Daily Fantasy Rundown – September 28 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Monday’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: Cities in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic region will see damp, dank, drizzly conditions with occasional light rain showers. It should not be wet enough to cause a ppd but I do not think a delay is out of the question. If the rain is heavier and steadier, then a delay/ppd risk arises. A few showers/tstorms in CHC and TEX as well but not anticipating major problems.
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.
Catcher notes: It’s a rather ugly day at the catcher position and eligibilities differing from site to site make it a bit difficult do identify a singular industry wide value play. The closest option to fit that bill is John Ryan Murphy (NYY) is he starts and is given a top six lineup spot. Murphy has a punt price across the industry on a day it makes sense to save money at the position. He’s in a good offensive spot, holding the platoon edge in Yankee Stadium against Eduardo Rodriguez (BOS) and a bad Red Sox bullpen. The Yankees have a team total around 4.5 runs, making Brian McCann (NYY) viable if he starts instead, despite the L/L matchup. Ideally, though, we’d punt with Murphy or go with site-specific values such as Kyle Schwarber (CHC) (just an average matchup but his skills make him the top catcher) or Victor Martinez (DET) (matchup and lack of opportunity cost make him a phenomenal value on FanDuel despite the poor season he is having). Yan Gomes (CLE) is someone we’d rather not be forced to use but can be considered as secondary value as one of the few catchers with a top five lineup spot, some semblance of pop and facing a bad pitcher (Phil Hughes is having a horrible year as velocity is down, preventing him from missing bats).
1) Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) – With the top four hitters so tightly packed in our model, Encarnacion emerges as the top option as a result of his surrounding team (Jays lead the MLB in runs and it’s not even close) and second half numbers (45.2 hard hit rate, .67 GB/FB ratio and 13.0 K percentage give him an absolutely absurd power profile). While Encarnacion lacks the platoon edge, opposing pitcher Chris Tillman has a bit of a reverse split, in particular allowing a lot of power to RHBs (1.42 HR/9 since 2013).
2) David Ortiz (BOS) – Ortiz gets a massive park shift in his favor playing in Yankee Stadium with the short porch in right. Ortiz continues to mash RHP (.408 wOBA, .314 ISO) and will face Yankee RHP Ivan Nova, who has allowed a .328 wOBA to LHBs since 2013 and has struggled mightily to miss bats in his return from TJS (14.6 K percentage).
3) Miguel Cabrera (DET) – Cabrera is the riskiest of the top four options (second half slump, dealing with a back injury). We’re not completely avoiding him because of that as his second half peripherals suggest the slump has as much to do with bad luck (29 point drop in BABIP, 13.5 point drop in HR/FB rate) as it does his skills/health (only a small drop in hard hit rate, loft has stayed the same). As a result, we’re fine using him in cash games on sites like FanDuel where he provides a meaningful discount to Encarnacion and Ortiz. We’ll be a bit more conservative in cash games on DraftKings where the prices among the top four hitters are all very similar. Cabrera faces Colby Lewis (TEX) (.329 wOBA, 1.53 HR/9 allowed to RHBs since 2013) in a friendly hitter’s park in Texas.
4) Chris Davis (BAL) – Davis’ strong bounce back season has been buoyed by some better peripherals (a bit more loft and higher hard hit rate, slightly better EYE and better luck (BABIP and HR/FB rate in line with career marks). He has massive power upside against the fly ball oriented Marco Estrada (TOR) (32.2 GB rate) who has been extremely lucky to post a 3.13 ERA given his 5.00 xFIP. We prefer Davis in tournaments due to opportunity cost but realistically any of the top four first basemen can be used in cash games.
Victor Martinez (DET) – Martinez is having an awful season (.284 wOBA, .411 last season) thanks to a large reduction in hard hit rate and EYE. The good news for DFS players is he’s posted a season best hard hit rate in two consecutive months, currently at 36.1 in September. It’s still not in line with last year’s but there’s at least a more reasonable chance at success now. It’s enough to call Martinez a cash game option when his price is significantly reduced around the industry and the matchup in Texas is spectacular. Opposing pitcher Colby Lewis has allowed a .344 wOBA to LHBs since 2013 and is backed up by a Rangers bullpen that has the sixth highest ERA in the league.
Additional first base notes: Albert Pujols (LAA) has a very nice matchup with the platoon edge on Felix Doubront (OAK), but a combination of poor hitter’s park and a second half decline (health related) has us viewing him as a secondary value only. Additional tournament options include Chris Carter (HOU), Carlos Santana (CLE) and Prince Fielder (TEX).
Jose Altuve (HOU) – Altuve is an affordable top option across the industry. His price is closer to the mid-tier range of players than it is the high range, where most top options at other positions are priced. Altuve continues to progress as a player. Last year he cut his K rate down dramatically. Those improvements haven’t held completely, but he’s still striking out less than 10 percent of the time for a second straight season. Meanwhile, he’s developing at least a little bit of pop, posting a career best .139 ISO. Altuve has always dominated LHP and now will have the platoon edge against an average LHP in Roenis Elias (SEA).
Next in line: Ian Kinsler (DET) (we’re very high on the Tigers offense tonight, but Kinsler is only a secondary value since he’s priced right in line with Altuve on most sites)
Additional second base notes: We suggest trying to pay up for Altuve, but if you can’t, the less expensive values seem to vary from site to site. On stricter pricing sites, you can look the way of Neil Walker (PIT) and Chase Utley (LAD) who will both have the platoon edge but in extreme pitcher’s parks. On looser pricing sites, you may get a big discount on Jason Kipnis (CLE) relative to Kinsler/Altuve. Kipnis has come back down to earth, but we like picking on Phil Hughes (14.5 K percentage, 14.3 hard minus soft hit rate) and a bad Twins bullpen (second highest xFIP in the league).
Shortstop notes: There are two options we’re eyeing for cash games around the industry: Carlos Correa (HOU) and Erick Aybar (LAA). It’s not a bad idea to make shortstop one of the last positions you fill out today and see where you are in terms of cap room left. If you find yourself able to pay up at the position, Correa is the clear cut top shortstop salary aside, and it’s not even close. Opposing pitcher Roenis Elias is average at best, having allowed a .321 wOBA and over a homer per 9 to RHBs since 2013. This is more about Correa’s skills, though. The rookie has been absolutely fantastic, posting a .369 wOBA and a .235 ISO. Perhaps most importantly, his homer/steal pace would put him at 36-21 over a 162 game season. If you don’t have enough room for Correa, it makes sense to save money at a very scarce position with limited options today. Aybar is very low priced across the industry, but he’s leading off for a road team (great chance at five plate appearances) with an implied team total of nearly five runs (highest of the night).
Outside of Correa and Aybar, most other shortstops either have no upside, are in bad matchups or are overpriced. Francisco Lindor (CLE) fits into the latter group but we’re willing to use him in tournaments where we’re a bit less price conscious.
Top Play: Josh Donaldson (TOR) (difficult to fit into cash game lineups but an elite tournament option)
Next in line: Both Manny Machado (BAL) (nice power upside at home against Estrada) and Alex Rodrgiuez (NYY) (platoon edge at home against a below average pitching staff) have plus matchups and mid-tier price points. They are viable in both cash game and tournament formats.
Chase Headley (NYY) – Headley has been hitting second for the Yankees against LHP, and if that continues tonight, he’ll be the best industry wide per dollar value at the hot corner. Headley’s power since coming to New York has been a real disappointment, but he’s got a career .331 wOBA and .139 ISO, which are okay enough skills to use the switch hitter (will hold platoon edge for the whole game) in the right spots. Hitting second against Eduardo Rodriguez at home certainly qualifies. Rodriguez got off to a hot start when he was first called up but has since cooled off, posting a 4.29 ERA over the season’s second half (3.59 in the first half). The southpaw is about average in the three major skill categories for a pitcher (K, BB and GB rates), and he’s backed up by a bullpen that has the fifth highest ERA in MLB and allows the most HR/9.
Lonnie Chisenhall (CLE) – With Phil Hughes struggling with his velocity this season (career low 90.7 average fastball velocity) he hasn’t been able to miss bats (5.6 SwStr rate, 14.5 K percentage), which is a problem for him given his batted ball data. When Hughes does allow the ball in play, it’s hit hard (14.3 hard minus soft hit rate) and in the air (just a 35.0 GB rate). He was able to get away with that last year due to his impeccable control and a good K rate, but even a very low BB rate isn’t protecting him now. Hughes is yielding 1.69 HR/9. Additionally, the Twins bullpen is one of the worst in the league. Chisenhall is the best way to get access to the Cleveland offense. He’s very cheap around the industry but possesses a top five lineup spot. He’s been a disappointment (.287 wOBA, .129 ISO) but projections systems still think he’s a bit better than that and the price point mitigates a lot of the performance risk.
Mike Trout (LAA) – Trout is the top overall hitter in our model. He’s bounced back from the one of the worst months of his career (31.4 hard hit rate in August, 45.0 in September). With Trout out of a slump, the attention shifts to his ability to do everything – .412 wOBA, .288 ISO, 40 HRs, 10 SBs. He holds the platoon edge in Felix Doubront, who has allowed a whopping .350 wOBA to RHBs since 2013. That’s the worst split of any pitcher in action tonight against RHBs. So, you’ve got the league’s best hitter in arguably the best splits spot hitting in the best lineup spot for DFS production (third) for the team with the highest implied team total. The only negative here is a big park, but Trout is a high end outfielder we’re trying to make room for in cash games.
Next in line: Jose Bautista (TOR) (excellent tournament target and pivot off of Trout in that format)
JD Martinez/Anthony Gose (DET) – Both Martinez and Gose are strong industry wide values with Martinez a bit more valuable on smaller salary sites and Gose on sites with a wider salary spread, where his cap relief is a bit more meaningful. We’ve touched on Colby Lewis‘ issues against both right and left-handed batters and the positive park shift for the Tigers. Martinez has the power (.253 ISO, 37 HRs) to take advantage of Lewis’ fly ball oriented ways (34.5 GB rate). Gose doesn’t have that same power, but he’ll hold the platoon edge and lead off at a lower cost than Martinez, giving you cheap access to this offense.
Gerardo Parra (BAL) – Parra isn’t making the same hard contact (just a 22.2 hard hit rate) that he did in the first half of the season when he went on a great run. However, his price now reflects the reduction in performance, putting him in a good spot for DFS today. Against a RHP, Parra should hit first or second for an Orioles offense that we’re high on. Opposing pitcher Marco Estrada isn’t a great guy to pick on in terms of splits (.291 wOBA allowed to LHBs since 2013 is actually very good), but we’re anticipating some overall regression as his .223 BABIP and 8.3 HR/FB rate are unsustainable.
Additional outfield notes: Ben Revere (TOR) is a similar type value play to Parra. It’s not a great splits play but it’s still good he has the platoon edge in a good hitter’s park. More importantly, he’s cheap access to a Blue Jays offense out of the lead off spot. We prefer him to Parra if priced the same but on most sites Parra offers a bit more cap relief. The Yankees LHBs (Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner) lack the platoon edge, but they are so cheap on some sites that they still deserve cash game consideration given top lineup spots in a good run scoring environment. Tow mid-tier values that can be used in cash games across the industry are George Springer (HOU) and Matt Holliday (STL). Additional tournament targets include Andrew McCutchen/Gregory Polanco (PIT), Michael Brantley (CLE) and Billy Burns (OAK).
Starting pitcher rankings (salary not taken into account)
1) Corey Kluber (CLE)
2) Zack Greinke (LAD)
3) Lance McCullers (HOU)
4) JA Happ (PIT)
5) Lance Lynn (STL)
6) Yordano Venutra (KC)
7) Roenis Elias (SEA)
8) Kyle Hendricks (CHC)
9) Justin Verlander (DET)
10) Jake Peavy (SF)
Corey Kluber (CLE) – Kluber and Zack Greinke rate very closely in our mode, with the slight edge going to Greinke. However, with Greinke dealing with a calf injury, we prefer Kluber. The Dodgers don’t have much to play for, having all but wrapped up the NL West but having not shot at home field advantage. At this time of season, we’d rather go with the stud pitcher that doesn’t have these concerns. Even if you disagree and have Greinke ranked first, the gap in cost between Greinke and Kluber is sizable. Kluber is an affordable ace to anchor your cash games across the industry. He’s averaging nearly seven innings pitched a start, has the most K upside on the night (27.7 K percentage) and has an impressive FIP (2.96) and xFIP (3.00). He’ll face a Twins team ranking 27th in wRC+ against RHP with a high 21.0 K percentage.
Lance McCullers (HOU) – There’s a sizable gap in our model between Kluber and McCullers, so we’d advise paying up for Kluber on one starting pitcher sites. However, McCullers is an excellent tournament option in that format and our preferred complement to Kluber on multi-SP sites in cash games. In his last outing, McCullers was extremely sharp, striking out nine against zero walks with a 50.0 GB rate but some bad luck (67 HR/FB rate) masked how good he really was. Overall on the season, McCullers has demonstrated just enough control (3.06 BB/9 is below average but better than most expected) to allow his 24.5 K percentage to really matter and lead to above average run prevention (3.22 ERA, 3.55 xFIP). McCullers gets a positive park shift pitching in Seattle and is a -138 favorite in a game with a 7.5 total that is pushing towards 7.
Additional starting pitcher notes: In tournaments, Zack Greinke (LAD) will probably be underowned since he costs so much more than Kluber. Greinke’s opponent (the Giants) have the lowest implied run total on the slate. The best secondary value plays on multi-SP sites are the two pitcher throwing in pitcher friendly PNC Park, JA Happ (PIT) and Lance Lynn (STL). Happ is our preferred target between the two (home, favored, faces worse lineup, Lynn has struggled a bit over the second half). In tournaments, Yordano Ventura (KC) makes a lot of sense as gets the advantage of going to an NL park and faces a high risk, high reward opponent in the Cubs (23.9 K percentage against RHP is highest in MLB).
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) Detroit Tigers (power upside and road team receiving a large positive park shift give this team a lot of value even though there are a handful of other teams with a bit higher implied run totals)
2) Toronto Blue Jays (it’s tough to mini-stack an expensive Jays team in cash games, but they offer the most upside in tournament formats; if a salary cap relief option emerges in the top five or six in the lineup, pounce on it in cash games so you can at least get some exposure to this offense)
3) Boston Red Sox (Nova hasn’t been able to miss bats and for the LHBs this represents a huge park shift in their favor)
4) Baltimore Orioles (We believe Estrada’s 5.00 xFIP is more telling of who he is as a pitcher than his low actual ERA; extreme fly ball tendencies give Orioles plenty of HR upside in a hitter’s park)
1) Los Angeles Angels (tough to call them contrarian given they have the highest team total, but we don’t view them in the same tier as the stacks above)
2) Oakland Athletics (not a lot of individual values pop out here, but what does pop is how consistently terrible Hector Santiago has been for a couple of months now; consider that in his last 12 starts, he hasn’t posted an xFIP below 4.00 and has posted an xFIP of 5.18 or higher in seven straight starts; not surprisingly he has four disaster starts over that span and another could be on its way)
3) Cleveland Indians (combination of Hughes’ velocity/K woes with a terrible Twins bullpen behind him)
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.
STL at PIT 7:05: Damp, occasional light rain showers or drizzle. Much like in WSH, there should be more dry periods during the game than wet ones. Temps in the upper 60s falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind southeast 3-6 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
TOR at BLT 7:05: Broken record here. Occasional light rain showers or drizzle but they should be able to play. Temps in the mid 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 7. Wind east-southeast 3-6 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.
BOS at NYY 7:05: Maybe a few sprinkles, drizzle or a shower. Temps in the low 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind nearly calm. The wind is a 5.
MIN at CLE 7:10: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind south-southeast 5-10 mph which blows out to left-center. The wind is a 6.
DET at TEX 8:05: A few showers should be just off to the south and east. Thus, while a dry forecast is what we will go out with here it is something to watch. Temps in the low to mid 80s falling into the mid 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind northeast 6-12 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
KC at CHC 8:05: A 10% coverage of showers/thunderstorms across the region. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind southwest 5-10 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
OAK at LAA 10:05: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind west-southwest 9-18 mph lessening to 6-12 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 8 becoming a 6.
HOU at SEA 10:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps near 70 falling to near 60. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind north 9-18 mph lessening to 6-12 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 2 becoming a 4.
LAD at SF 10:15: Dry. Temps in the upper 60s falling into the low to mid 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind west-northwest 12-25 mph lessening to 10-20 mph which blows out to right-center. The wind is a 9 becoming an 8.