The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate, using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.
Saturday presents a seven-game early slate at 1:05 pm ET on DraftKings. FanDuel splits the early slate into a very early three-game slate and a less early four-game slate at 4:05 pm ET. The eight-game main slate begins at 7:15 pm ET.
Four pitchers cost at least $9,000 on DraftKings and FanDuel. Jake Arrieta displaces Aaron Nola at the $9,000 threshold on FanDuel:
Stephen Strasburg has 31 strikeouts in 19.2 innings against the Braves this season. In their most recent meeting, he allowed six runs in 5.0 innings but missed salary-based expectations by only 6.91 DraftKings points because of his double-digit strikeouts. He’s the most expensive pitcher, and he’s facing a team with a slate-low 3.5-run implied Vegas total.
His 6.9 K Prediction seems conservative based on his success against the Braves this season, and the Nationals lead all teams with -209 moneyline odds. Strasburg has a +5.06 DraftKings Plus/Minus when the Nationals have had similar moneylines, but he’s struggled to provide value in eight similar situations against the Braves.
Rain may be a minor inconvenience at Nationals Park this afternoon with precipitation presently projected close to 11 percent. Even when favored Strasburg has underperformed when he’s pitched with a comparable Weather Rating (per our Trends tool):
When the temperature has been close to today’s forecast 85 degrees, he’s averaged a -8.56 FanDuel Plus/Minus and met salary-based expectations a third of the time under the same Weather Rating and Vegas conditions.
Nonetheless, Strasburg may have the best case on the slate for guaranteed prize pool (GPP) ownership since he offers the undisputed highest ceiling. Strasburg has averaged a +5.43 DraftKings Plus/Minus with a 68.4 percent Consistency Rating and 27.0 percent GPP ownership when the Nationals have received between 80 and 91 percent of moneyline bets — within today’s range. Name recognition may inflate his GPP ownership, which Pro Subscribers can review shortly after lock on our DFS Ownership Dashboard.
Nola has averaged an +11.01 DraftKings Plus/Minus over the past six starts, a stretch in which he’s struck out no fewer than six hitters. His salary has climbed to season-high marks of $9,900 on DraftKings and $8,900 on FanDuel, but since he’s facing the team with the highest strikeout rate and third-lowest wOBA against right-handers this season the salary bump is more than justified.
As mentioned numerous times in the MLB Breakdown, pitchers facing the Padres this season have become cash-game staples:
Nola is one of three pitchers in the early slate projected for a K Prediction of at least 7.0 and facing a team implied to score fewer than 4.0 runs. Favored pitchers have averaged a +1.66 DraftKings Plus/Minus under similar circumstances, and Nola has averaged a +2.65 DraftKings Plus/Minus in five instances matching the trend. The great matchup and severe discount from Strasburg may vault Nola’s viability in cash games and make him an obvious pivot in GPPs. His recent Statcast data compared to Strasburg’s is slightly better in all categories except for hard hit rate, and he’s struck out at least eight hitters in three straight outings.
Jeff Samardzija is the most expensive pitcher in the DraftKings main slate by at least $1,000 even though he is not one of the five pitchers with K Predictions higher than 5.5. However, he has been a solid contributor in cash games, and he hasn’t allowed more than three runs in nine of his last 10 outings — the lone exception being at Coors Field. He’s also pitched at least 6.0 innings in six consecutive starts and limited hitters to a 48 percent ground ball rate, which is 1.3 percentage points below the Marlins’ league-leading ground ball rate against righties this season. His unattractive K Prediction doesn’t translate favorably in GPPs, but he could be used as a potential cash game play on FanDuel at $9,000 if the Vegas data (unreleased as of writing) is advantageous.
Jake Arrieta has limited hitters to a six percent hard hit rate and 174-foot batted ball distance in two consecutive starts — the top marks in the main slate. He also costs an affordable $8,400 on DraftKings, but his $9,700 FanDuel salary is the second-highest mark in the all-day slate. Even though he’s averaged a -3.09 DraftKings Plus/Minus against the Pirates in eight starts since last season, he was priced no lower than $10,700 in those games. Now that his salary-implied point total is 2.09 points below his average DraftKings production against the Pirates, he becomes a more appealing option. The Vegas data has yet to be set for the Pirates-Cubs evening match, but the wind is projected to blow in and the Cubs presently have -177 moneyline odds. Arrieta may actually be the most appealing cash game and GPP pitcher on the slate, which has just a few teams implied for fewer than 4.0 runs.
Jhoulys Chacin has exceeded salary-based expectations in eight of his last 10 starts, but he’s shown limited strikeout upside while averaging a +2.42 DraftKings Plus/Minus over that stretch. The Padres are road underdogs, reducing his chances for a win bonus, but Chacin leads all pitchers with a 7.9 K Prediction and he’s facing a projected Phillies lineup with the fourth-lowest wOBA. The Phillies have the second-lowest wOBA and ISO this season against right-handed pitchers, a group that has averaged a season-best 61.7 percent Consistency Rating on FanDuel against the Phillies this year and the second-highest FanDuel Plus/Minus and GPP ownership. Since the start of May, the Phillies have the been the league’s most generous team to righties:
Mike Clevinger faced the Tigers in his last start and limited them to one run in 6.0 innings while notching seven strikeouts, extending his streak to four games of no more than two runs allowed. He costs less than $8,000 on DraftKings and FanDuel, and he’s available in the main slate, where he leads all pitchers with a 7.5 K Prediction and ranks second with an opponent implied total of 4.3 runs. Even though he doesn’t rate well, he should at least be considered an SP2 in GPPs.
Luis Castillo: He ranks third among pitchers with a 60 percent recent fly ball rate, and he registered 14.75 DraftKings points in his recent start at Coors Field. Shifting venues to Chase Field should be another adventure for the rookie making his fourth career start, but he’s extremely cheap on DraftKings ($5,900), and as a contrarian punt play he opens up plenty of salary to load up on Coors Field hitters.
Luis Severino: The Yankees have the second-highest moneyline odds (-205), and Severino is one of five pitchers with a K Prediction of at least 7.0 and one of four pitchers facing a team presently implied to score fewer than 4.0 runs. However, his recent struggles will likely reduce him to a GPP pivot off of Strasburg in the early slate.
Julio Teheran: His home/road splits have been drastic this season:
Since 2016, Teheran has averaged a +5.71 FanDuel Plus/Minus with a 70.0 percent Consistency Rating on the road. The Nationals are one of three teams in the early late presently implied to score at least 5.0 runs, and the Braves are heavy underdogs with +193 moneyline odds. His GPP ownership will at least be minuscule, and his salary has descended to $6,700 on DraftKings.
With our Lineup Builder, it’s easy to incorporate stacks into DFS rosters. The top-rated early-slate DraftKings stack in the CSURAM88 Model belongs to the Blue Jays, who are not one of three teams implied to score at least 5.0 runs:
Although Astros right-hander Mike Fiers has limited opposing teams to two or fewer runs in six of his last seven starts — coinciding with mechanical changes to his curveball after allowing 18 home runs in his first nine starts — he has allowed slate-worst marks with a 253-foot batted ball distance, 52 percent fly ball rate, and 57 percent hard hit rate in his last two outings. Fiers has also allowed 12 stolen bases this season, a tendency that will likely be exploited by Kevin Pillar, who leads the Blue Jays with 12 steals. A 1-2-3-4-5 stack is not feasible since Justin Smoak and Kendry Morales are both listed as first basemen, and since Morales, who is projected to bat fifth, has a marginally lower rating Smoak is the preferred option. Since Morales costs $800 less than Smoak and leads the Blue Jays with a batted ball distance differential of +25 feet, pivoting to a 1-2-3-5-6 stack splits the group into two mini stacks that retain most of the continuity in the lineup.
The four top-rated stacks in the Bales Model for the FanDuel main slate belong to the Diamondbacks:
The Diamondbacks are one of five main-slate teams presently implied to score at least 5.3 runs. Two other teams are presently implied to score at least 5.9 runs, which may artificially drive down ownership for the Diamondbacks. We briefly covered Reds right-hander Luis Castillo as a contrarian option in the “Fastballs” section, and with three of the four hitters in this stack sporting recent ground ball rates of at least 37 percent they may warrant reduced tournament exposure. Still, the Diamondbacks have the fourth-highest Team Value Rating and implied run total, and they also lead all home teams with a +2.90 FanDuel Plus/Minus, 51.1 percent Consistency Rating, and 11.4 percent GPP ownership. All four hitters have Bargain Ratings of at least 86 percent, and with the temperature projected around 104 degrees, the roof will be closed, creating a condition in which Chris Owings has thrived this season with a +7.21 FanDuel Plus/Minus and a 68.4 percent Consistency Rating.
The Indians have hit Justin Verlander hard in three games this season — not unlike the rest of the American League — tattooing him for seven and nine runs in two separate outings. Jose Ramirez homered off Verlander in two of the games, and he’s hit five of his 16 home runs against Tigers pitchers this season. Ramirez has the fourth-lowest DraftKings Dud rate over the last month (minimum 10 games), and he profiles as a solid investment in all formats.
Josh Reddick leads all hitters with a 73 percent FanDuel Consistency Rating over the past month, and he’s had a strong 10-game stretch:
He’s one of four Astros with a hard hit rate of at least 47 percent over the past 15 days, and the Astros are facing a pitcher in Marcus Stroman who exited his last start early due to a blister. He has incredible Statcast data, but the Astros’ implied total has dropped 0.5 runs since the line opened, resulting in negative reverse line movement. Fading the Astros may be the proper strategy, but rostering Reddick by himself is equally worth consideration.
Kyle Seager and Evan Longoria have similar recent Statcast data, none of which is overly impressive. Seager’s production has been quite unlucky over the past 15 days, culminating in a +43 DraftKings Recent Batted Ball Luck. Aside from both players being listed as third basemen and unownable in the same lineup, both have their bobblehead day — Longoria in the early slate and Seager in the main slate. Hitters on their bobblehead days have averaged a +1.35 DraftKings Plus/Minus with 49.1 percent Consistency Rating and a +1.71 FanDuel Plus/Minus with a 47.8 percent Consistency Rating since the beginning of 2013.
Good luck, and be sure to do your own research with the Labs Tools!
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: