The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.
Sunday features a split slate. There’s a nine-game main slate starting at 1:05 p.m. ET and a three-game afternoon slate starting at 4:07 p.m. ET.
Three of today’s pitchers are priced above $10,000 on FanDuel:
- Zack Wheeler (R) $11,000, NYM @ KC
- Jack Flaherty (R) $10,700, STL @ CIN
- Mike Clevinger (R) $10,200, CLE @ NYY
Wheeler has been up and down this season, and he’s coming off an awful start in his last outing vs. the Atlanta Braves. That said, he’s still put together a strong second half, pitching to a 2.84 ERA and 2.94 FIP following the All-Star break.
His Statcast data from the past 15 days is also solid. He’s limited opposing batters to an average distance of 201 feet and hard hit rate of 25%, both of which represent decreases when compared to his 12-month averages.
Wheeler should benefit from a strong matchup today vs. the Kansas City Royals. They’ve struggled against right-handed pitchers this season, ranking just 26th in wRC+. The Royals have combined for just three earned runs over 13 innings against fellow right-handers Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard to begin this series.
The one big knock on Wheeler is his lack of strikeout upside. He’s seen a decline in Ks following the All-Star break, averaging a K/9 of just 7.46, and the Royals have posted the third-lowest strikeout rate against right-handers over the same time frame.
Flaherty has put together a strong season for the St. Louis Cardinals. He’s pitched to a 3.52 ERA and 10.44 K/9, and he’s posted a dominant +10.67 Plus/Minus over his past 10 starts on FanDuel.
He’ll face a tough task today vs. the Cincinnati Reds at the Great American Ball Park, but he’s still getting a lot of respect from Vegas. His opponent implied team total of 4.0 ranks second on the slate, and he’s also a solid -156 favorite.
Where Flaherty really stands out is with his strikeout ability. The Reds’ projected lineup has posted a 29.1% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months, giving Flaherty a K Prediction of 8.7. Historically, pitchers with comparable K Predictions and opponent implied team totals have averaged a Plus/Minus of +2.96 on DraftKings (per the Trends tool).
Flaherty also represents one of the best values of the day on DraftKings, where his $9,700 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 90%.
Clevinger has quietly blossomed into one of the best pitchers in baseball this season. His 3.34 ERA would rank eighth in the AL – he doesn’t have enough innings to qualify – and his 2.62 FIP suggests he’s been even better than his traditional metrics indicate. He’s also posted an elite K/9 of 12.70, which has made him one of the best pitchers in DFS.
Unfortunately, he’s in a brutal spot today vs. the New York Yankees. Their projected lineup has posted a .353 wOBA against right-handers over the past 12 months, and they’re currently implied for 4.7 runs. Historically, pitchers with comparable salaries and opponent implied team totals have averaged a Plus/Minus of -3.71 on FanDuel. Clevinger is tough to trust in any format.
Trevor Richards will make his debut for the Tampa Bay Rays, and he couldn’t ask for a better first opponent than the Detroit Tigers. They rank dead last in runs per game this season, and they’ve been particularly poor against right-handed pitchers. Opposing right-handers have absolutely dominated the Tigers, posting an average Plus/Minus of +6.27 on FanDuel.
Unsurprisingly, Richards has excellent Vegas data in this matchup. He leads all pitchers with an opponent implied team total of 3.5 runs, while his -175 moneyline odds rank third. He also has solid strikeout upside, evidenced by a K Prediction of 7.4. He’s an elite value across the industry given his $7,000 salary on DraftKings and $6,400 salary on FanDuel.
Jason Vargas doesn’t jump off the page on today’s slate given his opponent implied team total of 5.1 runs, but he does have a few things working in his favor. For starters, he has an excellent matchup vs. the San Diego Padres, who have been one of the most strikeout-prone teams in the league. Their projected lineup has posted a 30.8% strikeout rate against left-handers over the past 12 months, giving Vargas a respectable K Prediction of 7.0.
Vargas also enters this game in excellent recent form. He’s limited his past two opponents to an average distance of just 188 feet, which represents a decrease of -17 feet when compared to his 12-month average. Pitchers with comparable distance differentials and K Predictions have historically been solid investments, averaging a Plus/Minus of +2.14 on DraftKings. He’s worth consideration in guaranteed prize pools (GPPs).
Zack Greinke: He hasn’t exactly dominated as a member of the Astros, but he’s still been one of the better pitchers in baseball this season. He owns an opponent implied team total of 4.2 runs and moneyline odds of -169 vs. the Oakland A’s, both of which are above average marks on today’s slate.
Griffin Canning: He leads the slate with eight Pro Trends on FanDuel, where his $7,800 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 83%. He’s in an excellent spot vs. the Chicago White Sox, who rank 28th in wRC+ against right-handed pitchers this season.
Erick Fedde: He’s posted a positive Plus/Minus on DraftKings in each of his past two starts, and his $4,800 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 99%. He has nice upside vs. the Milwaukee Brewers, whose projected lineup has posted a 29.8% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months.
- 1. Dexter Fowler (S)
- 2. Tommy Edman (S)
- 3. Paul Goldschmidt (R)
- 6. Matt Carpenter (L)
Total Salary: $12,600
The Cardinals will likely fly under the radar on today’s slate. They’re currently implied for 5.1 runs, but that ranks merely tied for the seventh on the main slate.
That said, they’re in a solid spot vs. Reds left-hander Alex Wood. He’s pitched to a 5.59 ERA and 6.17 FIP this season while allowing opposing batters to average 2.79 HRs per nine innings. You’re not going to win a GPP without amassing homers, and the Cardinals have as much HR upside as anyone on the slate.
The Cardinals also enter this contest in elite recent batted-ball form. Fowler in particular has crushed the ball recently, posting an average distance of 237 feet, exit velocity of 97 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 58%. All three represent significant increases when compared to his 12-month averages.
On the afternoon slate, the top five-man DraftKings stack belongs to the Arizona Diamondbacks:
- 1. Ketel Marte (S)
- 2. David Peralta (L)
- 3. Eduardo Escobar (S)
- 4. Christian Walker (R)
- 6. Adam Jones (R)
Total Salary: $21,600
The afternoon slate is not expected to be as high scoring as the main slate, and the Diamondbacks are implied for just 4.4 runs. They’re taking on Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner, which should keep their ownership depressed even on a small slate.
That said, Bumgarner has not been nearly the same pitcher when pitching on the road this season. He’s pitched to a 2.95 ERA in San Francisco, but that number jumps to 4.64 when away from home. The Diamondbacks have also done some serious damage against left-handers this season, ranking fourth in wRC+.
Escobar’s nine Pro Trends are tied for the most on the afternoon slate, and he’s been better against left-handers than right-handers over the past 12 months. He also enters this contest in excellent recent form, posting a 15-day/12-month distance differential of +18 feet and hard hit differential of +11 percentage points.
Brandon Belt is the other batter with nine Pro Trends on the afternoon slate, and he’s priced at just $3,700 on DraftKings. He’ll be on the positive side of his batting splits vs. Diamondbacks right-hander Merrill Kelly, and Belt has posted a wRC+ of 144 when facing a right-hander on the road this season. He also enters this contest in elite recent form, posting an average distance of 244 feet, exit velocity of 96 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 51%. He’s a nice source of savings.
The Red Sox are currently implied for 7.8 runs, which is the top mark on the main slate by nearly two full runs. That obviously makes them a strong target, and leadoff hitter Mookie Betts stands out as one of their best options. He’s historically destroyed left-handers when playing at home, posting an average Plus/Minus of +2.63 on DraftKings, and he currently has a 15-day/12-month distance differential of +17 feet.
If you’re looking for a value on FanDuel, consider Omar Narvaez. You’re not required to roster a catcher, but his $2,600 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 94%. He’ll be on the positive side of his batting splits vs. Blue Jays right-hander Wilmer Font, who has allowed opposing lefties to post a .356 wOBA this season.
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: Cardinals OF Dexter Fowler (25)
Photo credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports