The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.
Friday features a 14-game slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET.
Today’s slate is loaded with high-end pitching options. Four own a salary of at least $10,500 on DraftKings:
- Chris Sale (L) $12,000, BOS vs. TOR
- Trevor Bauer (R) $11,100, CLE vs. DET
- Walker Buehler (R) $10,800, LAD vs. COL
- Stephen Strasburg (R) $10,500, WSH vs. ATL
Sale got off to a rough start this season, but he’s been as dominant as ever over his past 10 starts. He’s pitched to a 2.14 ERA and 1.83 FIP while striking out a ridiculous 14.17 batters per nine innings. As a result, he’s averaged a Plus/Minus of +12.12 on DraftKings.
He’s in an elite spot today vs. the Toronto Blue Jays. Their projected lineup has posted a .307 wOBA and 25.1% strikeout rate against southpaws over the past 12 months, and Sale’s resulting Vegas data is elite: 2.9 opponent implied team total, -341 moneyline odds. Pitchers with comparable Vegas data have historically dominated, posting an average Plus/Minus of +4.87 on DraftKings (per the Trends tool).
Sale also possesses a ton of strikeout upside, evidenced by a K Prediction of 9.8. Add it all up, and he checks all the boxes on today’s slate.
Bauer is coming off a complete game shutout vs. the Tigers in his last start, and he’ll face the same team on today’s slate. His metrics aren’t as dominant as Sale’s, but they’re still really good: 3.4 opponent implied team total, -183 moneyline odds, 8.1 K Prediction. Pitchers with comparable marks in all three categories have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +2.44 on DraftKings.
Bauer’s Statcast data from his past three starts is also outstanding. He’s limited opposing batters to an average distance of 181 feet, which represents a decrease of -24 feet when compared to his 12-month average. The presence of Sale will likely lower Bauer’s ownership, which increases his appeal for guaranteed prize pools (GPPs).
Buehler has an excellent matchup today vs. the Colorado Rockies. They’ve struggled mightily against right-handers when playing away from Coors this season, ranking just 28th in wOBA and eighth in strikeout rate. Buehler’s resulting Vegas data is impressive. His opponent implied team total of 3.2 runs ranks second on the slate, while his moneyline odds of -189 rank third.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t appear to offer the same strikeout upside as Sale and Bauer. He owns a K Prediction of just 6.0, which ranks just 13th on the slate. That makes him more of a cash game option than a GPP option.
Strasburg is the toughest stud option to make a case for on today’s slate. He’s taking on the Atlanta Braves, and their projected lineup has posted a .328 wOBA and 21.5% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months. Strasburg’s resulting Vegas data lags well behind the rest of the stud pitcher’s: 4.2 opponent implied team total, -139 moneyline odds. His K Prediction of 6.4 is also mediocre, so he doesn’t offer much upside for GPPs either. He does make some sense on FanDuel – where his $9,800 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 79% — but it’s probably best to avoid him on DraftKings.
Aaron Nola has a lot of stud-level qualities at a reduced salary on today’s slate. He’s taking on the Miami Marlins, who have been one of the best teams to target in DFS this season. Their projected lineup has posted a .267 wOBA and 25.4% strikeout rate over the past 12 months, and right-handers have averaged a Plus/Minus of +2.91 on DraftKings when facing Miami this season.
Nola’s resulting Vegas data is unsurprisingly impressive. He owns an opponent implied team total of 3.4 runs and moneyline odds of -219, and pitchers with comparable marks have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +2.89 on DraftKings.
His K Prediction of 6.2 is pretty mediocre, but it’s also a conservative estimate. He’s posted a K/9 of 10.72 over his past eight starts, so he can do some damage in this matchup. Regardless, he doesn’t need to strike out double-digit batters given his $8,000 salary on DraftKings. He works as an SP1 option and is also cheap enough to pair with someone like Sale or Bauer.
Joe Musgrave is one of the best pure values of the day on DraftKings, where his $5,500 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 99%. He’s in a solid spot vs. the San Diego Padres, whose projected lineup has struck out in 28.7% of at bats vs. right-handers over the past 12 months. His resulting K Prediction of 6.6 ranks seventh on the slate, and pitchers with comparable salaries and K Predictions have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +1.34 on DraftKings.
Musgrove also benefits from facing the Padres in San Diego, resulting in a Park Factor of 87.
German Marquez has a brutal matchup today vs. the Dodgers, but he still has a lot working in his favor. For starters, he’s pitching on the road in Los Angeles, which means he won’t have to deal with Coors Field. Marquez has been solid on the road this season, pitching to a 3.04 FIP while increasing his strikeout rate to 25.7%. The Dodgers projected lineup has been susceptible to strikeouts over the past 12 months, and Marquez’s resulting K Prediction of 8.5 ranks second on the slate.
Marquez is also very affordable at just $7,600 on FanDuel, giving him a Bargain Rating of 93%. He has upside for GPPs and is projected for just 2-4% ownership.
Chase Anderson: He’s dirt-cheap across the industry and owns some of the best recent Statcast data on the slate. His average distance of 177 feet is particularly impressive and represents a decrease of -39 feet when compared to his 12-month average. He’s also a slight favorite against the Cincinnati Reds, making him an interesting punt play.
James Paxton: He’s the best pure strikeout pitcher on the slate outside of Sale, posting a K/9 of 11.94 over the past 12 months. He has a brutal matchup vs. the Astros, but you’ll never be able to buy as low on Paxton as you can on today’s slate.
- 1. Max Kepler (L)
- 2. Jorge Polanco (S)
- 3. Nelson Cruz (R)
- 6. Miguel Sano (R)
- 8. Jason Castro (L)
Total Salary: $22,800
The Twins have been arguably the best offensive team in baseball this season. They rank first in wRC+ against right-handed pitching, and their average of 5.76 runs per game ranks first as well. They’re currently implied for 5.6 runs vs. the Kansas City Royals, which is the third-highest mark on today’s slate.
The Twins will also benefit from the current weather situation in Kansas City. Here’s what Action Network’s resident weather guru Mark Gallant had to say:
Since 2014, this is the 12th game at Kauffman Stadium with a Weather Rating of at least 80 (topping out at 88) per FantasyLabs Trends Tool. In the 11 previous games, there have been 10.7 runs scored on average with the over going 7-4.
That’s bad news for Royals starter Jakob Junis, who has struggled with HRs in general this season. He’s pitched to a HR/9 of 1.63, which is the 12th-highest mark among qualified starters. The Twins lead the league in HRs, so they have massive upside in this situation.
Polanco in particular stands out as an elite option. He’s crushed right-handers over the past 12 months, posting a .398 wOBA and .211 ISO, and his Statcast data from the past 15 days is excellent. He’s also one of the Twins’ best pure values on DraftKings, where his $4,600 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 87%.
If you’re looking to go in a cheaper direction on FanDuel, consider the Chicago White Sox:
- 2. Yoan Moncada (S)
- 3. Jose Abreu (R)
- 4. James McCann (R)
- 5. Eloy Jimenez (R)
Total Salary: $13,600
Their implied team total of 5.3 runs is slightly lower than the Twins, and it’s significantly lower than the Rangers’ slate-best mark of 6.3 runs. That said, their Team Value Rating of 86 is still the third-highest mark on FanDuel.
They’ll benefit from the elite hitting conditions in Arlington, which currently calls for a temperature of 90.2 degrees at game time. The resulting Weather Rating of 88 is the top mark on the slate.
They have a strong matchup vs. Rangers right-hander Ariel Jurado, who is the definition of a mediocre starting pitcher. He’s averaged an ERA of 4.23 and a K/9 of just 6.85.
Jimenez entered the season as one of the top hitting prospects in baseball, and he’s really started to spread his wings during the month of June. He’s posted a .449 wOBA and 189 wRC+ while launching six HRs in just 53 at bats. He remains affordable at $3,100 on FanDuel, but his price is going to skyrocket if he keeps hitting the ball like that.
Bryce Harper continues to struggle at the plate and has posted a negative Plus/Minus in each of his past five games on DraftKings. That said, he’s still making solid contact – his 15-day Statcast marks are all in line with his 12-month averages – and the Phillies moved him to the leadoff spot in yesterday’s contest. He also remains affordable at $4,400 on DraftKings, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 94%. He’s not going to struggle forever, making him an interesting buy-low candidate.
The Giants could be an interesting team to target on FanDuel. Their Team Value Rating of 87 ranks second on the slate, and they get a massive park upgrade by facing the Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Brandon Belt in particular stands out. He’s expected to bat second against right-hander Taylor Clarke, and Belt has historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +1.72 when facing a right-hander on the road. He’s very reasonably priced at just $2,800.
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: Red Sox SP Chris Sale (41)
Photo credit: Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports