The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate, using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.
Wednesday offers a split slate: There’s a four-game early slate starting at 1:05 pm ET and a 10-game main slate starting at 7:05 pm ET.
Today’s group of pitchers is a strong one, headlined by possibly the league’s best pitcher this season in Chris Sale:
It’s weird to consider anyone but Clayton Kershaw as the best pitcher in baseball, but Sale has made a really strong case for himself this season. Sale has the highest Wins Above Replacement (WAR) mark among all pitchers according to FanGraphs, and his fantasy results over his last 10 starts have been nothing short of dominant on FanDuel:
On the early slate, he leads all pitchers in a variety of categories. He’s first in K Prediction (8.4), opponent implied team total (3.2 runs), and recent pitch count (115). Further, he’s the second-largest favorite on the slate with -213 moneyline odds. Pitchers with comparable numbers in all four categories have historically been awesome values on FanDuel (per the MLB Trends tool):
Sale’s recent Statcast data is far from dominant, with a 223-foot batted ball distance and 40 percent hard hit rate over his last two starts, but those marks are less ominous given his immense strikeout upside. Pitching in Seattle also rewards him with a Park Factor of 70, and home plate umpire Paul Nauert has historically provided pitchers with an additional Plus/Minus of +1.96 on FanDuel.
On the main slate, Yu Darvish leads the trio stud options with a K Prediction of 6.7, although his opponent implied team total of 4.2 runs ranks last. Still, the difference between the three pitchers is not tremendous, and he makes up for it with strong -177 moneyline odds.
Where Darvish really sets himself apart, though, is with his Statcast data. He’s posted a 15-day/12-month distance differential of -29 feet, and pitchers with comparable differentials, K Predictions, and moneyline odds have been solid bets on DraftKings:
Paying up for Darvish on this slate could actually be a slightly contrarian move; his $12,100 salary seems high for a pitcher with an opponent implied team total that ranks just sixth on the slate, and his DraftKings Bargain Rating of two percent is the worst mark among today’s pitchers. That definitely increases his appeal for guaranteed prize pools (GPPs).
With Kershaw hitting the disabled list, manager Dave Roberts has tapped Brock Stewart to assume his spot in the rotation:
Brock Stewart starts tomorrow.
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) July 25, 2017
Stewart is definitely intriguing here: He leads the slate with moneyline odds of -228 and an opponent implied team total of 3.0 runs, and his salary of $4,100 makes him essentially minimum-priced on DraftKings. There have been only 24 other occurrences in our database where a pitcher has had comparable Vegas data with a salary of $6,000 or less, and those pitchers have unsurprisingly been very successful:
Stewart has also pitched well over the last 15 days, albeit in a long relief role. He’s allowed a batted ball distance of 187 feet, an exit velocity of 87 miles per hour, and a hard hit rate of 25 percent over his last two appearances; all of those numbers represent decreases compared to his 12-month averages.
The big caveat, of course, is that Stewart will be making his first start after spending an extended period of time in the bullpen, and he’ll supposedly be on a count of roughly 50-60 pitches today. Even with Vegas data that strong, it’s going to be tough to trust a pitcher who isn’t guaranteed to go even five innings, especially in GPPs, where we’re typically looking for a much higher ceiling.
Carlos Martinez is another pitcher who deserves consideration on the main slate. He has good but not great marks in virtually every category on DraftKings: He has a 3.8 opponent implied team total, -152 moneyline odds, 6.7 K Prediction, 76 Park Factor, and a 63 percent Bargain Rating. Pitchers with comparable numbers have historically been reliable options:
Martinez hasn’t pitched well recently, with an average Plus/Minus of -4.23 over his last two starts, but his Recent Batted Ball Luck score of +22 suggests he’s been slightly unlucky over that time period. His resulting salary change of -$2,900 brings him to a very affordable $8,400, and Martinez is also tied for the most Pro Trends on the slate with seven. There’s a chance he’s the highest-owned pitcher on the slate, which Pro Subscribers can review using our DFS Ownership Dashboard.
Mike Fiers: His K Prediction of 7.1 is tied for third on the main slate, and he has a great matchup against the Phillies; their .306 wOBA against right-handed pitchers ranks 26th in the league this season. His opponent implied team total of 4.0 runs is the fourth-best mark, and he’s a slight favorite with -129 moneyline odds.
Jeff Samardzija: He leads the early slate with eight Pro Trends on DraftKings, where he also has a Bargain Rating of 78 percent. Pitching in San Francisco rewards him with the top Park Factor of the day at 93, and his opponent implied team total of 3.8 ranks behind only the marks of Sale and Luis Severino. He should be a popular SP2 option.
With the Lineup Builder, it’s easy to incorporate stacks into DFS lineups. On the early slate, the top five-man DraftKings stack using the Bales Model belongs to the New York Yankees:
Per the Vegas Dashboard, The Yankees are second on the early slate with an implied team total of 5.2 runs. They’re set to face Reds righty Homer Bailey, who has a WHIP of 2.01 and HR/9 of 1.48 over the past 12 months. Additionally, facing a righty puts the majority of the stacked batters on the positive side of their batting splits:
Clint Frazier has recently moved up to the second spot in the order, and at $3,700 his price hasn’t really been updated to reflect his new role. Hitters with comparable lineup spots, salaries, and implied team totals have a historical Plus/Minus of +1.33.
We’ve recently added FantasyDraft to our suite of DFS tools, and they allow you to stack up to six batters from the same team. The top six-man stack on the main slate belongs to the projected 1-2-3-5-6-8 batters for the Texas Rangers:
The Rangers are tied with the Cubs for the highest implied team total on the slate at 5.8 runs and have some hot hitters recently like Mike Napoli. He has an average batted ball distance of 266 feet, an exit velocity of 95 miles per hour, and a hard hit rate of 52 percent over his last 12 games; batters with comparable Statcast data and implied team totals have a historical Plus/Minus of +4.16 on FantasyDraft.
Mitch Moreland has been absolutely dreadful in terms of fantasy points over his last 10 games:
However, his Statcast data paints an entirely different picture: He has a 15-day/12-month distance differential of +21 feet, and his resulting Recent Batted Ball Luck score of +93 is one of the top marks on the slate. Batters with comparable numbers in both categories and an implied team total similar to Boston’s 4.9 runs have a historical Plus/Minus of +2.99 on DraftKings. He could see some positive regression soon.
Joey Gallo wasn’t highlighted in the above Rangers stack, but he very well could be used as a pivot. He leads the slate with a 15-day average batted ball distance of 276 feet, and even hitters in the bottom third of the lineup have a historical Plus/Minus of +3.89 on FanDuel with similar Statcast and Vegas data.
Tommy Pham leads the slate with 13 Pro Trends, a number that has historically correlated with a Plus/Minus of +3.18 on DraftKings. He has batted ball differentials of +27 feet, +3 miles per hour, and +17 percentage points over his last 12 games, and batters with comparable marks have a historical Plus/Minus of +1.52. For more on Pham and the rest of the Cardinals, make sure to check out today’s MLB Pro Model Stacks piece.
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: