Daily Fantasy Rundown – September 4 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Friday’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: A very small chance of delays in WSH, DET, KC and in COL. Wind blows strongly out in COL.
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.
Buster Posey (SF) – It seems like every year we get Buster Posey in Coors Field and he happens to get a few LHPs in a row. On paper, it’s a recipe for immense success. The park shift from San Francisco to Colorado is the biggest in baseball and Posey has a very significant platoon split (career .403 wOBA/.231 ISO against LHP and .359 wOBA/.152 ISO against RHP). Jorge de la Rosa has allowed a .334 wOBA and 1.01 HR/9 to RHBs since 2012 and the Giants have an implied run total approaching 5.5 runs. Posey ranks within our Top Five hitters overall. Despite the high price tag, our model thinks he’s an adequate value.
Next in line: Jonathan Lucroy (MIL) – No platoon advantage for Lucroy but a positive park environment and our model really thinks Keyvius Sampson is one of the weakest starters in baseball. Add in a bad bullpen behind him and Lucroy cracks our Top 25 hitters overall. He’s a nice pivot in tournaments.
Yan Gomes (CLE) – Gomes gets a matchup with Kyle Lobstein who has allowed a .328 wOBA to RHBs as a big leaguer. Gomes typically hits fifth against LHP and has historically hit them very well (.349 wOBA, .185 ISO since 2012). The Indians have a healthy implied run total of 4.5 runs. They’re not one of the truly elite offenses on Friday but you get a platoon advantage and potentially a lot of exposure to that very poor Tigers bullpen at a minimal price point. Gomes is a Top 40 hitter in our model.
Additional catcher notes: Matt Wieters (BAL) has been a mess all season but a minimum price point and a matchup in a great offensive environment earns him tournament consideration. Brian McCann (NYY) is back at home with that short porch. He’s overpriced but any time he faces a RHP in Yankee Stadium he has home run upside. Nick Hundley (COL) deserves tournament consideration as the “other” catcher in Coors Field. John Jaso (TB) also gets a potential power boost with Yankee Stadium’s short porch and on sites where Severino is priced down, he creates some leverage in tournaments. I’d use his minimum price point if using deGrom or Kluber in those tournaments.
Joey Votto (CIN) – Votto is once again putting together a remarkably quiet MVP campaign. He’ll face Matt Garza who has allowed a .376 wOBA, 1.48 HR/9, and 32.4 percent hard hit rate to LHBs this season. Garza’s lost velocity and the ability to miss bats. He’s allowed four or more earned runs in seven of his last 12 starts. Votto’s expensive around the industry but he ranks as the top first baseman in our model and a Top 10 overall hitter.
Adam Lind (MIL) – Lind ranks similarly to Votto in our model despite the wide gap in their actual skills. Lind is a very good hitter against RHP (.386 wOBA, .209 ISO since 2012) but he’s not on Votto’s level (.411 wOBA, .194 ISO). The reason the gap is narrowed is Keyvius Sampson is a weaker pitcher than Garza (.417 wOBA, 1.54 HR/9, 35.2 percent hard hit rate allowed) and the Reds bullpen is far worse. The bonus for Lind is the Reds bullpen is entirely right handed with the exception of Aroldis Chapman which helps hold Lind’s value deep into the game. Lind also ranks within our Top 10 hitters overall.
Carlos Santana (CLE) – It’s difficult to emphasize just how much of a boost the Tigers bullpen is providing opposing offenses right now, but Santana gets that boost on Friday. He’ll start with Kyle Lobstein who has struggled against RHBs (.328 wOBA) and we expect he’ll get at least three innings against a Tigers pen that now has a 4.76 ERA, 4.40 FIP, and 4.33 xFIP which all rank 29th in baseball. Santana owns a .355 wOBA and .151 ISO against LHP since 2012 and he holds his value late into games as a switch hitter.
Additional first base notes: David Ortiz (BOS) is one of my favorite tournament plays. The Red Sox have an implied team total approaching 5.3 runs and Ortiz should go under-owned due to a left on left matchup. Morgan hasn’t dominated LHBs (10.9 K Rate, 7.3 BB Rate) and the Phillies bullpen is very weak beyond Morgan. Albert Pujols (LAA) is slightly discounted for a favorable matchup with Martin Perez, he’s more of a secondary value play. Chris Davis (BAL), Ryan Zimmerman (WAS), Edwin Encarnacion (TOR), and Kendrys Morales (KC) are secondary tournament plays behind Ortiz.
Scooter Gennett (MIL) – Gennett is the most consistent value at the position around the industry. He should lead off against Keyvius Sampson in a favorable hitting environment in Cincinnati. Gennett owns a .351 wOBA and .160 ISO against RHP as a big leaguer and like Lind he benefits substantially from the nature of the Reds pen (almost all right handed). Gennett’s struggles against LHP are unlikely to get exposed in this matchup. He’s a Top 45 hitter in our model and consistently discounted around the industry.
Kelby Tomlinson (SF) – The projection systems don’t think much of Kelby Tomlinson but he compiled a .912 OPS against LHP in AAA before his promotion and the lineups hit him second last night. The second spot in Coors Field with the platoon advantage and a cheap price point make Tomlinson a compelling target. The price here is the key. On FanDuel at $3,400, he’s a difficult cash game option but on Yahoo ($7) and DraftKings ($3,300) he’s very affordable.
Additional second base notes: Robinson Cano (SEA) where priced similarly to Gennett or Tomlinson is a fine pivot. His skill as a hitter is higher and he has a favorable matchup against a below average RHP, but he’s in a far worse hitting environment. Our model has him as a viable cash game option. D.J. LeMahieu (COL), Jose Altuve (HOU), Brandon Phillips (CIN), and Anthony Rendon (WAS) are solid tournament plays. We like LeMahieu as part of a Rockies stack. He has the most egregious price tag and a lack of power, so you want to only use him when stacking Rockies. Phillips is the same issue but with the Reds. Altuve and Rendon are better overall plays that can be used as solo stack fillers or as part of stacks.
Troy Tulowitzki (TOR)/Jose Reyes (COL)/Carlos Correa (HOU) – This is the order our model ranks these three hitters and it has Tulowitzki the highest of the bunch. In my opinion, Tulowitzki’s matchup has the most volatility to it. Ubaldo Jimenez rarely has middling outings. He’s either dominant or atrocious, so I’m more likely to utilize Tulowitzki in tournament lineups. Reyes and Correa are priced in a way that is prohibitive in cash game lineups as well. As a result they’re better in tournament lineups as well. Our model ranks them Tulowitzki, Correa, and then Reyes, but I’m more likely to use them in the order of Correa, Tulowitzki, and then Reyes.
Xander Bogaerts (BOS) – Bogaerts is the player I’m gravitating towards most frequently in cash game lineups. He has a plus matchup against Adam Morgan who has allowed a .360 wOBA and 34.1 percent hard hit rate to RHBs as a big leaguer. Bogaerts has also hit LHP well at the big league level (.369 wOBA, .140 ISO) and the price is down just enough from the top tier that I consider him a bargain. Bogaerts cracks our Top 35 hitters overall.
Additional shortstop notes: There are some viable punts or alternative shortstop options, but I find Bogaerts is often my primary target. Jhonny Peralta (STL) is the most skilled punt option with a career .357 wOBA and .205 ISO against LHP. Marwin Gonzalez (HOU) and Alcides Escobar (KC) are secondary punt plays with favorable matchups and lineup spots.
Nolan Arenado (COL)/Josh Donaldson (TOR) – The two top plays here but both are very expensive around the industry. I think they’re better used in tournaments and Arenado is the one I’m most likely to splurge on.
Matt Duffy (SF) – Duffy is a really difficult player to pin down. The projection systems aren’t particularly high on him (.306 wOBA rest of season from ZiPS) but he’s had a good season (.337 wOBA) and he hits in the middle of the Giants lineup. He’ll have the platoon advantage but he’s been far better against RHP (.357 wOBA, .150 ISO) than LHP (.276 wOBA, .104 ISO). Ultimately we’re leaning on the fact that he’ll likely hit third in Coors Field against a pitcher that struggles against RHBs but you want to be price sensitive when betting on environment over talent. The price tag on Yahoo ($13) and FanDuel ($3,000) are solid while DraftKings ($4,400) is a bit more of a stretch.
Todd Frazier (CIN) – Frazier’s hovering near the minimum on FanDuel and Matt Garza‘s struggles this season have extended to his performance against RHBs. Garza has allowed a .342 wOBA, 1.40 HR/9, and a 34.2 percent hard hit rate to righties. Frazier has historically posted neutral splits (.334 wOBA, .185 ISO against RHP) and the price discount is substantial. Frazier’s second half struggles are severe and the primary reason for this discount. We do weight cold streaks a bit more than hot streaks in our evaluation so this a pure price point play. We think on FanDuel, Frazier is worth the risk given his minimum salary.
Additional third base notes: Pablo Sandoval (BOS) is a guy our model likes (Top 35 hitter) but is difficult to assess because our model is picking him up as a RHB against LHP. Since he’s stopped hitting RH this year, it’s harder to evaluate. He’s very cheap around the industry and the Red Sox have a healthy implied run total approaching 5.5 runs. As a result, he’s viable in all formats but more of a secondary target. Kyle Seager (SEA) is another viable secondary target as he faces the underwhelming Aaron Brooks. Seager’s hitting environment pushes him a bit down in our rankings but of the options recommended, he has by far the most stable skill set. Where they have third base eligibility, I like using Carlos Santana (CLE) or Ryan Zimmerman (WAS). I keep finding both at reasonable price points. I like Santana’s individual matchup a bit more but both face very weak bullpens behind the initial starters.
As is typically the case, we have plenty of elite outfielders that flood our Top 20 overall rankings. Carlos Gonzalez (COL), Jose Bautista (TOR), Ryan Braun (MIL), Mike Trout (LAA), Bryce Harper (WAS), Charlie Blackmon (COL), Mookie Betts (BOS), Marlon Byrd (SF), and Hanley Ramirez (BOS) are all inside our Top 20 hitters overall. Carlos Gonzalez is the option I’d most like to splurge on. Opposing starter Chris Heston has struggled with LHBs (.349 wOBA, 1.15 HR/9) and is getting a massive negative park shift. After Gonzalez it’s much more clouded. Our model likes Trout most, followed by Bautista/Braun but Betts and Blackmon are leadoff hitters for teams with elite implied run totals. I’d look for some pricing gaps there to help separate the plays.
Khris Davis (MIL) – Davis has shown great power against RHP (.232 ISO) in his brief career and he’s posted a strong .349 wOBA overall. Keyvius Sampson has had his share of struggles with RHBs as well, allowing a .337 wOBA and 37 percent hard hit rate against. His expected plate appearances get a slight boost as his fifth slot in the lineup is more impacted by hitting on the road. He ranks just outside that top group of hitters and on most sites is priced below them.
Jay Bruce (CIN) – Bruce is just like Todd Frazier in many ways. He’s been horrible since the All Star Break and it’s forced his price way down. The matchup with Matt Garza is really favorable and he’s hitting second which likely guarantees three plate appearances against Garza. The cold streak is a concern but the price point eliminates much of the risk. Bruce is a Top 30 hitter in our model.
Angel Pagan (SF) – Pagan is an ordinary hitter getting the boost of extraordinary conditions. The park shift is substantial and it impacts each at bat positively, but the road hitter in Coors Field has a higher probability of accruing five plate appearances than any other hitter in tonight’s slate. Pagan owns a .304 wOBA and .085 ISO against LHP. Again, he’s not very skilled, but the fifth expected plate appearance boosts our expectations. He’s a Top 30 hitter in our model.
Colby Rasmus (HOU) – Rasmus is vulnerable to lineup positioning and with George Springer potentially back we could see him shift down in the lineup. If he hits fourth, he’s got a premier matchup against contact prone Mike Pelfrey. Rasmus has big power against RHP (.223 ISO) but a high strikeout rate (28.5 percent) limits his overall effectiveness (.334 wOBA). Pelfrey’s strikeout rate against LHBs (13.9 percent) is well below the league average. We like this matchup for Rasmus and if he hits in the middle of the order, he’s a nice value for a team with an implied run total approaching five.
Ryan Raburn (CLE) – The Indians face a below average left hander who is backed up by one of the worst bullpens in all of baseball. Given Raburn’s history against LHP (.335 wOBA, .196 ISO since 2012) and his price tag (near minimum on many sites), he represents one of the better pure salary relief options.
Jason Bourgeois (CIN) – Raburn is a more skilled hitter and thus ranks a bit higher in our model, but Bourgeois gets the better lineup spot which helps narrow some of the gap. We’ve touched extensively on Matt Garza‘s struggles and Bourgeois is the leadoff hitter in an offense with an implied run total of 4.7 runs.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Jacob deGrom (NYM)
2) Corey Kluber (CLE) scratched from start
3) Carlos Martinez (STL)
4) James Shields (SD)
5) Luis Severino (NYY)
6) Mike Bolsinger (LAD)
7) Garrett Richards (LAA)
8) Collin McHugh (HOU)
9) Kris Medlen (KC)
10) Joe Kelly (BOS)
Jacob deGrom (NYM) – This ranking comes with the caveat that we’re not anticipating a Giancarlo Stanton return on Friday (although it’s been rumored it could come later this week). The Marlins rank 30th in wRC+ against RHP with a slightly below average K Rate. Incredibly, the Marlins are the only team with an implied run total below 3.5 runs. Kluber is the only other pitcher that has a skill set similar to deGrom and he’s got a far more difficult matchup against a contact heavy Tigers lineup. deGrom is clearly the number one starter on this slate and he’s relatively affordable around the industry. I’d consider him a building block in cash game lineups.
Mike Bolsinger (LAD) – All year long our model has loved Bolsinger and hated the Padres against RHP. The two worlds collide on Friday night as Bolsinger takes on the Padres in San Diego. Bolsinger has flashed above average peripherals (2.90 FIP, 3.52 xFIP) thanks to a plus GB Rate (55.7 percent) and above average K Rate (21.4 percent). The projection systems vary significantly in their assessment of Bolsinger. ZiPS questions his run prevention (projected 3.91 ERA rest of season) while Steamer is very optimistic (3.26 ERA and 3.21 FIP). Bolsinger has dominated in the minor leagues (2.31 ERA, 32.6 K Rate in 46 2/3 innings) and last start in the minors he threw 107 pitches, so pitch count should not be a concern. He hasn’t historically worked deep into games which limits his ceiling and increases the volatility but the matchup and his skill set align well. The Padres rank 23rd in wOBA against RHP, strikeout above the league average rate (21.4 percent) and are very right handed. Bolsinger is vulnerable to lefties (.343 wOBA allowed, 17.5 K Rate) but dominates RHBs (.292 wOBA, 23.7 K Rate). He’s cheap around the industry and makes for a fine option on multiple starting pitcher sites or an acceptable punt in order to load up on elite offenses on one starting pitcher sites.
Kris Medlen (KC) – Medlen doesn’t grade out as high as Bolsinger in our model but on some sites (DraftKings) there is a rather substantial difference in prices. Medlen has been effective in two starts (11 2/3 IP, six earned runs, 11 base-runners and 11 strikeouts), but he hasn’t been stretched out (69 and 78 pitches). He’s likely limited to 90 pitches on the high end which certainly caps the upside and introduces some risk but he’s a heavy favorite (-200) against a White Sox lineup that ranks 24th in wRC+ against RHP. If he’s priced near the bare minimum, I think the combination of many elite offenses in great hitting environments and relatively poor pitching overall makes him a viable multiple starting pitcher target.
Luis Severino (NYY) – Severino has been effective in his first five starts at the big league level, however, his peripherals haven’t matched up with the performance. Severino has earned a 2.17 ERA but his FIP (3.72) and xFIP (3.58) are much higher. His 24.8 percent K Rate is a little surprising given he struck out only 20.9 percent of batters in AAA and his swinging strike rate has been good (9.4 percent) but not great. The Rays do not grade out as a good offense against RHP (22nd in wRC+ with a 21.5 K Rate) and they project similarly in our model (93 wRC+ on the season, 93 wRC+ in our model). Severino’s price tag varies wildly around the industry but on a site like FanDuel ($7,200) where the price is way down, he’s a viable option. The Yankees are a solid -165 favorite. Severino’s implied run total is just over 3.5 runs, which on this slate is one of the lower implied run totals. Severino gives you a bit of strikeout upside and solid win probability at a 40 percent cheaper price tag than deGrom. His projection falls well short of deGrom but gives you the chance to make it up with offense. It’s a more volatile strategy, but one that is viable.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Corey Kluber (CLE), Garrett Richards (LAA), and James Shields (SD) are my favored tournament options. I think it is likely deGrom is the highest owned starter in cash games and the discrepancy in his implied run total allowed relative to the other options should push his ownership up. If owners are pivoting off deGrom its likely moving down far enough that they can reward themselves with Coors Field bats. Kluber, Richards, and Shields are all expensive enough that I think their ownership rates get unintentionally deflated. If Andrew McCutchen is unable to go, I’d also include Carlos Martinez (STL) in that group. Joe Kelly (BOS) is another potential tournament pivot, but one that is cheap enough to pair with Coors Field or other top offenses. The Phillies project well below average against RHP in our model and Kelly has severely outpitched his current price tag of late. UPDATE: Corey Kluber (CLE) has been scratched from his start tonight.
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) Colorado Rockies
2) San Francisco Giants
3) Boston Red Sox
4) Cincinnati Reds/Milwaukee Brewers
Coors Field always dominates cash game lineup construction. With some value starting pitcher options available, this is still a viable target in cash games.
The Red Sox are the next best offense to target after the Rockies and Giants but for cash games it’s more site specific and driven by pricing. Bogaerts and Betts are the two best options and potentially Hanley Ramirez if he’s in the lineup, while David Ortiz is better used to complement them in tournaments.
The Brewers and Reds have lower implied run totals but price points bring individual pieces into consideration for cash game mini-stacking.
1) Cleveland Indians
2) Toronto Blue Jays
3) Houston Astros
4) Washington Nationals
At this point in the season, there is a huge discrepancy in talent between the best teams and the worst teams. The worst teams have sold off assets at the trade deadline and are auditioning minor leaguers for big league roles. This is often most felt in the bullpen where bad teams are running out a full bullpen of minor league caliber arms. This is the case with Philadelphia, Detroit, and Atlanta right now. Almost every night the rest of the way, you can consider stacking against those teams.
The Indians will likely go under-owned because their best hitters are expensive and left handed. This will remove them from any consideration for cash game lineups and thus those entering cash game lineups into tournaments won’t have them. Perhaps Ryan Raburn and Carlos Santana get some love in tournament ownership percentages but you’ll get Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis at sub-five percent tags.
The Blue Jays are almost always a stack pivot when Coors is in play. Ubaldo Jimenez is particularly volatile so consider the Blue Jays a fine pivot from Coors Field in tournaments.
The Astros may get back George Springer to their lineup which adds more power, speed, and volatility. Against contact prone Mike Pelfrey and a below average bullpen behind him, they’re a fun tournament stack.
The Nationals get that horrific Braves bullpen but first have to get through Julio Teheran. Teheran historically has poor platoon splits and the Nationals lineup is pretty right handed which is why they fall down the list of our preferred stacks.
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.
TB at NYY 7:05: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind east-northeast 7-14 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
ATL at WSH 7:05: A 10-15% coverage of thunderstorms over the mid-Atlantic region in the beginning of the game. Worst case scenario is a brief delay early in the game. Temps in the low to mid 80s falling into the mid to upper 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind east-northeast 8-16 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 3.
BLT at TOR 7:07: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the low to mid 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind east 7-14 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.
CLE at DET 7:08: A 10% coverage of thunderstorms early in the game, worst case scenario is a brief delay. Temps in the upper 70s falling into the low to mid 70s. Air density is a 7 or an 8. Wind southeast 12-25 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 1.
PHL at BOS 7:10: Dry. Temps in the upper 60s falling into the low 60s. Air density is a 5 becoming a 4. Wind northeast 5-10 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
MIL at CIN 7:10: Dry. Temps in the mid-80s falling into the mid-70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.
NYM at MIA 7:10: The retractable roof will likely be closed.
CHW at KC 8:10: A 10-20% chance of a delay due to a thunderstorm. Temps in the upper 80s falling to near 80. Air density is an 8. Wind south-southeast 7-14 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6.
MIN at HOU 8:10: Retractable roof. A 10% coverage of thunderstorms across the region. Temps in the mid-80s falling to near 80. Air density is an 8. Wind south-southeast 7-14 mph lessening to 3-6 mph which blows
out to center. The wind is a 6.
PIT at STL 8:15: Dry. Temps in the low 90s falling to near 80. Air density is a 9 becoming an 8. Wind south-southeast 5-10 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6.
SF at COL 8:40: A 10% chance of a delay due to a thunderstorm. Temps near 80 falling to near 70. Air density is a 10. Wind south 12-25 mph lessening to 8-16 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 9 becoming a 7.
TEX at LAA 10:05: Dry. Temps in the mid-70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is 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.
SEA at OAK 10:05: Dry. Temps near 70 falling into the low to mid 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind west-southwest 12-25 mph lessening to 10-20 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 9 becoming an 8.
LAD at SD 10:10: Dry. Temps in the mid-70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind west-southwest 7-14 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.