Daily Fantasy Rundown – September 19 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Saturday’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: We are not anticipating any ppd or delay threats today or tonight.
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.
The top plays at the catcher position today are the two RHBs in Coors Field, Derek Norris (SD) and Wilin Rosario (COL), who hold the platoon edge over a couple of subpar southpaws. Obviously Coors Field is an outlier in terms of park factors (total here is 11, next closest game is 9), but this is amplified by the bad pitching we are seeing here today. Both Norris and Rosario would represent strong value plays in these matchups even if the game took place in a more neutral park. Norris (career 135 wRC+ against LHP, .182 ISO) faces Rockies LHP Yohan Flande, who has allowed a .364 wOBA and 1.67 HR/9 to RHBs on his career). Furthermore, Flande’s current hard minus soft hit rate is really high at 18.2. The cherry on top is the Rockies bullpen behind Flande that has the highest ERA in MLB.
Rosario started and hit cleanup in the Rockies last game against LHP. Rosario has had a tough time at the plate this year (.288 wOBA), and much of that is likely due to inconsistent playing time. That dampens our baseline expectations for him, but it’s tough not to still like him this evening. There’s enormous power upside here (.284 career ISO against LHP for Rosario) as he faces LHP Robbie Erlin, who is making his first MLB appearance of 2015, after struggling mightily in AAA (5.60 ERA, 5.24 FIP, 1.58 HR/9). Rosario is a core option on sites like DraftKings (cheap, catcher eligible) but more of a tournament only play on sites like FanDuel (not cheap, only first base eligible). Norris is our preferred option of the two if similarly priced, but we advice diversifying based on price.
Additional catcher notes: If you’re eschewing a Coors Field catcher in cash games, there are a trio of alternatives in good spots: Salvador Perez (KC) (has been hitting fifth; holds the platoon edge; opposing pitcher Matt Boyd has allowed a .396 wOBA and 1.99 HR/9 to RHBs), AJ Pierzynski (ATL) (poor surrounding lineup but that allows Pierzynski to hit in a good spot in the order; opposing RHP Jerad Eickhoff has yielded a .419 wOBA and 3.09 HR/9 to LHBs; obviously a limited sample but 42.2 hard hit rate and even K/BB ratio is somewhat telling) and Yan Gomes (CLE) (hits top five in the order and has decent pop against LHP for a catcher at hic price). Jonathan Lucroy (MIL) can be used in tournament play.
Top Play: Joey Votto (CIN) (Votto rates as the highest first baseman in our model, but with opposing pitcher Taylor Jungmann exceeding expectations, it’s tough to justify paying an expensive price tag for Votto on a Kershaw/Coors Field day)
Freddie Freeman (ATL) – It took Freeman a while to get back into the swing of things after returning from the DL at the end of July. His August was atrocious as he made a lot of harmless contact (55.8 GB rate, 7.0 hard minus soft hit rate). The good news is that Freeman’s peripherals have completely turned around in September. In addition to his highest BB rate of any month (19.4 percent), Freeman has a low 31.8 GB rate and high 32.0 hard minus soft hit rate. This gives us confidence to utilize Freeman in very positive matchup against Jerad Eickhoff, who has been getting smoked at the MLB level. In addition to Eickhoff’s poor splits (mentioned above), he has an overall 4.46 xFIP and a fly ball riskiness (32.2 percent) that could land him in a lot of trouble in conjunction with the amount of hard contact he’s given up (20.0 hard minus soft hit rate).
Mike Napoli (TEX) – Napoli is an excellent source of cap relief at a position where it’s easy to diversify of Coors Field a bit. Napoli is a high risk (25.7 K percentage), high reward hitter (.187 ISO) facing LHP Vidal Nuno, a high risk (1.54 HR/9), high reward (22.4 K percentage) pitcher. In baseball we’re less wary of avoiding these situations in cash games due to the high amount of hitter variance to begin with. That’s especially the case here given Napoli’s low price tag, the environment (Texas) and the high Ranger team total (just under 5).
Additional first base notes: Adam Lind (MIL) ranks just behind Freddie Freeman as a mid-tier value. He’s consistently raked against RHP for his career and has a favorable matchup against Cincinnati RHP Josh Smith, a rookie who has been absolutely pummeled in five MLB appearances (three starts). Eric Hosmer (KC) may get overlooked due to a L/L matchup, but given Boyd’s overall ineffectiveness (has been creamed by everyone in a limited sample size), the likelihood of a short outing from Boyd and a bottom third Detroit bullpen, he can be used in cash games on FanDuel (very cheap) and tournaments across the industry. Albert Pujols (LAA) has a favorable price point against a subpar Mike Pelfrey and Twins bullpen. Normally this would pop as a cash game value but a foot injury that has been bothering Pujols has really dragged down his production. He’s best reserved for tournament games and may not even play the night portion of today’s double header after starting game one.
Jedd Gyorko (SD) – Gyorko is the most logical second base option in cash games. He’s an affordable way to get exposure to Coors Field and plays at a scarce middle infield position. As talked about the past sever weeks with Gyorko, his second half has been much better than the first half as a rise in both fly ball rate and hard hit rate has boosted his power. With Flande’s awful splits against RHBs and the Rockies bad bullpen behind him, there’s a lot of upside for Gyorko at very little cost (both actual and opportunity cost).
Scooter Gennett (MIL) – If you can’t quite afford Gyorko or are looking to diversify your exposure, Gennett is the best alternative. He’s been tough to use recently as the team followed up a series in pitcher friendly PNC Park by facing the Cardinals in a four game set in which they threw two good RHPs and two LHPs. Don’t forget about Gennett though. He leads off for the Brewers against RHP (career .347 wOBA and .156 ISO in that split) and will face RHP Josh Smith. The MLB sample size on Smith is extremely small, but of the 30 LHBs he has faced, he’s allowed a whopping 52.9 hard hit rate and just a 5.9 soft hit rate while walking twice as many as he has struck out. ZiPS projects Smith for a 4.87 ERA and 1.26 HR/9.
Additional second base notes: DJ LeMahieu (COL) is a secondary value play if he hits second. LeMahieu’s value is always difficult to gauge as he finds himself with awesome opportunities at home in Coors Field but the price tag is very expensive for the actual skills he possesses. The two second baseman in Texas, Robinson Cano (SEA) and Rougned Odor (TEX), can be used in tournaments.
Shortstop notes: Jose Reyes (COL) is the shortstop you should have the most exposure to in cash games. While Reyes is much better against RHP than LHP, he’s really easy to roster (if you don’t pay up for Kershaw in cash games, more on that in the pitcher section) given an affordable tag. Reyes is the best industry wide way to get exposure to the Rockies offense since he’s at such a scarce position and the other viable Rockies are either too expensive (Nolan Arenado) or are in L/L matchups that come with high opportunity cost (Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon). The mid-tier secondary value play alternative to Reyes is Ketel Marte (SEA). While he faces a strong opposing pitcher (Cole Hamels), other contextual factors are in his favor (hits leadoff, great park, stolen base upside). Most likely though, if not using Reyes, it makes sense to simply punt the position with either Erick Aybar (LAA) or the Philadelphia guys, Andres Blanco/Freddy Galvis (PHI). Simply go with the cheapest of the three on your respective site. Elvis Andrus (TEX) is viable in tournaments.
Top Play: Nolan Arenado (COL) (Arenado is the clear cut top third baseman. We’ve raved since the preseason about his power potential and he’s made good on that and then some. Facing a homer prone LHP at home, he’s an absolutely elite tournament option but someone we’ve found difficult to force into cash games if hoping for any semblance of balance).
Next in line:
Adrian Beltre (TEX) – Roster construction industry wide is a bit tough to get a pulse on, as it always is when you have a high total Coors game the same night that Clayton Kershaw pitches. On most sites, we recommend eschewing Kershaw in cash game rosters, as difficult as that sounds. If doing so and going the value play route at pitcher, you can not only grab a couple of shares on both sides of Coors Field, but you can also afford to pound high upside mid-tier values even outside of the Coors Field game. Beltre is a great example of this. He has a really strong home matchup with the platoon edge against LHP Vidal Nuno, who has allowed a .336 wOBA and 1.57 HR/9 to RHBs over his career. The Rangers have a team total approaching 5.
Additional third base notes: Hector Olivera (ATL) is an option where his price is really low. If you do go the Kershaw route, this Philadelphia-Atlanta game provides a lot of the best punt options. Simply put, their lineups are so bad that you can find punt-priced players in the top five lineup spots we covet, yet two well below average pitching options provides at least some upside. This is a nice spot to get a low ownership level on Miguel Sano (MIN) in tournaments, but there’s not reason to pay up for him in cash games.
Coors Field: The top five outfielders on the slate all reside in this game: Matt Kemp (SD), Justin Upton (SD), Wil Myers (SD), Carlos Gonzalez (COL) and Charlie Blackmon (COL). We’d rank them in that order with Kemp/Upton and Gonzalez/Blackmon close enough where it makes sense to simply pick based on price. The Padres RHBs take precedence for a few reasons. For starters, if all else equal we prefer road teams due to the guaranteed full ninth inning of at bats. Secondly but more importantly in this care, the trio of Padres outfielders all hold the platoon edge, with Kemp and Upton specifically having very wide platoon splits, while Gonzalez/Blackmon start the game with L/L matchups. On sites where the Padres outfielders are rather expensive, it makes sense to take one from that trio and then the cheaper of the two COL options. If Kyle Parker (COL) gets a top six lineup spot, he’d be an excellent source of salary cap relief across the industry.
Next in line: Mike Trout (LAA) (underpriced relative to his overall skills, especially facing the contact oriented Mike Pelfrey and struggling Twins bullpen (second worst xFIP in MLB); he’s a secondary cash game value who will likely be underowned in tournaments due to opportunity cost)
Jay Bruce (CIN) – With the emphasis on trying to fill one or two outfield spots with Coors Field options, you’ll need some options to sift through for your final spot or two. Bruce sticks out as underpriced across the industry, and particularly so on FanDuel ($2,500). As we’ve talked about in this space before, Bruce has quietly put together a strong bounce back season. His EYE and ISO have improved dramatically, and he’s on pace to go 25/10 in HR/SB. An unfortunate .260 BABIP has kept his batting average low, which is part of the reason Bruce is flying under the radar. Opposing pitcher Taylor Jungmann has done a great job containing LHBs (.296 wOBA), but that’s extremely deflated by an unsustainably low HR/FB rate of 2.4 percent.
David Murphy (LAA) – Look for Murphy to lead off for the Angels tonight against a RHP. Murphy isn’t sexy by any means, but he’s always hit RHP well (career .345 wOBA, .178 ISO; .327 wOBA, .151 ISO this season). That solid skill set should allow him to be successful against the contact oriented Mike Pelfrey, who has allowed a .342 wOBA to LHBs since 2013. Murphy is one of the best cash game options at a sub-$3,000 price tag in the outfield on DraftKings. Teammate Kole Calhoun (LAA) is a secondary value play but a bit tougher to squeeze in alongside Coors Field hitters.
Delino DeShields (TEX) – DeShields has great runs scored and stolen base upside thanks to his speed an ability to draw a walk (10.8 BB percentage, always had double digit BB rates in the Minors). With the Rangers coming in at a high team total in a home matchup (great hitter’s park), DeShields is a solid value play and there’s added upside in using him as part of a Napoli-Beltre mini-stack. Teammate Shin-Soo Choo makes for a fun tournament option. He’ll be low owned due to the L/L matchup, but there’s more than enough team upside here for Choo to overcome that and post a big line.
Alex Gordon (KC) – Speaking of L/L matchups, we’re pegging Alex Gordon as a secondary value and great tournament play despite facing southpaw Matt Boyd. One of the best ways to go contrarian in tournaments is to use hitters in L/L matchups since other DFS players seem to avoid that like the plague regardless of other contextual factors. In Gordon’s case, he’s facing a pitcher who has been overwhelmed at the MLB level regardless of hitter handedness. In 42.2 IP, Boyd has an 8.02 ERA, 6.40 FIP and 5.23 xFIP. He’s been extremely fly ball risky (32.4 GB rate), which has been exacerbated by the quality of contact he has yielded: 22.4 hard minus soft hit rate. On top of all this, Boyd won’t pitch deep, almost ensuring Gordon a couple of at bats where he could hold the platoon edge against a Detroit bullpen that has the worst xFIP in MLB.
Additional outfield notes: Lorenzo Cain (KC) is a bit pricey, but he’s made huge strides in the power department this year (.181 ISO, better EYE, more loft, higher hard hit rate). The upside here is huge in a starting matchup against LHP Matt Boyd. Target Cain in tournaments. Additional tournament options include Ben Zobrist (KC), Ryan Braun/Khris Davis (MIL), Nick Markakis (ATL) and Ryan Raburn (CLE).
Starting pitcher rankings (salary not taken into account)
1) Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
2) Carlos Carrasco (CLE)
3) Francisco Liriano (PIT)
4) Sonny Gray (OAK)
5) Garrett Richards (LAA)
6) Cole Hamels (TEX)
7) Carlos Rodon (CHW)
8) Scott Kazmir (HOU)
9) Taylor Jungmann (MIL)
Top Play: Clayton Kershaw (LAD) (He’s the top pitcher in our model and it’s pretty obvious why: 33.1 K percentage and 2.16 xFIP give him a lethal combination of strikeout upside and elite run prevention. However, with a high total in Colorado on a shorter nine-game slate, we’re leaning towards prioritizing the Coors Field bats. Kershaw is certainly viable in cash games if you’re willing to forego some COL/SD upside, but we prefer taking a value approach at starting pitcher tonight.)
Next in line:
Carlos Carrasco (CLE) – Carrasco has had excellent peripherals all season long, but he’s picked it up even more over the season’s second half, increasing his GB rate from 48.4 percent in the first half to 55.8 while greatly reducing hard hit contact allowed and even seeing a slight uptick in K rate. Carrasco is certainly nowhere near as safe as Clayton Kershaw, but there’s a meaningful ceiling here that can contend with Kershaw’s. Using Carrasco on most sites (especially FanDuel), allows you to hedge a bit by using a high end SP option that doesn’t force you to lose all of your Coors Field exposure. Carrasco will face a White Sox team ranked 22nd in wRC+ against RHP with a middle of the pack K percentage.
Garrett Richards (LAA) – The best industry wide value play at starting pitcher is Garrett Richards. If priced similarly to Carrasco, we obviously prefer Carrasco, but the gap is significant on some sites, including DraftKings. There it makes more sense to pencil Richards in as your number one starting pitcher and see what type of salary range is left for a second starting pitcher after filling in hitter values (either a high priced pairing with Carrasco or a riskier, cheaper pairing like Carlos Rodon). The total in the Angels-Twins game is a bit higher than we expected, but Richards is a small favorite and we like the matchup. The Twins are ranked 27th in wRC+ against RHP with the eighth highest K percentage. Richards hasn’t been able to match last year’s dominance as his K percentage has regressed. Still, he’s been an effective pitcher (3.81 ERA, 3.86 xFIP) who we expect to be better moving forward for a couple of reasons. First of all, like Carrasco, Richards is putting together a stronger second half, seeing his K percentage rise by a few points while his hard minus soft hit rate has flipped from an already good 5.6 to an elite -4.7. This feeds into the second reason we expect Richards’ numbers to be better moving forward. While his ERA is currently in line with expected ERAs, Richards’ ability to induce weak contact indicates he should be overachieving his FIP and xFIP.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Carlos Rodon‘s (CHW) wildness leads to volatility, but we’re willing to risk him in cash games as a second pitcher on multi-SP sites given his ability to miss bats (23.9 K percentage). Ryan Weber (ATL) is a punt starting pitcher option to use in tournaments. It’s tough to get a read on Weber’s skills since he spent most of the year as a reliever at AAA, calling into question his 2.21 ERA (3.93 FIP). His K rate was extremely low. While that limits upside, the lineups Philadelphia are throwing out there are so atrocious that we could see using Weber paying off if it allows you to get Coors Field stacked and/or paired with Clayton Kershaw.
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) San Diego Padres
2) Colorado Rockies
1) Texas Rangers (highest non-Coors team total; Nuno’s fly ball tendencies give the Rangers hitters plenty of HR upside)
2) Kansas City Royals (As noted in Gordon’s blurb, we really like the idea of getting L/L guys at a low ownership in tournaments and stacking the Royals allows you to do this with both Gordon and Hosmer; extremely HR prone pitcher backed up by one of the league’s worst bullpens)
3) Milwaukee Brewers (Favorable home park and facing a pitcher who has given up 10 earned runs in 12.1 IP over his only three MLB starts)
4) Philadelphia Phillies (The previous five stacks are the five teams with the highest team totals, so we wanted to give you something more contrarian to finish off the stacks section. The Phillies lineup is atrocious but it’s an extremely cheap stack, allowing you to play it with Kershaw and top of the line complementary bats. There’s a touch of upside here for a Phillies team with an implied run total north of 4 (rare for them) and facing a pitcher in Ryan Weber who will not miss any bats.)
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.
KC at DET 7:08: after rain and thunderstorms affects the region this morning, dry. Temps in the upper 60s falling to near 60. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind northwest 6-12 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
CHW at CLE 7:10: after thunderstorms affect the region today, dry. Temps near 70 falling into the low 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind northwest 6-12 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 4.
CIN at MIL: retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the mid 60s falling into the mid 50s. Air density is a 5 becoming a 4. Wind north 5-10 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
LAA at MIN 7:10: dry. Temps in the mid 60s falling into the mid 50s. Air density is a 5 becoming a 4. Wind north 5-10 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
PHL at ATL 7:10: dry. Temps in the mid 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 7. Wind west 5-10 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
OAK at HOU 7:10: retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the mid 80s falling into the mid 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind south 6-12 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
SEA at TEX 8:05: scattered thunderstorms. Not a high ppd threat but delay(s) are possible. Temps near 90 falling to near 80. Air density is an 8. Wind south 7-14 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.
SD at COL: dry. Temps in the mid 70s falling into the upper 50s. Air density is a 10. Wind west 8-16 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
PIT at LAD 9:10: dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the low 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind west 8-16 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 7.