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MLB DFS Breakdown (Friday, 8/2): Twins Have Massive Upside

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The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players. 

Friday features a 12-game slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET.

Pitchers

Studs

Three pitchers on today’s slate own a salary of at least $10,000 on FanDuel:

  • Mike Clevinger (R) $10,700, CLE vs. LAA
  • Lance Lynn (R) $10,500, TEX vs. DET
  • Robbie Ray (L) $10,000, ARI vs. WSH

Clevinger has struggled with injuries this season, limiting him to just 49.1 innings pitched, but he’s been dominant when he’s been able to take the mound. He’s pitched to a 3.28 ERA and 2.59 FIP while posting a career-best 13.14 K/9. Overall, he’s posted an average Plus/Minus of +4.36 on FanDuel through his first nine starts.

He’s in a difficult spot today vs. the Angels, who rank sixth in wRC+ against right-handers this season. That said, Clevinger is still getting a lot of respect from Vegas given his 3.6 opponent implied team total and -217 moneyline odds. Historically, pitchers with comparable marks in both categories have averaged a Plus/Minus of +4.34 on FanDuel (per the Trends tool).

Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Mike Clevinger.

Lynn has quietly been one of the best pitchers in baseball this season. He’s pitched to a 2.94 FIP and leads all AL starters in Wins Above Replacement. He’s also been hot since the beginning of June, pitching to a 2.50 FIP and an 11.0 K/9.

Lynn is in one of the best spots possible today vs. the Detroit Tigers. They’ve been absolutely anemic against right-handers this season, ranking dead last in wRC+. Right-handers have unsurprisingly found a lot of fantasy success against the Tigers this year, posting an average Plus/Minus of +5.06 on DraftKings. The Tigers also just traded away their best hitter in Nicholas Castellanos, so it’s possible that their offense is even worse down the home stretch.

Lynn’s opponent implied team total of 3.6 runs is tied with Clevinger’s for the best mark on the slate, while his moneyline odds of -258 rank second. His K Prediction of 6.8 also ranks third. He’s an excellent option on today’s slate, especially on FanDuel given his Bargain rating of 91%.

Ray is a boom-or-bust type of pitcher, but he’s been a lot more boom than bust recently. He’s posted an average Plus/Minus of +6.01 over his past 10 starts on FanDuel, and he’s coming off a gem in his last outing. He limited the Marlins to just two earned runs over six innings while striking out 11 batters.

That said, he’ll face a much stiffer test today vs. the Washington Nationals. They currently rank sixth in the league in wRC+ against left-handed pitchers, and they’re implied for 4.2 runs on today’s slate. They also own the fifth-lowest strikeout rate against left-handed pitchers, which should limit Ray’s strikeout upside.

More balls in play could spell trouble for Ray, who has allowed some concerning contact over his past two starts. Opposing batters have compiled an average distance of 231 feet, exit velocity on 96 mph and hard hit rate of 46%, all of which represent increases when compared to his 12-month averages. He still has some appeal for guaranteed prize pools (GPPs), but there are better options for cash games.

Values

Jason Vargas will make his debut for the Phillies tonight, and he’s in an elite spot vs. the Chicago White Sox. Their projected lineup has struggled against left-handers over the past 12 months, posting a .290 wOBA and 33.4% strikeout rate. Vargas is not a strikeout pitcher – he’s posted a K/9 of 7.73 this season – but he has nice upside in this matchup.

Where Vargas really excels is with his ability to limit damage on balls in play, and he’s done that at an elite level recently. He’s limited his past two opponents to an average distance of 208 feet, exit velocity of 86 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 17%, all of which represent decreases when compared to his 12-month averages. If Vargas can continue to generate soft contact and sprinkle in a few additional strikeouts, he should be able to post solid fantasy numbers.

Wade Miley is another pitcher with a strong recent Statcast profile, and he has phenomenal Vegas data today vs. the Seattle Mariners. They’re currently implied for just 3.7 runs, and pitching for the Astros rewards Miley with -276 moneyline odds. That gives him a good chance of picking up a win, and pitchers with comparable Vegas data have historically posted a Plus/Minus of +2.78 on DraftKings.

Dustin May is the most intriguing pitching option on today’s slate. He’s making his MLB debut for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and he was ranked as the eighth-best prospect in baseball according to Fangraphs.

He has a nice matchup for his first start vs. the San Diego Padres, whose projected lineup has posted a .297 wOBA and 30.4% strikeout rate against right-handers this season. As a result, May owns solid marks across the board: 4.0 opponent implied team total, -160 moneyline odds, 6.3 K Prediction.

The big concern with May is how long the Dodgers will actually let him pitch in tonight’s contest. Dave Roberts is notorious for being conservative with his starters, particularly young ones like May. It wouldn’t be a shock to see him get pulled after four or five innings even if he’s pitching well. He still warrants consideration at his current salary, but expectations should be tempered.

Fastballs

Steven Matz: He’s coming off a gem in his last outing, pitching a complete game shutout against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He’ll face the same team on today’s slate, and he’s one of the best pure values at pitcher on DraftKings given his Bargain Rating of 61%.

Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: New York Mets pitcher Steven Matz (32) and third baseman Todd Frazier (21).

Alex Wood: He’s in a scary spot today vs. the Atlanta Braves, but he does possess nice strikeout upside. The Braves projected lineup has posted a 32.4% strikeout rate against left-handers over the past 12 months, and Wood has posted a K/9 of 8.80 over the same time frame.

Eduardo Rodriguez: He owns the best recent Statcast data on the slate, particularly his average distance of 156 feet. That represents a decrease of -51 feet when compared to his 12-month average, and he combines that with nice strikeout upside vs. the New York Yankees. He has some appeal as a contrarian option for GPPs.

Notable Stacks

With the Lineup Builder, it’s easy to incorporate stacks into DFS lineups. Today’s top five-man DraftKings stack per the Bales Model belongs to the Atlanta Braves:

  • 1. Ronald Acuna (R)
  • 2. Ozzie Albies (S)
  • 3. Freddie Freeman (L)
  • 4. Josh Donaldson (R)
  • 5. Adam Duvall (R)

Total Salary: $22,800

The Braves strike out in bunches against left-handers, but they can do some serious damage when they put the ball in play. They rank sixth in ISO and seventh in wOBA against southpaws this season, and they’re currently implied for 5.5 runs. That doesn’t jump off the page on a slate with Coors Field available, but it still ranks seventh on the slate.

Wood has pitched just 4.2 innings this season, and his numbers over that time frame aren’t exactly impressive. He’s pitched to a 4.93 FIP and posted a HR/FB rate of 16.7%.

Acuna has absolutely crushed left-handers to start his career, and he’s posted a .461 wOBA and .315 ISO against southpaws over the past 12 months. He also enters this contest in solid recent form, exceeding his 12-month averages in distance and hard hit rate over the past 15 days. He could be a bit overlooked on today’s slate, but he’s an elite option.

On FanDuel, the top four-man stack belongs to the Minnesota Twins:

  • 1. Max Kepler (L)
  • 2. Jorge Polanco (S)
  • 3. Nelson Cruz (R)
  • 7. Miguel Sano (R)

Total Salary: $16,300

The Twins are a more obvious target on today’s slate. They’re currently implied for 6.7 runs, which trails only the Rockies mark of 7.6. They’re taking on Royals right-hander Glenn Sparkman, who has been dreadful this season. He’s pitched to a 5.25 ERA and 5.93 FIP, and he’s allowed balls to fly over the fence at a break-neck pace. He’s currently allowing 2.04 HRs per nine innings, which is the fourth-worst mark among starters with at least 80 innings pitched. No team in baseball has averaged more HRs per game than the Twins this season, so this is a match made in DFS heaven.

Kepler, Polanco and Cruz all stand out as elite options, but Sano could be an important differentiator at the bottom of the lineup. He’s not your typical No. 7 hitter, boasting a .263 ISO against right-handers over the past 12 months, and he’s posted a 149 wRC+ since the All-Star break. He also leads the team with an average distance of 241 feet over the past 15 days, so he can provide some firepower in this matchup.

Other Batters

Brandon Belt is always an excellent target when facing a right-hander on the road, but he’s in a particularly strong spot tonight. Coors Field is obviously the best hitter’s park in baseball, and opposing pitcher Peter Lambert has posted a 7.61 ERA at Coors this season. He’s struggled in particular against left-handed batters at home, allowing them to post a ridiculous .433 wOBA and club four HRs in just 11.0 innings. Belt is comically underpriced at just $4,000 on DraftKings, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 94%.

It’s almost impossible to find someone batting in a premium lineup spot at Coors Field for less than $4,000 on DraftKings, but that’s the case tonight with Scooter Gennett. He’s expected to bat cleanup at just $3,500, and batters with comparable lineup spots and salaries have historically posted a Plus/Minus of +1.46. Gennett has yet to homer through his first 74 plate appearances this season, but he did go yard at least 23 times each of the past two years. He’s one of the best pure vales on the slate.

Aaron Judge has seen a price decrease of -$900 over the past month on DraftKings, resulting in a $3,900 salary for tonight’s contest vs. the Red Sox. He’ll be on the positive side of his batting splits against Rodriguez, and Judge has posted a .430 wOBA and .250 ISO against southpaws over the past 12 months. His Statcast data from his past 13 games also suggests he’s been swinging the bat well recently, so this is an excellent opportunity to buy low on a big-time power hitter.

Good luck, and be sure to check out The Action Network if you’re looking for more in-depth MLB analysis or how to bet on sports.

After this piece is published, FantasyLabs is likely to provide news updates on a number of players. Be sure to stay ahead of your competition with our industry-leading DFS-focused news blurbs.

Pictured above: Twins 3B Miguel Sano (22)
Photo credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY