The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.
Saturday features a split slate. There’s a three-game early slate starting at 2:15 p.m. ET, a seven-game afternoon slate starting at 4:05 p.m. ET and a five-game main slate starting at 7:15 p.m. ET.
Three pitchers on today’s slate own a salary of at least $11,000 on DraftKings:
- Hyun-jin Ryu (L) $11,500, LAD vs. COL
- Luis Castillo (R) $11,100, CIN @ MIL
- Jose Berrios (R) $11,000, MIN @ KC
Ryu has been absolutely fantastic to start the 2019 season. He leads the league with a ridiculous 1.26 ERA through his first 14 starts, and he trails only Max Scherzer in wins above replacement among NL pitchers. He’s undoubtedly due for some regression moving forward – no one can pitch to a 1.26 ERA for a full season – but his 2.52 FIP still ranks second in the league.
Unsurprisingly, Ryu has provided a ton of fantasy value this season. He’s posted an average Plus/Minus of +6.73 on DraftKings, including an average Plus/Minus of +8.16 over the past month. He’s managed to do that despite a relatively pedestrian K/9 of 8.23 because of his ability to generate weak contact. His Statcast data from his past two starts is particularly impressive. He’s limited opposing batters to an average distance of 174 feet, a groundball rate of 60% and an average exit velocity of 88 miles per hour; all three are among the best marks on the slate.
He’s in a wonderful spot today vs. the Colorado Rockies. They’ve struggled offensively when on the road this season, ranking just 23rd in wRC+ vs. left-handed pitchers. They’ve also struck out in 30.1% of at-bats in that situation, which is the second-highest mark in the league. As a result, Ryu owns solid marks across the board on today’s slate: 2.9 opponent implied team total, -253 moneyline odds and 7.0 K Prediction. Historically, pitchers with comparable marks in all three categories have averaged a Plus/Minus of +3.25 on DraftKings (per the Trends tool).
Ryu is the top cash-game option on the slate by a considerable margin, and he has solid upside for guaranteed prize pools (GPPs), too.
Castillo is a stronger option today on FanDuel, where his $9,800 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 92%. He’s been fantastic this season, pitching to a 2.26 ERA and 10.57 K/9 through his first 15 starts.
Unfortunately, he’s in a much tougher spot vs. the Milwaukee Brewers. Castillo is a slight +111 underdog, and his 4.5 opponent implied team total is merely tied for eighth on today’s slate. That makes him very tough to trust for cash games.
Still, he’s someone to consider in GPPs. Castillo is one of the better strikeout pitchers on the slate, and the Brewers have been prone to strikeouts this season. They own the fifth-highest strikeout rate against right-handed pitchers, giving Castillo a solid K Prediction of 7.4. He should also command modest ownership, which increases his appeal.
Berrios is the toughest stud pitcher to make a case for today; he doesn’t stand out in any one particular area. He’s taking on the Kansas City Royals, who are currently implied for 4.3 runs. They’ve also been one of the tougher teams to strike out this season, and Berrios isn’t exactly a strikeout pitcher anyway. The result is a K Prediction of just 5.9. His recent Statcast data is also virtually identical to his 12-month averages across the board. There are better options available, even on the three-game early slate.
Tommy Milone has one of the best matchups of the day vs. the Baltimore Orioles. Their offense has struggled against left-handers over the past 12 months, posting a .297 wOBA and 24.9% strikeout rate, and their implied team total of 3.9 runs is tied for the third-lowest mark on the slate. Milone is also a -175 favorite, giving him some of the best Vegas data outside of Ryu.
Milone is also a capable strikeout pitcher – he’s posted a K/9 of 8.82 this season – and his K Prediction of 6.7 is reasonable.
Finally, his Statcast data from his past two starts is solid. He’s limited opposing batters to an average distance of 207 feet, which represents a decrease of 13 feet compared to his 12-month average. Add it all up, and comparable pitchers have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +1.92 on DraftKings.
Vincent Velasquez should draw a ton of interest today given his matchup vs. the Marlins. They’ve been dreadful offensively this season, ranking dead last in runs per game, and their projected lineup has managed a wOBA of just .239 against right-handers over the past 12 months. Unsurprisingly, their implied team total of 3.8 runs is the second-lowest mark on today’s slate.
Velasquez also possesses solid strikeout upside on today’s slate. He’s posted a K/9 of 10.50 through his first 42 innings this season, and the Marlins have averaged the sixth-highest strikeout rate against right-handed pitchers.
Velasquez is a particularly strong target today on FanDuel, where his $6,800 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 98%.
Jose Quintana: He has a tough matchup vs. the Mets, who rank sixth in wRC+ against left-handers this season. That said, his opponent implied team total of 4.2 runs is still the lowest mark on the early slate.
Chris Archer: He hasn’t been particularly effective this season, but he’s still capable of recording strikeouts. He has one of the best matchups possible in terms of strikeout upside today vs. the San Diego Padres, who own the second-highest strikeout rate in the league against right-handed pitchers.
Lance Lynn: He leads AL starters in WAR, and his 3.00 FIP is more than a full run lower than his traditional ERA. He could be a sneaky stud target against the White Sox, who rank just 18th in wRC+ vs. right-handers this season.
- 1. Mookie Betts (R)
- 2. Andrew Benintendi (L)
- 3. J.D. Martinez (R)
- 5. Xander Bogaerts (R)
- 6. Brock Holt (L)
Total Salary: $25,200
The top Red Sox stack is expensive, but they have massive upside on today’s slate. They’re currently implied for 6.5 runs vs. the Toronto Blue Jays, which is more than a full run higher than every other team. With that in mind, their salaries are actually pretty reasonable: Their Team Value Rating of 78 on DraftKings is the top mark on the slate.
The Red Sox will start the game vs. Derek Law, but they’re expected to see a majority of innings vs. right-hander Sam Gaviglio. He’s struggled this season, pitching to a 5.10 FIP over 48.1 innings.
Gaviglio has been particularly ineffective vs. left-handed batters, allowing them to post a .350 wOBA. That bodes well for Benintendi, who has made excellent contact over the past 15 days. He’s posted an average distance of 231 feet and hard hit rate of 48%, both of which represent increases compared to his 12-month averages. He’s an appealing target across the industry, but he’s a steal at just $3,500 on FanDuel.
On the main slate, the top four-man FanDuel stack belongs to the Texas Rangers:
- 1. Shin-Soo Choo (L)
- 2. Delino DeShields Jr. (R)
- 4. Nomar Mazara (L)
- 5. Willie Calhoun (L)
Total Salary: $12,700
The Rangers lead the main slate with an implied team total of 6.5 runs, and as usual they’ll benefit from the elite hitting conditions in Arlington. The current forecast calls for a temperature of 86 degrees at game time, resulting in a Weather Rating of 83.
They’ll also benefit from an elite matchup vs. Odrisamer Despaigne, who has been awful in his first two starts this season. He’s pitched to a 8.71 ERA and 5.11 FIP while recording nearly as many walks as strikeouts.
Choo headlines this stack, and he’s feasted on right-handed pitchers over the past 12 months. He’s posted a .393 wOBA and .224 ISO, and he’s posted a wRC+ of 170 when facing a right-hander at home this season. He’s also averaged a Plus/Minus of +2.65 on FanDuel when facing a right-hander in Arlington this season, so he’s someone who should definitely be on your radar.
J.P. Crawford is expected to occupy the second spot in the lineup today for a Mariners team implied for 5.2 runs. He’ll be on the positive side of his batting splits vs. Andrew Cashner, and Crawford has posted a .394 wOBA and .220 ISO against right-handers over the past 12 months. Crawford has also crushed the baseball over the past 15 days and is priced at just $3,600 on DraftKings, so he checks a lot of boxes on today’s slate.
Will Bryce Harper ever break out of his slump? I’m honestly not sure at this point. Still, it’s hard to ignore him at just $4,400 on DraftKings. He continues to make excellent contact – he’s posted a 237-foot distance, 95 mile per hour exit velocity and 44% hard hit rate over the past 15 days – and he’s expected to occupy the premium leadoff spot in the Phillies lineup.
Yoan Moncada has made some of the best contact in baseball over the past 15 days. He’s posted an average distance of 253 feet, exit velocity of 97 miles per hour and hard hit rate of 63%, all of which represent massive increases compared to his 12-month averages. He has a tough matchup vs. Lynn, but he does benefit from the elite hitting conditions in Arlington. He’s an interesting contrarian target for GPPs.
Good luck, and be sure to check out The Action Network if you’re looking for more in-depth MLB analysis.
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: Rangers OF Shin-Soo Choo (17)
Photo credit: Jerome Miron-USA Today Sports