MLB DFS Daily Fantasy Rundown – July 2nd, 2015
Welcome to Thursday’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: We’re keeping a close eye in Atlanta. 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.
Russell Martin (TOR) – Martin is a good hitter against LHP (.345 wOBA, .168 ISO and 0.86 EYE against LHP since 2012) and his run producing opportunities are enhanced due to the hitters in front of him (Jose Reyes, Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion). Opposing pitcher Wade Miley has allowed a .325 wOBA and a hard minus soft rate over 19 percent against RHBs in the last few seasons and Rogers Centre (elite hitting venue) won’t help him against this offense (Blue Jays are the number one ranked offense against LHP). The Blue Jays have a team total over five runs and Martin is the top play at a scarce position. Martin is our 25th ranked hitter this evening and he’s in play across all formats.
Derek Norris (SD) – While Norris won’t have the benefit of a favorable hitting environment (Busch Stadium is a terrible hitting environment), his skill set against LHP (.374 wOBA, .191 ISO against LHP since 2012) is very good. Opposing pitcher Tim Cooney didn’t miss many bats at the Triple-A level and his velocity isn’t very good (88 MPH fastball) so this is a favorable matchup for Norris. He’s ranked among our top 30 hitters and his price across the industry doesn’t reflect this.
Welington Castillo (ARI) – Castillo has been a nice hitter against LHP (.371 wOBA, .173 ISO against southpaws in the last few seasons) and his matchup today is very good. Opposing pitcher Chris Rusin has been awful against RHBs (.376 wOBA, 1.35 HR/9 and a puny five percent K-BB% against the 486 RHBs he has faced at the major league level) and the hitting environment won’t help him (while Chase Field isn’t Coors Field, it’s still a good hitting venue). The difficulty with Castillo is his lineup spot (usually seventh) but if he’s able to garner a better spot tonight, he becomes a slightly better option than Norris due to a better matchup/environment.
Additional catcher notes: Wilin Rosario (COL) is a much better hitter against LHP but some of his power still holds against RHP (.166 ISO against RHP in the last few seasons). His matchup is the main reason why I love him for tournaments today (Jeremy Hellickson has allowed a .336 wOBA and a 1.35 HR/9 against RHBs despite pitching in a great pitcher’s park for most of his career).
Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) – Goldschmidt has become one of the best hitters in baseball, particularly against LHP (.443 wOBA, .284 ISO against LHP in the last few seasons). We touched on his matchup earlier (Chris Rusin hasn’t figured out RHBs in a sample size of close to 500 RHBs) and Chase Field is a good hitter’s park (increases RH power by around 5-10 percent above the league average). Goldschmidt is our top hitter on this slate and he rates as a value in our model but I’m more likely to deploy him in tournaments than cash games (price point is high and he’s difficult to fit unless you punt the starting pitcher position, which isn’t a bad idea on tight pricing sites).
Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) – Encarnacion has crushed LHP (.395 wOBA, .267 ISO and 1.06 EYE against LHP since 2012) and he draws a favorable matchup against Wade Miley (has allowed a hard minus soft hit rate close to 20 percent against RHBs since 2012). Encarnacion ranks inside our top five hitters this evening and his price point on DraftKings ($4,400) makes him a phenomenal value. Rogers Centre is one of the best hitting environments in all of baseball and the Blue Jays have a team total approaching 5.5 runs, which only solidifies Encarnacion as a top play at first base.
Prince Fielder (TEX) – Fielder has been a very good hitter against RHP (.390 wOBA, .197 ISO and 1.04 EYE against RHP since 2012) and he has a favorable matchup tonight (Kevin Gausman has allowed a .327 wOBA, 40 percent FB rate and close to a home run per nine against 417 LHBs at the major league level). Camden Yards is an elite hitting environment (increases LH power by approximately 15 percent above the league average) and the Rangers have a team total approaching 4.5 runs. Fielder’s price point offers value on most sites (top 25 hitter in our model).
Additional first base notes: Mike Napoli (BOS) isn’t the same hitter he once was (plate discipline continues to erode and he’s not hitting the ball as hard as he used to) but he continues to hit LHP at high level, particularly from a power perspective (.269 ISO against LHP this season). Despite not having a great matchup (Matt Boyd projects as a good pitcher at the major league level and he misses bats frequently), I view Napoli as good cash game option on FanDuel ($2,700) as long as he can garner a top six spot in the Red Sox offense tonight. Chris Davis (BAL) doesn’t have a great matchup on paper (Yovani Gallardo has been great from a run prevention standpoint) but I’m looking at it a bit differently. Opposing pitcher Yovani Gallardo has been good this season but the underlying peripherals are concerning (seven percent SwStr rate, 26 percent chase rate). Gallardo is prone to contact and even though he keeps the ball on the ground, we like pairing powerful hitters like Davis with ground ball pitchers. Although cash game playable on some sites, Davis is a better target for tournaments tonight but don’t let the matchup deceive you. Ben Paulsen (COL) is a salary relief option on DraftKings (cheap, should have a top six spot against a pitcher that struggles with the long ball).
Rougned Odor (TEX) – Odor has been a solid hitter against RHP (.313 wOBA, .155 ISO in 399 PAs against RHPs) but his main value comes from his lineup spot. Odor has been leading off for the Rangers, hitting in front of hitters like Shin-Soo Choo, Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre (all very good hitters against RHP). Leading off means that his PAs will be maximized and his run-scoring opportunities are enhanced thanks to a LH-heavy offense. Odor ranks inside our top 40 hitters and he’s affordable around the industry.
Aaron Hill/Chris Owings (ARI) – Both Hill and Owings are cheap around the industry and quite frankly that’s all that I’m looking for at the second base position today. Hill is a much better hitter against LHP (.340 wOBA, .175 ISO compared to Owings, who has accumulated a .247 wOBA and .111 ISO against LHP) and he’s minimum priced on FanDuel. Both hitters will have the platoon edge against the underwhelming Chris Rusin at Chase Field. I’m giving Odor the nod as the top value due to his awesome lineup spot but if Hill or Owings have a similar spot in the Diamondbacks offense, they become the better plays (top 25 hitters in our model).
Additional second base notes: Jimmy Paredes (BAL) doesn’t have a great matchup but Yovani Gallardo has relied on lucky batted ball data (.264 BABIP but K rate isn’t very good and the underlying peripherals confirm this). Paredes has been a good hitter against RHP this season and I view him as a good tournament target (facing a contact pitcher at Camden Yards). Danny Espinosa (WSH) isn’t a very good hitter but he’s been hitting second for the Nationals, which gives him enough appeal as a secondary target. Devon Travis (TOR) isn’t the Blue Jays leadoff hitter now that Jose Reyes is back but he’s a part of an elite offense against LHP. He’s viable as a part of Blue Jays tournament stacks.
Troy Tulowitzki (COL) – Tulowitzki is only $3,800 on FanDuel and even though he’s away from Coors Field, Chase Field is a good hitting venue and his matchup offers a lot of upside. Opposing pitcher Jeremy Hellickson has allowed a .336 wOBA and 1.35 HR/9 against RHBs in the last three seasons. Tulowitzki has accumulated a .359 wOBA and .196 ISO on the road since 2012 so he’s still worth a discounted price point (top 10 hitter in our model).
Jose Reyes (TOR) – Reyes is an okay hitter against LHP (.314 wOBA) but we love his role in this potent Blue Jays lineup, Reyes is the leadoff hitter for the Blue Jays and he hits in front of Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. The leadoff spot maximizes his PAs and in this offense that usually means a guaranteed five PAs against LHP (number one ranked offense against LHP). The Blue Jays have a team total approaching 5.5 runs and they benefit from an awesome hitting venue (Rogers Centre). Reyes is an awesome industry wide value and he actually makes more sense than Tulowitzki in cash games on DraftKings ($4,300 on that site, Tulowitzki is $5,400).
Nick Ahmed (ARI) – While Ahmed isn’t a good hitter, he’s been leading off for the Diamondbacks against LHP recently. He’s priced favorably on DraftKings ($3,300), where it makes the most sense to take a shot at his lineup spot (hitting in front of A.J. Pollock, Paul Goldschmidt and Yasmany Tomas) and matchup (Chris Rusin is an awful pitcher). Reyes is my main cash game target on DraftKings but if you’re starting Scherzer in cash games, Ahmed’s salary relief can be quite useful.
Additional shortstop notes: Xander Bogaerts (BOS) doesn’t have a great matchup against Matt Boyd (misses bats at an above normal rate) but Rogers Centre is an elite hitting environment, he has been hitting third for the Red Sox and he’s a better hitter against LHP. He’s a better overall target on a site like FanDuel ($2,700). If Ian Desmond (WSH) can garner a solid lineup spot (at least top six), he becomes a good play on FanDuel ($2,200). He will have the platoon edge against rookie pitcher Manny Banuelos and he’s a better hitter against LHP.
Josh Donaldson (TOR) – Donaldson has posted video game numbers against LHP (.415 wOBA, .297 ISO against LHP in over 530 PAs) despite playing the majority of his games in an awful hitting venue (Oakland Coliseum). He’s part of the Blue Jays now and benefits from an incredible hitter’s park (Rogers Centre). From a macro perspective, Donaldson is on pace to post career highs in all offensive categories and he has accumulated 4.4 Wins Above Replacement this season (on pace for 9 WAR). He draws a favorable matchup against Wade Miley (gives up too much hard contact) and he’s part of an offense that crushes LHP. Donaldson seems too underpriced on FanDuel ($3,900) relative to his incredible skills, matchup, hitting venue and surrounding offense.
Next in line:
Nolan Arenado (COL) – (has become one of the best all around third basemen in MLB and has improved massively against RHP; He’s fully priced around the industry but a matchup against pitcher that gives up too many long balls gives him plenty of upside in tournaments)
Adrian Beltre (TEX) – Beltre is not Josh Donaldson but he has been a very good hitter against RHP (.372 wOBA, .195 ISO against RHP since 2012). Opposing pitcher Kevin Gausman is tougher on RHBs but the Rangers lineup has a ton of LH batters surrounding Beltre and he’s the cleanup hitter for this offense. He’s still playing through a thumb issue but he’s discounted industry wide. He’s particularly intriguing on a site like DraftKings, where he’s $3,800 and Josh Donaldson is $5,200.
Additional third base notes: Like Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado (BAL) has become one of the best all around third basemen in MLB. He’s fully priced around the industry but I’m willing to take a shot here in tournaments. Danny Valencia (TOR) is a nice hitter against LHP but he usually doesn’t have an appealing lineup spot (seventh or worse). I don’t mind throwing him in a Blue Jays tournament stack.
Jose Bautista (TOR) – Bautista is our second ranked hitter on this slate (trails only Paul Goldschmidt) and he has a matchup in a hitting environment that gives him plenty of upside. Wade Miley is allowing a hard minus soft hit rate close to 20 percent and Rogers Centre won’t help him. Bautista has accumulated a .399 wOBA, .264 ISO and 1.22 EYE against LHP since 2012. He’s difficult to fit in cash games but I found it easier to fit him if you punt one of the starting pitcher positions on DraftKings.
Arizona Diamondbacks – A.J. Pollock (.365 wOBA, .211 ISO) and Yasmany Tomas (.354 wOBA, .180 ISO) are good cash game values industry wide. They have an elite matchup against Chris Rusin (awful against RHBs) at Chase Field (great hitter’s park) and they’re ranked inside our top 10 hitters this evening. I don’t mind playing both Pollock and Tomas in cash games as long as I don’t have to sacrifice both of my starting pitcher spots on DraftKings (fine to punt one starting pitcher on multiple starting pitcher sites).
Texas Rangers – Shin-Soo Choo (.392 wOBA, .198 ISO) , Josh Hamilton (.358 wOBA, .230 ISO) and Mitch Moreland (.343 wOBA, .210 ISO) all rank inside our top 30 hitters this evening. They will have the platoon edge against Kevin Gausman (has FB tendencies) at Camden Yards (awesome hitting venue). I’d let price points dictate my decisions here so Hamilton feels like a core play on DraftKings ($3,600) and Choo on FanDuel ($2,700). Moreland is priced more aggressively around the industry since he has hit four home runs in his last three games so he makes more sense for tournaments.
Chris Colabello (TOR) – Colabello isn’t a great hitter (.315 wOBA, .143 ISO in 171 PAs against LHP) but he’s cheap on DraftKings ($3,300) and he usually hits fifth. That’s a great lineup spot in this Blue Jays offense, hitting behind Jose Reyes, Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion (increases his run-producing chances). Colabello is a good cash game target on that particular site (secondary target on FanDuel since he’s priced as an average hitter).
Additional outfield notes: Bryce Harper (WSH) is currently the best hitter in baseball. He has a L/L matchup against rookie Manny Banuelos but he deserves a look in tournaments solely due to his skills. Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez (BOS) don’t have a great matchup against Matt Boyd but they hit LHP very well and Rogers Centre is a great hitting environment, I’ll take a shot here in tournaments but their price points are a bit too elevated in cash games relative to the other written options above. Carlos Gonzalez (COL) is playing away from Coors Field but his price tag is discounted around the industry and he has a nice matchup (Jeremy Hellickson struggles with the long ball). He deserves cash game consideration based on his skills and matchup. Justin Upton (SD) crushes LHP and Tim Cooney projects as an okay pitcher at the major league level (doesn’t miss many bats but had good run prevention in the minors and looks like he keeps the ball on the ground). Upton isn’t a primary target in cash games due to the hitting environment (Busch Stadium is a pitcher’s park) but he deserves consideration nonetheless due to his skills in what looks to be a favorable matchup. Chris Parmelee (BAL) is a salary relief target on DraftKings ($2,900). Parmelee’s salary relief can be useful if you’re trying to fit Scherzer in cash games on that site.
Rankings (price not considered):
1) Max Scherzer (WSH)
2) Scott Kazmir (OAK)
3) Tyson Ross (SD)
4) Yovani Gallardo (TEX)
5) Tim Cooney (STL)
6a) Matt Boyd (TOR)
6b) Chris Young (KC)
8) Roenis Elias (SEA)
9) Manny Banuelos (ATL)
Max Scherzer (WSH) – Scherzer deserves to be on a tier of his own today. His skill set (27.4 percent K-BB%, five percent hard minus soft hit rate and 1.79 ERA/2.01 FIP) is the best out of any of the pitchers on this slate. The Braves don’t strikeout much against RHP (17 percent K rate) but they’re ranked 20th in wRC+ and their best hitter is on the disabled list (Freddie Freeman). Scherzer and the Nationals are -210 favorites and I found it easier to build around him on FanDuel, where a pitcher’s win is crucial. He’s by far the best starting pitcher on this slate but on tight pricing sites you’ll likely have to get creative and look to punt the second starting pitcher position in order to afford him in cash games.
Scott Kazmir (OAK) – While Kazmir isn’t Scherzer, he’s skilled (14 percent K-BB%, eight percent hard minus soft hit rate and 3.37FIP/3.65 xFIP/3.77 SIERA). His matchup is neutral overall (Mariners are ranked 17th in wRC+ against LHP) but favorable from a strikeout perspective (20 percent K rate against LHP). Kazmir’s price tag is favorable across the industry but he makes the most sense in cash games on DraftKings (tight pricing site, Scherzer is over $14,000).
Additional starting pitcher notes: Yovani Gallardo (TEX) is my favorite tournament option on this slate. While his strikeout skill set isn’t very good, he’s a good pitcher (keeps the ball on the ground at an above league average rate, has improved his command and his hard minus soft hit rate is currently below eight percent). The matchup is difficult (Orioles are ranked eight in wRC+ against RHP) but it’s favorable from a strikeout perspective (Orioles are striking out over 23 percent of the time against RHP). This matchup could help Gallardo’s K rate but the environment (Camden Yards) and some concerning underlying peripherals (not generating close to league average chase rate and SwStr rate) will likely keep me away from investing in cash games. We love the matchup for Tim Cooney (STL) (Padres are ranked 22nd in wRC+ and are striking out over 24 percent of the time against LHP) and his minor league profile looks okay (below average K rate in the minors but looks like he kept the ball on the ground and his run prevention was good). Perhaps the best part about Cooney in DFS is that he’s very cheap (particularly on tight pricing sites). He’s making his second start at the major league level so I don’t expect him to go deep into the game but I don’t mind pairing him with Scherzer in cash games on DraftKings. Matt Boyd (TOR) dominated the minor league level (struck out over a batter per inning and his run prevention was very good) and he’s making his second career start tonight. He’s facing a tough offense (Red Sox are ranked 26th in wRC+ against LHP but they will likely improve moving forward) in a tough environment (Rogers Centre) but he’s very cheap on most sites. He’s an intriguing option on DraftKings, where I don’t mind buying cheap Ks (favorable scoring for Ks). If you’re utilizing Scherzer in cash games on that site, you’ll need a cheap option like Boyd or Cooney as your second starting pitcher. Chris Young (KC) doesn’t carry any upside (strikeout skills are underwhelming) but he has a favorable matchup (Twins are ranked 23rd in wRC+ and are striking out over 20 percent of the time against RHP) and the defense/bullpen behind him are elite. He carries less risk than Matt Boyd due to a favorable matchup/environment and he’s cheap on DraftKings.
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) Toronto Blue Jays
2) Texas Rangers
The Blue Jays and Rangers are our top offenses on this slate and we’ve covered extensively why this is the case (great matchups in friendly hitting environments). These offenses can stack hitters with platoon edges, which is a big reason why we love targeting them in favorable matchups/environments (not to mention that these offenses have elite hitters like Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson and Prince Fielder).
1) Baltimore Orioles
2) Boston Red Sox
3) San Diego Padres
While the Orioles don’t seem to have much appeal due to their matchup (Yovani Gallardo was spectacular in June and has been very good from a run prevention standpoint) but I want to look at it from a different perspective. Gallardo doesn’t have a good K rate (below league average) and the underlying peripherals (like chase rate and SwStr rate) are also well below the league norm. Gallardo has benefited from lucky batted ball data and despite liking him for tournaments against an offense that strikes out often, it also makes sense to form a hedge and stack the Orioles in tournaments (good offense against RHP and Camden Yards can hurt contact pitchers).
The Red Sox don’t have an appealing matchup against a pitcher that projects to miss bats at an above league average rate but Rogers Centre is an awesome hitting venue and this offense is full of bats that can do damage against LHP (Betts, Bogaerts, Ramirez and Napoli). I don’t mind using one or two in cash games but admittedly they’re better targets in tournaments.
The Padres are hitting in a terrible park (Busch Stadium) but opposing pitcher Tim Cooney doesn’t project to be all that great at the major league level (doesn’t miss many bats and his fastball velocity is 88 MPH) and there are some hitters here that can hit LHP very well (Derek Norris and Justin Upton). I don’t mind forming a Padres mini-stack for tournaments but the hitting venue suppresses their value a bit in cash games.
MLB Game Weather Forecasts
TEX at BLT 7:05: Dry. Temps near 80 falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind nearly calm. The wind is a 5.
BOS at TOR: Dry weather is expected so the retractable roof will likely be open. Temps in the upper 60s falling into the mid 60s. Air density is a 6 becoming a 5. Wind light and variable. The wind is a 5.
WSH at ATL 7:10: Much like last night, this is a trouble game. There is a 40% chance of a thunderstorm affecting the stadium at any particular time. I am not worried about a cancellation. Temps in the mid 70s falling to near 70. Air density is a 7. Wind southwest 7-14 mph lessening to 5-10 mph which blows out to center. The wind is a 6.
SD at STL 7:15: A small chance of some pop-up thunderstorms, maybe a 10-20% chance of a delay. Temps in the mid to upper 70s falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind northeast 5-10 mph which blows in from center. The wind is a 4.
MIN at KC 8:10: Slightly more active thunderstorm-wise than STL but still not too worried, give it a 20% chance of a delay, very little chance of a cancellation. Temps in the mid 70s falling into the low 70s. Air density is a 7. Wind east-northeast 5-10 mph which blows in from right. The wind is a 4.
COL at AZ 9:40: Though there is no rain expected, temperatures are expected to be above 100 degrees to begin the game. Not sure how they will handle the retractable roof.
SEA at OAK 10:00: Dry. Temps in the low 70s falling into the mid to upper 60s. Air density is a 6. Wind northwest 10-20 mph lessening to 8-16 mph. The wind blows out to right. The wind is a 8 becoming a 7.