The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.
Thursday features a seven-game slate starting at 7:07 p.m. ET.
Three pitchers on today’s slate are priced above $10,000 on FanDuel:
- Aaron Nola (R) $10,800, PHI @ SF
- Mike Clevinger (R) $10,600, CLE @ MIN
- Matt Boyd (L) $10,400, DET vs. KC
Nola had a slow start to his season, but he’s been excellent over the past month. He’s pitched to a 2.33 ERA and 10.29 K/9, resulting in an average Plus/Minus of +7.16 on FanDuel.
He’s in an excellent position to keep things rolling today vs. the San Francisco Giants. Their projected lineup has been abysmal against right-handers over the past 12 months, posting a .258 wOBA and 28.3% strikeout rate. They’re currently implied for just 3.7 runs, which is the second-lowest mark on the slate.
Nola also ranks sixth on the slate in terms of K Prediction (6.4) and he leads all pitchers in Pro Trends on FanDuel (five). Historically, comparable pitchers have averaged a Plus/Minus of +3.74 on FanDuel (per the Trends tool). He’s a solid option in all formats.
Clevinger has been limited to just 55.2 innings this season due to injuries, but he’s been really productive when he’s been able to take the mound. He’s pitched to a 3.07 ERA and 2.82 FIP while striking out a career-best 12.93 batters per nine innings.
Unfortunately, he’s in a brutal spot today vs. the Minnesota Twins. They rank fourth in wRC+ and first in ISO against right-handers this season, and they rank second in runs per game. They’ve also been one of the toughest teams to strike out this season, ranking just 26th in K rate against right-handed pitchers.
With that in mind, Clevinger’s opponent implied team total of 4.5 runs is not surprising, and it makes him tough to trust at his current salary. Historically, comparably priced pitchers have averaged a Plus/Minus of -3.06 on FanDuel.
Boyd is another pitcher who has racked up strikeouts this season. He’s pitched to a 12.20 K/9, and he’s managed at least eight strikeouts in each of his past seven starts. He has unsurprisingly been a strong fantasy asset over that time frame, averaging a Plus/Minus of +5.02 on FanDuel.
He’s also in a much more appealing spot today than Clevinger. He’s taking on the Kansas City Royals, who have been much less potent offensively than the Twins. They’ve struggled in particular against left-handed pitchers, ranking just 29th in wRC+ and 10th in strikeout rate. Boyd has pitched to a 5.00 ERA in three previous starts against the Royals this season, but he’s also racked up 26 strikeouts in just 18 innings.
He’s an elite target in guaranteed prize pools (GPPs), particularly on FanDuel given his Bargain Rating of 83%.
Jon Gray will likely be a popular target today given his massive park upgrade. He’s pitching on the road in San Diego, which has been the most pitcher-friendly park in all of baseball this season. His home stadium of Coors Field is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum.
That said, Gray has actually been better when pitching at Coors this season, posting a 3.88 ERA at home compared to a 4.17 ERA on the road. It’s easy to write that off as a small sample size, but he’s pitched to better ERA at Coors than on the road in every season since 2016.
Still, it’s hard not to like him today vs. the Padres. Their projected lineup has been dreadful against right-handers over the past 12 months, posting a .297 wOBA and 31.2% strikeout rate. As a result, Gray’s opponent implied team total of 4.1 runs ranks tied for sixth on the slate, while his 7.5 K Prediction ranks first. Gray dominated in his only other start at Petco park this season, pitching to a 1.29 ERA and scoring 24.15 DraftKings points. He’s a nice value at his current salary across the industry.
Chris Sale is the ultimate X-factor on today’s slate. When he’s pitching well, he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball. He’s one of the top strikeout artists in the league, averaging a K/9 of 13.39 over the past 12 months.
However, he couldn’t enter today’s contest vs. the Angels in worse form. He’s been rocked over his past two starts, allowing opposing batters to post an average distance of 252 feet, exit velocity of 96 mph, and hard hit rate of 63%. All three represent huge increases when compared to his 12-month averages, and it’s not a stretch to say he owns the worst recent Statcast data on the slate.
He’s also in a difficult spot today vs. the Los Angeles Angels. Sale’s Vegas data is still pretty strong — 4.1 opponent implied team total, -243 moneyline odds — but the Angels have been an above average team against left-handers this season. They’ve been particularly adept at limiting strikeouts, ranking dead last in strikeout rate among all 30 teams.
That’s concerning considering Sale’s Statcast data. If he’s not racking up strikeouts, it’s tough to see him truly bouncing back. He still warrants some consideration in GPPs given his track record and reduced salary, but he’s way too risky for cash games.
Dallas Keuchel: He offers very little in terms of strikeout upside, but has arguably the best matchup of the day vs. the Miami Marlins. They’ve posted a .273 wOBA and 28.6% strikeout rate against southpaws over the past 12 months, and Keuchel ranks first in opponent implied team total (3.6 runs) and second in moneyline odds (-192).
Madison Bumgarner: He’s a slight underdog vs. Nola and the Phillies, but his opponent implied team total of 3.9 runs is still one of the better marks on the slate. The Phillies’ projected lineup has also been very strikeout prone against left-handers over the past 12 months, posting a 30.6% strikeout rate.
- 1. Mookie Betts (R)
- 2. Rafael Devers (L)
- 4. J.D. Martinez (R)
- 5. Sam Travis (R)
- 6. Andrew Benintendi (L)
Total Salary: $24,600
The Red Sox lead the slate with an implied team total of 6.5 runs, which makes their top stack pretty affordable at just $24,600. Travis in particular stands out as an elite value at just $3,600, and he has dual eligibility at first base and outfield. Overall, the Red Sox’ Team Value Rating of 83 on DraftKings is the top mark on the slate.
They’re taking on Angels left-hander Dillon Peters, who has pitched to a solid 3.20 ERA over his first 25.1 MLB innings this season. That said, his 5.23 FIP suggests he’s been extremely lucky over that time frame, making him a strong regression candidate moving forward.
The only real concern with the Red Sox is that they figure to be extremely chalky. That could make Benintendi an important member of this stack. He’s on the wrong side of his batting splits in a lefty-lefty matchup, so he shouldn’t command nearly the same ownership as guys like Betts, Martinez, and Travis. Peters has also struggled in lefty-lefty matchups this season, allowing opposing batters to post a .349 wOBA.
The Red Sox also own the top four-man FanDuel stack, so lets focus on the Cubs instead. They should fly a little more under-the-radar, and their top stack will cost you just $12,900 on FanDuel:
- 1. Jason Heyward (L)
- 2. Nick Castellanos (R)
- 3. Kris Bryant (R)
- 7. Ian Happ (S)
Total Salary: $12,900
The Cubs’ implied team total of 5.0 runs is much more modest than the total for the Red Sox, but it’s still tied for the fourth-highest mark on the slate. They’re taking on Reds left-hander Alex Wood, who is another pitcher who seems due for some regression. His FIP is nearly 2.5 runs higher than his traditional ERA, thanks in large part to his low BABIP (.250) and perfect strand rate (100%).
One area where Wood has struggled this season is with the long ball. Batters have averaged 2.38 HRs per nine innings through Wood’s first 11.1 innings this season. The Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati is known for allowing HRs, so the Cubs have significant upside in that department.
Happ just recently returned to the Cubs lineup, but he’s wasted no time making an impact with his bat. He’s posted a .438 wOBA and 173 wRC+ through his first 31 plate appearances, and his Statcast numbers suggest that production hasn’t been fluky. He’s an excellent target at just $2,500 on FanDuel given his Bargain Rating of 91%.
It seems that the Yankees can take just about anyone and turn them into a star, and Gio Urshella is one of the most recent examples. He’s coming off a whopping 53.6 FanDuel points in his last game, and he’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in each of his past four contests.
His Statcast data from the past 15 days is also excellent, resulting in a 15-day/12-month distance differential of +42 feet and hard hit differential of +15 percentage points. He’s expected to bat third in the lineup today, which makes him a nice value at his current salary across the industry.
Bo Bichette is off to a roaring start in his MLB career:
Bo Bichette stays red hot, pushes his hit streak to 10 games, and sets a @BlueJays record with a double in his 8th-straight game. 🔥🔥🔥
— theScore (@theScore) August 7, 2019
With that in mind, he’s simply way too cheap at $4,300 on DraftKings. He’s expected to occupy the leadoff spot for the Blue Jays against right-hander Domingo German, and he’s posted a .462 wOBA and .452 ISO against right-handers this season. This might be one of your final opportunities to buy low on him.
Very few batters have been swinging the bat better than Wil Myers recently. He’s scorched the ball over his past 11 games, posting a 237-foot distance, 97 mile per hour exit velocity, and a 57% hard hit rate. Most people will not look to roster him today vs. Gray despite his minimal salary, which makes him a strong option 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: Red Sox SP Chris Sale (41)
Photo credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports