Daily Fantasy Rundown – September 18 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Friday’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: Moderate delay risk/low ppd risk tonight in both DET and MIN
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.
John Jaso (TB) – Jaso is priced like a punt catcher option on most sites and the emphasis on high end starting pitching makes him a primary target in cash game lineups. Jaso owns a .369 wOBA and .174 ISO against RHP since 2013. The Rays will face rookie Tyler Wilson. Wilson’s skill set isn’t a perfect match for Jaso. He’s a command oriented starter (Jaso draws a lot of value from walks) and his splits were pretty neutral in AAA, but ZiPS projection system has him for a 5.54 ERA rest of season. Without a lot of opportunity cost at the position, Jaso is our primary target at the position.
Additional catcher notes: Derek Norris (SD) and Russell Martin (TOR) rank as our top options at the position. Norris gets the big park shift in Colorado but he hits down in the lineup against RHP and Chad Bettis is one of the better Rockies starters. Martin is part of a Blue Jays offense that has the second highest implied run total (5.5 runs) on the evening. Like Norris, he tends to hit lower in the order which makes him a tough option to spend up on with so much opportunity cost at starting pitcher tonight. Evan Gattis (HOU) is priced fairly on sites he has catcher eligibility (FanDuel) and is a fine secondary target, but we place a heavy emphasis on the near minimum price tag from Jaso.
First base rarely has a shortage of top options available and Friday is no different. Lineup construction should force you away from these top options in cash games, but in tournaments they’re fine to target as a part of stacks or mini-stacks. Jose Abreu (CHW), Joey Votto (CIN), Edwin Encarnacion (TOR), and David Ortiz (BOS) all rank inside our Top 10 overall hitters (in that order).
Mike Napoli (TEX) – As we move further away from summer and more into fall, the ballpark in Arlington has a bigger offensive advantage on most other environments because the temperatures in Texas remain elevated. Using this evening as an example, Mark’s forecast has temperatures in the 80s and 90s in Arlington compared to high 50s- low 70s in Colorado. The air density gap between the two closes dramatically and makes Arlington play more competitively with Coors Field. Napoli is a very good hitter against LHP (.375 wOBA, .237 ISO since 2012) and the Rangers have an implied run total approaching five runs. James Paxton has been strong against RHBs in his career (.259 wOBA allowed) but he worked just three innings in his return from the DL last time out. Napoli will have the platoon advantage early and then face a weak bullpen late. He’s a Top 35 hitter in our model and not priced like this anywhere around the industry.
Justin Morneau (COL) – Morneau’s value is tied to his lineup spot and of late he’s hit sixth when in the lineup. Ian Kennedy has been abysmal against LHBs (.340 wOBA, 35.9 hard hit rate allowed, and 1.85 HR/9 this season) and now he’s forced to pitch in Coors Field. Morneau isn’t an elite hitter but against RHP in Coors Field he’s posted a wOBA north of .400 as a member of the Rockies. If he hits in the fifth slot, he’d represent my primary alternative to Napoli where the price is down.
Albert Pujols (LAA) – Pujols is underpriced for a matchup with Mike Pelfrey (.350 wOBA allowed to RHBs since 2013). The Angels have a solid implied team total (4.6 runs) and Pujols has been solid against RHP in recent years (.346 wOBA, .209 ISO since 2012). I find the price discount on Napoli a slightly more favorable way to attack lineup construction but Pujols is a fine secondary target.
Additional first base notes: Justin Smoak (TOR) is a cheap option on DraftKings if hitting fifth. The Jays have the second highest implied run total and Smoak can hit RHP for power (.227 ISO this season). Evan Gattis (HOU) is an adequate play. We like the Astros offense as a whole against weak LHP Felix Doubront, but Gattis doesn’t stack up quite as well against first base options. We’d prefer to get exposure on sites with catcher eligibility.
Jose Altuve (HOU) – Altuve’s history of production against LHP (.388 wOBA, .142 ISO since 2012) is coupled with a favorable matchup against Felix Doubront (.345 wOBA, 33 percent hard hit rate allowed to RHBs since 2013) makes Altuve our top option at the position. The Astros have a healthy implied run total (5.1 runs) and their offense projects significantly better against LHP. Altuve’s price tag on most sites is difficult to stretch for. He does rank as our top option at the position and a Top 20 overall hitter in our model.
Robinson Cano (SEA) – Cano gets the big park shift playing in the heat in Arlington and he’s facing an average RHP. Cano owns a .365 wOBA and .166 ISO against RHP since coming over to Seattle and the Mariners have a solid 4.1 implied run total. Cano’s price tag is slightly discounted for his ranking in our model (Top 25 hitter).
Jedd Gyorko/Cory Spangenberg (SD) – FanDuel has these two priced way up but on most sites they’re pretty good values. We like Spangenberg a little more than Gyorko based on price tag but would prefer to see Spangenberg higher than sixth. Neither guy hits RHP particularly well (Gyorko – .289 wOBA, .152 ISO, Spangenberg – .302 wOBA, .145 ISO since 2012) but the park shift boost is so substantial that they funnel up into our Top 45 hitters overall.
Additional second base notes: Brian Dozier (MIN) is uniquely cheap on FanDuel ($2,800) and faces a LHP that has allowed a ton of hard contact to RHBs (34.3 percent). Dozier owns a .360 wOBA and .223 ISO against LHP since 2013. He’s a very viable option on FanDuel. Darnell Sweeney (PHI) is a viable punt target on DraftKings. Williams Perez has allowed a .385 wOBA and 1.41 HR/9 to LHBs. We’d like Sweeney to hit higher in the lineup if we’re going to attack this punt.
Carlos Correa (HOU) – Correa is very clearly the top option at shortstop. He’s compiled a .390 wOBA and .282 ISO against LHP in his rookie season. We’ve touched on Felix Doubront‘s struggles and the Astros high implied run total. The decision on Correa essentially comes down to price. On FanDuel ($3,600) the price is down enough, I’d consider him a primary target. On DraftKings ($5,000), it’s more difficult to justify. Correa is a Top 20 overall hitter in our model.
Next in line: Jose Reyes (COL) – generally overpriced around the industry but part of the lineup with the highest implied run total of the evening.
Ketel Marte (SEA) – Marte is the leadoff hitter on the road in the best or second best environment for offense on the slate. He has the platoon advantage throughout as a switch hitter. This is mostly a price play on the environment in Arlington at a scarce position.
Shortstop notes: On DraftKings, the value of the pure punt at shortstop is very strong. Andres Blanco (PHI) and Daniel Castro (ATL) are the two options to target. Neither are very good hitters, but they’re facing below average opposing starters and bullpens.
Nolan Arenado (COL)/Josh Donaldson (TOR) – Once again we have both Donaldson and Arenado at the top of our third base rankings. We like Arenado a bit more than Donaldson just due to the environment and Ian Kennedy‘s struggles with the long ball. We prefer exposure in tournaments.
Adrian Beltre (TEX) – We like Beltre for a lot of the same reasons that we like Mike Napoli. It’s a great offensive environment, he’ll have the platoon advantage early, and we don’t expect Paxton to work deep into the game leaving a vulnerable Mariners’ pen behind him. Beltre’s price point is more attractive around the industry as he’s generally priced around the average third baseman. He ranks inside our Top 25 hitters overall.
Additional third base notes: Trevor Plouffe (MIN) and Kyle Seager (SEA) are the secondary targets at third base. Both have the platoon advantage against neutral opposing starters. Plouffe’s slight advantage in salary is likely offset by Seager’s expected plate appearance advantage. On DraftKings, Brett Wallace (SD) has third base eligibility and with an injury to Yonder Alonso he’s seen time in the middle of the order. If he’s in the middle of the lineup, I think he’s an exceptional punt play with third base eligibility.
Mike Trout (LAA) – Trout ranks as the top overall player in our model and his price is down a bit around the industry. Minnesota is a park upgrade for Trout and the matchup with Mike Pelfrey is a friendly one. The Angels implied run total isn’t as strong as the Rockies, Blue Jays, or Padres, but Trout’s individual skill set outpaces all of those hitters in our model’s ranking.
Carlos Gonzalez/Corey Dickerson/Charlie Blackmon (COL) – I’ve listed the three Rockies outfielders in order of their ranking in our model which coincides with our perception of their skill sets. Blackmon has the most stable lineup spot and funnels towards the group because of a slight expected plate appearance advantage. Dickerson’s lineup spot is the one that fluctuates most and he’s priced the best of the group. If we get him in the second slot (ideal), he’s your primary target to get exposure to this Colorado offense. If price is no concern, Carlos Gonzalez ranks as our second best option overall. Ian Kennedy‘s struggles with lefties and the long ball give big home run upside to the power LHBs.
George Springer (HOU) – Springer cracks the Top 20 overall hitters in our model. He’s hit LHP well in his career (.367 wOBA, .212 ISO) and he faces a below average lefty in Felix Doubront. The Astros have an implied team total approaching five runs and you can get Springer for just above the average cost of a hitter on both Yahoo and FanDuel. He’s the most cost effective way to get exposure to the Astros offense on most sites, although Correa remains our primary target.
Additional outfield notes: The outfield values are so site specific that it’s difficult to tackle with industry wide value plays. Instead we’ll cover players that rank well in our notes here. Melky Cabrera (CHW) and Kole Calhoun (LAA) each rank inside our Top 30 hitters and come with reasonable price tags on most sites. David Murphy (LAA) is a viable punt play given the strong lineup spot in a good Angels’ lineup. He’s historically hit ground ball pitchers exceptionally well (.869 OPS – career, according to BaseballReference.com) and he’s hit leadoff of late. Scott Van Slyke (LAD) is a viable salary relief option that ranks inside our Top 40. Delino Deshields Jr. (TEX) is another way to get exposure to the Rangers strong implied run total but ranks a bit lower in our model.
Starting pitcher rankings (salary not taken into account)
1) Chris Sale (CHW)
2) Max Scherzer (WAS)
3) Madison Bumgarner (SF)
4) Zack Greinke (LAD)
5) Jose Fernandez (MIA)
6) Drew Smyly (TB)
7) Masahiro Tanaka (NYY)
8) Steven Matz (NYM)
9) Mike Fiers (HOU)
Chris Sale (CHW) – Sale gets a positive park shift moving out of US Cellular Field to Progressive Field in Cleveland. The Indians are an above average offense against LHP this season (11th in wRC+) with a league average K Rate (19 percent), but they’re not a particularly intimidating matchup. The Indians best hitters are left handed (Kipnis and Brantley) and the bottom of the order is thin against LHP. The implied run total for the Indians (3.2) isn’t the lowest, but Sale has the highest projected K Rate. The first tier of starters is all closely ranked in our model, but Sale sits at the top. If he’s priced similarly to the other top options, we lean Sale as our top play.
Max Scherzer (WAS) – After a shaky August, Scherzer has rebounded in September with 22 strikeouts and a 3.15 ERA in 20 September innings. The Marlins offense ranks 30th in wRC+ against RHP with a league average K Rate (19 percent). Scherzer is a modest favorite (-149) in a matchup with Jose Fernandez but the appealing part for Scherzer is he’s generally a bit cheaper than the other options in the first tier. On FanDuel, he’s $11,000 (about $1,000 cheaper than the other top options) and on Yahoo he’s a few dollars cheaper than Greinke and Bumgarner. With a favorable umpire behind the dish, we’ve got Scherzer ranked as our second best starting option.
Steven Matz (NYM) – Matz remains underpriced for his skill set, particularly his strikeout rate. As a big leaguer, Matz has struck out 23 percent of batters at the big league level and struck out 26.2 percent in AAA. In his price range, it’s often difficult to find above average strikeout rates and he has it. The Yankees are a tough matchup on paper (third in wRC+) but the shift to the National League costs them their DH (Alex Rodriguez) and they lost their other best hitter against LHP this season (Mark Teixeira) due to injury. It’s possible the Yankees try to move Rodriguez to first base for a spot start, but if not the lineup may feature four LHBs (Ellsbury, McCann, Bird, and Gregorious). The Mets are slight underdogs and the game has a total of just seven. Matz value will fluctuate with the quality of the Yankees lineup, but we anticipate a really weak lineup from the Yankees.
Additional starting pitcher notes: In general, we want to stay within the first two tiers in cash game pitcher selection. The starting pitching depth on Friday is pretty binary. We have a bunch of high end pitchers and then a lot of back-end starters. The Tier One starters are all pretty close and I’d let pricing dictate decisions in most instances. Madison Bumgarner (SF) has a distinct drop in price down from Sale and Scherzer on DraftKings and is a fine alternative there. The middle tier of starters with upside that can perform similarly to an ace, is thin. We highlighted Steven Matz (NYM) as the primary value target because he’s the most consistently underpriced option around the industry, but Drew Smyly (TB) and Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) rank ahead of him. On sites like Yahoo, where they’re priced similarly, we prefer Smyly most. Beyond that second tier, Mike Fiers (HOU) has some appeal but the Athletics are pretty contact heavy as an offense. Justin Verlander (DET) and Johnny Cueto (KC) have low strikeout projections that impact their upside. The Royals are a contact heavy team that should challenge Verlander and Cueto has seen his K Rate drop substantially with the move to the AL. The Tigers also rank in the bottom half of K Rate against RHP.
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) Houston Astros
2) Colorado Rockies
3) Los Angeles Angels
4) Texas Rangers
These are the four teams I’m mostly focusing on in cash games. The site pricing ultimately dictates where the exposure goes, but in general I find myself getting exposure to Astros and Rockies first and then moving towards Angels and Rangers to fill out rosters.
1) Toronto Blue Jays
2) San Diego Padres
3) Atlanta Braves/Philadelphia Phillies
The Blue Jays and Padres are the expensive secondary stacks to target in tournaments. I’m concerned ownership might outweigh the value, especially on the Padres, but road teams in Coors Field with reasonable price points are going to be fine targets in tournaments. The Braves/Phillies game is so bad that it will likely come with really low ownership. The offenses are inexpensive which makes it possible to stack with high end SP exposure. We like the Braves side slightly over the Phillies as they’re a better offense talent wise right now and Adam Morgan looks slightly more vulnerable than Williams Perez, but the Braves bullpen is worse. I think both sides are viable stack targets.
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.
MIA at WSH 7:05:Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 7. Wind south 5-10 mph lessening to 3-6 mph which blows out to left-center. The wind is a 6.
BOS at TOR 7:07: Retractable roof. Numerous showers around just before the game. Thus the roof will likely be closed.
KC at DET 7:08: The threat of thunderstorms will increase as the game goes on. Widely scattered thunderstorms early in the schedule game time give way to numerous thunderstorms late in the game. Big risk here is if there is a delay in the early part of the game because after 9-10 PM looks rather wet. Temps in the low to mid 70s falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind south 6-12 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.
NYY at NYM 7:10: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.
CHW at CLE 7:10: Widely scattered showers or sprinkles. Not anticipating any weather issues. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind south 6-12 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
BLT at TB 7:10: Dome.
PHL at ATL 7:35: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 80s falling into the mid-70s. Air density is a 7. Wind northeast 5-10 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
SEA at TEX 8:05: Dry. Temps in the low 90s falling into the low to mid 80s. Air density is a 9 becoming an 8. Wind south-southeast 7-14 mph which blows in from right-center. The wind is a 4.
CIN at MIL 8:10: Retractable roof. Numerous showers and thunderstorms, especially as the game goes on. Thus, the roof will likely be closed.
LAA at MIN 8:10: Widely scattered showers for the scheduled 1st pitch (should be dry) give way to the increased threat of rain after 10 PM eastern. If the rain were to move into the region earlier than expected we could be talking about delay or ppd issues. In actuality, the rain should be rather light so the threat for a ppd looks rather low. Temps only in the mid-50s. Air density is a 4. Wind northwest 7-14 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
OAK at HOU 8:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the upper 80s falling to near 80. Air density is an 8 or a 9. Wind south-southeast 7-14 mph lessening to 3-6 mph which blows out to left-center. The wind is a 6.
SD at COL 8:40: Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the mid-50s. Air density is a 10. Wind northeast 10-20 mph becoming east 6-12 mph which blows in from right and then from right to left. The wind is a 2 becoming a 5.
PIT at LAD 10:10: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind west-southwest 10-20 mph lessening to 7-14 mph which blows out to right or from left to right at times. The wind is an 8 becoming a 6.
AZ at SF 10:15: Dry. Temps near 70 falling to near 60. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind west-northwest 10-20 mph with gusts past 25 mph at times which blows out to right-center. The wind is a 9.