The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.
Sunday features a split slate. Both DraftKings and FanDuel offer an eight-game main slate starting at 1:05 p.m. ET. FanDuel also offers a two-game afternoon slate at 3:05 p.m. ET, while DraftKings offers a four-game afternoon slate at 4:05 p.m. ET.
One pitcher is priced in his own tier today on FanDuel:
- Shane Bieber (R) $11,200, CLE vs. MIN
No other pitcher is priced above $9,400 on FanDuel, which makes Bieber the most expensive pitcher on the slate by nearly $2,000. He’s been worth his lofty salary this season, posting a 3.17 ERA and 11.09 K/9, and he’s posted a dominant average Plus/Minus of +8.92 over his past 10 starts on FanDuel.
That said, his Statcast data from his past two starts is subpar. He’s allowed opposing batters to post an average distance of 225 feet, which represents an increase of 16 feet compared to his 12-month average.
He also has a brutal matchup today vs. the Minnesota Twins. They lead the league in HRs per game this season, and their projected lineup has posted a .359 wOBA against right-handers over the past 12 months. Bieber’s opponent implied team total of 3.9 runs is tied for the second-lowest mark of the day, but it’s still high considering his salary. Historically, pitchers with comparable price tags and opponent implied team totals have averaged a Plus/Minus of -0.14 (per the Trends tool).
The Twins’ projected lineup has also struck out in just 19.9% of at-bats against right-handers over the past 12 months, so Bieber has less strikeout upside than usual. His resulting K Prediction of 6.0 ranks merely seventh on the slate.
Johnny Cueto impressed in his first start of the season, allowing zero runs over five innings vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates. He threw only 69 pitches, but it was still enough to post a Plus/Minus of +7.27 on DraftKings.
His Statcast data from that start was particularly encouraging. Opposing batters managed an average distance of 158 feet, exit velocity of 86 miles per hour and hard-hit rate of 16%, all of which are among the best marks on the slate.
He’ll likely still be limited in some capacity today, but he has a tremendous matchup vs. the Miami Marlins. They rank dead last in runs per game this season, and their projected lineup has posted a .284 wOBA and 28.3% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months. They’re currently implied for just 3.4 runs, which is the lowest mark on the slate by a considerable margin.
Cueto also benefits from getting to pitch at home in San Francisco, which has been the most friendly venue for pitchers in baseball this season. Overall, he owns 10 Pro Trends on DraftKings, and pitchers with a comparable number of Pro Trends and salary have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +5.80 on DraftKings.
He probably doesn’t offer enough upside to warrant consideration in guaranteed prize pools (GPPs), but he’s one of the safest options on the slate for cash games.
Trevor Bauer has seen a price decrease of $1,300 over the past month on FanDuel, and his $8,900 price tag comes with a Bargain Rating of 87%. That said, he’s coming off a solid start in his last outing, recording eight strikeouts over 6.1 innings vs. the Seattle Mariners.
He’s in an interesting spot today vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks, who rank just 22nd in wRC+ vs. right-handers this season. His Vegas data doesn’t jump off the page — 4.7 opponent implied team total, +133 moneyline odds — but he does offer some of the best strikeout upside among today’s starters. He’s pitched to a K/9 of 10.53 over the past 12 months, and his K Prediction of 6.8 ranks third on the slate. It could be a nice opportunity to buy low on him.
The pitching options on the main slate are pretty brutal, but Jose Quintana stands out if you’re looking to avoid Bieber. He’s taking on the Pittsburgh Pirates, and their lineup has been dreadful against left-handers over the second half of the season. They rank dead last in wRC+ by a pretty comfortable margin. There’s currently no over/under available on this contest, but Quintana is listed as a -204 favorite. Expect him to have one of the lowest opponent implied team totals on the slate.
Zac Gallen: He’s opposing Bauer in Arizona, and his $9,400 salary on FanDuel results in a Bargain Rating of 91%. He’s pitched to a K/9 of 11.02 over the past 12 months, and the Reds’ projected lineup owns a strikeout rate of 32.7% against right-handers over the same time frame.
Asher Wojciechowski: He’s not someone you want to target on a regular basis, but he does have an appealing matchup vs. the Detroit Tigers. They rank 29th in wRC+ and first in strikeout rate against right-handers this season, and right-handers have averaged a Plus/Minus of +4.33 on DraftKings when facing the Tigers this season. His $5,500 salary also comes with a Bargain Rating of 94%.
Michael Wacha: He’s extremely risky given his low average pitch count, but he could theoretically pitch five innings in a nice matchup vs. the Brewers. Their projected lineup has posted a .302 wOBA and 30.2% strikeout rate against right-handers over the past 12 months.
- 1. George Springer (R)
- 3. Michael Brantley (L)
- 4. Alex Bregman (R)
- 5. Yordan Alvarez (L)
Total Salary: $16,400
The Braves are currently implied for 6.5 runs, which is the top mark on the main slate. They are expensive — their top stack averages out to $4,100 per player — but their Team Value Rating of 88 still ranks as one of the better marks on FanDuel.
They’re taking on Royals right-hander Jakob Junis, who has posted a poor 5.06 ERA this season. He struggled in his first matchup vs. the Astros this season, surrendering five earned runs and three HRs over just 5.1 innings pitched.
Springer stands out as the projected leadoff hitter. He’s crushed right-handers over the past 12 months, posting a .413 wOBA and .300 ISO, and he’s posted a 181 wRC+ when facing a right-hander on the road this season. He also enters this contest in strong recent form, outperforming his 12-month average distance and hard-hit rate over the past 15 days.
On the afternoon slate, the top five-man DraftKings stack belongs to the Arizona Diamondbacks:
- 1. Ketel Marte (S)
- 2. Josh Rojas (L)
- 3. Eduardo Escobar (S)
- 4. Christian Walker (R)
- 7. Alex Avila (L)
Total Salary: $21,100
The Diamondbacks could fly a bit under the radar on the afternoon slate. Their implied team total of 4.7 runs ranks third, but people will likely be skeptical to target a potential stud pitcher in Bauer.
That said, Bauer has been far from a stud since joining the Cincinnati Reds. He’s pitched to a 7.40 ERA over eight starts, and he’s been done in specifically by the long ball. He’s allowed an average of 2.2 HRs per nine innings as a Red.
Avila is expected to occupy the No. 7 spot in the lineup, but he stands out as an excellent catcher option. He’s fared well against right-handers over the past 12 months, posting a .357 wOBA and .233 ISO, and he’s crushed the ball over the past 15 days. He’s posted an average distance of 251 feet, which represents an increase of 26 feet compared to his 12-month average.
Ronald Acuna is one of the best hitters in baseball, and he figures to be on a mission over the final few weeks of the regular season. He’s just one HR and four steals away from joining the illustrious 40/40 club, which is something that has been done just four times in MLB history. Alfonso Soriano was the last player to achieve this feat all the way back in 2006. Expect Acuna to be a little more aggressive in the batter’s box and on the base path over his last handful of games, which obviously increases his appeal in DFS.
Trey Mancini is one of the better values on the slate on DraftKings, where his $4,600 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 82%. He’s taking on right-hander Edwin Jackson, who has been an absolute gas can this season. He’s pitched to a 9.76 ERA and 7.60 FIP while allowing a ridiculous 3.05 HRs per nine innings. Mancini is a dangerous hitter against right-handers — he’s posted a .359 wOBA and .218 ISO over the past 12 months — and he owns a 15-day/12-month distance differential of +12 feet.
Coors Field is available on the two-game FanDuel afternoon slate, which makes the Rockies and Padres viable targets. Wil Myers stands out as an excellent value at $3,400, and his 10 Pro Trends are the most on the slate. He’s also crushed the ball over the past 15 days, outperforming his 12-month average distance by +33 feet and hard-hit rate by +13 percentage points.
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: Giants SP Johnny Cueto (47)
Photo Credit: Cody Glenn-USA Today Sports