Daily Fantasy Rundown – September 25 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: Slight risks in WSH, CIN and KC as rain will be nearby but the locations should remain dry.
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.
Yasmani Grandal (LAD) – With an affordable core play at starting pitcher (Jordan Zimmermann, see pitching section), we’re going to be heavy on Coors Field in our recommendations as it’s easy to fit multiple Dodgers in on most sites. The Dodgers have the highest team total on the day, hovering somewhere between 5.5 and 6. They’ll face off against David Hale (COL), a contact oriented RHP with very pessimistic ERA projections from both ZiPS (5.47) and Steamer (4.93). Hale is backed up by a Rockies bullpen that has the highest ERA in MLB. Grandal has much more power from the left side of the plate. He’s the clear cut top option for cash games, especially if given a top five lineup spot.
Next in line: Travis d’Arnaud (NYM) (lacks the platoon edge but brings great power peripherals into a matchup against an average pitcher (Anthony DeSclafani of CIN) in a great hitter’s park, making him a nice tournament pivot off of Grandal)
John Jaso (TB) – If you’re on a tighter pricing site and can’t seem to fit Grandal in your lineup (especially if he isn’t top five in the order), it’s reasonable to drop down to ol’ reliable John Jaso at catcher. Jaso’s low price tag is a bit of a mystery to us since he’s been productive (.362 wOBA, .172 ISO) and hits in a great lineup spot (usually leads off against RHP). Jaso’s career splits are strong (.352 wOBA, .155 ISO against RHP – power his higher last two seasons), and he’s in a favorable matchup today, receiving a large park shift playing in the Rogers Centre against RA Dickey (TOR).
Additional catcher notes: There’s not much else out there with cash game viability for this slate. Jarrod Saltalamacchia (ARI) could be used on stricter pricing sites with a top six lineup spot. He’s in a bad hitter’s park but faces a RHP in Casey Kelly who comes with some uncertainty (former top prospect, difficult time in the Minors this season). In tournaments, Wilson Ramos (WAS) and Chris Iannetta (LAA) have upside based on the pitchers they are facing but will have poor lineup spots in poor hitter’s parks. Tom Murphy (COL) is tournament viable due to park and if given a top six lineup spot, could even be used as a source of cap relief in cash games.
Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) – Aside from the obvious of always liking the value on the road team in Coors Field, there are a couple of other reasons to invest heavily in the Dodgers in cash game formats. For starters, they rate third in MLB in wRC+ as a team so their upside isn’t solely tied into the park factor. This would be a mismatch of team skills against pitching staff in any park. Perhaps most importantly though is opportunity cost. There aren’t many other high run scoring environments for us to pick off value plays from to mix in with Coors Field players. In fact, only four other games have a total over 7.5, with just one game at 9 (highest non-Coors total). Gonzalez is the top first baseman, but this is one position where we’re comfortable with the non-Coors alternatives.
Next in line: There are several other high end first baseman in strong matchups. All should be considered viable pivots off of Adrian Gonzalez in both cash and tournament formats: Miguel Cabrera (DET), David Ortiz (BOS) and Jose Abreu (CHW).
Lucas Duda (NYM) – Duda hasn’t had a high hard hit rate in the month of September but his EYE and loft generated have been phenomenal. We’ll take two out of three power indicators trending in the right direction in a matchup against Anthony DeSclafani (.340 wOBA, 1.17 HR/9 allowed to LHBs for his career) and playing in Great American Ballpark, which represents a large positive shift in park factor for Duda. He’s a nice mid-tier value with power upside.
Matt Adams (STL) – It’s not a guarantee Adams will be in the lineup, but if he is, he’ll likely hit fifth for the Cardinals. They take on Ariel Pena and the Brewers. Pena has had decent results through three MLB starts (3.50) ERA, but we expect some regression moving forward (5.09 xFIP). While Pena can miss bats, he’s extremely wild (5.50 BB/9), fly ball risky (just a 38.0 GB rate) and yields hard contact (26.0 hard minus soft hit rate). Even in a pitcher’s park, this gives Adams plenty of upside at a very cheap price point. On some stricter pricing sites, it makes sense to either go with a Coors player or extremely cheap. Adams is the cheap option at first base.
Additional first base notes: Justin Morneau (COL) is a comparable value to Lucas Duda where priced similarly and it may make sense to side with Coors exposure in that situation. Additional tournament options are Joey Votto (CIN) and Justin Bour (MIA). Mike Napoli (TEX) is cash viable where he comes attached to a punt price (FanDuel), but is best used in tournaments on most other sites.
Chase Utley (LAD) – Utley leads off for a road team (increases PA possibilities) in the best hitter’s park in all of baseball with the platoon edge on David Hale. Utley has had a pretty bad season overall (72 wRC+), but we’ve seen a bit of a resurgence with the Dodgers as both his wRC+ and ISO are up remarkably with them. That’s backed up by a huge shift in hard hit rate from the season’s first half (22.9) to the season’s second half (47.1). With performance increase meeting an ideal matchup, Utley is the clear target at second base in cash games.
Next in line:
Brian Dozier (MIN) – Dozier is tough to get a handle on tonight. His overall season numbers and history against LHP put him in a phenomenal spot against Matt Boyd (.383 wOBA and 2.02 HR/9 allowed to RHBs in a limited sample) and a bad Tigers bullpen. However, his peripherals have taken a nosedive over the season’s second half with an increase in K rate, reduction in loft and reduction in hard hit rate. Ultimately, he’s better as a tournament selection on sites where he remains priced high (DraftKings), but on sites that have fully taken into account his subpar second half (FanDuel) he’s a viable alternative to Utley if needing to save money.
Additional second base notes: Part of the reason we’re emphasizing Utley so much at second base is there aren’t any punt options at the position today. Scooter Gennett (MIL) has a decent matchup from a splits perspective, but he’s playing in a pitcher’s park on a bad lineup. He’s your best option currently if punting. Besides that, the only other options are players priced similarly or more expensive than Utley, so using them doesn’t make a lot of sense in cash games: Jose Altuve (HOU), Ian Kinsler (DET) and Anthony Rendon (WAS). Kolten Wong (STL) is a punt option in tournaments, but the low lineup spot at home prevents him from being used in cash games.
Shortstop notes: As with other positions, the preferred way of attacking this position is via the Coors Field options, Corey Seager (LAD) and Jose Reyes (COL). Seager is extremely expensive on some sites, though (DraftKings) where it may make sense to punt with an option like Erick Aybar (LAA) (incredibly cheap but leading off versus a subpar pitcher) so that you can stack Coors elsewhere without sacrificing any safety with your pitching choices. On FanDuel, the punt option to do that with is a minimum priced Jhonny Peralta (STL). Two of our favorite tournament options at the position are Carlos Correa (HOU) (at similar prices to Seager/Reyes, he will be under owned in large field tournaments) and Ian Desmond (WAS) (has some power/speed upside but number six lineup spot at home makes him a poor cash game play on most sites).
Top Play: Nolan Arenado (COL) (Arenado is the top rated third baseman. Between his breakout power year, which we’ve covered in depth in several past Rundowns, and a home matchup with a team total approaching five, he’s the guy you want to try and squeeze in. With Jordan Zimmermann an affordable ace tonight, it’s rather easy to stack or at least mini-stack Coors Field in cash games.)
Next in line:
Miguel Sano (MIN) – Sano is in an excellent matchup for his power upside. The rookie has an amazing .277 ISO and 17 HRs in 70 games thanks to great power peripherals: 16.1 BB rate, 0.92 GB/FB ratio, 46.7 hard hit rate. Meanwhile, opposing pitcher Matt Boyd (DET) has been shellacked at the MLB level (7.40 ERA) thanks to a very low GB rate (32.1) and high hard hit rate (34.8 percent), both of which mesh well with Sano’s strengths. Now Sano strikes out so much (36.6 K percentage) that he’s a bit of a high risk play in cash games given the opportunity cost today. Consider him an elite tournament play on all sites and cash viable where he provides a meaningful discount to Arenado.
Additional third base notes: While both Arenado and Sano are expensive, it’s pretty easy to pay up at third base tonight and makes sense to target two high upside individuals playing in the two highest total games on the night. There are some secondary values if you find yourself in need of cap room. Alex Rodriguez (NYY) (particularly on FanDuel) and Chase Headley (NYY) (if hitting second) both have reasonable price points for a home matchup against the high risk/high reward Carlos Rodon. Evan Longoria (TB) is too cheap playing in a park that greatly accentuates right handed power relative to his home park. In tournaments, Josh Donaldson (TOR) (price becoming more reasonable but ownership will be very low today due to matchup and opportunity cost), David Wright (NYM) (big park shift playing in Cincinnati) and Adrian Beltre (TEX) (platoon edge in a plus hitter’s park) can all be targeted.
Carl Crawford/Andre Ethier (LAD) – Not to be overly dramatic, but if these two are in the lineup together, likely hitting first (Crawford) and fifth (Ethier), they’re keys to the slate in cash games. For whatever reason, Crawford and Ethier seem to not have been hit with the same Coors Field bump in pricing that other hitters received on sites that take into account park factors. As a result, using these two simultaneously gives you two high upside bats with the platoon edge on the highest expected scoring team while clearing cap room for you to pay up for the players in this game that did receive the pricing bump.
Carlos Gonzalez/Corey Dickerson (COL) – Gonzalez and Dickerson aren’t quite as crucial in terms of roster construction since they come at a higher price tag. However, they’re also surprisingly affordable on many sites – priced closer to the mid-tier outfield group than the upper echelon players (Harper, Bautista, etc.). It’s not terribly difficult to fit in an all Coors outfielder, and if you’re in a situation where the COL group is priced similarly to the LAD group (Dickerson and Ethier on DraftKings for example), we have the COL group rated higher, salary side. Opposing pitcher Mike Bolsinger hasn’t yielded much power to LHBs but has allowed a .342 wOBA in large part due to a 25.8 LD rate.
Other top plays: Bryce Harper (WAS) is an elite tournament option. His expensive price tag will make him very low owned but the matchup is awesome as opposing pitcher Jerad Eickhoff (PHI) has shown absolutely no ability to get LHBs out. Mike Trout (LAA) lags behind Harper in our rankings, but he’s very viable on DraftKings for just $4,400. It’s a poor park but opposing pitcher Vidal Nuno (SEA) has given up plenty of power to RHBs, and that price tag is just too cheap for a player with Trout’s skills.
Trayce Thompson/Avisail Garcia (CHW) – This duo of RHBs has a nice matchup in hitter friendly Yankee Stadium against CC Sabathia, who has shown no ability to keep the ball in the park three years running, posting HR/9 rates of 1.19/1.96/1.50. On FanDuel and DraftDay, Garcia is near minimum priced and on DraftKings and DraftDay Thompson is a nice bargain. If picking between the two, Thompson has the much higher projected ISO (around .180 from both ZiPS and Steamer). Garcia has been a big disappointment this season but with a top five lineup spot in this matchup, he’s worth using at a minimum price tag.
Additional outfield notes: One of the best industry wide secondary values is Curtis Granderson (NYM). He’ll lead off in Cincinnati with the platoon edge against DeSclafani, whom we like to pick on with LHBs. Steve Pearce (BAL) seems to have rediscovered his power stroke, making him an excellent tournament option out of the cleanup spot against LHP Rich Hill (BOS). On FanDuel, Pearace, along with teammate Adam Jones (BAL), is cheap and cash viable. A couple of the best industry wide tournament options are Joc Pederson (LAD) and Aaron Hicks (MIN).
Starting pitcher rankings (salary not taken into account)
1) Jose Fernandez (MIA)
2) Jordan Zimmerann (WAS)
3) Noah Syndergaard (NYM)
4) Carlos Carrasco (CLE)
5) Sonny Gray (OAK)
6) Carlos Martinez (STL)
7) Garrett Richards (LAA)
8) Rich Hill (BOS)
9) Rubby de la Rosa (ARI)
10) Scott Kazmir (HOU)
11) Mike Leake (SF)
12) Carlos Rodon (CHW)
Jose Fernandez (MIA) – Fernandez is our top ranked pitcher as his dominance (32.1 K percentage, 1.93 FIP) meets an excellent matchup (Atlanta is 28th in wRC+ against RHP) in his spacious home park. The issue here is a very high price point for a pitcher on a pitch count. Since being activated from the DL, Fernandez has made two starts and faced an average of 20.1 batters, not completing six full innings in either outing. That hasn’t stopped him from putting up great DFS performances (remarkably averaging 7.5 Ks over those two starts), but there’s definitely a bit of risk in taking such an expensive pitcher whose IP upside is capped. That risk is heightened on a day when you’ll want some cap relief to spend on hitting, pushing Fernandez to tournament status only for us.
Jordan Zimmermann (WAS) – It’s debatable if Zimmermann belongs in tier one with Fernandez or leading off tier two, but either way his attractive price point across the industry makes him a core cash game play. He’s our second ranked overall pitcher, but less expensive across the industry than any of our other top two tier pitchers. The main reason we like Zimmermann tonight is the atrocious Philadelphia Phillies lineup. Here’s the lineup that the Phillies used against a RHP last night: Freddy Galvis (career 72 wRC+, 18.2 K percentage), Brian Bogusevic (89, 23.9), Odubel Herrera (105, 24.8), Darin Ruf (108, 27.8), Andres Blanco (82, 13.3), Cody Asche (90, 23.6), Cameron Rupp (75, 25.9), Aaron Altherr (97, 28.5) and the pitcher. That’s horrific. Not only does this lineup lack overall offensive ability but it provides a ton of K upside. Zimmermann is currently listed as the largest favorite on the day at -250. Given his price and the matchup, he’s a godsend on a day where you’ll want to spend up on Los Angeles Dodgers bats in Coors Field.
Rich Hill (BOS) – Rich Hill has only made two starts this season, and those two starts may be the most dominant back to back outings we’ve seen all season. Seriously. Let that sync in. In each of those two starts, Hill has completed seven innings while striking out 10 batters. Hill always had a decent K rate way back when he was last relevant but struggled with control and fly ball tendencies. So, even more remarkable than the back to back 7 IP, 10 K outings with just 3 combined ERs is that Hill posted a 55.5 GB rate while walking just two total batters (one intentional). Now this is most likely an anomaly. A career 4.64 ERA pitcher who last started a game at the MLB level in 2009 is not all of a sudden going to be an ace. However, the sheer dominance Hill displayed and the fact that we know he can strike people out makes him a worthwhile risk on multi-SP sites such as DraftKings where he remains incredibly cheap ($4,300). If you’re able to fit in a lineup you’re comfortable with using two top two tier starting pitchers (a lot of this will depend on lineups), that’s a safe way to attack cash games. However, if you aren’t able to do that, why not just dip all the way down to Hill and load up on hitting? At the very least, Hill makes for a great tournament option.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Noah Syndergaard (NYM) is the top end pitcher we’re most likely to use in cash games outside of Jordan Zimmermann. Carlos Carrasco (CLE) and Sonny Gray (OAK) are still viable where there prices are very friendly relative to the other top five starting pitchers. Carlos Martinez (STL) is a really strong tournament play. We’re a little concerned over a drop off in production in the second half (almost doubled last year’s IP total), but it’s a very tasty matchup at home. Rubby de la Rosa (ARI) is a nice tournament option. He gets an extremely positive park shift pitching in Petco Park and will face a Padres lineup that will strike out a lot. Mike Leake (SF) is a viable cash game option where very cheap on multi-SP sites. He has a higher floor than Rich Hill but comes with less upside.
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) Los Angeles Dodgers
2) Colorado Rockies
1) Detroit Tigers
2) Minnesota Twins
3) Toronto Blue Jays
4) Baltimore Orioles
5) Arizona Diamondbacks
The Tigers and Twins suggestions fit the secondary part of the description more than the contrarian part as they are participating in the game with the second highest total of the night. Both teams feature suspect starting pitchers backed up by bottom of the league bullpens. Matt Boyd allows more power, which means you should be keying in on the power hitting RHBs for the Twins. Mike Pelfrey doesn’t allow a ton of power but simply can’t miss any bats. You can realistically pick on him with anyone from this lineup in a tournament setting.
The Blue Jays face a good starting pitcher in Jake Odorizzi. When you combine the subpar matchup with opportunity cost (Coors Field) and actual cost (Blue Jays best hitters are expensive), you find a rare situation where you can stack the best offense in the league in tournaments at a low ownership.
The Orioles make for a nice stack as people often like to avoid uncertain situations rather than embracing the variance that comes along with them, which is a positive in tournament formats. In this case, the uncertainty is the skill of opposing pitcher Rich Hill who has been absolutely dominant in two MLB starts. However, his longer history suggests control and home run problems. We don’t know which Rich Hill we’ll see tonight and that’s a good reason to stock up on Orioles batters at low ownership levels. If you really want to be contrarian, use Chris Davis who has double dong upside in almost any matchup.
The final contrarian stack suggestion is the Arizona Diamondbacks. Like the Orioles, we’re expecting low ownership (mostly due to ballpark) in another uncertain situation (a pitcher we don’t know a lot about). The Diamondbacks will face rookie RHP Casey Kelly, who was once a top prospect for the Red Sox. Kelly posted a 4.94 ERA at AA between starting and relieving and make three starts at AAA prior to getting called up. The lack of success at that level despite his age (25) is a warning sign. We’re also not expecting Kelly to work very deep in this game, so we could see a lot of the San Diego bullpen in this one.
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.
CHW at NYY 7:05: Dry. Temps near 70 falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind east-northeast 5-10 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
PHL at WSH 7:05: Watching an area of rain to the south creep slowly north. The rain should stay south during the scheduled game time but we will watch this closely. Temps in the low 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 7. Wind northeast 10-20 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 2.
TB at TOR 7:07: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the upper 60s falling into the low to mid 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind east-northeast 5-10 mph which blows from right to left or in from right at times. The wind is a 4 or a 5.
MIN at DET 7:08: Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind northeast 4-8 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
BLT at BOS 7:10: Dry. Temps near 60 falling into the mid 50s. Air density is a 4. Wind northeast 6-12 mph lessening to 4-8 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
NYM at CIN 7:10: Much like the game in DC, showers and thunderstorms should remain just south of the city until after midnight. This game may be closer than the one in DC so we will keep a close eye on it as well. Temps near 70 falling into the low to mid 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind northeast 3-6 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
ATL at MIA 7:10: The retractable roof will likely be closed.
TEX at HOU 8:00: Retractable roof. A 10-20% coverage of thunderstorms across the region. Temps in the mid 80s falling into the upper 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.
CLE at KC 8:10: Showers and thunderstorms will be scattered about to the city’s west. Much like the other 2 “problem” games, we are not anticipating any issues but we will keep an eye on it. Temps in the mid 70s falling in the upper 60s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind northeast 6-12 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
LAD at COL 8:10: Dry. Temps near 80 falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 10. Wind east becoming southeast 8-16 mph which blows from right to left and then out to left. The wind is a 5 becoming a 7.
MIL at STL 8:15: Dry. Temps in the upper 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind northeast 6-12 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
SEA at LAA 10:05: Dry. Temps near 80 falling into the low to mid 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind west-southwest 9-18 mph lessening to 6-12 mph which blows out to right or from left to right at times. The wind is a 7 becoming a 6.
SF at OAK 10:05: Dry. Temps in the mid 70s falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind west-northwest 9-18 mph which blows out to right. The wind is an 8.
AZ at SD 10:10: Dry. Temps near 80 falling into the mid 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind west-northwest 6-12 mph which blows from left to right or in from left at times. The wind is a 4.