The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate, using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.
Sunday provides a 10-game main slate at 1:07 pm ET and a five-game afternoon slate at 3:37 pm ET.
There are five pitchers priced above $9,500 on DraftKings, headlined by Max Scherzer at $13,500:
It’s hard to understate just how dominant Scherzer has been recently. He’s allowed six total earned runs over his last seven starts, striking out double-digit batters in all but one of them. He’s posted an average Plus/Minus of +15.56 on DraftKings over that time period, despite being priced at $12,700 or more for each of those starts. Basically, he’s been the best pitcher in the league for the past five weeks.
Scherzer gets a nice matchup today against the Cardinals, whose projected lineup has the worst 12-month splits-adjusted wOBA on the slate at .268. Although his moneyline odds of -126 are somewhat low due to the tough pitching matchup against Carlos Martinez, his opponent implied team total of 3.6 ranks second on the day. Where Scherzer really makes his money, however, is with strikeouts, and his K Prediction of 10.4 is easily the top mark among today’s pitchers. Historically, pitchers with comparable K Predictions have dominated on DraftKings (per the MLB Trends tool):
He also has some elite Statcast data over his last two starts, allowing an average batted ball distance of 182 feet, an exit velocity of 86 miles per hour, and a hard hit rate of 17 percent. Pitchers with that kind of strikeout upside and recent batted ball profile are rare – there have been only eight pitchers over the past three seasons with a K Prediction of at least 9.4 and comparable Statcast data – and those pitchers have a historical Plus/Minus of +12.51 and a Consistency Rating of 87.5 percent on DraftKings. Fade at your own risk.
Jeff Samardzija is tied for the lowest implied team total on the main slate at 4.1 runs and has pitched well after a shaky start to his season:
The projected Pirates lineup has a .281 wOBA against right-handed pitchers over the past 12 months, and over his last two starts Samardzija has posted excellent distance, exit velocity, and hard hit differentials of -34 feet, -2 miles per hour, and -6 percentage points. His K Prediction of 6.1 is solid enough, and pitchers with comparable K Predictions and distance differentials have historically been impressive on FanDuel:
Martinez should have relatively low ownership opposing Scherzer, which gives him some appeal for guaranteed prize pools (GPPs). His K Prediction of 7.0 ranks fourth on the day, while his opponent implied team total of 4.0 runs ranks fifth. He’s posted an average Plus/Minus of +6.88 on DraftKings over his past 10 starts, although that likely overstates how well he’s pitched recently; his Recent Batted Ball Luck score of -95 over his last two starts is absolutely terrifying.
As impressive as the recent Statcast data is for Scherzer and Samardzija, neither pitcher has the strongest numbers on the slate. That distinction belongs to Kenta Maeda, who has allowed an average batted ball distance of 167 feet, an exit velocity of 88 miles per hour, a ground ball rate of 54 percent, and a hard hit rate of 24 percent over his last three starts. The distance in particular is really impressive, resulting in a 15-day/12-month differential of -40 feet, and pitchers with comparable differentials have historically been solid values on DraftKings:
In addition to the Statcast data, Maeda also has arguably the strongest Vegas data on the slate. His opponent implied team total of 3.4 runs ranks first on the day, as does his moneyline odds of -185. When paired with his K Prediction of 7.8, which ranks second on the day, pitchers with comparable Vegas data have historically been good:
Pitching in San Diego also rewards Maeda in two ways. First, Petco Park gives him a strong Park Factor of 83, which is tied for the third-best mark on the day. Second, the Padres have been terrible against right-handed pitchers this season, posting the highest K rate at 25.7 percent and the third-worst wOBA at .300. At only $9,200 on DraftKings, Maeda costs $4,300 less than Scherzer on the afternoon slate. How the ownership shakes out between these two pitchers will be an interesting dynamic and can be reviewed by Pro Subscribers using our DFS Ownership Dashboard.
The pitcher with the top Vegas data on the main slate is Mets pitcher Rafael Montero, who is coming off an impressive outing against the Giants in his last start. At only $6,900 on DraftKings, he leads the slate with an opponent implied team total of 4.1 runs and moneyline odds of -152, and pitchers with comparable salaries and Vegas data have historically returned value:
The Phillies are also a great matchup: They have the second-worst team wOBA (.298), sixth-highest K rate (23.8 percent), and have averaged the second-fewest runs per game this season (3.83). And despite his somewhat inconsistent results throughout his career, Montero has always excelled at striking batters out; his 12-month K/9 of 10.81 is the highest mark on the slate. His K Prediction of 6.6 is tied for second in the main slate, and he should be a popular value option given his Vegas data, matchup, and strikeout upside.
James Paxton: He has a K Prediction of only 5.3, but his moneyline odds of -147 and opponent implied team total of 3.9 are among the best marks today. He also has a Park Factor of 83, and similar favorites in comparable parks have a Plus/Minus of +2.56 on FanDuel.
Mike Clevinger: His K Prediction of 7.7 ranks first on the main slate by 1.1 strikeouts, and his matchup against Justin Verlander should result in reduced ownership. That combination gives him some appeal for GPPs.
Per the Vegas Dashboard, the Rays’ current implied team total of 5.4 runs is tied for the highest on the slate, and their Team Value Rating of 88 ranks third. Playing in Baltimore rewards the left-handed batters with a Park Factor of 79 – the highest mark among all of today’s hitters – and Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman has a 15-day/12-month distance differential of +17 feet over his last two starts. Facing a right-handed pitcher also puts all four of the stacked batters on the positive side of their splits:
On the afternoon slate, the top five-man DraftKings stack is a straight stack of the Diamondbacks’ top five hitters:
With the majority of the top arms pitching in the afternoon, the offenses are projected to be slightly lower-scoring; the Diamondbacks’ implied team total of 4.8 runs is tied for the top mark of the slate. Pitcher German Marquez has allowed an average distance of 223 feet, an exit velocity of 92 miles per hour, and a hard hit rate of 47 percent over his last two starts – all among the worst marks on the slate – and, conversely, the majority of the stacked batters are hitting well at the moment:
Paul Goldschmidt in particular is destroying the baseball, and batters with comparable Statcast data have a historical Plus/Minus of +1.25 on DraftKings. He’s also second on the slate with 10 Pro Trends.
Mike Napoli continues to struggle at the plate . . .
. . . but his Statcast numbers remain elite. He’s posted a batted ball distance of 254 feet, an exit velocity of 94 percent, and a hard hit rate of 47 percent over his last 11 games, and batters with comparable data have posted a historical Plus/Minus of +1.85 on DraftKings. His Rec BBL score of +67 is the highest among today’s projected starters and suggests he could be in line for some positive regression.
Jed Lowrie has posted 15-day/12-month distance, exit velocity, and hard hit differentials of +45 feet, +2 miles per hour, and +7 percentage points over his last 11 games. Batters with comparable differentials and an implied team total between 4.3 and 5.3 runs have a historical Plus/Minus of +3.77 on FanDuel. At only $2,800 on FanDuel, he has a Bargain Rating of 93 percent.
Robinson Cano leads the slate with 11 Pro Trends on DraftKings, and despite a Plus/Minus of +4.61 over his last 10 games, his Rec BBL score of +20 suggests he’s actually been slightly unlucky over that time period. The Mariners are implied for 4.7 runs, and batters with a comparable implied team total and number of Pro Trends have a historical Plus/Minus of +2.05.
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: