Daily Fantasy Rundown – September 3 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Thursday’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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Buster Posey (SFG) – If you’re playing head to heads, 50/50s or single entry tournaments tonight, fading Posey is a –EV move. The catcher position is usually one that doesn’t have much depth and in a five game slate with a clear-cut top option, there’s no need to get adventurous. Posey is an elite hitter vs. LHP (owns a .370 wOBA/.185 ISO against southpaws in the last three seasons) and he’s facing Chris Rusin (surrendered a .365 wOBA/1.25 HR per 9 to 588 RHBs at the major league level) at Coors Field (best hitting environment in baseball and it’s not close). While Posey has certainly had another successful season both offensively and defensively, his ZiPS projections are calling for a bit more power (.153 ISO this season but ZiPS has his ISO at .166 for the ROS). We believe that a slightly depressed 11.3 percent HR/FB rate has kept Posey from generating a few more home runs (career 13.3 percent HR/FB rate). It’s possible as Posey gets older and continues to play catcher that he is trading some home runs for more contact (his K rate is down to 8.8 percent)/even better plate, but that still leaves him as a top offensive catcher. Posey is our top ranked hitter, which makes him a core piece across all formats given the short slate and the scarcity at his position.
Additional catcher notes: Nick Hundley (COL) is a secondary target in cash games but he’s unnecessary. He’s at Coors Field and Ryan Vogelsong isn’t a very good pitcher but Hundley usually hits seventh and his salary relief on most sites isn’t very useful. We’d rather go with Buster Posey at the catcher position (particularly in cash games/single entry tournaments) since he’s by far the best option. Salvador Perez (SD) is another decent target given his matchup against the home run prone Matt Boyd but I would only utilize him in multi-entry tournaments. His price is friendly for those formats on FanDuel (close to the minimum on that site).
Top Play: Miguel Cabrera (DET) (Cabrera remains arguably the best hitter in baseball and he’s an elite hitter regardless of the pitcher’s handedness; at full price points, Cabrera is better suited for tournaments)
Ben Paulsen (COL) – This won’t be the last time you see a Coors Field player mentioned in our analysis today. The Giants and Rockies are the only teams with implied team totals over five runs. The next highest totals are the Nationals and Royals (4.5 implied run totals for each team). There’s a pretty significant gap there and when you account for the fact that this sort of environment (Coors Field) gives hitters more upside than normal venues (big gaps and air density lead to more power), it becomes our priority on this small slate. Paulsen has been a good hitter against RHP (.359 wOBA/.205 ISO in 327 PAs vs. RHP) and his matchup is very friendly for power purposes. Opposing pitcher Ryan Vogelsong owns a .348 wOBA/1.35 HR per 9 vs. LHBs since 2013. We don’t expect this environment to help a home run prone pitcher. On sites where Paulsen has first base eligibility, he represents our top value target at the position.
Ryan Zimmerman (WSH) – If you’re a believer of hot streaks, meet Ryan Zimmerman. He has generated seven home runs and three doubles in his last 10 games. We don’t mind stepping out of Coors Field in logical places if you want some diversity. First base is one of those places, given the fact that outside of Ben Paulsen/Kyle Parker (where they have first base eligibility), the position doesn’t have strong values. The Nationals have the third highest team total on this slate (4.5 runs) and even though Matthew Wisler has been able to perform fairly well vs. RHBs, he hasn’t been a very good pitcher in general (5.22 ERA/5.30 FIP and his K rate is under 15 percent). Zimmerman has historically performed as an average hitter vs. RHP (112 wRC+) but he has above average power against them (.186 ISO vs. RHP since 2013) and his recent performance suggests that he’s no longer hurt. Zimmerman is a good cash game pivot on sites where Paulsen is priced close to him.
Additional first base notes: Kyle Parker (COL) doesn’t have first base eligibility everywhere but on sites where he does, he’s extremely cheap (DraftDay and DraftKings). We’ll take a minimum priced hitter at Coors Field. We’re not as worried about his lineup spot today since he’s so cheap and the more Coors Field exposure you have, the better it is for your lineups. Brandon Belt (SFG) will have a L/L matchup but the Rockies boast the worst bullpen in baseball. There will likely be better opportunities in the game for Belt and any of the Giants LHBs. We’ll take our shots here in tournaments. Pedro Alvarez (PIT) lags behind these Coors Field options but he’s in a great park for his power stroke and he will have the platoon edge. He’s a fine option for multi-entry tournaments.
Additional second base notes: No second baseman ranks inside our top 45 hitters on this slate. DJ LeMahieu (COL) ranks the highest but he also comes with a high price tag relative to his true skill set as a hitter. He’s a fine cash game option since he’s at Coors Field and the Rockies are a more potent lineup against RHP. Chase Utley (LAD) likely has the most appeal for cash games at the position. He’s not at Coors Field but I think it’s fine to step out of there at second base and use Utley given his price (priced as a punt on most sites). He will have the platoon edge and hit second against Collin Rea (hasn’t been good at the major league level; SwStr rate is hovering around five percent). Anthony Rendon (WSH) has performed better as of late and Matthew Wisler has an ERA over five. His price tag is fine for cash games but punting the position with Utley (in order to have more salary to spend on Coors Field htiters) is likely the approach I’ll take.
Jose Reyes (COL) – There’s no shortage of Coors Field options in our analysis today and for reasons that make sense (game with the highest total in the best environment and it’s not close; not much opportunity cost with a lack of stud pitchers throwing). Reyes hits second for the Rockies and he’s around an average hitter vs. RHP (.331 wOBA against righties since 2013). He doesn’t have the same speed upside he once had (around 30 SB upside over a full season now) but his speed is still more than welcomed in DFS. Ryan Vogelsong isn’t any good and he has allowed a .348 wOBA to LHBs in the last three seasons. This is a great matchup for Reyes and the Rockies offense as a whole and we’re targeting them extensively across all formats.
Additional shortstop notes: If Ehire Adrianza (SFG) is in the Giants lineup in any capacity, he would emerge as a fine punt option where he’s minimum priced. The best approach to take at the shortstop position is to either pay for Reyes or punt with a Adrianza type player. We will make sure to follow this situation in our alerts system. Stay tuned. If Adrianza is out, I don’t mind using Ian Desmond (WSH) on sites where his price is below the average cost of a hitter. He’s not a very good hitter in general but he has solid power relative to his position and the matchup against Matthew Wisler is a good one (Wisler handles RHBs pretty well but his run prevention is awful).
Top Play: Nolan Arenado (COL) (his home run totals this season are a career high and that was expected given the loft he generates and his age; his price is prohibitive for cash games on most sites except DraftDay)
Matt Duffy (SFG) – Duffy is priced a bit wildly around the industry. His best price point can be found on FanDuel and DraftDay, where he feels like a core piece of cash game rosters. Duffy has been a revelation for the Giants. After losing Pablo Sandoval in free agency, Duffy has stepped in and filled in admirably. He has been an above average hitter at the major league level (123 wRC+) and his context couldn’t get much better than Coors Field/Chris Rusin (.365 wOBA/1.25 HR per 9 allowed to RHBs). For an average asking price, Duffy represents a very strong option relative to his skills and context.
Additional third base notes: Ryan Zimmerman (WSH) has third base eligibility on DraftKings, where he’s a fine pivot in cash games (Matt Duffy is expensive on that site). If you want to step outside of Coors Field on that particular site at third base, Zimmerman is the next best option to target in those formats (Nationals have the third highest implied total on this slate and Zimmerman has performed extremely well as of late).
Charlie Blackmon/Carlos Gonzalez (COL) – Blackmon (.355 wOBA/.165 ISO) and Gonzalez (.399 wOBA/.280 ISO) are the best hitters vs. RHP from the Rockies offense and their prices aren’t prohibitive anywhere around the industry. With an implied run total of 5.4 runs and facing Ryan Vogelsong (.348 wOBA/1.35 HR per 9 allowed to LHBs) at Coors Field, Blackmon and Gonzalez give you the best access to this offense. Blackmon has SB upside (40 SB upside over a full season), which gives him a bit more appeal on sites with no negative repercussions for caught stealing. Gonzalez is our second ranked hitter and Blackmon is right behind him (fourth ranked hitter). I’m trying to include both in my cash game lineups but some sites won’t let you play more than four players from a single team, which means I’ll take a price sensitive approach here (Gonzalez is consistently priced a bit better than Blackmon around the industry, so he’s the better “value”).
Marlon Byrd (SFG) – Byrd (.369 wOBA/.217 ISO vs. LHP) is our third ranked hitter (right behind teammate Buster Posey and Carlos Gonzalez). We won’t bore you with the details again but Chris Rusin struggles a ton with RHBs and Coors Field is the perfect venue for power. Byrd is priced correctly on most sites (and we prefer Blackmon/Gonzalez on sites where they’re priced below Byrd) but his asking price on DraftDay is too low relative to his skills and context (great option across all formats on that site).
Angel Pagan (SFG) – Pagan is the best industry wide value play on this slate. He will leadoff for the offense with the highest implied run total (Giants implied run total is 5.6 runs) and his price is either that of an average hitter or below around the industry (close to the bare minimum on DraftDay). Pagan is not a very good hitter vs. LHP (98 wRC+) but his contextual factors are at an all time high (facing Chris Rusin at Coors Field). Our model noticed (Pagan is ranked inside our top 10 hitters).
Ben Paulsen/Kyle Parker (COL) – On some sites, Paulsen and Parker have outfield eligibility. Have you noticed that our outfield section only consists of Giants/Rockies? You should have by now, as our analysis is pretty straightforward today; grab as much exposure to these two offenses as possible in whatever format you’re playing. Paulsen and Parker are the most cost-effective ways of getting exposure to the Rockies offense. Paulsen is the better hitter and he’s usually in a better lineup spot but Parker is minimum priced on most sites. That sort of price point is very useful today, as it allows you to have even more exposure to this environment while giving yourself some financial room for decent starting pitchers.
Additional outfield notes: Bryce Harper (WSH) has been the best hitter in baseball and his matchup against Matthew Wisler (.444 wOBA/2.34 HR per 9 allowed to 170 LHBs) is likely the best on this slate. The Nationals lack LHBs but thankfully, Harper is their best hitter and he’s a LHB. Use him in tournaments. Teammate Jayson Werth lags behind our value recommendations but he’s a decent secondary target nonetheless. He should leadoff for this Nationals offense (implied run total is 4.5 runs). Lorenzo Cain (KC) will have the platoon edge against the home run prone Matt Boyd. Cain (.357 wOBA vs. LHP) is a good hitter v against southpaws but he’s priced fully on most sites. He’s a fine tournament option but keep in mind that the Royals as an offense don’t hit for much power (especially vs. LHP). Matt Kemp (SD) has been performing very well as of late (four home runs and three doubles in his last 10 games) and even though Mat Latos is a fine pitcher, the Dodgers bullpen isn’t very good from a run prevention standpoint. Kemp is a good tournament target on sites where he’s priced close to the average price of a hitter.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Francisco Liriano (PIT)
2) Jordan Zimmermann (WSH)
3) Taylor Jungmann (MIL)
4) Mat Latos (LAD)
5) Edinson Volquez (KC)
6) Matt Boyd (DET)
Francisco Liriano (PIT) – Liriano has the highest expected K rate on this slate. Because of his ability to miss bats at an above normal rate and his matchup is friendly for DFS purposes, he deserves to be in a separate tier. Let’s talk about his matchup a bit more. We thought that the Brewers would be able to get out of their funk against LHP this season but that’s no longer a thought we believe in. The Brewers traded away Carlos Gomez and Aramis Ramirez (two of their top hitters vs. LHP) and their replacements aren’t close to their level of production. The Brewers are ranked 29th in wRC+ and are striking out almost 22 percent of the time against LHP. They only have three hitters that can hit LHP (one of them is Ryan Braun, who is an elite hitter against southpaws) and the rest of this lineup should be pretty easy to mow down. Unfortunately, Liriano is on the road (-150 favorite), suffering from a large negative park shift, and he’s the highest priced pitcher on the board around the industry. Liriano is a nice tournament target but I’m likely staying away in cash games, where Coors Field is a bigger priority given the nature of the slate.
Jordan Zimmermann (WSH) – The last sentence in Francisco Liriano‘s blurb is a perfect transition for us here. Zimmermann is our favorite pitcher in cash games for a variety of reasons. 1) He’s the largest favorite on this slate and it’s not close (-250 favorite at home). According to co-writer Mike Leone’s research, this is huge from a probabilistic approach for a pitcher to acquire a W. 2) Zimmermann’s matchup suits his skills. The Braves don’t strike out much but they’re a bottom five offense in wRC+. Zimmermann’s best skill as a pitcher is his run prevention abilities (3.43 ERA/3.59 FIP/3.82 xFIP are all solid). This is a great matchup for his run prevention skills to shine. The third and final reason why we think Zimmermann is the best option on multiple starting pitcher sites is because Coors Field is a bigger priority in cash games and his price isn’t prohibitive. On a five game slate, it’s understood that options across all positions will likely be limited. With a game at Coors Field, these hitters will draw the most attention facing below average pitchers in the best hitting venue. This is more exaggerated today, since this Coors Field game has a total of 11 runs and the second highest game total on this slate is eight runs. You want to have the financial flexibility on the hitting side in order to fit in as many Coors Field players as possible. Zimmermann allows you to do this while giving you a high probability for a W (this is huge on DraftDay, where a win is worth 10 points) and a fine chance at maintaining the earned runs to a minimum, which is why he’s our main staple of cash games at the position on multiple starting pitcher sites.
Mat Latos (LAD) – You’re going to have to embrace some potential volatility with Latos in order to fit in as many Coors Field players as possible. Latos is a solid pitcher (13.4 percent K-BB% is right around average) and his run prevention has the potential to be better based on the gap between his actual ERA (4.72) and his expected ERAs (3.52 FIP/3.71 xFIP). He draws a friendly matchup (Padres are ranked 22nd in wRC+ and are striking out around 22 percent of the time vs. RHP), which might help him go deeper into the game. Latos hasn’t pitched five innings in three consecutive starts (4, 4.2 and 4.2 IP in his last three starts) but he was still able to generate double digit fantasy points in two of those starts due to the Ks (12Ks in around 9 IP). At his current asking price around the industry, we’ll take a 10-15 Fantasy point performance from Latos while simultaneously raising our floor/upside with Coors Field exposure (the separation from expected offense in that game and the other four games is severe). Keep in mind that at around his price point, no other starting pitcher is favored to win (he’s a slight favorite but a favorite nonetheless) and most are below average pitchers that don’t merit any sort of cash game consideration.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Taylor Jungmann (MIL) has been a revelation in a lost Brewers season. We remain skeptical about his skills (his skills might not be sustainable in the long run, particularly his control) but against an average offense, he’s a fine target for tournaments given the nature of a short slate (limited options at all positions). Matt Boyd (DET) has been home run prone and he’s on the road against one of the best all around baseball teams. He’s cheaper than some hitters on DraftKings and even though the Royals are an elite baseball team, they don’t hit for much power (particularly vs. LHP) and they’re not as dominant against lefties overall. Kauffman Stadium might help Boyd keep some balls on the field, too. He’s a fun target for multi-entry tournaments but I see no use for him outside of that format.
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) Coors Field
1) Washington Nationals
If stepping outside of Coors Field in tournaments, the Nationals represent the next best options. Matthew Wisler has been prone to home runs, which is great to target for DFS purposes. I’m trying to mix some of the Nationals hitters (Harper-Zimmerman-Werth) with our next secondary stack (the Kansas City Royals) in multi-entry tournaments.
2) Kansas City Royals
The Royals are tied with the Nationals for the third highest team total on this slate. They’re a bit annoying for DFS purposes because they don’t hit for much power but their matchup against a power prone pitcher (Matt Boyd) could help them. A mini-stack of Salvador Perez–Kendrys Morales–Lorenzo Cain isn’t a bad idea in multi-entry tournaments (I don’t mind throwing Ben Zobrist to that mix).
3) Milwaukee Brewers
Their matchup against Francisco Liriano is awful but a mini-stack of their best hitters against LHP could work (Jonathan Lucroy–Ryan Braun–Khris Davis). I wouldn’t do it in a single entry tournament but it could pay off in larger field formats.
MLB Game by Game Forecasts
For the scales below, a 1 favors the pitcher and a 10 favors the hitter.
ATL at WSH 7:05: A 10% coverage of widely scattered thunderstorms early in the game. So minor of a concern I debated even mentioning it. Temps in the upper 80s falling to near 80. Air density is an 8. Wind north-northwest 6-12 mph lessening to 4-8 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 4.
PIT at MIL 7:20: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps near 80 falling into the low to mid 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind east-northeast 5-10 mph lessening to 3-6 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 4.
DET at KC 8:10: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 80s falling into the upper 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind south-southeast 8-16 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 7.
SF at COL 8:40: A 10% coverage of widely scattered thunderstorms early in the game. So minor of a concern I debated even mentioning it. Temps in the upper 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 10. Wind northwest 8-16 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 3.
LAD at SD 10:10: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind southwest 7-14 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.