Daily Fantasy Rundown – September 8 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Tuesday’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: Major delay/ppd risks in CHW and to a lesser extent STL tonight. Even smaller risk in DET
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.
It’s unusual that the catcher position has a number of top plays bunched together, but this is the case on Tuesday. Buster Posey (SF), Brian McCann (NYY), and Russell Martin (TOR) all rank within our Top 30 overall hitters. Posey and McCann are locked into premier lineup spots in favorable offensive environments. Posey’s overall skillset trumps McCann’s platoon advantage, but it’s not a significant gap. Martin is priced differently on most sites but often hits low in the order. If the Jays take a different approach to their lineup and bump Tulowitzki back to the leadoff spot, Martin could land in a good spot and make for a nice value. In general, it’s a difficult position to pay up for as you’ll want to emphasize spending on pitching. All of these options are better in tournaments unless Martin’s price is down on the site you’re playing on.
Yan Gomes (CLE) – Carlos Rodon has struggled early on in his career against RHBs (.367 wOBA, 13 percent BB Rate, 32 percent hard hit rate, and 1.18 HR/9) while Gomes has historically hit LHP very well (.347 wOBA, .184 ISO since 2012). He’s very cheap around the industry and generally hits fifth. He’s getting a good park shift in his favor, especially for his best skill set: power. Rodon is tricky to pick on because his stuff is exceptional but if you can do it with power, patience, and a modest price tag; we think it’s worth it. Gomes cracks our Top 40 hitters overall.
Additional Catcher Notes: Victor Martinez (DET) is minimum priced on FanDuel and has a favorable matchup against Erasmo Ramirez. His struggles from the left side this season introduce some risk but the salary relief is important on a day with Kershaw in action. He’s a viable cash game target. Welington Castillo (ARZ) is really cheap on DraftKings. The Giants will run out Tim Hudson who has historically been a nightmare against RHBs, but his skills have slipped some. I don’t mind Castillo with his good lineup spot and a cheap tag. We’ll also stay on the lookout for additional punt plays at the position.
Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) – The Blue Jays have the highest implied run total as they face off with a below average rookie LHP. The Blue Jays lead the league in production against LHP (128 wRC+) and it’s by a rather wide margin. They’re getting a very slight park downgrade but any downgrades are mitigated by the confirmed extra inning of plate appearances as a road team. Encarnacion owns a .395 wOBA and .264 ISO against LHP since 2012 which makes him one of four regulars to have a wOBA above .390 against LHP over the last three years. It’s a supremely stacked lineup against lefties and if money wasn’t an option, Edwin would be our choice at first base.
David Ortiz (BOS) – Ortiz comes in cheaper on most sites and has a very strong matchup in that same game. R.A. Dickey has allowed 1.18 HR/9 to LHBs since 2013. Ortiz owns an impressive .412 wOBA and .292 ISO against RHP since 2012. He’s shown no signs of decline and been phenomenal of late (.458 wOBA, .382 ISO in the second half). Both Ortiz and Encarnacion rank inside our Top Five overall hitters.
Brandon Belt (SF) – Belt is a bit dependent on lineup spot as he often hits sixth, which is a meaningful drop off in expected plate appearances compared to his peers at the position. He gets a huge park shift in his favor and is facing Chase Anderson who has allowed a .320 wOBA to LHBs as a big leaguer. If Belt hits inside the Top Five, our model views him as a really nice value play around the industry. He ranks inside our Top 20 hitters overall and is typically priced as an average hitter around the industry.
Carlos Santana (CLE) – Santana is an above average hitter against LHP and he controls the strike zone very well. Since 2012, he’s posted a 1.01 BB:K Ratio (EYE) against LHP while producing a .353 wOBA and .150 ISO. We’ve touched on Carlos Rodon‘s shaky small sample against RHBs at the major league level and much of that is built off poor command. Santana’s power gets a boost with the park shift and his great EYE gives him a high probability of reaching base. We don’t want to go overboard picking on Rodon since his stuff is so good, but a bat or two from the Cleveland lineup is OK if the prices are right.
Eric Hosmer (KC) – Hosmer rarely pops in our model because his historical production against RHP has been above average (.340 wOBA, .157 ISO since 2012) but not elite and unlike Santana (switch hitter) he loses some value when the game gets into the pen. The matchup with Kyle Gibson on Tuesday is slightly above average and boosted by the Twins porous pen behind him, but the real reason we’re interested in Hosmer is the price tag. Priced like an average hitter on many sites, Hosmer ranks inside our Top 35 overall bats.
Additional first base notes: First base is always flush with viable options for both tournaments and cash games. Chris Davis (BAL) has a nice power upside with the benefit of Yankee Stadium’s short porch. Tanaka isn’t the best matchup for LH power, which makes Davis’ elevated tag better in tournaments. Prince Fielder‘s (TEX) low price point makes him a secondary value despite a poor scoring environment and a below average matchup with Taijuan Walker.
Logan Forsythe (TB) – It’s a bit unusual to see Forsythe in this space, but he’s been exceptional against LHP all season (.420 wOBA, .321 ISO) and is now up to a .369 wOBA and .211 ISO against lefties since 2012. Matt Boyd has struggled at the big league level (.422 wOBA, 34.8 percent hard hit rate, and 2.36 HR/9 to RHBs) and the Tigers bullpen behind him is among the worst in the league. Forsythe hits cleanup and the Rays have a solid implied run total of 4.7 runs. He’s priced fairly around the industry and value plays will take precedent on most lineups, but he’s the second baseman we’d most like to spend on.
Neil Walker (PIT) – We’re hopeful Walker gets another crack at the second spot in the Pirates lineup. Raisel Iglesias has been utterly dominant against RHBs (.253 wOBA and 36.3 K Rate) but he’s been susceptible to LHBs (.335 wOBA and 16.7 K Rate). Walker is a very good hitter against RHP (.352 wOBA, .195 ISO since 2012) and he’s getting a big park shift with additional upside if the game gets into the bullpen (Cincinnati has only one LH reliever on their roster). With his price heavily discounted, he’s one of the most skilled batters you can get exposure to at this thin position.
Additional second base notes: The rest of the value plays are site specific as we’re really targeting a punt price point at second base in cash games. Joe Panik (SF) is really cheap on FanDuel ($2,400) and should return to the starting lineup against RHP Chase Anderson. Darnell Sweeney (PHI) is very cheap on DraftKings ($2,900) and has hit fifth of late against RHP. Ryan Weber is drawing the start for the Braves and he was primarily a reliever in the minor leagues. The Braves bullpen is the worst in baseball right now and Sweeney should get a couple plate appearances against that weak bullpen. On sites where he has 2B eligibility, he’s a very strong value.
Troy Tulowitzki (TOR) – Since the Blue Jays moved Ben Revere to the leadoff spot, they haven’t faced a LHP. I’m interested to see if they revert to using Tulowitzki in the leadoff spot against a LHP. If so, Tulowitzki would get a significant bump in value with an additional expected plate appearance. Tulowitzki is an elite hitter against LHP (.417 wOBA, .247 ISO since 2012) and the Blue Jays implied run total is trending towards 5.5 runs, which is almost a full run higher than the next best offenses. Tulowitzki is a staple of our cash game lineups and the easiest Blue Jay player to get exposure to.
Shortstop notes: Jean Segura (MIL) and Asdrubal Cabrera (TB) are the secondary “value” targets at the position, but there price points are creeping towards Tulowitzki. I’d want a wide separation in price tag if I was going to invest in another shortstop this evening. They both get prime lineup spots against LHP and are facing some of the weaker starters on the mound.
Josh Donaldson (TOR) – He’s ridiculous against LHP (.476 wOBA, .386 ISO this season) and he’s hitting second for the team with the highest implied run total. He’s so expensive that he’s almost solely restricted to tournament usage. His price point has come down a bit on DraftKings, but you’d need to eschew Kershaw or use a very cheap second starter in order to afford Donaldson.
Next in line: Evan Longoria (TB) – He’s historically a very good hitter against LHP and facing a very weak lefty. He’s priced fairly around the industry but the emphasis on a stars and scrubs approach makes him a bit more difficult to fit than on your typical day.
Pablo Sandoval (BOS) – You could include Brock Holt (BOS) and Travis Shaw (BOS) in this section as well but Sandoval is historically the best hitter against RHP (.344 wOBA, .164 ISO since 2012) and gets the best lineup spot (second) when in the lineup. He’s also the cheapest of the group. Third base lacks much depth in the value plays section and if you want exposure to Kershaw, value at the position is a necessity. Sandoval gives you the best combination of upside and price tag. He’s ranked inside our Top 50 hitters but priced as a punt play on most sites.
Additional third base notes: There are plenty of strong tournament plays at the position. Manny Machado (BAL) is reasonably priced and the matchup against Masahiro Tanaka should keep his ownership down. Alex Rodriguez (NYY) makes sense as a part of Yankees tournament stacks. His price is also pretty reasonable around the industry but he ranks behind Donaldson and Longoria at our third base rankings. Chase Headley (NYY), Jake Lamb (ARZ), and Pedro Alvarez (PIT) are all cheaper tournament options with favorable matchups in strong offensive parks.
Jose Bautista (TOR) – By now, you’ve probably gotten the hint on the Jays. They have four elite bats against LHP and are in a great park for RH pull power. All four (along with Ortiz) rank inside our Top Five hitters overall. Bautista’s price point makes him a more likely staple of tournament lineups as opposed to cash games.
Ryan Braun (MIL) – Braun is an exceptional tournament pivot from Bautista. He’s historically crushed LHP (.401 wOBA, .253 ISO) in a similar way to Bautista and is also facing a weak LHP. Adam Conley has allowed a .333 wOBA and 1.16 HR/9 to RHBs in his brief major league experience. The Brewers lineup as a whole is stronger against LHP and they should go under-owned due to a lower implied team total (3.9 runs) and a tougher hitting environment. Braun ranks inside our Top 10 hitters overall and is our second ranked outfield option.
Jacoby Ellsbury/Brett Gardner (NYY) – Both Yankees outfielders are underpriced relative to their historical production against RHP. They’re both good, but not great, hitters against RHP. Gardner owns a .336 wOBA and .156 ISO while Ellsbury maintains a .331 wOBA and .138 ISO against RHP since 2012. They make up for their average bats with speed, a great offensive environment, and a strong supporting cast. The Yankees have an implied run total of 4.8 runs (second highest of the day) as Kevin Gausman has allowed a 30.5 percent hard hit rate to LHBs. Ellsbury and Gardner each rank within our Top 25 hitters.
Brandon Guyer/Mikie Mahtook (TB) – The Rays outfield options provide the kind of salary relief necessary to afford high end pitching and provide exposure to an offense with the third highest implied run total of the evening (4.7 runs). Matt Boyd has struggled mightily with RHBs and the bullpen behind him is atrocious. Guyer (.355 wOBA, .142 ISO since 2012) has historically performed well against LHP and Mikie Mahtook has posted a .417 wOBA and .344 ISO in a very small sample (37 plate appearances) this season. They’re both hovering around the minimum price points and make for strong salary relief options.
Scott Van Slyke (LAD) – Van Slyke is a good hitter against LHP (.386 wOBA, .242 ISO) and he’s exceptionally cheap around the industry. The addition of the DH in this game reduces some late game pinch hit risk and Andrew Heaney has allowed a ridiculous 35.2 percent hard hit rate to RHBs. Van Slyke ranks between our Top 25-45 hitters depending on the model (higher in our slugging models, a bit lower in our on base models). For a minimum price tag, he’s a very strong value play.
Additional outfield notes: Secondary value targets in the outfield include: Angel Pagan (SF), David Peralta (ARZ), Ender Inciarte (ARZ), Khris Davis (MIL), Brandon Moss (STL), and Alex Gordon (KC). They all rank between our Top 25-50 hitters and come with varying price points around the industry. Davis and Moss have the most power upside in their respective matchups but are also the most volatile. Gordon, Peralta, and Inciarte are the most complete offensive players, while Pagan has the softest price point.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
2) Cole Hamels (TEX)
3) Francisco Liriano (PIT)
4) Matt Harvey (NYM)
5) Carlos Carrasco (CLE)
6) Sonny Gray (OAK)
7) Michael Wacha (STL)
8) Raisel Iglesias (CIN)
9) Jason Hammel (CHC)
10) Scott Kazmir (HOU)
11) Taylor Jungmann (MIL)
12) Carlos Rodon (CHW) – weather risk
13) Jonathan Gray (COL)
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) – It’s Kershaw day and the price keeps rising around the industry. He’s up to $15,700 on DraftKings (30.4 percent of the cap) and $13,700 on FanDuel (39 percent of the cap). With FanDuel only requiring one pitcher slot, the gap in pricing is actually insignificant. Kershaw travels to the American League and will have to face a DH but he gets an Angels’ offense that ranks 25th in wRC+ against LHP. They profile a bit better as David Freese, Chris Iannetta, and Albert Pujols have all underperformed projections this season against LHP. There are some strong secondary options, but none bring the safety and security of Kershaw’s production. There are enough value plays available that you can play Kershaw in cash games without compromising your offense completely. In general, I think this is the right approach. In tournaments, I think the expected ownership levels on one starting pitcher sites make him worthy of a fade.
Next in line:
Cole Hamels (TEX) – Hamels gets to pitch in a favorable ballpark but the matchup with the Mariners isn’t particularly great. Nelson Cruz and Franklin Gutierrez have each posted wOBAs above .445 this season and Kyle Seager (.358) has made great strides as well. If Cruz remains out, the matchup improves considerably. For now, it’s a slightly below average matchup in a plus pitching environment. The price point is reasonable and he’s got an implied run total against of just 3.3 runs. He leads our deep second tier of starters but I’m more likely to use him as a Kershaw alternative only if Cruz is out.
Francisco Liriano (PIT) – Liriano’s price point really stands out on DraftKings ($8,900). The park shift is a big negative for Liriano and the Reds rank 13th in wRC+, but it’s a softer matchup than the in season statistics suggest. Todd Frazier has been a shell of himself all second half and the Reds traded away Marlon Byrd. When you remove those two from consideration, the Reds don’t have a hitter outside of Votto that projects for a wOBA against LHP above .325. The tough park and a below average umpire behind home plate are concerns but the price tag makes him a strong target on multiple starting pitcher sites.
Carlos Rodon (CHW) – Rodon is a really volatile option as his command issues can occasionally lead to short ineffective outings. We’re hopeful the Indians lineup that bested Chris Sale on Monday is utilized again after its success. The lineup projects for a 96 wRC+ and 21.3 K Rate against LHP which would rank 18-20th in wrC+ against LHP and just outside the Top 10 for K Rate. It’s not an elite matchup, but it’s an above average one and Rodon’s price tag encourages consideration if utilizing Kershaw on multiple starting pitcher sites.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Raisel Iglesias (CIN) has immense skills and dominates RHBs. The Pirates are very right handed but an above average offense on the whole. Iglesias isn’t fully priced for his skill set but there is also enough volatility that I’d consider him a better tournament play than cash game option. He’s cash game viable, but I’m often finding him close in price to Liriano who has a better defense, bullpen, and matchup. Carlos Carrasco (CLE) is one of my favorite tournament plays. He’ll come with essentially no ownership given Kershaw and Hamels price points and he has as much upside as Kershaw on his best nights. Taylor Jungmann (MIL) keeps outperforming our expectations and the price keeps rising. We have a hard time paying his current tag in cash games, but he’s a strong tournament option given the lack of offensive punch for the Marlins. Jonathan Gray (COL) and Colin Rea (SD) have just enough of a skill set that you can talk yourself into the low total and great pitching environment on multiple starting pitcher sites. They allow you to get exposure to the elite offenses while still maintaining Kershaw. It will represent one of the more popular approaches in tournaments. In cash games, I’m leaning against it but if you view similar downside in Liriano-Rodon, I could understand taking that approach and trying to make up for it with bats.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have suggestions.
Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:
1) Toronto Blue Jays
2) Boston Red Sox
3) Tampa Bay Rays
The Blue Jays are on a different level than the other offenses in play this evening but they’re also priced that way. We’d like to get as much exposure as we can, but not at the cost of elite pitching.
The Red Sox and Rays have some of the cheap value plays that allow you to get exposure to high end pitching and higher upside offenses. They become a staple of cash game decisions simply because of price points. I think the Rays are a compelling full stack in tournaments due to their cheap price points.
1) New York Yankees
2) Milwaukee Brewers
3) Philadelphia Phillies
4) Detroit Tigers
The Yankees have the second highest implied run total and take a backseat to the Blue Jays in cash game priorities, but they’re the next best option from an offensive perspective for a pure stack. Pricing on them isn’t prohibitive, but will require a very cheap second starter to pair with Kershaw OR eschewing him altogether.
The Brewers are priced similarly to the Yankees but play in a weaker park. I think their matchup is a bit better and the cheaper salaries on guys like Hernan Perez and Domingo Santana (in places) make them viable full stack targets. I like the most as
The Phillies are always cheap and the Braves bullpen is horrific. The combination on a slate where a super cheap stack paired with Kershaw gives you upside is enticing.
The Tigers will go overlooked in tournaments but Rays starter Erasmo Ramirez is susceptible to the long ball, getting a negative park shift, and is backed up by a poor bullpen.
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.
BLT at NYY 7:05: Dry. Temps in the upper 80s falling into the low 80s. Air density is an 8. Wind southwest 4-8 mph which blows out to left-center. The wind is a 6.
NYM at WSH 7:05: Dry. Temps in the mid-80s falling to near 80. Air density is an 8. Wind south 8-16 mph which blows out to left-center. The wind is a 7.
ATL at PHL 7:05: Dry. Temps in the mid-80s falling into the upper 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind southwest 9-18 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 7, almost an 8.
TB at DET 7:08: Scattered thunderstorms cause a 10-20% chance of a delay. I am not worried about a ppd. Temps near 80 falling into the mid-70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind southwest 5-10 mph which blows from right to left. The wind is a 5.
TOR at BOS 7:10: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 80s falling to near 80. Air density is an 8. Wind southwest 8-16 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 7.
PIT at CIN 7:10: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 80s falling into the low to mid 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind south-southwest 3-6 lessening to nearly calm. The wind blows in from right. The wind is a 4.
MIL at MIA 7:10: The retractable roof will likely be closed.
CLE at CHW 8:10: A solid line of thunderstorms moves into the city around 5 PM eastern and then lifts northeast of the city by 6-7 PM. However, following that there is a steady shield of light to moderate rain that moves into the city around 8 PM eastern. There is a ppd threat here (40-60%) with an even higher threat for delay(s). Temps in the low to mid 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind southwest 7-14 mph which blows
from right to left. The wind is a 5.
MIN at KC 8:10: After a very wet day today, the late afternoon and evening features clearing. Very small chance (<10%) of a delay to start the game. Temps in the low 80s falling into the low to mid 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind west-northwest 5-10 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
CHC at STL 8:15: Thunderstorms. Not a complete solid line and as the evening goes on the thunderstorms should become more widely scattered. Seems to me like a situation where a delayed start to the game is certainly possible (30-40%) but a ppd does not seem likely but cannot be completely ruled out (10-20%). Temps in the low 80s falling into the upper 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind west 7-14 mph lessening to 4-8 mph which blows out to right-center. The wind is a 6.
SF at AZ 9:40: Retractable roof. With temps in the low to mid 100s, the roof will likely be closed.
LAD at LAA 10:00: Dry. Temps in the low 80s falling into the mid-70s. Air density is an 8 lessening to a 7. Wind west-southwest 12-25 mph lessening to 8-16 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 9 falling to a 7.
HOU at OAK 10:05: Dry. Temps in the mid to upper 80s falling into the mid-70s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6 (very dry air). Wind west-northwest 8-16 mph lessening to 6-12 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 7 becoming a 6.
TEX at SEA 10:10: Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the mid to upper 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.
COL at SD 10:10: Dry. Temps in the mid-80s falling to near 80. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind northwest 7-14 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.