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4/29 MLB DFS: Get in the Zona on Wednesday

4/29 MLB DFS: Get in the Zona on Wednesday
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Daily Fantasy Rundown – Target Diamondbacks in DFS – April 29th, 2015

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: No major concerns. 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.


Value Plays:

Yasmani Grandal (LAD) – Grandal is an excellent option tonight as he gives you a nice combination of salary cap relief, good lineup spot and strong matchup at a scarce position. Grandal has been hitting fifth for a Dodgers team that is performing very well against RHP, despite an injury to Yasiel Puig. The young catcher has been a bit disappointing individually (.196/.317/.294). He strikes out a lot (22 percent of the time for his career) despite having solid overall plate discipline (doesn’t swing and miss a ton or chase pitches, high walk rate). Perhaps Grandal isn’t aggressive enough, leading to deep counts resulting in a walk or strikeout. That along with his high GB rate early on is admittedly not very conducive to DFS scoring. However, the matchup against Ryan Vogelsong is. Vogelsong is a fly ball oriented pitcher that doesn’t miss many bats and has allowed a .334 wOBA, 25 LD rate and 1.04 HR/9 to LHBs since 2012. This is a good spot for Grandal to start getting on track and the cost (both opportunity and actual) is rather low.

Yadier Molina (STL) – I prefer Molina’s skill set to Grandal’s but a lower lineup spot (sixth or seventh) keeps the two similarly ranked. Molina makes hard contact (LD rates of 22.9/24.3/24.8 previous three seasons) and makes contact often (9.3 career K percentage), which leads to a high BA and him taking advantage of RBI opportunities. His platoon split isn’t extreme, keeping him in play against a same handed pitcher in Aaron Harang, who is projected by both ZiPS and Steamer to have a ROS ERA around 4.30. Pay no attention to Harang’s strong start as it’s currently being aided by all three major luck factors: .203 BABIP, 3.1 HR/FB rate and 86.7 LOB%.

Tournament Play:

Mike Zunino (SEA) – From an individual matchup standpoint, I actually prefer Zunino to Grandal/Molina at an equal or lower cost around the industry. The issue of course is a number nine lineup spot, as it’s been statistically proven that consistently sticking to the top five or six hitters in cash games will improve your win rate. For tournaments, though, we’re more focused on the upside he offers in the plate appearances he does get tonight than we are on the long term value of the number of plate appearances he’s expected to get. Zunino gets a massive park shift in his favor playing in Texas. He’ll take on Wandy Rodriguez, who, of the pitchers in action tonight, has the second worst wOBA split (.317) and worst HR/9 split (1.23) against RHBs. Both Steamer and ZiPS project an ERA in the 4s for Rodriguez with an above average HR/9 allowed. The power is the most important takeaway here as that’s Zunino’s main skill. He has a career .175 ISO and posted a .205 mark last season. The key for Zunino is he puts the ball in the air (just a 33.9 GB rate last season and this year LD rate is impressively at 25.8 percent while GB rate down to 29), meaning that Rodriguez’s HR issues and the park shift are more meaningful to Zunino than most hitters. It’s a high risk, high reward play. On the risk side, apart from the lineup spot, is Zunino’s 31.9 career K percentage and awful all-around plate discipline.

Additional catcher notes: Additional tournament options include Wilson Ramos (WAS) and whoever catches for the Rockies (likely Nick Hundley).

First Base

Top Play:

Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) – You might be unable to fit Goldschmidt into cash games, but he rates as our top first baseman both from a total perspective and a value perspective. The Diamondbacks are the highest expected scoring team this evening as they are -113 favorites in a game with a total of 9. None of the other games on the night slate have a total exceeding 7.5. Both projections systems have opposing pitcher Jordan Lyles pegged for a 4.50-plus ROS ERA. Lyles does a good job of keeping the ball on the ground, but that’s about it. He has an elevated HR/FB rate for his career (12.2 percent), which undoes a lot of the good the GB rate does. Meanwhile he currently sports a poor 1.27 K/BB ratio, and that mark has been under 2.00 in each of the past two seasons. Goldschmidt looks as good as ever at the plate. He’s smoking the ball (27.8 LD rate), and it needs to be noted the extra line drives are coming completely from his ground balls (37 percent, at 44-45 percent past two seasons). That bodes well for his power as does a simultaneous growing of his BB rate and shrinking of his K rate. It’s early and those numbers likely regress a little bit but with Goldschmidt you’re taking a hitter in his prime (27 years old) with really encouraging current peripherals.

Value Plays:

Lucas Duda (NYM) – Duda, similar to Goldschmidt, has some encouraging peripheral statistics right now. He’s ripping the cover off the ball (39.7 LD rate), and the good news is those are mostly coming at the expense of ground balls. The LD rate is sure to regress, but hopefully when that happens those become fly balls, which would enhance Duda’s power. Duda’s EYE is currently at a career best .65. The production shouldn’t be too much of a surprise as the Mets are mostly eliminating Duda’s at bats against LHP, and ZiPS has Duda projected for a .381 wOBA and .231 ISO against RHP. Aside from how good Duda has been, I won’t hide the fact that I’ve adopted Drew Dinkmeyer’s disdain for Mat Latos. He suffered a velocity drop last season, which led to the opposition striking out less and hitting more line drives and fly balls. This was mostly masked by good fortune (.269 BABIP, 7.3 HR/FB rate). Well this season Latos has the same velocity and same contact problems (LD/GB/FB rate distribution of 30.8/28.8/40.4) but hasn’t received the same good fortune. Keep picking on him until he figures it out.

Matt Adams (STL) – Adams currently has a disappointing .133 ISO (just .169 last year as well), but he made some improvements last season that indicate he could set a career high in HRs this year. In 2014, Adams set career highs in both LD rate (24.3 percent) and FB rate (41.2 percent) but a low 8.7 HR/FB masked his growth in those areas. The GB/FB ratio has regressed a bit this year (1.12) but is still a touch better than his first two seasons (1.23, 1.13). If Adams can find a balance between the loft he generated last year and the raw power he showed in 2013, he’ll approach 25 HRs. Today he has a good matchup with the platoon edge against Aaron Harang, who has a .331 wOBA allowed to LHBs since 2012 and a low GB rate (34.2 percent). I prefer Duda where the two are priced similarly, but Adams is a fine source of salary cap relief on FanDuel for just $2,700.

Additional first base notes: Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) is a high end tournament option but his hot start has led to him being overpriced in general. The best alternative value plays are Freddie Freeman (ATL) and Albert Pujols (LAA). Other tournament options are Ryan Zimmerman (WAS) (Alex Wood has a low swinging strike rate and has struggled to miss bats) and Ike Davis (OAK) (always carries decent HR upside and cheapest viable first baseman on DraftKings).

Second Base

Top Play: Dee Gordon (MIA) (if you have the cap room, a fine cash game play given ever present stolen base upside and holding the platoon edge on Colon)

Value Play:

Rickie Weeks (SEA) – Here’s what Drew had to say about Weeks yesterday: “Weeks looks like “the play” at a thin second base position. He’s generally hit first or second against LHP this year and in those starts he’s averaged 4.4 plate appearances per game which eases some of the concerns over the Rangers heavily right handed bullpen causing a platoon switch late.” It was frustrating to see Weeks hit sixth instead of first or second but he rewarded those that stuck with him with a homer. I think the rationale is the same today, and on a thin slate at a scarce position a sixth lineup spot won’t scare us away (although we’d obviously rather see him hit first or second). On FanDuel Weeks is the bare minimum and he’s the cheapest viable second base option for cash games on DraftKings. He carries upside against Wandy Rodriguez in Texas while simultaneously giving you the cap relief to make the necessary spends on pitching on a shorter slate.

Additional second base notes: If upgrading from Weeks, the cash game options I prefer most are either Howie Kendrick (LAD) or Daniel Murphy (NYM) (down with Mat Latos!). If Aaron Hill (ARI) were to get a top five or six lineup spot, he’d be cash game viable as the Diamondbacks have the highest team total on the night. Alex Guerrero (LAD) looks like the real deal for the Dodgers. He clearly won’t keep up this pace but he’s blasted five HRs in just 27 PAs with good plate discipline. If he gets a top six lineup spot, he’s well worth utilizing (despite inevitable HR/FB rate regression) as the price tag hasn’t budged too much, especially on DraftKings where he also holds shortstop eligibility. Robinson Cano (SEA) is a nice contrarian option (more on that in the tournament notes section below).


Top Play:

Troy Tulowitzki (COL) – Tulowitzki is clearly the best offensive shortstop in action tonight (oh okay, every night) and the gap between him and the rest of the shortstops is widened by the matchup. He’s outside of Coors but still in a good hitting environment in Chase Field and faces Josh Collmenter. Perhaps Collmenter isn’t quite as bad as my perception of him, but let’s look at the facts. He’s averaging 84.4 mph on his fastball (ew), yielding hard contact (25 LD rate) and doesn’t miss bats (9.8 K percentage, 6.6 swinging strike rate). Sure, Tulo could hit some ground balls right at people but there’s massive upside here. Not only does Tulowitzki rate as the highest shortstop in our model overall, but he rates as the best per dollar value as well. The alternative options aren’t strong and I’d utilize him on FanDuel where the soft pricing doesn’t prevent you from rostering Felix Hernandez alongside Tulowitzki.

Additional shortstop notes: The fact of the matter is there isn’t a strong alternative value play at the shortstop position. Chris Owings (ARI) is a solid option but is only shortstop eligible on FanDuel. On DraftKings, where it’s much tougher to squeeze Tulowitzki in, I’d look primarily to Jimmy Rollins (LAD) who strikes me as underpriced for a leadoff hitter in a good matchup ($3,800). Other alternatives are Ian Desmond (WAS) (HR/SB upside and Wood is struggling; would like to see in a top five lineup spot) and Jhonny Peralta (STL) (relatively even splits and hitting in the middle of a Cardinals lineup that should have success against Aaron Harang).

Third Base

Top Play:

Nolan Arenado (COL) – Keep buying Arenado while you can, especially in matchups like these (see my distaste for Collmenter above in Tulowitzki’s blurb). He currently has a 7.8 K percentage to go along with a .239 ISO. That’s Fantasy gold. Arenado is putting the ball in play often and getting extra base hits. He’s someone we had targeted coming into the year for those very reasons: his 12.4 K percentage combined with good loft (.90 GB/FB ratio) in 2014 indicated good things were in store if the 24 year old progressed at all in the raw power department. Early signs indicate the K rate will be cut down even more and he’s making better contact (LD rate slightly up, pop up rate well down). The low K rate is backed up by Arenado rating above average in swinging strike rate and contact percentage. I’ll try to get exposure to Arenado by paying up for him on teams where I’m unable to afford Tulowitzki.

Next in line: Matt Carpenter (STL) (an excellent cash game option due to his consistent on base ability atop a deep Cardinals lineup; the issue here is a high price tag)

Value Play:

Yasmany Tomas (ARI) – Tomas should hit fifth or sixth for the Diamondbacks and quite frankly you can continue to trot him out in almost any matchup while he’s the bare minimum on FanDuel. There’s some risk that Tomas only sees three plate appearances due to the lineup spot/propensity to get lifted for a defensive replacement late in the game. That risk is outweighed by his projected skill level (ZiPS projects a .333 wOBA and .192 ISO) and the great matchup against the underwhelming Jordan Lyles at home. There’s certainly a lot of unknown in regards to the production we’ll see out of Tomas, but at this price tag on a shorter slate that uncertainty should not be scaring you away.

Additional third base notes: Josh Harrison (PIT) is a nice alternative to Tomas on FanDuel if Tomas is out of the lineup and you can’t afford Arenado. It’s not a great matchup (weather conditions favor pitcher, Hendricks is right handed and has been really good to start the year) but Harrison should see at least four plate appearances and has okay power/speed upside against a contact pitcher. Kris Bryant (CHC) (still think he’s underpriced in general) is a tournament option.


Top Plays:

Mike Trout (LAA) (he’s just that much better than everyone else that he’s honestly a cash game consideration day in and day out depending on roster construction; with that said, my exposure to Trout will come in tournaments today as I’m locked into a different outfield top play and the lower priced values)

Nelson Cruz (SEA) – Again, I am going to borrow from Drew’s content yesterday as Cruz is in a very similar situation today: “Cruz has destroyed LHP since 2012 posting a .408 wOBA and .255 ISO. He’s produced most of those numbers in great offensive environments (Texas, Baltimore) and he’ll get back to one of them on Tuesday night.” Cruz has the highest HR score in our model and it’s really not that close. Hitting fourth for one of the higher expected scoring teams on the evening, this is where I’d pay up if going after an expensive outfielder in either cash or tournament games.

Value Plays:

Diamondbacks outfield: We’re high on the Diamondbacks as they face a poor opposing pitcher in Jordan Lyles and are at home with the highest Vegas team total on the night. Ideally, we’ll see an Arizona outfield tonight of Mark Trumbo, Ender Inciarte and David Peralta. Trumbo doesn’t have the platoon edge but does have big time power upside (career .214 ISO despite playing most of his games in the Angels big home park). He carries our second highest HR score on the day and is priced moderately across the industry. Both Inciarte and Peralta will have the platoon edge on Lyles who has allowed a .359 wOBA (highest split of any pitcher in action tonight) and 1.11 HR/9 to LHBs since 2012. Inciarte is a contact hitter who boasts runs scored and stolen base upside out of the leadoff spot. Meanwhile, David Peralta brings the power upside. In his limited MLB career (396 PAs), Peralta has a .177 ISO overall and a .305/.335/.514 triple slash specifically against RHP. Both are priced for use in cash games across the industry.

Mariners outfield: Justin Ruggiano hit second for the Mariners last night and it was nice to not see him get lifted for a pinch hitter (a viable concern given the all right handed Rangers pen). The top of the order spot for Ruggiano guarantees him two at bats against Wandy Rodriguez with a decent shot at a third. That’s well worth the pinch hit risk, especially with the Mariners showing they won’t necessarily give him the quick hook. Ruggiano actually has decent HR/SB upside and has an okay 127 career wRC+ against LHP with a stellar .234 ISO. Teammate Austin Jackson will lead off. Jackson is overpriced on DraftKings but man the low price tag on FanDuel is tempting. I prefer Ruggiano to Jackson straight up as Jackson doesn’t have the same power upside.

Additional outfield notes: The Rockies outfielders of Charlie Blackmon, Corey Dickerson and Carlos Gonzalez are all legitimate targets as well but pricing isn’t as favorable with them. Other cash game options, depending on lineup spot, are Matt Holliday (STL), Jon Jay (STL), Jason Heyward (STL), AJ Pollock (ARI), Curtis Granderson (NYM) and Andre Ethier (LAD). For high upside, potential low ownership tournament options look the way of Joc Pederson (LAD), Michael Cuddyer (NYM) and Giancarlo Stanton (MIA).

Starting Pitcher

Rankings (price not considered):

Tier 1

1) Felix Hernandez (SEA)

Tier 2

2) Gerrit Cole (PIT)

3) Zack Greinke (LAD)

Tier 4

4) Jordan Zimmermann (WAS)

5) Alex Wood (ATL)

6) Carlos Martinez (STL)

Tier 5

7) Matt Shoemaker (LAA)

8) Bartolo Colon (NYM)

9) Kyle Kendricks (CHC)

Top Play:

Felix Hernandez (SEA) – Hernandez has been on point to begin 2015, putting together three starts in four tries where he threw at least seven innings and recorded at least nine strikeouts. Not surprisingly he won all three games, giving him 21, 22 and 22 FanDuel points in those three starts. Hernandez likely won’t be quite this good all season long but keep in mind his current xFIP of 2.41 isn’t far off from his marks the past two seasons of 2.51 and 2.66. While Hernandez is in a poor pitching environment (Texas), he’ll face a scuffling Rangers offense that is currently tied for dead last in MLB with a 59 wRC+ against RHP. We don’t want to go overboard on a small sample size, but Shin-Soo Choo and Mitch Moreland are banged up, Adrian Beltre‘s power is in decline and Prince Fielder is yet to show signs of life in what we hoped would be a bounce back season. At -170, Hernandez is the second largest favorite on the night and is the number one cash game option on all sites.

Next in line:

Gerrit Cole (PIT) – I’m enamored with Gerrit Cole. He averages 95-plus mph on his fastball, and his 95.5 mark from a year ago was the fifth highest among pitcher who threw at least 130 innings. According to a Fangraphs study, Velocity has about a 25 percent correlation to strikeout rate. Not surprisingly then, Cole saw his K rate last season climb to 24.2 percent from 21.3 percent. The young pitcher has continued to improve thus far in 2015 as his K rate currently stands at an elite 26.7 percent mark through four starts, fully supported by a 12.1 swinging strike rate. Cole has been straight filthy. Aside from missing more bats, he’s getting ahead on hitters, getting them to chase more and trading off some line drives and fly balls for a ton of ground balls (62.1 GB rate). Four starts is obviously a small sample size but given the improved peripherals everywhere, Cole’s stuff and his prospect status, I’m giddy over his rest of season expectations. An ERA around 3.00 while striking out a batter an inning is well within reason. Cole will face a powerful Cubs lineup, but one that also projects to strike out a lot against RHP. Throw in weather that favors the pitchers (wind blowing in, temperatures in the low 40s), and I think if any pitcher has the capability of matching Hernandez tonight it is Cole. In cash games the safe route is still Hernandez on one starting pitcher sites unless you’re really attached to some high end hitters. However, on multiple starting pitcher sites, I’d do what I can to fit both into my lineups on a shorter slate.

Additional starting pitcher notes: Zack Greinke (LAD) falls behind Hernandez/Cole in our rankings since his perceived K upside is lower. This Giants offense is not very good but will make a lot of weak contact. Greinke is still a really safe cash game option, I simply prefer Felix if paying up and Cole at a discount for a second pitcher. Greinke is the largest favorite on the day in the game with the lowest total (7). Consider him a very safe option and a nice contrarian play for tournaments on one starting pitcher sites. I’m generally conservative with my starting pitcher options, and that’s especially the case today. There’s a big gap between the tier two and tier three starting pitchers. Jordan Zimmermann (WAS) has a great matchup against Atlanta but some worrisome early signs (FB rate, low swinging strike rate, velocity down a little) make him a better tournament option than a cash game one. Those worrisome signs are likely due to a small sample size, but with three superior options we are confident in, there’s no reason to risk it in cash games. Alex Wood (ATL) is also better served for use in tournaments. He hasn’t missed very many bats his past two outings and will face a Nationals team that projects to be well above average against LHP. Carlos Martinez (STL) lags behind Zimmermann/Wood in skills but has been the better pitcher to start the year and has a very favorable home start against a bad Phillies offense. The concern here is that Martinez struggles with LHBs and the Phillies won’t strikeout a bunch, which is why he rounds out the third tier rather than leading it off.

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 ( if you have suggestions.

Top Tournament Stacks/Cash Game Mini Stacks:

1) Arizona Diamondbacks

2) Seattle Mariners

3) Colorado Rockies

These stacks are straight chalk. Arizona and Colorado are the two highest expected scoring teams on the night with Seattle not far behind. Ease of roster construction and sum of individual player values is how I determined the order.

Contrarian/Secondary Stacks:

1) New York Mets

2) Seattle LHBs

3) St. Louis Cardinals

4) Los Angeles Dodgers

5) Los Angeles Angels

6) Texas Rangers DK Mini Stack

The Mets are a great tournament stack or mini-stack. I gave my rant on Mat Latos in Lucas Duda‘s blurb and whenever a pitcher isn’t “right”, I have no qualms picking on them in tournaments regardless of the park and opposing lineup.

The Seattle LHBs could go under owned in tournaments since people like to avoid L/L almost religiously. While L/L is far from ideal for Cano and Seager, hopefully their first couple of at bats come in good game situations (with runners on base) and Rodriguez is run early. The Rangers bullpen is entirely right handed, so they’ll hold the platoon edge the rest of the way and of course benefit from a big park shift in their favor.

The Cardinals face a pitcher in Aaron Harang who will see some regression moving forward as he’s benefitted from an unsustainable BABIP, HR/FB rate and LOB%. The Cardinals carry a deep lineup with playable guys at scarce positions, making them a high upside stack.

Due to some injuries, the Dodgers have been throwing out some less than stellar lineups, but it’s opened up playing time for Andre Ethier and hopefully Alex Guerrero as well. Those are two cheap players with upside who you can surround with a low owned Adrian Gonzalez and moderately priced middle infield and catcher.

The Angels stack idea reminds me a little bit of the Cleveland stack that went off versus Shane Greene. You’ve got an offense and pitcher that people aren’t really talking about one way or the other and a suspect starting pitcher (Jesse Hahn) who has really struggled to miss bats. Sometimes people jump from the obvious stacks to the contrarian stacks and it’s those teams where nothing really stands out one way or the other that end up being the low owned tournament winners.

There’s a fine line between being contrarian and being stupid. I’m certainly toeing that line with this suggestion. However, on DraftKings I think there’s significant leverage to be had by mini-stacking Rangers bats at the top of the order. Since DraftKings prices according to matchup, you’ll get Rangers bats about as cheap as you’ll ever find them at home. Simultaneously, this allows you to use Greinke over Hernandez, who will be low owned. It’s a real low probability of hitting, but in the event it does hit, it could win you a tournament on a smaller slate.

MLB Game Weather Forecasts

WSH at ATL 7:10: A 30% chance of showers. Should not be a heavy nor steady rain so they will pay with <20% chance of a delay. Temps in the upper 50s falling into the low to mid 50s. Air density is a 5. Wind northeast at 4-8 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.

NYM at MIA 7:10: Numerous showers/t-storms around so I will assume the roof will be closed.

PHL at STL 8:00: Dry. Temps near 70 to start falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind north at 5-10 mph which blows in from left. The wind is a 4.

SEA at TEX 8:05: Dry. Temps in the low to mid 70s falling into the mid to upper 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind northwest 5-10 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.

PIT at CHC 8:05: Dry. Temps in the low 50s falling into the mid 40s. Air density is a 4 becoming a 3. Wind northeast at 8-16 mph lessening to 5-10 mph. This wind blows in from center. The wind is a 3 becoming a 4.

COL at AZ 9:40: Dry. Temps in the low 90s to start the game so I am not sure if that is too hot to have the roof open. If the roof is open, the air density is a 8 and the wind will be light and variable. The wind is a 5.

LAA at OAK 10:05: Dry. Temps in the mid 60s to start falling to near 60. Air density is a 5. Wind west at 7-14 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows out to right. The wind is a 6.

SF at LAD 10:10:
 Dry. Temps in the mid 70s falling into the mid to upper 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind west at 7-14 mph lessening to 5-10 mph. This wind blows out to right. The wind is a 6.

MLB Daily Analysis