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September 3 MLB DFS: The Clev-er One

Adam Hummell
September 3 MLB DFS: The Clev-er One
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Welcome to September 3 MLB DFS action. You’ll find Daily Fantasy Baseball Premium Cliff Notes for September 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!

00:52 Starting Pitcher
09:35 Stacks/Tournament Thoughts
18:47 C
20:24 1B
23:24 2B
25:58 3B
28:28 SS
30:24 OF



  • 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.

MLB DFS Optimizer Tutorial

Our MLB DFS Optimizer is live. Arturo put together an overview with MLB DFS Optimizer Cliffnotes that walk through the various features and frequently asked questions (FAQs) from customers during testing. We have also produced a basic optimizer tutorial video on YouTube (linked below) as well as a power user optimizer tutorial for the most advanced tournament players on how to get the most out of the optimizer. You can join the #MLB channel in slack if you have additional questions.


Starting Pitcher

Mike Clevinger (CLE) tops the projection on a slate that features many other big names but he opened as a massive -320 home favorite versus the White Sox. The 3.2 implied run total against is tied for lowest on the slate and his 8.5 K projection easily ranks tops on the slate. Both sites priced him up for the matchup and our models are still choosing to build around him as a SP1 regardless of site. No stack jumps off the page on this slate which makes it easier to prioritize pitching and complement Clevinger with some reasonably-priced bats. He is projecting for almost five full DraftKings fantasy points more than the next highest guys and the next two in projection are both former Cy Young Award winners…

Jacob deGrom (NYM) and Max Scherzer (WSH) are next in line in projection and it is strange to see another ace out-project them. However, the implied run total against deGrom (4.0) is nearly a full run higher than Clevinger (3.2) and Scherzer has not lasted more than 15 outs or faced more than 20 batters since returning from the injured list. deGrom has historically pitched better at home and the Nationals rank in the top 10 of wOBA, ISO and BB rate while only striking out at a 21.0-percent rate in the split. 

As for Scherzer, he certainly could revert to back to his old self at any point, but prior to his last start he was still stating concerns with how he felt. For that reason, we have no choice but to remain conservative with his duration baselines. If believing this is the start the team starts to extend him once again, fantasy owners can choose to up his baselines close to his usual 19 out threshold. Until we see any reports surfacing suggesting he is getting closer to 100-percent, we see no reason to raise his baselines above where they currently stand.

Mike Foltynewicz (ATL) is not only priced at an affordable $7,500 on DraftKings but he will also benefit from a favorable home umpire versus a righty-heavy Blue Jays team. Our projected Jays lineup only includes Cavan Biggio, Justin Smoak and Derek Fisher from the left-side of the plate as they will lose their designated hitter in a National League ballpark. On this slate, Foltynewicz’s 6.2 K projection ranks the highest of any pitcher not named Clevinger, deGrom or Scherzer, and that is the reason that our optimals like his prospects as a SP2 on DraftKings (and a potential pivot off Clevinger in tournaments on FanDuel).

Other potential tournament pivots on FanDuel include Merrill Kelly (ARI) and Jon Lester (CHC) who are each at least $700 less expensive than Foltynewicz. Kelly specifically will cost just $6,000 in a home matchup versus the Padres and their 26.1-percent K rate versus RHP. Kelly is a not typically a huge strikeout pitcher, and the home plate umpire is a bit unfavorable, and yet he is still projecting for over five strikeouts due to the matchup. The 3.8 implied run total against is lower than the implied total versus Jacob deGrom or Zack Greinke and his price tag allows fantasy owners to stack the most expensive offenses on the site alongside him.

In Lester’s case, he will take on a strikeout-prone Mariners team that recently lost J.P. Crawford for at least a week and he had been one of their most patient hitters versus LHP. Overall, the Mariners have struck out at a 24.3-percent rate against southpaws and rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA in the split as well. Initial wind reports indicate this could be one of those Wrigley Field wind games with the wind blowing out at double-digits and that means these conditions will be much more difficult to pitch in than usual. 

On DraftKings, Mitch Keller (PIT) and Rick Porcello (BOS) are cheap pitchers worthy of consideration with Keller the lucky pitcher slated to pitch against the Marlins. With Brian Anderson hurt, the Marlins’ active hitters have struck out at a 25.0-percent rate against RHP and they rank dead last in wOBA, wRC+ and ISO. Keller, the Pirates’ top pitching prospect, has struck out 17 batters over the course of his last 10 innings but the Phillies roasted him his last time out (eight runs in four innings). This matchup will be at home (whereas the implosion against the Phillies was in Philadelphia) where the Pirates opened as -170 favorites. He is only slightly cheaper than Foltynewicz but he may actually be the slightly safer investment of the two because of his strikeout floor.

Porcello is amidst the worst season of his career and he is matched up against the Twins so there is not much to see here other than a decent price point ($6,100). He is outside the single-entry and three-max conversation.

Jack Flaherty (STL) is simply priced in a weird spot on this slate where our models on both sites view him as reasonably-priced but he is a -280 favorite at home versus the lowly Giants. Flaherty has struck out RHHs at a rate of 33.6-percent this year but only 23.4-percent against LHHs. In this matchup against the GIants, he will likely face at least four lefties: Mike Yastrzemski, Brandon Belt, Alex Dickerson and Brandon Crawford. That limits his strikeout upside a bit but it should be noted the Giants as a whole have struck out at a 23.1-percent versus RHP. The presence of other aces on this slate should keep his ownership down to the point where we view him as an intriguing tournament play on both DraftKings and FanDuel.

Felix Hernandez (SEA) and Mike Montgomery (KC) are both dirt cheap but the matchup on paper is more favorable for Montgomery as the Tigers have struck out at the highest rate of any team versus LHP. They also rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, wRC+, ISO and BB rate while Hernandez will be pitching on what is looking like a Wrigley wind game. These players are viable additions to MME but only because of the potential salary they open up for bats. Randy Dobnak (MIN) can be added to this tier as well but he is a virtual unknown who is not well-respected by projection systems and facing the Red Sox in Boston.


Tier One

1) Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox will face Randy Dobnak making his first Major League start this evening and projection systems are not exactly fond of him as a pitcher. Not only do projection systems expect him to strike less than six hitters out per nine innings but they also expect him to be over a 5.00 FIP and around nearly a 1.50 HR/9 rate. His three appearances at the MLB level have all come out of the bullpen and he had topped 90 pitches just once in his Triple-A starts since Jul. 6. This game features a massive 12.0-run total with the Red Sox having opened as -140 favorites. Six members of the Red Sox lineup own iSO baseline projections of at least .200 so this lineup is both powerful and deep. Other than Mookie Betts, we do not expect their ownership to lap the field on such a closely condensed slate in terms of stack rankings, so this team is viable in any tournament format.

Tier Two

2) Chicago Cubs

3) Minnesota Twins

4) Los Angeles Dodgers

5) Atlanta Braves

The Cubs and Twins headline the second tier with the Cubs playing in windy Wrigley FIeld. At the time of first pitch, the weather is expected to be around 82-degrees with the wind blowing out to right center at between 12-14mph. Since the beginning of 2018, Hernandez has yielded a 1.71 HR/9 rate to go along with a 5.32 FIP and 4.71 xFIP overall during that span (205.0 innings). In a small sample (49.1 innings), the numbers this year have been even worse, including a porous .386 wOBA, 2.65 HR/9 rate and 43.6-percent hard hit rate allowed to LHHs. Anthony Rizzo has returned to the Cubs lineup which means this lineup is at full strength in a game where wind will be causing the ball to travel further than usual. Many of the Cubs are cheaper than Red Sox players at their respective positions across the industry which makes them easier to fit into lineups (but also could cause the overall lineup being even higher owner the Red Sox as well).

The Twins draw Rick Porcello and will be guaranteed nine innings worth of at-bats (ABs) against him as the road team. Porcello has allowed a .325-plus wOBA and 1.47-plus HR/9 rate rate to beach side of the plate this year but lefties have hit him harder. Our projected Twins lineup includes six players (!) hitting from the left side of the plate which creates an extremely tough matchup for a normal splits right-hander like Porcello. With a 12.0-run total, both sides of this game are intriguing, and we are not opposed to an all-out game stack either.

The Dodgers and Braves round out this tier and our model is almost always going to like teams against Chi Chi Gonzalez. This year, Gonzalez’s underlying numbers (7.31 FIP, 6.10 xFIP and 6.47 SIERA) are amongst the worst in the entire league and lefties have produced an otherworldly .435 wOBA against him. He has nearly walked lefties at double the rate he has struck them out and they have posted a 45.3-percent hard hit rate against him. Unfortunately for Gonzalez, the Dodgers are loaded with powerful lefties, even without Max Muncy in the lineup (and righties have managed a .360 wOBA and 43.2-percent hard hit rate against him as well). Gonzalez is a gas can so any time targeting against him could be against the grain, it is worth considering as a game theory play.

The Braves continue their series versus the Blue Jays tonight at home and Wilmer Font is expected to the draw the start with T.J. Zeuch taking over the long man responsibilities. Prior to his call-up, Zeuch had struck out just 11.6-percent of the batters he had faced in Triple-A which led to predictably subpar underlying numbers: 5.16 FIP, 5.37 xFIP. He has done a solid job inducing ground balls at every level he has been at but he did not look like he was ready for even Triple-A. No Braves stand out as top per-dollar values at their position so the ownership on this stack is expected to remain low.

Tier Three

6) Cleveland Indians

7) Houston Astros

The Indians and Astros constitute the third tier and the wind is supposed to be gusting out to center field in Progressive Field tonight also. Dylan Cease’s lack of control has been his Achilles heel at every level and that has continued in the MLB as well. Lefties have walked at a 11.1-percent rate against him and his numbers in the split are just terrible: .432 wOBA, 7.58 FIP, 5.84 xFIP, 2.95 HR/9 rate and just an 18.5-percent K rate. Even with Jose Ramirez hurt, the Indians’ lineup begins with three lefties in the top 5 and includes five lefties overall. Behind Cease, the White Sox bullpen ranks in the bottom 11 of both FIP and xFIP. On a wind-aided day, this is the definition of a sneaky stack (unless their total begins to rise due to the excellent hitting conditions).

The Astros remain in Miller Park for the second game of the series versus the Brewers and Jordan Lyles is the scheduled starter. Whereas Lyles has held RHHs to a .292 wOBA and 1.33 HR/9 rate, LHHs have smashed him to the tune of a .376 wOBA, 2.11 HR/9 rate and 38.7-percent hard hit rate. Michael Brantley, Yordan Alvarez and Abraham Toro are the only three projected lefties in the lineup, so the matchup is not a perfect fit, but it is not like the RHHs are not talented in their own right (George Springer, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, etc.). Beyond the starter, the Brewers bullpen is tough, so deciding to stack this team is a bit tough because it is tough to decipher exactly which bats to target. Add them to the MME mix and focus on Yordan Alvarez if stacking this team.

Tier Four

8) Oakland Athletics

The Athletics are a heavily right-handed squad and Jaime Barria has posted reverse-splits both this season and for his career. When Barria goes wrong, it is often via the long ball (slate-worst 2.76 HR/9 rate allowed to RHHs), and four hitters in the Athletics lineup own ISO baselines over .200 against RHP…and that is before including the red-hot Marcus Semien and dirt cheap Seth Brown. If looking to stack a relatively expensive stack with Mike Clevinger, the Athletics could prove to be the perfect complement stack because they are cheap (especially on FanDuel).


Yasmani Grandal (MIL) and Christian Vazquez (BOS) top the projections at catcher. Both carry appropriate price tags but Vazquez gets the much stronger matchup as the Red Sox have a 6.4 implied total against Randy Dobnak and the Twins. Meanwhile, Grandal will face Zack Greinke and an Astros pitching staff. The gap in skill set and price tag between the two makes them similar options but if spending up we’d prefer the exposure to Vazquez.

This is a slate where salary relief is more emphasized at catcher in order to afford high-end pitching and some of the other star bats. When salary relief is an emphasis, we usually see Max Stassi (LAA) get into optimals since he’s priced at the stone minimum $2,000. This is the case again tonight. Nick Dini (KC) and Chris Herrmann (OAK) are the other cheap options at $2,600.  Dini is the best hitter of the group according to our baselines but none of these options are great. They’re mostly here for salary relief at a position that doesn’t have high-end plays.

In tournaments, Roberto Perez (CLE), Jason Castro (MIN), Will Smith (LAD), and Tyler Flowers (ATL) are power oriented options as a part of explosive offense that make sense in stacks.

First Base

Cody Bellinger (LAD) and Freddie Freeman (ATL) are the top projected options at first base. Both draw favorable home matchups against below average RHP. The price tags are difficult to justify on both sites which makes them better tournament targets than cash game options.

Anthony Rizzo (CHC), Carlos Santana (CLE), and Joc Pederson (LAD) are the next in line options. Pederson comes with first base eligibility on DraftKings and the best price tag of the group. Pederson always projects well against below average RHP and that’s his matchup on Tuesday night. Chi Chi Gonzalez has allowed a .355 wOBA to LHBs in his brief big league career and in a small sample this year it’s been a .435 wOBA and .296 ISO allowed. The park shift into Dodgers Stadium should help some but Pederson’s prolific power and leadoff spot for a team with an implied total nearing six makes him a coveted play. 

Paul Goldschmidt (STL), Matt Olson (OAK), Shohei Ohtani (LAA), and Josh Bell (PIT) are the third tier of options. Ohtani and Goldschmidt have the most reasonable price tags and are a fine drop-down in salary from Pederson. 

Ohtani has the stronger power upside with a .265 ISO baseline against RHP while Goldschmidt has the better team environment as the Cardinals have a 5.4 implied total.

If salary relief is needed at the position, the Tigers are the place to target. Brandon Dixon (DET) is just $2,400 on FanDuel and comes with a solid .192 ISO baseline against LHP. His teammate, Miguel Cabrera (DET) is slightly more expensive on FanDuel ($2,800) but cheaper on DraftKings ($3,400).

Second Base

Whit Merrifield (KC) tops the projections with Ozzie Albies (ATL) and Jose Altuve (HOU) a bit further behind. 

Merrifield has the platoon edge against Daniel Norris who has allowed a .340 wOBA and .162 ISO to RHBs since 2017. The Tigers bullpen behind Norris is one of the weakest in the league and Merrifield is priced affordably on both sites. He’s a fine target for cash games but may get overshadowed by the need for more salary relief.

Ozzie Albies is slightly cheaper on FanDuel ($3,300) and a comparable play given the Braves have a 6.2 implied total at home against the Jays.

If salary relief is the emphasis, Gavin Lux (LAD) is priced at the pure minimum on FanDuel ($2,000). The Dodgers top prospect projects as a solid hitter against RHP already (.325 wOBA, .170 ISO baseline). 

On both sites, Isan Diaz (MIA) is an emergency salary relief option. On DraftKings, he’s just $2,900 and has the platoon edge against Mitch Keller who has allowed a .413 wOBA against LHBs in a very small sample at the big league level. This is mostly a price play but Diaz does have some pop (.164 ISO baseline against RHP).  

Ian Happ (CHC) is an intriguing upside power target with a price tag that gets caught in between. Our baselines have him for a .195 ISO against RHP and the matchup with Felix Hernandez is a fun one to attack. Hernandez has allowed a .367 wOBA and .235 ISO to LHBs since the start of 2017.

Third Base

Rafael Devers (BOS) is the top option at third base with a home matchup against a below average righty from the Twins. Devers monstrous season has helped raise his baseline against RHP (.363 wOBA and .251 ISO now) and the Red Sox have a slate leading 6.4 implied total. As is the case with most of the top plays on the slate, it’s difficult to fit Devers into cash game builds but he remains a fine target in tournaments.

Kris Bryant (CHC), Josh Donaldson (ATL), and Matt Chapman (OAK) are the next-in-line options at third base. Donaldson is priced down on FanDuel at $3,500 and is often the optimizers preferred route at third base. The Braves 6.2 implied total only trails the Red Sox. On DraftKings, Bryant is a popular selection at just $4,300 and also comes with outfield eligibility. Felix Hernandez’s struggles the last few years have not been just limited to LHBs and he’s allowed a .332 wOBA and .179 ISO to RHBs as well. These two are your site specific primary targets.

In tournaments, the list of options certainly expands given the depth of power available at the position. Justin Turner (LAD) should be considered in Dodgers stacks. Miguel Sano (MIN), Manny Machado (SD), and Matt Carpenter (STL) are all secondary targets that can be used individually or as a part of stacks.


Francisco Lindor (CLE) tops the shortstop projections as he’s a more valuable Fantasy commodity thanks to his speed than Xander Bogaerts (BOS) and both teams have implied totals approaching or above six runs on this slate. We prefer Lindor when choosing between the two but it will be difficult to get all the way up there in cash games.

On FanDuel, Adalberto Mondesi (KC) isn’t far behind Bogaerts in projection and is priced at just $3,100. Mondesi returned in a big way on Sunday with four hits and three stolen bases in his first game played in a month and a half. The matchup with Daniel Norris and the Tigers bullpen is above average but the price would’ve made him a strong play regardless of matchup. 

On both sites, Corey Seager (LAD) is a favored value play as he shifts up in the lineup without Max Muncy. Seager will get the platoon edge against Chi Chi Gonzalez as the Dodgers are one of the top offenses to target. The second spot in the Dodgers lineup, where we project Seager to hit, comes with a lot of Runs/RBIs opportunity due to the strength of the supporting cast around him and Seager possesses a solid .352 wOBA, .196 ISO baseline against RHP. 

There is some depth to shortstop, similar to third base, with power options that may come with lower ownership. Javier Baez (CHC), Alex Bregman (HOU), Paul DeJong (STL), and Trevor Story (COL) all fit that bill as we expect ownership will condense on Mondesi-Seager on FanDuel and on Seager on DraftKings.


Mookie Betts (BOS), Cody Bellinger (LAD), Mike Trout (LAA), Ronald Acuna (ATL), and JD Martinez (BOS) are the top options in the outfield. Betts comes with a reasonable price tag on FanDuel at $3,800 that has him sneaking into plenty of optimals. The leadoff hitter for the offense with the highest implied total is a natural starting point for lineups. On DraftKings, the price tag for Betts is a bit more reasonable and in line with many of the other studs so he doesn’t populate quite as frequently.

Max Kepler (MIN) is also affordably priced on FanDuel and is a fine secondary spend target as the road leadoff hitter in Boston against Rick Porcello. 

On DraftKings, Yasiel Puig (CLE) really stands out as a strong value at $3,900. Cleveland has an implied total of six against Dylan Cease and the White Sox bullpen. Cease has great stuff but shaky command and the bullpen behind him is a disaster. Puig is a great and affordable way to get exposure. 

The secondary outfielders on Cleveland are priced down a bit on FanDuel and get into some optimals. Oscar Mercado (CLE) is the more talented hitter but Greg Allen (CLE) comes with the punt price tag that is occasionally necessary to make things work.

On both sites, Jason Heyward (CHC) is a strong value target with the platoon edge against Felix Hernandez. We’ve noted Hernandez’s struggles against LHBs and Heyward is priced down ($2,700 on FD, $3,600 on DK) for a leadoff hitter given the Cubs strong implied total. He’s a cash game building block on both sites.

Matt Joyce (ATL) and Adam Duvall (ATL) remain affordable on FanDuel ($2,400/$2,600) as a source of salary relief and make stacking Atlanta viable with high-end pitching if you skip one of or both of Acuna-Freeman.

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