Welcome to September 3 MLB DFS action. You’ll find Daily Fantasy Baseball Premium Cliff Notes for Setpember 3 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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01:13 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 3 MLB DFS CLIFF NOTES
On a shorter main slate (the early slate), Max Scherzer (WSH) dominates our pitcher projections and floods our optimal lineups. Scherzer is a hefty -170 favorite with a low 3.3 IRTA. That’s not out of the ordinary for him and not even really an outlier on the slate. What really elevates him is 9.6 projected strikeouts. This slate lacks other high end strikeout upside pitchers, and no one else even has six projected strikeouts. Scherzer owns a 34.3 K%, with utter dominance over RHBs (37.8, 43.9, 37.6 K% against them last three seasons). The Cardinals lineup projects to have seven RHBs in it, making it one of the most righty heavy lineups versus RHP in all of baseball.
There’s not too much of a necessity to pay up for bats in cash games, so it’s possible to complement Scherzer with our second ranked pitcher overall, Dallas Keuchel (HOU). Keuchel is actually a larger favorite (-225) with nearly the same IRTA (3.4). Keuchel has clearly the next highest batters faced and outs baselines following Scherzer, and he’ll be in his friendly home park with the roof closed while other pitchers, including Scherzer, may be contending with hotter temperatures. The Twins currently rank 24th in wRC+ against LHP.
Cole Hamels (CHC) projects similarly to Keuchel but is more expensive. He’s receiving a negative park shift in Milwaukee against a team that’s pretty threatening versus LHP (six hitters with a wOBA split of .333 or greater; for comparison, Minnesota has just three and the top three pale in comparison collectively to Milwaukee’s top three, this is a run-on-sentence in parentheses, please forgive me).
Vince Velasquez (PHI) is the best mid-low priced option. The concern with Velasquez has been really short outings over the second half of the season, particularly in August, although one of those was shortened by a rain delay. If he can last 5-6 innings, he’ll likely be very efficient against a Marlins team that is 27th in wRC+ against RHP. Velasquez is receiving a positive park shift and has a nice combination overall on the season of a 26.2 K% and .307 xwOBA. On a slate that lacks upside in the mid-tier, taking a chance on Velasquez’s workload makes sense in tournaments.
Reynaldo Lopez (CHW) (better recent numbers, Tigers are atrocious) and Zach Davies (MIL) (first start back from DL in a tough matchup against the Cubs but incredibly cheap) are the only other two positive rated values on DK.
The catcher position is putrid. Evan Gattis (HOU), Willson Contreras (CHC), Francisco Cervelli (PIT), and J.T. Realmuto (MIA) are the highest projected scorers but none are even close to positive values. The slate is one where salary relief will represent the driving force in your catcher decision for cash games. In tournaments, these skilled options have the most upside and represent solid one-offs on more balanced overall builds. Of this group, Contreras and Gattis are the most intriguing in plus power environments for RHBs.
On DraftKings, James McCann (DET) is just $2,700 which makes him one of the cheapest catchers on the entire slate and he’s facing one of the better matchups. Reynaldo Lopez has allowed a .337 wOBA and .172 ISO to RHBs since the start of 2017. McCann is on the road which helps the plate appearance expectation slightly as he hits lower in the order and the White Sox bullpen behind Lopez is one of the weakest in all of baseball. At first glance, McCann looks like your primary target to free up some cap space.
The other McCann, Brian, is also relatively affordable on DraftKings at $3,200. The Astros have the highest implied total on the afternoon slate and McCann gets the platoon edge against Kyle Gibson who has allowed a 38 percent hard hit rate to LHBs this season. Either McCann is a strong starting point for salary relief.
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) tops the projections at first base. Rizzo’s been back to his usual ways in the second half (.340/.435/.603) and gets to face Zach Davies who has allowed a .328 wOBA and .167 ISO to LHBs as a big leaguer. Davis has struggled even at the minor league level this season (6.35 ERA in AAA with just a 16.5 K Rate) but is coming off his two best starts of the season before getting activated. Milwaukee is a friendly hitting environment, Rizzo has been in great form, and he has a strong matchup. He’s one of the better spends on the slate but the cost of Scherzer makes it difficult to afford him.
Freddie Freeman (ATL) is the next highest projected first base option and may get lost a bit in the slate. The matchup with Nate Eovaldi is tougher than Rizzo’s matchup but Eovaldi has been awful of late, surrendering 12 earned runs in his last 11 ⅓ innings against CLE, TB, and CHW. Freeman is a nice GPP pivot as a one-off or as a part of a contrarian Braves stack. On DraftKings, with all the first basemen priced up aggressively, Freeman is actually one of the better cash game targets at $4,600.
On FanDuel, Mitch Moreland (BOS) remains cheap at just $2,900. Moreland will square off with Touki Toussaint one of the Braves elite pitching prospects. Toussaint has dominated AA (2.93 ERA in 16 starts) and AAA (1.43 ERA in eight starts) this season but the Red Sox are a tough ask. Boston has a solid 4.7 implied total and Moreland can be had under the average cost of a roster spot.
In tournaments, Matt Davidson (CHW) is cheap on FanDuel and brings a solid ISO baseline (.189) despite a weak wOBA split (.290). Michael Fulmer has allowed a ton of hard contact this year (40.2 percent to RHBs and 38.7 percent to LHBs).
On DraftKings, the position has more options do the dual eligibility. Josh Bell (PIT), Ryan Braun (MIL), and Victor Martinez (DET) are interesting cheap sources of power upside. Braun has by far the toughest matchup given Cole Hamels‘ recent form but Braun has compiled a .344 wOBA and .245 ISO against LHP since the start of last season. Victor Martinez and Josh Bell face opposing starters who give up tons of aerial contact. Reynaldo Lopez has allowed a 46 percent fly ball rate this season while Matt Harvey has a more reasonable 37 percent rate but has allowed nearly a 40 percent hard hit rate overall.
Daniel Murphy (CHC) tops the projections at second base with Jose Altuve (HOU) narrowly behind. Murphy gets the platoon edge against Zach Davies whose struggles with LHBs we’ve detailed when discussing Anthony Rizzo. Altuve is part of the Astros offense that has the highest implied total on the slate against Kyle Gibson and a worn down bullpen. Altuve’s unusually affordable on DraftKings ($4,400) while Murphy is cheaper on FanDuel ($3,900). The price points guide the preference on each site as they project closely together.
When expanding the search for value on the slate, there isn’t a ton. Niko Goodrum (DET) looks like the best target. He typically hits in the middle of the order for the Tigers. He’s a switch hitter so he won’t lose the platoon edge when the game gets into the bullpen and the White Sox have one of the weaker pitching staffs in all of baseball. Finally, Goodrum has outperformed his baseline a bit this season (.316 wOBA vs. projected .287 wOBA) and so perhaps he’s turned a corner.
On DraftKings, Goodrum’s teammate Ronny Rodriguez (DET) is really cheap and might be useful as a punt play with either SS or 2B eligibility on Scherzer builds.
In tournaments, Ozzie Albies (ATL) slow second half (.248/.291/.308) should keep ownership down. With Eovaldi’s recent struggles and Albies event upside at a thin position, he’s a prime GPP target.
Alex Bregman (HOU) earns the top honors at third base edging out Kris Bryant (CHC). Bregman and Bryant are both priced fairly on a slate that doesn’t have a ton of room for offensive spends. This makes them fine tournament targets as a part of stacks but unlikely targets in cash games.
The value targets on this slate are fairly clear for cash games. Yolmer Sanchez (CHW) and Jeimer Candelario (DET) typically hit at the top of the order and face below average opposing starters. We view Candelario as the better hitter with more pop and he gets the better matchup against Reynaldo Lopez. Candelario is also cheaper so he gets the edge.
In tournaments, Colin Moran (PIT) is an interesting punt play. Matt Harvey has allowed a .382 wOBA and .235 ISO to LHBs since the start of 2017. With Raisel Iglesias working stressful situations and elevated pitch counts on back-to-back days, the Reds best bullpen member is likely unavailable. Moran isn’t a great hitter (.331 wOBA, .127 ISO against RHP since the start of 2017) but he’s priced like a pure punt. With a better lineup spot, he’d earn some consideration in cash games.
As a part of Red Sox stacks, the cheap price tag on Eduardo Nunez (BOS) makes a lot of sense in tournaments.
Carlos Correa (HOU) looks like the clear cash game target on both sites. Correa’s underpriced as he’s struggled since his return from the DL (.187/.247/.240 in the second half). The recent struggles are a concern that he’s not fully healthy or adjusted but he’s also a middle of the order bat for a team with a 5.1 implied total. He’s priced similarly to guys like Jose Peraza AND has the best matchup on the slate. Take advantage of the price discount.
If you’re totally uncomfortable with Correa, Asdrubal Cabrera (PHI) is really cheap on FanDuel and Ronny Rodriguez is really cheap on DraftKings. The punt plays make for better uses of dollars spent than the competing studs given the nature of the slate.
In tournaments, Javier Baez (CHC) makes a ton of sense. The NL MVP candidate is a bit overpriced for long-term form but there are cases to be made this year’s breakout may have set a new baseline (if so – our projections are likely light). Baez has the big power-speed event upside you look for in GPPs and he’s facing a contact oriented starter in a favorable hitting environment. His price tag will keep him modestly owned.
Similarly, Xander Bogaerts (BOS) makes sense as a part of Red Sox stacks. Bogaerts has a price tag comparable to Correa and serves as a fine pivot.
Mookie Betts (BOS) and J.D. Martinez (BOS) are once again at the top of the outfield projections. They get a park downgrade on the road and lose the DH but their individual skill set continues to drive the projection. Both are stronger tournament targets than cash game targets because of their hefty price tags.
After the Red Sox duo, George Springer (HOU), Andrew Benintendi (BOS), Starling Marte (PIT), and Gregory Polanco (PIT) make up the next tier. Springer is remarkably affordable on both sites which makes him one of the best targets on the slate. The $4,000 price tag on DraftKings is about as cheap as you’ll ever get him and it’s in a matchup against Kyle Gibson where the Astros have an implied total above five. Springer should be one of the most popular outfield targets on both sites.
The Pirates duo are a bit sneakier. Matt Harvey has been slightly below average against the running game and the Reds pen behind him projects as one of the weaker targets in baseball if you assume Iglesias is unavailable. In tournaments, the Pirates outfield is a really interesting affordable target with Scherzer on FanDuel given Corey Dickerson (PIT) is just $2,400 as well. On DraftKings, it’s a more difficult sell as Polanco/Marte are quite expensive.
There are plenty of salary relief options on FanDuel that make it easy to afford Scherzer. Most come from the DET-CHW game where both pitchers and the bullpens behind them inflate below average hitters’ projections. Nick Delmonico (CHW), Avisail Garcia (CHW), Mikie Mahtook (DET), and Daniel Palka (CHW) are all quite cheap. Most of these options are also cheap on DraftKings. They’re just not punt price tag cheap like they are on FanDuel.
On DraftKings, Bryce Harper (WSH) has a difficult matchup with Jack Flaherty but is underpriced at $4,300. He’s a fine one-off power upside target given Flaherty has allowed a .145 ISO to LHBs this season.
Kyle Schwarber (CHC) makes sense as a part of Cubs stacks. His hard hit rate over the last 15 days is up to 38 percent and Zach Davies inability to miss bats presents a great opportunity for Schwarber’s power to be unleashed.
1) Boston Red Sox
2) Chicago Cubs
3) Houston Astros
4) Pittsburgh Pirates
The Red Sox are probably the team on this slate with the highest likelihood of scoring double digit runs. From a median perspective, they’re overpriced receiving a negative league and park shift in a game where their 4.7 IRT is lower than usual. However, rookie Touki Toussaint is a fly ball oriented pitcher that projects to struggle mightily with control (6.09 BB/9 and 4.69 BB/9 from ZiPS and Steamer respectively). With the emphasis on Scherzer on a short slate, the Red Sox likely go under owned in tournaments.
The Cubs receive a positive park shift in Milwaukee and face Zach Davies, in his first start off of the DL. It’s tough to place a confident baseline on Davies given his limited starts this season (5 at AAA, 8 at MLB). He’s coming off a complete game shutout at AAA, but overall has struggled at both levels.
One of the reasons both the Astros and Pirates hang on in this first tier is they face dramatically worse bullpens (Twins, Reds) than the Red Sox and Cubs do (Atlanta, Brewers). The Twins bullpen is also worn down. Kyle Gibson mitigates some of the upside of the plethora of event oriented RHBs in the Houston lineup, but significant upside still exists.
The Pirates are the most affordable of the tier one stacks, especially on FD. There are some small reasons to be reserved here. Matt Harvey has pitched better recently, generating more strikeouts, leading to a 2.22, 2.39, 4.13, and 3.71 xFIP over his last four starts. It’s also a positive park shift for Harvey in PNC Park. However, it’s tough to ignore the larger sample that has put Harvey’s xWOBA at .347 with a .213 xISO. Temperatures in the high 80s also mitigate the friendliness of PNC Park.
5) Chicago White Sox
6) Detroit Tigers
7) Milwaukee Brewers
The White Sox and Tigers have some pretty atrocious offenses, but hot weather and Guaranteed Rate Field along with subpar pitching (9 game total) leave both these teams priced cheaply. On a slate where we’re emphasizing Scherzer, cheap stacks are important. With Reynaldo Lopez pitching better of late, we do prefer the White Sox side of things. Michael Fulmer is coming off of a disaster start and is backed up by one of the worst pens in the league (CWS side is pretty terrible there too).
The combination of low ownership and power upside make the Brewers interesting in large field tournaments.
8) Atlanta Braves
9) Philadelphia Phillies
Nathan Eovaldi‘s recent struggles make the Atlanta stack viable in tournaments (12 ERs in 11 ⅓ IP).