Daily Fantasy Rundown – September 20 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Sunday’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 expecting any weather impacts on today’s slate of games.
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.
Travis d’Arnaud (NYM) – d’Arnaud is one of the reasons for the Mets second half offensive surge, posting a .379 wOBA and .251 ISO. Given his prospect status, solid plate discipline (.51 EYE) and solid batted ball distribution for a hitter (21.4 LD/37.5 GB/41.1 FB) we’re largely buying on d’Arnaud. He’s only had 48 PAs against LHP this season, but the results are laughable, in a good way: .499 wOBA and .395 ISO backed by a 41.7 hard hit rate and 2.00 EYE (incredible 9.5 BB rate and 4.8 K rate). Today d’Arnaud will face LHP CC Sabathia, who has allowed a .363 wOBA and 1.56 HR/9 to RHBs since 2013.
Next in line: Buster Posey (SF)
Yan Gomes (CLE) – With an emphasis on some secondary Coors Field values and pitching, it might not be possible to pay up for d’Anraud in cash games. If that’s the case, Gomes is a secondary value with upside who will save you money. We’re hesitant to overuse Gomes (.271 wOBA, horrendous plate discipline), but this situation calls for it. He’s got pop for a catcher (career .178 ISO), a top five to six lineup spot and a favorable matchup. Opposing pitcher John Danks has been much belter over the season’s second half, although much of that is luck related (xFIP only slightly lower than first half). Plus, we can’t ignore his splits since 2013: .350 wOBA and 1.42 HR/9 allowed to RHBs.
Additional catcher notes: Derek Norris (SD) is absolutely an option playing in Coors Field against a horrific pitching staff (Kyle Kendrick-Rockies Bullpen is one of the worst pitching combinations that exists). The issue with Norris is a bad lineup spot and reduced skills against RHP, which, given his price adjustment on most sites due to the park, prevent him from being an automatic play despite the environment. He’s a secondary value in cash games and a great tournament option. Evan Gattis (HOU) is a nice industry wide value as we’re high on the Astros offense at home against a fly ball oriented starting pitcher (Aaron Brooks) and bad bullpen. He’s particularly enticing on FanDuel where he has a mid-tier price tag and holds catcher eligibility. Russell Martin (TOR) (one of the easier ways to get access to this offense), Wilson Ramos (WAS) and John Jaso (TB) are all viable in tournaments with some consideration for cash games depending on site pricing.
Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) – Encarnacion is someone we’re unlikely to have exposure to in cash games due to the expensive price tag, but the upside here is massive and should be targeted in tournaments. The Blue Jays as a team murder LHP (lead MLB in wRC+ against LHP), and that includes Encarnacion, who has an astonishing power profile (15.8 K percentage is very low in light of patience (12.1 BB rate) and aggressive swings). It’s tough to get too good of a read on opposing pitcher Rich Hill, who was once a top prospect for the Cubs. He’s bounced around quite a bit since then, but for his career Hill holds a 4.65 ERA, getting into trouble due to his combination of wildness (4.29 BB/9) and fly ball riskiness (35.2 GB rate). Those aren’t good weaknesses to have against this lineup.
Next in line: Joey Votto (CIN)
It’s difficult to pinpoint any single industry wide value play at this position as eligibility and pricing differs quite a bit across the industry. Evan Gattis (HOU), as mentioned above, is in a nice spot. Opposing pitcher Aaron Brooks has a 7.68 ERA through 38.2 IP. He’s very fly ball oriented (37.4 GB rate) and hasn’t been able to induce weak contact (12.7 soft hit rate). Brooks is backed up by a bullpen that allows the second most HR/9 and has the fourth highest ERA. Eric Hosmer (KC) remains incredibly cheap on FanDuel and is a great cash game play there. This is another case of using a hitter against a combination of a bad starting pitcher (Alfredo Simon has a 4.91 ERA) and bad bullpen (Tigers relievers have third highest collective ERA). On many sites, Justin Morneau (COL) is one of the most cost effective ways to get exposure to a Rockies offense with a team total over 5. He’ll likely hit fifth and hold the platoon edge on James Shields, whose high hard hit rate has led to problems giving up the long ball. Perhaps my favorite play of the day at the position would be Brett Wallace (SD), if he is in the lineup. Wallace is at a punt price across the industry and in this elite matchup, he’d be cash game viable almost regardless of lineup spot.
Additional first base notes: Secondary cash game options/strong tournament plays include Adam Lind (MIL) (great splits matchup but not much help surrounding him), Carlos Santana (CLE) (another nice splits matchup, although Santana has been disappointing against LHP specifically this season) and Freddie Freeman (ATL). Chris Carter (HOU) always has the ability to double dong but he’s strictly a tournament option.
Top Play: Jose Altuve (HOU) (given that we’re very high on the Astros offense today, it’s not a surprise that Altuve is our top ranked second baseman; however, even at somewhat affordable pricing across the industry, this a position it makes sense to save money on in cash games)
With Jedd Gyorko (SD) (good second half power peripherals; in Coors Field against a terrible pitching staff) and Scooter Gennett (MIL) (leading off at home against a pitcher with bad splits against LHBs) in similar situations as yesterday and even lower price points on most sites, they are once again our go to second base values. We prefer Gyorko for the Coors Field exposure and more power upside, but if you need to save money, it’s fine to drop down to Gennett.
Additional second base notes: Anthony Rendon (WAS) is a solid secondary value play. Jason Kipnis (CLE) is a good target for tournaments, where his ownership will likely be depressed by the L/L matchup.
Top Play: Carlos Correa (HOU) (not much to add here that we haven’t already covered regarding a matchup we like a lot for the Astros as a team; as mentioned in previous Rundowns, Correa’s immediate power has been a surprise and immediately turned him into the typical Astros “event” player with 30 combined homers and steals in 86 games; cash game viable on FanDuel and DraftDay but not worth the hefty price tag on DraftKings)
Next in line:
Jose Reyes (COL) – Jose Reyes at home is always going to be an option due to the scarcity of the position. Today he’ll hit from his stronger side, the left side, where he has a career .334 wOBA and .145 ISO. He’s not a must at the position, but if you have some extra cap room and can’t quite get up to Correa, it’s logical to settle on Reyes.
Ian Desmond (WAS) – Reyes is obviously a strong option due to environment, but that environment is taken into consideration in his price tag on most sites. As a result, it’s fine to simply save money at this position. Using Desmond allows you to get exposure to a Nationals team that has a high team total approaching 5. Desmond, who has upped his production over the season’s second half, hit fifth against a LHP yesterday, and we’d love to see that lineup spot again. Desmond will face LHP Justin Nicolino, who can’t miss bats at all (2.98 K/9 through nine starts). Nicolino’s ineffectiveness (5.21 xFIP) has been masked by a very high strand rate leading to a fortunate 3.81 ERA.
Additional shortstop notes: Additional shortstop options are Ketel Marte (SEA) and Erick Aybar (LAA) (particularly where cheap and if leading off). Xander Bogaerts (BOS) is a viable tournament option.
Josh Donaldson (TOR) – We’re not sure if there’s anything scarier than fading Donaldson at home against a subpar southpaw, which is what we’re suggesting to do in cash games today. The cost in our opinion is simply too high given a stud pitcher we like to fit in (Strasburg) and a game with multiple, more affordable high upside options (SD-COL). If playing tournaments in addition to cash games, though, you’ll want to cover yourself by grabbing some Donaldson exposure. He has a pretty absurd career 172 wRC+ (187/183/197 past three seasons) and .306 ISO (.295/.353/.364 past three seasons) against LHP. It also helps Donaldson’s cause that when Rich Hill departs, he’ll get to face a bullpen with the third highest xFIP and most HR/9 allowed.
Next in line: Nolan Arenado (COL)
David Wright (NYM) – Wright is not in the same high octane offensive situations as Donaldson and Arenado, but he’s a phenomenal splits play at a much lower cost, making him viable in cash games. Wright has mashed LHP for his career and the matchup against CC Sabathia should help boost his low power numbers (.121 ISO in 28 games).
Yangervis Solarte (SD) – Solarte’s price varies quite a bit from site to site, but he’s a particularly strong value on DraftDay where he’s just $6,300. That’s very cheap access to the highest expected scoring team on the day. Solarte will likely hit second for the Padres, and on the road in Coors Field that generally means five plate appearances with the potential for six. Solarte is having a strong season. He has an underrated offensive combination of a very high contact rate (9.6 K rate) and decent enough power (.153 ISO). Ultimately though, this is about the situation Solarte is in more than it has anything to do with his skill set.
Additional third base notes: Todd Frazier (CIN) continues to have a severely depressed price point on FanDuel, which you should continue to take advantage of in a strong hitting environment against a subpar starting pitcher. As mentioned in the first base section, Brett Wallace (SD) would be an amazing punt if in the lineup, and he holds third base eligibility on most sites that offer MPE (multi-positional eligibility).
Top Plays: The top outfielders in our model are Jose Bautista (TOR), Mike Trout (LAA) and Matt Kemp/Justin Upton/Wil Myers (SD). All are very expensive across the industry. You may be able to sneak one of them into cash games (as usual, we prefer the Coors Field guys to cover yourselves in cash), but don’t feel like you have to force it. It’s fine to take a value play approach at this position to ensure you can pay up at starting pitcher.
Next in line:
Carlos Gonzalez/Charlie Blackmon (COL) – Unlike yesterday, Gonzalez and Blackmon will hold the platoon edge today, making them really strong cash game values at a steep (or at least meaningful) discount on most sites to the top outfield options. Opposing pitcher James Shields has really struggled with the long ball this season (1.38 HR/9) as a result of some surprising wildness (9.1 BB percentage) and a higher than league average 12.9 hard minus soft hit rate/ Look for Gonzalez and Blackmon to take advantage in this environment. Teammate Corey Dickerson (COL) has returned from the DL but hit seventh in his last start. Target him in tournament formats.
George Springer/Colby Rasmus (HOU) – Our attraction to the Houston offense is strongest at the outfield position, where Springer and Rasmus give you the upside you need if eschewing the top bats. Both are priced very affordably across the industry. Springer lacks the platoon edge but still has significant power and speed upside. Rasmus has the platoon edge and is quietly posting his second consecutive season with a .200-plus ISO overall. Specifically against RHP, here are his ISOs since 2013: .250/.232/.230. Rasmus should be given a top five lineup spot and is an excellent industry wide value play. Teammate Preston Tucker makes for a great punt option in tournaments and would be cash viable with a top five or six lineup spot.
Juan Lagares (NYM) – On stricter pricing sites, you may need a very cheap final outfielder in order to afford a lot of what we’re recommending with rosters elsewhere. Lagares fits that bill quite well. He gives you access to a Mets offense that should do well against CC Sabathia (ERAs of 4.78/5.28/4.93 past three seasons) and the splits lineup well. Sabathia has allowed a .363 wOBA to RHBs since 2013. Meanwhile, Lagares has a solid .330 wOBA and .150 ISO in his career against LHP. There’s always risk surrounding unconfirmed players in the lineup on Sunday’s, but we’re guessing Lagares leads off for the Mets tonight.
Additional outfield notes: Secondary outfield values for cash games include Jayson Werth (WAS) and Alex Gordon (KC). Jay Bruce (CIN) and Mark Trumbo (SEA) are two high upside tournament options that will likely come with a low ownership.
Starting pitcher rankings (salary not taken into account)
1) Stephen Strasburg (WAS)
2) Jon Lester (CHC)
3) Matt Harvey (NYM)
4) Carlos Martinez (STL)
5) Gerrit Cole (PIT)
6) Julio Teheran (ATL)
7) Jake Odorizzi (TB)
8) Collin McHugh (HOU)
9) Felix Hernandez (SEA)
10) Kevin Gausman (BAL)
11) Mike Bolsinger (LAD)
12) Matt Shoemaker (MIN)
13) Aaron Nola (PHI)
14) Josh Tomlin (CLE)
Stephen Strasburg (WAS) – It’s often difficult to balance pitching on offense on days like today (Coors Field game, Blue Jays facing a LHP). We feel it makes sense to pay up for pitching today. While you may not be able to get the expensive bats in those two great offensive environments, Strasburg’s price tag still allows you to grab multiple Coors Field players (Gyorko, Blackmon/CarGo being the main targets). In a more general sense, we view Strasburg as a near core play at his price tag almost regardless of how it affects roster construction. He’s the clear cut number one starting pitcher in our model but is priced as the fifth most expensive pitcher on DraftKings and a lot lower than we often see a lot of studs on FanDuel. Strasburg has certainly had his issues this season, from pitching to contact early in the season to a couple of short outings for health reasons. However, he’s in a groove right now and at the top of his game. Since returning from the DL at the beginning of August, Strasburg has an xFIP of 3.03 or lower in six of seven starts. The key has been the return of his elite ability to miss bats. In those seven starts, he’s struck out 12-plus bats in three of them, including 27 combined over his past two starts. Strasburg’s anemic SwStr rate from the beginning of the season is a thing of the past. He recorded a double digit SwStr rate in just nine of 11 starts to begin the season. Since returning from the DL, he has a SWStr rate of 11.8 or more in every start except one (9.7), including an insane 25.7 SwStr rate in his last outing. Look for Strasburg to dominate a Marlins team that ranks dead last in wRC+ against RHP. He should be a staple of your cash games today.
Next in line:
Jon Lester (CHC) – Lester makes for a nice pivot off of Strasburg in tournament formats and can actually be used alongside Strasburg on multi-SP sites if you’re willing to spend up on pitching. With the wind at Wrigley neutral (blowing in ever so slightly), we’re expecting a low total in this one. Lester faces a Cardinals lineup that includes an ice cold Jhonny Peralta, limited to pinch hitting Matt Holliday and declining Yadier Molina. As a result, this Cardinals team is 26th in wRC+ against LHP with a very high 23.4 K percentage. Lester is repeating his bounce back season from a year ago, posting a nearly identical xFIP (3.13) and K percentage (24.6). If the right punts pop up (Brett Wallace for example), it makes sense to pay up for both of our top pitchers on multi-SP sites.
Carlos Martinez (STL) – Martinez is an underdog, but this is one of the cases where you really shouldn’t be swayed by the win odds. There are plenty of opportunities for Martinez to rack up DFS points against a Cubs lineup that strikes out an inordinate amount of the time. On the season they are striking out 24.1 percent of the time against RHP, highest in MLB. The main concern here is that the Cubs go lefty heavy, as they did against Lance Lynn on Friday night (first six batters were left handed, expecting five of six today). Martinez has allowed a .340 wOBA to LHBs since 2013. If we get the lineup we fear, Martinez shifts to more of a tournament options. If we see 3-4 LHBs, then he still makes sense as a lower cost alternative to Lester on multi-SP sites.
Julio Teheran (ATL) – Teheran is a great tournament play on one-SP sites, and on multi-SP sites he’s the guy to use if you are unsure on Lester/Martinez or simply want to pack in more hitting upside. Teheran has no doubt had a disappointing season. To an extent it was expected (vastly over performed previous two years on basis of expected ERAs), but an increased BB and hard hit rate have made the regression that much worse. Still, projection systems expect Teheran to be better moving forward given his age and previous skills. His true baseline is likely somewhere between this season’s results and last season’s. In that case, he makes for a phenomenal value play against a Phillies team that is throwing out horrendous lineups that not only project very low from a wOBA standpoint but offer a ton of K upside. There’s a bit of risk here due to Teheran’s disappointing peripherals, but it may be worth it given the price/matchup on a day where there are plenty of expensive hitters in good situations.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Two additional tournament options we’ve pegged are Collin McHugh (HOU) (increasing K rate as season has progressed; heavy favorite against a weak Oakland lineup) and Kevin Gausman (BAL) (one of the more worthwhile risks to take if going very cheap at the second starting pitcher spot).
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) Toronto Blue Jays
3) Colorado Rockies
4) Houston Astros
1) Cincinnati Reds (We didn’t hit on the Reds much in the content, but they’ve got a matchup against Ariel Pena, who has been moderately successful through two starts but seems prone to a disaster start given his wildness and very pessimistic ZiPS and Steamer projections.)
2) Washington Nationals (Lots of RHBs to use against a subpar, contact oriented LHP.)
3) Texas Rangers (This suggestion is playing Vegas. The Rangers stack in tournaments will be low owned simply due to the aura of facing Felix Hernandez, but the team total here remains a healthy 4.5.)
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.
Bos at TOR 1:07: retractable roof. Dry. Temps near 70. Air density is a 6. Wind northwest 5-10 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 4.
KC at DET 1:08: dry. Temps near 70. Air density is a 6. Wind northwest 5-10 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
CHW at CLE 1:10: dry. Temps near 70. Air density is a 6. Wind northwest 5-10 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 4.
BLT at TB 1:10: dome.
PHL at ATL 1:35: dry. Temps near 80. Air density is a 7. Wind west 5-10 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
MIN at WSH 1:35: dry. Temps in the low to mid 80s. Air density is a 7 or an 8. Wind southwest 5-10 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
CIN at MIL 2:10: retractable roof. Dry. Temps near 70. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.
LAA at MIN 2:10: dry. Temps in the mid 70s. Air density will be a 7. Wind southwest 5-10 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6.
OAK at HOU 2:10: retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 80s. Air density is an 8. Wind south-southeast 6-12 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
STL at CHC 2:20: dry. Temps in the low to mid 70s. Air density is a 6. Wind southwest 4-8 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
SEA at TEX 3:35: dry. Temps near 90. Air density is an 8. Wind southeast 5-10 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
AZ at SF 4:05: dry. Temps near 70. Air density is a 6. Wind west 10-20 mph which blows out to center. The wind is an 8.
PIT at LAD 4:10: dry. Temps near 70. Air density is a 6. Wind west-southwest 8-16 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 7.
SD at COL 4:10: dry. Temps in the low to 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.
NYY at NYM 8:00: dry. Temps in the low to mid 70s falling into the low 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.