The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate, using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.
Sunday offers a split slate: There’s a 10-game early slate starting at 1:10 pm ET and a five-game afternoon slate starting at 4:05 pm ET.
Today’s group of stud pitchers is a strong one; there are five pitchers with salaries of at least $10,400 on DraftKings, headlined by Clayton Kershaw and Corey Kluber:
Kershaw is a ridiculous -375 favorite, which is something you hardly ever see. There have been only three other pitchers in our database with moneyline odds of -350 to -400: Kershaw (four times), Max Scherzer (once), and Jake Arrieta (once). Unsurprisingly, those pitchers have absolutely dominated on DraftKings (per the Trends Tool):
If we remove Scherzer and Arrieta and look only at what Kershaw has done when comparably favored, the Plus/Minus increases to a ridiculous +13.74. The Braves’ implied team total of 2.6 runs is also the lowest on the day, and pitching at Dodger stadium has resulted in a historical Plus/Minus of +9.65 for Kershaw.
Finding a flaw with Kershaw is almost impossible on any slate — let alone one in which he’s a historically large favorite — but his K Prediction of 6.8 is somewhat pedestrian considering his salary of $13,400. It’s also surprising considering he’s struck out at least seven batters in eight of his last nine starts, but the Braves’ 19.1 percent strikeout rate against left-handed pitchers is the sixth-lowest mark in the league. With three other pitchers on the afternoon slate with K Predictions of at least 8.0, it’s conceivable that Kershaw could pitch well and still not be in the winning lineup for guaranteed prize pools (GPPs). Still, it’s hard to fade the best pitcher in the league in one of the best spots we’ve seen for a starting pitcher all season. He’ll likely have high ownership, which Pro subscribers can review after lineup lock via our DFS Ownership Dashboard.
On the early slate, Kluber should dominate ownership in a Kershaw-like fashion; he’s the largest favorite with -211 moneyline odds, and his opponent implied team total of 3.5 runs is tops by a wide margin:
His K Prediction of 8.9 is also the best among all early teams, and pitchers with comparable K Predictions, odds, and opponent implied team totals have historically crushed on FanDuel:
Kluber has an average Plus/Minus of +14.43 on FanDuel over his last 10 starts, so it’s tough to find fault with anything he’s done recently. That said, he’s posted a 15-day/12-month distance differential of +18 feet, and his Recent Batted Ball Luck (Rec BBL) is -91. That’s probably negated by the fact that he’s struck out double-digit batters in seven of his last nine starts, but if more balls than usual are put in play against him he’s likely due for some regression; pitchers with comparable distance differentials have a historical Plus/Minus of -1.79.
On the early slate, pitching on DraftKings is way more expensive than on FanDuel, which is doubly concerning considering that there doesn’t appear to be many strong options. The top seven pitchers in the Bales Model have Bargain Ratings of no greater than 35 percent; four options have Bargain Ratings of 14 percent or worse. Having to select two pitchers out of that group is going to be difficult.
Jared Eickhoff stands out as one of the better options at $7,600. He’s been up and down this season, but he has struck out eight batters in back-to-back starts:
His matchup against the Brewers looks tough, but there could be some hidden fantasy potential in there. Their strikeout rate of 25.3 percent against right-handed pitchers is the third-highest mark in the league this season, and their once potent offense has gone a bit stagnant after a blazing start to the year. Before last night’s nine-run explosion, they had scored a total of 15 runs over their previous seven games. Their implied team total of 4.4 runs for today’s contest is tied for the third-lowest mark on the slate, and Eickhoff is also a slight favorite with -118 moneyline odds. There’s definitely reason for optimism here.
Raphael Montero is another name to consider on the early slate. He’s coming off a decent outing (by his standards) against the Cardinals in his last start, and his matchup against Oakland is one of the best of the day; the projected Athletics lineup has a slate-worst .291 splits-adjusted wOBA over the past 12 months.
Montero also has a few other factors working in his favor: Moneyline odds of -135, a 15-day/12-month distance differential of -12 percentage points, and a K Prediction of 5.9 that somehow ranks fourth on the slate. Combining those together leaves Montero with a solid cohort of historical comps on DraftKings:
It should be noted that Montero is also third on the slate with a projected ownership of 17-20 percent on DraftKings, which should probably make you somewhat uncomfortable. He’s been projected for at least 17 percent ownership in two previous starts, and he’s failed to return value in either one:
He still stands out given the dearth of potential pitching options, but consider that a friendly reminder that Montero is #notgood at pitching.
Lance McCullers: The other ‘stud’ option on the early slate, McCullers ranks second with a K Prediction of 7.4 and moneyline odds of -158. He’s been dreadful over his last two starts with an average Plus/Minus of -19.63 on FanDuel, but his recent Statcast data suggests he hasn’t pitched poorly. He’s posted 15-day/12-month distance, hard hit, and exit velocity differentials of +4 feet, -4 miles per hour, and -3 percentage points, and his Rec BBL of +63 is the best mark of the day.
Dinelson Lamet: His K Prediction of 8.5 is second on the afternoon slate, and he gets to go from the worst pitching environment in his last start (Coors Field), to possibly the best pitching environment today (AT&T Park). Pitchers in similarly pitching-friendly stadiums with comparable K Predictions have a massive historical Plus/Minus of +6.00 on DraftKings.
Kyle Freeland: He’s posted a distance differential of -40 feet over his last two starts, and the fact that one of those starts came at Coors makes those numbers even more impressive. He’s pitching at Coors again today, where he’s posted a super impressive Plus/Minus of +7.30 on FanDuel over his first nine starts.
With the Lineup Builder, it’s easy to incorporate stacks into DFS rosters. FantasyDraft allows for six batters from the same team (check out Bryan Mears’ piece for all the FantasyDraft details), and the top six-man stack in the Bales Model belongs to the Colorado Rockies:
Per the Vegas Dashboard, the Rockies are tied for the highest implied team total of the day at 5.9 runs. That’s not a surprise considering they’re playing at Coors Field, and additionally all six batters have also posted positive 15-day/12-month distance differentials:
Plus, Pirates right-hander Ivan Nova has allowed an average batted ball distance of 221 feet over his last two starts, which represents an increase of 20 feet when compared to his 12-month average. It’s going to be virtually impossible to roster the Rockies bats and Kluber on this slate, which will likely result in reduced ownership for the Coors bats. That’s always attractive for GPPs.
On the afternoon slate, the top five-man DraftKings stack belongs to the New York Yankees:
The Yankees have stumbled a bit offensively as of late, falling from first in runs per game to third, but this could be a spot for them to get right. They’re facing Mariners right-hander Yovani Gallardo, who has a past year WHIP of 1.51 and a HR/9 of 1.22, and the Yankees’ implied team total of 4.8 runs is tied for first on the slate. Facing the right-hander also puts all the stacked batters on the positive side of their splits:
I mentioned the Rockies above, but Charlie Blackmon deserves some additional attention. He has a whopping 15 DraftKings Pro Trends, which has historically resulted in a Plus/Minus of +8.68. Much of the Pro Trend love comes from his excellent recent batted ball profile, specifically a distance differential of +45 feet over his last 10 games. He’s also averaged a Plus/Minus of +5.33 over his last 10 contests, despite the fact that he’s been priced as high as $5,800 over that time frame. He shows no signs of slowing down.
The Red Sox have an implied team total of 5.1 runs today, which will likely make them a somewhat popular team to stack. Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, and Xander Bogaerts will likely be among the most popular Red Sox, but their recent Statcast data is concerning. All three have negative distance, exit velocity, and hard hit differentials, and their Rec BBLs are the worst marks on the slate.
Mike Zunino has been crushing the ball recently with an average distance of 292 feet over his last eight games. Batters with comparable distances have a historical Plus/Minus of +2.64 on FanDuel, where he also has a Bargain Rating of 86 percent. Projected to bat ninth on a slate with Gary Sanchez and Buster Posey, he could fly a bit under the radar.
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: