Daily Fantasy Rundown – September 2 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Wednesday’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: No weather-related issues expected. Great hitting environment in COL.
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.
Yan Gomes (CLE) – Catcher is a position where salary relief should be emphasized on Wednesday. There aren’t many elite catchers in good hitting environments and there are a handful of values that have compelling matchups or environments. Gomes is the option our model likes most. He’s getting a nice park shift playing in Toronto and his power skills against RHP (.187 ISO since 2012) are strong. He generally hits sixth which isn’t a problem for catchers on the road and R.A. Dickey has really lost his dominance against RHBs. This season he’s striking out just 17.3 percent of RHBs and generating only a 43 percent GB Rate, while surrendering 1.14 HR/9. We’ll take a shot on Gomes cheap power on a day where the position is thin.
John Jaso (TB) – Jaso is a default option when he’s facing RHP and tonight he gets a big park shift in his favor as well. Our on base models like Jaso a bit more than Gomes, since Jaso has compiled a .369 wOBA, 13 percent BB Rate, and .171 ISO against RHP since 2012. However, the power models side towards Gomes given Dickey’s propensity for the long ball. Jaso also comes cheap around the industry and has been hitting cleanup of late. He ranks within the Top 55 hitters in our model.
Salvador Perez (KC) –Salvador Perez faces Randy Wolf who has allowed a .357 wOBA and 39.1 percent hard hit rate to RHBs in a limited big league sample since 2013. ZiPS projections (4.84 rest of season ERA) aren’t optimistic for the 39 year old lefty and the Tigers bullpen behind him is one of the weakest in the big leagues. Perez has only posted a .316 wOBA against LHP but a 32.3 percent hard hit rate and .170 ISO suggest the upside is there. My only concern with Perez is lineup spot. If he’s hitting seventh at home, we’re looking at very few projected plate appearances (a little over three). For a minimum price point, it’s acceptable but unless he’s hitting fifth it’s difficult to put him above the other recommendations.
Additional catcher notes: Matt Wieters (BAL) has been a mess all season but a minimum price point and a matchup against fly ball prone Erasmo Ramirez in Camden Yards makes him a secondary cash game target or premier tournament option. Welington Castillo (ARZ) and Nick Hundley (COL) rank as our top catcher plays due to the great hitting environment in Coors Field, but we see little reason to spend up at the position on Wednesday. Jonathan Lucroy (MIL) is the other top catcher play that works better in tournaments than cash games due to price. He’s historically hit LHP well and gets the underwhelming Jeff Locke in a favorable park environment.
Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) – Jonathan Gray is a tricky starter to pick on. He has great stuff but he pitches in Coors Field and he’s struggled early on at the big league level. Goldschmidt’s price tag is restrictive in cash games, but he’s a strong target in tournaments.
Jose Abreu (CHW) – Our model actually ranks Goldschmidt and Abreu very closely. Abreu comes at a fraction of the cost on most sites. If you’re paying at first base, we think Abreu is a better cash game option. He’s crushed LHP in his career (.392 wOBA, .232 ISO) and Tommy Milone has allowed 1.46 HR/9 to RHBs since 2013. Both Abreu and Goldschmidt rank inside our Top Five hitters overall.
Prince Fielder (TEX) – Fielder’s price is way down after an extended slump in August but he’s showing signs of life of late. He’s compiled a modest seven game hitting streak and he homered last night. He’ll face Ian Kennedy who has allowed a ridiculous 1.92 HR/9 and 36.1 percent hard hit rate to LHBs this season. Fielder owns a .383 wOBA and .187 ISO against RHP since 2012. The low scoring environment may cause hesitation investing in Fielder, but the price point is heavily discounted from baseline expectations. He’s one of the better pure hitters you can get exposure to at the position without costing you elite hitting.
Ben Paulsen (COL) – Paulsen is nowhere near as skilled as Fielder overall (.359 wOBA, .205 ISO against RHP in his career) but Coors Field has a way of closing the gaps. At home against RHP, Paulsen has posted a .383 wOBA and .227 ISO in 193 plate appearances. Chase Anderson is a below average RHP with an inability to miss bats and Paulsen generally hits fifth for the Rockies who have an implied run total of 5.5 runs. Pricing varies around the industry but I view him similarly to Fielder. On sites, they’re priced similarly Paulsen is an alternative that gets you Coors Field exposure.
Additional first base notes: Chris Davis (BAL) is priced a little bit more aggressively than Fielder and close enough to Abreu that he gets caught a bit in pricing limbo. He’s a very strong secondary cash game value. Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) and Carlos Santana (CLE) are two tournament options at different price points, both with exposure to the terrific power potential in the Rogers Centre. Pedro Alvarez (PIT) comes with a terrible lineup spot but our model likes the park shift for his power along with a matchup against Zach Davies making his major league debut. Alvarez is a fine tournament option where the price is very cheap.
Top Play: Jason Kipnis (CLE) – Favorable matchup and great park environment but difficult to pay Top 15 overall hitter prices for a player that grades out closer to Top 35.
Neil Walker (PIT) – The Pirates have a healthy implied run total approaching five runs and Walker is one of their better hitters against RHP (.353 wOBA, .197 ISO since 2012). He’s getting a nice park shift for power, which is one of Walker’s most important skills, and rookie RHP Zach Davies has struggled with LHBs (.290 batting average allowed in AAA). Walker’s lineup spot often dictates his value. We’d like to see him inside the Top Five in the lineup, in order to fully embrace the great matchup.
Aaron Hill/Phil Gosselin (ARZ) – The second base position doesn’t have much opportunity cost and the Diamondbacks have two options that come with very cheap price tags. Gosselin is a near minimum punt play around the industry, while Hill is slightly priced above. Hill typically gets a favorable lineup spot, while Gosselin will likely hit eighth if in the lineup. Neither are great hitters against RHP so this is more of a play on the positional scarcity and the ability to get cap relief at a thin position.
Additional second base notes: Brian Dozier (MIN) is cheap on FanDuel and cash game viable given his history of success against LHP (.365 wOBA, .223 ISO since 2012). Rodon is difficult to pick on because he has great stuff but righties have posted a .368 wOBA and 33 percent hard hit rate against him so far. Kelly Johnson (NYM) is also a unique punt play on FanDuel. Aaron Nola has been pretty good early on but the Phillies bullpen behind him is very weak and Johnson’s skills are worth more than the minimum price. D.J. LeMahieu (COL) is habitually overpriced around the industry but a viable tournament play given the surrounding environment. Rougned Odor (TEX) hit fifth last night. I was hoping for a better price point around the industry but I like his power upside given Kennedy’s struggles with LH power.
Troy Tulowitzki (TOR) – Tulowitzki still ranks as our top shortstop option despite the bump down to fifth in the lineup and Jose Reyes getting the benefit of Coors Field. Tulowitzki faces Trevor Bauer who whiffs a lot of RHBs (22 percent) but is very fly ball prone. Tulowitzki owns a .377 wOBA and .201 ISO against RHP since 2012. He ranks as our top shortstop option and a Top 10 overall hitter in our model.
Jose Reyes (COL) – Reyes is better from the left side (.331 wOBA, .127 ISO since 2012) and his Fantasy value is helped against RHP because it keeps his speed in play (80 stolen bases since 2012). Chase Anderson is one of the weaker starters in play and while he’s accustomed to pitching in a difficult environment, Coors Field is another level. Reyes is overpriced relative to his ranking in our model (Top 30) but he makes for a fine tournament option.
Additional shortstop notes: If you’re not paying at shortstop (and in most cases you won’t be in cash games), we’re then shifting our attention to cost effective options. In these instances it’s less about the quality of the player, because they’re all grouped together, and more about price. On FanDuel, Alcides Escobar (KC) is minimum priced and leading off against Randy Wolf. Escobar isn’t much of a hitter (.300 wOBA, .088 ISO) against LHP but the Royals have an implied run total approaching five runs (4.8) and Escobar hits lead off. On DraftKings, the cheapest option of the bunch is Marwin Gonzalez (HOU) who has been hitting second of late albeit in a tough matchup against Taijuan Walker. The other guys I’m looking at in this price range include: Jimmy Rollins (LAD) and Jean Segura (MIL) who are leadoff hitters with cheap tags. On skill level, I rank them: Escobar, Segura, Marwin, and then Rollins but they’re all close enough that price is leading my decision.
Nolan Arenado (COL) – Chase Anderson has actually struggled more against RHBs (.342 wOBA, 1.18 HR/9 and 31.3 hard hit rate) in his career than LHBs. He’s the best option if spending way up at third base.
Jake Lamb (ARI) – Lamb is one of the few options in the Coors Field game that comes at an affordable price point. He hasn’t hit RHP particularly well (.316 wOBA, .140 ISO) but his batted ball skills suggest far more (35.8 percent hard hit rate). We like getting cheap exposure to Coors Field where we can and Lamb has the platoon advantage and an acceptable batting slot (sixth) on the road.
Aramis Ramirez (PIT) – The Pirates have an implied team total approaching five runs and Ramirez has been hitting cleanup since coming over. His skills are in decline a bit (.312 wOBA, .161 ISO against RHP this season) but the premier lineup spot and cheap price against a rookie making his major league debut, makes him a solid target.
Lonnie Chisenhall (CLE) – Chisenhall has been crushing the ball since getting promoted toward the end of July (.403/.474/.552) and he’s hitting fifth in a great environment in Toronto. R.A. Dickey has allowed a .321 wOBA and 1.20 HR/9 to LHBs since 2012. Chisenhall’s pretty cheap around the industry despite the strong play of late and he makes for a fine secondary value target.
Additional third base notes: Miguel Sano (MIN) and Trevor Plouffe (MIN) get the tricky matchup with Carlos Rodon that looks great on paper (.368 wOBA, 1.13 HR/9 allowed but 23.2 K Rate). Sano is an expensive tournament option while Plouffe is another viable value play (best tag is on FanDuel). Manny Machado (BAL) and Josh Donaldson (TOR) are secondary tournament targets as a part of stacks or mini-stacks.
As is typically the case, we have plenty of elite outfielders that flood our Top 20 overall rankings. Carlos Gonzalez (COL), Andrew McCutchen (PIT), A.J. Pollock (ARZ), Jose Bautista (TOR), Ryan Braun (MIL), Charlie Blackmon (COL), David Peralta (ARZ), Ender Inciarte (ARZ), and Starling Marte (PIT) all rank within our Top 20 overall hitters (listed in order). Carlos Gonzalez is the option I’m most willing to spend on while Starling Marte, David Peralta, and Ender Inciarte have various soft price points.
Gregory Polanco (PIT) – Polanco leads off for the Pirates and there intriguing 4.8 implied run total. His legs are valuable against Jonathan Lucroy who has a career -7 rSB and his power has a chance to play up with the big park shift. The price tag varies a bit around the industry (most favorable on DraftKings) but he’s a Top 30 hitter in our model.
Avisail Garcia (CHW) – Garcia is very cheap on FanDuel and Yahoo. We’ve touched on Tommy Milone‘s struggles against RHBs (.333 wOBA, 1.46 HR/9 since 2013). Garcia hasn’t been great against lefties (.329 wOBA, .139 ISO since 2012) but projection systems have expected more power (.182 ISO ZiPS projected against lefties). Milone is backed up by a pretty weak bullpen and Garcia has neutral splits that allow him to hold value deep into the game. He’s a Top 45 hitter in our model and on a few sites you can get him with an almost near punt price.
Daniel Nava (TB) – Nava is a pure punt play. He’s performed well against RHP (.356 wOBA, .129 ISO since 2012) but his value is so heavily walk dependent that his upside is always limited. The big park shift is beneficial as is a second spot in the lineup. His value is mostly tied to his price tag and his probability of delivering positive performance. The upside is limited.
Additional outfield notes: The secondary value plays at the position include: Carlos Gomez (HOU), Khris Davis (MIL), Adam Jones (BAL) and Melky Cabrera (CHW) who all rank within our Top 40 hitters but have varying price tags around the industry. Yasmany Tomas (ARZ) would represent a top value play if he cracks the lineup.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
2) Matt Harvey (NYM)
3) Max Scherzer (WAS)
4) Cole Hamels (TEX)
5) Michael Wacha (STL)
6) Scott Kazmir (HOU)
7) Taijuan Walker (SEA)
8) Ian Kennedy (SD)
9) Carlos Rodon (CHW)
10) Taylor Jungmann (MIL)
11) Yordano Ventura (KC)
12) Kevin Gausman (BAL)
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) –Kershaw is tied for the largest favorite on the evening slate (-270) in a game with a total of just six. We’re looking at an implied run total below 2.5 runs for the Giants. The loss of Hunter Pence weakens the lineup substantially from a projection standpoint and the Vegas lines have certainly captured those challenges. Once again the emphasis on Kershaw has little to do with matchup and much more to do with pricing and opportunity cost. This slate has Coors Field but few other elite hitting environments. It is difficult to get exposure to Coors Field with Kershaw, but the opportunity cost is a bit less with fewer elite hitting environments/offenses in play. There are elite secondary starting options that you can pivot away from Kershaw with and potentially get an extra bat or two from Coors Field, but you won’t be able to stack the game with elite pitching. Our lean is to target Kershaw in cash games as the opportunity cost to add one additional batter from an elite hitting environment isn’t significant.
Next in line:
Matt Harvey (NYM) – Harvey is also a -270 favorite but in a game with a total of just seven. The Phillies offense is vulnerable to RHP. They rank 29th in wRC+ against RHP and the current lineup projects as above average for strikeout production. Harvey and Scherzer rank as near equivalents in our model, but Harvey gets the edge on home field advantage, win probability, and price point that makes him a slightly stronger play.
Cole Hamels (TEX) – The Padres rank 22nd in wRC+ against LHP with the third highest strikeout rate against LHP (23.1 percent). Hamels also gets a big park shift in his favor in a park that has historically inflated strikeouts a bit. Hamels is a slight favorite (-136) in a game with a total of 6.5. He rates a bit below Harvey and Scherzer in our model. On most sites, the price point has accounted for this slight gap, making him a similar play to Harvey. In general, we’re trying to keep our cash game exposure within these three starters.
Kevin Gausman (BAL) – There is not a single “value play” on the slate that stands out as a safe cash game option. They’re all risky options with a pinch of upside and they all rank similarly in our model. If I’m choosing between them, I’m going to lean on price and the one guy with a softer price point than all the others is Kevin Gausman. The Rays rank 24th in wRC+ against RHP and have the fifth highest K Rate against righties (21.6 percent). Their lineup has gotten a bit more left handed of late (adding Sizemore and Nava into the fold), but their best options (Jaso – .369 wOBA, Nava – .356 wOBA, Longoria – .322 wOBA, and Loney – .320 wOBA) would generally grade out as a second, third, or fourth options on most teams. Gausman’s skills are average in most categories, but his stuff is considered above average by most scouts. With the price tag hovering near the minimum on multiple starting pitcher sites, I think he’s the most appropriate source of salary relief if you’re looking to pair an elite starting pitcher with exposure to Coors Field or other top offenses.
Additional starting pitcher notes: When evaluating our tiers today, I think they each have a distinct theme associated with them. The first two tiers are where I’d emphasize cash game focus. The third tier is secondary value plays or more expensive tournament options that may go under-owned due to falling in pricing limbo. The quality of the pitchers is worthy of cash game consideration but pricing makes them less attractive. The fourth tier is your “risk on” tier of highly volatile assets that are best utilized in tournaments. I love the strikeout potential of guys like Taijuan Walker (SEA), Carlos Rodon (CHW), and Ian Kennedy (SD) but they come with a wide range of outcomes against above average offenses.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have suggestions.
Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:
1) Colorado Rockies
2) Arizona Diamondbacks
3) Pittsburgh Pirates
Coors Field always dominates cash game lineup construction. Tonight our emphasis is more focused on the higher end starting pitching but getting cheap exposure where we can. The Pirates have some cheaper options and a competitive implied run total to target in cash games.
1) Toronto Blue Jays
2) Kansas City Royals
3) Baltimore Orioles
4) Tampa Bay Rays
The Blue Jays and Royals are secondary top offenses to target in tournaments. The Jays get Trevor Bauer who combines walks, strikeouts, and fly balls to form a volatile mix. The Royals get a soft tossing lefty and a terrible pen behind him. I think they’ll go way under-owned given the strength of other offenses in top parks.
The Orioles and Rays are a step below the Jays and Royals. The Orioles always have explosive upside in Camden because of their big power and they face a fly ball prone RHP. The Rays bullpen is vulnerable in the middle innings and Ramirez rarely works deep into games.
The Rays are a price point stack. Like the Phillies last night, you can affordably stack them with an elite pitching option or pair. This is especially valuable on a night with so much uncertainty in the mid-tier.
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.
TB at BLT 7:05: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 80s falling into the upper 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind west-southwest 3-6 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
CLE at TOR 7:07: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps near 80 falling into the low to mid 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.
PHL at NYM 7:10: Dry. Temps in the low 80s falling into the upper 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind south-southwest 3-6 mph which blows out to left-center. The wind is a 6.
WSH at STL 8:00: Dry. Temps near 90 falling into the low to mid 80s. Air density is an 8. Wind south-southeast 6-12 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6.
DET at KC 8:10: Dry. Temps near 90 falling into the low to mid 80s. Air density is an 8. Wind south 6-12 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6.
PIT at MIL 8:10: Retractable roof. A 10% chance of a thunderstorm. Temps in the mid-80s falling into the mid to upper 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind south 6-12 mph lessening to 3-6 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.
CHW at MIN 8:10: Dry. Temps in the mid-80s falling into the upper 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind south-southeast 6-12 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 4.
SEA at HOU 8:10: Retractable roof. A 20% coverage of thunderstorm across southeastern Texas. Temps in the low 80s falling into the upper 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind southeast 6-12 mph lessening to 3-6 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6.
AZ at COL 8:40: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 80s falling into the mid-70s. Air density is a 10. Wind south-southeast 8-16 mph which blows out to left-center. The wind is a 7.
SF at LAD 10:10: Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west-southwest 8-16 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 7.
TEX at SD 10:10: Dry. Temps in the mid-70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind west-northwest 6-12 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.