The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.
Friday features a 14-game main slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET.
Four pitchers on today’s slate own a salary of at least $10,500 on FanDuel:
- Walker Buehler (R) $11,400, LAD vs. ARI
- Stephen Strasburg (R) $11,000, WSH @ NYM
- Shane Bieber (R) $10,700, CLE @ MIN
- Trevor Bauer (R) $10,500, CIN vs. CHC
Buehler is coming off an absolute gem in his last outing, racking up 15 strikeouts while allowing just one run over nine innings. He’s been one of the best pitchers in baseball since the beginning of June, pitching to a 2.54 ERA and an 11.9 K/9. He has unsurprisingly dominated from a fantasy perspective over that time frame, posting an average Plus/Minus of +8.17 on FanDuel.
Buehler has been particularly dominant at home recently, posting an ERA of 1.38 over his last 39.0 innings at Dodger Stadium. He’ll be at home for today’s start vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks, and he leads the slate in opponent implied team total (3.2 runs). The Diamondbacks projected lineup has also been pretty strikeout prone against right-handers over the past 12 months, posting a strikeout rate of 26.6%. His resulting K Prediction of 7.5 is tied for first on the slate.
The only real red flag with Buehler is his recent Statcast data. He’s allowed opposing batters to post an average distance of 221 feet, exit velocity of 96 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 61% over his past two starts. All of those represent significant decreases when compared to his 12-month averages.
That said, Statcast data for a pitcher like Buehler isn’t all that important. He’s an elite strikeout pitcher, so he’s typically going to limit the number of balls that are put in play against him. He’s the easy choice for those looking to pay up at pitcher on today’s slate.
Strasburg is taking on the New York Mets today in the first game of a crucial series for both teams. The Mets have been red hot recently, but Strasburg is a slight -125 favorite despite being on the road. His opponent implied team total of 3.6 runs ranks second on the slate, while his K Prediction of 7.1 ranks seventh.
That said, his Statcast data from his past two starts is an issue. Opposing batters have averaged a batted ball distance of 249 feet when facing him, which represents an increase of +50 feet when compared to his 12-month average. Stud pitchers with comparable distance differentials have historically been horrible investments, posting an average Plus/Minus of -9.40 on FanDuel (per the Trends tool).
Beiber has taken a step forward in his second MLB season. He’s pitched to a 3.31 ERA and 3.16 FIP while increasing his K/9 to 10.97.
Unfortunately, he’s in a brutal spot today vs. the Minnesota Twins. Their projected lineup has posted a .343 wOBA against right-handers this season, and they’ve averaged the second-most runs per game. They’ve also hit the most HRs this season, and they’ve posted the fifth-lowest strikeout rate. Overall, you really couldn’t ask for a worse matchup.
Bauer will be making his second start since joining the Cincinnati Reds, and he’ll be looking to improve on a weak first performance. He allowed the Braves to tally three runs over just 4.2 innings, and he also allowed 10 combined hits and walks.
The Braves are one of the better offenses in the league, but things don’t figure to get much easier today vs. the Chicago Cubs. They rank sixth in wOBA against right-handers this season, and they’re currently implied for 4.7 runs. That’s easily the worst mark among the stud pitchers.
Julio Teheran has one of the best matchups of the day vs. the Miami Marlins. Their projected lineup has really struggled against right-handers over the past 12 months, posting a .291 wOBA and 29.9% strikeout rate. They’ve also been inept offensively when playing on the road this season, averaging a league-worst 3.41 runs per game. No one else in the league has averaged fewer than 3.91 runs per game on the road this season.
Teheran also enters this contest in good recent form. He’s limited his past two opponents to an average distance of just 197 feet, which represents a decrease of -15 feet when compared to his 12-month average. Historically, pitchers with comparable distance differentials and Vegas data have averaged a Plus/Minus of +1.81 on DraftKings. He’s a nice value at just $8,800 on DraftKings.
Drew Smyly is one of the best pure values on the slate on DraftKings, where his $5,800 price tag comes with a Bargain Rating of 99%. He also owns an elite matchup vs. the San Francisco Giants, who have been one of the worst offensive teams in baseball this season. They’ve been particularly ineffective against left-handed pitchers, ranking just 29th in wRC+.
Smyly’s Statcast data from his past two starts is also elite. He’s limited opposing batters to an average distance of 186 feet, which represents a massive decrease of -48 feet when compared to his 12-month average.
Finally, Smyly should also benefit from getting to pitch on the road. AT&T Park has historically been one of the most pitcher-friendly venues in baseball, and it rewards Smyly with a Park Factor of 93. Add it all up, and Smyly is an excellent SP2 option.
Cal Quantrill: He’s another excellent value on DraftKings at just $6,200, and he’s in an excellent spot vs. the Colorado Rockies. They’ve been miserable against right-handers when playing away from Coors Field, ranking 29th in wOBA and fifth in strikeout rate.
Gio Gonzalez: He has some of the best Vegas data on the slate outside of the stud tier. He owns an opponent implied team total of 4.0 runs and -179 moneyline odds, and he has solid strikeout upside vs. the Texas Rangers. They own the second-highest strikeout rate when facing a left-hander on the road this season.
- 1. Mookie Betts (R)
- 2. Rafael Devers (L)
- 4. J.D. Martinez (R)
- 5. Andrew Benintendi (L)
- 6. Christian Vazquez (R)
Total Salary: $24,500
The Red Sox were limited to just three runs in yesterday’s contest, but they still pulled out the win thanks to a dominating performance from Chris Sale. The offense will look to bounce back today, and their implied team total of 6.4 runs is the second-highest mark on the slate. They also represent one of the better pure values on DraftKings given their Team Value Rating of 82.
The Sox are in a great spot vs. Angels right-hander Jaime Barria. He’s been dreadful this season, pitching to a 6.36 ERA and 5.60 FIP over 46.2 innings. He’s struggled in particular with the long ball, allowing opposing batters to average 2.31 HRs per nine innings. The Red Sox rank sixth in ISO when facing a right-hander at home this season, so they have the chance to do some damage in this matchup.
Devers has absolutely destroyed right-handed pitching this season, posting a .410 wOBA and 154 wRC+. He’s been even better since the beginning of June, increasing his wOBA to .430 and wRC+ to 168. He also enters this contest in excellent recent form. He’s posted an average distance of 239 feet over the past 15 days, which represents an increase of +27 feet when compared to his 12-month average.
The Red Sox also own the top four-man FanDuel stack, so let’s focus instead on the Kansas City Royals. They are a significantly cheaper option, so they might be the preferred option for those looking to pay up for a stud pitcher:
- 1. Whit Merrifield (R)
- 2. Alex Gordon (L)
- 3. Hunter Dozier (R)
- 4. Jorge Soler (R)
Total Salary: $13,700
The Royals implied team total of 5.6 runs isn’t as gaudy as the Red Sox’, but it still ranks fifth on the slate. More importantly, their Team Value Rating ranks first on both FanDuel and DraftKings, so no team is providing more Vegas value per dollar across the industry.
They’re taking on right-hander Edwin Jackson, who will be making his first start with the Tigers this season. However, he did pitch 28.1 innings with the Blue Jays earlier in the year, and he was nothing short of a disaster. He posted an 11.12 ERA and 8.97 FIP while allowing batters to club an average of 3.81 HRs per nine innings. He’s been the best pitcher to target in DFS this season, and frankly it hasn’t been that close.
Unsurprisingly, batters in the top half of the lineup have absolutely dominated against him this season. They’ve averaged 20.46 FanDuel points per game, resulting in an average Plus/Minus of +10.24. Additionally, the stacked batters have collectively swung the bat well recently, with each exceeding their 12-month average distance over the past 15 days. This is a potential smash spot.
Aaron Judge continues to struggle at the plate, posting an average Plus/Minus of -2.35 over his past 10 games on DraftKings. That said, it’s hard to avoid him on today’s slate. The Yankees are currently implied for 6.3 runs, and Judge is expected to occupy the No. 2 spot in the lineup. He’s also been priced down to just $4,200 on DraftKings, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 99%. He’s going to break out of his slump eventually, and he’s going to provide massive fantasy value when he does.
Corey Dickerson stands out as one of the best pure values to target on FanDuel. He’s expected to bat leadoff for the Phillies at just $3,100, and he’ll be on the positive side of his batting splits against Giants’ right-hander Tyler Beede. Dickerson has posted a .365 wOBA and .214 ISO against right-handers over the past 12 months, and Beede has allowed left-handed batters to compile a .360 wOBA against him this season.
Matt Carpenter recently returned to the Cardinals’ lineup after missing nearly a month with an injury, and he’s shown no real signs of rust. He’s posted an average distance of 241 feet, exit velocity of 98 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 60% over his past four games, all of which represent increases when compared to his 12-month averages. He has a strong matchup today vs. Pirates right-hander Chris Archer – he’s struggled to a 5.35 ERA and 5.56 FIP this season – and Carpenter is priced at just $3,700 on DraftKings. He’s an elite target in all formats.
Good luck, and be sure to check out The Action Network if you’re looking for more in-depth MLB analysis.
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Pictured above: Cardinals IF Matt Carpenter (13)
Photo credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports