Welcome to September 26 MLB DFS action. You’ll find Daily Fantasy Baseball Premium Cliff Notes for September 26 MLB DFS along with LIVE Premium Chat. Make sure you’re using the customizable projections tool, you’re actively participating in the live chat, and you’re reviewing the cliff notes to supplement your research and roster construction process. Very best of luck in tonight’s action!
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00:48 Starting Pitcher
- In cash games, we recommend focusing on value plays to build your rosters (far right hand column of Projections page linked above). Value plays are those we feel have the highest probability of out-earning their current price tag. By packing value plays into your roster, you’re creating a team with a higher floor.
- In tournaments, we recommend building a core of the best value plays and then complementing them with players who have a high ceiling. This combination is essentially turning up the variance on a strong foundation and we believe often is the best recipe for tournament success.
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September 26 MLB DFS CLIFF NOTES
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Jacob deGrom (NYM) tops the starting pitching options on Wednesday’s main slate. The Mets are at home where deGrom has been dominant throughout his career (2.18 ERA in 442 IP) and especially so this season (1.66 ERA, .226 wOBA allowed, and 34.3 K Rate at home). The Braves can still secure home-field advantage in the first round matchup with the winner of the NL West so we’ll likely see a normal lineup. The challenge with deGrom is simply price tag as bats late in the season get the advantage of facing AAA level rosters around the league. On both sites, we have better values that allow you to load up on intriguing offensive options. We view deGrom as an adequate, but not optimal, option in all formats.
Chris Sale (BOS) checks in as the next highest projected starter but we’re still expecting somewhat limited innings from Sale after he failed to get to five innings last start because he hit his pitch limit before. Our guess is the Red Sox will limit him to 5-6 innings and 85-90 pitches in what will be his final tune-up before the playoffs. The good news is Sale is priced down and facing an Orioles’ offense that is filled with strikeouts. It’s entirely possible he can rack up a big start even on a limited pitch count as the Orioles aren’t a particularly patient offense. This makes Sale a viable target in GPPs but not a high exposure one.
The next tier is where we find some intriguing value as Shane Bieber (CLE) and Andrew Heaney (LAA) face two of the friendliest offenses in the league to target for strikeouts. The White Sox rank 22nd in wRC+ against RHP with the league’s second highest K rate (25.6 percent). Bieber has been dominant against RHBs (.287 wOBA, .131 ISO, 22.6 K Rate) this season while really struggling with lefties (.401 wOBA, .241 ISO, but 24.3 K Rate). The White Sox have been loading up with LHBs of late (six last night) which presents a mild concern. The good news is the strikeouts should be there and he’s pitching in cooler temperatures (high 50s) with a favorable umpire. With a price tag in the $8,000s on both sites, Bieber fits the slate quite well.
Heaney is coming off a difficult start in Houston but gets a friendly bounceback opportunity against the Rangers who rank 21st in wRC+ against LHP with a 22.9 K Rate this season. With the big park downgrade for the Rangers, Heaney has just a 3.7 implied total against and is a big -176 favorite. He’s even cheaper than Bieber and his dominance over lefties (.269 wOBA, .086 ISO, 23.8 K Rate since 2017) is encouraging against a Rangers lineup that has played three and four LHBs the last two times they’ve faced LHP.
Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) is a slightly more expensive option than Bieber-Heaney and comes with a lower implied total against (3.5) with the benefit of a big park shift pitching in Tampa. His projection is getting dinged a bit by a below average home plate umpire while Bieber’s is boosted by the favorable umpire. If you removed the umpire, the two would be comparable values and thus Tanaka or Bieber is a fine pairing on DraftKings with Heaney who is the distinctly better value due to the cheap price tag.
Zack Greinke (ARI) and German Marquez (COL) project a bit behind the tier above and come with higher price tags. The incredible strikeout rate by Marquez of late makes him GPP viable while Greinke falls a bit in limbo on this slate in a tough matchup against the Dodgers.
There are plenty of mid-tier alternatives to consider in tournaments. Jake Odorizzi (MIN) is our favored target as he’s pitched well down the stretch (3.52 ERA, 0.95 WHIP over his last five starts) and faces a Tigers’ offense that resembles a AAA roster. Sean Newcomb (ATL) is pitching for his spot on the playoff roster after being demoted from the rotation last week and faces a Mets’ offense that most of their best hitters come from the left side. Jose Quintana (CHC) faces a decent contact-oriented Pirates’ offense but is a big home favorite with his team still trying to close in on a playoff spot. All three have implied totals against below four. Up above that group is Madison Bumgarner (SF) who has the lowest implied total against on the slate (3.2) but doesn’t project particularly well because he’s struggled to miss bats against RHBs this season. The Padres figure to load up on RHBs and Bumgarner has struck out just 17.8 percent of RHBs faced this season while allowing a 43 percent hard hit rate. We’d prefer to fade Bumgarner’s low implied total against in GPPs in favor of more strikeout upside.
On FanDuel, Ross Stripling (LAD) is just $6,300 which makes him a viable GPP candidate. Stripling got into the 70s in pitches last game so we’d expect him to bump up to the 85-90 range which makes it unlikely he qualifies for a quality start. He’s also struggled a bit down the stretch but his strong handling of LHBs in his career makes him a decent fit for a Diamondbacks offense that has gotten a bit more LH heavy as the season has worn on.
On Wednesday, not a single catcher rates as a positive value in our DK model, but Willson Contreras (CHC) and Chris Iannetta (COL) are the closest things across the industry. Opposing starter Ivan Nova has struggled to miss bats, regardless of handedness, and he has been susceptible to the long ball on both sides of the plate as well (1.34 HR/9 rate to righties). The Cubs’ 4.9 implied run total is reasonably high for a cool night at Wrigley Field (around 65-degrees) but the wind blowing out to left at nine mph should help. Contreras will hit towards the middle of the lineup and his .162 ISO baseline is amongst the best at the catcher position and yet Contreras will only cost $3,400 on DK and $2,500 on FD. On the other hand, Iannetta is somehow cheaper than Contreras on DK and only $600 more expensive on FD. Nick Pivetta owns a 3.40 FIP against right-handed hitters (RHHs) this year but the long ball has plagued him (1.26 HR/9 rate). On a team with a slate-high 6.1 run implied total, Iannetta is the clear alternative if passing on Contreras.
Otherwise, Mike Zunino (SEA), Francisco Cervelli (PIT) and Wilson Ramos (PHI) are the trio worth pivoting to in tournaments. Zunino relies heavily on his power prowess and Jackson has surprisingly held his own in the split against RHH this season: .292 wOBA, 1.08 HR/9 rate, 26.2-percent line drive rate, 36.5-percent hard hit rate and a 3.92 FIP. If his career numbers are any indicator, darker days are ahead, and Jackson has only struck out 19.4-percent of the righties he has faced. When a pitcher fails to miss Zunino’s bat, that is when they can do damage. Cervelli will do battle with Jose Quintana who ranks 14th worst amongst qualified pitchers in terms of SIERA. Ramos is viable because he is talented and playing in Colorado but Marquez has been dominant against RHHs in the second half so he should be left for mass-multi entry (MME) only.
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) and Carlos Santana (PHI) are our highest projected players at the first base position and the top two values on first base on DK. Rizzo will draw the platoon advantage against the aforementioned Nova at home with the wind blowing out. Our baselines give Rizzo credit for a .398 wOBA and .252 ISO against RHP and he has posted a .405 wOBA and 156 wRC+ since the All-Star Break. Meanwhile, Santana rates as our top value on FD and he is significantly cheaper despite facing a righty in Coors Field. While German Marquez has dominated in the second half of the season, lefties have still managed a .345 wOBA, 1.33 HR/9 rate and 24.6-percent line drive rate against him. Build around one of these two in cash games and move on.
In tournaments, Paul Goldschmidt (COL) will have to overcome a tough individual matchup versus Ross Stripling but he should go completely overlooked on a team with just a 3.6 run implied total. For what it is worth, Stripling has allowed a homer in three straight starts, and he has posted a FIP over 4.00 in each of those contests (including two games over 5.50).
Matt Olson (OAK) will have to overcome the elements of Safeco Field but Felix Hernandez has been burned to the tune of a .359 wOBA, 1.91 HR/9 rate and 40.8-percent hard hit rate by left-handed hitters (LHHs). Most importantly, he has only struck out lefties at a 19.2-percent rate and his 8.1-percent swinging strike rate this year will be the lowest of his career. Olson swings and misses quite a bit (11.7-percent) but routinely hits the ball out of the park when he makes contact (21.8-percent HR/FB rate for his career).
Lastly, Jefry Marte (LAA) is a solid punt option with the platoon advantage against a poor opposing pitcher: Yohander Mendez.
Another position, more Cubs who pop in our projections, with Daniel Murphy (CHC) and Javier Baez (CHC) standing out as the top two values on DK. Over the course of the last 15 days, Murphy has only posted an 8.1-percent hard hit rate, but lefties are preferable versus Nova. Baez, arguably the league MVP, costs more but he has also been the more competent hitter as of late. Nova throws both his sinker and slider over 24-percent of the side to each side of the plate and both of these hitters have posted xwOBAs over .380 against those combination of pitches off RHP this year. It should also be noted the cubs are trying to hold off the Brewers to win the division so each game is a must-win for them until they clinch.
D.J. LeMahieu (COL) also rates as a positive value on DK and his team too is in the playoff hunt. The Rockies are only 1.5 games behind the Dodgers meaning they will be playing to win as well. As noted earlier, Pivetta’s splits against RHHs are strong, striking them out at a healthy 28.3-percent rate. While LeMahieu has only slashed .254/.309/.387 against RHP this season with a .303 wOBA, those numbers jump to .300/.357/.406 at home with a .335 wOBA.
Yoan Moncada (CHW) and Jose Ramirez (CLE) are the X-factors at second base as one is significantly cheaper and one is significantly more expensive than the Cubs’ middle infield. This is an excellent matchup for Moncada against a pitcher who has yielded a .391 wOBA, 1.33 HR/9 rate and a ridiculous 49.1-percent hard hit rate to left-handed hitters (LHHs). In that same game, Ramirez will hit in the middle of an order with a 5.0 run implied total and he has hit 38 homers with 33 steals this year. With so many potential positive outcomes for him, he can rarely ever be ignored.
No surprise here but Nolan Arenado (COL) headlines the third base position in another must-win game for the Rockies looking to win their division. Despite being on the wrong side of his platoon split, Arenado comes equipped with a .361 wOBA baseline and .243 ISO baseline. Motivated teams in Coors Field are a scary fade…especially when they own the highest implied team total.
Another guy on the weaker side of his platoon split is Kris Bryant (CHC) and our baselines have not accounted for his poor season against RHP. Still, he hits in the middle of the Cubs lineup that is one of the most enticing stacks of the evening.
Josh Donaldson (CLE), Matt Chapman (OAK) and whomever starts at third base for the Red Sox (Eduardo Nunez/Rafael Devers) warrant consideration for a variety of reasons. The White Sox may go with a bullpen day and their active bullpen members cumulatively rank 15th in SIERA, 10th worst in HR/9 rate and fourth worst in BB rate. Chapman will face Hernandez and his career-worst 1.48 HR/9 rate pitching in his final game of the season. The team wants him to go out on a positive note but indications are they may not push him deep into the game so he can head into the offseason feeling healthy. Both the Red Sox third baseman are simply way too cheap on FD with Nunez only costing $2,300.
Baez qualifies as a shortstop on both sites and he rates as our top value. If using him elsewhere, feel free to give Trevor Story (COL) and Francisco Lindor (CLE) long looks also. Story has improved his contact numbers in 2018 and he has been crushing the ball over the course of the last 15 days (33.3-percent hard hit rate according to our model). Lindor will presumably lead off for an Indians team being implied to score 5.0 runs and he is $500 more expensive than Baez. On a slate with plenty of high-end pitching to choose from, Lindor does not quite fit the slate, so he may go under-owned.
Elvis Andrus (TEX) draws the platoon advantage versus Andrew Heaney but he does not possess the power to take advantage of Heaney’s kryptonite. Still, our baselines give Andrus credit for a .333 wOBA and .149 ISO, which is probably generous considering his .112 ISO overall this season.
Andrelton Simmons (LAA) is the intriguing GPP option as he habitually makes contact and Mendez is amongst the worst starters on the slate. All RHHs have done against him this year is post a .312 wOBA, 10.3-percent BB rate, 1.47 HR/9 rate, 35.1-percent hard hit rate and 49.1-percent fly ball rate en route to a 5.17 FIP (second worst amongst pitchers on the slate with at least 10 innings in the split).
Jean Segura (SEA) is scattered throughout our optimal lineups on DK because Jackson rates as a reverse splits pitcher in our baselines as does Segura for his career (.318 career wOBA versus RHP and .314 career wOBA versus LHP). Jonathan Lucroy has allowed the most steals of any catcher this season so Segura will also be a threat to steal when/if he gets on base.
Mike Trout (LAA) and Charlie Blackmon (COL) are not only our highest projected outfielders on the slate but they also own the highest raw projections of any hitters at any position. Mendez is legitimately overmatched versus Trout and his team-leading .421 wOBA, .255 ISO, 174 wRC+ and 26.3-percent line drive rate against LHP. Although Blackmon did not repeat his legendary 2017 season, he still slashed .287/.360/.507 against RHP this year with a .220 ISO and .369 wOBA (at least so far). Now, in a must-win game, he gets Pivetta on the positive side of the platoon split. Oh, by the way, Pivetta has yielded nearly 1.50 homers per nine innings to lefties (1.43).
David Dahl (COL) and Kole Calhoun (LAA) are common names found throughout the optimal lineups on DK and there is a strong case to be made for each. Dahl has hit third in back-to-back games against RHP and would naturally be a valuable piece again on Wednesday were he to hit in that spot versus a power-prone starter like Pivetta. Calhoun has not fared incredibly well against lefties this year but Mendez has only pitched past the fourth inning once in his last three starts. To be fair, many of the Rangers’ long-relievers are left-handed as well, so playing Calhoun does come with an implied level of risk that he sees minimal at-bats (ABs) against RHP.
Mookie Betts (BOS) and J.D. Martinez (BOS) are also strong options against an Orioles team whose active bullpen members cumulatively rank dead last in SIERA and they really do not have a strong starting pitcher option for this game. As of now, no starting pitcher has been named, but regardless of who it is, that pitcher is guaranteed to have a SIERA over 4.60 (all their pitchers do besides Dylan Bundy who just pitched) unless they call someone up. Either way, Betts and Martinez should enjoy a huge talent disparity over the pitcher.
1) Colorado Rockies
The Rockies have an implied total an entire run higher than everyone else on the slate. The matchup with Nick Pivetta is one that can be boom or bust as Pivetta can miss bats but one that leads to a lot of ISO. Pivetta is backed up by a weak Phillies bullpen and the Phillies don’t have much reason to extend him late in the season. We want Rockies’ exposure in cash games but ownership will ultimately dictate how a strong a play they are in tournaments.
2) Boston Red Sox
This is the second game of a double-header for the Red Sox so it’s entirely possible they run out a weak lineup that shifts them down the stack rankings considerably.
3) Chicago Cubs
4) Cleveland Indians
The Cubs offense is fully healthy and able to load up with LHBs against Ivan Nova. Nova has allowed a .356 wOBA and .209 ISO to LHBs since the start of last season while registering a K Rate of just 12.3 percent. The cool conditions in Wrigley aren’t ideal but the wind is blowing out slightly. Nova’s propensity for hard contact and the Pirates RH heavy bullpen make the Cubs LHBs attractive stack targets.
We don’t know who is pitching for the White Sox yet but a look at their staff let’s us know it can’t possibly be anyone good. The only question is whether Cleveland will run out their best offense. A guaranteed nine innings against the White Sox pitching staff makes Cleveland a fine contrarian pivot off the Rockies if they run out their best.
5) Philadelphia Phillies
6) New York Yankees
The Phillies rank well solely because of Coors Field. The matchup with Marquez is a tough one to attack with any semblance of RHBs so one-off LHBs are viable tournament targets here.
The Yankees’ offense got going in Tampa last night and even amid the park downgrade remain a strong source of power with low ownership likely.
7) Los Angeles Angels
8) Oakland Athletics
The Red Sox will likely move up our stack rankings when we get an announced starter for the orioles.
The Rangers have the worst bullpen in the league according to our baselines. They’re relying on Yohander Mendez to get the majority of their outs and he’s been awful. With Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani back Angels’ mini-stacks are squarely in play.