The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate, using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.
Tuesday has a split slate: There are eight games in the 1:05 pm ET early slate and five games in the 7:10 pm ET main slate.
In the early slate, there are only two pitchers priced at $9,000 or above on FanDuel . . .
. . . whereas in the main slate four of the 10 pitchers hit that mark:
Clayton Kershaw is almost always the most expensive pitcher in any slate he’s in, and that’s the case today, as his $12,900 DraftKings salary and $12,400 FanDuel salary tops all other options. That said, Corey Kluber isn’t far behind at $12,600 and $12,000, and he’s actually the highest-rated pitcher for both sites in the Bales Model.
Kershaw dominates ownership in his slates, and given the close pricing with Kluber it might seem like people would prefer the guy who has been the best pitcher in baseball for several years running to just about anyone. Per our MLB Trends tool, Kershaw is second to only Chris Sale with an average of 29.0 percent ownership in main slate FanDuel guaranteed prize pools (GPPs):
That said, this is not a normal situation. Kershaw is facing the Diamondbacks, who rank fifth in the league with a .332 team wOBA. Kluber, on the other hand, faces the Padres, who rank 29th with a .294 team wOBA as well as first with a sky-high 25.7 percent strikeout rate. The Padres have easily been the most generous team to opposing pitchers in 2017:
That said, Kershaw still owns a higher K Prediction at 8.7 (versus Kluber’s 8.5 mark) and his opponent implied total of 2.6 runs beats Kluber’s 3.1. Both are massive favorites with moneyline odds of -291 and -300, and pitchers with similar odds have crushed value, averaging 43.33 FanDuel points and a +7.81 Plus/Minus:
Further, they have similar recent Statcast data, although Kluber’s should be considered elite and is probably the reason he’s slightly preferred in our Models:
- Kershaw: 200-foot batted ball distance, 89 mph exit velocity, 42 percent fly ball rate, 30 percent hard hit rate
- Kluber: 186-foot batted ball distance, 86 mph exit velocity, 24 percent fly ball rate, 22 percent hard hit rate
You probably can’t go wrong with either pitcher you select, so it’s probably wise to focus solely on projected ownership.
Pro subscribers can review ownership across various buy-in levels on our DFS Ownership Dashboard shortly after lineups lock.
In the main slate, Houston righty Brad Peacock actually bests both Kershaw and Kluber with a slate-high 8.9 K Prediction, and he’s gone for at least seven strikeouts in each of his last three starts. He’s been in excellent form lately, posting a robust +8.77 FanDuel Plus/Minus over his last seven outings and exceeding salary-based expectations in all but one. He’s just $8,400 on FanDuel, where he has a high 89 percent Bargain Rating, and he rivals the two studs in Statcast data: Over his last two starts, he’s allowed an exit velocity of 86 miles per hour, a fly ball rate of 40 percent, and a hard hit rate of 13 percent. The one blemish on his resume is his opponent implied run total, as the opposing Atlanta Braves are currently implied for 4.4 runs. That’s the third-lowest mark in the slate, but it’s also significantly higher than Kershaw and Kluber’s marks. He should have low ownership given that fact.
There aren’t many great options in the early slate, but Pittsburgh righty Jameson Taillon does have some excellent data in his favor. First, he has a slate-low opponent implied run total of 3.9 runs against the Phillies, who rank 28th in the league this season with a poor .299 team wOBA. Second, he has awesome recent Statcast data: Over his last two starts, he’s allowed a batted ball distance of 176 feet, an exit velocity of 83 miles per hour, a fly ball rate of 25 percent, and a hard hit rate of 25 percent. Pitchers with similar recent exit velocity marks have historically averaged 33.20 FanDuel points, a +4.03 Plus/Minus, and a 61.6 percent Consistency Rating. Further, Taillon has home-plate umpire Ryan Blakney, who has historically added 1.8 points over expectations to pitchers.
Jon Lester: He’s the highest-priced option in the early slate, and he’s in a boom-or-bust matchup against the Tampa Bay Rays, who rank sixth in the league with a .190 team ISO but also third with a 25.2 percent strikeout rate. Lester leads all pitchers in the slate with a 7.7 K Prediction.
Jimmy Nelson: He’s not in a great spot against the Orioles, who are currently implied for 4.6 runs, but he is third among all pitchers with an average of 26.7 DraftKings points per game over the last month. He’s done well over his last 10 games, and he could have reasonable ownership levels:
With our Lineup Builder, it’s easy to incorporate stacks into DFS rosters. DraftKings actually doesn’t have an ‘early slate’; the main slate is at 1:05 pm ET and includes the nine day games. The highest-rated five-man stack in that slate (per the Bales Model) belongs to the Detroit Tigers:
The Tigers are currently implied for a slate-high 6.0 runs against Giants righty Matt Cain, who has allowed four home runs and 16 hits over his last two starts. It’s difficult to overstate how bad he’s been recently, and he’s allowed a 91 mph exit velocity on batted balls over his last two starts. That’s not good news against this Tigers lineup, especially against a batter like Miguel Cabrera, who has crushed the ball over the last two weeks, averaging a batted ball distance of 242 feet, an exit velocity of 94 miles per hour, a fly ball rate of 46 percent, and a hard hit rate of 46 percent. Given the lack of pitching options in the day games, the Tigers should be chalky.
In the evening FanDuel main slate, the highest-rated four-man stack belongs to the Rockies, who are at home at Coors Field:
They are currently implied for an absurd 7.3 runs, which is a total difficult to fathom. For reference: Out of 224,858 historical FanDuel batters since 2012, just 181 have had run totals of 7.0 or higher. As expected, these batters have had high ownership rates:
That said, there is reason to believe ownership could be diluted in this slate: The pitching options include Kershaw, who is Kershaw, and Kluber, who is facing the Padres. The studs like Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado likely have ownership floors they just won’t dip below at any point, but batters at the bottom of the projected order like Tony Wolters could actually see reasonable ownership. Anytime you can get a guy in GPPs with a team total of 7.3 runs with low ownership, you’re likely putting yourself in a positive expected value spot.
Let’s talk about some recently unlucky batters, which we can measure using our proprietary metric Recent Batted Ball Luck. Here’s the definition:
The difference between a player’s percentile rank in batted ball distance and fantasy scoring over the past 15 days
Here’s an example: Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor is projected to bat second for an Indians team currently implied for 5.5 runs. He’s been pretty bad lately, at least in terms of fantasy scoring:
Over his last 10 games, he’s exceeded salary-based expectations just twice and has averaged a poor -3.54 FanDuel Plus/Minus. That said, his recent Statcast data suggests he hasn’t been that bad: Over his last 14 games, he’s averaged a batted ball distance of 214 feet and an exit velocity of 92 miles per hour. That contact is encouraging, and he could see some positive regression against Padres righty Trevor Cahill, who is in line to pitch for the first time since early May.
Another guy who has probably been unlucky lately is Mike Napoli, who has averaged a -1.51 FanDuel Plus/Minus over his last 10 games, including games of 18.7, 22.2, and 15.4 fantasy points over his last three. His newfound short-term luck could continue today: Over his last 12 games, he’s averaged a batted ball distance of 255 feet, an exit velocity of 94 miles per hour, a fly ball rate of 68 percent, and a hard hit rate of 45 percent. He’s tied with the most Pro Trends in the slate (11), and he’s just $2,800 on FanDuel.
Let’s not forget about batters who are crushing the ball and experiencing neutral luck. Corey Seager is the prime example of this: He’s gone for 22.0 and 24.7 fantasy points over his last two starts, and while his two-week Statcast data includes only seven games in the sample it’s still noteworthy: During that span, he’s averaged a batted ball distance of 252 feet, an exit velocity of 99 miles per hour, and a hard hit rate of 66 percent. He hasn’t been getting lucky recently. He’s just been smashing.
After this piece is published, FantasyLabs is likely to provide news updates on a number of players herein mentioned. Be sure to stay ahead of your competition with our industry-leading DFS-focused news blurbs: