Tuesday has a 15-game main slate at 7:05 pm ET. Let’s jump in.
Although there are 30 pitchers in today’s massive 15-game main slate, only four of them have FanDuel salaries above $8,000:
On DraftKings, five pitchers have salaries of $8,000 or higher, so a similar dynamic exists: There are a lot of ‘options,’ but there aren’t that many ‘real’ options. Narrowing down your player pool seems overwhelming given the slate size, but it could be easier than you think, especially with the Player Pool and Filters functions in our Player Models.
Max Scherzer is the highest-priced option on both sites, and it’s certainly warranted: He’s been excellent in 2017, going for 27.3 and 25.4 DraftKings points in his first two starts, striking out 17 batters, and allowing just eight total hits across 12.2 innings. He’s allowed an elite hard hit rate of just 13 percent in those two outings, and today he gets a Braves team implied for only 3.2 runs. Scherzer’s 8.3 K Prediction is tied for the highest mark in the slate, which (when combined with his Vegas data), paints a pleasant picture (per our Trends tool):
This trend is for all comparable pitchers over the last four years. If we look at just Scherzer’s production in similar spots, it gets even better:
It also doesn’t hurt that Scherzer has a slate-high 91 percent Bargain Rating.
For more on Scherzer, see today’s Three Key MLB Players.
So, lock in Scherzer, right? In a day with few high-end options, you would expect Scherzer to have high ownership, right? (Pro subscribers can review tournament ownership in our DFS Ownership Dashboard shortly after lineups lock.) It turns out that Scherzer’s ownership, though high, may not be prohibitive.
What if I told you — I hope you’re hearing this sentence in a 30-for-30 voice, by the way — that you could roster a pitcher with the exact same K Prediction as Scherzer’s and essentially the same opponent implied run total as Scherzer’s, but at $2,100 and $700 less on DraftKings and FanDuel?
That’s Yu Darvish, who could be quite popular, especially after going for 61.0 FanDuel points in his last start, in which he allowed five hits and zero runs across seven innings while striking out 10 batters. That was easily his best game of the young season, but his other games weren’t too bad either despite the low fantasy totals: He allowed just four hits in each of his first two starts (across 12.1 innings):
Darvish has a nice matchup today against a projected Oakland lineup that ranks 21st in team wOBA this season (.298) and eighth in strikeout rate (23.3 percent). We can use the same trend for Darvish as we did for Scherzer (given their incredible data proximity): He’s been in a similar spot four times over the last couple of years, and he’s averaged 28.01 DraftKings points and a +6.47 Plus/Minus. Both guys have elite upside in positive matchups today; dividing exposure between the two of them may not be a bad move in all types of contest formats.
Quick note: The Nationals-Braves game has a decent chance of precipitation, so monitor that situation this afternoon.
There are some nice value options, but not in terms of strikeout upside: Scherzer and Darvish’s 8.3 K Predictions dominate the slate:
That said, in terms of Vegas data, there are quite a few excellent options:
There are currently a whopping 10 pitchers with opposing implied run totals of 3.8 or less — and there are still two games without lines in the Astros-Angels and Cubs-Brewers affairs. As you can see above, Luis Severino has excellent Vegas data, especially for a guy who is just $6,500 on DraftKings and $7,700 on FanDuel. He threw a gem in his last start, striking out 11 batters and allowing just five hits and two runs in seven innings pitched. His ownership could be inflated due to recency bias, but he’s also tough to fade, given the White Sox’s implied total and low .291 team wOBA this season — the fifth-lowest mark in the league.
There have been only 43 pitchers over the last four seasons with DraftKings salaries and opposing run totals as low as Severino’s:
Speaking of excellent marks at a low price point: The Dodgers’ Hyun-jin Ryu is at home against the Rockies, who are implied for just 3.3 runs. Ryu has a solid K Prediction of 6.3, and his low $6,600 salary on FanDuel comes with a massive 91 percent Bargain Rating. He also could benefit from ‘negative’ recency bias: Over his first two starts, he’s averaged a FanDuel Plus/Minus of -4.73, missing salary-based expectations each time:
However, his situation isn’t dire: His first two games were 1) in Coors Field and 2) in Chicago against the defending World Series Champions. That’s a brutal start to the year, and finally today he gets a positive environment in Los Angeles against a Rockies team that ranks 23rd in team wOBA this season (.297). His Statcast numbers suggest he hasn’t been that bad either: He’s allowed an exit velocity of just 89 miles per hour on batted balls, and he’s limited hitters to just a 25 percent fly ball rate. People will be terrified of his 1.984 WHIP, but he has positive indicators.
Andrew Triggs: He has averaged a +7.69 DraftKings Plus/Minus across his first two starts of 2017, and he’s now even cheaper at just $5,000; he’s in a pitcher’s park at home in Oakland and has allowed a low hard hit rate of 20 percent this season.
Zack Wheeler: He’s facing the Phillies, who are currently implied for just 3.4 runs and own a top-10 strikeout rate this season, whiffing on 22.8 percent of at-bats; his $7,300 FanDuel salary comes with a 73 percent Bargain Rating.
With our Lineup Builder, it’s easy to incorporate stacks into DFS rosters. As usual, let’s build some stacks using player ratings from the Bales Model. We’ll first do a five-man DraftKings stack and then finish with a four-man FanDuel stack:
This stack will likely be popular, as the Orioles are currently implied for 5.2 runs — the second-highest mark of the slate now that the Cubs’ slate-high 5.5 total has been released. The Orioles had the day off yesterday after finishing their series with the Blue Jays, and they’re sporting some hot bats: They had four home runs on Sunday, including two from young batter Trey Mancini. He’s not an everyday player (yet) and isn’t in today’s projected lineup, but this Orioles squad still has a ton of upside, especially against Bronson Arroyo, who has the worst past-year HR/9 allowed mark among all pitchers today at 3.6. Across two starts, he’s allowed four homers and 11 runs in 10 innings. Chris Davis, Manny Machado, and company could have high guaranteed prize pool ownership.
On FanDuel, the highest-rated four-man stack also belongs to the Orioles — three of the top four, in fact. The one non-Orioles grouping is a projected 1-2-3-5 stack of the Cleveland Indians:
The Indians have been held to just four runs over the last two games, but they have nice upside today against Twins righty Phil Hughes, who has a miserable past-year WHIP of 1.570, along with a high 1.746 HR/9 allowed. He’s actually exceeded salary-based expectations in each of his first two starts, averaging a +6.65 FanDuel Plus/Minus . . .
. . . but his Statcast data is horrible: In his two starts, he’s allowed an average batted distance of 256 feet, an exit velocity of 94 MPH, a fly ball rate of 50 percent, and a hard hit rate of 50 percent. When you look up the definition of “regression to the mean,” a picture of Hughes is presented.
As usual, let’s discuss our new Recent Batted Ball Luck metric. Here’s the definition:
The difference between a player’s percentile rank in batted ball distance and fantasy scoring over the past 15 days
I typically highlight some players with positive Recent Batted Ball Luck marks — the players who have been making great contact but haven’t scored fantasy points — but I think it’s also useful to look at the opposite end of the spectrum: The players who have scored a bunch of fantasy points despite making relatively poor contact. Take Lorenzo Cain, for example: He has done well over this over his first 12 games of 2017 . . .
. . . but then you look at his Statcast data and wonder how he’s scored so many fantasy points. Over his 12 games, he’s averaged an exit velocity of 83 MPH, a batted ball distance of 172 feet, and a hard hit rate of 12 percent. Those are laughably bad marks, as is his past-year ISO split versus right-handed pitchers (.089). He’s projected to hit third today for a Royals team currently implied for 4.8 runs. That seems great, and he could have inflated ownership.
Of course, here’s his ownership from April 15 (Saturday):
He has a negative Volatility Rating and poor GPP Grade for a reason: The sharp high-stakes DFS players believe that Cain’s production is a fluke.
That was a lot of words about a single batter, so I’ll talk about one more guy. Eric Thames has probably been the hottest hitter in baseball through the first couple of weeks:
I mean, come on: He has a home run in each of his last five games. And here’s where Statcast data can help: Through his first 11 games of the season, he’s averaged a batted ball distance of 252 feet, an exit velocity of 96 MPH, a fly ball rate of 42 percent, and a hard hit rate of 54 percent. His Recent Batted Ball Luck metric is -1; it’s essentially a neutral mark. Is he unsustainably hot right now? Yes. Has he been getting lucky? No. That’s an important distinction.
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: