Daily Fantasy Rundown – September 9 MLB DFS Picks and Analysis
Welcome to Wednesday’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: Scattered thunderstorms in WSH, NYY, CIN and, to a lesser extent, PHI may cause problems. The 3 games in California will all see much above average temperatures while the LAA sees a slight threat for t-storms.
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.
Slate Note: I think this is a really good slate for tournaments and a really murky slate for cash games. The lack of clarity and depth at starting pitcher makes cash games a challenge. We will likely see heavy overlap on starting pitchers and the starting pitchers in question come with elevated risks. It’s a slate that I’m going to lighten the load in cash games and focus on multi-entry tournaments a bit more.
Derek Norris (SD) – Chris Rusin has historically struggled against RHBs, allowing a .359 wOBA, 32.5 percent hard hit rate, and 1.24 HR/9. The Padres have a solid implied run total of 4.3 runs and Norris typically hits second against LHP which provides him an expected plate appearance advantage over many other catching options. He ranks inside our Top 40 overall hitters and represents one of the better values at the catcher position.
A.J. Pierzynski (ATL) – Pierzynski has been hitting cleanup of late and gets a nice matchup with David Buchanan who has allowed a .325 wOBA to LHBs since 2013. Buchanan is backed up by a pretty poor bullpen which has helped fuel the Braves 4.4 implied run total. Pierzynski doesn’t rate as well in our model as baseline projections have built in a decline for the 38 year old, but he’s posted a .342 wOBA and .143 ISO against RHP this season.
Matt Wieters (BAL) – Wieters lineup spot has moved around of late, which pushes him down our list of preferences. If he’s back in the fifth spot in the lineup, the near minimum price tag will represent an attractive value. CC Sabathia has allowed .369 wOBA, 1.62 HR/9, and a 32.6 percent hard hit rate to RHBs since 2013. Wieters has historically crushed LHP (.371 wOBA, .224 ISO since 2012). While his peripherals have been out of whack all season, he’s maintained his power against LHP (.175 ISO). In a matchup that should enhance his power, Wieters looks like one of the better punt plays around the industry.
Additional Catcher Notes: Evan Gattis (HOU) has a very affordable price point on FanDuel ($2,900). It’s a negative park shift for Gattis and the Astros but Aaron Brooks has surrendered a lot of power to RHBs (1.69 HR/9) in a small major league sample. At that price point, Gattis is a fine target. Our model likes Russell Martin (TOR) quite a bit, but we expect he’ll garner a poor lineup spot. If that changes, we’d consider him a solid value on sites the price is down (like FanDuel). Brian McCann (NYY) is likely the top play at the position as he takes on a RHP in Yankee Stadium, but a high price tag coupled with a volatile matchup (Ubaldo Jimenez) makes him a better fit for tournaments. If paying up at the position, I’d rather prioritize Buster Posey (SF) who is getting a nice park shift and faces a below average RHP.
Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) – The Blue Jays once again have the highest implied run total (5.3) on the slate and on the road all their hitters get a slight bump in expected plate appearances. Encarnacion owns a .386 wOBA and .272 ISO against RHP since 2012. Joe Kelly has earned better results of late but his peripherals aren’t substantially better. He allowed a 43.3 percent hard hit rate in July and 36.9 percent in August (first half was 32.6 percent) but made up for it a bit with fewer walks. On the season, he’s been far more vulnerable to RHBs (.363 wOBA, 16.9 K Rate, and 34.6 percent hard hit rate allowed) which isn’t a good recipe for success against the Blue Jays righty laden lineup. Encarnacion ranks as our top first base option and a Top Five hitter overall in our model.
David Ortiz (BOS) – Ortiz comes in cheaper on most sites and has a very strong matchup in that same game. Drew Hutchison has allowed a .338 wOBA and 1.35 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). He ranks one spot behind Encarnacion in our model.
Next in line: Jose Abreu (CHW), Miguel Cabrera (DET), and Freddie Freeman (ATL) all rank inside our Top 20 overall hitters. Eric Hosmer (KC) ranks a bit behind those options (Top 25). The price points are often close enough to Ortiz and Encarnacion that we prefer to just pay up, but if you find a wide gap in price feel free to attack.
Pedro Alvarez (PIT) – Alvarez is the one potential value play that really stands out on this slate, but it’s entirely dependent on lineup spot. We saw Alvarez hit as high as fifth earlier in the week against a weak RHP and we’re hoping for that kind of lineup spot again on Wednesday. Keyvius Sampson has allowed a .424 wOBA, 1.35 HR/9, and 34.8 percent hard hit rate to LHBs in his limited sample as a big leaguer. Projection systems are not high on Sampson (5.79 ZiPS rest of season projections) and Alvarez is getting a huge park shift for his primary skill-set: Power. Alvarez owns a .343 wOBA and .238 ISO against RHP since 2012. He’s a Top 25 hitter in our model before adjusting for lineup positioning.
Additional first base notes: The way the slate shapes up, it’s pretty easy to pay up at first base. You don’t need to spend all the way up at starting pitcher and if you go really cheap at pitching, you can practically afford anyone you want. It’s likely there won’t be a clear cut value as Alvarez will likely hit down in the order, so we recommend spending. Tournament options at the position correlate with recommended team stacks. We think Ryan Howard (PHI), Lucas Duda (NYM), and Chris Davis (BAL) are all parts of interesting team stacks.
Dee Gordon (MIA) – Gordon is a player you want to target against weak RHPs in combination with catchers that struggle controlling the running game. Ariel Pena has had command issues throughout the minor leagues and ZiPS projection system expects a hefty walk rate at the big league level (5.66 BB/9). Jonathan Lucroy has a career -7 rSB score and has surrendered 70 stolen bases in 81 games behind the plate. Gordon’s price point varies around the industry but on sites like FanDuel ($3,400) where it’s hovering just above the average hitter price point, he’s a solid target.
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. Kyle Lobstein has struggled at the big league level (.344 wOBA, 9.5 percent K Rate, and eight percent BB Rate 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 five runs. He’s generally discounted below Gordon which makes him a strong target around the industry.
Neil Walker (PIT) – Walker would rank as our top second base option if he garners a favorable lineup spot. Unfortunately, we can’t count on this so we’ll just include him in the value plays section as an option to target if you need some salary relief. Walker is a very good hitter against RHP (.351 wOBA, .195 ISO since 2012) and he’s generated those power numbers in a park that is very tough on power. He’s playing in Cincinnati which boosts power significantly above the league average and facing Keyvius Sampson who has allowed a .424 wOBA and 1.35 HR/9 to LHBs as a big leaguer. The only thing holding Walker back in this matchup is a poor batting spot down in the order. Without adjusting for lineup spots, he ranks inside our Top 20 hitters overall and as our top second baseman.
Steve Pearce (BAL) – Pearce is also vulnerable to bad lineup spots and also ranks well in our model. Since 2012 against LHP, he’s compiled a .368 wOBA and .230 ISO in 379 plate appearances. We’ve touched on CC Sabathia‘s struggles against RHBs, particularly with power, and Pearce really fits the mold of a player that could give Sabathia problems. The key for Pearce will ultimately be where he lands in the lineup. Like Walker, if he gets a coveted spot inside the Top Five, he’s a tremendous value play.
Additional second base notes: Second base is surprisingly loaded on Wednesday. Jason Kipnis (CLE) and Dustin Pedroia (BOS) are strong secondary targets, probably best used in tournaments. Odubel Herrera (PHI) is a viable option as part of a Phillies stack or mini-stack, given Teheran’s historical struggles with LHBs. Joe Panik (SF) still has that ridiculously cheap price tag on FanDuel ($2,400) earning him cash game consideration. Our priorities are Walker and Pearce if they earn strong lineup spots and then adjusting up towards Forsythe or Gordon if they do not.
Loyal readers probably realize our model’s affection for Troy Tulowitzki‘s (TOR) skill set relative to the rest of the position. His skills have dropped off this season and left room for others to compete but the incredible offensive environments he plays in (Colorado and now Toronto) keep him in favorable spots. The price point is down relative to the other top option in consideration Carlos Correa (HOU) and projection systems still like Tulowitzki a bit more moving forward. ZiPS projects Correa for a .320 wOBA rest of season and Tulowitzki for a .339 wOBA rest of season. In a better offensive environment, on the team with the highest implied run total, Tulowitzki remains our favored target.
Shortstop notes: Jung Ho Kang (PIT) is the best secondary target after Tulowitzki. He gets a favorable park shift and a good matchup against Keyvius Sampson who our model believes is one of the most vulnerable pitchers on the slate. The price is close enough to Tulowitzki that our model strongly prefers Tulowitzki. Asdrubal Cabrera (TB) is another tournament option as part of a Rays’ offense that we like, but is harder to stack because of how frequently they pinch hit. Cabrera is one of the few options that doesn’t have to worry about it. Xander Bogaerts (BOS) and Brandon Crawford (SF) are additional tournament options due to a favorable lineup and power upside, respectively.
Josh Donaldson (TOR) – It’s been this way for almost a month. He’s pricey but the top rated third baseman in our model. The matchup with Joe Kelly isn’t bad. We prefer to pay full price with Donaldson against LHP but Kelly’s struggles against righties earn him strong consideration.
Evan Longoria (TOR) – Longoria owns a .393 wOBA and .240 ISO against LHP since 2012. He’s a very effective hitter against LHP and Tigers’ lefty Kyle Lobstein is not a particularly good left handed starter. The Rays have the second highest implied run total (five) on the slate and Longoria ranks inside our Top 20 hitters overall with an affordable price point industry-wide.
Aramis Ramirez (PIT) – Ramirez’s skills have dipped this season but he’s still hit for power against RHP (.176 ISO) and he gets the benefit of one of the great park environments for power. Keyvius Sampson hasn’t been great against RHBs (.333 wOBA, 35.6 percent hard hit rate, and 39 percent fly ball rate) and Ramirez is typically given a great lineup spot. We’d prefer Ramirez didn’t have that great lineup spot and it went to Walker or Alvarez, but if he’s in there he’s a viable secondary target at third base.
Additional third base notes: Manny Machado (BAL) has that great matchup with Sabathia we’ve referenced before but he hasn’t historically hit LHP particularly well. The skills are there but the price point above Longoria makes him a better tournament play. Adrian Beltre (TEX) ranks a bit further down in our model (Top 40) after Ramirez and Longoria. He’s in a tough park environment but has a favorable matchup with Vidal Nuno. He’s a nice tournament target as well. Mike Moustakas (KC) is also part of a Royals lineup that has a strong implied run total and he gets a strong lineup spot. His skill set pushes him down in our model, but he’s a nice part of a Royals stack or mini-stack.
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) – McCutchen is our top ranked hitter overall. Our model simply does not think much of Keyvius Sampson and the park shift for McCutchen is huge. Right handed power goes to die in Pittsburgh while it’s inflated approximately 14 percent above the league average in Cincinnati. Much is made of McCutchen’s crazy dominance against LHP but he’s darn good against RHP too (.389 wOBA, .205 ISO since 2012). He’s more affordable than most of the other top end outfield options which only adds to his appeal.
Jose Bautista (TOR) – Bautista ranks just behind McCutchen in our model. The Jays have a higher implied run total but the park shift for them isn’t as severe as McCutchen, which pushes McCutchen ahead in our model. Bautista is a great hitter against RHP (.384 wOBA, .259 ISO) and he ranks inside our Top Five overall hitters.
Mike Trout (LAA) – Trout is priced down relative to where we’d expect around the industry and he ranks as our third best OF option. Mat Latos isn’t a particularly elite matchup but Trout’s skills against RHP trump the matchup and Latos’ inability to work deep into games gives Trout a high probability of bullpen plate appearances. He’s a fine target in cash games as well.
Gregory Polanco/Starling Marte (PIT) – Polanco is the easiest entry point into Pirates exposure across the industry. His price point is down and as the leadoff hitter you’re getting access to the most plate appearances against Sampson (likely three). The Reds all righty bullpen (with the exception of closer Aroldis Chapman) leaves Polanco with a high probability of all his plate appearances coming against RHP. This is important for a player with such wide splits (.323 wOBA vs. RHP, .232 wOBA vs. LHP). Marte’s price point varies a bit more but his profile really benefits from the park shift. Marte has average power that should play up in Great American Ballpark. Polanco and Marte both rank inside our Top 25 overall hitters.
Alex Gordon (KC) – Gordon’s DFS value got a nice bump with his move up the batting order. It’s a meaningful difference going from sixth to second in both expected plate appearances and quality of plate appearances. He’ll face Mike Pelfrey, a below average RHP, and Gordon owns a solid .349 wOBA and .162 ISO since 2012 against RHP. With the Royals implied run total approaching five runs, Gordon is the easiest way to get exposure. Gordon cracks our Top 25 overall hitters in our model.
Additional outfield notes: There are so many different ways to construct rosters with pitching in all different pricing buckets. In general, we think a combination of those value plays and a top outfielder will set most of your lineups but if you’re in need of secondary values, there are quite a few options. On the pure punt side: Mikie Mahtook (TB) and Brandon Guyer (TB) earn favorable lineup spots with the platoon advantage. Mahtook didn’t get pinch hit for last night, so we’ve propped him ahead of Brandon Guyer (TB). In the mid-tier values, Jacoby Ellsbury (NYY), Carlos Gomez (HOU), and Mark Trumbo (SEA) all seem underpriced relative to their skill sets.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Jacob deGrom (NYM)
2) Stephen Strasburg (WAS)
3) James Shields (SD)
4) Collin McHugh (HOU)
5) Kris Medlen (KC)
6) Garrett Richards (LAA)
7) Julio Teheran (ATL)
8) Josh Tomlin (CLE)
Jacob deGrom (NYM) – deGrom rates as our top starting pitcher, but it’s not by a wide margin. The Nationals lineup projects better than their in season performance to date (16th in wRC+ against RHP). They are very right handed, which keeps deGrom intriguing even on the road. deGrom has held RHBs to a .240 wOBA while striking out 26.8 percent of RHBs as a big leaguer. He’ll likely face seven RHBs in the lineup. The challenge with deGrom is the elevated price tag has a big impact on roster construction. On multiple starting pitcher sites, the lack of depth at the position makes deGrom a more likely candidate for cash game rosters, but on single starter sites, it’s easier to gravitate towards a similar projection at a much softer price point in James Shields.
Next in line:
Stephen Strasburg (WAS) – Strasburg ranks second in our model but sticking a solo projection on Strasburg and calling it a day is a dangerous methodology. He’s a highly volatile asset and last time out had a back issue. Strasburg has an extensive injury history and I simply don’t trust him against a deep Mets offense that is swinging the bat exceptionally well.
James Shields (SD) – The Rockies rank 21st in wRC+ against RHP and have the lowest implied run total (3.3 runs) on the slate. Shields always rates well in our model due to his strikeouts (25.1 percent) and great home environment but issues with home runs (1.43 HR/9) have inflated his ERA (3.83) and kept his price down all season. In July and August his hard hit rates came back down into the 27-28 percent range after spending most of the season above 30 percent. This provides a little bit of hope that the issues with homers will regress closer to his career average (17.7 percent HR/FB Rate this season, career 11.7 percent). There is risk with Shields given how homer prone he is and he experienced his lowest velocity of the season last start (~90 mph on fastball). I think this risk makes him a very strong fade in tournaments.
Kris Medlen (KC) – Medlen faces a Twins offense that ranks 27th in wRC+ against RHP and have an above average strikeout rate (21.5 percent). Medlen has an above average K Rate (22.1 percent), GB Rate (51.7 percent) and BB Rate (6.3 percent) but the peripherals are boosted by pitching out of the bullpen. As a starter, he’s struggled (6.88 ERA) but the peripherals have been OK (3.58 xFIP). The Royals have an elite defense and bullpen behind him and Medlen is a strong favorite (-170). His upside isn’t immense but on a day with few elite starting pitchers, the opportunity cost isn’t significant. His price is very cheap relative to his expected production, which makes him one of the stronger value plays on the slate. I think he’s an acceptable cash game target on multiple SP sites and a strong tournament option on single SP sites.
Additional starting pitcher notes: Collin McHugh (HOU) is one of the “safer” starters on this slate but his price point is annoyingly high around the industry. He gets a big park shift in his favor and faces an Athletics offense that ranks just 19th in wRC+. He’s a target but a lower expected K Rate pushes him slightly down our rankings. I think he’s safer than Shields where priced similarly, but doesn’t grade out as well because of expected strikeouts. Julio Teheran (ATL) and Garrett Richards (LAA) are the secondary targets. The implied run totals for both aren’t great (4.1 and 3.9) and both pitchers have seen their K Rates tail off this season. I trust Richards’ skill set a bit more and the Dodgers can’t get quite as left handed as the Phillies (Teheran has wide splits). Josh Tomlin (CLE) has been exceptional in a small sample this season but there isn’t a long history of this success and you’re asked to pay full price on all sites. In a tough pitching environment, I think he’s only viable in tournaments where you’re hoping for very low ownership.
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) Pittsburgh Pirates
2) Toronto Blue Jays
3) Tampa Bay Rays
The Pirates have a solid 4.8 implied run total and more favorable price points around the industry than the Blue Jays, Royals, or Red Sox who all have similar implied run totals. We pretty much have a Pirate listed at every position as a value play or a top option. They are our favorite target in cash games.
The Blue Jays price points make them accessible in mini-stack or stack form only if you go cheap at pitching. As a result, they’re less of a universal recommendation. They do have the highest implied run total and we suggest getting exposure where you can, but the high price points make it difficult to use them in bulk.
The Rays are the value piece to lineup construction. They have a great implied run total (five) and a great matchup on the whole, but they pinch hit so frequently that it’s difficult to stack them and not lose plate appearances. They make sense when stacking with elite starters but on a night without many elite arms, they’re better to just get some exposure via mini-stacks or solo fillers.
1) Kansas City Royals
2) New York Mets
3) Baltimore Orioles
4) San Francisco Giants
5) Houston Astros
Price points are the only thing leaving the Royals out of the top section. They have the third highest implied run total on the slate and face a very weak starter backed up by a poor bullpen.
The Mets offense has been incredible of late and now that they’re healthy, they’re very deep. Add in Strasburg leaving last start with a back issue and the Nationals bullpen struggles of late and I think you could get them at a low ownership rate. Their price points aren’t great but with a distinct lack of top tier pitching you can fit them in.
The Orioles are a power driven offense facing a LHP that has really struggled keeping the ball in the park. The Yankees bullpen is well rested after Betances and Miller got the day off yesterday, but those two wouldn’t get used if the Yankees play from behind.
The Giants are a good offense against RHP that often comes with low ownership. They’re not appreciated for how good they are because of the home park they play in. With a big park shift in their favor against a rookie Diamondbacks RHP, they’re a viable tournament target.
The Astros have huge power upside and with George Springer back they have added depth and speed. The park shift and lower total should keep their ownership down but the Athletics bullpen is very poor and Aaron Brooks doesn’t project well as a starter (both ZiPS and Steamer have him for a 4.35 FIP or higher).
I think the Braves and Phillies are also viable stack options simply due to the low quality of the respective bullpens. The salary relief isn’t as valuable without top tier starters in play, so they lose some value on the whole when it’s easier to stack other elite offenses. The Rockies are an intriguing leverage stack. Shields’ ownership should be very high. He’s homer prone and his last time out came with his lowest velocity of the season. If you’re rolling Shields in cash games, I think stacking against him with one tournament entry makes some sense.
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.
NYM at WSH 7:00: Scattered thunderstorms with a 20-25% coverage across the mid-Atlantic region. Though I think a ppd is highly unlikely, I do not think you can completely rule it out if one of these thunderstorms sets up shop over the stadium and pours on them (~10% or less chance of that as the thunderstorms should be moving). A delay(s) is more likely, 30% chance of a single delay while 10-20% chance of multiple delays. Temps in the mid-80s falling to near 80. Air density is an 8, almost a 9. Wind south-southwest 7-14 mph lessening to 4-8 mph which blows out to left-center. The wind is a 6.
BLT at NYY 7:05: I think about the same forecast as the WSH game. Scattered thunderstorms with a 20-25% coverage across the region. Though I think a ppd is highly unlikely, I do not think you can completely rule it out if one of these thunderstorms sets up shop over the stadium and pours on them (~10% or less chance of that as the thunderstorms should be moving). A delay(s) is more likely, 30% chance of a single delay while 10-20% chance of multiple delays. Temps in the low 80s falling into the upper 70s. Air density is an 8. Wind southwest 3-6 mph which blows out to left-center. The wind is a 6.
ATL at PHL7:05: It looks like PHL will see slightly less thunderstorm activity than either the NYY or WSH games, so let’s say that widely scattered thunderstorms will cause <10% chance of a ppd while there is a 10 to maybe 20% chance of a delay with very little chance of multiple delays. Temps near 80. Air density is an 8. Wind south-southwest 6-12 mph which blows out to left. The wind is a 6.
TB at DET 7:08: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 70s falling into the mid to upper 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind north-northeast 5-10 mph lessening to 3-6 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.
TOR at BOS 7:10: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 80s falling into the upper 70s. Air density is an 8, almost a 9. Wind south-southwest 10-20 mph lessening to 8-16 mph which blows out to left-center. The wind is an 8 becoming a 7.
PIT at CIN 7:10: Showers and some thunder likely. As of right now, it looks like they have a brief, dry window to try and start the game but rain should move in as the game goes on. The rain does not look especially heavy so I think the ppd threat is low (10 to maybe 20%) but it exists. Delay(s) threat is about 40%. Temps in the low 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 7. Wind northeast at very light speeds. The wind is a 5.
MIL at MIA 7:10: The retractable roof will likely be closed.
CLE at CHW 8:10: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind northeast 6-12 mph lessening to 3-6 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.
MIN at KC 8:10: Dry. Temps near 80 falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 7 becoming a 6. Wind east 5-10 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.
COL at SD 9:10: Dry. Hot. Temps near 90 falling into the low 80s. Air density is an 8. Wind northwest 7-14 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 4.
SF at AZ 9:40: With temps in the low 100s, the retractable roof will likely be closed.
LAD at LAA 10:00: A slight chance (10 to maybe 20%) chance of a delay due to a thunderstorm. Temps in the low to mid 80s falling into the upper 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. Wind west-southwest 9-18 mph lessening to 6-12 mph which blows out to right. The wind is an 8 becoming a 6.
HOU at OAK 10:05: Dry. Unusually warm. Temps in the mid to upper 80s falling into the mid to upper 70s. Air density is an 8 becoming a 7. 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. Retractable roof. Dry. Temps in the low to mid 70s falling into the upper 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind northwest 5-10 mph which blows from left to right. The wind is a 5.