Daily Fantasy Rundown – September 29 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Tuesday’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: Major weather problems expected in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, Ohio valley and Great Lakes region, including the cities of NYY, PHL, BLT, PIT, CLE and CIN. ATL even has some risk as well.
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.
Top Play: Kyle Schwarber (CHC) (Huge power upside given his power indicators (40.7 hard hit rate, .92 GB/FB ratio, 13.0 BB rate), large positive park shift and a matchup against a wild, fly ball oriented RHP in Josh Smith; Target in all formats on sites where he’s C eligible)
Next in line:
Brian McCann (NYY) – McCann is always in consideration in home matchups against RHP (.219 ISO in that split last season, .292 this season), and that’s especially the case today against Rick Porcello (BOS). Porcello not only has poor three year splits (.342 wOBA, 1.11 HR/9 allowed to LHBs), but he’s allowed a lot more power to the opposition as a result of him trading off an increase in Ks for less ground balls and more hard hit contact. It of course always helps to pick on a Boston starting pitcher since the bullpen behind him leaves a lot to be desired (fifth highest ERA in MLB, most HR/9). He’s a high end option, but we’re comfortable enough with the value plays at the position that we still view McCann as a tournament only on sites where he’s much more expensive than the value play catchers (FanDuel for example).
Welington Castillo (ARI) – If you’re someone who avoids cold hitters, you may want to scratch Castillo’s name off your list as his anemic 17.4 hard hit rate is in direct contrast to hot summer months (52.3/38.5/48.4). Luckily for us, the price has fallen to take into account the drop off in production. With that in mind, we’re a bit more focused on Castillo’s positive contextual factors today than with how he’s swinging the bat. He still has a top five lineup spot in a great hitter’s park. Today he faces Christian Bergman (COL) who has a 5.24 career ERA, despite spending most of his time as a reliever. Bergman likely won’t pitch deep (max outing this year is 3.2 IP), and the Rockies bullpen behind him has the highest ERA in baseball.
Miguel Montero (CHC) – We’re hoping to see a top six lineup spot for Montero who has solid career numbers against RHP (.343 wOBA and .168 ISO for his career). He’s in the best hitting environment tonight (Great American Ballpark) and facing rookie RHP Josh Smith who has an astronomic 7.23 ERA through 23.2 IP, thanks to a huge walk rate (6.08 per 9), a fly ball tilt and a hard minus soft hit rate more than double the league average.
Additional catcher notes: Travis d’Arnaud (NYM) is a comparable option to McCann. We’d side with McCann due to park, but d’Arnaud is making good on his offensive potential and faces arguably the worst starting pitcher in action tonight (David Buchanan (PHI)). Wilin Rosario (COL) is a phenomenal value where C eligible; he’s a lefty masher and Robbie Ray (ARI) allows a very high hard hit rate to RHBs. Additional options, mostly better for tournaments, include Russell Martin (TOR) and Salvador Perez (KC).
Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) – Goldschmidt has the same amazing matchup as teammate Welington Castillo (above), except obviously a much better and more stable skill set. Goldschmidt is tied with Josh Donaldson for the second most Fantasy Points Per Game (FPPG) on FanDuel (Bryce Harper has the most). On that particular site, his $4,300 price tag actually makes him affordable in cash games, even if spending up on pitching. If you’re confident in cheap values at other positions, pay up for Goldschmidt in cash games. Otherwise, make sure to get some tournament exposure to him; he’s our top ranked hitter at any position tonight.
Next in line: Anthony Rizzo (CHC)
Mike Napoli (TEX) – If you’re a bit strapped for cash after locking Kershaw in your lineups, Napoli is the best way to get cap relief at the position while still capturing a lot of power upside. He’ll face the fly ball oriented Daniel Norris (DET) (38.6 GB rate, 1.35 HR/9) at home in Texas. Napoli can still hit for power (.184 ISO), and that number could actually be higher if his HR/FB rate was normal (14.8 mark is highest since 2007). You also know the drill by now when it comes to picking on Tigers starting pitchers; there’s added upside since the bullpen behind them is very bad.
Additional first base notes: While Goldschmidt and Rizzo are our top two options at the position, there are a plethora of high priced first basemen with lots of upside tonight. The one we’d be most likely to pivot onto in cash is Lucas Duda (NYM), while Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) (faces another right-handed orioles pitcher who gives up power to RHBs), David Ortiz (BOS) (faces a good pitcher in Michael Pineda but still holds the platoon edge in Yankee Stadium) and Joey Votto (CIN) (home versus the homer prone Dan Haren, who is really struggling to miss bats this season. Additional options are Chris Carter (HOU) (tournaments only) and Justin Smoak (TOR) (cash viable as a cheap play if given a top five or six lineup spot).
Jose Altuve (HOU) – Altuve is once again an affordable top option at the second base position in a matchup where he holds the platoon edge. There’s additional upside today since today’s pitcher (Vidal Nuno) is worse than last night’s (Roenis Elias). Nuno has yielded a .343 wOBA and 1.58 HR/9 to RHBs since 2013. Target the speedy second baseman in all formats.
Robinson Cano (SEA) – Cano is the best mid-tier second base option. The issue here is that Cano’s hot July, which saved his season, looks like a big outlier. He was able to turn back the clock power wise by elevating the ball (just a 38.6 GB rate). However, in the three months prior to that and two months after, Cano hasn’t posted a GB rate below 51.7 percent. As a result, he’s an acceptable option if you find yourself needing someone in that price range, but we’d try to either pay up for Altuve or simply hope a punt option emerges when lineups are released (NOTE: Ivan De Jesus fits this bill).
Additional second base notes: Ivan De Jesus (CIN) is hitting second for the Reds. In a great park against a subpar opposing pitcher, you can use him as a punt play in all formats across the industry. We’d prefer Kelly Johnson (NYM) where similarly priced if he hits second as he did the last time the Mets face a RHP. In tournaments, take a look at Daniel Murphy (NYM) and Jedd Gyorko (SD).
Shortstop notes: The shortstop position is absolutely atrocious this evening, leaving us with the same two options as yesterday: paying up with Carlos Correa (HOU) (top offensive SS and facing LHP Vidal Nuno who provides plenty of power upside to RHBs) or saving money with Erick Aybar (LAA) (very cheap for a leadoff hitter on an offense with a team total around 4.5). On sites with wider salary spreads where Aybar isn’t the minimum, we’re willing to punt with almost any min priced shortstop with a top five lineup spot in a halfway decent matchup (possibly Cristhian Adames (COL)). Additional tournament options include Elvis Andrus (TEX) (bad lineup spot but platoon edge in a great hitter’s park on the highest projected scoring offense) and Alexi Amarista (SD) (pure punt option with some upside against a rookie pitcher).
With a handful of high end third baseman in good spots, we felt it made most sense to simply rank them:
1) Josh Donaldson (TOR) – Top three DFS hitter in FPPG across the industry. Faces Miguel Gonzalez (5.04 FIP this season; .324 wOBA and 1.55 HR/9 allowed to RHBs since 2013) in his first start back from the DL.
2) Kris Bryant (CHC) – Huge power upside due to a combination of individual skills (37.6 hard hit rate, 0.77 GB/FB ratio, 11.5 BB percentage), ballpark (GAB) and opposing pitcher (Josh Smith is wild and fly ball risky).
3) Nolan Arenado (COL) – Outside of Coors Field but still in a plus hitter’s park. Increase in loft and continued ability to make contact has led to a huge increase in HR rate. Platoon edge against LHP Robbie Ray, who has allowed a .340 wOBA and 38.1 hard hit rate to RHBs.
4) Adrian Beltre (TEX) – Platoon edge at home in a matchup we’ve already identified as a plus for Texas RHBs (see Mike Napoli blurb above).
5) David Wright (NYM) – He’s fifth due to park/lack of platoon edge, but David Wright and the Mets are one of the day’s top stacks given how brutal David Buchanan has been (7.96 ERA, 2.7 K-BB%, 20.9 hard minus soft hit rate).
Additional third base notes: If looking for cap relief at the position, the best option is Jed Lowrie (HOU) who will have the platoon edge on Vidal Nuno and a top five lineup spot. Alternative options in that price range are Chase Headley (NYY) and Jake Lamb (ARI), but they might not see a top five lineup spot. On FanDuel, the ridiculously low Todd Frazier (CIN) price continues.
George Springer (HOU) – Springer is underpriced given his HR/SB upside and a favorable matchup with the platoon edge against Vidal Nuno. As mentioned earlier, Nuno has really struggled with RHBs in his career, allowing a .343 wOBA and 1.58 HR/9.
Curtis Granderson (NYM) – Using Curtis Granderson may be the best way to get access to a Mets offense that has a ton of upside against David Buchanan (.339 wOBA allowed to LHBs since 2013; horrid peripherals this season). As we expected, Granderson’s Fantasy numbers have picked up over the season’s second half. He’s displayed strong power peripherals all season long, including a 36.9 hard hit rate (second highest of his career) and 31.0 GB rate (second lowest of his career). It’s nice to get this sort of power upside out of a leadoff bat who has a higher probability of contributing an extra plate appearance.
David Peralta (ARI) – Bergman has surprisingly held LHBs in check over his career (.292 wOBA), but we believe that number to be extremely deflated as he’s giving up a hard minus soft hit rate of 16 percent. The Diamondbacks enter tonight tied for the highest team total (Mets, Rangers are also right around 5). Peralta will likely hit cleanup for them and has a career .381 wOBA and .211 ISO against RHP. Teammate Ender Inciarte is also viable in cash.
Alex Gordon (KC) – Gordon is nice industry wide source of salary cap relief. He’ll likely lead off or hit second for a Royals team that will benefit from a massive park shift playing in US Cellular Field. The matchup is strong against the struggling Jeff Samardzija who has allowed a .331 wOBA and 1.23 HR/9 to LHBs since 2013. Perhaps more importantly, Samardzija is having a down year due to his sudden inability to miss bats. His K percentage has dropped from 23.0 a year ago to 18.1 this season.
Additional outfield notes: The top outfielders at the position are Mike Trout (LAA), Jose Bautista (TOR) and Bryce Harper (WAS) but we advise taking a more even keeled approach in cash games. Both Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner (NYY) are secondary values across the industry. It’s a nice home matchup against a pitcher (Porcello) who struggles with LHBs. While we like Jorge Lopez (MIL) as a cheap starting pitcher (see below), there’s enough uncertainty there where Justin Upton and Matt Kemp (SD) can be considered at mid-tier prices, especially in tournament formats. Additional tournament options we like are Yoenis Cespedes (NYM), Jay Bruce (CIN) and Jorge Soler (CHC).
Starting pitcher rankings (salary not taken into account)
1) Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
2) Madison Bumgarner (SF)
3) Tyson Ross (SD)
4) Johnny Cueto (KC)
5) Cole Hamels (TEX)
6) Matt Moore (TB)
7) Mike Fiers (HOU)
8) Michael Wacha (STL) (severe weather risk)
9) Bartolo Colon (NYM) (weather risk)
10) Jorge Lopez (MIL)
11) Adam Conley (MIA)
12) Michael Pineda (NYY) (weather risk)
13) Nick Tropeano (LAA)
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) – The question whenever Kershaw pitches is not whether he’s the top option (33.1 K percentage and 2.10 FIP ensures that he is) but whether he makes sense roster construction wise, given his expensive price tag. Today we’re firmly on board with locking Kershaw onto your cash game rosters. He’s beyond safe due to his ability to rack up Ks and being listed as a -125 favorite in a game with one of the lowest totals we’ve ever seen (5.5, although it is pushing towards 6). He makes a lot of sense in terms of roster construction too. There’s a lot of uncertainty this time of year (changing lineups, pitch counts, etc.), and the plethora of weather concerns adds to that. The value in Kershaw being the safest source of the most amount of points increases as a result. He’s also pretty easy to fit in today given some of the cheap values we like among hitters, the strong punt options that tend to pop up this time of year when lineups are released and a couple of high risk-reward, cheap complementary pitchers that are worth using alongside him on multi-SP starts.
Next in line: Madison Bumgarner (SF) (Amazing second half makes him an elite tournament option as he will be underowned as a result of facing Kershaw)
Matt Moore (TB) – On multi-SP sites, one of the reasons it’s easy to fit Kershaw in is that you can use Matt Moore besides him. Moore certainly isn’t risk free. After all, he has a 6.48 ERA on the season. However, like with Rich Hill the other day, we’re leaning a bit on the dominance of his most recent two outings becoming the beginning of a trend, especially in light of his tools (former top prospect). Over his past two starts, Moore has struck out 16 batters against just two walks and allowed a total of two earned runs. His xFIPs over those two starts were 2.16 and 2.47. The strikeout numbers were supported by two straight phenomenal SwStr rates (16.4 and 17.2). If Moore has figured things out, he’s an absolute steal at his current price tag. If we’re wrong and this is an anomaly, the floor is still pretty high relative to his price tag. He’s at home in a friendly pitching environment and facing a Marlins team that we view as well below average versus LHP (team season long stats have them as middle of the pack).
Additional starting pitcher notes: Another cheap starting pitcher option that is high risk-high reward and should be used in tournaments on multi-SP sites is Jorge Lopez (MIL). The rookie RHP is making his MLB debut but couldn’t be in a better spot, as he faces a Padres team ranked 23rd in wRC+ against RHP with the sixth highest K rate in pitcher friendly Petco Park. Lopez has posted a 2.26 ERA (3.36 FIP) in his first go-around at AA, striking out 24.0 percent of batters faced (more on him after the additional notes). Tyson Ross (SD) doesn’t have the same IP upside as Cueto or Hamels, but we’ve got him ranked significantly higher due to K upside, a very weak Brewers lineup and a much friendlier park. With that said, the price on Johnny Cueto (KC) on DraftKings is so favorable that he can be considered a secondary value/strong tournament option.
Jorge Lopez (MIL) Scouting Report from Mike Diaz:
Lopez is a promising starter with middle of the rotation potential. He is a ground ball pitcher with a solid three-pitch repertoire. Although he makes his living as a ground ball type guy, Lopez does posses some swing and miss ability. He cruised through the second half of his AA season with a 1.67 ERA and an Opp BA of .198.
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) Chicago Cubs
2) Texas Rangers
3) New York Mets
4) Arizona Diamondbacks
5) Toronto Blue Jays
1) New York Yankees
2) Cincinnati Reds
3) Kansas City Royals
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 NYY 7:05: Rain at times. Of all the Northeast cities, this one has the most likely chance to play as the rain is not forecast to fully move into the city until after 8-9 PM and even then the heaviest should remain off to the northwest. Extremely close call. Temps in the low to mid 70s. Air density is an 8 (extremely muggy). Wind east 5-10 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.
TOR at BLT 7:05: Occasional rain. Temps in the low to mid 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind east-northeast 7-14 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.
NYM at PHL 7:05: Rain becoming heavier and steadier. Temps in the low to mid 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind southeast 6-12 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6.
STL at PIT 7:05: Heavy rain. If there was one game I would be betting to be rained out, it would be this one. Temps in the mid to upper 60s. Air density is a 7. Wind north 10-20 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
MIN at CLE 7:10: Rain coming to an end late in the evening (after 9-10 PM). Temps in the mid 60s falling into the low 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind north 10-20 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 2.
WSH at ATL 7:10: A 50% coverage of showers and thunderstorms. Certainly a delay risk, ppd risk can not be ignored either. Temps in the mid 70s falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind northeast 6-12 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
CHC at CIN 7:10: A steady, and at times heavy, rain slowly comes to an end late this evening (after 9-10 PM). Temps in the upper 60s. Air density is a 7. Wind north 5-10 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
MIA at TB 7:10: Dome.
DET at TEX 8:05: Dry. Temps in the upper 80s falling to near 80. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind north 5-10 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
KC at CHW 8:10: Dry. Temps near 60 falling into the mid 50s. Air density is a 4. Wind northeast 12-25 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
COL at AZ 9:40: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the low to mid 100s to start the game so the roof will likely be closed.
OAK at LAA 10:00: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind west-southwest 10-20 mph lessening to 6-12 mph which blows out to right. The wind is an 8 becoming a 6.
HOU at SEA 10:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind northwest 4-8 mph becoming nearly calm. The wind blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
MIL at SD 10:10: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling into the low to mid 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind west-northwest 8-16 mph lessening to 6-12 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
LAD at SF 10:15: Dry. Temps near 70 falling to near 60. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind west-northwest 12-25 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 10.