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 four-game early slate starting at 4:05 p.m. ET and an 11-game main slate at 7:05 p.m. ET.
Three pitchers own a salary of at least $9,900 on FanDuel:
- Justin Verlander (R) $12,500, HOU vs. SEA
- Luis Castillo (R) $10,400, CIN vs. ARI
- Charlie Morton (R) $9,900, TB vs. TOR
Justin Verlander is putting together another dominant season in 2019. His 2.56 ERA is the top mark in the American League, while his 11.98 K/9 ranks fourth in baseball. There’s a chance he could be taking him his second Cy Young award at the end of the year.
He’s in an amazing spot today vs. the Seattle Mariners. Their projected lineup has been putrid against right-handers over the past 12 months, posting a .285 wOBA and 27.6% strikeout rate. Verlander’s Vegas data in this matchup is elite, leading all pitchers with a 2.9 opponent implied team total and -396 moneyline odds. Pitchers with comparable marks in both categories have historically dominated, posting an average Plus/Minus of +4.03 (per the Trends tool).
His peripheral pitching statistics are also excellent. He has plenty of strikeout upside in this matchup, resulting in a K Prediction of 8.9, and he’s posted solid Statcast marks over the past 15 days. Verlander has limited his past two opponents to an average distance of 210 feet, which represents a decrease of -12 feet when compared to his 12-month average.
Add it all up, and it’s hard not to advocate for paying up for Verlander in cash games.
Castillo headlines the early slate, but he’s in a much less appealing spot than Verlander. He’s taking on the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are currently implied for 3.8 runs. That’s not an overly concerning number on its own, but the Diamondbacks are also one of the tougher teams in baseball to strike out. Their projected lineup has posted a strikeout rate of just 21.1% against right-handers over the past 12 months, which is the fourth-lowest splits-adjusted mark among today’s offenses. Castillo’s resulting K Prediction of 5.87 is pretty pedestrian considering his salary.
Morton looks like the superior option if you’re paying up at pitcher on the early slate. He’s seen a massive price decrease over the past month — -$2,100 on DraftKings, -$1,100 on FanDuel – and he’s coming off a solid start in his last outing vs. the Cleveland Indians.
He has a much more favorable matchup today vs. the Toronto Blue Jays. Morton is a -237 favorite and owns a 3.1 opponent implied team total, and his K Prediction of 7.4 ranks first on the early slate. He also leads the slate with 10 Pro Trends on DraftKings, and comparable pitchers have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +4.15 on DraftKings.
This is an excellent opportunity to buy low on one of the better pitchers in baseball.
Chris Bassitt is taking on the Detroit Tigers, which automatically puts him in DFS consideration. The Tigers have been absolutely pitiful this season when facing right-handed pitching, ranking dead last in wRC+. They also own the highest strikeout rate in the league against right-handers, so it’s not surprising that they’ve been the best possible matchup for traditional pitchers this season.
Bassitt isn’t exactly a bum either. He’s posted a 3.67 ERA and 8.17 K/9 this season, so he’s capable of taking advantage of this matchup. His opponent implied team total of 3.3 runs trails only Verlander’s mark on the main slate, and Bassitt is also a -284 favorite.
He’s one of the best pure values on FanDuel at just $8,200, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 96%.
Joey Lucchesi is another excellent value on FanDuel at just $7,600. He’s pitching at home vs. the Colorado Rockies, which is an excellent combination. Lucchesi has pitched to a 2.84 ERA and 8.51 K/9 at Petco Park this season, while the Rockies have been dreadful away from Coors Field. Their offense ranks just 29th in wRC+ when facing a right-hander on the road.
Lucchesi owns solid marks across the board in this matchup: 3.8 opponent implied team total, -156 moneyline odds, 7.1 K Prediction. His ownership should also be modest at best – he’s currently projected for just 5-8% on FanDuel – which makes him an excellent pivot for guaranteed prize pools (GPPs).
If you’re looking for a potential value on DraftKings, consider Aaron Brooks. He’s priced at just $5,800 and has one of the best possible matchups vs. the Texas Rangers. Their offense has gone ice cold over the second half of the season, ranking dead last in wRC+ vs. right-handers by a substantial margin.
Brooks also owns an excellent Statcast profile from his past two starts. He’s limited opposing batters to an average distance of 189 feet, exit velocity of 84 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 20%, all of which represent massive decreases when compared to his 12-month averages.
Marcus Stroman: He hasn’t found a ton of fantasy success since joining New York Mets, but his recent Statcast data suggests he’s still pitching well. He also has a solid matchup today vs. the Philadelphia Phillies, whose projected lineup has posted a .276 wOBA and 26.3% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months.
Jeff Hoffman: He’s opposing Lucchesi and the Padres in San Diego, and he’s dirt-cheap at $5,100 on DraftKings. The Padres’ projected lineup has had their own struggles against right-handers over the past 12 months, posting a .286 wOBA and 30.7% strikeout rate.
Danny Duffy: He looks like your best option if you want to pay down at pitcher on the early slate. He’s taking on the Miami Marlins, who rank 28th in wRC+ vs. left-handers this season.
- 1. Phillip Ervin (R)
- 2. Joey Votto (L)
- 3. Eugenio Suarez (R)
- 6. Freddy Galvis (S)
- 7. Curt Casali (R)
Total Salary: $20,100
The Reds top stack is very affordable on DraftKings, which makes them the perfect option to pair with a stud pitcher. Their implied team total of 4.7 runs ranks fourth on the slate, so they have some upside as well.
They’re taking on Diamondbacks left-hander Alex Young, who has pitched well over 58.2 MLB innings. That said, he looks like a prime regression candidate moving forward. Opposing batters have managed a batting average on balls in play of just .240, which suggests he’s been really lucky. To put that in perspective, opposing batters posted a .373 BABIP against Young in AAA this season, where he pitched to a 6.09 ERA. Consider me skeptical that he’s suddenly become a better pitcher despite facing superior opposition.
Votto could potentially be a bit overlooked in this lefty-lefty matchup, but he shouldn’t be. He enters this contest in excellent recent form, exceeding his 12-month averages in distance, exit velocity, and hard hit rate over the past 15 days.
On the main slate, the top four-man slate belongs to the Atlanta Braves:
- 1. Ronald Acuna (R)
- 2. Ozzie Albies (S)
- 3. Freddie Freeman (L)
- 4. Josh Donaldson (R)
Total Salary: $14,400
The Braves are currently implied for 5.4 runs, which ranks fifth on the main slate. They also represent one of the better values on FanDuel, where their Team Value Rating of 87 is tied for fourth.
They’re taking on Nationals right-hander Austin Voth, who was hit hard in his last outing. Opposing batters posted an average distance of 230 feet and hard hit rate of 40%, both of which represent increases when compared to his 12-month averages. The Braves rank ninth in wRC+ against right-handers this season, so they can do some damage if Voth doesn’t generate better contact today.
Albies is a switch hitter that has historically posted far superior numbers against left-handers, but he’s still popping as the Braves’ best option today on FanDuel. His $3,100 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 96%, and he’s posted a 15-day/12-month distance differential of +13 feet.
The A’s are currently implied for 5.8 runs against Tigers right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, and Marcus Semien stands out as one of their best options. He’s projected to occupy the lead-off spot in the lineup, and he’s very reasonably priced at $3,900 on FanDuel. He enters this contest in solid recent form, exceeding his 12-month averages in distance, exit velocity, and hard hit rate over the past 15 days.
Manny Machado has been one of the unluckiest batters in baseball recently. He’s posted a 15-day/12-month distance differential of +23 feet and hard hit differential of +12 percentage points, resulting in Recent Batted Luck score of +60 feet. His price tag has dropped to just $4,400 on DraftKings, which makes this an excellent opportunity to buy low on a talented slugger.
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: Rays P Charlie Morton (50)
Photo credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports