The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players. 

Saturday features a 13-game main slate starting at 7:05 p.m. ET.

Pitchers

Studs

Tonight’s slate is loaded with big-time arms. Six pitchers own a salary of at least $10,000 on FanDuel:

  • Walker Buehler (R) $11,400, LAD vs. SD
  • Trevor Bauer (R) $11,200, CIN @ ATL
  • Stephen Strasburg (R) $11,000, WSH @ ARI
  • Aaron Nola (R) $10,500, PHI vs. CWS
  • Matt Boyd (L) $10,100, DET @ TEX
  • Robbie Ray (L) $10,000, ARI vs. WSH

Buehler has been one of the best pitchers in baseball since the beginning of June. He’s pitched to a 2.76 ERA and 2.78 FIP while racking up 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings. He’s been a dominant fantasy asset over that time frame as well, posting an average Plus/Minus of +7.05 on FanDuel.

Buehler is in a wonderful spot today vs. the San Diego Padres. Their projected lineup has posted a .288 wOBA and 26.2% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months, and their implied team total of 3.3 runs is tied for the lowest mark on the slate. Buehler is also a strong -243 favorite, and pitchers with comparable Vegas data have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +6.00 on FanDuel (per the Trends tool).

He should also benefit from getting to pitch at home. Buehler has been unreal at home since the beginning of June, pitching to a 1.50 ERA and 1.72 FIP. Batters have also managed a wOBA of just .192 against him, and he’s averaged a K/9 of 12.6. He’s an elite option in all formats.

Bauer is making his debut for the Cincinnati Reds, and it’s fair to say that his tenure with the Indians ended poorly. He allowed seven earned runs over just 4.1 innings, culminating in one of the most bizarre mound visits you’ll ever see:

He’s in an interesting spot today vs. the Atlanta Braves. Their offense can do some damage – they rank ninth in wRC+ against right-handers this season – and they’re currently implied for 4.8 runs. That’s a high mark for Bauer, and pitchers with comparable salaries and opponent implied team totals have struggled to an abysmal Plus/Minus of -6.66 on FanDuel.

That said, his strikeout upside is enticing. Bauer is one of the better strikeout pitchers in baseball – his K/9 of 10.63 ranks 12th among qualified starters – and the Braves projected lineup has struck out in 29.1% of at bats against right-handers over the past 12 months. His K Prediction of 8.6 is tied for second on the slate, and he should command minimal ownership for guaranteed prize pools.

Strasburg and Ray are squaring off in Arizona, and neither pitcher is a particularly appealing option.

Strasburg is a slight favorite and owns an implied team total of 4.0 runs, but the Diamondbacks own one of the lower strikeout rates against right-handers this season. His Statcast data from his past two starts is also concerning, resulting in a 15-day/12-month distance differential of +16 feet.

Ray was originally supposed to start yesterday’s contest but was pushed back a day to give him some extra rest. He always has some appeal for GPPs because of his large strikeout upside, but the Nationals rank sixth in wRC+ and 24th in strikeout rate against left-handers this season.

Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Robbie Ray (38).

Ray has also been hit really hard over his past two outings, with opposing batters posting an average distance of 231 feet, exit velocity of 96 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 46%. He could get in trouble today if he struggles to get strikeouts.

Nola checks all the boxes today vs. the Chicago White Sox. His Vegas data is the best on the slate – he leads all pitchers with a 3.3 opponent implied team total and -297 moneyline odds – and the White Sox rank just 28th in wRC+ against right-handers this season. They also own the second-highest strikeout rate against right-handers, giving Nola excellent upside as well.

Nola has also limited his past two opponents to an average distance of 178 feet, resulting in a 15-day/12-month distance differential of -8 feet. Add it all up, and comparable pitchers have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +6.02 on DraftKings.

Boyd rounds out the stud group, and his Vegas data makes him tough to roster. He currently owns an opponent implied team total of 4.9 runs against the Texas Rangers. That said, he does lead all pitchers with a K Prediction of 9.0, and his Statcast data from his past two starts is elite. He’s worth some consideration for GPPs if you don’t mind assuming a little risk.

Values

Aaron Sanchez has not been particularly good this season, but he might be able to find new life with the Houston Astros. They’ve shown the ability to improve pitchers after they acquire them – Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, etc – and Sanchez did pitch to a 3.00 ERA in 2016.

Pitching for the Astros also means better Vegas data. He’s a -209 favorite today vs. the Seattle Mariners, and his opponent implied team total of 4.1 runs is fine considering his salary. He’s currently priced at just $5,300 on DraftKings, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 95%, and pitchers with comparable salaries and Vegas data have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +4.24 on DraftKings. Sanchez an excellent SP2 option, particularly for cash games.

Chris Archer has really struggled this season, and he’s allowed nine earned runs over his past 11.0 innings pitched. That said, his StatCast data suggests he’s been pretty unlucky recently. He’s limited opposing batters to an average distance of 203 feet and hard hit rate of 30%, both of which represent sizable decreases when compared to his 12-month averages.

Archer is also capable or racking up strikeouts today vs. the New York Mets. He’s posted a K/9 of 10.29 over the past 12 months, and the Mets projected lineup owns a 30.4% strikeout rate against right-handers over the same time frame. His resulting K Prediction of 8.5 ranks fourth on the slate, so he can provide nice value today given some better batted ball luck.

Fastballs

Kyle Gibson: He’s in a great spot vs. the Kansas City Royals, resulting in a 4.1 opponent implied team total and -218 moneyline odds. He also owns a strong batted ball profile from his past two starts, resulting in a 15-day/12-month distance differential of -11 feet and hard hit differential of -15 percentage points.

Jon Gray: He’s pitching at home in Coors Field, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for Gray. He’s historically posted a better Plus/Minus in that situation than on the road, and he’s taking on a Giants’ offense that has struggled offensively this season.

Notable Stacks

With the Lineup Builder, it’s easy to incorporate stacks into DFS lineups. Today’s top five-man DraftKings stack per the Bales Model belongs to the Colorado Rockies:

  • 1. Charlie Blackmon (L)
  • 2. Trevor Story (R)
  • 3. Nolan Arenado (R)
  • 4. Yonder Alonso (L)
  • 7. Garrett Hampson (R)

Total Salary: $22,800

The Rockies implied team total of 6.1 runs is tied for the top mark on today’s slate. Their top stack is also very reasonably priced considering they’re at Coors. It will set you back just $22,800, which means you can theoretically still pair them with a stud pitcher. Hampson and Alonso in particular stand out as elite values, with both players owning a combined salary of just $6,800.

They’re taking on Madison Bumgarner, who decided he’d rather stay in San Francisco than play for a postseason contender at the trade deadline. He’s pitched well this season, owning a 3.74 ERA and 3.66 FIP, but pitching in Coors is an entirely different animal than pitching in San Fran. His FIP jumps to 4.42 when pitching on the road this season.

Alonso should be one of the most popular options on today’s slate given his cheap salary and premium spot in the lineup. He’s projected to bat cleanup at just $3,800, and he’s actually fared better against left-handers than right-handers over the past 12 months. He also enters this contest in good recent form, exceeding his 12-month averages in distance, exit velocity, and hard hit rate over the past 15 days.

On FanDuel, the top four-man stack belongs to the Minnesota Twins:

  • 1. Mitch Garver (R)
  • 2. Jorge Polanco (S)
  • 3. Nelson Cruz (R)
  • 5. Miguel Sano (R)

Total Salary: $15,400

The Twins implied team total of 6.1 runs is tied with the Rockies for the top mark on the slate. They also grade out as one of the best pure values on FanDuel given their Team Value Rating of 89.

They’re taking on Royals left-hander Danny Duffy, who has pitched to a 4.73 FIP this season. He’s struggled in particular against right-handed batters, allowing them to post a .354 wOBA. Each of the stacked batters will have the splits advantage against Duffy, and the Twins rank second in wRC+ against left-handers this season.

Cruz went off in yesterday’s contest, recording two doubles and a HR, and his Statcast data from his past 12 games in insane. He’s posted an average distance of 263 feet, exit velocity of 98 miles per hour, and hard hit rate of 48%, all of which are among the best marks on the slate.

Other Batters

There are lots of expensive options to pay up for on today’s slate, so finding some cheap batters with upside to round out your lineup is going to be important. Renato Nunez is one of those guys on FanDuel, where his $3,200 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 88%. He’s expected to bat third for the Orioles, and he’ll be on the positive side of his splits against Blue Jays left-hander Thomas Pannone. Nunez has posted a .351 wOBA and .233 ISO against left-handers over the past 12 months, so he can do some damage in this matchup.

Aaron Judge continues to be a buy on DraftKings given his $4,000 salary and 99% Bargain Rating. He’s taking on Red Sox left-hander Brian Johnson, and Judge has posted a .433 wOBA and .242 ISO against southpaws over the past 12 months. The Yankees are implied for a whopping 6.0 runs in this matchup, and Judge is expected to bat second in the lineup. This is an elite buy-low spot.

Marwin Gonzalez is another nice value option on DraftKings. He’s priced at $3,400 and will bat cleanup for the Minnesota Twins. He’s been far better against left-handers than right-handers over past 12 months, and he has dual eligibility at third base and the outfield.

Good luck, and be sure to check out The Action Network if you’re looking for more in-depth MLB analysis or how to bet on sports.

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Pictured above: Phillies SP Aaron Nola (27)
Photo credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports