Daily Fantasy Rundown – September 23 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.
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Francisco Cervelli (PIT) – Cervelli once again ranks as the top catching option in our model. He’ll likely hit lower against RHP and possibly in an unfavorable lineup spot but the boost to Coors Field and a matchup against a weak RHP boosts him significantly. Cervelli has been a solid hitter against RHP (.348 wOBA, .105 ISO since 2012) but he never pops in our model because of a brutal home environment for RH power and generally a weak lineup spot. With injuries (Kang out, Ramirez left last night early) it’s conceivable he could find his way into the first six spots. The price tag isn’t prohibitive around the industry and the position is pretty thin. Christian Bergman has allowed a .420 wOBA, 41.5 percent hard hit rate, and 2.19 HR/9 to the last 278 RHBs he’s faced at the big league level. He’s one of the weaker starters in the big leagues and he’s tasked with pitching in Coors Field. Cervelli isn’t a perfect fit as a top play (doesn’t have a great lineup spot, neutral skill set boosted by contextual factors) but he is the highest ranking catcher in our model.
John Jaso (TB) – If Cervelli doesn’t land in a strong lineup spot, Jaso looks like the best alternative for cash game lineup construction. He’ll face Rick Porcello who has allowed a .341 wOBA and 1.13 HR/9 to LHBs since 2013. Jaso is an above average hitter against RHP (.370 wOBA, .174 ISO since 2012) and he gets to hit leadoff in a favorable scoring environment. He carries pinch hit risk late but the price point is hovering just above the minimum on most sites. With an emphasis on high end bats and high end pitching, taking salary relief at thin positions is likely the best approach to roster construction this evening.
Additional catcher notes: Kyle Schwarber (CHC) remains our top catcher option on sites he carries the eligibility. He’s facing another young Brewers RHP that projection systems aren’t high on. ZiPS has Davies for a 4.82 ERA rest of season and Steamer pegs him around 4.45. I’m more likely to use funds on bats in Coors Field than pay up at a thin position for Schwarber in cash games, which makes him a better tournament play in our eyes. Russell Martin (TOR) is another strong tournament option. He’s a touch behind Cervelli in our model and priced similarly. The Jays have a healthy implied run total approaching five runs and Martin (.327 wOBA, .169 ISO against RHP since 2012) is a skilled hitter without a platoon weakness. Yan Gomes (CLE) is a cheaper tournament target at the catcher position. His power upside (.186 ISO against RHP since 2012) could play well against Phil Hughes (1.36 HR/9 allowed to RHBs since 2013).
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) and Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) are the two top first base options on this slate. Both face weak starters and their teams have strong implied run totals. Price points make it difficult to justify them in cash games with an emphasis on Coors Field but they qualify as your top options at the position.
Pedro Alvarez (PIT) – The bottom half of the Pirates lineup is difficult to project but the skills and matchup are there for any of the individual players to pop out should they hit fifth or even sixth. Alvarez fits this mold as he’s compiled a .345 wOBA and .241 ISO against RHP since 2013. The power numbers have come while playing in a park environment that suppresses power substantially (eight percent below league average for LHB) and now he’s playing in a park that inflates power 18 percent above the league average for LHBs. It’s a gigantic shift and it boosts Alvarez’s rating in our model to the same levels as Encarnacion and Rizzo, only he comes with a far cheaper price tag. Ultimately lineups will help determine if he holds that value.
Justin Morneau (COL) – Like Alvarez, we’re sensitive to lineup spot on Morneau but the price point is depressed on both Yahoo and DraftKings. If he hits fifth (ideal), he’s a very strong value against Charlie Morton who has always struggled with LHBs (.345 wOBA, 31.7 percent hard hit rate since 2013). Morneau owns a .374 wOBA and .201 ISO against RHP since 2012 and has been stellar in Coors Field against RHP, posting a .416 wOBA last season and a .459 wOBA in a small sample this year. He’s a Top 20 hitter in our model.
Additional first base notes: Lucas Duda (NYM) and Mike Napoli (TEX) are the best alternatives to the Coors Field first base options. Duda’s price tag varies around the industry but he has a nice matchup with Williams Perez and a very weak Braves bullpen behind him. Napoli is better where priced as a pure punt. The matchup with Felix Doubront is a good one (.345 wOBA, 32.9 percent hard hit rate allowed to RHBs since 2013) but Napoli’s been susceptible to some pinch hit risk of late which could limit the plate appearances against an opponent that doesn’t work deep into games. Justin Smoak (TOR) remains cheap enough to consider him on DraftKings in cash games. On most other sites he’s close enough to the Coors options that he’s a better option in tournaments. His profile is a bit more boom or bust since he’s so power dependent. Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) and Carlos Santana (CLE) are secondary value targets after Duda and Napoli. I haven’t found anywhere their prices are more attractive than the Coors options or Duda/Napoli but they’re both priced down and have favorable matchups against below average RHP.
Neil Walker (PIT) – We often reference how Neil Walker stacks up among the best hitters at his position but contextual factors are rarely on his side. He plays in a difficult home hitting environment and often hits in a poor lineup spot. Walker has posted a .352 wOBA and .194 ISO against RHP since 2012. He gets the benefit of Coors Field and Christian Bergman who is likely the worst pitcher on this slate. Bergman has held the last 200 LHBs he’s faced to just a .284 wOBA but a 26 percent LD Rate and 31.3 percent hard hit rate suggest it’s fluky. The last three games against RHP, Walker has hit fifth and with Aramis Ramirez hampered last night it’s possible he could hit second or fourth (both of which would serve as an upgrade). His price point is elevated around the industry due to Coors Field but second base isn’t particularly deep and we think he should be your top target.
Scooter Gennett (MIL) – Walker is your primary target but if you need salary relief, Scooter Gennett is priced around the minimum on most sites. Kyle Hendricks has struggled at the big league level with LHBs, allowing a .327 wOBA and 1.17 HR/9. Gennett has hit RHP well (.345 wOBA, .155 ISO) and he’s hitting leadoff which gives him a good chance of three plate appearances against Hendricks. We like Walker more than Cervelli, but this is a similar situation to the catcher position. If you’re not paying up, the lack of depth at the position should encourage you to emphasize salary relief. Gennett brings you that relief along with a premier lineup spot and favorable platoon split.
Additional second base notes: Josh Harrison (PIT) has second base eligibility on DraftKings and that really enhances his value. We’ll talk about him more in the third base section but the flexibility makes him a viable alternative to Walker at second base. Jason Kipnis (CLE) still has a favorable price tag on FanDuel but even there he’s more of a secondary target at the position. Dee Gordon (MIA) has a great matchup with David Buchanan and the Phillies have struggled controlling the running game all season. Gordon’s price point is prohibitive in cash games, but he’s a strong target in tournaments. Daniel Murphy (NYM) is also a fine tournament target as part of a Mets stack or mini-stack.
Jose Reyes (COL) – Reyes hasn’t been present at the top of our rankings through the first two games in this series but he gets a more favorable matchup for his skill set on Wednesday. Reyes’ skills are on decline but they’re declining slower against RHP (.330 wOBA, .125 ISO since 2012) and against righties his speed is still a viable weapon. We’ve noted Charlie Morton‘s struggles against LHBs and Morton has a -2 rSB score this season as well. It’s a good matchup for Reyes and the position is thin on the whole. He ranks inside our Top 25 overall hitters.
Jhonny Peralta (STL) – Peralta is dangerous against LHP (.352 wOBA, .199 ISO since 2012) and his price point is down around the industry. The best price point is on FanDuel ($2,300) where you can get Peralta at the cost of a punt play. He’ll face Brandon Finnegan who has electric stuff but is wild with it and doesn’t work deep into games as a converted reliever. Behind Finnegan is a largely right handed bullpen but Peralta will at least face weak RHPs after his likely two plate appearances against Finnegan. Once again, this is more of a play on cost than matchup and skill set. Peralta ranks as a Top 75 hitter in our model but as the third highest ranked shortstop (behind Reyes and Seager).
Additional shortstop notes: Starlin Castro (CHC) is a fine alternative to Peralta if he continues to get a favorable lineup spot. He’s been hitting well of late and the Cubs have promoted him to fifth or sixth. If he’s directly behind all the on base machines that is a good place for falling into RBIs. Corey Seager‘s (LAD) price tag is outrageous on DraftKings but manageable on FanDuel. The matchup with Chase Anderson is fine but Seager’s value fluctuates with his lineup spot. Even at reasonable price points, I’d want him inside the Top Five lineup spots if I’m not using the SS position to punt.
Aramis Ramirez/Josh Harrison (PIT) – This is the same situation as last night. With Ramirez leaving the game early, I think it’s likely he sits out tonight leaving Harrison as the primary target. The question with Harrison then is the lineup spot. I think his recent performance may earn him the leadoff spot in which case he’d represent a core target around the industry. If he’s hitting down in the order, we’ll lean on the additional options in the notes section. Harrison is a solid hitter against RHP (.320 wOBA, .135 ISO since 2012) but his value is in typically premier lineup spots that he gets. Coors Field is great for his gap power and road leadoff hitters In Coors Field are among the most valuable in DFS due to inflated expected plate appearances.
Additional third base notes: The Pirates have all sorts of 3B eligible players on sites with positional flexibility so if Ramirez is out and Harrison isn’t in a favorable spot, it likely means Pedro Alvarez (PIT) earned a strong lineup spot. He’d then become our preference on sites with 3B eligibility (using Morneau or one of the secondary first base targets at first base). Adrian Beltre (TEX) is a fine pivot off of Coors Field with a similar price point. The matchup with Felix Doubront is strong and lands him inside our Top 35 overall hitters. Josh Donaldson (TOR) is the top play at the position. Charlie Morton is really tough on RHBs so Arenado’s matchup is difficult even in Coors Field and Arenado also left last night early with an injury issue. David Wright (NYM) and Kris Bryant (CHC) are strong tournament targets as part of stacks or mini-stacks.
Andrew McCutchen/Starling Marte (PIT)/Carlos Gonzalez (COL) – With the Rockies facing a RHP, Carlos Gonzalez works his way into the group of top outfield options. These are three highest ranked hitters in our model (in this order) and most sites have them priced accordingly. Ideally, if you can squeeze at least one of these three into your lineup, I think you’re doing yourself a favor. McCutchen and Marte rate so well because they’re facing the weaker pitcher and getting a huge park boost but Gonzalez should matchup well with Morton’s struggles against LHBs. Gonzalez is a near must play on DraftKings ($4,100) but on most other sites, I’m letting price dictate which option I’m targeting.
Gregory Polanco (PIT)/Charlie Blackmon (COL) – These two options fall a little bit below the top options in our model. Polanco and Blackmon still rank inside our Top 15 hitters but there is a gap and it’s important when assessing pricing between all the different Coors Field outfield options. Polanco rates a bit better in our model. The projection systems view them as comparable players when you remove the contextual environments they play in. Polanco has the benefit of facing a weaker starter and weaker pen behind him, so we’d prioritize him over Blackmon but both are secondary top play targets.
Dexter Fowler (CHC) – The rest of the value plays are simply underpriced leadoff hitters on strong projected. Fowler isn’t mis-priced everywhere (FanDuel is your best price tag) but of this group, he ranks the highest in our model. Fowler is a good hitter against RHP (.341 wOBA, .160 ISO since 2012) and his DFS value is boosted by Schwarber, Rizzo, and Bryant hitting immediately behind him. He runs, hits for power, and when he gets on base there is a high probability of scoring a run because of the bats behind him.
Ben Revere (TOR) – Revere is a less effective hitter than Fowler but in a better offense. He owns just a .302 wOBA against RHP since 2012 but the leadoff spot in front of Donaldson, Bautista, and Encarnacion helps drive runs scored when he does get on. The Yankees aren’t the best matchup for Revere since McCann controls the running game so well, but the price tag on most sites is affordable.
Delino Deshields Jr. (TEX) – Felix Doubront has allowed a .345 wOBA to RHBs since 2013 and Deshields has a solid .321 wOBA against LHP as a big leaguer. The Rangers implied run total is just over four runs this evening. They lag the Jays and Cubs in terms of overall offensive potential but Deshields is another viable value play given his affordable tag around the industry.
Additional outfield notes: Corey Dickerson (COL) is incredibly cheap on DraftKings. If he earns a Top Five slot in the Rockies lineup (possible if Arenado sits), he’d usurp CarGo as our top outfield value play. Andre Ethier (LAD) is priced at the minimum on FanDuel and serves as a fine source of pure salary relief. Jacoby Ellsbury/Brett Gardner (NYY) are both priced down on FanDuel. Marcus Stroman isn’t someone we like to pick on because he’s got great stuff, but at those price points they represent acceptable secondary outfield targets.
Starting pitcher rankings (salary not taken into account)
1) Max Scherzer (WAS)
2) Corey Kluber (CLE)
3) Zack Greinke (LAD)
4) Andrew Cashner (SD)
5) Kyle Hendricks (CHC)
6) Lance Lynn (STL)
7) Drew Smyly (TB)
8) Yordano Ventura (KC)
9) Jake Peavy (SF)
10) Bartolo Colon (NYM)
Max Scherzer (WAS) – Scherzer holds the edge in our model over both Greinke and Kluber. He faces a primarily RH dominant Orioles lineup that loses the DH and gets a big downgrade in park environment. Scherzer dominates RHBs (.248 wOBA, 32.1 K Rate since 2013) and the Orioles will likely have just 3 LHBs in the lineup (Parra, Davis, and Clevenger). They were also down Adam Jones last night who is battling a back issue. While Greinke is arguably the safest on the run prevention side, Scherzer has an expected K Rate over 29 percent in this matchup while Greinke projects around 24 percent. The expected strikeout advantage neutralizes the run prevention gap and places Scherzer at the top of our rankings.
Andrew Cashner (SD) – Cashner has been historically been a much stronger pitcher in the friendly confines of PETCO Park. Since coming to the Padres, he’s posted a 2.30 ERA, 3.16 xFIP and 21 percent K Rate at home. The Giants offense is depleted with Brandon Belt facing a possible shutdown and Buster Posey limping to the finish line (scratched last night). Of the options in this second tier, he’s the most affordable and his performance has been the most stable of late. Outside of Tier One, there is very little in the way of safe options with upside, but Cashner’s resume best fits that bill.
