The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.
Monday features a seven-game slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET.
Two pitchers are priced in their own tier today on FanDuel:
- Clayton Kershaw (L) $11,000, LAD @ ARI
- Lucas Giolito (R) $10,700, CWS @ BOS
Kershaw is no longer the league’s most dominant pitcher, but he’s still getting the job done at 31 years old. He’s pitched to a 2.85 ERA this season, and the Dodgers have gone 11-1 through his first 12 starts. He doesn’t possess the same strikeout upside – he’s managed a K/9 of just 8.32 this season – but he’s been able to make up for it by limiting the damage on balls in play.
His Statcast data from his past two starts is impressive. He’s held opposing batters to an average distance of 182 feet, exit velocity of 87 miles per hour and hard-hit rate of 33%, all of which represent decreases compared to his 12-month averages.
Unfortunately, he has a tough matchup today vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks. Their projected lineup has been solid against left-handers over the past 12 months, posting a .332 wOBA, and they’ve also been one of the tougher teams to strike out this season. They’ve posted a 20.4% strikeout rate against southpaws when playing at home, which is the ninth-lowest mark in the league. Kershaw’s resulting numbers are pretty mediocre: 4.0 opponent implied team total, -132 moneyline odds, 5.0 K Prediction.
The lack of strikeout upside is particularly concerning considering his salary. High-priced pitchers have historically struggled with a comparable K Prediction, posting an average Plus/Minus of -2.17 (per the Trends tool). Kershaw has personally matched this trend in eight previous starts, and he’s posted an average Plus/Minus of -4.65 in those outings. He’s tough to trust in all formats.
Giolito has been one of the biggest surprises in 2019. He’s pitched to a 2.74 ERA after posting a 6.13 ERA last season, and he’s averaging more than four additional strikeouts per nine innings (10.97 vs. 6.49). He also ranks fifth in the AL in pitching WAR.
That said, he came crashing back to reality in his last start vs. the New York Yankees. He did manage to record nine strikeouts over just 4.1 innings, but he also allowed seven hits, three walks and six earned runs over that time frame.
His Statcast data from his past two starts is pretty concerning. Opposing batters have averaged a distance of 231 feet, exit velocity of 93 miles per hour and hard-hit rate of 46%, all of which represent increases compared to his 12-month averages.
Things don’t figure to get any easier for Giolito today in a brutal matchup vs. the Boston Red Sox. Their projected lineup has posted a .355 wOBA against right-handers over the past 12 months, which is the second-highest splits-adjusted mark on the slate. Giolito owns an opponent implied team total of 5.1 runs, which is a big red flag when combined with his recent Statcast data. Historically, pitchers with comparable opponent implied team totals and recent distance differentials have averaged a Plus/Minus of -3.85 on FanDuel.
Unlike Kershaw, Giolito does at least possess some strikeout upside. He owns a K Prediction of 6.9, which is the third-highest mark on the slate. He carries a ton of risk, but he could be an interesting option for guaranteed prize pools (GPPs) considering his likely low ownership. His $10,700 salary on FanDuel also comes with a Bargain Rating of 91%.
There are big question marks with the top pitchers on today’s slate, so it’s a day where most will elect to pay down at the position.
Jon Gray stands out as the top value option. He has one of the best possible matchups vs. the San Francisco Giants, who have been anemic offensively over the past 12 months. Their projected lineup has posted a .226 wOBA and 29.1% strikeout rate against right-handers over that time frame, and they’re currently implied for a slate-low 3.7 runs. Gray is also a capable strikeout pitcher – he’s posted a K/9 of 9.66 this season – and owns a K Prediction of 7.3 on today’s slate.
Gray also benefits from getting to face the Giants in San Francisco, which has historically been one of the most pitcher-friendly venues in baseball. The result is a Park Factor of 93, which ranks second on the slate. Considering he pitches half his games in Coors Field, this is basically the biggest park upgrade imaginable.
Gray’s Statcast data from his past three starts is also excellent. He’s limited opposing batters to a distance of 184 feet, which represents a decrease of 21 feet compared to his 12-month average.
Gray checks all the boxes on today’s slate and should be a popular target, particularly on FanDuel given his Bargain Rating of 92%.
CC Sabathia benefits from getting to pitch for the Yankees, who are currently implied for a whopping 6.9 runs. As a result, he’s a massive -257 favorite against the Blue Jays, and his opponent implied team total of 4.2 runs ranks fourth on the slate. He’s very affordable at just $7,100 on DraftKings, and pitchers with comparable salaries and Vegas data have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +3.06. He’s a solid choice for your SP2 spot in cash games.
Eduardo Rodriguez: He has a strong matchup vs. the Chicago White Sox, whose projected lineup has posted a .303 wOBA and 26.2% strikeout rate against southpaws over the past 12 months. His K Prediction of 7.3 is tied for first on today’s slate, while his opponent implied team total of 4.0 runs is tied for fourth.
Drew Pomeranz: He’s opposing Gray in San Francisco, and the Rockies offense has really struggled when away from home this season. They rank just 24th in wOBA and have the second-highest strikeout rate against left-handers when playing on the road.
Steven Matz: He has nice strikeout upside at just $6,700 on DraftKings. The Phillies projected lineup has struck out in 28.9% of at-bats vs. left-handers over the past 12 months, and Matz’s resulting K Prediction of 7.0 ranks third on the slate.
- 1. Ronald Acuna Jr. (R)
- 2. Dansby Swanson (R)
- 3. Freddie Freeman (L)
- 4. Josh Donaldson (R)
- 5. Nick Markakis (L)
Total Salary: $22,600
The Braves will likely fly a bit under-the-radar on today’s slate. They’re currently implied for 5.4 runs, which is only the fourth-highest total. That said, the total on this game has increased from 10.5 to 11.5, so there could be more offense than expected.
They’re taking on Cubs left-hander Jon Lester, who has been mediocre this season. He’s posted an ERA of 4.13 and FIP of 4.47, and he’s allowing a career-worst 1.65 HRs per nine innings. He’s also been hit extremely hard over his past two starts, allowing opposing batters to compile an average distance of 220 feet, exit velocity of 95 mph and hard-hit rate of 51%.
Acuna in particular should be able to thrive in this matchup. He’s dominated left-handed pitchers over the past 12 months, posting a .445 wOBA and .326 ISO, and he owns a 157 wRC+ against southpaws this season.
Acuna is also expected to bat in the leadoff spot, which has historically been a fantasy goldmine for him. He’s averaged a Plus/Minus of +4.00 on DraftKings when batting first against a lefty, compared to a Plus/Minus of +0.50 when batting anywhere else.
On FanDuel, the top four-man stack belongs to the Cleveland Indians:
- 1. Francisco Lindor
- 3. Carlos Santana
- 4. Jason Kipnis
- 5. Jose Ramirez
Total Salary: $13,800
The Indians’ implied team total of 5.8 runs ranks third on the slate, as does their Team Value Rating of 91 on FanDuel. Lindor and Santana in particular look like excellent values, with each owning a Bargain Rating of at least 70%.
They’re taking on Royals right-hander Brad Keller, who has pitched to a 4.45 ERA this season. He’s especially struggled with walks, allowing 4.45 per nine innings, and each of the stacked batters will have the splits advantage against him.
Ramirez was mired in a deep slump to begin the season, but he’s starting to show signs of life. He still hasn’t displayed much power, but he has posted a positive Plus/Minus in each of his past three games on FanDuel. He’s also made excellent contact over the past 15 days, resulting in a 15-day/12-month distance differential of +17 feet.
Scott Kingery is a nice value today on FanDuel, where his $3,500 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 77%. He’s going to occupy the leadoff spot vs. Matz, and Kingery has posted a .341 wOBA and .206 ISO against southpaws over the past 12 months. Kingery also enters this contest in elite recent form, posting an average distance of 251 feet, exit velocity of 93 mph and hard-hit rate of 48% over the past 15 days.
The big question on today’s slate is what to do with the Yankees. They’re going to be an extremely popular stack target given their massive implied team total, but none of their batters have swung the bat particularly well recently. Their top option is Luke Voit, who has posted a .403 wOBA and .258 ISO against right-handers over the past 12 months and will occupy the No. 2 spot in the lineup. He makes sense if you want just a minimal amount of Yankees exposure.
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: Rockies SP Jon Gray (55)
Photo credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports