularly compelling projections but are priced at the stone minimum.
On FanDuel, Robbie Grossman (OAK) could serve as this option if trying to squeeze in Verlander but most optimals prefer paying down at starting pitching and adding even more Twins or Mets to your lineups.
With ownership likely condensing on the Twins and Mets in tournaments, all the other high priced outfielders like the Red Sox group (Betts, Martinez, Benintendi) or the Astros (Springer-Alvarez-Brantley) should come with really low ownership.