Lance Lynn (STL)/Kyle Hendricks (CHC) – I’m grouping these two division rivals together because their stories are so similar. Both have struggled mightily over the last month. Over Lynn’s last seven starts he’s allowed 19 ER in 32 IP while walking more batters (20) than he’s struck out (19). Hendricks hasn’t had the same struggle with peripherals (34 K, 14 BB in 34 IP) but he’s allowed 23 ER in his last seven starts while averaging under five innings per outing. Neither pitcher has the trust of their manager as they’ve each been pulled early of late, however; they both have favorable matchups on Wednesday. The Reds and Brewers each rank in the bottom third of offenses in wRC+ against RHP. The Brewers are especially battered without Ryan Braun and Jonthan Lucroy. While their recent performance doesn’t inspire confidence, Vegas has made both pitchers heavy favorites (Lynn -170, Hendricks -215) and given implied opponent team totals of just 3.3 and 3.5 runs respectively. The price tag on both pitchers has adjusted so significantly that some of the risk is removed in rostering them. Ultimately, the inconsistent performance may push your usage towards tournaments but they rate as strong values in our model. I tend to trust Hendricks a bit more than Lynn simply because his peripherals have been more stable of late, but Vegas and our model has a bit more confidence in Lynn. Despite Lynn’s recent struggles he actually hit a season high in average fastball velocity last start but the percentage of pitches inside the strike zone has been on a steady decline in the second half.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Bartolo Colon (NYM) is perhaps the safest pitcher beyond the first tier of options but he comes with zero upside against a contact heavy Braves lineup. Colon isn’t much of a strikeout pitcher in the first place and against that lineup we have an expected K Rate of 16-17 percent. He’s an acceptable cash game option but the price point isn’t particularly favorable. I’m more prone to take some risk at cheaper price points. Drew Smyly (TB) is the anti-Colon. His upside is the highest among the secondary starting options but a matchup in Boston is difficult for run prevention expectations. His price tag also isn’t particularly discounted, so we see him as a better tournament option. Jake Peavy (SF) has a nice matchup with a weak Padres offense but once again the price tag is a nuisance on DraftKings ($8,900) and he’s not exactly the type of starter you want to use on a one-SP site like FanDuel ($6,800) where the price is more reasonable. Ideally he’d fit on a multiple SP site with a discounted tag from that second tier of starters.
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) Pittsburgh Pirates
2) Colorado Rockies
Coors Field earns the emphasis in cash games. With implied run totals above five on both sides, they clearly rank as the top offenses to target.
1) Toronto Blue Jays
2) Chicago Cubs
3) New York Mets
4) Miami Marlins
The Blue Jays and Cubs are the next two offenses to target. They’re the most skilled and have the next highest implied run totals. Price points on their top hitters make them difficult to target in cash games, but if you fade Coors Field in tournaments, they’re viable.
The Mets offense isn’t as skilled as the Cubs but it’s similarly deep and the Braves bullpen is WAY worse than the Brewers. The Braves bullpen is one we really like to attack in tournaments and especially when their young starters that don’t work deep into games are on the mound. This is the case with Williams Perez.
The Marlins are a low owned option to target in tournaments. David Buchanan is one of the weaker pitchers on the slate and the Phillies bullpen behind him is also a mess. The Marlins sneakily have one of the higher implied team totals on the slate but few of their individual plays stand out as great cash game options. They’ll come low owned.
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.
NYY at TOR 7:00: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the mid-60s. Air density is a 5. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.
BLT at WSH 7:05: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind northeast 5-10 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
TB at BOS 7:10: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 60s falling into the low to mid 60s. Air density is a 5. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.
ATL at NYM 7:10: Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the mid to upper 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind nearly calm. The wind is a 5.
PHL at MIA 7:10: The retractable roof will likely be closed.
MIL at CHC 8:05: Dry. Temps in the mid-70s falling into the mid-60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind east-northeast 7-14 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.
SEA at KC 8:10: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind southeast 6-12 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.
CLE at MIN 8:10: Showers and thunderstorms around. Will not be an all game, soaking rain but there will be heavy rain at times. Temps in the low 70s falling into the mid to upper 60s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind southeast 6-12 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.
CIN at STL 8:15: Dry. Temps near 80 falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind east 6-12 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.
PIT at COL 8:40: Dry. Temps near 80 falling into the mid to upper 60s. Air density is a 10. Wind northeast becoming southeast 8-16 mph which blows in from right early and then out to left. The wind is a 3 becoming a 7.
AZ at LAD 10:00: 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. The wind is an 8 becoming a 6.
TEX at OAK 10:05: Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the mid-60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind west-northwest 9-18 mph lessening to 7-14 mph which blows out to right. The wind is an 8 becoming a 6.
SF at SD 10:10: Dry. Temps in the upper 70s falling into the low to mid 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind west-northwest 7-14 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5