Daily Fantasy Rundown – September 30 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Wednesday 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: Though many of the same cities that had ppds and a delay last night in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, Great Lakes and Ohio valley regions will see some ligh rain or drizzle today, there should be no heavy rain in any location. Thus, they should try to play these games.
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.
Travis d’Arnaud (NYM) – The Mets once again are one of our favorite teams to target. Opposing pitcher Alec Asher (PHI) has a 7.52 ERA through five starts. That’s what happens when you 1-allow a lot of balls in play (12.6 K percentage) 2-allow a high percentage of fly balls (0.85 GB/FB ratio) and 3-allow hard hit contact (32.6 hard hit rate). Those trio of factors has led Asher to allow 2.05 HR/9. While that may appear to be small sample size noise, keep in mind he allowed 1.88 HR/9 over 16 AAA starts. That’s a massive number for a pitcher to allow in the Minor Leagues. Clearly there is a ton of upside for the Mets offense (third highest team total of the night at 5). d’Arnaud (.357 wOBA, .222 ISO) should hit fifth or sixth for a Mets team that also benefits from a positive park shift.
Miguel Montero (CHC) – With affordable pitching tonight, you’ll likely be able to pay up for d’Arnaud on your cash game rosters. However, if you can’t or he isn’t in the lineup, Montero once again is a viable value if hitting top six in the order. Montero has decent skills against RHP and will benefit tremendously from playing in Great American Ballpark (most favorable hitter’s park in play tonight). Opposing pitcher Anthon DeSclafani (CIN) has allowed a .344 wOBA and 1.21 HR/9 to LHBs since 2013. Teammate Kyle Schwarber (CHC) has been slumping but still possesses massive power upside. We’d lean towards Schwarber over d’Arnaud as the top catcher on sites where Schwarber maintains that eligibility.
Additional catcher notes: John Jaso (TB) isn’t exactly in a high upside situation, but he remains incredibly cheap across the industry. Given his lineup spot and skills against RHP yet a punt price point, he’s a fine source of salary cap relief on cash games. Additional tournament options include Welington Castillo (ARI) (very cold right now but top five-six lineup spot in a favorable park against a bad Rockies pitching staff), Chris Iannetta (LAA) (platoon edge against Barry Zito) and Salvador Perez (KC) (bad lineup spot and faces a decent pitcher but enough power upside against LHP in a great hitter’s park).
Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) – There are a lot of teams with a high team total this evening, and the Diamondbacks are one of them. Their implied run total is approaching 5. Logically Paul Goldschmidt ends up our top first base play when you combine the team upside with is individual upside (top three hitter in Fantasy Points Per Game). Opposing pitcher Chad Bettis (COL) has pitched better than his ERA indicates (thanks Coors), but he’s consistently had a worse than league average hard minus soft hit rate over his career. Bettis is backed up by a Rockies bullpen with the worst ERA in baseball. With Goldschmidt’s price tag in the same ballpark as other first basemen and the salary cap allocation to pitching rather light, he’s viable in all formats across the industry.
Lucas Duda (NYM) – Duda is our preferred option at first base today as he provides similar upside to the elite names at first base but at a bit of a lower cost. The matchup (as stated in d’Arnaud’s blurb) is amazing against Alec Asher in Philadelphia. The red hot Lucas Duda (five HRs in his past three games) has been generating a ton of loft in the latter part of the season, and the home runs are materializing now as his HR/FB rate normalizes. He’s also always been a great hitter against RHP (.365 wOBA, .228 ISO).
Albert Pujols (LAA) – The best mid-tier value play is Albert Pujols. We’re less concerned about the foot injury he’s been dealing with due to recent success at the plate, and this matchup is spectacular, outside of the pitcher’s park. Pujols will hold the platoon edge on Barry Zito. Zito didn’t pitch all of last year and had ERAs of 5.87, 4.15 and 5.74 the three seasons before that despite pitching his home games in the friendliest pitcher’s park in all of baseball. He’s made two appearances this season, and in both of them he gave up twice as many runs as innings pitched. It’s just three innings, of course, but Zito walked two batters, served up two homers and has yet to strike a batter out. Couple that with his not pitching last year and lack of success prior to that, and there’s a good chance he’s far below an MLB caliber pitcher. We’re not expecting his outing to last long, but the Athletics bullpen (third highest ERA, second most HR/9) doesn’t do much to push us off Pujols. The Angels have an implied run total around 5.5 tonight, the highest on the night.
Additional first base notes: Once again, there are several elite first baseman in high upside matchups, giving you plenty of options to pick from in tournament formats, especially since pricing is a bit loose today. The written up recommendations are our favorites at their respective price points for cash games, but in tournaments you can also consider Anthony Rizzo (CHC) (massive park shift; faces DeSclafani’s poor splits against LHBs) and David Ortiz (BOS) (platoon edge, short porch in right and Tanaka’s biggest weakness has been a high HR/FB rate). Lagging behind them in our model but certainly not lacking upside are Edwin Encarnacion (TOR), Chris Davis (BAL) and Jose Abreu (CHW). We hate to throw so many options at you and tried to segment out preferred cash game guys and then the next tier of tournament preferences. Realistically, though, all of these first baseman possess the upside to be on a tournament winning roster.
Second base notes: The most logical second base option right off the bat is Daniel Murphy (NYM) as we’re very high on the Mets offense, he has a great lineup spot and the platoon edge and opportunity cost is rather low at the position. He’s the op target on sites where he holds a mid-tier price point and isn’t difficult to fit in. On FanDuel, where Murphy’s price is aggressive, you may be better off getting your Mets exposure elsewhere and saving at the position. On that specific site, Jason Kipnis (CLE) is a strong value. Across the industry, Tommy La Stella (CHC) would be an excellent source of salary cap relief if he continues to hold a top five lineup spot as he has each of the past two games. Chris Owings (ARI) is another second baseman in a good park and high expected scoring lineup who would become cash viable with a good lineup spot. One option that’s in the top play conversation is Jose Altuve (HOU). It’s difficult to decipher his value since the Mariners are starting a relief pitcher (Mayckol Guaipe) and this is likely a bullpen game. Target the uncertainty/upside here in tournaments and cash games where Altuve comes at a discount to Murphy.
Trea Turner (WAS) – The young shortstop for Washington has hit second the past two days for the Nationals. If he’s in a similar lineup spot today, he makes for an excellent source of salary cap relief at a scarce position. Turner entered the season ranked 83rd on the Fangraphs top 200 prospect list. For a small guy, Turner has a touch of pop, and he’s always hit for average at the Minor League level. Perhaps his best asset from a DFS perspective right now is his speed. He stole 14 bases in 48 games at AAA and 15 in 68 games at AA. Most bare minimum priced shortstops are pure punts, but there’s actually some upside here, especially in light of the matchup. Opposing pitcher Williams Perez (ATL) has a 5.04 ERA through 110.2 IP, and his xFIP (4.82) and hard minus soft hit rate (15.4 percent) indicate that’s an accurate representation of his skills thus far.
Additional shortstop notes: If Turner isn’t in the lineup, we continue to suggest either going high (Carlos Correa (HOU)) or low (Erick Aybar (LAA)) at the position. In the past few days we’ve been a bit indifferent as to which route to go, simply letting salary room make the decision for us. Today we’re more in favor of simply saving the money at the position with Aybar, who leads off for the highest expected scoring team. Salary cap relief at this position along with affordable pitching allows players to get the exposure to the exact teams/players they want elsewhere. Additional options for tournaments include Jose Reyes (COL) and Addison Russell (CHC).
David Wright (NYM) – There’s not much to add here about the Mets matchup that we haven’t already discussed. Both Wright and Adrian Beltre (below) come at a mid-tier cost on most sites but provide upside on par with the top tier options (Donaldson, Bryant). The only exception is on DraftKings, where Wright’s hefty price tag pushes him to tournament status only.
Adrian Beltre (TEX) – Beltre and Wright rank neck and neck in our model. The first tiebreaker between the two is price. If priced evenly, it comes down to personal preference. Would you rather tack on an extra Met or get exposure to a Rangers offense with the second highest team total? In cash games, we’d rather diversify and use Beltre to get access to another top lineup that is a bit more difficult to pick individual values from at other positions. Beltre will have the platoon edge against Matt Boyd (DET). Boyd has allowed a .359 wOBA and 1.80 HR/9 to RHBs in a limited sample (169 RHBs faced). Boyd allows a ton of upside to the opposition (regardless of batter hand) as he’s extremely fly ball risky (very small 32.9 GB rate) and has a 17.7 hard minus soft hit rate. Boyd won’t pitch deep, but the bullpen behind him isn’t much better.
Additional third base options: Similar to first base, there are plenty of high upside third base options to utilize in tournaments, particularly Josh Donaldson (TOR) and Kris Bryant (CHC) if trying to diversify off of Wright/Beltre in that format. Alex Rodriguez (NYY) is the best cash game alternative to Wright/Beltre, particularly on sites where his price tag is clearly cheaper. He’ll have the platoon edge at home against Wade Miley and a bad Red Sox bullpen.
The top plays at the outfield position should come as no surprise: Mike Trout (LAA) and Bryce Harper (WAS). Given the complexion of today’s slate, we advise using at least one of these outfielders (possibly both on sites with more roster construction flexibility) in your cash game lineups. We ripped on Barry Zito while talking up the Angels offense in Trout’s teammate Albert Pujols‘ blurb. He’s the guy we’d choose if picking between Trout and Harper as Trout is in a higher expected scoring lineup and comes at a bit of a lower cost. Harper meanwhile has amazing individual power upside. His power peripherals are remarkable (19.4 BB percentage, 41.4 hard hit rate, 0.93 GB/FB ratio) and opposing pitcher Williams Perez has allowed a .376 wOBA and 1.40 HR/9 to LHBs.
Curtis Granderson (NYM) – As mentioned in yesterday’s Rundown, using Granderson is a great way to access the Mets offense. His power gives him tons of individual upside, especially against a homer prone pitcher in Alec Asher. Granderson’s leadoff spot gives him plenty of upside if the team as a whole is successful (likely to be involved in run scoring plays, potential for extra plate appearances).
Kole Calhoun (LAA) – Calhoun is in a L/L matchup, but we’re not too concerned about it against Barry Zito. It’s likely Zito struggles against both handedness of hitters given his current skill level. He’s faced 134 LHBs (almost all of them in 2013) the past three years and allowed a .431 wOBA, 1.91 HR/9 and a 22.7 hard minus soft hit rate. Those numbers probably aren’t an accurate representation of Zito’s true baseline, but it should be more than enough to not scare you off simply because it’s L/L, especially given the high team total and low expected IP out of Zito.
Additional outfield notes: Other industry wide viable cash game outfielders include George Springer (HOU) (continue to like this price point for a high upside player, especially in what is likely to turn into a bullpen game), Delino DeShields (TEX) (platoon edge, stolen base upside, leading off for a high expected scoring lineup) and Carlos Gonzalez (COL) (good park despite being outside of Coors, platoon edge against a mediocre RHP). Secondary cash game options/better utilized in tournaments are Andrew McCutchen/Starling Marte (PIT), David Peralta (ARI), Ben Revere (TOR), Corey Dickerson (COL), Jorge Soler (CHC) and Yoenis Cespedes (NYM).
Starting pitcher rankings (salary not taken into account)
1a) Jon Lester (CHC)
1b) Garrett Richards (LAA)
3) Drew Smyly (TB)
4) Andrew Cashner (SD)
5) Scott Kazmir (HOU)
6) Jordan Zimmermann (WAS)
7) Masahiro Tanaka (NYY)
8) Logan Verrett (NYM)
9) Mike Bolsinger (LAD)
Jon Lester (CHC) – Lester receives a negative park shift playing in homer friendly Great American Ballpark, but that’s where the negatives stop for him today. Lester will face a Reds team that is a bit worse than the league average in both wRC+ and K percentage against LHP. They’ve particularly struggled overall over the last 30 days, ranking 25th in wRC+ to go with the fifth highest K rate. Lester has duplicated last season’s strong bounce back year. While the ERA is nearly a full run higher, his xFIP is nearly identical as is the K percentage. He’s a fine option to anchor your cash game teams on all sites.
Garrett Richards (LAA) – While Lester stands out as the pitcher today with potentially the most dominance, Richards my be the safest. He’s had an outstanding second half with his K percentage rising from 18.3 in the first half to 21.8 over the second half and his hard minus soft hit rate dropping from 5.6 percent to an absolutely elite -3.7 percent. In other words, we’re now seeing the Garrett Richards of 2014. The Athletics are surprisingly 10th in wRC+ over the last 30 days, but our model has the lineup they are currently throwing out rated well below average. Platoon players like Danny Valencia are hitting clean up against same handed pitching. Squaring off against the 163 year old Barry Zito, Richards is a heavy -260 favorite, the highest on the night. He’s a touch safer than Lester (a little bit less K upside), and Richards is our preferred option on sites like FanDuel, where he’s meaningfully cheaper than Lester. It’s fine to use both pitchers in multi-SP sites.
Andrew Cashner (SD) –It’s been a bit of an odd year for Cashner. On the positive side, he’s stayed healthy all year long. However, performance has been a bit disappointing. Cashner’s 4.21 ERA is the highest since starting full time for the Padres the past three seasons. Ultimately, though, sub-4 expected ERAs and an average K rate will make you DFS relevant in the right matchups when you call Petco Park your home. This is the right matchup. The Brewers have shut down Ryan Braun for the season, and this lineup has been pretty easy to pick on recently. Last night we saw Logan Schafer (career 70 wRC+ against RHP, 18.4 K percentage) hit second, a spot that at times has been occupied by Jean Segura (who hit sixth last night). Khris Davis has a lot of pop but will swing and miss a ton and is now the team’s clean up hitter. Domingo Santana hits fifth and has an 87 wRC+ and whopping 39.3 K percentage in 122 career PAs against RHP. Not surprisingly, Cashner is a -160 favorite in a game with a low total of 7. With neither Lester nor Richards having prohibitive prices, you can really stock up on hitting by pairing one of them with Cashner without taking on much pitching risk. Cashner is a tournament only option on single SP sites.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Drew Smyly (TB) was someone we originally planned to write up as a value play, but his price has increased aggressively across the industry. He makes for a great tournament option given a combination of a friendly home pitcher’s park, a weak projected Mariners lineup and his ability to miss bats (27.4 K percentage). However, it’s difficult to use him in cash games over Lester/Richards since Smyly is a bit riskier (very fly ball oriented) and doesn’t have the same innings pitched expectation. Both Scott Kazmir (HOU) and Jordan Zimmermann (WAS) are fine secondary options in cash and tournament games in favorable matchups. Outside of the top six ranked pitchers, we don’t see much benefit in using anyone else. There’s a clear drop off after Zimmermann, and the pricing isn’t prohibitive among the top six pitchers. In a multi-entry tournament, the two that make the most sense if going contrarian are Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) (subpar matchup/park but has the K upside to reward you at low ownership levels) and Logan Verrett (NYM) (near minimum priced on some sites facing a very bad Phillies team).
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) New York Mets (They aren’t the highest expected scoring team but are close (third highest team total). More importantly, it’s easy to find value in this lineup and the way in which they could score runs gives them plenty of upside (Asher has crazy home run issues). Also note that they are the only road team of the three top stacks, which gives the Mets the added upside that comes from a guaranteed full ninth inning.)
2) Los Angeles Angels (We made our case against Barry Zito in Albert Pujols‘ recommendation.)
3) Texas Rangers (At home in their hitter friendly park facing a very homer prone pitcher backed up by a bad bullpen. This stack is a bit better in tournaments where we’re fine risking the L/L guys at the top of the lineup.)
1) Chicago Cubs (A team with plenty of power/speed upside on the road in the best hitter’s park.)
2) Washington Nationals (Williams Perez has been so consistently bad for a while that we’re unlikely to see this stack completely bust. If Trea Turner is in the lineup, using him at shortstop gives you plenty of cap room to be flexible with this stack.)
3) Houston Astros (They’ll be underowned due to a combination of bad park and difficulty in finding individual values as the result of this being a bullpen game. That uncertainty, though, gives this already high upside team a huge ceiling.)
4) Pittsburgh Pirates (This team as a whole is a bit further down the list in terms of team total tonight, but you’re likely to find low ownerships on a slew of secondary value plays that hold the platoon edge: Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Josh Harrison in particular.)
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, drizzly. Temps near 60 falling into the mid to upper 50s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind north-northeast 10-20 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 9.
OAK at LAA 7:05: Dry. Temps in a mid to upper 70s falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind west-southwest 8-16 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 7 becoming a 6.
BOS at NYY 7:05: Occasional very light rain or drizzle. Temps in the mid 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind north 9-18 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 2.
NYM at PHL 7:05: Occasional very light rain or drizzle. Temps in the mid to upper 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind north-northeast 12-25 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 1.
TOR at BLT 7:05: Drizzly. Temps near 70 falling into the mid to upper 60s. Air density is a 7. Wind north 10-20 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 2.
WSH at ATL 7:10: A few showers and thunderstorms around. Temps in the mid 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 7. Wind north-northwest 8-16 mph which blows in from left-center. The wind is a 3.
CHC at CIN 7:10: Occasional very light rain or drizzle. Winds northeast 8-16 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
MIA at TB 7:10: Dome.
MIN at CLE 7:10: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 50s falling into the low to mid 50s. Air density is a 4. Wind northeast 12-25 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 1.
DET at TEX 8:05: Dry. Temps in the upper 80s falling into the upper 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind north-northeast 6-12 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
KC at CHW 8:10: Dry. Temps near 60 falling into the low 50s. Air density is a 4 becoming a 3. Wind northeast 12-25 mph lessening to 10-20 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
COL at AZ 9:40: Retractable roof. Dry. The roof was open last night despite the hot temperatures. Temps in the mid 100s falling into the upper 90s. Air density is a 9. Wind southwest 6-12 mph which blows out to right-center. The wind is a 6.
LAA at SF 10:00: Dry. Temps near 70 falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west-northwest 9-18 mph lessening to 7-14 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 8 becoming a 6.
HOU at SEA 10:10: Dry. Temps near 70 falling into the low to mid 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind west-northwest 5-10 mph which blows from left to right or out to right at times. The wind is a 5 or a 6.
MIL at SD 10:10: Dry. Temps in the upper 70s falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind west-northwest 5-10 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.