The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.
Saturday features a split slate: We have a 10-game early slate on DraftKings and five-game early slate on FanDuel, both of which start at 12:05 p.m. ET, and a four-game main slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET.
Today’s slate is light on top-end pitchers, with only three possessing salaries of at least $10,000 on DraftKings:
Charlie Morton is the only stud pitcher available on the main slate, and he’s putting together the best season of his career in 2018. He owns an ERA of 2.84 and a K/9 of 11.34 through his first 73 innings pitched, resulting in solid fantasy numbers over his past 10 starts:
However, it’s hard to get excited about Morton on today’s slate. He’s been priced up to $12,400 for his matchup vs. the Texas Rangers, which represents an increase of $2,000 from his last start. The Rangers have been solid against right-handed pitching over the past 12 months, with their projected lineup owning a splits-adjusted wOBA of .329. Additionally, Morton’s opponent implied team total of 4.1 runs is higher than usual for a pitcher with his salary. Historically, pitchers with comparable salaries and opponent implied totals have managed an average Plus/Minus of +0.06 and a Consistency Rating of just 55.2% on DraftKings.
More concerning than his matchup is the Statcast data from his past two starts. Batters have been teeing off on him, resulting in an average distance of 234 feet, exit velocity of 94 miles per hour and hard-hit rate of 51%. When comparable Statcast data is added to the previous trend, Morton’s comp group looks unimpressive:
Morton does have sufficient strikeout upside, leading all pitchers with a K Prediction of 8.5, which makes him more suited for guaranteed prize pools (GPPs) than cash games.
Blake Snell has started to tap into his immense potential, owning a 2.36 ERA and 10.38 K/9 to start the 2018 season. He’s posted an average Plus/Minus of +9.06 over his past 10 starts on DraftKings, resulting in a salary increase of $5,000 since the beginning of the year. He’s much more affordable today on FanDuel, where his $9,500 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 98%.
The Statcast data from his past two starts reflects his impressive traditional pitching numbers, as he’s limited batters to a 185-foot average distance, 88-mph exit velocity, 31% hard-hit rate, and 63% ground-ball rate. He’s second on the early slate with an opponent implied total of 3.5 runs, while his K Prediction of 6.8 ranks fourth.
Michael Wacha also is in solid recent form, owning a distance differential of -20 feet over his past two starts. Unfortunately, he’s pitching at the unfriendly confines of the Great American Ballpark, where has a 39 Park Factor. His opponent implied total of 4.3 runs makes him hard to trust for cash games, and his mediocre K Prediction of 5.4 makes him unappealing for GPPs as well.
There are several appealing value options on the early slate. Dan Straily has an elite matchup against the San Diego Padres, whose projected lineup struggled to a .300 wOBA and 27.7% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months. The Padres have long been one of the best teams to roster pitchers against in daily fantasy baseball, and that trend has continued for right-handers in 2018:
Straily also enters this contest with a distance differential of -22 feet over his past two starts, so he’s in good recent form. He makes a lot of sense for those paying down at the position.
Chris Sale absolutely dominated the White Sox on Friday, tallying 10 strikeouts and allowing just one run over 8.0 innings, and David Price will look to follow up with a strong outing today. They’ve posted the highest strikeout rate in the league this season against left-handed pitchers, and Price leads all pitchers on the early slate with a K Prediction of 7.7. Price is also a massive -230 favorite, and pitchers with comparable moneyline odds and K Predictions have historically dominated:
Price has disappointed a bit to start the season but should be popular today nonetheless.
The value options aren’t as strong on the main slate, but Alex Wood stands out. He was roughed up in his last start at Coors Field, but today’s matchup vs. the Braves should be much friendlier. He ranks second on the main slate in three key pitching categories: Opponent implied run total (3.5), moneyline odds (-174) and K Prediction (7.0). Historically, pitchers with comparable marks have been solid values:
Still, Wood isn’t without risk. The Braves have crushed left-handed pitching this season, owning the third-best splits-adjusted wOBA to start 2018. Left-handed pitchers facing the Braves have averaged a Plus/Minus of -1.15 on DraftKings.
Steven Matz: He’s been among the best pitchers in baseball from a Statcast perspective over his past two starts, posting an average distance of 166 feet, exit velocity of 85 miles per hour, ground-ball rate of 72% and hard-hit rate of 0%. The Yankees are obviously a brutal matchup, ranking first in the league in runs per game, but their projected lineup has a strikeout rate of 26.9% against left-handers over the past 12 months. He has plenty of upside at $5,600 on DraftKings, and the matchup should result in reduced ownership.
Felix Hernandez: He has had an up-and-down start to his 2018 season but is coming off arguably his best outing, an eight-inning, seven-strikeout start against the Rays. The Statcast data from his past two starts is impressive, resulting in a distance differential of -21 feet when compared to his 12-month average. He’s facing the Rays again today, and their projected lineup has an anemic .285 wOBA and 25.3% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months.
The Blue Jays have struggled a bit offensively of late, averaging 3.53 runs per game over their past 15 games, but their implied team total of 4.8 runs is the top mark on the early slate. They have an excellent matchup against Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman, who has averaged a HR/9 of 1.67 and WHIP of 1.40 to begin the season. Batters have also hit him really hard over the past two starts, resulting in an average distance of 237 feet, exit velocity of 95 miles per hour and hard-hit rate 53%.
Three of the stacked batters — Curtis Granderson, Justin Smoak and Teoscar Hernandez — are on the positive side of their batting splits, with each owning an ISO of at least .249 against right-handers over the past 12 months. Kendrys Morales doesn’t hit righties as well as his stacked teammates but is in the best recent form of the group, owning a distance differential of +22 feet over his past nine games.
On the main slate, the top five-man DraftKings stack belongs to the Colorado Rockies:
The Rockies are implied for a whopping 6.6 runs at Coors Field and are taking on Diamondbacks right-hander Matt Koch. He’s coming off a nice outing against the Miami Marlins, but the Rockies at Coors are a different type of animal. He’s allowed a HR/9 of 1.49 over the past 12 months, and his Statcast data from the past year is also uninspiring: 223-foot distance, 94-mph exit velocity and 46% hard-hit rate. He could struggle at elevation.
The Rockies are also unusually affordable if you choose to omit Charlie Blackmon. Only Nolan Arenado costs more than $4,800 in the above stack, and Gerardo Parra is priced at just $3,900. You should be able to stack them relatively easily if you’re avoiding Charlie Morton at pitcher.
If you’re looking for leverage off of Morton on the main slate, consider Shin-Soo Choo. He’s absolutely smoked the baseball over his past 12 games, resulting in an average distance of 258 feet, exit velocity of 98 miles per hour, and hard-hit rate of 70%. He’s also on the positive side of his batting splits, compiling a .352 wOBA and .199 ISO against right-handers over the past 12 months.
Giancarlo Stanton has destroyed left-handers over the past 12 months, posting a .492 wOBA and .408 ISO, which makes him an interesting option against Matz. The Yankees are implied for ‘only’ 4.5 runs, but Stanton has posted a distance differential of +9 feet over the past 15 days and went yard in the ninth inning of Friday’s contest. He could be starting to heat up.
Alex Bregman looks like one of the best values of the day on DraftKings, where he leads all projected starters with a Bargain Rating of 84%. He’s also on the positive side of his batting splits against Rangers left-hander Mike Minor, as he’s posted a .387 wOBA and .226 ISO against southpaws over the past 12 months.
Good luck, and be sure to check out The Action Network if you’re looking for more baseball coverage!
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Pictured above: Coors Field
Photo credit: Ron Chenoy-USA Today Sports