Daily Fantasy Rundown – September 5 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Saturday’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: COL and DET are the games to pay attention to weather-wise.
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.
Catcher notes: The catcher position is best attacked in the notes section on a short slate. The clear cut top catcher of course is Buster Posey (SF). Posey is the best offensive catcher in action and gets a massive park boost playing in Coors Field. While the Giants offensive performance over the first two games has been dreadful, it’s something DFS players need to simply put in their rear view mirror. The game tonight has a total of 11, giving the Giants an implied run total somewhere between 5 and 5.5. Opposing pitcher Chad Bettis has decent K and GB rates, but subpar control and a high hard minus soft hit rate does him in at home. After Posey, there really isn’t much at the position. In fact, you’ll find that there aren’t a lot of great offensive situations to attack outside of Coors Field on this nine game slate. No other game has a total greater than 8, although some are pushing towards 8.5. Out West, the big ballparks in Los Angeles, Oakland and San Diego are in play. In fact, the only plus offensive park in action outside of Coors Field is in Houston. That’s going to push us to a mini-Coors stack today while picking out individual values from of the few teams in okay offensive spots (Cleveland against Alfredo Simon, the Mets against Brad Hand, and the Astros at home against Ervin Santana). So, if you’re unable to afford Posey at catcher, the best route to go into cash games is to punt the position. Top of the list is Dustin Garneau (COL) where he’s minimum priced. There’s a chance he draws the start with Nick Hundley catching three straight games. Garneau doesn’t project to be a very good overall hitter, but he has enough pop (15 homers in 81 games at AAA) to be used as a punt on the highest expected scoring offense. On FanDuel, Garneau receives the Coors Field bump and is a tournament option only. Despite a bad matchup, I don’t mind using Victor Martinez (DET) at a bare minimum price tag there. One okay option industry wide, if not fully punting, is Yan Gomes (CLE). Cleveland has the highest team total outside of Coors Field, and Gomes has good power potential against Alfredo Simon (4.72 xFIP) and a bad Tigers bullpen.
Top Play: Brandon Belt (SF) (not only the top option from a raw total perspective, but a phenomenal per dollar value as well; would prioritize Carlos Gonzalez on the hitter side first, but Belt is definitely a target in all formats)
Next in line: Jose Abreu (CHW) (particularly a good value on FanDuel, Abreu is a nice alternative to Belt where the savings is significant; he receives a negative park shift but holds the platoon edge on LHP Danny Duffy, whp has a 4.94 xFIP as he’s been subpar across the board – K, BB and GB rates)
Justin Morneau (COL) – On many sites, DraftKings and DraftDay for example, Morneau comes with one of the more affordable price tags for a Coors Field hitter, especially for one with an expected top five lineup spot (hit fifth yesterday). Admittedly, it’s tough to be too enthusiastic about Morneau’s skills. He’s returning from another concussion and his stellar career was already derailed by a concussion in 2010 from which his skills never recovered. Now he’s 34 years old. Ultimately, though, this is about the contextual factors – fifth lineup spot in the highest expected scoring lineup of the night and at Coors Field. Facing Jake Peavy doesn’t hurt either. Peavy is a fly balls risky RHP, who is sporting a career worst 4.50 xFIP as he has struggled to miss bats (career low 7.3 SwStr rate). It’s possible the Rockies are careful with Morneau and keep him on the bench after returning yesterday. In that case, pivot to Ben Paulsen (COL) who is similarly priced and would likely directly replace Morneau in the fifth spot in the lineup.
Prince Fielder (TEX) – Fielder gets a severely negative park shift playing in Los Angeles, but his low price tag and the matchup still make him a value play target. Opposing pitcher Jered Weaver has a career worst 5.01 xFIP, as he is not missing any bats at all (4.80 K/9; 83.5 mph average fastball velocity is down 2.8 mph from last season, which was a previous career low; 8.4 SwStr rate). Between the low GB rate and low K rate, Weaver allows a ton of fly balls each outing. It also needs to be noted that he previously got a way with being FB risky due to a reduced HR/FB rate. However, now that his hard hit rate is closer to league average, his HR/FB rate is also in line with the league average at 9.9 percent (a career worst). This matchup might not look very sexy at first glance, but there’s solid power upside for Fielder despite the big park.
Additional first base notes: If you want to target a higher expected scoring team, Carlos Santana (CLE) is a higher priced alternative to Prince Fielder. Evan Gattis (HOU) is also a high upside option at a reasonable price tag. Tournament targets across the industry include Albert Pujols (LAA) and Chris Carter (HOU).
Jason Kipnis (CLE) – On sites where Kipnis still has a mid-tier salary, he’s an excellent play in cash games given that he’s our top ranked second baseman. Kipnis is having a superb bouncr back season thanks to a career low 16.0 K rate and a batted ball distribution and quality that is directly in line with his career marks. Kipnis will lead off for a Cleveland team tonight that is one of three non-Coors teams with a total greater than 4 (Cleveland, Mets and Astros all around 4.5). After a few years of outperforming his expected ERAs, Simon’s smoke and mirrors show has gone by the wayside. His 5.09 ERA is a bit higher than his 4.72 FIP/xFIP, as it should be given a high 32.7 hard hit rate.
Additional second base notes: It’s tough to find a clear cut industry wide value play. The name that pops most frequently in our model on multiple sites is Robinson Cano (SEA), but I’d only consider him a secondary value given the low expected scoring nature of that game. If I’m going with a poor offensive environment, I’d rather shift my attention to someone with significant speed upside – Dee Gordon (MIA). Gordon has cut down his K rate for the second straight season, which is really important since he doesn’t walk and doesn’t make quality contact. His .326 BA is still inflated by an unsustainable .381 BABIP, but as he cuts down on the Ks, a .290 mark is a reasonable expectation. That puts him in position to deliver value against subpar RHP, and Gordon will face Bartolo Colon tonight (18.1 hard minus soft hit rate and low 16.2 K percentage against LHBs since 2013). The best punt options are the Giants middle infield duo of Kelby Tomlinson and Ehire Adrianza (SF). On most sites, Tomlinson’s salary is rising, which make Adrianza the better punt option. Note that the two also have shortstop eligibility on most sites (on FanDuel Adrianza is SS eligible but not 2B). On most sites, Anthony Rendon (WAS) and Rougned Odor (TEX) (if top five) are tournament viable, but on DraftKings I’d even consider them secondary cash game plays due to decreased price tags. Jose Altuve (HOU) is a high end tournament option, but he’s also one of the more expensive second baseman around the industry; I’d rather find a punt option in cash than force to pay up for him.
Shortstop notes: The shortstop position is rather putrid on a nine game slate. The way I’m attacking the position is to either pay up for Jose Reyes (COL) wherever possible or punt the spot. On sites with wide salary spreads where Ehire Adrianza (SF) is near minimum priced, he’s my preferred option (DraftKings). However, on sites with tighter salary spreads, I’d emphasize lineup spot a bit more and look to Alcides Escobar (KC) (min priced leadoff man on FanDuel) and Jed Lowrie (HOU) (affordable on DraftKings and DraftDay with SS eligibility; has more individual upside than the other mentioned punts but comes at a touch higher cost). Carlos Correa (HOU) will be low owned in tournament formats.
Nolan Arenado (COL) – As we near the end of the season, the pricing disparity between sites is becoming as apparent as ever before. The third base position tonight is a great example of this. On DraftKings, you’ve got Arenao, David Wright and Matt Duffy (our three main targets for the slate) with minimal separation in pricing. Here it makes sense to pay up for Arenado at home. I talked earlier about the issues Peavy is having missing bats, and Arenado is the type of player who can take full advantage. The 24 year old has an awesome DFS profile. He doesn’t walk or strikeout much for his power profile, which is great from a DFS standpoint because that means more balls in play, which is when the big point events occur. Sometimes a low BB rate is a warning sign, but in Arenado’s case we aren’t too worried since he still makes quality contact (19.0 hard minus soft hit rate). As Arenado enters his peak years and his power matures, we’re seeing the raw power and loft continue to improve. Both his HR/FB rate and FB rate have increased each of the last two seasons.
Next in line:
David Wright (NYM) – Wright is most valuable on cash games on FanDuel, where he provides a significant discount to Arenado and is at least somewhat closely priced with Matt Duffy. On sites where Wright is priced closely to Arenado, it’s difficult to use him in cash games but still a target for tournaments, where his ownership will be low. Wright has feasted on LHP throughout his career, compiling a .425 wOBA and .233 ISO. He’ll face a subpar LHP today in Marlins pitcher Brad Hand, who has allowed a .338 wOBA to RHBs since 2013. Only Chad Bettis (.400 wOBA) has a worse split versus RHBs of pitchers in action today.
Matt Duffy (SF) – Duffy is a cheap way to get exposure to the Giants offense in Coors Field, and is a core option on sites like DraftDay where he’s priced very cheaply (and holds second base eligibility). Duffy has some semblance of power and speed (will exceed double digits in both homers and steals), although his overall power has been coming back down to earth. Most importantly, Duffy hits in a top three lineup spot for a team with the second highest team total, and will face Chad Bettis, who has allowed a .400 wOBA and 1.48 HR/9 to RHBs since 2013. Bettis is backed up by a Rockies bullpen that has the highest ERA in MLB.
Additional third base notes: Jed Lowrie (HOU) is an alternative cheap option who holds shortstop and/or third base eligibility. The Astros have the highest non-Coors team total and will face a Jekyll and Hyde pitcher in Ervin Santana, who has a bullpen behind him that has the highest xFIP in MLB.
Carlos Gonzalez (COL) – A lot of our long time readers know we aren’t big fans of hot streaks, particularly when it comes to hitters. The idea behind that is short term results often include a lot of noise. Furthermore, with site pricing on most sites tied to recent production, you’re generally not getting value out of “hot hitters”. What we do want to do, and are very cognizant of, is re-adjusting player baselines in the appropriate situations. Gonzalez is on an absolute tear. In fact, I can’t think of the last time I saw something like this. Not only do we have an extended run of success with Gonzalez (he’s been performing at an unreal level since June), but there’s a clear shift in his indicator statistics from the beginning of the season. Here are Gonzalez’s hard hit rates by month, from April to September: 26.7/30.9/30.1/41.8/43.5/60.0. Here are his fly ball rates by month: 25.0/23.9/47.9/37.9/39.7/60.0. While the September statistics are skewed upwards by a small sample size, it’s quite clear that for whatever reason a switch flipped for Gonzalez when the month of June hit. He’s consistently made hard contact and elevated the ball since then, and of course hitting in Coors Field amplifies the effect of doing those two things well. Gonzalez is a staple of cash game rosters on all sites this evening.
Next in line: Charlie Blackmon (COL) (prefer him to Mike Trout (LAA) where priced the same but tough to pay up for Gonzalez and Blackmon on FanDuel cash and leave Trout hanging for $600 cheaper)
Angel Pagan (SF) – Pagan’s skills have eroded. He’s no longer running, the plate discipline is getting worse and the hard minus soft hit rate is pretty anemic. Yet, Coors Field cures all ills. Pagan is a very affordable leadoff hitter on the second highest expected scoring team this evening. In this situation, context trumps skills, but given the skills, don’t fret about fading Pagan in tournaments. Teammate Gregor Blanco (SF) is a cap relief option, although we’d prefer it if he’s near the top of the order.
Juan Lagares (NYM) – Lagares leads off for the Mets against LHP, and despite playing in a big park, they’ve got a team total approaching 4.5 this evening. Lagares is extremely cheap around the industry, including the bare minimum salary on FanDuel, making him an ideal target for cap relief outside of Coors Field (ideal lineup spot, access to one of the high end non-Coors offenses). As mentioned in Wright’s blurb, opposing pitcher Brad Hand has struggled against RHBs in his career, and while Lagares lacks offensive talent for the most part, he does have a solid enough .329 wOBA and .146 ISO against southpaws.
Additional outfield notes: Shin-Soo Choo (TEX) is a strong secondary value for many of the same reasons we like Prince Fielder, and teammate Mitch Moreland (TEX) can be used as a punt option on FanDuel. George Springer/Carlos Gomez (HOU) are high upside secondary targets, but I prefer both in tournaments. If you want some Houston exposure in cash, I’d rather take a shot on Colby Rasmus‘ (HOU) power and cheap price tag (clears room for Coors outfielders in the other spots) despite a less than ideal lineup spot. Carl Crawford (LAD) is a DraftKings specific punt play. Industry wide tournament options include Bryce Haprer (WAS), Michael Brantley (CLE), Lorenzo Cain (KC), Yoenis Cespedes (NYM) and Jonny Gomes (KC).
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Felix Hernandez (SEA)
2) Tyson Ross (SD)
3) Alex Wood (LAD)
4) Lance McCullers (HOU)
5) Danny Salazar (CLE)
6) Gio Gonzalez (WAS)
7) Bartolo Colon (NYM)
8) Jesse Chavez (OAK)
9) Jose Quintana (CHW)
Felix Hernandez (SEA) – Hernandez hasn’t been himself this season. Since 2008, his worst HR/FB rate is 10.1 percent, and this season it’s at 14.5 percent, leading to his worst FIP since 2008 (3.61, 2.84 or lower previous three seasons). The overall peripherals for Hernandez suggest most of this is bad luck and perhaps his only issue is some reduced control. However, his game log shows there may actually be something wrong. Hernandez’s hard hit rate of 26.1 on the season is well above league average, but over his past seven starts he’s had a hard hit rate higher than his season average in six of them, including at 30 percent or higher in five. Hernandez is still the top play due to his great K/BB ratios, a good pitching environment and facing an Athletics offense whose current lineup has them projected for by far the worst wRC+ team split of teams in action today. In other words, I’m not forcing him on a single SP site like FanDuel where he’s expensive and Coors Field exposure is harder to come by. However, on a site like DraftKings, where Hernandez is priced in line with other tier two options, I’ll take a chance on him in all formats.
Tyson Ross (SD) – Similar to Hernandez, I’m using site pricing to make a determination on Ross. I’ll use Hernandez where similarly priced, but Ross is the better value on a site like FanDuel where he’s meaningfully cheaper. While the Dodgers are third in wRC+ against RHP, much of that damage was done at the beginning of the season. Over the past 30 days, the team is 18th in overall wRC+. Yasiel Puig is on the DL. Joc Pederson and Yasmani Grandal have cooled off dramatically. The main concern now for Ross is how left-handed the Dodgers can get (went with eight LHBs against Shields last night). Ultimately, though we think the contextual factors outside of not having the platoon edge on a lot of batters makes Ross a solid option. He’s at home in pitcher friendly Petco Park and is a sub-3 ERA pitcher in my book due to his combination of a 25.2 K percentage, 62.1 GB rate and 5.0 hard minus soft hit rate.
Alex Wood (LAD) – With both Hernandez and Ross having positives and negatives in their respective matchups, it might simply make sense to take a shot on Alex Wood at a cheaper price point. Wood is also a mixed bag. He’s not missing bats this season, but has still been moderately successful due to a high GB rate and mediocre K/BB ratio. I’m not expecting a dramatic turnaround for Wood over the final month, but his F-Strike percentage and SwStr rate with the Dodgers suggest that if anything were to change moving forward, it would be the K percentage rising and BB percentage decreasing. This is a matchup that should help Wood miss bats, as the Padres 23.6 K percentage against LHP is the second highest mark in MLB baseball. Like with Ross, there are some concerns over Wood lacking the platoon edge on the Padres best hitters, but Vegas expects this to be a very low scoring contest, pegging Wood as a slight favorite in a game with a total of just 6.5. UPDATE: After tinkering a bit more with rosters, Wood is the pitcher I’ll likely have the most exposure to in cash games across the industry.
Additional starting pitcher notes: At his current price around the industry, Danny Salazar (CLE) is a tournament option only. Lance McCullers (HOU) is a nice secondary value with a lot of upside against the Twins. He’s a heavy favorite, but there’s risk here. At his price point, it’s difficult to use him at a similar price to Ross and clearly more expensive than Wood, which is why he’s only a secondary value but one that makes for an excellent tournament target. Jesse Chavez (OAK) is my favorite tournament target of the tier three options, while Gio Gonzalez (WAS) is the last viable cash game play of today’s starting pitchers, only on multi-SP sites where he’s cheaper than all of the top two tier pitchers.
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
1) Houston Astros (Ervin Santana has been hit or miss lately but in general, he’s home prone and receiving a negative park shift; Astros certainly have the power/speed to make Santana pay and are aided by facing a Twins bullpen with the highest xFIP in MLB)
2) Cleveland Indians (Alfredo Simon‘s 5-plus ERA is legitimate based on his expected ERAs and hard minus soft hit rate; like with the Astros, the Indians value is bolstered not only by the starting pitcher but by the relief staff as the Tigers have one of the league’s worst bullpens)
3) New York Mets (This team is quietly very dangerous against LHP. You get a cheap Lagares leading off and then high upside bats in Wright, Cespedes and d’Arnaud, all of which hold the platoon edge).
4) Texas Rangers (The Rangers may be my favorite long shot stack if throwing a single bullet in a large field tournament; they’ll go underowned due to the park, but their plethora of LHBs have significant upside given Weaver’s K/FB/Velocity problems)
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.
ATL at WSH 7:05: Dry. Temps in the low 80s falling into the mid 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind east 6-12 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.
CLE at DET 7:08: After a wet and stormy morning, the thunderstorms will push off to the southeast as the day goes on. However, a lingering boundary will give the region a 20% coverage of showers and thunderstorms. I am not overly concerned about a ppd (10%) but a delay is not out of the question (20-30%). Temps near 80 falling into the mid 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind south-southeast 6-12 mph lessening to 3-6 mph which blows in from right-center. The wind is a 4.
CHW at KC 7:10: Dry. Temps in the upper 80s falling to near 80. Air density is a 9 becoming an 8. Wind south-southeast 8-16 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 7.
MIN at HOU 7:10: Retractable roof. There will be a 20% coverage of thunderstorms across the region so they will likely keep the roof closed as a precaution.
NYM at MIA 7:10: The retractable roof will likely be closed.
SF at COL 8:10: A 20% coverage of thunderstorms across the central Colorado region. I am not concerned about a ppd as these thunderstorms are moving but a short-lived delay is a possibility (20%). Temps near 80 falling to near 70. Air density is a 10. Wind west 10-20 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
LAD at SD 8:40: Dry. Temps in the mid 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 6. Wind west-northwest 6-12 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
TEX at LAA 9:05: Dry. Temps in the low to 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 9:05: Dry. Temps in the mid 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west-northwest 8-16 mph lessening to 6-12 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 7 becoming a 6.